Those cosplay pics were simply fantastic! It's particularly nice (for me) to see Japanese/Asian cosplayers, because that really brings the characters more to life for me since most anime characters are Japanese. Not saying I dislike non-Asian cosplayers, of course, since they sometimes actually fit the overall look of an anime character better (there's also the fact that some anime characters are not Japanese, such as half or more of the Infinite Stratos cast).
Sorry to hear about your girlfriend's sleep deprivation as of late. Hope she's feeling more well-rested soon.
Oh, by the way, concerning your convo with Last Sinner, it's also true that the anime original episode of Ore no Imouto was one that hurt my take on Kirino. I was Ok with her until then, but that did make her seem too much of a Mary Sue, which along with everything else turned me on her a bit (not to mention that her requests in that episode were hilariously bad - A different OP for each and every anime episode of the adaptation of her novel indeed, lol! )
Incidentally, later finding out that Kirino was actually getting defeated regularly in track and field by Americans made me much more sympathetic towards her. That episode, combined with how Kirino is only mid-tier strength (if that) in moe competitions, softened my take on her a lot. I no longer have it in me to anti-vote her.
So it's not Kirino's attitude/personality in and of itself that bothers me, just the idea of everything going her way.
Only cosplay I got out of her this Halloween was "walking dead" due to assignment induced sleep deprivation. I mentioned the idea of a Homura cosplay but I think she thinks there would be some difficulties with the legging and hair style (she doesn't like the braids and glasses versions despite liking Hanekawa Tsubasa).
The sadistic serial killer psychopath (i.e. Caster's master) probably could have been a woman. A much darker Mahiru, say. I will admit, though, that this change would simply give superficial diversity. No big deal, but I don't think it would have hurt.
Lancer's master could have been more charismatic and megalomaniacal (maybe he'll end up being that yet, and if so, my overall take on the masters will improve considerably).
Rin's dad, in general, I'd like to see emote a bit more. A lot of his scenes honestly look like they're literally straight out of a Visual Novel (in that there's not much animation in them, making Rin's dad seem kind of lowkey about everything). The guy kind of feels like a perpetually decaffeinated and more depressed than usual Will Riker (Star Trek: TNG).
It's now clear that the Waver/Rider dynamic would have been undermined by Waver being female, so yeah, I'm now supportive of Waver being male.
I admit it would be hard to squeeze in a Rin type unless you changed the dynamic between Caster and his master (i.e. make his master a horrified Rin type that gets stuck with a sick, twisted Servent).
I accept Kiritsugu and Kirei the way that they are, and in fact, I did like the one intense scene in Episode 1 that focused on how similar they are. Good conflict can arise from that. The problem becomes, though, that if everybody else starts coming off a lot like them, the specialness of the Kiritsugu/Kirei dynamic starts to fade a bit, imo.
Anyway, just some random ramblings there. It's admittedly a bit nitpicky. And hey, if the spectacle of the show keeps up, I might not care at all. Also, if Rider lasts at least 3/4s of the way, I might not care.
The only major issue I've had was that there's a bit too much dialogue - and coming from a hardcore Bakemonogatari fan, that says something. Episode one just plain had too much, while in episode four I felt Saber and Lancer talked too much during their fight, making the proceeding feel a bit unnatural.
How would you change the master's group, though? Replacing Lancer's master would be pretty easy, but the rest of the "cold professional" brigade is Kiritsugu, Kotomine, and Tsokiomi... Kotomine has an established personality and I think there's something to be said for contrasting the cynicism of the other two with the more optimistic attitude of their children.
I generally consider myself pretty good with dialogue and original characters (says the guy who has never written anything more substantial than a 37K word 'draft" for NaNoWriMo 2007), but only with certain kinds of characters and themes. The stuff Gen is doing here doesn't fall within that range.
Also, here, have some moe: http://oreno.imouto.org/post/show/196464/
(I have to admit that that's actually one thing that strikes me as a continuity flaw between Fate/Zero and F/SN. Admittedly I haven't played the game, but I never got the impression that Rin and Sakura actually recognized each other in the anime despite attending the same school.)
In fact, I'm partly just trying to challenge the biggest fans of the show a bit, to try to spice the Fate/Zero threads up a bit. My views are similar to Last Sinner in this regard - A lot of people are just writing loads of pure praise about it, and that can make discussions less interesting, imo.
Obviously, I think it's very good, or my lowest rating wouldn't be a 8, and I wouldn't have given a 10 to Episode 4. But I don't think it's above criticism, either.
One of the admittedly few things I'd change about it (if I could) is indeed the Masters cast, though. Not a lot, but maybe one or two of them.
