I do not think I am well.

I’ve had a really weird time lately, but I can’t seem to explain or understand what it is, or why it’s happening. I’m having a really hard time sleeping lately, I’ve just become endlessly awake, all the time. I wish I knew what it was, but when I put my head down, I can’t stop thinking about my future, it’s like my mind is going a mile a minute, and I can’t even deal with it sometimes.

I think I was worried about Sarah last week, and it affected me a bit, but after talking to her, I feel incredibly secure about my relationship with her, she’s perfect. The cliche of saying things like “Soul mates” and things like that might seem trite in a world which places such cynicism on romanticism, but I really mean it. I might not be particularly certain about my future, but I know that the one constant I want in it is her.

 

I’ve had concern that my life isn’t really going anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at rock bottom. Infact, I actually quite like how things are going at the moment. I have an alright job, a loving girlfriend and I seem to be doing ok. I’m not sure if I’m entirely emotionally stable at the moment though, and I think that’s the thing that is keeping me at a weird end of a spectrum I can’t comprehend. I try to stay optimistic, for everyone around me’s sake, but I try very hard sometimes to contain everything bad that is going on for me. I don’t feel as though I have anyone to REALLY talk about it with. Despite this, I’m sure that Sarah would really help me out with this if I asked her, but I think that would be incredibly selfish of me. I know how busy she’s been with university work at the moment, and I don’t think it would be fair of me at all to burden her with all my stuff.

 

I also came to the realisation the other day that I’ve been pretty bad lately. I had a think, and I realised how incredibly needy and clingy I’ve been in my relationship lately. I always want to talk to Sarah, even when I know she’s got a lot of things going on in her life, and I realised how incredibly selfish and greedy it is for me to try and monopolize her time like I have been doing. I’ve wrote a lot more about this in my personal notebook I keep on me. I’d be embarrassed if anyone ever read it, probably.

I want to do so many things for Sarah, but with the way my life is at the moment, I worry that I can’t give her everything she wants. In a more metaphysical sense, and on an emotional/spiritual level. I am trying very hard to be a much better boyfriend at the moment (As in, I’m trying to not suffocate her with my prescense , and distracting myself with other things so I don’t mope)

I love her very much.

 

I’m not sure why I really wrote this, nobody will read it. It just helps me sometimes to get everything out of my head and into some kind of written space, so I can visualize things.

It’s not the end of the world, but I can see it from here.

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Top 10 games of the year – 2011- #10 – #6

It took a while to come to terms with writing this piece. For one, I’ve barely played enough games to even allow me to MAKE a top ten list, but thankfully, I scraped by, again. In no means is this list an indication of objective quality, moreso a personal list of what I felt provided the best possible experiences from videogames, in 2011.

 

10) Bulletstorm

When I was younger, I used to play Duke Nukem 3D a lot. It was funny, it felt super tight, the weapons were great, and it was just such a wild variation from other things like it that I was used to (Quake/Doom/Wolfenstein). So like many others, I was pumped to find out that Duke Nukem Forever was actually happening. And like many others, I soon came to realise how trashy and stuck in the past that games tone was. Thankfully, Bulletstorm filled that gap amiably.  Like Duke 3D, it was funny, clever, and just a ton of fun to play. The story was garbage, it was nothing more than a wafer thin string to encourage me to carry on for whatever contrived reason, but it was enough to make me carry on. I needed more skillshots…

 

9)Okamiden

It’s weird that so close to the end of its lifecycle, the DS still has some bangers coming out. Okamiden was one of those, delivering a consistent, exciting game, that made smashing use of every part of the DS imaginable. Stylus controls, microphone input, the works. A top to bottom great action RPG that has some sharp writing and moving narrative.

8)Saints Row: The Third

Okay so let’s make this game where you’re robbing a bank with a celebrity but you all have giant masks and the giant mask is the face of one of the guys who’s robbing the bank then you’re on a private jet then you freefall off the private jet and shoot people WHILE YOU ARE FALLING then land in A DIFFERENT private jet, kick a pilot out, then fall down AGAIN while catching your friend then opening a parachute and landing safely.

In the first 30 minutes. Hot damn.

7) Ghost Trick

Ghost Trick is unique. From the staggering visuals, suspenseful story, and ingenious gameplay mechanics, Ghost Trick was without a doubt the single most unusual experience of the year. If you told me that “Hey this game’s made by the dude that made Ace Attorney”, I’d usually just give you money up front. However, what I did not expect was a game so well written and featuring such a detailed world that I would stay up till 3 in the morning trying to get JUST A LITTLE BIT more of the story. You should play this game if you enjoy your games in which you are not just murdering dudes.

 

6) Deus Ex: Human Revolution

I found DX to be entirely polarising. On the one hand, the world and the fiction were so incredible, I felt graced to be able to explore in it. The gritty streets of America, parallel to Shanghai’s incredible looking cityscapes were a true delight, especially with the breadth and detail featured in each location. Sneaking in to people’s offices and houses, so that I could read their e-mail about how they had to feed their cat, was strangely one of the most compelling reasons I can find to play this game. A part of me desperately wanted to rate this game more, but the bit where you actually have to PLAY the game is such a downfall. Awful bossfights, poor A.I, and generally just a game that fights you every step of the way, almost defying you when you try to do things in your own unique way. Sure, the story stuff adds some wicked diversity, but when your combat options boil down to “I’m a stealth guy who shoots people with tranq darts” or “I’m a shooty man who shoots people in the head once to kill them, or twice if they’re in a helmet!”, it kinda breaks the rest of the game. Nevertheless, for them to make a Deus Ex game in 2011…and for it to be GOOD? That was the biggest treat of all.

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Cyborgs, Androids and the Posthuman in Japanese Science-Fiction Animation- A Whisper in the Ghost

Ghost in the Shell was released in 1995, directed by acclaimed science-fiction director Mamoru Oshii. Being a recreation of the manga of the same name, there was a certain amount of expectation regarding the quality of the film. Fortunately, it has been described as “Rising anime to something real, opening the doors for Disney’s pursuit of Miyazaki, and eventually, the truly incredible page of manga we see today” (www.cyberpunkreview.com: 24/04/11) and by James Cameron as “The first truly adult animation film to reach a level of literary and visual excellence”.

