“I mean, if the shit has truly hit the fan, and I’m in a starving group of people and I say, ‘ladies and gentlemen I don’t know where the next meal is coming from’. Well if some idiot’s response is ‘I identify as…​’, I’m finishing their sentence with ‘dinner’.”

— Krakatoa on survival of the mentally fittest

Molesting Magical Girls, episode 8


In which Our Rejected Sub seeks martial counseling, Our Not-Evil-Just-Naughty Team meets their Actually-Evil Superiors and faces holy marshmallow hell, Our Terrible Idol Singer is severely punished for failure, Our Naughty Dom levels up and gets serious with Her Lying Mascot, and Our Gun-Crazy Weakest Tamer Panty Fighter grows up just a little.

Verdict: I approve of Loco Musica’s costume, her display of more jiggle in 30 seconds than an entire season of Pon No Michi (including the credits), and even the part where she strips while facing the camera, but there was nothing playful or fun about the whipping she took after that, which is not the sort that belongs on cheesecake. Villains gotta villain, sure, but no more of that, please; we get it, Evil Lord Is Evil.

(this week they brought out the big guns, and when I say big guns…)

Dear Adobe,

Why does Illustrator default to 1 decimal place of precision for SVG export when the tooltip says “3 is the best choice for most files”?

(four-eyed pony girls are four-eared as well!)

The adventures of Jin-something


Solo Lettering, episode 7

A common piece of advice for fiction writers is to not give a lot of characters similar names, to reduce the burden on the reader. Usually when I start coming up with aliases for anime characters it’s because I’m feeling trope-y, but this show’s got real issues:

Jinwoo’s Our Hero, Jinah’s His Hot Little Sister, Jinho’s Our Clingy Sidekick, Jinhee is His Big Sister, and Joohee’s Our Hot Not-Girlfriend.

Anyway, apart from some little-sister time, this is an “am I strong enough” big fight episode, in which the answer is “no, but since you refuse to just lay down and die, kinda yes in the end”. It’ll be a while before he returns to this too-tough dungeon, but when he does, Esil is waiting for him. And I’m waiting for Esil.

Verdict: they continue to pace this as if a second cour is guaranteed. Hope they’re right.

The Apothecary Diaries, episode 19

In which all the pieces fall into place. Unfortunately, they land on Maomao, leading to the second melodramatic insert song of the series.

This felt way too contrived, leading me to wonder if they over-compressed the relevant scenes from the book. The timing is just too precise, and the last puzzle-piece literally came out of nowhere. And where the fuck was Gaoshun for all of this?

Verdict: weakest episode of both seasons. Do better. On the bright side, you can stick a fork in the big secret, it’s done.

(we need a better Great Detective; this one’s broken)

McPharmacist & Fam, episode 7

In which Our Psycho New Hero’s severe fundamentalism is about to clash with the laid-back lifestyle in Zoltan, Our Slow Couple fights special ogres using the power of panned stills, Our Best Girl Assassinette deflects suspicion by being selectively honest about her motives, and Our Hot Wife And Sister bathe together with the clingiest buy-the-bluray soap bubbles available.

FYI, if you’re starting to conclude that Almighty Demis is a real dick of a god, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Sigh.

Verdict: the decision to compensate viewers with bath scenes for having to put up with the plot was a good one.

Say it with pon

Based on the 23-minute ad that was episode 4 of Pon No Michi, I downloaded the Mahjong Soul app to my iPad and tried it out. Okay, I soaked up every available English-language reference and played for several days on the offline app Kemono Mahjong first, which is a decent basic implementation of Japanese “riichi” mahjong (the relevant one of the bewildering variety of variations), with some non-animated low-budget furry NPC art.

KM is indie, while MJS comes from the same publisher as Azur Lane, etc, so it’s a polished game with plenty of cheesecake (and bishicake) avatars you can win through really expensive gatcha pulls. So don’t do that, just play with one of the two you get at the start. And don’t let anyone look over your shoulder if you’re playing in the office. During actual matches it’s fine, since you need every pixel to show everyone’s tiles clearly (I need my bifocals for this one); it’s just the random loading screens with lightly-covered T&A that could require explaining.

You can set up a private game with bots and longer timeouts until you feel confident enough to play against actual people, of which I haven’t seen less than a thousand online at any time of the day or night. Having skipped all mahjong-related movies, manga, and anime, I went into it cold, and had to find a few cheat-sheets for valid hands, which I’m still working on. I’m not even trying to learn how to score yet, though.

