Phoenotopia speedrunning: resting on my laurels…for now (Whimsical Weekend #4)

I know it’s unusual to with a post one week after the previous post, but I just had to get this off my chest (so to speak) as soon as I could.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 11.25.35 PM

Phoenotopia is a 2014 Flash 2D platformer developed by Quang H. Tran a.k.a. Quells. This game is hosted on a number of sites such as Newgrounds (the original) and OneMoreLevel (my preference), and playing it is absolutely free.

Since one year after the release of the game, I have written articles on how much I enjoy playing it, as well as my endeavor to do what no one else has done and make an official leaderboard of the game on speedrun.com. First off, I wish to go through a retrospective of what I’ve written in the past.

A Retrospective of Former Articles

Spontaneous Saturday 8/15/15: Phoenotopia

This is the first Phoenotopia-related post that I’ve published to this blog, and it’s a simple review consisting of my thoughts on the game and my desire to make it a speedgame (primarily influenced by the “Speed Runner!” medal in the game and my love for the game in general). I also included compendia of purchasable items and enemies / environmental hazards inspired by my go-to walkthrough at the time, as well as this little meme:

StraightOuttaSomewhere

Spontaneous Saturdays 9/12/15 and 12/5/15

I only talk briefly about Phoenotopia in these posts, and it’s just thinking out loud about the routing process of any% and 100%.

Phoenotopia speedrunning (Thought Dump Thursday 1/7/16)

This was after I had finished constructing the primary route for the any% category and was in the process of constructing a primary 100% route. The post contains the following: how I started running the game, how I discovered Loot Duping (a glitch that produces extra spoils from Rai containers and heart pots), and an analysis of my first recorded any% run with a time of 59:22 RTA (1h 2m IGT). Some of the information contained within the post is obsolete (notably claiming that Loot Duping is pixel-perfect when it’s actually a three-pixel window), although the first two videos included are still relevant. The first video demonstrates what I was doing when I first discovered Loot Duping, and the second video involves combining the pixel-based and timing-based methods of Loot Duping.

Potpourri feat. winter 2016 anime

As the title implies, this post was mostly centered around the interesting anime series that aired during the winter 2016 season (Phantom World, Dagashi Kashi, and KonoSuba), although I did briefly mention Phoenotopia. Specifically, I tried out the French version and got a new PB of 55:14 RTA (58m IGT), but I came to realize that the French version is roughly 4 seconds slower in any% due to longer blue text boxes (i.e. the sorts of text boxes that appear when you obtain an important item) and differing dismissal timings of said text boxes (more consistent in the French version, but overall slower). I also publicly wrote some food for thought regarding the routing of 100%.

Phoenotopia 100% speedrunning (Thought Dump Thursday 2/4/16)

After having demystified any questions that I may have had while routing 100% and completing the primary route, I did my first run of the category and ended with 2:06:39 RTA (2h 9m IGT). This was back when I thought that doing the Loot Dupes in Sunflower Road was a good idea. Therefore, some of the techniques mentioned in the post are obsolete, although a majority of them still apply to the current route.

Another glitch in Phoenotopia + current speedrun PBs (Thought Dump Thursday 3/3/16)

This was the point at which I discovered a glitch other than Loot Duping. A day or two after my first 100% run, I was mucking around with pots in Prince Tower and found a way to get the moonstone on the 7th floor without having to use the Rocket Boots. Later on, as I wrapped my head around what I had stumbled upon (a phenomenon that I ended up dubbing “Pot Head Clipping” (even though I don’t do drugs)), I decided to record a clarifying demonstration and include it in the blog post.

To explain, if Gale has a harmless solid object sitting on her head and independently affected by gravity, trying to jump will result in Gale being warped to the nearest available space in any of the four basic directions: up, down, left, or right. At the time of the blog post, I thought of Pot Head Clipping as abusing this concept of warping to such a degree that would allow Gale to clip past barricades and walls. I also thought that Pot Head Clipping had no practical use other than the alternative way of getting that one Prince Tower moonstone, but that ends up changing later on.

Glitch aside, I also mentioned how I got 54:52 RTA (57m IGT) in any% and 1:59:43 RTA (2h 2m IGT) in 100%.

