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Topics - Krozam

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Music / Top lists
« on: November 08, 2012, 04:03:52 pm »
A thread for some music top lists. Make them by genre, purpose (what do you listen to when you want to relax?), artist or whatever you like. Preferably short lists, so we only get the best of the best.

My top 5 beautiful songs
1. Makino Yui - You Are My Love (From the Tsubasa Chronicle OST. There's also an English version sung by Itou Eri, but it's played with guitar - I like Makino's voice and the piano in this version more.)
2. dai - Thank You for Being Born (From the Umineko no Naku Koro ni visual novel OST. BTW, I just found out that there's a vocal version, still can't decide if I like it more than the off vocal one...)
3. Eimear Quinn - The Voice (That voice... My god, that voice...)
4. Emilia Torrini - Gollum's Song (The end credits song of the LotR - Two Towers OST.)
5. Disciple - Things Left Unsaid (The melody isn't that great, but the lyrics are just fantastic, so sad and beautiful...)

Music / Interesting Lyrics
« on: August 23, 2012, 03:03:08 am »
I'm currently listening to the latest Mustasch album, and one song in particular has nice lyrics. It came to my mind that there's a whole bunch of songs where there is at least one stanza that I find quote-worthy. So, I figured I'd start a topic where we can gather interesting lyrics and tell others what kind of thoughts they raise in us. So, for starters:

Mustasch - Morning Star

The sun and moon, I'll take them down for you
A little something for my gratitude
I am holding her right in my arms
I've been blinded by the Morning Star

I used to be a self-centered man
All of a sudden there's a change of plans
You came into my world and blew my cool
My sleeping beauty, can't stop watching you
And if the thunder wakes you up tonight
I will comfort you and hold your hand

The sun and moon, I'll take them down for you
A little something for my gratitude
I have been blinded by the Morning Star
'Cause I am holding her right here in my arms

Morning Star
In my arms
Morning Star

Now listen honey, I am serious
Beware of danger, don't be too curious
I would die if you would hurt yourself
If someone harms you they will burn in hell
I will hold your hand and comfort you
I love you so it feels my heart could blow

The sun and moon, I'll take them down for you
A little something for my gratitude
I have been blinded by the Morning Star
'Cause I'm holding her right here in my arms

Morning Star
In my arms
Morning Star

Morning Star
In my arms
Morning Star

The sun and moon, I'll take them down for you
A little something for my gratitude
I am holding her right in my arms
I've been blinded by the Morning Star


The bolded part especially gets my imagination running in overdrive. Lyrics like this, when accompanied by suitable melody, are good "background music" while I plan romantic parts in various stories of mine. Mustasch's music is hardly very romantic in melody (and usually in lyrics as well), but for "cool romantic" scenes it's fine. By cool romantic I mean, for example, that the couple might be in the middle of a battle.

Games / 3 Pictures
« on: August 20, 2012, 08:32:06 pm »
Here is a game I just came up with. The purpose is to find good pictures of a chosen subject and post them here for the subject-giver to rate.

The rules:
1. One player gives a subject, the others search pictures of the given subject. Only one subject may be given, but it can include limitations and specifications.
2. You have 10 minutes of time. That means active searching, you can stop the clock if need be.
3. You are free to use search engines or bookmarked galleries or take screenshots, but you're not allowed to use pictures saved on your HD or uploaded by yourself. (Previously, that is.)
4. You're allowed to use any search terms except the subject. In case the subject is complicated, the subject-giver should specify the forbidden search term, the one likely to produce the best results in a search. Only one search term (which may consist of multiple words) may be forbidden.
5. Post your 3 favourite pictures found within that 10 minutes in this thread - you can upload them in your own galleries if hotlinking is a problem.
6. Once there are enough participants in the round, the subject-giver chooses the winner based on either the best picture or the best set of three. The winner becomes the subject-giver of the next round.

If there are any problems with the rules, they may be changed later.

I'll start:

Subject: Schoolgirls

Forbidden search term: schoolgirl

General Discussions / [Story] Homecoming
« on: July 19, 2012, 07:54:47 pm »
I felt like writing a bit of my newest story idea, and even though I ended up describing much more than I intended (I was planning to write in a light novel -style), the text flowed unexpectedly well and I finished the 3½ pages prologue in one day. Right now I feel quite happy with the result - though after letting it rest for a few days, my opinion might be totally different. I'll post more as soon as I finish the next scene, maybe tomorrow. BTW, the title is totally a working title, definitely not the final one.