Verdict: free to play, money only buys you dress-up dollies and decorations, hardest part is learning to create valid complete hands. The game will do all the grunt work, including showing you every legal opportunity to draw from someone else’s discard pile. You just have to ignore the shiny buttons for a while until you figure out when they actually help your hand.

Unrelated, Apple iCloud QA

I went to save a bookmark from Safari on my iPad for later use on my Mac (the various orderings of the Discworld novels, after a massive Humble Bundle…). I was just going to dump it into my generic “Stuff” folder, except that didn’t exist. Check the Mac, it’s there, but it’s missing on the iPad (and iPhone). Drag it around, rearrange it, delete it, re-add it, etc, nothing. Every other bookmark and folder synced immediately, but not that one. Copy-paste to create an entirely new folder with all the same things inside it? The new one immediately appears on all devices.

With that sorted out, I added the new bookmark from the iPad. It took several minutes to appear on the Mac.

By the way, Rakuten Kobo’s iPad client works fine for manga, but has terrible page-turning lag for novels. Go figure.

(this is definitely not a Discworld elf!)

Once upon a cyberdoll...


(I was planning to post this Friday night, but I saw three inches of global warming building up, so I saved my energy for clearing my steep 75-foot driveway first thing Saturday morning, before the delivery drivers showed up. The scraping and salting took quite a while, and led to a relaxing soak in the oversized tub that requires every drop of hot water in the house. Then a nap. And Chinese takeout once the roads were clear)

Hand Maid May Bluray!

This one’s a guilty pleasure that Steven and I spent a lot of time talking about back in the day. Possibly the thing I’m most looking forward to is that it won’t have the obnoxious-to-navigate menu system the DVDs had, which tries to tie into the first episode, and which uses the English dub actor for Nanbara, who was terrible at it. It’s not any more fun in Japanese, but it was a dumb idea for the US market at the time, where most people buying the DVD wouldn’t have seen the show on TV first to get the joke.

There was an attempt at an adult OVA sequel, Hand Maid Mai, which was largely handled by the C team at the studio, but it completely lacked the charm of the original, and the best thing about it was the ED song. Only the first episode was released, despite studio claims that the entire thing was completed and ready to go once they worked out the problems with their bankrupt distributor.

(and, yes, that’s a link to a 21-year-old web site)

(it comes out the same day as Farm-Related Skills AKA Hoe Harem, and Fired From The Demon King’s Army AKA Twin Peaks)

Frieren, episode 23

If there’s a mimic on the mantel in the first act…

Verdict: there’s finally a reason she keeps falling for it. The other mages are still annoying and tedious, but at least they’re flashy this week. Next week: that’s just not fair.

(I might even learn the name of the cute refugee from Dead Or Alive if this keeps up)

Bikini Pon, episode 7

We begin by celebrating International Mahjong Day (Pai No Hi, not to be confused with National Mahjong Day in April or Pie Day in March), which is also Pai’s birthday. At the beach. In swimsuits. Surprisingly service-free swimsuits. Despite a game of beach volleyball.

I’m willing to believe that Our Little Riiche Girl is so divorced from the concept of money that she’s willing to give a solid-gold mahjong set as a birthday present, but what I’m not willing to believe in is a solid-gold mahjong set. Never mind that the tiles would weigh about 30 48 pounds and be worth over $800,000 $1,150,000 just for the metal, solid gold is soft; there’s a reason it’s not used much. This may be a mis-translation in the subs; I’ll have to listen to the Japanese dialog more carefully on a rewatch to see if she says “jun-kin” 純金. [update: yes, she says jun-kin, and so does the magic bird]

That said, it would have made a much better joke if they’d turned out to be gold-wrapped chocolate in a weighted box; she wouldn’t look like the sort of heiress who’ll hand over the family fortune to two gigolos and a psychic. Now, if she were giving away Riiche’s Peaches, I’d be all in, but it’s not that kind of show.

(yes, there’s a maid in red under-rim glasses for some reason)

Swiftly, Discord!

My spam folder had a bunch of messages telling me to log into Discord and change my username from the deprecated “name#number” format. But it wasn’t my Discord username, and it went to a non-standard email address. Not one of my used-with-one-vendor-only aliases, just one that I don’t typically use for online services.

The message certainly looked legit, and the links in the email went to the right place, so I went to their site and requested a password reset. Sure enough, the account existed, and it was subscribed to some modder’s forum that I don’t remember ever using eight years ago. The username was a keyboard pattern, so all I can think is that I made a throwaway in order to download one mod, and didn’t even bother recording the username or password. Deleted now.

