Tag Archives: Doujin

C93 – A Cool One (Winter 2017)

1 Feb , 2018,
Levin Tan
,
No Comments

This year’s Comiket was cooler (literally) than average and it actually snowed a little before the doors opened on one of the days! The snow turned quickly into sleet and then a light drizzle though, so it wasn’t that memorable compared to the recent heavy snow that it received. With 550,000 attendees (D1: 180,000 + D2: 160,000 + D3: 210,000) this year, it’s one of the more crowded Comikets.

To get the usual things out of the way first, Kancolle (艦これ) has slid quite a bit this year to lose its previously uncontested top placement to… Fate. There’s an explosion of Fate doujins this year, definitely in some part due to FGO. Touhou (東方) Project has slid quite a bit over the years and this year, it’s now lost second place to Fate as well.  It’s also lost its place to THE iDOLM@STER (thanks to the recent releases of games which brought it back up), which took third, so Touhou (東方) Project is now fourth. Touken Ranbu (刀剣乱舞) has also slid in numbers and has been overtaken by Fate. Love Live! (ラブライブ!) has maintained about the same number of circles as previous Comikets. Azur Lane (アズールレーン), a newcomer, hasn’t entered the rankings, but I’m sure it will pretty soon…

One of the loading screens in Azur Lane (アズールレーン) was drawn by TwinBox who has a booth here. It’s a shutter!

On the corporate side, Nekopara (ネコぱら) came back again, same with Twin Angel (ツインエンジェル), and Tokyo 7th Sisters. Nanoha (なのは) was promoting their upcoming film DETONATION, with comiket being where/when they exclusively unveiled its PV! Also, notably, Key was selling the 10th anniversary memorial merchandise for Little Busters! and some reaaaaallly premium (¥15,000) anime t-shirts. Wow.

Exclusive unveiling of the PV for the upcoming movie! Comiket is one of those big events where these things happen.

Azur Lane (アズールレーン) has already assumed corporate presence in Comiket despite it being such a young game (only several months old). It had its origins as a Chinese game, but they certainly did well to penetrate the Japanese market. There’s cosplay of it as well! (Not really unexpected knowing how fast these cosplayers here are.)

Pixiv’s Azur Lane illustration compilation sold out each day!

Hellooo Atago! ねむ(nemu✾) is a very pretty cosplayer, and my photo here doesn’t do her justice (T.T) so head over to her Twitter!

One observation in the corporate side I must note, is that there’s been an increasing number of media content providing companies exhibiting year after year. Probably got to do with streaming being increasingly popular, whether be it streaming professional content, or popular livestreams and feeds. This time, I saw Abema TV (アベマTV) had joined.

Abema is giving Nico Nico Douga (ニコニコ動画) a run for its viewers!

With that, let me bring you to the more unusual side of Comiket. But first, this year I “brought” some non-comiket-goers along with me. Well, I say “brought”, but I actually just told them how and when to come because I certainly can’t bring them along with the raid team into the morning first cry of battle. That’d be very cruel. Might I remind you, it’s a war zone after all. And their reactions? Oh yes, they were blown away at the scale of things. One of them had been to the conventions in the US (large ones, certainly), and he was remarking that this is on a very different level! They spent quite some time going around row after row after row to “have a look at what is out there” but gave up exhausted after seeing slightly less than half the booths. Comiket is really just that big. Nevertheless, they did enjoy themselves, so as I’ve ever mentioned before, there’s something for everyone at Comiket!

Now on to what I would like to draw your attention to this year. Watches! Well, pocket watches to be precise. Something a bit more exotic than your usual day crafts eh? There were actually a couple of booths selling these this time round, and they did attract a fair number of people (most craft booths don’t have a queue at all typically).

Pocket watches! The steampunk in you can surely relate, and it also carries an air of elegance if you happen to have a top hat and a monocle.

This one was one of the more expensive ones at this booth. (Should pocket watches be called Pokéwatch?)