It was a shame that the night sky was covered in clouds that night, for it was a special night, a night of homecoming and a night of special guests, and on a clear night the stars over this particular location would have been breathtakingly beautiful. The location was on a low hill in the middle of a  small woods area about thirty kilometres south-east from the city of Talmut. On this secluded, insignificant hill, an event was about to take place. An event that would give start to a great change in this world.
It began with with an odd buzzing sound and almost unnoticeable distortions in the air above a small opening. Slowly, very slowly, the sound got louder and the distortions more distinct. Nothing else happened for almost fifteen minutes, just those two effects getting stronger and stronger. Then it happened: with a sound that was almost like a cross of a cracking and a ripping sound, the distorted air... fractured, and the fragments got pulled into a... hole, as if sucked by a vacuum. It wasn't really the air that was broken, of course, it was reality itself giving way to something that defied its rules. A portal to another reality.
There was no light in the hole, it was a pitch black place. There was no warmth either, it was a place as cold as the outer space, maybe even colder. And yet, someone now stepped out of that inhospitable place.
The first one to come out of the hole was a man. His appearance was entirely human: a lean, about 180 cm tall man with short dark hair and barely above average looks. He appeared to be on his twenties, his chin was clean shaven, and his expression was sharp and serious. So far completely normal. However, his attire was what the people of this world would think as something straight out of a fantasy book. The dominant colour was black: he wore black trousers and a black robe-like garment that left a deep V-neck, which revealed a good part of his chest and some stomach as well. There seemed to be a white under-cloth, and the whole thing was kept together by a wide sash. The sash was a piece of art by itself, with red and green cloth and a dull golden decorated metal belt over it. He also had decorated bracers made from the same metal. The fabric was lustrous and soft like silk, but woven thicker than any silk clothing in this world.
The last detail worthy of note about his appearance was a one-handed longsword on his back. Its red sheath was decorated with the same dull golden metal as his attire, but the sword handle was oddly simple. It was a practical weapon, not for show, and anyone with decently sharp senses could feel its power.
Behind the man, two other people came out of the portal. Two women, both of whom were holding one of the man's hands. The woman to his right was a striking beauty, on the level where no one could pass her without looking twice. Her features were technically human, but unearthly perfect – depending on your taste, of course. Her bright green eyes almost seemed to glow a light of their own in the darkness of the night, and her wavy golden hair that flowed down to her waist seemed much softer than the fabric of their clothes. Her features were symmetrical to the point that they almost seemed to lack personality, but her bashful expression and downward gaze were clear hints on her character. A head shorter than the man beside her, and of a slender build, she seemed petite and fragile enough to ignite any man's protective instincts. However, while slender, she certainly had feminine curves in all the right places.
And her dress did little to hide that divine figure. It was made of the same silk-like material as the man's clothing, but in stark contrast to his black, it was pure white. On her upper body, it followed her figure in a way that was possible only for a dress tailored specifically for her – and with considerable skill, too. The neckline was tight, but the sleeves opened wide, and both were decorated with patterns of silver and gold. These was no sash on her waist, but instead, more silver and gold decorations. The most curious aspect of the dress, however, was the hem: the dress flowed down her legs like a skirt, but getting steadily thinner, becoming slightly transparent on her beautiful legs, and like a veil on her ankles. The dress seemed much simpler than that of her male companion, but in truth it was an even greater show of skilled tailoring. As for jewellery, there was a pendant forged into an insanely complicated, multi-layered form, and on her left hand there was a signet ring, both made of the dull golden metal.
The woman on his left-hand side was striking in her own way, part of it beauty, but there was more. She didn't seem entirely human. Most of the differences weren't easy to point out, but her dark eyes were just a bit too large to seem natural, and there was something about her body structure that seemed a little off. And she had wings. Like an angel, but instead of just one pair, she had two, and instead of pure white, they were light grey. Both pairs were neatly folded, but she still only barely avoided touching the edge of the portal while stepping through.
Apart from those things, she seemed human enough. She had a flaming red hair, most of it tied on a ponytail, but some stray bangs remained to frame her beautiful face. She seemed about a decade older than her companions, a woman in her prime. Her height was about halfway between those of her companions and her body had much more lush and feminine proportions than that of the other woman, but she still managed to give off a strange feeling of lightness. Her shoulders were wide and she seemed to be in top shape, like an athlete, and her skin was charmingly tanned.
Her clothing seemed to be of a slightly lower quality fabric than those of her companions, but not by much. She wore pants instead of a skirt, and a short-sleeved shirt, both of purple colour that seemed to compliment her striking hair colour. The only decoration on them was a crest on her chest that seemed to depict some kind of a feline animal, sewn with golden thread. She had a sash as well, of a grey that was very close to the colour of her wings, and a silvery metal belt with some simple decorations. On her waist there was a one-handed longsword that could've been a twin to the one the man carried, although it didn't have the same aura of power. She was clearly used to the weight of the weapon on her hip.
The man let go of their hands, one delicate and small, the other strong and hardened, as soon as they were out of the portal. Immediately he turned around, gripped the hilt of his sword with one hand and raised the other hand near the surface of the constantly widening portal that kept sucking in the precious air of this place. He started chanting, his lips moving furiously, his expression one of deep concentration. His words could not be heard over the noise that resembled the blowing of a powerful storm-wind.
The golden-haired woman stepped beside him and raised her right hand over his outstretched left arm. Her lips were moving as well, her chant weaving power around his spell, strengthening it but following its lead. The portal stopped spreading, then started to close, its edges drawing closer and closer, the noise slowly changing from a raging wind into an ear-torturing whistle. It only took them around twenty seconds to close the portal fully, but for those two straining their power to repair the breach in the very fabric of reality, it must've felt like an eternity.
Then, it was done. Natural silence of the night was finally restored to this wood. The lost air was slowly being replaced, but for a while longer, it would be difficult to breathe in this place. For most people, anyway. These three seemed to be fine. But then again, they'd just been in a place with a temperature close to absolute zero and no oxygen, this was paradise compared those conditions.
The red-haired woman stretched her arms and spread her wings in a similar gesture. The wings were surprisingly large, especially the slightly larger upper wings, their span was more than twice her height. It was amazing she could fold them into such a small space. Each wing had an extra joint compared to normal bird wings, which probably helped.
“It's a dark world, your home-world,” she said in a language never before heard in this world, while staring at the sky.
“That's because it's the night, silly,” the man replied in the same language. He was in a bent-down posture, taking support from his knees. There was a thin layer of sweat on his brow, and his breathing was heavy. It seemed the spell just now had taken a heavy toll on him.
Beside him, the blonde woman remained standing, and quiet. She did seem a bit weary, but clearly not as exhausted as the man. Curiosity showing on her face, she looked around, like a child on a new playground.
“The flow of mana here is... weird,” she suddenly said in a quiet, melodic voice. “It's all going there,” she continued, pointing east. The others turned to look in that direction. Above the trees, they could see a red-and-white metal structure, a hollow tower with a ball at its tip. It didn't reach very much above the trees, but being on a hill with somewhat sparse growing stock, they could see it.
“Ah, that... It's a mana accumulator,” the man explained, straightening up. “Those are built in areas thick on mana. It sucks mana and delivers it to a refinery, where it's converted into a form usable as an energy source for machines. In this world-” Suddenly he stopped in the middle of a sentence and cocked his head as if listening to something.
“Someone's coming. Deidra, mask your wings and weapon.” Responding to his order, the winged woman immediately folded her wings, closed her eyes and began chanting a spell. Soon, the sword on her hip and the wings on her back faded from view, masked by an illusion. She now looked a little more human, though there were still a few things off about her.
Meanwhile, the man took a few steps towards west, staring at the trees there. The other woman came behind him, as if to hide in his shadow, just peeking past his left arm, and timidly took a hold of his sleeve. The man smiled at her reassuringly, but quickly resumed his staring. He looked just a bit tense, but not really worried or anything.
Deidra finished her spell not a moment too soon. With flashes of bright blue light, five people appeared before them. Four of them were clothed in military battledress and brandishing scary machine guns with flash-lights on them, while one was dressed in an officer's grey uniform and only had a pistol on his belt.
“Hands up where I can see them!” were the first words that came out of the officer's mouth, as soon as he'd materialised. The soldiers quickly took cover behind trees, but kept pointing the weapons at them. The man didn't hesitate to do as he was told, looking behind him and signalling that the other two should follow his example. They did, and fortunately the blonde woman also had enough sense to step into clear view from behind him.
The officer stepped closer. “You are trespassing in the grounds of a military facility. I'm going to have to take you in for questioning.” The officer was a large man with an imposing presence, probably well suited for his job. The bearing of his muscular body was straight as an arrow, his expression unreadable, his voice made of steel. He was young, however, probably about the same age as the man in blacks in front of him. He had no headpiece at the moment, probably because of the rushed takeoff, and his short, sand-brown hair was in plain view.
“That voice... Sandell? Coth Sandell? Is that you?” The other man took a step forward to get a closer look at the officer. He was now using a different language from before, the same one that the officer had used. Reggish, one of this world's languages, the language of the country they were in.
“Huh?” The officer squinted. “I know you. You're that bullied kid who disappeared... Timodal Botte, right?”
“That's correct. Um... Can we... put our hands down now? We're unarmed, as you can see, and we came her unknowing that this is military grounds.” The officer took a quick look at the women and nodded, also signalling his men to lower their weapons. It was probably thanks to the darkness and most of the light focusing on Timodal that Sandell was able to make it a quick look. Three pairs of hands came down, two of them somewhat hesitantly. He didn't seem to take any notice of the sword hilt clearly visible over Timodal's shoulder.
“What do you mean you didn't know? There are huge ass fences all around the area! And what's with that getup?” Sandell asked, in a voice that implied  he was used to getting immediate and clear answers.
“That's... a long story. And kind of difficult to believe, probably. Maybe you should... take us to wherever you intended to question us, and I'll try to explain. Also, my companions don't speak Reggish, so don't bother trying to talk to them.”
The large man had probably never been this full of questions, but apart from a frown, none of it showed on his face. He nodded, immediately seeing the sense in the suggestion, and waved to his men.
“Everybody gather around me for teleportation. Make sure your entire body is within a 2-metre-radius from me.” Timodal translated the instructions to his companions. It wasn't such a small area for eight people to fit into, but failure to do so would have dire consequences, so they all got as close as possible. Timodal stood back towards the others and casually wrapped his left arm around the shoulders of the blonde woman, as if to stand between her and the other men. She thanked the darkness for hiding her furious blush.