(hmmm, robot maid or robot bunny girl? Or embrace the power of “and” and embrace both?)

Molesting Magical Girls, episode 7


Achievement unlocked: Break The Cutie! In which we learn the innocent origin of Our Dominant Villainess’ naughty obsession, and watch Our Bustiest Magical Girl reveal her origin while falling into despair as her will to fight is compromised by her submissive awakening. With plenty of nudity, of course.

Verdict: the production team’s real kink is storytelling. Next week: the other two girls in the OP have been out there kicking Magical Girl ass, not just spanking it. Or spanking it.

Reference Density, Pon Edition

An occasional mahjong blogger watched Pon No Michi and called out all the references in the first two episodes (1, 2), including the OP and ED songs. I imagine this will continue.

(this picture has more bounce than six episodes of the show…)

Killer Bingo

Did you have illegal alien, person of color, fraudulent voter, Bernie supporter, schizophrenic, repeatedly involuntarily committed, identified as opposite sex (but hasn’t been claimed by trans activists for some reason…), lengthy criminal record, Hamas supporter, illegal gun purchaser, church shooter, and suicide-by-cop on your card? Bingo!

Squirrel!

When activists and lawmakers work to disarm the populace and force them to rely on professionals for protection, maybe they should, y’know, train them, so they don’t shoot up their own (occupied) squad car because they heard an acorn hit it.

(I like cops, and appreciate the value they provide to society, but most of them can’t shoot for shit, and this one was clearly a touch too excitable for the profession)

Revelations


The Apothecary Diaries, episode 18

In which one secret is openly revealed, another is subtly revealed, and a third is almost there. Also, family reunions suck.

Verdict: I would be very happy if they announced more cours for this show.

(something in this episode made this picture resonate with me…)

Solo Murderhobo, episode 6

Making friends and killing people. Right on schedule. Again, it’s nice that they’ve worked a lot of the supporting cast into these early episodes. If they get enough seasons to make use of them, that is. You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for Our New Best Friend, though, who’s stuck in that awkward state between hero worship and abject terror.

Verdict: five stars, would kill again.

(Cha got about five seconds in this episode; I guess she’ll have to do until Esil shows up)

McPharmacist And Friends 2, episode 6

In which Our Loving Waifu demonstrates the proper way to bounce in a bikini (pon-pon girls take note!), Our Retired Heroine forgets her bikini but sadly wears an oversized shirt instead, Our Slow Heroes win the gratitude of an entire village using their medicinal talents, Our Psychotic New Hero lives up to the label, Our Cuddly Assassinette goes undercover, Our Ambitious Cardinal turns out to be surprisingly spry, and looting a dragon’s hoard is sure to end badly.

Verdict: I found the whole New Hero thing tedious in the light novels, and it’s no better here. It’s also far from over, so it’s going to continue to pollute the rest of the season.

(nothing says year-of-the-dragon like a bit of Grea-service)

Unrelated, speaking of family…

…banality after the jump, as they say.

more...

Scrabbling for quality...


Way to QA, Apple

The just-released MacOS, iOS, and iPadOS updates are entirely based on Apple managing to break basic text handling across all their platforms. I hadn’t noticed it on my Mac because I do most of my typing in Terminal.app, but when I was trying to post a comment to my own blog in Safari, entire paragraphs of text would spontaneously vanish whenever I tried to edit a sentence.

Official description of the only fix in the release:

Text may unexpectedly duplicate or overlap while typing

I’d ask how they missed this, but that presupposes that they test text entry at all.

Frieren, episode 22

This week, the downtime between exams brings Stark back into the story, but Our Pouty Reunion is repeatedly interrupted by having the other mages thrown into the scenes in various combinations. Getting many of them into the same restaurant was too contrived, but the actual Frieren & Friends Now And Then parts were great.

Verdict: how many times now has Fern’s emotional time-bomb gone off? Gal really needs to get laid soon, or at least vigorously kissed. As for the mages, with the exception of Little Miss Fanservice, eight deadly words. And if you’re concerned about Frieren’s eating habits, I’m sure she’s got a spell for that.

Pon The Road Again, episode 6

In the obligatory opening dream sequence, Our Goth Girl scores some mighty masterful mahjong against Girls 1-3 at a low table in a traditional inn while wearing yukata. This is the most animation the show has shown outside of the credits, and not all of it was CGI. Then she suddenly sits up in her bunk bed wearing a tank top made of bounce-prevention fabric.

