PGC Background: Vileplume

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I know, I know, I said I would update the fan fiction by yesterday, and it never happened. Guess I got lazy.

Actually, one of the main reasons I haven’t thought about the manuscript for Prof. Ginkgo Chronicles is because of a related project: making my Vileplume in-game! I recently learned about competitive battling for the Pokemon franchise and how to optimize stats and move sets for the best chances at winning. Now, I’m not really a competitive player myself, but I decided to apply the same logic to create a tailored Vileplume just like the one Prof. Ginkgo has.

The biggest hurdle was coming up with a 4-move set that made sense. Unfortunately due to game mechanics, pokemon in the video games are only allowed four moves maximum (of which Vileplume uses at least 6 or 7 in the fan fiction at any given time, not that I’ve been counting). I decided to go with the following move set because they relate most to Vileplume’s character in my story:

Moves: Aromatherapy, Attract | Toxic, Petal Dance, Teeter Dance

Aromatherapy was chosen because I am told that competitions tend to get very hairy, especially by passing around lots of stat changers. I also mention briefly in Chapter 1 of the fan fiction that Vileplume uses this to help soothe pokemon used in experimentation at Prof. Ginkgo’s lab. Petal Dance, of course, is Vileplume’s trademark attack, and serves as its only offensive ability in this move set. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a dark petal dance technique in the video game, so that was definitely not going to happen. I also decided to add either Attract or Toxic to the mix so I can ruin my opponent’s pokemon in various ways. Toxic is preferred since Vileplume is a poison type as well as a grass type, but I also am giving my Vileplume the Effect Spore ability from the Dream World, so poisoning (or any other stat) could be done in that fashion regardless.

The biggest hurdle though was Teeter Dance. Vileplume in the Prof. Ginkgo Chronicles story uses this attack a lot, and in my opinion, makes my Vileplume more unique than almost any other Vileplumes in a pokemon battle. In competition, Teeter Dance works best against any pokemon, particularly in double or triple matches, because it affects all pokemon (including your own) except the user in a state of confusion. It also hits with 100% accuracy. The only problem is, this is an inherited move in the breeding process, and in order for me to teach my Oddish Teeter Dance, I need to breed a male Spinda with Teeter Dance with a female Cacnea or Cacturne. The offspring from this pairing must then be a male Cacnea for it to then breed with my Oddish or Gloom with the hidden ability, so that the offspring will inherit the move and the ability.

This is a very tedious process, since Spinda can only be caught by PokeTransfer or Dream World; but luckily a friend of mine traded me his male Spinda on the day of my birthday! He had to jump from his Emerald version to Diamond to Black; and one of his games along the way had its data erased, so he had to cheat his way to quicken the process. Oh, the things my friends do for me! 😀

To sweeten the Vileplume I had, I also am in the process of optimizing its stats to fit for combat as well as my own role play. This means tinkering with the nature, characteristic, and of course, effort values!

Fortunately for Pokemon Black/White versions, tailoring these stats is simple, but once again, tedious. A parent can pass on its nature to an offspring by holding an Everstone (yeah, those things people never seem to never use other than to level up their Dragonair without pressing B to stop it from becoming Dragonite actually means something). Natures determine a stat that multiplies its growth by 10% while pushing another stat down by 10%. You can also pass on one of the parents’ six Initial Values (IVs) by having it hold a Power Weight, Bracer, Belt, Lens, Band, or Anklet, each one affecting a different stat, of course. The highest IV stat is determined by a judge in the Battle Subway and also affects the pokemon’s Hidden Power and Characteristic. The highest value is 31 for any pokemon, and if you want to optimize the right way, you’d best want 31 IVs in your favorite stat.

Lastly, of course, is Effort Value training, and that’s the points a pokemon earns in battle which affect additional stat growth. The mechanics of the Pokemon video game allow you to have up to 510 EVs for any given pokemon, but only 508 of them are useful, since for every 4 effort points, there is only 1 extra stat point. The six stats: HP, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed also only allow for up to 255 of these EVs in this fashion. So if you’re still doing your math, only 252 points should be given as a maximum in any EV stat build. By this logic, any pokemon can receive a maximum of 127 additional stat points through EVs, with only 63 of them given to any particular stat. In case you’re wondering why such odd numbers, my logic tells me these are determined by data bit-rates: 8 bits (0-127) for the total and 7 bits (0-63) for each additional stat. The EVs are determined by a separate bit counter made up of roughly 10 bits (0-511, subtract 1 bit) and 9 bits (0-255), respectively. Don’t believe me? Go look up binary coding!