Phoenotopia Forgotten Forest navigation + yet another glitch (Thought Dump Thursday 3/31/16)

Let’s be honest here: Forgotten Forest was atrocious in my 1:59:43 run of 100%. By the time of this post, however, I managed to figure out ways to take one of the worst parts of the run and make it faster and less risky. First off, I found another practical use for Pot Head Clipping, and that is to bypass the first locked door without having to kill any of the Arc on the screen of that door or the Plant Dog one screen to the right thereof. Second, in order to bypass the locked door on the screen with the Big Robot 2.0, I tried unsuccessfully to set up a Pot Head Clip (in the traditional manner), but then I discovered something even more astounding: While I was fiddling around with two of the boxes taken from the lower path, one on top of the other while slightly farther forward, I was overcome with disbelief when I found that pushing the duo into the locked door actually caused it to move from its normal position. Like, how is that possible!? When I look back on the concept of a locked door being pushed, I still can’t believe it. (I simply referred to the phenomenon as “Door Pushing.”)

At any rate, the new glitch and the new application of the old glitch allowed me to move through Forgotten Forest more elegantly, although I have picked up some new tech since then. Regardless, here is the video demonstration:

(Also, I would not attempt the Forgotten Forest JBJ (Javelin Bomb Jump) in a real run, let alone succeed as well as I did in the recording above.)

Phoenotopia speedrunning: status update (Thought Dump Thursday 4/28/16)

I talk about how I got 54:02 RTA (56m IGT) in any%, and I also rambled about categories that I was considering beyond any% and 100%, as well as the imminent possibility of improving my 100% time.

Back from hiatus! Anniversary potpourri (Thought Dump Thursday 6/2/16)

This blog experienced a hiatus for pretty much the entire month of May because I felt like I wasn’t taking things seriously enough (specifically overdue assignments and job hunting). When I got back, I dropped a whole load of detail on my 1:48:16 RTA (1h 50m IGT) run of 100%, including some amazing new discoveries with Pot Head Clipping—namely, you can clip through locked doors from the left without placing any objects behind you, and using a container containing a moonstone or inventory item causes Gale to obtain that item upon clipping (and also go through a jumping animation)—and also that Loot Duping is not pixel-perfect but a three-pixel window. It was when I realized the second fact that I went and wrote a Loot Duping Guide containing revised and detailed information on the glitch and all loot containers that can and cannot be subject to Loot Duping.

Nothing Specific (Thought Dump Thursday 6/30/16)

Just talking about my future plans regarding the speedgame and potential improvements to existing times, resources including a save password compendium for practice/learning, and the possibility of running Diamond Hollow II in the future.

Phoenotopia – How to softlock in less than a minute (Thought Dump Thursday 7/4/16)

Just a little filler post showing off the quickest way to force yourself into a softlock in Phoenotopia. It’s a simple Pot Head Clip in Panselo.

Phoenotopia 100% – New speedrunning guide in the works! (Whimsical Weekend #2)

This is the most recent post that I’ve made on Phoenotopia. It covers a detailed guide of the 100% category and the thought process behind constructing the guide, including some new tech in Prince Tower, specifically on the first floor (image below) and in the second tower box puzzle (video below).

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.27.45 PM

And Now We Arrive at the Present (This is now)

Transitioning from memory lane, the main purpose of this post is to say that I am on temporary hiatus in terms of speedrunning Phoenotopia. That is to say, I have established every category that I feel like establishing, and I have run times that are satisfying enough for me to stick with until they are contested. Specifically…

Any% record

For some reason, I don’t think I ever mentioned that I got 51:53 RTA (54m IGT) in any%.

The run was pretty shaky in some areas (such as failing Golem Skip), and it was before the time that I discovered the “chandelier climb” (as I call it) on Prince Tower floor 1, but it was a good run overall.

100% record

As for 100%, my most recently achieved time is 1:44:08 RTA (1h 46m IGT), and that was after I constructed not only a written guide but also a video tutorial series (which I’ll explain later).

This was also a pretty good run, even though it had a sloppy beginning and some minor execution faults throughout. I did manage to get all four skips in Ancient’s Crater regardless, and I did the new tech in Prince Tower, so that alone already makes it better than my 1:48:16 run.

