It’s time to sum up everything that happened and not happened in year 2018!

So… The biggest achievement of the year is certainly our trip to Japan. I’d been dreaming about it for years and years and finally we did it! Not for the last time I hope, because we could’ve easily spent another week in Tokyo, not mentioning other cities. I’m still planning on writing up how it was. One day.

Submitted our permanent residency application (and still waiting), a short trip to the US might also be worth mentioning, as well as our weekends spent in a couple of cities in Ontario (is it fair to say that we “travelled a lot” this year?) Our cat is getting fatter and bigger (and dumber) but this is not exactly something new. The last but not least — we had a chance to attend concerts of great bands such as Judas Priest, Slayer and Anthrax accompanied by other great bands — Saxon, Testament, Havok.

At work I spent a significant chunk of my time fixing various stuff and implemented just a couple of new features. But hey, after all, our work is to make artists and designers’ life more comfortable, not aimlessly making new shiny bells and whistles. And no, of course I’m consoling myself =(

Music. Looking now through the list of albums I listened to and the year appears to be pretty average. So I don’t have any other choice but to nominate Judas Priest’s Firepower to the album of the year! I’d say that it’s their best album in years and if google music hadn’t screwed up the how-many-times-you-listened-to-this-song counter at some point, it’d be a huge number now. Other than Firepower we had next goodies: “Sacrament of Sin” by Powerwolf, “The Face of Fear” by Artillery, “Speed Between The Lines” by Gama Bomb and surprisingly adequate Dee Snider’s solo album “For The Love of Metal”.

Books. Year 2018 was a year of Stephen Donaldson for me, thanks to my co-worker Rob. I read the first two books of the Gap Cycle (The Real Story is much better and Forbidden Knowledge), finished off the first book about Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever and one of the Donaldson’s books with short stories. If I had to pick one book it’d be The Real Story.

Games. Comparing to the music land this year for games was amazing. I completed Detroit, GoW, H:DZ, Persona 5, Ni No Kuni 2, Nier: Automata as well as some smaller games. Judging by the amount of time wasted on a game the trophy should go to Ni No Kuni 2 but considering all pluses and minuses I’d say that new God of War is the The One.

And, of course, anime ^_^ Years when new Monogatari didn’t come out are tough years, so I’ll be short.

The best story — none. It’d probably be the remake of Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu if it was finished.

The best comedy — Asobi Asobase. The best comedy about naked men — Grand Blue.

The best love story — Bloom Into You. Special prize, the best love story about otaku — Wotakoi (was a very cute show in general).

The best visual — Asobi Asobase, Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara, Violet Evergarden, Fate Extra: Last Encore, Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu.

My favorite characters — Takagi-san, Hitomi (Hinamatsuri), Sakurajima Mai and Yuu from Bloom Into You.

The best anime that wasn’t made in 2018 but I watched it only this year — The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl.

The best opening — Bloom Into You. The best ending — Fate Extra: Last Encore. Nastya would probably add the ending of Hisone To Maso-tan =)

And, the best show of 2018 is Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These – Kaikou — I really look forward to the rest of the story.

2019 plans. Travel to Japan again. Learn Japanese at some basic level. Move in a house. Finally get that damn Canadian driver licence =) Doesn’t sound overwhelming but at he same time it’ll occupy me for a while.

Animelog: Beelzebub-jou no Okinimesu mama

A useless, super-sweet, on the verge of being saccharine, but, nonetheless, not awful anime. Another one in the category “I have no idea why we decided to watch this”. I think that if the season was more impressive we would’ve just cast a glance full of contempt at “As Beelzebub-sama likes” and moved on to watching another highly intellectual anime about manga writers and their younger sisters mutually seducing each other or about the vampires making another attempt to destroy everything on their way and govern this world (the attempt which is, of course, bound to fail) or whatever else. However, this fall shows were being dropped at a catastrophic speed, so a show about the, hm, curvy ruler of Pandemonium, who’s slowly falling in love with her assistant survived until the very end.

Long story short — it’s based on a yonkoma (and a lot of situations are accompanied by a pleasant voice of the narrator) and some jokes are good (not many though), others are just ordinary; the characters have their strictly predefined roles and follow them from episode 1 to episode 12; the visual is slightly unusual and probably should emphasize the ふわふわ nature of this anime — the heroes eat ふわふわ cakes, sleep wearing ふわふわ sweaters and surrounded by ふわふわ creatures.