Another one worth noting is the exhibition of a research project paper at one of the circle booths titled “Towards the High-quality Anime Characters Creation with Generative Adversarial Networks”. If you’re in the AI and Machine Learning sector (crossed with being an otaku as well), you might have heard about this paper a few months back, just after the middle of last year. While the outputs of the networks aren’t perfect, and can look awkward at times, it is a real treat to see it in action. It generates an anime girl based on the selected attributes you want the girl to have: hair colour, hair style, glasses (or not), Smile!, Sweet!, Sister!, Sadistic!, Service!… oops I don’t think the last few were part of the parameters. They’ve even built a website if you’d like to try it. And mind you, this booth had quite continuous attention with always a few people around it talking to the students who did this project, and they could explain it in Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin), and English!

Now with this technology, you can finally have the exact harem you’ve always dreamed of!

So things like that pop up now and then and really add a nice touch to Comiket. Remember, Comiket is made up of its people, or participants (参加者) as we are all called. There are no sellers nor buyers, and everyone adds to its atmosphere and feel.  It’s well worth visiting, and my only regret this year was that I had alot more to rush around for than previous years (along with juggling messaging to different groups of people) such that I couldn’t stop to “soak in” the “Comiket atmosphere” (although I certainly added to it, I hope). In fact, I probably got a bit too absorbed this year, and stayed too late such that I even missed the last “reality this way” (現実->) sign, and I don’t have a picture to show for it! Oh well… Next year it is.

現実へ

C91 – The Depth of Comiket (Winter 2016)

1 Feb , 2017,
Levin Tan
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No Comments

Comiket (コミケ) is “Comic” + “Market”, but having experienced a few, we felt that it definitely extends to more than that. Thinking about comics and doujinshi is just the surface, and so Haruta and I decided to plunge deeper. This is what this year’s coverage is mostly going to be about.

Firstly, let’s get the usual things out of the way. This year’s doujinshi had the usual top runners still on top: Kancolle (艦これ), Touhou Project (東方), Touken Ranbu (刀剣乱舞), iM@S, and Fate/Anything (and its spinoffs like Prisma Illya). Corporate booths had a really long queue for Gochiusa (ごちうさ), and the Grandblue Fantasy (グラブル) dakimakura (released ONLY on D2) sold out really fast. Nekopara was also present, and had cosplayers for each of the characters. Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel (快盗天使ツインエンジェル) was promoting its next season. It’s been a long time!

Nekopara!

Making a comeback after 6 years is Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel!

Secondly, if you didn’t already know, Tokyo Big Sight has now expanded by putting up another “double” hall. This year had 東7 (booths) and 東8 (changing room). To take advantage of the new space, both the doujin booths and corporate booths have expanded.

Comiket is just going to keep get bigger and better…

The new hall is still plenty spacious, which means that there’s still room to grow. Needless to say, Comiket is still war. Number of counted visitors this time was 550,000! (Not counting those not in the main queue after noon or so.)  And the booth count was 35,700! The most ever!

Now, something interesting before we carry on. Before the shutters were lifted to start the day, on D3, I had the chance to personally witness one of the doujin booths having 2 of their doujinshi barred from sale because it was just too NSFW. Think about that for a moment. (You may need to have seen some R18 doujinshi to understand what I’m talking about here.) And the reaction around me as the news spread was like “え?”, “まじ?”, “もう?”, and “www”, or a mixture.

So let’s start the dive, and let us bring you first, to D3, 西1.

This is the place for non-doujinshi stuff, and there are a great many things to keep your head turning. Last year I wrote about homemade headphones, this year I’m going to show you glass pens.

Completely made of transparent glass, with various nip sizes to your liking. By Kemmy’s Labo

These behave like quills where you dip them into ink, and the surface tension holds the ink on the nip while accumulating just enough at the tip for you to write! I saw people trying it out and I’m impressed at how consistent the thickness of each stroke is.

Well, there’s not just glass pens, miniature models for your Nendoroids and other similar-sized figurines as well! Check these out! Beautifully crafted; each and every single miniature!

Perfect for Nendoroids. Check out close-ups on her Twitter!

Music lovers are not left out either. This is also the place for you to get your indie music, including niche and very niche genres like 電波ソング/萌えソング, みみかき. DJ mixes are also in. Check out this booth which caries both 電波 and Camelia’s creations! I personally love songs which are かめりあ feat. ななひら. (Camelia does 電波 as well, so he actually has works in both booths!)