So after a lot of toiling away at research and stat training that I will eventually do, this is Prof. Ginkgo’s Vileplume:

Dancing Vileplume

ID: Vileplume (No. 045)

Sassy nature (Sp. Def +10%, Spd -10%)

Capable of taking hits (31 Def in IVs). I wanted “Good perseverance,” but that only warrants 29 IVs.

Ability: Effect Spore

Move set: Aromatherapy, Attract | Toxic, Petal Dance, Teeter Dance

EVs (HP/Atk/Def/SpA/SpD/Spd): 152/0/104/0/252/0 (+2 remaining for whatever)

 

Yeah… probably not the best Vileplume for battling purposes (and to be honest, this can also be pulled off by Lilligant), but it works for the Professor!

Anime Review: Shin Sekai Yori

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Shin Sekai Yori: Review

Imagine a future where everyone has psychokinesis, the power to manipulate the physical using the mind alone. What kind of people would we become? How would a society run itself? What would be their greatest fears? The anime Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World) answers these questions in a terrifying series about such a utopia.

Shin Sekai Yori is based on the novel under the same name by Yusuke Kishi. The anime tells the story in three distinctive parts in the life of Saki, the female protagonist. The first part introduces Saki and her friends as pre-teens, when they come across their ancient society’s darkest secrets by accident. The second part takes place in their high school years, when one is sentenced to death and two others run away. The third part tells the tale of the battle between humans and monster rats when Saki is an adult. Each part of this epic utopian tale reveals more of the future Japanese society accelerated a thousand years from now, where everyone has developed god-like powers through psychokinesis.

As far as originality is concerned, Shin Sekai Yori continues to tell a similar theme among many utopian pieces of literature. Common themes in many utopian literatures include a person who questions the society’s rules, what the society’s authority does to protect their utopia, and ultimately what is resolved in order to maintain superiority over everyone else. Shin Sekai Yori touches on all of these themes while also bringing the element of referring to our present day as an ancient violent civilization that destroyed itself. Although the utopia that is set in this series is a lot smaller and appears more “feudal” than anything else, history repeats itself as the world faces the threat of humanity on humanity once again.

Needless to say, Shin Sekai Yori also reveals a subliminal message on human nature itself with very familiar tones from other utopian storylines. The anime, for example, covers the very fears that drive the society to ensure their stability. Likewise, the very stability is shaken by an external power that abuses this fear to start a revolution, as was the case of the monster rats in the third arc of this anime. And yet, the conclusion of this tale leaves an audience (particularly me) with a sense of hope, yet dissatisfaction that anything was truly resolved by making a utopia in the first place. This is, once again, a very common theme in utopian art and literature.

Shin Sekai Yori tells a very similar utopian story with a Japanese (specifically anime, in this case) perspective. It emphasizes the fears of a society to drive stability and ultimately has it torn down by the very rules they had created over their people. It leaves audiences to question whether our society alone is better or worse in today’s context. And above all, it tells the story with a very haunting musical score. That in and of itself probably kept me watching this series each week as it came out!

Three-C Editing

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When I edit any of my writings, I use the 3 Cs. I edit for content, for clarity, and for correction. For projects with short deadlines, I will probably combine all methods into one in order to meet the deadline. This is especially true for journalistic pieces, which demand publishing almost immediately. Otherwise for basic essays that require at least three weeks of effort, at least three revisions are enough to go through the entire editing process. Of course, most of my students wait until the last minute anyway, so I end up having to treat their essay like a journalistic article; forcing me to be slightly more cruel to them. I apologize for that.

Before editing your work

Several ideas come to mind prior to editing, but it all ends with the same milestone: have a completed rough draft! Editing an incomplete article is not only a waste of time, but it often causes “writer’s block,” when a person has no idea what to write. Writer’s block is every author’s nemesis, because it pushes back any deadline or milestone they were supposed to meet. When you’re worrying about editing your work before it’s completed, you lose sight of why you’re writing in the first place. Get the ideas out first. Filter later!