The movie focuses around a government organization codenamed “Section 9”, a group of elite cybernetically enhanced cyborgs, whose main focus seems to be purposefully unclear, but hints towards the prevention of cyber-crime and corrupt politics . Set in the futuristic 2029, the world is linked together by an omnipotent computer network, which can seemingly be accessed at any time by any individual. However, with this advancement in technology, criminals have become more and more capable in the art of “Ghost hacking”, implanting false memories within an individual, forcing them to commit crimes on an increasingly untraceable scale. Section 9, lead by the female protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi, (Henceforth referred to as Kusanagi) are tasked with the apprehension of the elusive “Puppet-Master”, the most prestigious hacker in existence. However, as they proceed throughout their investigation, they suddenly realise that all is not what it seems, even questioning their own motivations and existences in the process.

The movie opens with a brief introduction to the futuristic society they live in, explaining that “In the near future, corporate networks reach out to the stars. Electrons and light flow throughout the universe…The advancement of computerisation however, had not wiped out nations, or ethnic groups”. This brings about immediate connotations of a world associating itself with a relatively positive state of affairs, as all too often in cyborg and futuristic anime, there is a sense of looming dread, be it from the breakdown of societies or simple disassociation with the idea of individuality, grouping people as machine or man. Haraway describes this narrative conceit as “Cyborg writing must not be about the fall, cyborg writing is about the power to survive… (Haraway, 1991, P154).

Despite the fact that the city itself is dystopic in its aesthetic, Kusanagi is a stark parallel. Sitting atop a roof, the scene cuts to a room of politicians, discussing the legitimacy of an error in what is assumed to be a computer program. Kusanagi is then shown, and introduces an immediate issue within her cyborg form. As she is ordered to move into position, she removed her jacket to reveal a naked body. Portrayed as a frighteningly powerful figure, notions of gender politics are brought into consideration. Kusanagi herself has a “perfect body”, with large breasts and a doll like complexion. However, it is clear that she has no genital organs, which causes a problem. Lamare describes this as “There is yet a situation where technology and gender become inextricably meshed. That of the female cyborg” (Lamare, 2009, P215). By purposefully giving her no apparent reproductive organs, Oshii has chosen to ignore her inherent sexuality, despite giving her an aesthetically pleasing form. This shocking contrast is more apparent in the later half of the film, when we can associate this with her issues regarding her humanity. By removing her vagina, Oshii dictates the immediate issue regarding her ability to reproduce, thereby stripping her from her most fundamentally genetic right to be declared a human. Haraway compliments this by explaining that “The cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world- it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis or other seductions to organic wholeness” (Haraway, 1991, P150). Despite this however, Kusanagi’s one line is crucial in our initial determination as to what she might initially be perceived as. When an unknown male voice asks her “What’s going on in your head today, there’s an awful lot of static in there”, she replies with “It must be a loose wire”. This line, however, is problematic within itself, due to inconsistencies within translation. In the original cut of the film, in both English and Japanese language tracks, she uses the phrase “It must be a loose wire”. This would have the audience believe that because she is a cyborg, it’s merely a problem within. However, in the 2008 remake, Ghost in the Shell 2.0, Kusanagi explains that “She must be on her period”, as is the intended dialogue for the scene. This completely changes our initial impression of her. Now, she seems wholly female, and despite the fact she has no apparent genitals, she still experiences issues with her biological make-up.

Further enforcing this idea is the following scene, in which the viewer is invited to watch the creation of Kusanagi’s cyborg frame. We see her metallic exoskeleton and augmented brain come together in a symbiosis of mind and body, profusely depicting the fact that she is almost entirely machine at this point. Following from this, we see a strange visual metaphor, in which Kusanagi is transported down a tube full of liquid, which appears to symbolize human birth. As she floats weightless and unwilling through these tubes, it seems clear that this is a contradiction as to how we might associate the creation of the cyborg. Whereas a typical construction might be one of the addition to parts onto the exoskeleton, everything about Kusanagi’s “creation” seems wholly associated with birth. Being shown in the foetal position, we see a brief period of vulnerability, as she becomes instantly aware when she emerges from her mechanical mother, it is clear that we might not be viewing her construction, but her creation, or birth. So far, we can view the introduction to Kusanagi as somewhat contradictory, at least in the sense of questioning her alignment towards being more machine than man. While we can determine that her body is quintessentially machine at this point, the many allusions towards her human nature are still apparent. It only continues to distort the matter in the following scene, when we see Kusanagi awaken, implying the previous scenes were a dream, or memories

The next series of issues comes from Kusanagi and Togusa as they drive towards the apprehension of what they believe to be the Puppet Master. They discuss the nature of the his crimes, and as Kusanagi explains her thoughts regarding internal struggle, she claims that “There’s just a whisper in my Ghost. I hear it sometimes”. Thus far, there has been no real explanation as to what the “Ghost” is, only that it can be hacked into to control others. It remains safe to assume that it is either the firmware in the cyborg, an easily accessible flaw, or something more spiritual. By stating the whisper, it could infer something to the effect of intuition for the job. This theory gains credence when Togusa questions why he has been brought onto the job.. As Kusanagi explains to him, “Besides your slight brain augmentations, your body is completely human”, and continues to elaborate on the fact that by him being completely human, he gains an insight that the cyborgs may not. She likens him to the individual, and them to a group, with strong implications that she worries about the ability to think independently as a cyborg. “If technology does not give us complete control in our lives, it at least gives the illusion of SOME control” (Gray, 2002, P89).

As the film progresses, we are introduced to the “Garbage collector”, who has been cyber-hacking his wife’s brain as he goes about work, because “All of a sudden, she has no time for me, and now she wants a divorce”. The ethical problems are obviously apparent, and more-so the issue of privacy, or the lack thereof, in the world that the text is set. So far, we have been lead to assume that the hybridization of people to the network is an altogether positive thing, besides the Puppet-Masters recent action. However, by introducing someone like the garbage collector, it shows that literally anyone can hack into anyone, providing they have the correct, illegal software, proving that the world might have the lines between utopia and dystopia subtly blurred.

As the team come closer to arresting the criminal, they are faced with another mechanically enhanced cyborg, assumed to be the one orchestrating the situation. Kusanagi gives chase, leaping up the onto the roof of a building with unnatural ease, hurling herself into the fray.