This piece of art acted as a model for Timodal's dress, the other two are pretty much from my imagination (which is quite poor when it comes to these things).

Manga / My Translations
« on: May 16, 2012, 12:51:35 am »
As many of you know, I'm learning Japanese. Manga translation is still a bit hard for me, but I'm doing it occasionally as practise. I thought I'd make a topic where I'll post my translations. For now, I only have this one vanilla H-manga I recently finished, and one Yuru Yuri short, but there will be more.

In One Step, a sweet H-manga by Tohgarashi Hideyu:
My thanks to kenjinsakura, who kindly helped me with the more difficult lines.

A Yuru Yuri short:
Again, kenjin helped me with a few lines. There are some problems with this, and I intend to eventually redo this.

General Discussions / [Story] Mr. Darkness and Mrs. Moonlight
« on: October 27, 2011, 01:27:17 am »
So, I finally got into writing a story again, and I figured I'd post it here for all to read, and hopefully comment. Only prologue ready so far, I'm aiming to continue in portions of about 2 pages, it's a long-ish story. I didn't know where else to post it, so I decided to post it in General Discussions. The title is a working title, borrowed from the Buck-Tick song that I consider the "theme music" for this story. Hopefully I'll come up with a good original one eventually.

If Puddle or anyone else has harsh criticism, shoot without mercy. I'm not exactly looking for criticism, because this is just something I'm writing for fun, not trying for a masterpiece, but I can take it if you want to shoot, and I'll thank you for it. I'm mainly just looking for some encouraging comments in order to keep up my motivation, which is very fickle. But anyway, I hope it's something you find enjoyable to read and won't read just for my sake.

Now, I must warn you, it started as an erotic story idea I thought of writing for myself, and myself alone. Then I got some more or less good ideas, and eventually I started taking this story idea half-seriously. However, there are still plenty of elements left from the original. It's not enough to say that there will be sex and violence: there will be rape and fairly explicit descriptions. It might seem like bad hentai at first, but I swear, the story is more important. :P

It's a fairly simple story: modern fantasy settings, nightly battles, a cool guy and a pretty girl, all that stuff... but isn't that exactly what made Kaze no Stigma so damn entertaining? So, if you enjoyed it there, you might enjoy it here as well. Despite the perverted stuff. ;D Enjoy!


