The State of Aether (7/17/19) - Dr. Isekai

On today’s The State of Aether, a very brief chat about Teppen, Dr. Mario World, and one of the worst hot takes for Dr. Stone I’ve read.

Note: This was supposed to go up last night, hence yesterday’s date on the title.

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Before I get into this, we are about halfway through July with next week being the last full week of the month. The State of Aether originally started out as way to just quickly get my thoughts into writing, but overtime it’s function has been rather loosely defined. Part reaction piece to news, part impressions for games/shows, and part updates on myself and whatever I’m working on, it’s one of the more freeform pieces I’ve been publishing since I started the SixTAY Days of Writing. And while I expect these to slow down at the end of the month, I’ve been thinking about its place after the fact.

Some thoughts for another time...

New Mobile Games

As someone who’s already got one foot deep into one Gatcha game already (courtesy of Fire Emblem Heroes), I’m hesitant to download other mobile games and sink more time into them. That said, I took the time to test drive two new games last week that caught my interest.

Though I expected Dr. Mario World to be a watered down version of the title, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I haven’t jumped online yet, but based on the short levels I’ve played, it’s your average match colors puzzler for phones. In short.... it’s okay, but kinda bland. Apperently, the microtransactions become more apparent after the first 20 levels, but it hasn’t kept my attention yet to reopen the app. It’s a servicable game, but doesn’t scratch that same puzzler itch like the mainland Dr. Mario games or similar titles. More than anything, I just find myself wanting to play something else.

On the other hand, Teppen has been a rather interesting little card battler I’ve recently sunk some time into. Aside from the visual aesthetics, most games are relatively quick and over in five minutes, which is something that is greatly appreciated in any mobile game. Though the game has issues I’d like to see addressed in the future (takes forever to get into the app, the notifications after the title screen are annoying) and it doesn’t do much to teach you how to play or explain how its systems work (or its in-game currency), playing though each of the character’s story modes and testing out each character’s unique playstyle has motivated me to learn more. Haven’t jumped online yet, but that may be the make or break moment for me.

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Get Isekai’d

Over on the AniTAY Discord, a certain article caught my attention that was just begging for a follow up. You can read the whole article here, but I’ll give you the short end of it below.

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For whatever actual criticisms exist, this is all just a long and winded way of getting the point across that the author didn’t like Dr. Stone. The author’s main argument boils down to it lacks that “fantasy” edge or some sort of interesting hook right out of the gate (two episodes in) because it delves in real(ish) science.

Even if Senkuu’s explanations are legit, it’s still just science. At least most isekai have magical powers, rather than pretending we’ll be in awe that a character can separate salt from ocean water to preserve meat. The only real magic in Dr. Stone seems to be the mystery of how everyone turned to stone in the first place, but the characters have to learn to survive before we can make much progress there.

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The main problem with their argument is by painting the isekai label (on a shonen property, for context) in such broad strokes, they are reaching to make a comparison that just doesn’t exist to avoid making the effort of levying any real criticism or point about the show itself. Even worse is their writing suggests a lack of understanding of the subject material (bold italics added for emphasis):

As more characters show up, and their roles on the show become a little less rote, the group dynamic is sure to get a little more entertaining. We even get brief flashes of this every time the show stops worrying about telling us how the character survive or what their motivation in this new life is and just let them be friends. But until the set up is over, and the show learns to stop letting its exposition smother it, Dr. Stone will probably continue to suffer all the problems of an isekai with none of the magic.

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Here’s the thing: It’s a show set in the post-apocalyptic future where most of humanity has been encased in stone. The survival aspect (for now at least), is kinda the point. The show even goes out of its way to highlight the end goal is to rebuild society, though the exact destination might be a point of conflicting interests moving forward.

By mistaking the isekai label as a catch-all-term for “generic,” it abandons any legitimate faults in favor of highlighting what Dr. Stone never had to begin with. It’s one thing to say you don’t like the science angle or the stoning process fluctuates as the plot demands it, but it’s another to shoehorn an entirely different genre without the context just to make the case it bored you:

(subtitle) The first two episodes of the anime would probably be better off without any of the dialog

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...Not Dead Yet.

Credits:

Track: Space Police | Artist: Edguy | Album: Space Police: Defenders of the Crown

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