By taking the role of the aggressor on herself, she casts off any doubts so far as to assuming her femininity dictates weakness. Haraway explains this as “The cyborg is not an IT to be dominated. The machine is us, our processes, an aspect of our embodiment…we are they” (Haraway, 1991, P180). As she comes face to face with him, so to speak, she reintroduces the aspect of body politics, attacking him in therm-optic camouflage, and being seemingly naked once again. Cavallaro suggests that “Nudity is employed as a means of succinctly conveying the main characters ultimate vulnerability as a concurrently physical and psychological dimension of her divided being, and hence an illusion to her inherent humanity” (Cavallaro, 2006, P86). As Kusanagi and her partner, Batou lead an on the spot interrogation, we are introduced to the idea of ghost hacked humans as active members of society.

Questioning him on his name, memories, past, he retains no memories. By carrying out the crime, seemingly of his own free will, it allows us to consider that what he experienced might not be ‘real’.

This idea is further explained as Togusa interrogates the garbage collector. His first question is asking “Tell me again. What is a simulated experience?”. Togusa explains to him that all his memory is fake, that he has no wife or child, and he had been manipulated in order to inadvertently hack into a government official. The contrast between memory and identity creating a person plays a large role in this situation. Because the man can not place himself in a reality, because he has no ‘real’ life, how can we value him as a human? The last decade of his life is described as “A fantasy, nothing more than a simulated experience” as they break him down and explain that nothing of what he perceives as reality is ‘real’. Brown explains this as “If ones memories are not entirely ones own, and if virtual memories are as a vivid and realistic as actual memories, how does one know what to call real?” (Brown, 2010, P26). It becomes increasingly troublesome therefore, to determine whether or not we can assume his existence is ‘real’. Togusa then hands him a photograph which the man earlier attempted to show to his co-worker, but refused to look. On it, the garbage collector claims is “His wife and child, beaming happily like a little angel”, but the reality is not quite so idealistic. On it, is simply a picture of himself. Upon seeing this, he exhibits the most humanistic experience so far in the text, and begins to cry, thereby asserting his humanity. Despite the fact that he might have been hacked, his existence merely serving as a shell for another, the fact that he can cry dictates that he can still show emotion, and is therefore essentially human in nature. Cavallaro explains this as “Ghost in the Shell emphasizes peoples dependence on material vestiges of the past, in the guise of photographs, which by supplying the victim with memories, are concurrently supposed to invest them with a sense of identity” (Cavallaro, 2006, P189)

This is the point which the Kusanagi’s introspection into her own life begins. As Batou walks away, he states that “That’s all it is, information. Even a simulated experience or a dream is simultaneous reality and fantasy”, implying that he considers what they experience, and what he did to be the same thing simultaneously.

Following this, we see what we assume to be Kusanagi scuba diving. Harkening back to the introduction when we experienced what is assumed to be her origin, she once again remains stoic and unmoving in her experience, merely rising to the surface into a reflection of herself.

We could assume through the imagery used that as the left Kusanagi is rising from the ocean, she is emerging from the icy depths of the ocean, into the reflection of herself, on the surface, as though her cyborg body is rejoining with her human mind. Under the water, she is all machine, surviving due to her implants, whereas when she rises back to the surface, she is nothing more than a human again, in the eyes of the public.

As Batou arrives to take her back to shore, he seems perplexed that “A cyborg would go diving in her spare time”. Interestingly, it is this point in which Kusanagi is confirmed to be a cyborg, as previous allusions were never really confirmed. Batou begins to question what he thinks is a self-destructive nature, asking her what she would do if something were to go wrong, to which she wryly replies that “She would die”. This is the first point in which Kusanagi and Batou consider their existence as individuals, as opposed to part of a cyborg collective. Again, the boundary between simulated experience and reality is explored when Batou asks her “What’s it like swimming down there in the ocean, not those simulation pools” to which she replies that she feels “Fear, cold, and alone”. She explains that she feels hope, because as she rises back to the surface, she imagines she is becoming someone else. One could assume that this is Kusanagi insinuating her lack of acceptance in being a cyborg, that by risking her life scuba diving, she feels things only a human would. Contrary to this idea is her physical identity, yet again. Batou questions her desire, as her mechanical body could sink at any moment, killing her, yet she still chooses to persist. However, following this, we come to a large explanation behind many of Kusanagi’s motives. As Batou asks if her purpose is to “Get out of section 9”, she explains to him how their bodies are essentially perfect. By having “State of the art” shells, they have achieved things that “Long ago, were only capable in science-fiction.”

She argues that they don’t have the right to complain about their existence, and how an “Occasional tune up” is a necessary evil. Kusanagi explains that if they were to ever quit, they would have to return any part of them which is enhanced, which would leave very little, implying the only thing to remain would be her “Ghost”, which we can assume to be allegorical for her soul. This persists to be the crux of the narrative conceit, of which Napier explains to be “The real action of the film is not so much the hunt for an evil…more-so the quest for the Majors spirituality…whether or not she possesses something that she calls a ghost-the spirit or soul that animates her body” (Napier, 2001, P107). This can be reaffirmed by Kusanagis following soliloquy, in which she explains:
“There are countless things that make up the human body, just as they make up me as an individual, my own personality. Sure, I have a face and voice to distinguish myself, but my thoughts and memories are unique only to me. I carry a sense of my own destiny. All of these things are small parts of what make me, me.”

At this point, it can become clear that Kusanagi, as an individual, defines herself by her memory, and the identity created from it. She places little value on her physical form, relating back to the title of the movie, implying that her essence, and the sum parts of her individuality is her Ghost, and the physical husk she is contained in, is nothing but “Boundaries for which I am to overcome” This seems to relate to Litch’s idea that “Physical attributes matter a great deal in our judgement about personal identity, but this is not the property that determines personal identity” (Litch, 2002, P69). Kusanagi seems to be on a search not necessarily for the Puppet Master, but herself on an existential level. Reid states that “Though memory is not the grounds of personal identity, it provides first-hand experiences of it…noting that the evidence we use to make judgements about our own past…” (www.stanford.edu: 10/04/11)

Following this, Kusanagi has more problems with her individuality as she spots her doppelgänger in a café, with the exact same cybernetic shell as she does.