Here is a list of ideas you can do before starting your rough draft. You do not have to do all the suggested elements on this list, but I highly suggest doing things in bold. I will not go into detail explaining all of them, but you can always ask me if you need me to clarify.

  • Brainstorm ideas and topics for your writing.
  • Free-write all the thoughts you have on paper for 5-10 minutes.
  • Research on your topic.
  • Make an outline of your article.
  • Create charts and graphs of your content’s elements (especially for stories).
  • Have annotated notes on your key points and ideas.
  • Write your thesis statement or purpose on a sticky note and place it in front of you wherever you write your article.
  • Write your rough draft without worrying about citing references.

Once you have gone through these pre-writing processes, complete your rough draft and consider three edits. These are the editing processes in order.

Editing for Content

This is the easiest, yet longest method of editing for any writer. Editing for content essentially boils down to a single question: does my article make sense? In this process, editors (particularly ones who are not the author of this piece) ask a series of questions regarding what the article is talking about. More often than not, these questions aim specifically at elements that need to either be explained or reworded, because content of such detail is either missing or confusing to a reader. You, the author, should read your own article as well; and if you can, read it as if you know nothing of the subject at all. If you or your editors don’t understand your article, your audience sure as hell won’t understand either!

Keep in mind though, editors will not look for the same elements, and many of them will contradict each other. You, the author must judge for yourself what needs to be clarified or explained for the purposes of your own writing.

This process can be completed in as few as 1 complete revision, but can take as many as it possibly can, especially for longer works such as novels or dissertations (I think the longest I’ve heard about had something like 20 revisions, just for content). Editing for content is completed once the author (you) can read the article without asking any of these key questions on missing or confusing content.

Editing for Clarity

This method often complements editing for content, but I do it separately for the sake of keeping myself from writer’s block. Editing for clarity asks whether the content fits logically or necessarily. There are details in many of my own articles that explain perhaps too much to the reader, and is probably the biggest reason my readers don’t bother to read my stuff in complete detail. I have to identify what these elements are (usually filler phrases like “the fact that” or “even though”) and remove them where necessary. Sometimes you want to slow a reader down by throwing in passive verse or filler words, but you should only do this when you have mastered normal writing techniques (and never do them for an academic assignment).

The other element in editing for clarity is to make sure your elements flow logically. You don’t often state your conclusion in the middle of your premises. And if you do, like I just did, you better make it very clear to your readers that this is a point you’re emphasizing (of course, you would be using prepositional phrases rather than bold your content unless you’re blogging).

Another good example you could do in clarity (particularly for stories) is if the nature of your content flows logically. Let’s say I write about an event that happened in the summer. If I then describe another event later down the road in spring, your conclusion is that either I skipped an entire year’s worth of content or I don’t know how the seasons change at all. This content needs to be clarified.

If you do, perchance, change significant details in your editing by clarity phase, you might have to revisit editing by content. Be careful of doing that, because you don’t want to waste time on your article unnecessarily, especially when you have a deadline.

Editing for Correction

Only the daring need apply for this one; but if you’re a decent writer, you should do this step automatically. Simply put, editing for correction is your grammar checker. Many word document software have built-in spelling and grammar checkers nowadays, but they may skip over typos or even ask you to revise something you intentionally left misspelled or incorrect. Do not rely on your word document software’s grammar checker!

Editing for correction is used just to patch up your writing so that it doesn’t violate your language’s standard rules, and should only be done once you are satisfied with the content of your article. Good writers who edit by correction can have this step done in 1 revision; because if everything has already been caught content- and clarity-wise, touching up is all that’s left!

My personal method by which I correct writing is by literally (yes, literally) reading my paper out loud. This, of course, is annoying if you are in an intentionally silent environment, such as a library (where many writers do their writing). By reading my own work out loud, I can catch mistakes if I have trouble reading it.

If you cannot judge your own writing by correction, have someone else read it. By reading your own writing, you already know what you’re looking for and skim over obvious typos or phrases that don’t make sense. If your editor or friend also skims over, have them read your paper out loud to you. Once you have revised your article for correction, read it again to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Turning in or Publishing

Now believe me, I violate this all the time because I like hitting the “Publish” button on my blogs immediately once I’m done with a rough draft (this article included). Do not do this if you are absolutely serious about being a journalist; and most definitely do not turn in your rough drafts (or halfway revised drafts) as the final document in your writing classes!