All Moonstones record

All Moonstones is the first and only miscellaneous category that I decided to establish. I was initially reluctant about it due to the riskiness of the route, what with the whole run being under bare minimum conditions (no extra items other than the Iron Hammer and Lamp), but then I figured that it was the only miscellaneous category discussed in Thought Dump Thursday 4/28/16 (or thought of externally) that I saw fit to officialize. Why did I refuse to officialize the other categories? Well…

  • 99 HP RTA (Diamond Skin) / All Heart Rubies: As I mentioned in the aforementioned Thought Dump Thursday post, there is a Heart Ruby that requires 40 moonstones to obtain, which makes a category like this not much different from 100% in my opinion. So, I am completely opposed to officializing a category like this.
  • Max HP no Moonstones: I initially thought very highly of this misc. category idea because of how it was pretty much the safest middle ground between any% and 100% that I could think of, but I ended up feeling unsettled by how arbitrary the category actually is, particularly in its nomenclature.
  • All Tools: Why? Why did I even begin to think this was a good idea? Similarly to the previous category, the nomenclature just makes it seem…off.
  • 88%: At one point, this sort of idea crossed my mind: a category that involves collecting all Heart Rubies and all Moonstones but nothing else. The issue is that it’s difficult to name such a category, and 88% was honestly the best I could come up with…and that’s saying something, because the name “88%” isn’t very descriptive of the category itself.
  • Most Dangerous Arsenal: I just thought of this recently: a category in which all Tools and Misc. Items are obtained (based on the medal “Most Dangerous Arsenal,” for which the category goal is based on the condition of obtaining the medal). This might actually have potential for a misc. category, but I shudder to imagine Nebula Armlet with 20 HP.
  • Glitchless subcategory?: I was considering adding a glitchless subcategory to the speedrun.com leaderboard, which would forbid the following: duplication of Rai or heart drops by breaking a container multiple times on the same frame; deliberately placing anything on top of Gale’s head; and pushing objects into locked doors. (The restrictions are meant to encompass Loot Duping, Pot Head Clipping, and Door Pushing, respectively.) However, I can’t help thinking how much of a pain it would be to have to deal with 100% or All Medals glitchless (or All Moonstones, which would actually require backtracking through Prince Tower since PHC is forbidden), so I just decided to discard the idea altogether. I might change my mind if someone else were to record a glitchless any% single-segment run with an in-game time of less than an hour, though.

Anyway, I did end up doing an All Moonstones run in spite of my initially reluctant self, and I ended up achieving a time of 1:13:17 RTA (no in-game time because the category does not require beating the final boss).

Obviously not perfect, and Forgotten Forest + Hidden Village can stand to be routed before the Daea backtrack, but it’s a miscellaneous category, so I don’t plan on improving any time soon.

All Medals record

I’ve had a route in the works since the time I wrote Thought Dump Thursday 4/28/16, but I never got around to finishing the route until after I did the All Moonstones run. It took me less than a week to complete the whole run, and I ended up with 2:09:18 RTA, which is surprisingly close to my first 100% record.

I have a strong feeling that it’s possible to obtain all medals in under 2 hours, but I currently have no strong desire to improve my record.

Resources

Over the course of routing and running the categories above, I have been compiling a number of resources throughout the journey, such as Q&As (which I used to call GQIGAs (Got Questions? I Got Answers)), written routes, detailed information on glitches (through blog posts, guides, or otherwise), and perchance various specific compendia. The following remain relevant to this day:

  • Speedrun.com leaderboard – The “official” leaderboard for the game, which I myself submitted for approval, and of which I am currently the sole moderator.
  • Any% Q&A 4.0 – Q&A for my most recent any% run.
  • 100% general Q&A – That’s what I called it at first, but it’s actually the 100% Q&A 4.0, which relates to my most recent 100% run.
  • All Medals Q&A – Q&A for the All Medals category (version 1).
  • Loot Duping Guide – An elaborate guide on the method behind the madness of Loot Duping: what it is and where/how it can be applied.
  • Save Password Compendium – A collection of save passwords for practicing/learning the any% and 100% categories.
  • Any% guide – A guide to the any% category. I have kept this guide up to date between the first time I decided to run the game and the most recent run, so note that it does not contain information regarding the chandelier climb.
  • 100% guide – An elaborate written guide to the 100% category.
  • 100% video tutorial playlist – Between Whimsical Weekend #2 and this post, I had the wild idea of coming out with a video tutorial (in spite of myself) of the 100% category.
  • All Moonstones planning/route – The planning and condensed route (the latter is on page 3) of All Moonstones. No, the route has not been updated since the recorded run.
  • All Medals route – The condensed route for All Medals. I do not plan to make a full guide of this category, because doing so would be rather redundant in my opinion.
  • Splits:

Conclusion

All right, I think that about covers everything: the retrospective, the point that I’ve currently reached, and a set of resources that might help provide further insight. Now that I am temporarily resting on my laurels, I will move on to Diamond Hollow II.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Poliwag (Poké Monday 10/17/16)

 rng-poliwag

Tier: LC
Type: Water
Base Stats: 40 HP, 50 Atk, 40 Def, 40 Sp.Atk, 40 Sp.Def, 90 Speed
Abilities: Water Absorb, Damp, Swift Swim (hidden)

Usable moves: Blizzard, Body Slam, Double-Edge, Encore, Façade, Frustration, Haze, Hidden Power (Electric, Fighting, Fire, Grass), Hydro Pump, Ice Beam, Protect, Psychic, Rest, Return, Scald, Sleep Talk, Substitute, Surf, Toxic, Waterfall

Somewhat usable moves: Belly Drum, Hypnosis

Overview

As a Water-type, Poliwag is by no means the biggest fish in the sea. It may have the highest base Speed of any Water-type, but in terms of Speed values it ties at 19 with Buizel, Staryu, and Wingull, the former two of which are stronger and have better coverage on the physical and special side respectively. However, Poliwag takes pride in being one of the two fastest Pokémon with Belly Drum (the other being Magby, which shares the same Speed value but has an edge over Poliwag thanks to priority in Mach Punch) and also possessing a sleep-inducing move (albeit a rather unreliable one) in Hypnosis. Moreover, although Poliwag’s movepool is relatively lacking, even in comparison to those of fellow Water-types, Water+Normal coverage is usually enough to get by. (In fact, the only Pokémon in the tier that resist the combination are Ferroseed, Frillish, and Lileep.)

When all is said and done, however, Poliwag is a gimmick. Aside from the unreliability of Hypnosis in terms of hit rate, there is also the 1/3 chance of the opposing Pokémon waking up instantly, which makes for a meager overall chance of 40% to get Hypnosis and Belly Drum off without a hitch (given the opponent stays in the whole time). Moreover, although Poliwag is not weak to any form of priority, its below average 40/40/40 bulk means that it risks being worn down by various forms of priority in the tier. To cite a few examples:

  • 196+ Atk Fletchling Acrobatics (110 BP) vs. 116 HP / 0 Def Poliwag: 18-22 (81.8 – 100%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
  • 156 Atk Pawniard Sucker Punch vs. 116 HP / 0 Def Poliwag: 15-18 (68.1 – 81.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 196+ Atk Zigzagoon Extreme Speed vs. 116 HP / 0 Def Poliwag: 12-15 (54.5 – 68.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Priority aside, Elekid outspeeds Poliwag and destroys it with STAB, and the same can be said about Electric- and Grass-type Choice Scarf users. Abra, meanwhile, speed-ties with Poliwag, and Sash variants carrying Energy Ball don’t have to worry about winning or losing the tie (given the Abra in question has full HP). If hazards are not up, Sturdy users (especially those with Berry Juice) can throw a wrench into Poliwag’s potential sweep. As for Pokémon that can weather the assault: Ferroseed, Lileep, and Pumpkaboo-Super can easily take on the standard Water+Normal coverage (especially Lileep with its Storm Drain) and retaliate with their Grass STAB.

+6 196 Atk Poliwag Waterfall vs. 84 HP / 188 Def Eviolite Ferroseed: 9-11 (40.9 – 50%) — 0.4% chance to 2HKO
36 Atk Ferroseed Bullet Seed (3 hits) vs. 116 HP / 0 Def Poliwag: 24-36 (109 – 163.6%) — guaranteed OHKO

+6 196 Atk Poliwag Return vs. 228 HP / 140 Def Eviolite Lileep: 8-10 (30.7 – 38.4%) — 99.2% chance to 3HKO
0 SpA Lileep Giga Drain vs. 116 HP / 0 SpD Poliwag: 20-26 (90.9 – 118.1%) — 75% chance to OHKO

+6 196 Atk Poliwag Waterfall vs. 204 HP / 36 Def Eviolite Pumpkaboo-Super: 12-14 (48 – 56%) — 60.9% chance to 2HKO
0 Atk Pumpkaboo-Super Bullet Seed (3 hits) vs. 116 HP / 0 Def Poliwag: 24-36 (109 – 163.6%) — guaranteed OHKO

Water Absorb Frillish hard-walls the aforementioned Water+Normal coverage, but Cursed Body variants are more common. Such variants do take +6 Waterfall relatively well, but they can’t do as much back as the Grass-types mentioned above.