Notions of the uncanny arise around this, as the doppelgänger Kusanagi seems to be from an entirely different world to her, a reflection of herself should she not have chosen to become a cyborg, despite the fact the ‘other’ is merely a shell. “The uncanny blurring between the animate and the inanimate…is clearly exemplified by puppet like characters… (Brown, 2010, P25). By relating Freuds analysis of the uncanny, “One which is identical with its opposite” (www.people.emich.edu: 02/04/11). Not only does this relate to Kusanagi and her double, but the concern between being cyborg and human, wherein the cyborg is the uncanny double of the human, as though the cyborg is unflinching, emotionless and an “enhanced” organism. “Machines could only mock man’s dream…they were not man, but a caricature of it (Redmond, 2004, P160)

As the film progresses, Section 9 have tracked the Puppet Master down to a cybernetic body, to which they attempt to “Dive into”. Batou explains to Togusa that the reason everyone is so on edge regarding the situation is because it appears that a “Ghost” has been created from nothing, and implanted into this body. The concern that Kusanagi experiences here is paramount to her existential search throughout the text. Were a Ghost to be created from scratch, how could she prove herself to be real? By deriving her existence from the memories and feelings in her Ghost, she panics as to whether or not she was once human.

She claims that “Cyborgs such as herself often get paranoid about their origins” which would suggest she finds herself relateable to the body they have contained. She has anxiety as she thinks that “She could have died a long time ago, and someone just my brain and stuck it in this body. Maybe there never was a real me” She seems determined to examine the nature of her origin by attempting to disbelieve her birth. Even though Batou claims that she has “Brain cells in that titanium shell”, she refuses to accept.

Clarke claims that “As a hybrid of nature and culture, the posthuman prosthetic body appears as a liminal being that represents both human and machine” (Clarke, 2009, P67) which continues to assert the notion that Kusanagi has elements of both her humanity, in her Ghost and her posthuman, prosthetic body.

Following this, the Puppet-Master, still contained in the cyberbody shell, finally distinguishes itself as an individual, sentient being, as Section 9 come to the conclusion that the program has developed its own ‘Ghost’, as it explains that “Man is an individual only because of his intangible memory” and that while “Memory can not be defined, yet it defines mankind.” By the Puppet-Master explaining this as a sentient program, it causes major controversy with the narrative conceit behind the notion of humanity. Whereas he does determine that memory is an integral part of being defined as human, the fact that a program can become aware of this, essentially “Mediating the quintessentially unstable nature of human subjectivity” (Cavallaro, 2006, P167). As the Puppet-Master is subsequently liberated, the film races towards its climactic ending.

From here, Kusanagi’s objectives are inextricably conflicted with her personal motives. She defines herself as human, however by disobeying the orders. Whereas she is basically “owned” by Section 9, and to an extent, the government, her personal objective is to discover the meaning behind her waning humanity. While Aramaki, the head of Section 9 might have ordered her to “Destroy the Puppet Master, at any cost”, she defies this from an ideological perspective, which implies that although she may be almost entirely machine, her intentions will not waiver due to this. She is still a free thinking individual, being contrary to Napiers claim that “Western Critics have looked at the technologically armoured body as spiritually empty” (Napier, 2001, P 206). Therefore, by defying her orders, she clearly identifies herself as humanistic, letting her emotions define what she will finally decide on, even at the risk of her body.

As the film races towards the conclusion, we see Kusanagi attempting to recover the Puppet-Masters body, which is still being guarded by the criminals who extradited it from Section 9. Once again, we see her as altogether human, as she is forced to fight a large bipedal tank. Despite the fact she is an augmented cyborg, she still refuses to face the tank head on. It is through this extract in which the most intricate definitions of Kusanagi’s personality, and distinction between man and machine are most apparent. Despite the fact that she is attempting to find the Puppet Master alone, she still needs the help of others, despite the fact “The illegitimate cyborgs, not of woman born, refuse the ideological resources of victimisation, so as to have a real life (Haraway, 1991, P177)

The conclusion to the fight ends with Kusanagi leaping onto the tank, and in an almost primalistic nature, tear it apart with her bare hands. The final issue regarding her body politics end here, with her forcibly destroying herself to aid her attempt to save the Puppet Master.

Once again, Kusanagi shows complete disregard for her physical form, as she sacrifices her body so that she might destroy the machine. At this point, we might define her by Grays statement of “Cyborg being as specific, as general and as useless a term as ‘tool’ or ‘machine’. (Gray, 2002, P19). As she helplessly lies there, ready for her inevitable death, Batou arrives in the nick of time to destroy the tank with his “Standard issue big gun”. Following this, she immediately demands that he link herself and the Puppet-Master so that she might gain an insight into the meaning behind their existence, she needs to be able to define herself on a spiritual level, by communicating with a pre-fabricated ‘Ghost’, one which has become aware and self-preservating, despite being born as a computer program.
The discussion between Kusanagi and the Puppet-Master is from the perspective of the Puppet-Masters first person perspective, only adding to the notion that they are both, at this point, nothing more than machines, able to lie there. The Puppet-Master explains to Kusanagi that despite the fact he is self aware, and therefore an individual being, it lacks the basic organic form that it might need to persist. Whereas Kusanagi questions why the Puppet Master cannot simply clone itself indefinitely, it replies by expressing the desire to be classified as an individual, as “A copy will never be more than a copy”. It attempts to define humanity by explaining that it is the genealogical persistence of memory and identity that would classify one as inherently human. The Puppet-Master proposes that they “Fuse their individual beings together, being reborn as a new and unique entity”. Kusanagi shows her scepticism to merging, as she “Can’t see the purpose for merging when I can’t bear children”, reaffirming previous notions of gender and reproductive politics defining her as a human being. Kusanagi has further problems with merging as she worries about the lack of her individuality as a person, pondering on the nature of whether she will continue to be herself, examining her human trait in regards to fear of change. The Puppet-Master tells her that her desire to remain what she is, is what is limiting her. The notion behind the desire to procreate, and reproduce is enforced by Haraways claims that cyborg texts are “Ruled by reproductive politics, rebirth without flaw or abstraction” (Haraway, 1991, P177) comes into consideration in this last scene quite amicably. The Puppet-Masters description of “Bearing their children into the vast net” implies an almost post humanist junction between the two beings, or the “Unique entity” as to which he describes the pairing. Complementing this is the idea behind the “Rebirth” of the new entity. Lamare explains it as “In the combination of woman and machine, she finds a state where the distinction between woman and machine is blurred, which implies for her, a moment of potential inversion and possible deconstruction of perceived hierarchies pertaining to women” (Lamare, 2009, P 216). The problems pertaining to Kusanagi’s eventual conclusion however, are varied. Whereas at the start of the text, she may have been defined explicitly as a “Cyborg”, that of a machine body with human brain cells, the notion of this is warped throughout, the issues amplified by the merging with the Puppet-Master. Despite the fact that politics behind identity and memory are crucial in this determination, she arguably lands in both the prevalence of the machine, and human at once. Her disregard for physical form, and onus on memory as the key trigger to define her as an individual, and a person would lead us to believe that despite her paranoia surrounding her “origin”, she views herself as essentially human. Contrary to this though, is her apparent lack of emotions regarding death, however, this may be an overconfidence on her part, as she believes she can simply have her Ghost downloaded into another shell, as is apparent in the films conclusion. Whereas Cyborgs may oft cross the line between their individualistic definitions, Kusanagi’s intention and finality is clear. By valuing her life, and allowing herself to break down pre-established barriers, she transforms herself into a higher state of being. No longer being machine, man, or computer program, she essentially frees herself from whatever hierarchical constraints she envisions to be holding her back, as Section 9 consider her to have died at the Puppet-Master crime scene.