Camelia (かめるかめりあ) [left] & Confetto [right] booths, which had pretty long queues at the start of the day!

D3 at 西1 will never be boring, and I’m sure there will be loads more that I can feature each year. But let’s move on a little.

Comiket is getting more and more international every year, as they reach out to other countries with blooming culture and other countries reach in to Japan. The Comiket Official Page on Facebook said that they had probably just gotten the most number of international visitors yet. And this year, as part of their International Otaku Zone, they featured Singapore.

Pictures and short paragraphs describing what otaku conventions in Singapore are like.

The Japanese have probably heard some stuff about Singapore, most likely something to do with that lion with a fish tail (and you can juuust see it in that picture in the middle), but having a zone like that at Comiket is something I’d say I’m somewhat proud to see happening.

Let me now take you outside. To the cosplay areas!

You can find cosplayers just about anywhere outdoors, even mixing with the queues for the booths as seen here!

Comiket is never complete without talking about the cosplay. From swimsuits to armour (the proportion of which swings depending on the temperature), there is a really great number of cosplayers that it makes perfect sense to chillout after hitting your popular booths (most are sold out around noon to 1pm anyway) and have a really long look around. You’ll also see endless blogs, tweets, and posts online of all the different cosplays each time Comiket comes around.

This time, we took a plunge deeper as well, and Haruta interviewed two of these cosplayers. First up, we have Shimizu Taichi (清水 泰地).

Feast your eyes on those muscles! Get more on his Twitter!

A professional body builder who’s put his muscular body to good use for his hobby, Shimizu has always loved anime and manga since young. One day it suddenly occurred to him that his body figure is similar to some of the anime and manga characters. So he decided, why not cosplay these characters? Thus he debut during Summer Comiket 2015 as the green superhero Hulk from Marvel Comics.

Since then, Shimizu has cosplayed several other characters, such as Alexander the Great from Fate/Zero, Broly from Dragon Ball Z, and his most famous, Zangief from Street Fighters. When asked what his next cosplay plan is, Shimizu said he hadn’t thought about it yet, but he’s most likely bringing it out during Summer Comiket 2017! With that, Haruta left him to put on a coat (remember it’s winter!) as he takes a break from posing as Nappa from DBZ.

Next, we have a newbie to the Comiket scene, Kuro, as he cosplays Ezio Auditore da Firenze, from Assassin’s Creed II!

Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Kuro’s a newbie, but goodie!

Although being his first time debuting at Comiket, Kuro is no stranger to cosplay, having dabbed in the hobby for around one and a half years. His first cosplay was Kotetsu, from Tiger & Bunny, in his casual everyday wear.

When asked for his reasons for starting cosplay, Kuro said that he went to a party with his upperclassmen, where everyone is a cosplayer. Due to the influence, he decided maybe he should give it a go, and since then he hasn’t stopped yet.

Kuro also has a passion for swords, and thus likes cosplaying characters carrying a katana. Kuro has cosplayed several Hakuoki characters as such, and more recently, Mikazuki Munechika from Touken Ranbu. Kuro plans to challenge a different type of characters by cosplaying someone from Idolish 7, though which one specifically, he hasn’t decided yet. When asked how long does he see himself continuing the hobby, Kuro said the future is still uncertain now, so for the time being he’s going to try for another two to three years, then take a look again from there on.

Every cosplayer has a story, and realising that (while looking at the numbers), you can start to see why this post is a deeper dive. But of course, we can’t carry that many stories (nor pictures) in one post, so head on over to our Facebook page for a larger album of cosplayers!

Comiket is much more than just comics and commercial booth merchandise (limited edition or not!). I’d like to reiterate what I’ve said before, and this is the view of the organising committee: Everybody at Comiket is a participant. There are no sellers, no buyers.

You see, Comiket is made of its people. Coming together, sharing such a huge passion for whatever they have (really whatever as you would have noticed by now), every single person there adds to how awesome this event is, and everyone is there to enjoy themselves. Even the rush for limited edition stuff are all done very nicely, very “politely” if I may say. And let us not forget the volunteers who work tirelessly for 3 days straight to guide the crowds. Their crowd control and systems they put in place are absolutely amazing (this one you can only understand once you personally see it).