+6 196 Atk Poliwag Waterfall vs. 236 HP / 116+ Def Eviolite Frillish: 12-14 (48 – 56%) — 60.9% chance to 2HKO
76 SpA Frillish Shadow Ball vs. 116 HP / 0 SpD Poliwag: 12-15 (54.5 – 68.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO

At any rate, if you do decide to use Poliwag, be wary of the risks involved, and build the rest of the team around as many of said risks as possible.

Set

Poliwag @ Berry Juice
Ability: Water Absorb
Level: 5
EVs: 116 HP / 196 Atk / 196 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Hypnosis
– Belly Drum
– Waterfall
– Return

Belly Drum is the crux of this set, allowing Poliwag’s Attack stat to go up from a decent 14 to a whopping 56. You have to play it carefully, though, as using the move consumes half HP; even though Berry Juice grants a one-time restoration to full HP (or near-full if at 1 HP), that is no excuse to be negligent as far as setting up too soon or underestimating your opponent for whatever reason. Waterfall is STAB, and Return provides great coverage in conjunction with the move. Hypnosis may have shaky accuracy, but when it lands, it has a 2/3 chance of providing more ample opportunity to set up and wreak havoc.

EVs are obvious in that they are focused on physical offense, especially Speed to take advantage of its respectable base 90. Berry Juice is the item of choice to make Belly Drum easier to set up. Water Absorb is the ability of choice because the others are too situational. (If used on a rain team, however, Swift Swim could be considerable in preventing Elekid and various Scarf users from being problematic to Poliwag’s sweep.)

Other Options

Four-moveslot syndrome (4MSS) is a problem for Poliwag, and bear in mind that any non-Normal coverage move will leave it walled by Croagunk and Foongus (and other coverage options are weaker in general than Return/Frustration). Wake-Up Slap always OHKOs standard Ferroseed and has a high chance of OHKOing standard Lileep at +6, but it grants Poliwag less coverage with its STAB and leaves it walled by the likes of Mantyke and Frillish. (It also has the odd utility of dealing double damage to targets put to sleep by Hypnosis, but at the cost of awakening said targets.) Thief can be used to hit certain pesky Ghost-types (namely Frillish and Pumpkaboo) and grants the utility of stealing the opponent’s item after Berry Juice has been consumed, but it’s a weak move in general and does not grant much else in terms of coverage (especially considering a neutral Thief usually does no more than a resisted STAB Waterfall).

In terms of utility moves, Encore is a situational alternative to Hypnosis that can potentially lock a foe into a harmless utility move (such as a setup move, hazard, or hazard-clearing move) and 100% guarantee a setup opportunity against such a foe (as opposed to Hypnosis’s icky 60% chance in every situation). Substitute follows the same sort of principle of granting a setup opportunity against a harmless move, except it costs 25% HP to use (as if the 50% HP cost of Belly Drum isn’t enough) and does not have the ability to catch the user of the harmless move on the switch in.

Sample Team

http://pastebin.com/C4H54TmY – Tested and tweaked a few times… That’s about all that I have to say.

This team contains:

  • Poliwag (set above)
  • Mienfoo as an answer to Lileep and perhaps Ferroseed? (I had Ponyta (along with Archen) initially but decided to drop it because I needed priority while maintaining the ability to set up Stealth Rock.)
  • Fletchling for priority
  • Staryu for hazard control
  • Diglett for trapping and Stealth Rock
  • Foongus as a general wall

Something about those Problem Children… (Whimsical Weekend #3)

smug-mondaiji-tachi

From left to right: Yō Kasukabe, Asuka Kudō, Izayoi Sakamaki. This trio of teenage troublemakers forms the essence of the light novel series Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo? (which translates to “Problem children are coming from another world, aren’t they?”), or Mondaiji for short, by Tarō Tatsunoko. As the story goes, the problem children are blessed with godlike super powers known as Gifts. Specifically:

  • Yō’s Genome Tree allows her to communicate with animals and call upon the powers of those whom she has befriended.
  • Asuka’s Authority can be used to manipulate lower-level beings or to bring out the utmost potential of other Gifts.
  • Izayoi’s Code Unknown gives him super strength, which includes the ability to cancel other Gifts.