In the conclusion, however, we can see that Kusanagi, or what we can assume to be her, survived the incident. Batou obtains a new body on the black market, despite the fact it “May be a little young for his taste”, and then questions Kusanagi as to “If the Puppet-Master is really with her” as she claims “She is neither the woman known as Major Kusanagi, nor am I the program called the Puppet-Master” and questions herself as to “Where should the newborn go from here…?”

For her, “The net is vast, and infinite”.

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Cyborgs, Androids and the Posthuman in Japanese Science-Fiction Animation- Introduction

Abstract

A keen analysis of the differences between Cyborgs, Androids and the notion of the Posthuman in Japanese Science-Fiction Anime, with focus on the ethical, moral, sociological, philosophical and psychological aspects which are associated with each group. A brief discussion of the history of the three fields, exploring their origins, followed by analysis of several key texts which exemplify the keystones in their respective sub-genres. I plan to determine the issues that are inherent to each element, how they differ from each other, and how each differing style depicts the issues surrounding their respective facet of synthetic life

Introduction

Animation is a highly expressive way in which to tell a story, or present a series of ideas. With something that is literally created by nothing, the only limitations are the technical skill of the artists involved. Comparing this with traditional methods of film creation, animation can do things which just can’t be done with live action cinema. However, with this, comes the detriment of animation, namely the fact they are nothing but hand drawn cartoons, with no real heart and soul. With only a voice behind them, the characters in animation are often, figuratively and literally, two dimensional. Despite this, animation is becoming an incredibly more prevalent style in which directors are choosing to experiment with. While the Western market of animation seems almost entirely aimed at a younger audience, it is the Japanese that seem most willing to brooch increasingly dark and more experimental forms of storytelling.

Using Otomo’s revolutionary Akira (1988) as an example, there are many themes which are almost explicitly aimed at an adult audience, “Otomo’s ambitious work of cyberpunk dystopia also engages such issues of technological addiction, social isolation, political corruption, scientific hubris, evolutionary adaptation, religious fanaticism, the disintegration of family, and the power of the individual to resist the status quo” (Brown, 2010: P3)                

Not to imply that Akira was the first piece of Japanese Animation (Henceforth referred to as ‘anime’ ) to exhibit this level of maturity however, but it was still an incredibly important piece of animation which encouraged other directors to delve into increasingly more controversial and philosophical topics.

Despite this recent trend in mature topics, Japanese science fiction anime isn’t a sub genre which exclusively focuses on existential angst and issues of memory and identity. Anime as a whole has been described as “The most influential aspect of Japanese cinema(to an international audience)” (McDonald, 2006, P13). McDonald then goes on to articulate that “…It gets its power not from weighty social critiques, but from melding together 2 worlds, the real and the imaginary…urging us to look for a tension between spectacle and narrative.” (McDonald, 2006, P 178).

Sci-fi as a genre is something that anime can often times depict exceptionally well, and while there are obviously numerous real world events which evoke this, such as the political and sociological problems with Japan’s youth, the most fearfully obvious is the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Whereas the only real film to attempt to accurately portray tragedy on that level is Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies (1988), referred to as “The most profoundly human animated film I’ve ever seen” (www.rogerebert.suntimes.com: 11/02/11), it cannot be ignored that the attack has not affected the cultural output of Japanese anime. Heavily influencing anime such as Ergo Proxy (2006), Fist of the North Star (1984-1987) and most importantly Akira (1988), the dystopic and often times apocalyptically ravaged setting could not have been more accurately portrayed by a country other than Japan. Napier describes it as

“Of course, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the most obvious catalysts to apocalyptic thought. The bomb itself is not specifically delineated, it stalks through a notable amount of J- culture…not surprising that popular iconography is suffused with images of catastrophic explosions, world threatening monstrosities and social chaos” (Napier, 2001, P252-253)

 

Whereas it might be easy then, to blanket all of Japanese anime with the association of the post-nuclear events, it isn’t the only thing that influences the output of Japanese anime. In comparison with the more western style of animation narrative, it’s claimed that The difference…is cultural. Japanese society simply believes in exposing their children to all of the varying eventualities of reality, while American culture tries to hide or protect its children from some of the more difficult events in life.” (www.animeyume.com: 22/11/10), and that “American kids are taught the ‘black and white’ idea about heroes and villains. You’re either a good guy or a bad guy, and finding out why isn’t relevant…Japanese children learn that…people become bad because they need to be redeemed” (www.animeyume.com: 22/11/10). It can be argued that in Japanese culture, the onus is not necessarily on the heroic nature of an individual, but more so their development as an individual, or coming to terms with their individuality, or ideological worth. So with regards to the comment which attempts to define anime characters as “Not necessarily black and white”, it would be appropriate to attempt to define a character archetype in which this is apparent. Or not necessarily a singular being, but a collective.

Science fiction often focuses on technological advancements relative to the real world. “If man realizes technology, he will achieve it” (Ghost in the Shell, Ch5). One of the key components to this is the creation of synthetic life, creating something which is uncannily like man, yet built to serve. They come in many forms, be they ‘Robots’, ‘Artificial Intelligence’, ‘Androids’, ‘Cyborgs’, or any one of several other monikers. For the purpose of this essay, I will focus heavily on ‘Cyborgs’ and ‘Androids’, as they are the most widely portrayed, and have the most interesting arguments and concepts surrounding them.