Attending Comiket is kinda magical, and always leaves me with a sense of awe, sense of exhilaration, and a sense of fulfilment in the end. I’m sure everyone feels this magic too. Which is why, never failing, there will always be this at the end of the 3 days:

Sign says: <- Reality ->

C89 – Winter Comiket 2015

16 Jan , 2016,
Levin Tan
,
2 comments

Comiket is just awesome!

Comiket is war. Anyone without a mission, without a strategy, will accomplish nothing on this battlefield.

After C84 with Arvin back in 2013, I certainly was raving to go for another one, so when I finally got another opportunity, I went back to Tokyo once more – for C89.

I cannot emphasise enough how big Comiket is. If you’ve been to one before, you’ll know. If you haven’t, it’s unimaginable. Even my memory of C84 had gotten kinda hazy and I was still amazed at how large it was this time. For comparison, take US’s largest similar convention: New York Comic-Con. They have over 170,000 attendees over 4 days. At Comiket, a single day has more attendees than Comic-Con for all 4 days, totaling at over 590,000 over 3 days! And these are only the attendees who queue at the opening. Those arriving after noon are not counted.

Back in C84, I didn’t care much about doujins and circles, and just went for the commercial booths. My Japanese was quite bad, so I couldn’t understand much even if I did buy doujins. But this time, I upped my level, and really prepared for war. Before flying to Tokyo, I had already met up with a group of friends to discuss our plans, routes, and strategies. We had a Facebook chat group and a Whatsapp group for communications as well.

I took the first train from my hotel down to the Tokyo Big Sight. But when I got there, there were a number of people already ahead of me! Ok, I thought, it doesn’t look that bad. That was until the sun rose and I could see everything…

picture of queue into Comiket on day 1

Everyone in front of me and to the left are ahead of me in the queue! (Day 1)

Queue for Comiket

Nice sunrise while queueing. (Day 2)

The only level up from here is to queue overnight, which is what one of my friends did. You have to be prepared though. This is winter, with temperatures around 4C or lower in the middle of the night. Summer is easier, and that means more people queue overnight too.

Marker for end of queue

This marks the tail of the line. It takes skill to find this fast!

Queueing is almost like what Comiket is made out of. You do that for everything – from getting in, to buying your stuff, to use the vending machines, toilets, everything. And usually, from the tail of the queue, the head is not visible, and vice versa. This can leave people confused as they search for the tail to join the queue. No doubt, with experience, this gets easier.

This year’s comiket was divided into (mostly) Day 1 – BL (and Gundam), Day 2 – Kancolle, Touken Ranbu, and Touhou, Day 3 – iM@S and LL!. I was targeting the commercial booths, Kancolle, and iM@S, so this was pretty much perfect scheduling. The people who arrange these things are very knowledgeable about the fanbase and content, so they try their best to schedule it such that most people can get what they want.

Now, knowing what you want to get isn’t sufficient, you also need to plan how you want to get it, because…

Hall crowds at C89

Multiply this view by exactly 10 times for the total indoor crowd at any time.

That booth you want to visit is a high school classroom sized table located in there somewhere! You aren’t going to get to it without planning! Also, check out the flow of people between halls:

Crowd flowing

When crowds are this thick, people behave like liquid flowing…

Another thing to be amazed at is, despite the colossal crowd, everything runs superbly smoothly! It is crowd management at its finest. You have to give it to them:

Comiket volunteers in orange caps and armbands

These are the volunteers of Comiket who help things run really smoothly.

There are 3,500 of these volunteers who help out on minimum 2 of the 3 days in Comiket. I asked my Japanese friend, and he said that all these people get is a free Comiket catalog (worth ¥2,500), a free meal, and get to keep their hats and armbands. That’s it! And yet, each Comiket has more applications for volunteers than they accept! So why would they sacrifice being able to buy stuff? Well, apparently these volunteers have enough connections that they can get what they want from their friends.

You might be wondering now, how did I get all these photos, wasn’t I located in a battlefield rushing for my own stuff? Well, see, Comiket almost ends at noon. By the time you hit around 11.00am, the most popular booths sell out:

Booth Utsura Uraraka, by Eretto sensei.