I kind of regret that we spent time on this show but, on the other hand, hell! we’ve watched so much, let’s say, not impeccable anime already, so one title more or one title less doesn’t make a huge difference and “As Beelzebub-sama likes” definitely wasn’t the worst I’ve seen.

Whereas I’m currently catching up on a bunch of anime — Baccano, which I’d been going to watch for a long time; Seitokai Yakuindomo (don’t even ask, I even contrived to add it to the dropped list after the first episode but for an unknown reason turned on the second one a bit later and it happened to be even sometimes funny); Kimi Ni Todoke and the second season of Natsu No Arashi  — there’s only one game I’m chewing, Blue Reflection. Honestly, I thought that it’d be a low-budget JRPG I’d get tired of after a couple of hours but, surprisingly, so far everything is not that bad. Yep, it’s made on a shoestring budget, the story is built using nothing but cliché and during the first tutorial parts it’s demonstrated that when it’s raining outside the shirt of the main heroine realistically becomes transparent you won’t be able to find your friends at the courtyard or at the field (which is also astonishingly realistic). However, its setting is super-cute and after watching a hundred or two school anime titles all those stereotypes act like a factor helping to dive deeper into the game, not as a rage provoking. And yeah, there are some jokes =)

I’m in love with their classroom

After reading rants on the state of modern C++ and ranting about it myself, I just wrote a piece of code containings lines like this one:

details::AllocElement<T, A, type_traits<T>::requires_allocator()>::allocate(f, allocator_);

Shame on me — and sometimes I think that the whole idea of writing a brand-new STL replacement for a pet-project is kind of stupid. At least, I learned something new — that in C++17 it’ll be possible to write

if constexpr(expression)

To console myself — another goal of questionable beauty in NHL 19

Animelog: Bloom Into You

After my disappointing experience with “Rascal Does Not Dream-you-know-the-rest” it’s time to write about a pleasant surprise. Honestly, I do not want to complain about Bloom Into You and that means something! Well, okay, there’s actually one thing I can’t be silent about — it’s a shame they didn’t even show the school festival in the first season. I wish the manga wasn’t an ongoing and we could see the story in its entirety. But… heh, we should be satisfied with what we got.

Touko and Yuu’s love story is gentle and astonishingly catchy. Maybe because of Yuu, who is more realistic than I dared to see — and it’s very touching and fascinating to observe how her feelings are slowly changing. Maybe because this show is not so straightforward as most of 少女愛 or 少年愛 anime I saw before (my experience is limited though, and yeah, I’m trying to use kanji here and there to memorize them). Maybe because it’s so nice visually.

As I said, Yuu’s feeling, which are moving from “whatever” to “I still don’t want to admit it but seems… I love her” makes the anime look dynamic and creates an impression of something new every episode. Even though, technically, we barely saw anything at all during those first 13 episodes. So, let’s cross fingers that the second season won’t be worse and, of course, that Yuu and Touko will end up together. After all, romantic stories should have a happy end ^_^

A very good blog post demonstrating the pitfalls of the direction modern C++ is moving in. Compile times and debug times are important but, personally, the most important thing is that sometimes the code is over-complicated, at the level of almost utter un-readability.

To my shame, at one point it felt kind of exciting to use boost. And patterns of object-oriented programming (nowadays I’d probably burn myself at a stake for that). But the more I was writing C++ code the more unnecessary and complicated that approach started to seem. After all, programs, which are easier to understand are easier to debug, modify and optimize. Does anyone really knows modern STL, for instance?

Every light has its shadow though and now it’s very difficult to move myself from a different pole — I became very apprehensive about any new features of the language. Even C++ 11, which has been around for years is something I’m not especially familiar with =(

Animelog: Rascal Does Not Dream of a Bunny-girl Senpai

After the first two episodes I was ready to write that this anime was going to be the best show of the season. After 13th episode all I can say is that this representative of a modern trend to give unbearably long names to stories didn’t live up to my expectations. And, frankly, that upset me a lot.

Yeah, I didn’t have an illusion that it’d be the next Monogatari — but it didn’t look like an impossible task for “Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai” (omg) to become something like another “My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, as I expected” (why do they torture us, eh?), which is not a flawless but lovely anime.