Cut to a train-station meeting in new clothing (bare midriff for Gothy), where phase one of “training camp” is “visit tourist spots that we never go to in our own neighborhood”, an excuse to pan over more of the reference photos they’ve been tracing. One of which is a bathhouse, so, y’know, finally.

Except that even the bath scene is a panned still covered with steam.

When they finally reach their ryokan after hiking through more panned stills, they jump into the bath, but they’re too tired to pan the steamed-up still. Despite their (and our) exhaustion, Gothy demands that they finally play the damn game, and so they break out the tiles.

Unlike the triumphant dream sequence, the next N minutes are spent with the THIS IS COMEDY music highlighting their increasingly erratic play as they fight off sleep. In the end, Our Poor Little Riiche Girl goes off to bathe alone, and we don’t even get a still of that.

Verdict: cute-girls-doing-cute-things in the great outdoors, plus at least the idea of bath scenes, but most importantly, no man-face “jokes”. Next week: finally, bikinis. (yeah, this is my shocked face)

(last week it was revealed that Girls 1-4 are 16, while Gothy is 17 (and visiting from Hiroshima, not homeless); they sure do breed ’em healthy in this region)

Kana Nakada, former idol singer and current mahjong pro, mostly just lends her name to this show, since her voice is unrecognizable in the OP song.

Here she demonstrates her qualifications to play with the pon-pon girls.

Molesting Magical Girls, episode 6


In which Our Dolly Loli makes a new friend, and then lures Our Ditzy Heroine into baby play, exploiting her character flaws to keep things flowing even after she breaks the mind control. Meanwhile, we get an origin story for Our Distinctly Unfeminine Heroine.

Unrelated, we’re halfway through, and the show airs on Wednesdays, so could this be described as the “double humpday” episode?

Verdict: Instead of the standard “monster of the week”, we’ve got “fetish of the week”, which somehow works with the character development.

(not exactly a mother/daughter pic, but I’m delighted that I don’t have any relevant fan-art for bottle-feeding and diapers)

Fetish Alert!

Four-eyed catgirls must also be four-eared. Duh.

Except for this one:

Related, Leafa-chan could use a good pair… of glasses:

Makeup, Makedown


The Apothecary Diaries, episode 17

They really lean into the comedy side this week, taking advantage of all that character-building they’ve been doing. Plenty of serious plot crumbs being dropped, though, with Maomao learning some things about Jinshi that don’t match his public face, and Jinshi getting a few puzzle pieces that are sure to lead to future revelations.

Verdict: …possibly as early as next week, when the secrets of Creepy Monocle Guy come to light. Secrets he was strangely anxious to hint at.

Slo-Mo Leveling, episode 5

I can’t figure out how they’re planning to end this season, given the pacing. This week is basically an advanced intro to dungeon crawling, with Our Leveling Hero and His First Friend joining a pick-up raid that goes wrong. This week also debuts the real post-upgrade Jinwoo, obliviously putting pretty young nurses into heat.

Verdict: it’s a solid adaptation so far, but if they don’t announce a second cour, it’s not going to be very satisfying. They need 4+ to do it justice, even with some trimming.

McPharmacist, Waifu, & Sister 2, episode 5

FYI, while you can use filters to emulate depth of field, using it to make your cheesecake fuzzy is a bad idea; fortunately they compensate for this mistake with bath scenes. The big news this week is that Ruti’s bust stays at a consistent size in and out of her clothing. The bad news is that the point of the episode is a sparring match between Red and Danan, consisting mostly of panned stills with speedlines, with the climax offscreen. And it ended with more time spent building up Our Psychotic New Hero; this is sure to take time away from the cheesecake.

Verdict: if it weren’t for all the cleavage shots, this episode would have been wasted. Bonus points for Mr. Crawly-Wawly getting a bath scene.

Today I Learned

The pon-pon girls refer to their electronic mahjong table as Janta-kun. This is one of the many in-jokes, because the word for mahjong table is jan-taku. This also explains why the talking bird is a sparrow: the kanji used for the “jan” in “maajan” means sparrow: 雀.

(not a pon-pon girl, but qualified to sit at their table)

Dear Erika Ikuta,

Are you sure you’re from Nogizaka46 and not Hello!Project? Because I have some fashion questions…

(source NSFW; disable Javascript…)

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”