Mr. Darkness and Mrs. Moonlight


She was a true beauty. At a moment like this, even Wryn, a being of an entirely different species, had to admit the extraordinary potential for beauty that the human species possessed. He felt strong attraction – and yet, he also felt oddly reluctant to lay a hand on a woman of such fey-like beauty. But Power called. His blood felt searing hot as it rushed in his veins, his desire for the Power within this woman resonating with his lust for her body. Wryn had no intention of refusing his desire. Tonight, he'd change his destiny and join the ranks of the Kraj Lords.
He held her up in the air before him with his four tentacles. The weight was nothing to him, for she was light, and the Ais sub-species had an excellent balance. He extended his hand to tenderly touch the flawless skin between her perky breasts, which heaved with her heavy breathing. In the moon's silvery light her skin looked alabaster white, cold and hard, but to the touch it was warm and soft. She shivered at the touch, hopelessly struggling against the tentacles. Her once so fine light blue dress no longer covered anything, it was torn to shreds by the demon's claws. Wryn slid his fingers downwards, careful not to damage the skin with his deadly claws. His eyes followed, all the way past the navel and the slender waist, until he reached her holy place.
She made a sound, a stifled moan. Wryn raised his eyes to look at her perfect face, framed by silky golden hair that fell halfway to the ground. In contrast to her fair skin, her eyes, moist with tears, were deep brown. Her beautiful face still had an expression of terror and despair, but it was slowly fading. Her cheeks were reddening and her breathing was getting heavy, as she wondered what was happening to her. Wryn smiled, revealing his impressive line of sharp teeth.
“You feel it, don't you?” he said, in the language of this country. Wryn was quite proud for having learned to speak the language. Most of his kind didn't bother, lacking the mental capacity to understand its usefulness. ”The curse is spreading. You'll feel even better soon.” The Lust Curse, Wryn's greatest pride. It was powerful magic, stretching the limits of his current Power. It was also quite unnecessary, and most of his kind would call him soft for using it. To be honest, they were probably right. Wryn took no pleasure from screams of terror and pain, so he made the effort to make his victims... willing. Well, kind of. The curse was powerful enough to override all your inhibitions, your libido took complete control. Soon, she'd literally beg for it.
Wryn put a hand under her soft buttocks, lowered his head between her shapely legs and gave her a lick with his tongue. As the tongue retreated, he stiffened and shivered for a moment, as a tiny part of her Power became his. Humans with Power were rare, but humans with this kind of power were one in millions. Her juices were full of it. And it would soon all be Wryn's.
With his long, nimble tongue working on it, it did not take long to get her moaning and overflowing. She had screamed at first, struggled and called for help, but after receiving the curse, she had little strength left. All she could do was to try and smother her moans. She was strong and prideful, Wryn had to admit feeling certain respect for her. Many had been broken by now, their shocked minds escaping into the comforting embrace of the Lust Curse, but this woman still had a little fight in her.
He raised his head again and looked her in the eyes. “Shall I put it in?” he asked, as if it were her choice.
“Go... to hell...” she answered defiantly, but her panting voice lacked strength and her expression was downright ecstatic. She had a beautiful, resounding voice, but right now it was rough from all the screaming earlier. She closed her eyes and grit her teeth as the demon touched her crotch with the knuckle of a finger.
Curious, Wryn thought, how that expression resembled one of pain. Perhaps it was pain, in a way. The pain of shame and indignity. The woman was clearly of a high status in this country, despite her young age. Wryn didn't entirely understand how the systems of power worked in the human world, but there seemed to be an element of... inheritance. Yes, that was it, she had to be the daughter of a powerful man or woman, taught to be prideful since childhood. To Wryn, it made this even more enjoyable: he enjoyed bringing down powerful people and using them as stepping stones on his own path to prominence.
With a self-absorbed grin, he put his hand on her left breast. It was small compared to his large hand, but well proportioned for a human girl of her slender build. The shape and elasticity were superb, speaking of youth that had only just achieved maturity. How old was she in human years? Sixteen? Seventeen? No matter. Wryn's touch had been gentle so far, but now he pinched her nipple, just enough to make her cry out softly.
“Ready or not, here I come!” he declared, preparing to plunge his thing inside her. It was large, it would hurt, but she'd come to enjoy it soon enough. By contracting certain muscles in his tentacles, he brought the girl closer to his body. As his hard thing finally touched her, she twitched violently and let out a weak “no!” She knew the foreplay was over, next there would be pain and even greater indignity. Wryn revealed his teeth once more and took a hold of her hips.
“Sword of Darkness, Blade of Death...” suddenly, a cold voice came from somewhere up and to the left of them. Instinctively, Wryn turned his head and sought out the source of the voice.
“...pierce my enemy and take his life...” He found it. To their left, there was a long, black car. The girl had been riding on that car a while earlier. On its roof, there now stood a human male, facing a bit behind Wryn. Young and skinny, but he radiated power, much like the girl. Dressed in dark trousers and a white shirt, a dark coat hanging under his arm. His hands were tucked in his pockets. A flurry of incomplete thoughts passed the demon's mind in these last seconds: Shit, he found me! I was too engrossed... But the diversion...
“Dourakusen!” A large black blade pierced Wryn from the back. A moment later two- no, four more pierced his body from all directions. Life fled him much faster that he'd thought possible. He could feel the blades greedily drinking his blood. The pain was excruciating. The last thing he saw before his vision failed him were eyes filled with cold anger, staring at him sideways and downwards under a long, dark fringe and quadrangular glasses.
I see... I never should have... challenged someone like you...


Sorry, Wryn isn't our main character this time. Although I'm sure he'd make a good one, I think I'll go instead with the badass human who just killed him without moving a finger. ;D

Anime / What Did You Just Finish?
« on: October 11, 2011, 12:53:03 pm »
A topic for comments or short reviews once you've finished a series. I know I usually want to comment on a series after finishing it, hopefully there are others like that, too.

Ao no Exorcist
The ending truly surprised me with its quality. I don't know how much of the last two arcs were canon, but I think they're better than the rest of the series. Especially the final arc was very impressive, one of the best thought out final arcs I've ever seen in an anime. Everything fit so neatly, it's hard to believe they could have diverged from the original much. And it was pretty damn epic, too.

However, overall the series still isn't that clearly above average. Its strongest points are entertaining battles and great musics, but there were too many boring episodes between the first few eps and the mid-point, and only a few of the characters truly grew on me, made me care about them. Fortunately the Okumura brothers are pretty good protagonists, and Mephisto is brilliant, so I wouldn't say the characters are bad across the board. 3½/5 stars.

Visual Novels / Eien no Aselia discussion
« on: October 03, 2011, 10:18:09 am »
A VN this good deserves its own discussion topic, especially as I know that there are other people here who've played or intend to play it. To spark some discussion, I'll write a chapter-by-chapter review as I play it through for the second time. Hopefully this'll be much better structured than my ramblings in the download topic. I'll try to avoid spoilers, though I'll occasionally put something in the spoiler tags for those who've already read the VN. If you're a purist about not getting spoiled at all, don't read this. Just read the VN.