Day 1 booth Utsura Uraraka (A61ab), by Eretto sensei. Sold out!

The popular booths then sell out around 1pm, and by 2pm, you are basically left with all the non-famous/popular ones. That is not to say that they are not good, just not as well known. For instance:

FNP from Singapore!

Booth: FNP (Day 2, J03b)
A doujin circle from Singapore!

Circles not from Japan can be found participating in Comiket. I did come across several from China as well, and they sell good stuff too!

On day 3 usually, you can find circles dealing with electronics. Anime, manga, and electronics are somehow related as proven in Akiba, and here is no different:

Home-made headphone drivers

HAL900 (circle name) selling home-made headphone drivers.

Comiket is not just about doujins and merchandise, but also about cosplay. Here’s a shot of one of the several cosplay areas:

Overlooking the outdoor cosplay area

It can be hard to find your cosplaying friends here!

Gochiusa, short for Gochuumon wa Usagi desuka? (Is the Order a Rabbit?) is the biggest thing in Akihabara currently, and I was glad to be able to find a full cast of cosplayers here at Comiket!

Gochiusa Cosplayers

Is the order a full cast of Gochiusa cosplayers? Cosplayers: Cocoa, Chino, Takahiro, Rize, Sharo, Chiya

If you’re looking for more cosplay pictures, check out our C89 Facebook Album!

The spirit of Comiket is meant to be a community thing, as you might find in the official brochure and website. There are no “customers”, but only participants. This is something everyone understands. And while it gets really crowded and disorienting, the whole convention proceeds in a very orderly fashion. Even during one incident I witnessed where a cosplayer wasn’t happy with the way someone was photographing her (rather *ahem* angles) and things got a bit heated, everyone helped to ensure that the photographer didn’t run away and a staff member was called to help. The photograph was deleted, and all was alright.

At the end of it, Comiket leaves you with a tired but wonderful feeling, as you go back to count your loot (which can’t even fit in one picture). I can’t quite describe how that feeling is like, but it’s something of awe, satisfaction, amazement, and accomplishment. Comiket is an amazing experience that will keep you going back for more! However, as you leave, there’s always someone to remind you…

This way to reality.

“Reality, this way ->” is what the sign says.

International Cosplay Day & A Certain Magical Event

27 Aug , 2011,
Crimson
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The 27th of August saw two events happening – the worldwide International Cosplay Day,  and A Certain Magical Event (A.C.M.E.) III at Suntec City Convention Hall.

To quote International Cosplay Day founder Jennifer Alice, “This 27th of August will be a day like no other. You will wake up. You will put on cosplay (you will hopefully shower before hand). And you will live without regulations. It WILL be bold. It WILL be daring. But know that out there in the world, others will be joining you on this epic endeavor.”

A casual check of the event fan page revealed that there were some 8,000 participants worldwide (though there were only a token number from Singapore), so this blogger decided to throw his hat in the ring, and tossed on a casual cosplay wig for the day to celebrate the occasion. XD

But while International Cosplay Day was a non-event, A.C.M.E. III proved different. The character goods and otaku merchandise fair saw hordes of anime and manga fans thronging to the foyer of Suntec City Convention Hall’s third level, outside Halls 320, 325 and 326, where highlights included Bushiroad and Touhou Hisoutensoku tournaments, as well as booths stocking a plethora of products and merchandise.

Here are some photos from the event:


We’ve also managed to set up an interview with Collateral Damage Studios, so look out for our article soon, when we delve into the doujin publishing scene!

Until then, cheerio!

Rockin’ the Comifest – Part Deux

6 Jun , 2011,
Crimson
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It's Comifest 2, and it's a riot of people and exhibitors!

The weekend was jam-packed with two cosplay events – the second Comifest and the quarterly Haru Bazaar at *SCAPE. With my tight schedule, I could only choose one or the other, so I opted for the former, rather than the latter.

It’d rained all Saturday morning, so it was with a fair bit of trepidation that I stepped into the Civil Service Club at Bukit Batok. From pictures posted on the Comifest website, I’d half expected the event to be little more than a buncha stalls placed around the pool area with scant shelter, making for a rather wet and humorless event indeed.