Cyborgs are defined as :

“A cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality, aswell as a creature of fiction… The Cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world-it has no truck with bisexuality, pre- oedipal symbiosis or other seductions to organic wholeness” (Haraway, 1991, P150)

Cyborgs are often construed as being half man, half machine,having the higher consciousness of the human, but the enhanced metallic shell of an augmented robot. While they are often times used as an almost unbeatable machine, showing man’s progress and dominance over nature, their problems seem to be systemic to their deliberation over self worth and existential questioning in regards to their own existence. A simple explanation would be that they are “A half-way point between machine and man …a concept to show how humanity is slowly being tainted by technology …slowly losing our humanity as we replace our body parts with machinery” (www.bbc.co.uk: 24/03/11)

While they might be created as “Representing the humanist restoration of unity and order, and mastery of nature (through modification of the human body)” (Clarke, 2009, P68), it is their actions beyond the physical boundaries which are often the main focus of the text with which they are featured. With reference to Major Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell (1995), her assigned task is explained as “Catching the puppet master, and bringing him to criminal justice”, whereas her more appropriate role is to question her existence as a cyborg, asking her partner “What if I died a long time ago, and someone took my real brain and put it into this body, there never even was a real me, and I could be completely synthetic?” (Ghost in the Shell, Ch7), and other equally probing philosophical questions regarding her existence.

The concept of the cyborg in science fiction is, however, not one which has been created recently. Texts such as Cyborg (1972),Robocop (1987) and Star Wars (1977) have set down the groundwork to which modern cyborg fiction draws from. In the cases of Robocop and Star Wars, both feature a central character, whose human, physical form was destroyed prior, and has been reborn as a cyborg character, which is to say their memories and personal identity have been altered, and in some cases removed, as to force them to serve their hierarchical masters. In the case of Darth Vader, he has “Become more man than machine now…” Whether or not they are made cyborg by an enhanced exoskeleton, increased brain activity and memory functions, the ability to connect to vast networks of information, or simply something so simple as a pacemaker, the definition of a cyborg seems clear. One that is dependant on unnatural technology. “By the late 20th century, we are all chimera, theorised and fascinated hybrids of machine and organism. In short, we ARE cyborgs” (Haraway, 1991, P150)

In simplistic terms, it would be easy to claim that the ‘android’ is quintessentially the same as the ‘cyborg’. Both are dependant on technology to perpetuate their existence, and they both seem to serve the same purpose; that is to say that they are to work for man. However, the difference is indeed vast between the two. Whereas the cyborg often draws its origins from the addition of machine to a biological form, the android is created explicitly as a machine, and imprinted with the presence of mind, or consciousness of a human. While the cyborg is often a grossly accentuated form of mankind’s triumph over nature, androids are definitively created in man’s own image, albeit in the uncanny sense. “They could not achieve man’s dream, only mock it. They were not man, an author to himself, but only a caricature of that masculinist reproductive dream” (Redmond, 2004, P160) 

The androids problem, therefore, seems not to be one of defining oneself as an individual, or asserting a sense of importance, an inherent drawback of containing human genealogy, but one of an an existence ingrained with servitude and discrimination. Take for example, ‘Evil’ Maria, from Fritz Lang’s highly influential Metropolis (1927).

The evil form of ‘Maria’ in Metropolis is definitively android in its purpose. As a robotic creature imprinted with Maria’s physical form, she is immediately sent to cause unrest amongst the workers. As Litch explains that ” This tells us what someone’s observable physical attributes-primarily their voice, or what they look like-matter a great deal in our judgement about personal identity. But physical similarity is not the property that determines personal identity” (Litch, 2002, P69)

Considering the ideological contrast then, between Maria and ‘Evil’ Maria, we can assume that physical identity plays a large role in how the workers perceive Maria, they themselves seeming almost robotic in their willingness to accept the new proclamations set out by the ‘Maria’.

Comparing Metropolis’ Maria to the replicants of Blade Runner (1982) seems somewhat appropriate in terms of the differences between the two styles of android depiction. Whereas Maria was created for the explicit reason to cause social friction, the replicants are different in their logical conclusion.

As previously stated, androids tend to be created for their unemotional, unflinching acceptance to do as they are programmed. The problem in Blade Runner (1982) is the problem that they could eventually develop a sentient awareness, creating unwanted resistance and a reluctance to follow orders, as they develop a need to self-preservate. As the protagonist, Deckard is tasked to hunt down and “retire” the aware replicants, an immediate difference between cyborgs and androids becomes apparent.

As cyborgs are already created with a humans identity, there is no philosophical issue in regards to the perversion of creation. They were born of man, even if “The cyborg does not expect its Father to save it through the restoration of the garden…(Haraway, 1991, P151). They in essence, abandon their humanity, whether through choice or the loss of humanity associated with their augmentation. Comparing this with the replicant androids in Blade Runner, they seem to be polar opposites of each other. Whereas the cyborgs struggle to retain their humanity, it seems that androids have issues of becoming more human, as they become self aware.

Posthumanity in the anime world, on the other hand, is a completely different notion. Whereas cyborgs and androids might be more clearly defined by characters, and archetypes, posthumanity seems to be an overarching theme. It would appear that posthumanity is the idea of leaving behind humanity altogether, willingly, and entering a transcendental state of awareness, or “Showing attempts to escape the body and constraints of human identity…transcending society, especially a past…Tetsuo leaving his apocalyptic notions, and Kusanagi leaving her humanity…however much it implies they’re leaving the human world” (Napier, 2001, P115).

Also described as “Transhumanism”, critical thinkers would have us believe that it brings about ideas of “Expanding the boundaries of our existence…a state of immortality” (www.nickbostrom.com: 14/04/11), whereas some people would describe it as an almost scathing look on modern society’s expanding into a more technological dependence: “Concerning Japan’s attitude towards technology as a dubious gain rather than an unproblematic blessing…J-Culture products have become progressively focused on narratives of technological oppression, and premonitions of disaster…” (Cavallaro, 2006, P187) 

Other problems in the posthumanist space include the ideas of post-genderism, spiritual disassociation, the hubris of playing God and the explicit desire to lose ones identity, or recreate it at will. It is safe to say that the development of the internet as a sociological tool is a driving factor behind these ideas. Consider the focus behind Serial Experiments Lain: Lain’s friend commits suicide early on, and invites Lain to “Find her in the wired”. Disregarding her physical form, Lain dives into the “Wired” (A clear allegory for the internet) in an attempt to find her dead friend. On the way, she becomes increasingly embroiled in the semantics of what living in “The wired” can represent, eventually becoming a God like figure within, transcending her human body to become a posthuman entity.