You should only publish once all 3 editing methods have been done and you have revised your article to the nth degree because of them. This may take awhile, but please remember that all your assignments must be published! Unless you are writing in a private journal that no one else bothers to read unless they happen to stumble upon it, writing is intended for other people to read.

So don’t forget to edit, and please don’t forget your deadlines, be it personal or external. The last thing a writer needs to have is a boss that’s fed up with them for not writing anything! And you know you have been, but you’ve been editing all this time. You better turn something in!

And with that, keep on writing; and if you ever need a personal editor, I’m always available for friends, but I may consult with you regarding a fee if your writing is an asset rather than just for fun!

Anime Review: Encouragement of Climb

Encouragement of Climb
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Encouragement of Climb

It’s very rare to find a great show among animated shorts. Many of them produce situational one-shots with the same characters in the same setting. While some of them do have a serial timeline, shorts often lack the details of storytelling. The short series Encouragement of Climb (Yama no Susume) counters these claims by creating situations chronologically with wonderful progression and development for its protagonists.

Encouragement of Climb follows two high school girls and their adventures in hiking to mountain summits across Japan. Aoi, the scared and unsure of the two, learns to overcome her anxieties while being accompanied by Hinata, the tomboyish enthusiastic one who appears to have some experience in hiking. With each episode, audiences learn a little tidbit on activities and ethics in camping and hiking as they watch the girls learn to hike together.

The visuals for this anime consist of more simple drawings with “watercolor” effects, faded coloring that’s not nearly as bright or vivid as most anime. I personally like this style because it does not distract the audience from appearances and fan service and forces them to focus mainly on the situation the characters are in. Visuals for animations and films like this one accompany the story rather than make it the main reason people watch it. I certainly love the characters this way for who they are, rather than how they look.

One thing I did enjoy about this series is the reality displayed when one goes on a hike in the mountains. Being somewhat of a hiker myself, I have learned that not all mountain trails are steep, scary, or even arduous, as Aoi originally thinks when it comes to climbing mountains or hills. In fact, their first trail blaze was on a neighboring hill that took them less than a day to reach the summit! The trials Aoi and Hinata face are not only literal in climbing mountains, but figurative in climbing our lives’ scariest moments. All progress in life is a hurdle that many of us face with fear and anxiety, as Aoi had done; but with the help of good friends and a little encouragement from within, we can climb our way to the top.

Encouragement of Climb is a beautiful short series, not only for its story and characters, but it also showed me that I can climb the “mountains” in my life.

Future Cosplay: Taichi Tanaka

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Once again, no fan fiction chapter today. Been uber busy today so I didn’t have time to sit down and write out the story. Here is a posting of something I did on Facebook yesterday regarding a cosplay idea.

 

Profile: Taichi Tanaka (Tari Tari)

Gender: Male

Age: 17-18

Taichi is a senior at Shirahamazaka High School in the general studies track. He is the only member of the school’s badminton team and qualified for the national tournament. Due to unfortunate circumstances, however, his club had to disband due to lack of membership. After a bet he lost against Konatsu, Wakana, and Sawa, he and the new transfer student Atsuhiro help the girls create the “Choir and Sometimes Badminton Club.”

Although Taichi is an athlete, he also enjoys singing. In first episode of Tari Tari, he sings the alma mater solo. Taichi plays a supporting role throughout most of the series and also develops a crush on Sawa.

 

Taichi face and body concept

Physical attributes:

Eyes: brown

Hair: black, parted in front

Body type: average, stocky

Clothing attributes (student):

Shirt: orange tee-shirt, white polo with left pocket

Tie: red, white hatched emblem on the bottom

Pants: blue jeans or trousers

Belt: black

Shoes: red and white tennis shoes

Other attributes:

Voice: tenor

Personality: hard-working, naive

 

Taichi feat. Wakana Sakai (Left)

Things that make us similar:

  • Same physical attributes
  • Both tenors
  • Similar personalities

Things that make us different:

  • I don’t play badminton
  • I’m not athletic
  • I project when I sing, but I occasionally hit the wrong notes

Cosplay debut: Anime Expo 2013 (maybe)

Optional: learn tenor parts for the songs from Tari Tari. Partner with Atsuhiro, Sawa, Konatsu, or Wakana.

Cosplay concept: parting my hair

Cosplay concept: parting my hair