Consequently bored with their daily lives, the problem children receive an invitation to the world of Little Garden, which they naturally cast aside their own worlds to accept. Little Garden can be described as a haven of many convergent histories: past, present, and future; tangible and conceptual. For example, each of the three problem children is summoned from a different era: Asuka from the post-WWII era, Izayoi from a modern point in time, and Yō from the future; plus many residents of Little Garden are not merely human. Take for example the first one whom the trio meets: Kuro Usagi (Black Rabbit).

She is a human-like “moon rabbit” who, after requesting that the problem children be summoned, introduces them to Little Garden and tells them the ins and outs thereof. The central point of her introductory lecture is that being in possession of a Gift grants one the privilege of participating in Gift Games, which are more or less the law of Little Garden. The concept behind Gift Games is simple: a Host establishes an objective accompanied by a prize for the Player(s) who complete the objective. A Gift Game may or may not include conditions to affect how the Player(s) behave or what the Player(s) put on the line.

Another point of Kuro Usagi’s lecture is that it is required to be part of a Community…and of course she invites the problem children to her own Community. However, because the Community is in shambles as a result of a Demon Lord attack, her primary motive is to have the problem children use their top-tier Gifts to work towards reclaiming the name and flag of the Community. Although Izayoi figures out the ulterior motive, he fully accepts the invitation to the no-name Community, fixated on the idea of taking on other Demon Lords as they seek out the one who attacked their Community. (Asuka and Yō have no objections either.)

So, I guess that about covers the introductory plot points. Anyway, back on track with the problem children. They may have top-tier Gifts, but they like to cause trouble wherever they go, particularly by messing with Kuro Usagi (through which they respectively play boke and tsukkomi). In terms of personality, Izayoi is a forward type of guy who describes himself as “vulgar, brutal, and hedonistic”, Asuka is sassy, and Yō is the type to play along. All I’m saying is…everything about this trio is just awesome, and that’s primarily what leads me to adore the Mondaiji series as a whole.

Speaking of the series, the structure thereof is as follows: While the original light novel has 12 volumes, the manga adaptation has 18 chapters that cover the first two volumes, the spinoff manga (Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo? Z) has 15 chapters, the anime adaptation has 10 episodes (also covering the first two volumes) plus an OVA (which does not cover any part of the light novel), and the sequel (Last Embryo) is currently at volume 3.

Honestly, it’s a shame that the anime, as short as it is, has no more than one season. Then again, there’s so much more content covered by the light novel, including stories of the past (particularly in volume 9 and the second half of volume 8), and I suppose the conclusion of the Pied Piper of Hamelin Gift Game is a better stopping point than any. If there were a second season, I imagine it would cover volumes 3-5, even though that’s a greater number of volumes than how many the initial season covers (because the Harvest Festival in Underwood, introduced in volume 3, does not conclude until volume 5). Then again, therein lies another issue: What about subsequent seasons? Volumes 6-12 cover a lot of content (although 1.5 volumes are stories of the past) and are chock-full of cliffhangers, so it would be tough to decide how to continue from a hypothetical second season. For that reason, at this point, I think a Last Embryo adaptation would be more likely than a second season of the Mondaiji anime, and also because the anime has gone so long without a second season that the sequel to the light novel is already in progress. I haven’t actually read Last Embryo (yet), but…yeah, that’s what I think. Sadly there still remains the possibility that the Mondaiji series won’t even get another anime adaptation, but…a man can dream.

So, how did I happen to stumble upon this series? Well, some time around mid to late 2013, when I really started getting into anime, I was part of an online community of Expert Guitar Hero players, and one had a profile picture looking kinda like this:

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-3-50-08-pm

…and so part of me was curious as to who this bunny girl might be. At some point, I stumbled upon the manga titled Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo? Z thinking, “Wow, this is a long title. Let’s see what it’s about. Hey, I recognize that bunny girl! I wonder if there’s an anime of this…” Surely enough, there was. I watched it fully and also read the spinoff manga. My thoughts at first were: “Well, it’s pretty good. I’ll just leave it at that.” But then, some time late 2014, I decided to watch the anime again. Then it ended up becoming my favorite, and to this day it still is.

