As per Azure Flame tradition, this week Tuesday Rumble takes time off (yeah, I know there hasn’t been a proper TR in weeks, but let’s just pretend there was for the sake of argument) to make way for a very special New Year Rumble, in which we look back at a year in the life of Azure Flame and its lesser known sister sites. So sit back, relax, and remember those unimportant things about 2007.
2007: Azure Flame gets Reloaded
As the new year swept in with some rather unpleasant storms, wind and snow, it was business as usual at Azure Flame. The disappointing winter season was duly watched and reviewed, whilst in the world of gaming, the mighty effort of playing Harvest Moon and chronicling the main character’s struggles began- and was so off-topic that Hung barred all my gaming posts from Anime Nano.
Meanwhile, in real life, Karura shook off the lazy fat cat image for long enough to start ballroom and Latin dance classes and fail to get accepted to a graduate course.
Apart from a special Valentine’s Day Tuesday Rumble (one week late), February was a month where little happened, and so it became a month of reading manga- Shrine of the Morning Mist, Kare Kano, Eternal Sabbath, Escaflowne and School Rumble were all devoured, whilst Dark Horse’s release of Haibane Renmei proved to be a cheap “anime manga” cash in rather than the real deal.
March saw Karura give in to convention and write her first season preview post for the coming spring anime, whilst in the world of parody, the ending of Chevalier and Kanon forced a switch to Pumpkin Scissors. Meanwhile, Karura’s “Physics Made Easy” site was created, but kept hidden until it actually had content, and barely referred to even then.
Whilst the spring anime season brought some series that were actually worth watching (and many that weren’t), the RPG Maker section of the blog flared into life when, against all expectations, people started requesting sprites. It was to be the first of many requests, creating an ever increasing list of characters to be turned into sprites.
May was a month of changes; not only did Karura take up Randall Fitzgerald’s kind offer of free hosting at ikimashou.net and thus cast off the chains of wordpress.com, but the state of her old laptop forced her to finally invest in a new one. Now at last, PSX emulators could run at stupid speeds, high-definition mkvs could be played, and unnecessary numbers of processes could be run at the same time.
After Harvest Moon fatigue almost caused the death of the second gaming era, Nippon Ichi revived it again with Phantom Brave, beginning months of SRPG addiction. Meanwhile, Azure Flame (now Reloaded) introduced a new weekly feature- Sunday News Bites, an utterly pointless round-up of various news bits and pieces from the anime world, complete with anime characters as guest hosts.
Whilst the slow summer season threw some more anime series into the ring, the not-so-hot summer days saw Azure Flame reach its first anniversary.
Two more series were struck off the list as ROTK was finally subbed in its entirety some 16 years after it started airing, whilst the dire Otome Zwei ended in time to announce the next OVA- S.ifr. Meanwhile, RPGs were put on hold in order to delve into Ratchet and Clank challenge mode, whilst Heroes began to be blogged on B-Side.
September was the beginning of blogging’s downward spiral, with a new busier real life schedule cutting into precious writing time, enthusiasm going downhill, and the always welcome behind-the-scenes input of Hopeless Sensei ending when he disappeared rather suddenly and inexplicably (come back! Just message me once so I know you’re alive!). Meanwhile, the exclusive Fight Club of blogging, the ABC, was joined, and in the months since Karura has contributed to exactly one article.
The start of a new season of Strictly Come Dancing and a desire to increase lessons to twice a week all took its toll on the enthusiasm for anime and the blogging of it, with the autumn season doing little to pull it back to my screen. Instead, new addictions like Dragons’ Den were discovered, and readers began to accept a lower rate of blogging.
When illness floored Karura, it also spelt doom for anime viewing, with none whatsoever being watched for an unprecedented two weeks. Blogging continued to die, but real life made up for it, with Karura going to Strictly Come Dancing on the 24th and meeting Anton du Beke on the 28th.
Somehow, by December, the weekly features had completely disappeared, but all was not to be lost, for when Karura turned 25, her desire to watch returned as suddenly as a Divine Instrument on Okami when the ink pots refill. Meanwhile, having already ported her entire anime viewing over to AnimeSeen earlier in the year, Karura decided to enter hundreds of titles into MyAnimeList as well, the anime equivalent of Facebook- and in an odd coincidence, she also removed her fake Facebook identity of favour of using her *gasp* real name. What an exciting year, eh?
What anime taught us in 2007
- Darker than black cats: a class of cat beyond mere black, this new shade is so dark that the cat seems to be not so much a feline as a hole in space. These special cats are particularly cute and yet also highly evil.
- Ezo: an embarrassingly small Liang, as mentioned in Winter Cicada and Iroha.
- Huang Gai: We all knew about Zhuge Liangs, but Three Kingdoms character Huang Gai got his own brand of recognition when he was reborn as the “Wang Guy”, a dodgy back street seller of Pleasure products.
- Flaming Passion: A new type of Pleasure involving fire that several foolish personalities saw fit to try out.
- Lord’s Head/Cube/Sphere: The powerful HARD GAY enhancing artefact known as the Lord’s Head appeared in Iroha, but Koutetsu Sangokushi took it one step further with both a Lord’s Cube and several limited-use Lord’™s Spheres.