The VN starts with a classic childhood flashback and a prologue filled with the protagonist's daily, normal life. Fantasy elements are merely hinted at until the end of the prologue. While it might fool you into thinking that this is just another clichéd romance VN where an exceedingly normal high school boy gets extremely lucky, ends up with a harem and gets to choose his perfect girlfriend from among them, it does provide our protagonist and his sister with solid backgrounds and personalities. I'll introduce the prologue's characters:

Takamine Yuuto
The protagonist. At this point he does seem like your average good-for-nothing harem lead, not a very interesting character, but on a few things he drastically differs from that stereotype: First of all, he loves his little sister enough to give his life for her without a second thought. She's his only family, so I suppose it's understandable. Secondly, he believes he's a jinx who causes everyone around him bad luck. In some cases, like his parents, lethal bad luck. Thirdly, he has a terrible temper when it comes to his enemy, Shun. Shun seems to bring out the worst in Yuuto. And let me tell you this: this is just the beginning, Yuuto's character development is top-class by any standard.

Takamine Kaori
Yuuto's little sister (though not blood-related, as he was adopted into the family). Like Yuuto, she starts off as a stereotype: the perfect little sister, shy, weak, caring, sweet, and unbelievably pure. And cute, of course. Unlike Yuuto, she doesn't realy start with any qualities that deviate from this stereotype. However, like him, she has some great character development. It should be noted that while she's one of the most important characters in the story, she has no route of her own.

Misaki Kyouko
Yuuto's energetic, athletic childhood friend, and one of the minor heroines available for romance after the first playthrough. Once again, rather stereotypical at first sight, and she doesn't have terribly much "screentime" on the first playthrough... but nevertheless, a likeable character, a good source of both comedy and drama. One interesting thing about her is the contradiction between her physical strength and mental weakness.

Midori Kouin
Yuuto's male friend. Less stereotypical than the others from the start, in my opinion. He isn't just a sidekick and a source of comedy, like most characters in his role in my experience. He's actually pretty cool, he's actually going out with a girl (Kyouko), Yuuto actaully admires him to an extent, and he actually tries to be the central character of his own story, as later events reveal. Apart from Yuuto and some antagonists, he's the only significant male character in the story - and he doesn't have to be ashamed in the company.

Natsu Kotori
Kaori's best friend. She's endlessly energetic and positive, she talks like a machine gun and she has a crush on Yuuto. I didn't think much of her at first, but strangely, she grew on me during the short time of the prologue, and later on I found myself missing her. There's another character whose personality partially overlaps with hers, Orpha, but I still think Kotori deserved more screentime. Heck, she deserved her own route! In Aselia's route, (mild spoiler, ch 3)
(click to show/hide)

Akitsuki Shun
One of the major antagonists in the story. He's a pitiful character, twisted by his surroundings to the point of mild insanity. He's obsessed with Kaori, which leads to some major mutual enmity with Yuuto. The second playthrough gives a little more insight into his background, the first thing that was different. A fine character who splendidly supports both the plot and Yuuto's character development.

Kurahashi Tokimi
A mysterious shrine maiden who, like Kyouko, is a minor heroine available for romance after the first playthrough. She seems to know a lot about Yuuto even though they've never met before. I liked her from the start, but the first playthrough doesn't really give her much screentime or depth. There's one detail about her, revealed late in the story, that made my eyes widen and made me want to play her route.

One good thing to be said about this VN is that the characterzation is great, even minor characters are easily brought alive with just a few scenes. Even though the characters start out pretty stereotypical, there are little things about their personalities that just bring them alive. Yuuto hates green peppers, Kaori likes fantasy books and her only selfish wish was for an expensive flute, Kotori loves forune telling, Kyouko saved for a long time to buy a camera etc. Little things, often completely irrelevant for the plot, but which give the characters a lot more depth.

There's one thing that I consider a serious weaknesses in this VN that's already apparent in the prologue: there are too few unique CG's, sometimes there's just a black screen and description where I'd really like to have a picture.

Another thing, not apparent so early, but equally a weakness in my opinion, is how this VN chooses which girl's route to throw you on. Certain choices of course have an effect, but the point system also takes into account which characters you keep in Yuuto's squad during missions in chapters 1-3, and there's a priority system that tends to throw you into Aselia's route unless you're careful. This caused me to accidentally end up in Aselia's route on my first try, even though I was aiming for Esperia, and I had to start again. This time, I'm going for Aselia, so I don't need to worry about having her in Yuuto's squad. Reading the spoiler-free beginning of this guide will give you all the infromation you need to steer into the route of your choice.

The prologue ends with Yuuto remembering something important about his past and being transported into another world, then with one more scene before the OP video. On the first playthrough, the characters he meets there speak a foreign language, so I didn't understand them, but that was the first time I got an inkling about the awesomeness of this VN. They actually invented a language for this! It added a lot to the immersion and gave me the feeling that the creators of this story really made some effort to write a good story. Unfortunately, the seiyuu aren't able to convey as much feelings with tones as when speaking Japanese. This time, they speak Japanese and it's translated, which is nice in its own way, since I like to know what's being said.

The opening music is pretty good, I've listened to it many times. I remember watching the video intently on the first time, looking for hints about what's to come. "So that's Yuuto... he looks pretty cool, actually. And is that Shun, with a sword? So he's probably the main villain... Those girls must be other heroines, I looks forward to meeting them in the story..." I remember having these kind of thoughts when I watched the video for the first time.

The prologue is pretty long, but taking into account the full length of the VN, I don't think it's a bad thing. I feel that it's not as well written as most of the story, or maybe it's just the deceivingly ordinary starting settings, but it's good enough that it kept me interested. On my first playthrough I was slightly put off by the stereotypical characters and clichéd starting settings, but the comedy was decent (especially when it involved Kotori) and the characters likeable, and I was curious about the jump into the fantasy world that I knew to be coming. Little did I know what a fantastic story there was waiting for me after the barely above average prologue.

Finally, some screenshots:

Kouin and Kyouko, you wouldn't believe they're going out, considering the fact that Kouin flirts with Kaori and Kyouko is obviously interested in Yuuto.

Kotori and Kaori, the best of friends though almost opposite personalities.

Tokimi, the (seemingly) elegant and kind shrine maiden.

Shun, bringing out the worst in Yuuto, as usual.

There are way too few unique CG's in this VN, considering its length, but at least they're usually pretty good when they appear.

So those are my thoughts on the prologue. Give me yours. I really love this story, so I'd like to talk about it and analyse it extensively with others who've read it, but please, use spoiler tags when discussing important plot points, route-specific scenes, and such. I'd like to keep this topic one where people who haven't read it yet, or are only partially through, can take a look without fearing major spoilers. In part, its purpose is to get more people interested in the VN.