What I intend to discuss in this essay, is the issues that perplex these 3 similar notions in the sci-fi space. By looking at the themes, characters and issues of Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell (1995) and analysing the text itself, I will explore what problems are apparent, and the common associations with cyborgs that this landmark piece explores.

From here, I will then consider the same ideas in the android sub-genre, by analysing Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004) and look at the different concepts that androids have to face.

Finally, I will then look at Serial Experiments Lain (1998) and briefly explore the themes it shows, as-well as its influence in the grander scale. I will also briefly discuss how the themes of posthumanity echo into the creation of cyborg and android fiction, in relation to the focus texts analysed.

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Dwarf Fortress- Another Story

So, if you’ve played Dwarf Fortress, chances are that you’ve either heard the stories, or been in them. These incredibly “Epic” tales of struggling for your life against increasingly mounting odds. What follows is the tale of my latest fortress, and how I met my end with self sacrifice. Some of the trap ideas implemented were inspired by such incredible tales like Boatmurdered, and other SA group games. I encourage you to check those out aswell!

This is how the story goes…

I had a thriving metropolis…well, as much that Dwarves can have…

 

Everything was going well. Royalty emigrated to me, my broker had the fortress tightened down, I had a tentative relation with the elves, and I held off a goblin siege like it was nothing. My walls were impenetrable, some up to 3 layers thick. This was no helms deep, because I had no stupid ass gate. I had underground rivers powering my entire fort, because waterpower is the way forward. I’d recently found a lava stream, which I was using to fortify my defenses, and bolster my already powerful army with weapons of steel and fire.

 

So, we expanded, deeper and deeper, finding more and more valuables in the deep, yet the further we dug, the greedier we became. Monsters in the deep were still finding their way into the heart of the fortress, yet my militia managed to hold them off time and again. My heavy force of wrestlers, crossbowmen and wardogs did the jobs they were born to do, but I knew the encroaching threat from the depths as ever present, and ever watching.

So, using dwarven ingenuity (and a lot of booze), I somehow managed to forge the trap to end all traps. It was a lever based system which would flood my entire fortress with lava at the push of a well fortified button. If it was to be our end, we’d go out of this world like we came in. Screaming, and covered in flames.

 

The further we dug down, the more dangerous things would get. Dwarves would go missing, falling into lava, being taken by enemies, but we still pressed on, until, thank the crafter, we found a vein of adamantium. Yet as many legends tell, with the discovery of adamantium, comes the fall of many a great nation. As we proceeded to strip mine the adamantium, a piercing screech came from thedepths, as what can only be described as an ARMY of demons RAINED in upon our fortress. Our initial defenses held them for a short time. Traps spring loaded with spears, knives, axes and the like, and our master militia held off the initial attack, but they were  limitless, and we were but few. Immigration had been sparce, the last few seasons. Our people were getting old, weak, but remained
strong in spirit.

 
 

Seeing that the demons had overrun us, I had the mayor run up as fast as he could to the trap known as “Armoks Rage”. Barely making it into the room, he was attacked and lost his left leg, his arm, and his eye, but he valiantly pushed the switch. Floodgates crashed down, and lava began to stream in. It was a massacre. The dwarves knew this day had to come eventually, and remained steadfast as they came to their demise. It took but a few moments for the fortress to be flooded, but the deed was done. The fortress was safe. One dwarf remained however, the Mayor- Galwin Gouthammer. As he lay on the floor, unable to move, bleeding to death, he knew that he did what he had to do, and he died soon thereafter.

 
 
 
 

Let no man say I am a merciless leader…

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30 days of anime-In one day!

So, if you use facebook (Which you do), you may have noticed one of those trends that knocks around a lot, where it’s basically “X days of Y”, where you’re to post on a topic every day. I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but I hate the obnoxiousness of wrecking my friends facebook feeds. So I guess i’ll do it here! I hope you find some semblance of enjoyment out of it!

Day 1 – Very first anime

I’m still not entirely sure what my “First anime” really was. It was probably something like Dragonball Z, or Tenchi Muyo. Could have also been Gundam Wing. It was probably DBZ


Day 2 – Favorite anime You’ve watched so far

This would realistically vary depending on how you catch me. I mean realistically, there’s only one choice. You know it can only be Cowboy Bebop


Day 3 – Your first anime crush

I actually still remember this. I was watching Tenchi at my grandmothers house on a friday night. A part of me changed that day when I saw Ryoko

Day 4 – Anime you’re ashamed you enjoyed

I don’t watch bad things, and I certainly wouldn’t be ashamed of watching them. Sorry, but I have no answer here
Day 5 – Anime character you feel you are most like (or wish you were)

I feel the two of the above are mutually different, realistically. I suppose the character I feel that I USED to be like is Satou, from Welcome to the NHK, even though I’ve obviously gotten a lot more socially competent. Also Sarah.. I guess characters I wish I were…well, there’s only real answer.

Day 6 – Most annoying anime character

I didn’t think I’d actually have  a response to this, but I do. I recently watched both seasons of the anime “Honey and Clover”, and it was a pretty sweet, more mature slice of life. But Ayumi was the most stupid character of all time. She was in love with one of the characters or something, and RELENTLESSLY tunnel visioned him. So stupid.


Day 7 – Favorite anime couple

I don’t watch that much romance anime, so I suppose this is a kind of narrow answer. The tiger and dragon, I guess!


Day 8 – Most epic scene ever

The word epic gets banded around a lot these days, and it kind of doesn’t MEAN anything anymore. People use it in the same watered down way that they use “LOL”. Whereas that is used to express mild amusement and acknowledgement, “Epic” seems to be used as something that they kind of enjoy, and from this,this was kind of a big question. I had to mull this one over for quite a while, actually. But when it came down to it, I knew there could be only one.

Day 9 – Saddest anime scene

This was another toughie. Did I go with a romance kind of thing, or did I go with something more personally touching? I was thinking about picking Robins entire backstory scene from One Piece, but in terms of pure “Holy shit my heart is  breaking in two, it had to be this”, I chose the horrible scenes from Clannad.