However, I certainly don't think I could do a better job writing it. The dialogue in Fate/Zero is very good for the most part, beyond anything I think I could come up with (at least for original characters). They're hitting just the right notes with Rider and Saber in particular, and those character types are actually tricky to write (Rider could easily feel overly misogynistic or old-fashioned in the wrong hands, while Saber could easily feel too caught up in nobility in the wrong hands).
I won't deny I've been wanting to see more loli-Rin.
I'm not generally a fan of brooding characters but I honestly find Kiritsugu kind of sympathetic. When he does stuff like compare the weight of his daughter to that of the gun he's holding... he comes across as different from say, Tsokiomi, who doesn't really seem to care what he puts his family through.
And as for a serious response to the Rin question... I'd probably enjoy having a Rin-like character involved in some capacity, but I'm not sure about using a Rin-like character as a master. Fate/Zero's conflict draws a lot of character from the high "bastard to good guy" ratio among the masters and I wouldn't want to mess with that. A character like Miharu or Hitagi would be a better fit for a master in this story, IMO.
But overall its just not that big a deal to me. I like what Gen has done with this story, and unlike with say, C3, I don't find myself thinking that I could have written a better version (my version would probably end up channeling a lot of Iriya no Sora or Kamisama Dolls in terms of character relationships and gunning for audience sympathy).
When I first saw Infinite Stratos episode 12, I remember being bothered by the Houki ending too.
More recently, however, I got the chance to skim read that scene in the original IS novels (the current anime adopts three of seven volumes, and I suspect there may be more to come), which like many LNs are written from a first person perspective (edit: sorry, meant to say that it gives the thoughts of the current viewpoint character... its still third person) . In that version, it’s clear that he’s not so much picking Houki over Charlotte as about to give in to temptation when the rest of the girls show up. I strongly suspect that we’re not going to see a “winner” anytime soon.
That said, I’m still somewhat disappointed by this result since the “Charlotte route” is unusually well developed in the anime and it really feels like the author is just giving in to harem anime tropes by not committing to it.
Regarding Guilty Crown – I one of the people who actually has been taking a wait and see approach to it, because I was seeing a definite mix of things I liked and didn’t like. Some thoughts:
-My favourite parts of the show are definitely the high stakes “cat and mouse” games we saw in episodes one and three.
-The actual summoning system is kind of cool but every time Shu uses it in combat a little voice in my head screams “OMG H4X!”. It’s just too powerful and rule-breaking. So while I like the cat and mouse games, I don’t much care for the large battles.
-I had high hopes for Inori early on, seeing her as a bit of an “action idol” in the vein of someone like Macross Frontier’s Sheryl Nome. Now she reminds me a lot of Iriya Kana – broken and half dead. Except that Kana got significant moe points from me because I could always feel how badly she loved Asaba and how it gave her the will to keep fighting. Inori just feels kind of… dead. Maybe that’ll change over the course of the series. For the moment though, I’m liking the two pilot girls (Tsugumi and Ayase) more.
-First, this may be my Charlotte bias speaking, but I was annoyed that they decided not only to go with an (admittedly inconclusive) Houki end, but also never really acknowledged the development between Ichika and Charlotte beyond the fact that she doesn't want him blabbering about having fed her. I remember feeling during Char's arc that she was the one who was closest to him romantically (Houki and Lin of course have known him far longer).
-The bunny girl idol engineer had me rolling my eyes.
Yeah, this is just about exactly my take too. The bunny girl idol engineer was the secondary character I was referring to that I found rather unlikable by the end.
Her overall presentation was pretty obnoxious to me, but it was only until a certain Episode 12 reveal was made that I really disliked her. She basically screwed over other nations and set a recklessly dangerous situation into motion just so her sister could have a big new fancy mecha pilot coming-out party. In a show already riddled with nepotism, this didn't sit well with me at all. Aside from Laura at the beginning, I didn't really see a villain in IS until the very end - The villains are actually the people who created these WMDs apparently just for shits and giggles. In a darker series, that might have been an interesting twist, but in IS, it's almost world-breaking.
On the romantic side of things, I felt that the series chickened out in two ways...
1. Going with the Houki end when the Charlotte route was much more well-developed. I can't help but think that this is solely due to how Houki was "Girl No. 1", if you know what I mean.
2. Then compounding things by even chickening out with how they executed the end they chose, with that harem gang-up scene. It didn't help that the harem gang-up scene seemed really out of character for Charlotte to me, and perhaps even for Cecilia as well.
The last few episodes were nice visually, with action-scenes that I found really pleasing, but it's not as good as the 2nd third, agreed.