General Discussions / Stuff Worth Reading
« on: September 04, 2011, 11:21:04 am »
I figured we need a topic for random, usually funny, articles worth reading. Here's my opening:

Edit: Here's another child-related from the same place:

The Wings of Hall / The Halls of Kethir Sé
« on: August 21, 2011, 04:20:05 am »
The Halls of Kethir Sé
The Dwelling Place of the Gods

This one's tigershark's idea. This is a place for some fun: it's where we can play the gods of our characters interacting with each other. Plotting and planning, mocking and taunting each other, discussing what's happening "downstairs"... Either write short stories or arrange a casual RP with someone.

Some facts about the gods of this world:
- Every god has been a mortal once. Some of them have been gods for a very long time, but many are under five centuries old.
- Most mortals don't know this. Everyone has heard one or two legends of a hero ascending to godhood, but the older gods are generally believed to have been "always around".
- Gods can be killed, even by mortals, although it is of course very difficult.
- Gods get their power mostly from the belief of mortals. However, there are some exceptions, such as the gods of war, who can feed on blood and death, and the gods of death, who gain power from the souls they house. This results in some domains being somewhat crowded - for example, there are 18 gods of death currently.
- The total number of living, unforgotten gods is estimated to be between 200 and 300 at the moment, but nobody knows for sure. Not everyone lives in the Heavenly City, Kethir Sé, though by tradition every god has a place there, should they wish to live there.
- Upon ascension, gods can decide to take care of pretty much any one aspect of the world. There are some weird ones who care for flowers or stones or such, but most go for something more traditional, such as love, crops, elements, forces of nature, human characteristics etc.
- A Forgotten god is reduced into a weak spirit of nature, powerless, barely able to communicate with anything or anyone, doomed to such life for ever, unless someone revives it.
- There have been times in the history when the gods warred each other openly, but since the last Godswar they've preferred indirect struggle, often involving mortal servants and competition for believers.
- Our characters don't know it, but among certain gods, there is... interest in The Wings of Hall. Schemes are being weaved, and Hall isn't always a part of it...

I'll add later if I come up with any more facts about gods.

The Wings of Hall / Stories by the Fireside
« on: August 21, 2011, 01:00:04 am »
The Wings of Hall - Stories by the Fireside

It was ixlone's suggestion, that I start a topic where the players can post stories of their characters. Imagine our mercenary band comfortably settled in a high-class inn, sitting on a table by the crackling fire, enjoying a good dinner and perhaps having a few drinks... and finally loosening up enough to exchange stories of their past. Here, the rules are different, because we're technically writing short stories, not role playing. You can put words in the mouth of another player's character (though it's always polite to ask first, and it's easier to keep in character if you cooperate with the owner of the character). You can tell stories of the time before your character joined the band, or stories of the band's adventures, or legends of your character's homeland, whatever you like. It's an excellent way to deepen your character and develop the world we're playing in.

The Wings of Hall / [RPG] The Wings of Hall
« on: August 19, 2011, 09:23:25 pm »
The Wings of Hall

The fortress of Beil, in Eastern Nantii. Currently controlled by Duke Tevor, but besieged by Duke Solius.

Night was falling on the Hills of Beil. Torches were lit in the camp of Duke Solius' army, which spread all over the hills surrounding the impressive fortress. Looking upon the scene from a bird's view, you might think it a disorganized sight, but that was just an illusion created by the disruptive hills. In truth, Duke Solius' army was an oasis of order in the chaos that gripped the whole of Nantii. And it was all thanks to one man: Commander Haakon, the unquestioned leader of this army.
   Haakon's tent was situated opposite to the fortress gates, on top of a high hill that gave an unobstructed view towards the fortress. Two armed-to-the-teeth elite guards stood at the entrance. Inside, two men held counsel.
"Tell me honestly... can you do it?" A man sitting behind a desk asked the other man, sitting opposite him on the other side of the desk.
   "I'm not good with calculating chances," the other man replied with a completely straight face, "so I'll just say 'yes'."
   The man behind the desk sighed and leaned back on his heavy wooden chair, his armor rustling like a bag of coins. "I know your reputation, but we are talking about the Fortress of Beil. It has never been taken with force during its four hundred years of history. I would hate to waste your enormous advance pay because of your arrogance."
   "Life is full of risks, Commander. You know as well as I do that this is the most viable option we have in this situation. Time is running short, we need to get inside within a month. And believe it or not, The Wings of Hall are your best shot."
   Commander Haakon stood up. He was a large man, around his mid-forties, with a very... commanding presence. He was wearing a full-body plate armor - the thing probably weighed as much as the man himself - seemingly without much effort. Nicolaos had to admit he felt genuine respect for this man. Which is why he'd made a contract with Duke Solius in the first place, instead of someone among his dozen of rivals.
   "Wine?" The Commander asked, reaching for the carafe of red wine on his desk.
   "No thank you." Nicolaos shook his head slightly. He was dressed in his usual attire: a brown, hoodless robe of fine make and some embroidery, a red sash on his waist. The curved blade on his back also had a red cloth on its hilt, the mark of a Rowosian Swordmaster. He wore no armor whatsoever, indicating a strong faith in his skill and the divine protection of his god.
   "It's about time," the cleric said, rising on his feet, after a moment of companionable silence.
   "Yes. Good luck on your mission. I'll be waiting for the crow."
   Nicolaos turned his back, waved his left hand casually in acknowledgement, and headed out of the tent.

Outside, barely a hundred meters from the tent, waited his band of mercenaries. Nicolaos calmly walked the path down the hill. He felt their eyes on him, some expectant, some indifferent. His face was expressionless, unwavering. He did not stop when he reached them. He walked right through the group and headed towards the fortress.
   "Let's go," was all he said to them.

The Wings of Hall / [RPG] The Wings of Hall OOC
« on: August 14, 2011, 07:35:13 pm »
The Wings of Hall

We'll play in the world of Annial, a large, mostly medieval fantasy world. We'll develop the world as needed, but we'll start in the broken kingdom of Nantii, a once powerful feudal kingdom ravaged by all vs. all civil war, where every high noble is aiming for the crown and the lower nobles have all chosen their sides. We're a small but relatively famous mercenary group called The Wings of Hall, and we've been hired by a duke fighting for the crown.