The History of Tuesday Rumble
The features that died
- Fashion Police: The Fashion Police were tasked with a monumental mission- to track down all instances of poor dress sense in anime and games and arrest the offenders. For months, they did sterling work, but when the number of dodgy fashion decisions became so massive that they could no longer decide who should be taken in and who should be let off with a caution, they had to give up and call it a day.
- Anime Awards: The anime awards took several forms, from awards for spotting anything from apples to cat in a particular series, to specially tailored awards for whatever happened to be airing in a given month. Unfortunately, what was amusing to do once or twice shortly became a chore, and when several reinventions of the flagging format failed to help, it was quietly ditched.
- OST spotlight: There are still many soundtracks in my possession that I must review, but several months of wanting to listen to “real music” instead and a general antipathy to writing the same stock sentences for every OST put this one on the backburner.
- HARD GAY/YURI Corner: Not technically dead, but with the main suspects already covered, this feature remains in abeyance until I watch new series that fit the bill.
The features that lived
- Random Thoughts: Interviews with anime and game characters inspired by short question and answer articles in several magazines, Random Thoughts can sometimes be hard to get started on, but usually turns out well.
- This Week in Anime: A somewhat pointless yet amusing feature to point out all the instances of fruits, in-jokes and the like in anime- with the aid of a never-ending stream of screencaps (thanks, Necromancer, keep up the good work and I’ll draw you more catgirls 😉 ).
- Amusing Search Terms/Spam: This will never get old, will it?
- In Your Reflection: A character comparison feature; it will probably go on hiatus soon but it will never fully go away.
- Harem of the Week: So many harems, so little time- and when you figure in reverse harems, I may never be finished with it.
- Anime/Game World Tour: A holiday magazine style tour guide of the diverse worlds of anime and gaming- some of which I’d love to visit, many of which I’d prefer to avoid.
- Mini-rant/editorial: Any rant or editorial too short to deserve its own post gets put in here.
The features yet to come
- Dragons’ Den: My newfound love of the Den means I must work it into Tuesday Rumble, by creating situations where entrepreneurs with anime themed businesses (such as magic CCTVs, villains’ chairs and Death Notes) try to get investment from five fat cats- literal fat cats, that is. As a special preview, let’s meet the team.
President Aria made his fortune in the gondola industry of Neo Venezia, and is now CEO of a well-known company. Mikoto started her business in the capital of Wind Bloom, and is now a trusted advisor to the queen, with business partners scattered across the world. The Admiral‘s first business venture was to invest in a Chinese restaurant, but a meteor threat to Earth saw her buy shares in ground and space based defence technology, which she currently administers with her protégé The General (aka Shogun). Mr Tibbs started his career as a tea cat for the bank, but his sound grasp of finance saw him rise up the ranks until he became one of their most prominent managers. Finally, The Cardinal is the world’s most powerful fat cat, with a wide range of business interests that ensure that he has a paw in every pie (often literally, depending on his appetite). These five cats represent some heavyweight investment clout in every sense of the word, but is any deal attractive enough to get them to roll of their backsides and shake paws with a budding entrepreneur?
- Dear Trenia (working title): Inspired by some imaginative and hilarious threads at Digital Spy, this “agony aunt” column will help anime characters solve their problems. Will the villain learn the secret to defeating the hero? Will the monster of the week work out his issues? Find out when Trenia (the all-knowing girl from Makai Kingdom) dishes out the answers!
Promises kept? Last year’s “Upcoming features” and how they fared
- Studio Reviews: I did manage quite a few of these, but there are still more to come, including the mighty Sunrise and the always high profile KyoAni.
- “Those were the Days” articles: I pretty much did all of these, but I may revisit the format one more time to talk about Gundam Wing and Fushigi Yugi.
- Mai-Otome True Version: I posted some details on this, but it remains unfinished. Can 2008 see the story advance?
- Fate/Stay Night True Version: I can honestly say I didn’t do any work on this over the course of 2007.
- RPG Maker: Many sprites have been made, but what happened to Mai-HiME the RPG? Truth be told, the cooking episode and the need to tidy up the game play for release version drained my enthusiasm, but I must really try to get on with it, for the loyal fans!
- Still Standing Strong: I didn’t get the chance to rewatch any old favourites, so this never came to pass. I can’t say I’ll bother with it this year either.
- Dark Side Gaming Rants: These fared well, but there are still more games to rant about.
- Random Generic’s RPG Diary: I wanted to write this and still have enthusiasm for it, but I just haven’t had the time. Keep your fingers crossed for some spare moments this year.
- Dicemasters: season two was completed, but now I must write season three.
- Game FAQs for SRPGs and rare games: a nice idea, still not off the drawing board.
- Updates for some older posts, like the Tsubasa arc summary: still not done- hell, I only have the barest grasp of what’s going on in Tsubasa these days.
So with that in mind, we can see that 2008 will probably not be a year of new innovations and exciting things, and will instead carry on much as before. Enjoy it anyway!