I mentioned that the problem children themselves are the primary reason; other reasons include the video that accompanies the ending theme song “To Be Continued”, the opening theme song “Black † White” to some extent, the voices of Izayoi and Shiroyasha (by Shintaro Asanuma and Satomi Arai respectively), the characters in general (Ratten is the only one I would say I even remotely dislike), the idea of a Community in shambles rising to reclaim their name and flag with the help of a particularly strong set of players, the reasonable level of fanservice (although the OVA takes it a little far), the deepness of the lore, and the thought and action involved in the Gift Games.

As for other parts of the series, I have not read the manga adaptation nor Last Embryo, but I have read the spinoff manga and light novel. Starting with the spinoff manga, I would say that it focuses more on the comedic aspect of the Mondaiji series, including the boke+tsukkomi moments shared by the problem children and Kuro Usagi, the tension between Pest and Shirayuki of Leticia’s maid squad (Shirayuki is the serpent whom Izayoi defeated near the beginning of the story for the water tree sapling, reduced to human form), and poking fun at some new characters as well (such as the butcher and the hamster).

As for the light novel, it extends beyond its adaptations not only in terms of content, but also in terms of descriptiveness. For that reason, I would consider any given adaptation naught more than a preview of the light novel…and the same goes for all light novel adaptations, really. That said, re-watching the anime after completing the entire light novel (and re-reading the spinoff manga) was a refreshing experience for me.

Also, to those who have seen the anime and not experienced the light novel, I would advise against skipping volumes 1 and 2; not only are the volumes more descriptive, but they contain afterwords from the author, and also a few story inconsistencies, including:

  • In the anime, Kuro Usagi challenges the problem children to an introductory Gift Game to accompany her explanation of Little Garden. This Gift Game does not happen in the light novel.
  • The female shop assistant, though a minor character regardless (insofar as she is never given an actual name), plays a more active role in the light novel.
  • In the light novel, Asuka summons Deen, a red iron giant bestowed unto her by the 130 spirits of Rattenfänger, from her Gift Card the second time she sees Ratten. At that point in the anime, she simply appears atop Deen’s shoulder.

There may be more that I haven’t mentioned, but if so, all the better.

But anyway, the light novel as a whole is really amazing, even though it’s very lore-heavy. I would have to say that my preferred volumes are 5 and 12. Volume 12 is an obvious preference because it’s natural to prefer newer content over older content (and some of the plot twists in that volume are mind-blowing), while volume 5, along with featuring the girls in swimsuits (which are more appealing than in the OVA), contains what I find to be the most comedic moment in the series: http://pastebin.com/7YPSa3nQ

So, well…that’s all I have to say about the Mondaiji series. I can declare with confidence that it is my favorite anime/manga/novel series, although I find difficulty in explaining the exact reason why, let alone recommending the series to others. I’ve stated most of my reasoning above, although the fact that it’s scattered among so many other words is an accurate depiction of how such reasoning lies within my thoughts. Perhaps there’s another way…?

Similar Anime

Ah, yes. Whether through inspiration or coincidence, it’s likely that any given form of media will somehow be similar to another. In that case, I wish to talk about some anime series that I have watched and find to be similar to Mondaiji, and also try to explain why I prefer Mondaiji.

No Game No Life (henceforth NGNL)

This is the most obviously similar anime series to Mondaiji, because the concept is just about the same: Gifted humans who are bored with their lives are invited to a world of fantasy in which games are law and humans are looked down upon. Also, Sora is strikingly similar in personality to Izayoi. However, as similar as the concept is for both series, there are still some differences: The character set as a whole is different; the world of NGNL is more based on fact and logic whereas that of Mondaiji is more based on myths and legends; the main duo of NGNL is inseparable while the main trio of Mondaiji just so happens to converge from different eras (consequently, the duo of NGNL has no evident difference in level, while the trio of Mondaiji starts off with Izayoi being the strongest (and the others don’t even come close until the later stages of the light novel)); the art style and music are evidently different; NGNL is more perverted; and NGNL contains references to otaku culture.