Day 10 – Favorite slice of life anime

If only Yotsuba was an anime…


Day 11 – Favorite mecha series

Another easy choice, seeing as I don’t really care for mecha. My drill will be the drill that pierces the heavens!


Day 12 – An ecchi picture from your favorite series

I couldn’t find anything appropriate, because I’m not a sex offender. Here’s a lovely picture of Haruko


Day 13 – Cosplay of your ‘waifu’ or Husbando’

This will be heated. To clarify, I have a real life waifu these days, who I wouldn’t give up for the world, so you should know that she wins any day of the week. And annoyingly, there’s no GOOD cosplay of JIIIIIIIIIIIIII~, so I suppose this will suffice!


Day 14 – current (or most recent) anime wallpaper

This is an easy one, because I have one. Infact, I’ll make an admission. I couldn’t find the original, so I updated it so this was applicable.


Day 15 – Post a cute Neko-girl

Again, I’m not into this kind of thing, really. Not that into fetishising my entertainment, but I guess this is half applicable.


Day 16 – post a kigurumi cosplay of your favorite anime character

This isn’t what I wanted, but when I typed in “Luffy Kigurumi”, this was the first thing to pop up. I know someone will really like it…


Day 17 – Favorite tsundere

I don’t really care for Tsundere. But when I think of Tsun characters, I think of one.


Day 18 – Something moe

Honk Honk


Day 19 – Mandatory swimsuit post

I suppose this will suffice

Teh Rei


Day 20 – Favorite shoujo anime

I don’t watch much Shoujo, sorry. I suppose Honey and Clover was really good!


Day 21 – Best yandere character

Errr, Jiiiiiiii~


Day 22 – Favorite BL/yuri couple

Choosing not to answer this because I don’t care about this shit

Day 23 – Anime you think had the best, or most intriguing art

This is an actual question I can realistically answer. Artstyle a lot of the time is what draws me to anime. The answer will be Gankutsou, but special mentions should go to Kinos Journey, and Mushi-Shi, for straight up scenery porn. Hot damn they looked great. If you like unique art in your anime. Gankutsou is where it’s at. Stills and shitty youtube clips don’t do it justice. Get a HD rip.


Day 24 – Favorite anime hero or heroine

There can obviously be only one.


Day 25 – Best anime villian

Anime villain is a big one. There’s a few great ones, really. I was going to put Light Yagami here, but then I realised it had to be Reinhard.


Day 26 – Your favorite harem anime

Er, is this a harem anime? I suppose it is…with different semantics.


Day 27 – Favorite anime opening theme song

Day 28 – Favorite pokemon

Erm, they’re all good really. Wait, what am I saying


Day 29 – Favorite school uniform

They’re all the same, but here’s an excuse to post a Lain picture


Day 30 – Favorite anime ending theme

 

Well, that’s the end of that! Thanks for reading. There was a lot of anime I wanted to showcase here, but couldn’t find an appropriate venue. Take care!

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Playing Dragon Age 2: Part 1

Hello friends, I hope you are all great today! I know I am. Just got back from Tesco with a Pizza, Brownies, Onion Bhajis and a bottle of Coke. It’s gonna be a great weekend for me!  I’ll preface this blog by saying there MAY be spoilers throughout, but that’s just how it goes!

 

As I’m sure you all know, DA2 hit the other day in the UK, and I’ve been getting right into it. This is the first in a series of planned blogs about…basically playing through Dragon Age 2! This first part contains the first 6 or so hours in the game, and I’ll tell you now, it’s a lot of side questy bollocks, that’s REALLY FUN. Without any further ado, let’s hit it!

 

So, the game starts off incredibly strong. If you played the demo, you’d know this, but for those of you who haven’t, the game starts off with you taking control of your Hawke character-Male or Female, and you can either play a warrior, a mage, or a rogue. Immediately, the combat feels a lot tighter that DA2. It’s hard to clarify exactly what this is, but it just feels a lot more (sorry) visceral. The hits really feel like they’re connecting. Whether or not this is due to that horrible “Excessive gore” feature (Note to self: turn this off when I go back on…), but playing it as the warrior class, the mighty blow skill and every other just feels meaty as all hell.

You also have to fight above your bracket…

So from here, you realise it was all a dream. Sorry, I mean a flashback. The story is told through the eyes of Varric, a dwarf who (Hold onto your butts) was born on the surface, has no beard, and uses a crossbow. Mother of GOD  He is retelling the story about the hero of Kirkwall (presumably your character), and the narrative contrivance of the game seems to be that you’re reliving your life through his flashbacks, and it’s a pretty cool little plot device so far.  I’ll point out at this point that I’m playing on the PC, and for a PC that is running the game in DX9, on medium, with a pretty modest rig, the game looks pretty stunning. I don’t  know if it’s the art shining through, or the fact I’ve been playing nothing but God Hand and Pokemon White for the last week, but hot damn does it look good.

 

I should note that there are a few familiar faces that pop up here and there. Annoyingly, I couldn’t import my save, as you need to have the original Dragon Age: Origins installed, which is a bit of a piss take, but out of the three pre-determined endings, there was one that I felt was pretty similar to mine.

My main quest at the moment seems to be to collect 50 gold pieces, so that I can buy my way onto an expedition into the Deep Roads (Oghren cameo anyone?), and to that end, I’m just kind of doing odd jobs to make ends meet. Don’t take that as a bad sign though, the side quests so far have been incredibly satisfying. I’ve arrested a corrupt captain of the guard, saved an elven girl from a Quanari madman, and basically just trawled my way all over the shop, killing everyone in my path. Having such a mage focused early game so early on however, is a bit of a pain in the arse. I can currently pick (aside from my warrior tank) from 1 rogue, 1 warrior (another tank -_-) and THREE mages. I’m rolling with the rogue, and 2 of the mages, because I need a healer to keep me up!  That’s not to say that the game is perfect so far, but my niggles are only superficial. Not being able to buy image altering armor for anyone but yourself is kind of dumb, and EVERYTHING being made for Hawke is a bit stupid. But so far, the game is superb. I’m about to jump back in, so I’ll leave you with some other general pictures and stuff I’ve taken so far!

 

Truly, this is the age of great beard technology.

Thanks for reading if you got this far. Are you playing it aswell? I’d love to know how you’re getting along. Is there anything you’d ilke to see, or have me discuss in the next blog post? Much love!

 

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