Aobuta has some problems. First of all — it has absolutely amazing Sakurajima Mai and her arc was the strongest one. Whereas I should’ve listened to Kratos-sensei and kept my expectations low, I got excited following the story of her disappearance. Their adequate dialogues with Sakuta, her behaviour and, in general, the tale of her vanishing from the world was emotional, cute and funny. And despite my grumpy attitude towards the rest of the show, I can’t force myself to say anything bad about Mai-san. Scenes when she showed up were the reason, basically, to patiently move from one boring tale to another, even duller, later on.

Heresy or not — other girls’ stories, which were, probably, meant to be dramatic were… not so dramatic. Repeating the same day? Having the copy of yourself? Bodies exchange? We had either seen that or Sakuta and his harem just weren’t convincing enough. When you know that everything is going to end well — you expect the anime to offer more (yeah, I’m spoiled) than just a plot moving from one point to another, periodically making pauses to show heroes tearing up or dramatically running. The show could be darker, or funnier; dialogues could be more meaningful, heroes relationships could be more realistic, comparing to “- Oh, Mai-san, I kind of forgot about you because I’m helping out yet another woman right now. – No worries, Sakuta-kun, I’m so understanding and calm that I don’t care much”. We didn’t have any doubts that Araragi would dodge sex flying at him from all directions, because Senjougahara made it clear what’s going to happen if he didn’t. With Sakuta it was impossible to be so certain… or maybe it was impossible to care. In addition to all that relationships oddness, the idea of the syndrome itself is questionable. I mean, okay, something mysterious happens and that prepares the stage for the “real stuff”, which is human emotions and relationships. But all Futaba’s attempts to explain what’s going on “scientifically” seemed like an attempt to fill some time with something. The show wouldn’t lost anything if we just had abnormal events as a matter of fact.

I liked, though, that the series felt more or less finished. Yes, we didn’t learn anything about the syndrome and imaginary Shoko-san didn’t become less imaginary (even though she wrote notes) — but Kaede’s situation was resolved and Mai-san got acquainted with Sakuta’s parents. Great success.

P.S. Anyway, I’ll try to buy a figure of Sakurajima Mai (wearing school uniform, you, perverts) when they come out =) And I genuinely hope that we’ll get at least one special episode focused solely on her.

NieR: Automata, route B — done. It wasn’t terrible, considering that I already knew what’s going on and had chips and tons of recoveries, but I totally understand people who say that the decision to force players to run through the same story for the second time is, at least, debatable. 9S’ playthrough doesn’t reveal much what we didn’t know or suspect already, it doesn’t contain new locations and hacking minigames are not for everyone (I’m kind of okay with them). So it was tedious. I’m down for the idea of showing the same events from a different perspective but, unfortunately, that doesn’t work out really well here, because, well, 9S participated in virtually all events during the first part of the game, so even if perspective is shifted — it’s barely noticeable. The silver lining is that I finished off Eve on my first attempt and learned the Sacred Truth that mankind no longer exists in this world — yeah, it’s kind of “what a twist” moment but it was interesting to read documents about empty boxes sent to the Moon and similar things. Now to route C, which should be the pinnacle of gaming according to the fans of the Nier =)

Animelog: Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san

I can conclude without any doubt, that among all the shows depicting the hard life of people working at bookstores — “Skull-face” is the best one. And yes — there is at least one more anime about the booksellers, Denki-gai no Honya-san, so I know what I’m talking about =)

During our trip to Japan we had a chance to visit Book off and Animate (the latter isn’t a book store but whatever), so we were watching Honda-san’s and his colleagues’ struggles and could effortlessly imagine them wearing Animate’s aprons. It was very easy to see how they would have to answer all those endless questions coming from gaijins looking for a specific books or just trying to buy 52 volumes of BL manga; how they would have to deal with an endless stream of customers — and not all of those customers are nice!

Skull-face Honda-san is frighteningly realistic, but at the same time it’s funny and easy-going. Honda-san himself is a very appealing character and the best scenes are those where he’s fighting against English-speaking customers (metaphorically speaking) or just trying to find a way out of another unexpected situation he finds himself in (sorry, Honda-san, that we’re laughing when you’re obviously in trouble!) And his “Muscle and… Muscle!” phrase is the one we’re going to use for a while!

The length of the show is also perfect — 12 episodes is just enough, if there were more it might’ve become a bit dragging and repetitive. So, DLE, the studio responsible for Kantoku Fuyuki Todoki and Thermae Romae, stroke again once again.