Technical Info
We'll play storytelling, which means there will be no throwing dice, no stats, just writing a story where every character has their own writer. We'll take turns, though there's a set of exceptions. The pace will probably be rather slow and casual. Because of the settings, each of our characters should be in some way useful to the group: powerful, intelligent, possessing some essential skill, whatever you come up with. Your common sense (and my judgement) shall be the limit to how powerful your character can be. By all means, do create a dragon or a demon or a demigod, but know that your character isn't invincible. This is our Out-of-Character thread, everything but the RP itself goes here, including your characters. I'll create a separate thread for the RP.

The current turn order:
Nicolaos (+Harold&Aidan) (Krozam)
Lissa (Hollow Nyan-chan)
Cathair (tigershark13)
Nex (TheThing)
Jimmy (Zerpo)
Setsuna&Maria (InfinityStream)
Luna (Chihaya-chan)
Darwin (Irie Naoki)
Ishman (Listomar)
Fiona (Shion)
Estia (SpringHalo)
Acan (SootShade)

Just because it's a mediaval fantasy world doesn't mean the technology must stay entirely medieval. Guns are allowed, though they're fairly primitive. Steampunk, such as mechanical airships, is allowed. However, I'd prefer that most of this stuff is somewhere else in the world, our starting area is modelled after medieval Europe, with knights and castles and such. Races, there are others than humans, but humans are dominant in our starting area. You're all free to expand the world how you like, and most likely all our characters come from different backgrouds, different countries etc. Also, different dimensions exist. Someone among us may have been to hell and come back, someone else may be a summoner who calls upon extradimensional creatures to fight for him. As I said, we'll expand the world as needed.

It's year 744 of the Calm, the Calm being an age that started after a particularly chaotic time in the history of this world, when the gods themselves warred. Since the Godswar ended, the world has been more or less stable, wars have been fairly small scale and the gods have started avoiding direct confrontations.

Gods and Religions
There's a large pantheon of quite real gods, and all of them have their followers (except the forgotten ones). Belief is what gives them power, so the larger a god's religion, the more powerful he generally is. The gods are at each other's throats all the time, but mostly they prefer indirect power struggle to direct confrontation. Usually mortals are the ones to suffer most, but there's little you can do about it except ascend to a god yourself, because non-believers are enemies to all gods, and that's not wise.

Our patron god, Hall, is a minor but rising god. His totem animal is a Raven and his domain is death. There are so many gods that most share their domains with several others, Hall certainly isn't the only one or the most powerful one among the gods of death.

Lots of different kinds of magic in this world. Or rather, lots of different ways to use it. Magic is a force that's found everywhere in the world, though in varying quantities. All magic in the nature is also elementally aligned: earth, water, air, fire, light and dark. On the sea there's lots of water magic around, in the mountains there's lots of earth magic, during the night there's a lot of dark magic, air magic is strong when it's windy, fire and light magic benefit from the sun. Mages are people born with the ability to draw magic from their surroundings (and, if necessary, from their own body) and trained to use it in various ways. The ability is a recessive genetic trait, it's inherited but may sometimes lie dormant for many generations, then suddenly manifest as strong as ever. Converting magic into someting else than its original element, for example electricity or dimensional energy used in summoning, is possible, but advanced stuff. Usually mages are strong in one to three elements and weak in the others, though there are exceptions who can only use one element or all of them. The ways they are used differ, some use spells because they've been trained to do so, but in truth, all it takes is the ability and enough will.

Servants of the gods, clerics and paladins, may not have a natural ability to draw magic from their surroundings, but they have limited access to their god's power. This power is different from natural magic because it's non-elemental. It's perfect for healing and a few other things, and with only a slight conversion becomes usable for shields and yet more things. It can be converted to elemental magic or any other kind of energy that the natural magic can, but again, that's advanced stuff. Sometimes clerics and paladins also channel their god's power, for example when granting powerful blessings to items and people.

For those with no magical ability or god-given power, there is one way to use magic: alchemy. Magic exists everywhere, and alchemy is the art of collecting highly magical substances from the nature, mixing them, condensing the magic, and creating materials (often liquids, but not always) which can release their magic without a will to draw it out. The effects of alchemical mixtures are often purely elemental and raw, but skilled alchemists can even convert the magic into other forms of energy, which can have fairly sophisticated effects.

Concerning healing.

In a world where magic is powerful and often fast to use, and technology isn't advanced enough to balance it out, non-mages often aren't able to hold their own. Some warriors have found a way to balance the situation: they're able to use their inner energy, ki, to enhance their fighting capabilities. Some scholars theorize that ki is actually magic in our own bodies, because magic can be used to replicate ki-effects and the side-effects of using too much ki are similar to the effects of using the magic in your own body to cast spells. However, the fact that everyone is able to use ki with training doesn't quite fit this theory.

Anyway, ki can be used to enhance a warrior's strength and reflexes. Releasing it from your feet or hands allows you to jump fast and far (think flash step, only weaker) or to strike through a stone wall. It can be used to heal quickly, and it can be transferred as sort of a life force to someone else. It can also be channeled through a weapon, it's possible to strike the ground with a sword and cause a sizeable crack. Some of this is, of course, very advanced, and warriors who can effectively use ki are few and far between. The training to control your ki involves meditation, and learning to control your body on a deep level, usually through some kind of a martial art. Using too much ki results in temporary weakness, so ki-warriors usually eat and sleep a lot after battles in order to avoid getting sick or even dying.

More detailed information about ki.

Starting Point
We're The Wings of Hall, a small but relatively famous mercenary group formed two years ago. We're all from different backgrounds, a motley team that for some reason just works well together. Hall is our patron god, a minor but rising power in the pantheon. If there's a cleric among us, he prays to Hall, but otherwise it has little practical effect. Our mission is not to convert people to Hall's faith or to serve his will (though he may give us missions sometimes), our mission is simply to become famous. The plan is that this should attract people to Hall's faith.

We've been hired by a duke fighting for the crown of Nantii, named Solius. Our next mission is to infiltrate the fortress of his enemy, Duke Tevor, during the night, and open the gates to allow his soldiers to capture the fortress.