Fortunately, the rain had petered out by the time I arrived, and the weather had taken on a passably balmy (well, actually hot) quality. Exhibitor stalls were neatly spaced along the sheltered walkway on the third level, affording ample room for visitors and cosplayers alike to mill about and browse. It was certainly an improvement from the first incarnation, which happened awhile back.

Strategy Entertainment showcasing their Romance of the Three Kingdoms inspired card game.

Dream Walker, now onto its third book.

The key exhibitors were local doujin group Comix Pandora and TCZ Studios, but this time, Strategy Entertainment and Cherry Credits had a presence as well. There was even an exhibitor from Thailand (and his work was awesome, by the way).

The latest Cherry Credits MMO, Dragon Nest, was definitely a crowd stopper. It’s crisp, clean graphics, action based gameplay, and cut scenes were pretty incredible, and even a diehard gaming purist like me was impressed.

One thing that Comifest did different this time was with the inclusion of seminars.

Taking a leaf outta foreign cons’ books, the organizers invited speakers to conduct talks and demonstrations on a variety of topics, ranging from cartoon drawing to game creation.

It was definitely a step up, and in the right direction too, judging from the crowd the sessions attracted.

The Cartoon Drawing Seminar - Even cosplayers were in attendance. XD

There were myriad cosplayers at Comifest too, together with the requisite (and proverbial) wall of photographers, spicing up the event with their Bleach, Naruto, Reborn and Vocaloid outfits.

It’s a bit of a shame that I couldn’t stay longer. I had a Dungeons & Dragons session that afternoon, so I had to leg it after about 2 hours. Still, it was a pretty cool event, and I sure hope there’s gonna be another Comifest next year, with more exhibitors and independent artists!

Here are some additional snaps from the event. XD

Photographers and cosplayers doing their thang.

Preview of Dragon Nest and its character creation mechanics.

Hui Xian, the creator of Dream Walker doing a live art demo.

The Thai doujin artists and their kickass artwork.

A closer look at their "Everyday Fantasy".

Rockin' the Comifest

7 Mar , 2011,
Crimson
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A crowded Doujin booth. It's obvious that Singaporeans don't mind merchandise. XD

I dropped by Suntec City over the weekend to check out the Singapore ComiFest.

Organized by Fullhouse Communication and Wee Tian Beng’s homegrown TCZ Studio, ComiFest was touted as a mini convention for anime, comic and game lovers.

The event promised two days of freebies, fun, and an eclectic spread of Doujin merchandise from local artists.

Furthermore, it sold itself as a cosplay friendly event, which accounted for the droves of costumers there to parade in their newest togs and strut their stuff.

As it turned out, ComiFest sparked a storm of controversy amongst cosplayers and photographers, especially those frequenting the SGCafe forums.

Many questioned the organizers’ rationale for sharing the Concourse with a wedding fair, the exhibition layout, crowd control measures, and purportedly, unoptimized use of event space.

The ever present wall of photographers. A staple at any event.

All in all, the event wasn’t that iffy.

Sure, while I did notice the relatively narrow aisles and the clump of Doujin booths sandwiched in between wedding planners, it certainly wasn’t the end of the world.

There was enough breathing space (at least more on Sunday anyway) if you didn’t mind jostling with cosplayers, photographers and generally curious members of the public.

It was also refreshing to observe that Singapore has something of a future in producing comic books and manga, if the quality of the exhibitors was to be believed.

If there’s one thing I regret, it’s that I didn’t get to snap very many pictures – just enough to paint a vignette of the event. I was totally in himbo mode, spending more time preening in my new stage costume for FightSaber, and stunting with my Ophion blade. XD

Doujin artwork for sale. XD

Despite all the negativity surrounding ComiFest and my own mixed feelings about the event, I’m actually kinda hoping that the organizers will pick it up and attempt something bigger and infinitely better next year.

ComiFest might be off to a small start now, but any event at all is still affirmation for the local Doujin publishing scene, eh?

With a Dream and a Prayer

22 Jan , 2011,
Crimson
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It’s awesome when you’ve got a friend in Japan. It’s even more awesome when he’s willing to hit up conventions for you just to get ahold of exclusive releases like Ougon Musou Kyoku, 07th Expansion’s doujin fighter based on characters from “Umineko no Naku Koro Ni” – a popular visual novel and animation series famous for it’s deeply involved storyline, complex plot twists, and supernatural themes.