Although NGNL is evidently more popular than Mondaiji, I wholeheartedly prefer the latter. First off, I prefer the art style, the music, and most importantly the character set of Mondaiji. Speaking about the characters: Sora and Izayoi are very similar, but I feel like Izayoi is just cooler, specifically in terms of voice and capabilities. As for the other characters, none of the other NGNL characters really stands out to me (and Stephanie Dola in particular is kind of irritating), whereas Mondaiji has awesome characters in Yō, Shiroyasha, and to an admittedly lesser extent Asuka and Kuro Usagi. I will concede that the whole “fact and logic” aspect of NGNL makes the world and the main characters more relatable, but both series are works of fiction regardless, and so I shall lean towards the more fictitious. That’s just how I am.

One Punch Man (henceforth OPM)

Saitama has super strength just like Izayoi, and the other characters have their own quirks as well. That’s where the similarities end, I guess. Talking about differences, the world of OPM has a one-world structure, and the hierarchy is more individual-based than community-based; in OPM each hero is given their own rank based on heroic prowess, whereas in Mondaiji each Community can choose to reside on a certain level based on its overall prowess in Gift Games (or something like that). On that note, while Saitama is obviously the main character of OPM, Izayoi is more like one of a trio of main characters (i.e., the problem children). Heck, OPM and Mondaiji are completely different genres: super power parody and parallel world fantasy, respectively. (On another note, OPM is manga-based whereas Mondaiji is novel-based, and OPM is getting a second season soon.)

This comparison is a toughie. In regards to personal ranking, I would say that OPM is a close second to Mondaiji, and one reason is because Saitama is such a similar character to Izayoi: a guy with super strength who does what he does for fun. Saitama has his own fair share of quirks as well, particularly that he usually takes on a bland appearance like on the cover, but then his appearance changes when he gets serious, like this:

Regarding the music, I would say OPM has a better opening theme, but the ending theme…is not my type of song. What ultimately leads me to like Mondaiji better, though, is that OPM doesn’t quite have as stellar a set of side characters…although Genos and Mumen Rider are pretty cool. (Tatsumaki would be cool as well if she didn’t have such an annoying voice.)

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! (henceforth KonoSuba)

10-episode (plus 1 OVA) light novel adaptations with long titles, parallel world fantasy genre, and quirky sets of four characters (three female and one male) aspiring to defeat a certain Demon Lord. As for differences: Kazuma is the only one of the four main characters known to originate from the real world (at least as far as the anime canon goes) and usually the one to play tsukkomi amongst the quartet; the characters of KonoSuba start off weak instead of strong (although Megumin isn’t so much weak as she is limited); KonoSuba actually has RPG themes and is (arguably) more perverted; and the art style is evidently different.

KonoSuba is a pretty good show, particularly in the comedic department, but if there’s anything that I would point out as bothersome, it would be the art style. It’s not so bad in the manga and light novel (though I’ve only seen covers of the light novel), but in the anime it’s…unsettling. On that note, it bugs me how Aqua’s butt and Luna’s (the quest giver’s) breasts are so ridiculously exposed in their regular outfits. Mondaiji, on the other hand, only has Ratten with that caliber of exposure. (I mean, Kuro Usagi and occasionally Asuka show some cleavage, but that’s not too bad.) Plus, it shouldn’t be a surprise at this point that I prefer the characters of Mondaiji over those of KonoSuba, and the only KonoSuba characters who can remotely contend are Megumin and, to a lesser extent, Kazuma. Also, to me, the opening and ending theme songs of KonoSuba are nothing special.

Conclusion

I’m not saying that Mondaiji is for everyone, because that would be a total lie; I’m just saying that Mondaiji is the series for me, and part of me is saying that the series gets less recognition than it deserves. I also don’t mean to imply that anyone who prefers any of the above three shows over Mondaiji is wrong, because most of the comparison factors that lead me to prefer Mondaiji are pure bias, and openly slandering opinions is uncool. I’m just saying: If anyone, preferably who has seen any or all of the above three shows, has not watched the Mondaiji anime yet, I would recommend giving it a try. If anyone has already given it a try, I would recommend waiting until about a year after the first time watching and giving it another try, because sometimes once is not enough (as was the case with me). However, if anyone has already done so and still does not enjoy the anime as I do, then so be it.

That’s all that I have to say. I hope this writing was enjoyable and/or informative; if not, I apologize.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)