- I am the Game Master, and my word is the law.
- There's no need to limit yourself to one character, but don't create more than you can comfortably control. As the GM I'll take care of the NPC's (Non-Player Character) important to the plot, but you can create your own.
- Joining in the middle of the game is quite possible. The game is open until we have 15 players.
- No god-modding. This means that you only control your own characters (unless given permission). For example, if two Player Characters fight, the receiver will decide if the hit connects or not.
- Write in the past tense and 3rd person.
- Try to keep the OOC talk in this topic, but if you must say something OOC in the game thread, use ((double parenthesis)).
- Use your common sense
- Be respectful towards the other players. I thought this was obvious, but apparently some people need reminding.

(Harold Bjornson - Septe) player quit, character in GM's control for now
Nicolaos Karenz - Krozam
Darwin Roday - Irie Naoki
Lissa Dragomier - Hollow nyan-chan
Nex Addo - TheThing
Setsuna Ando - InfinityStream
Maria Cyan - InfinityStream
Ishman - Listomar
Cathair - tigershark13
Jimmy 'Kage' Kuneto - Zerpo
Acan Moread - SootShade
Estia Barackson - SpringHalo
Aidan Donovan am Delian - Soulbourne
Fiona Geileis am Brina - Shion
Luna Crimsonair - Chihaya-chan
(Morghandy Sloane am Albion - semiramiese) not yet entered

Character Sheet
Appearance: You can keep this short if you have a good picture.


Special Abilities: Magic, intelligence, whatever it is that makes you special and useful.

Items of Interest: Weapons, magical items, items of sentimental value etc.

History: The tale that your character would tell the others, not necessarily true, not necessarily detailed. Also, how your character ended up in the group and how he's fared in it.

Picture: Optional but recommended. It might be wise to find a picture before you think too deep on your character's appearance. Here are links to some artists' DA galleries that I recommend checking out for good character pics:

We'll start either this evening or tomorrow. This post will be constantly modified as we develop the world.

Anime / Nostalgic Anime
« on: August 13, 2011, 07:07:14 pm »
I just listened to the Kaitou Saint Tail ED and looked at some pictures of the anime, and I actually teared up. I guess it's one of the very few anime that could do it to me, being practically the only anime series that really made me cry my eyes out. The ED being very beautiful of course helped. Still, it hasn't been even half a year since I watched it (for the first and thus far only time), and yet there's such a powerful nostalgia... that's remarkable.

It occured to me that it'd be a worthy subject of discussion. Nostalgia, that is. Tell me, what anime do you find nostalgic, and why? What kind of a poweful impression did it leave on you to give it nostalgia value? Does it make a mediocre anime awesome for you, just because it was awesome when you watched it as a child? Does music play a significant role in it, as it sometimes does for me? Does simply hearing the OP or ED sometimes take you to the brink of tears?

I could write more, but right now I'm dead tired. I'll continue with my other nostalgic anime experiences tomorrow.

Manga / Krozam's Manga Diary
« on: July 28, 2011, 07:17:26 pm »
A relaunch of the topic where I'll occasionally review a manga that I've just read and liked. Usually short ones or ones just getting started, but maybe I'll sometimes review a long one as well. Hopefully someone will find these reviews useful. I won't mind it if someone else posts recommendations, reviews or comments, it's more fun if there's dialogue.

Neji by Yuki Kaori

I just read it through for the third time. Yuki Kaori is one of my favourite mangaka, ever since I read (the first half of) Angel Sanctuary. Neji is a shorter work, only three chapters, and it's pretty much the only tragic story that I've read/watched more than twice in my life. I usually avoid tragedy, and those rare times that I feel like reading/watching something tragic, I usually go with something new, since there's no shortage of great stuff to read/watch. Neji is just such a cool story that I don't mind reading it again every two years or so.

Yuki Kaori's art is beautiful in a messy way. It's confusing and sketchy, yet the male characters are cool, the females beautiful and it perfectly conveys the beauty and tragedy of certain scenes. I'd say that characters are her strong point, especially when they're close to each other. I find exceptional beauty and emotion in every hug, every kiss and every backstab that these characters perform.

In my experience, Yuki Kaori's works are never thematically empty. Quite the contrary, for example Neji manages to reflect upon several more or less deep themes in its short run, starting with how the society fucks up the individual and ending with thoughts on the value that the life of an artificial intelligence may have. Some of them are prominent, some are merely scratches on the surface, but all in all there's LOTS of food for thought in this story.

You can't make a one-volume manga very complex of plot, but at least it's not terribly clichéd. Naturally there are elements I've seen many times elsewhere, but there's nothing I've seen too much (with one possible exception). The greatest weak point in the story, I think, is the storytelling, which is a little messy and hasty. The messy art really doesn't help the matter.

In a tragedy, you always need good characters, characters you get attached to. In this particular case, the mangaka doesn't give all that much depth to those who die, choosing to concentrate on those who remain to grieve for them. It works, more or less. I can't say I shed tears reading Neji, but I definitely feel the sorrow of the characters who lose their loved ones. The story is short, so naturally there's no much time to deepen the characters, but the cast stays small and the story is tightly wrapped around their lives.

The final factor I'm going to analyze is the action. There's quite enough of it, and somewhat amusingly, it's both a weak point and a strong point in the story. The words "messy" and "confusing" apply once again, but still... some of the action scenes are just so damn cool. Whatever shortcomings the art has with clarity and fluidity of movement, it makes up with great expressions and occasional really cool panels. The plot and dialogue also contibute to making some the action scenes stand out with epicness and coolness.

All in all, Neji is nearly a masterpiece. Maybe it tries to fit too much material into too few pages, it could've been much better given another volume, but the quality of its themes, characters and crowning moments of awesome is undeniable. It is also noteworthy that the story is scifi - I usually dislike Japanese scifi. Scifi and tragedy, and yet I've read it three times... only a very good story could make me do that.

Oh boy, that ended up being much longer than I intended. Don't expect my every review to be a wall of text. Maybe it's time to finally finish Angel Sanctuary, now that I'm in the right mood. Or maybe I'll start with some unread Yuki Kaori work next...

Edit: Almost forgot...
Music I listened to while reading: Within Temptation (the newest album) and Shinrei Tantei Yakumo OST.

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