Ougon Musou Kyoku - Opening Sequence

Initial Impressions:

Aptly titled “Symphony of Golden Dreams”, the biggest draw about this game has definitely got to be the score, hands down.

From the outset, you are blasted with solid, orchestral music and smooth vocals that play compliment to the mind-blowing introduction sequence.

Again at the character selection screen, you’re regaled by the game’s female ensemble as they vocalize a catchy, if sinister tune, nevermind that its in ear-grating Engrish, and this trend continues throughout the game, as you play through seven stages (called Movements, in true musical fashion) of intense, arcade fighting action.

Character Select - Take your pick!

Gameplay:

Ougon players get their pick from a plethora of characters from the franchise, including Battler, Ange, and Beatrice,  as well as the Lucifer, the leader of the Sisters of Purgatory, Beatrice’s manservant Ronove, Kanon and Shannon, and the enigmatic Virgilia.

This line up might seem a little skimpy at first, but like all doujin games, there’s little doubt content patches will introduce additional characters and options in months to come.

The controls are easy enough, and fairly intuitive. Ougon Musou Kyoku works with three primary buttons corresponding to a Light Attack, a Medium Attack, a Heavy Attack, as well as a Tag button for you to switch between your primary and reserve combatants, as well as a taunt button for health recovery. Pressing two or more buttons in tandem with specific keypad commands initiate enhanced attacks, and pressing all three Attack buttons at once activates Meta World mode.

The real mechanics come from how battles are structured.

Each bout is team based – you pick two characters, who share a common health pool, with an additional caveat – you don’t stock up your own power gauges each time you deliver an attack. You stock up that of your reserve partner’s. This forces players to master not just one character or play style, but a good mix.

Tag System

Tag, you're it!

Each time you tag in and out, your character also enhances their partner with a short lived buff.

Battler, for example, has the power of Resurrection, which recovers a small amount of health, while Eva-Beatrice increases the damage your character inflicts, if only for a short while.

Lucifer prepares to unleash her Meta World attack.

The Meta World:

Activating Meta World mode causes the background to subtly shift and gives you a quick boost for some 20 seconds, but there’s an additional benefit.

With at least 3 stocks in your power gauge, you can also deliver your most devastating attack.

This attack not only wipes out three quarters of your opponent’s health bar, but also comes with requisite cut-scenes, flashing lights, bells and whistles and magic circles as well.

How cool is that?

Characters & Graphics:

While the character designs for Ougon are true to the anime, and a lot of work was put into the animation for enhanced moves, rush supers and Meta World ultimates, there’s little to set them apart mechanically from similar, fireball tossing, uppercut inducing archetypes in the genre.

Battler plays like a typical, balanced protagonist with his four moves – a projectile, an anti-air move, a downward attack from mid air, and a charging attack, while Chiester410 is a projectile spamming turtle with an uninteresting moveset, rather than a cuddly gun bunny (or precisely because she’s a gun bunny). The game’s witches, such as Ange, Beatrice and Virgilia are a little more dynamic, but there’s truly little to write home about.

Despite slipping up a little on the mechanics aspect, Ougon redeems itself in every other way. Character sprites are crisp and beautiful, stage backgrounds are detailed, and little things like wisps of smoke and butterflies that flit about as you beat the crap out of your opponent is always a plus.  All in all, it’s visually top notch, and it’s hard to imagine that this is 07th’s first fighting game. It certainly looks like they’ve been doing this shtick for years!

Conclusion:

My real grouse about this game is a purely technical one. It’s just not keyboard friendly. Enhanced moves, Meta World Activation and the like require you to jam two or more buttons together, and these buttons, such as those defaulting to Z, X, and C on your keyboard, suffer from something called Keyblocking. This means, of course, that you’re best served with using a controller pad, or a console controller pad with a USB adapter or you’re at the mercy of the keyboard gods and bereft of your most potent moves.

Otherwise, it’s a fairly good buy. It’s something new and fun, and if you’re a fan of the franchise, something to tide you over till your next Umineko fix.