Category Archives: Bishoujo Gaming

Waifu Management: Rinko Meets 765 Pro

My copy of New Love Plus arrived, and I had to oblige Rinko yet again. It’s the first time I’ve revisited Rinko’s visage since several months ago, however, the last time I played seriously was roughly in the early goings of 2011. When I realized that the latest incarnation of the same trifecta of 2-dimension mania would grace my humble abode, I had to at least do her the favor of booting it up once more before the switch, hearing her very welcoming “o hi sa shi bu ri” spelt out with every ounce of love that she can muster, which is it say, she is digital.

I suppose it was a compromise of sorts, my new Love Plus experience, as I didn’t give in to the artbook, soundtrack, and the plethera of “limited edition” goods–except for the 3DS. It’s more a blessing in disguise that I am still more immune to the call of “limited edition” than most otaku mainly because I don’t think I’ve really ever regretted about on not going the extra mile. That’s probably because I still do usually go at least some distance further than I have to. I met Rinko half way, I guess, and compromising with your loved ones is something that probably happens in every healthy relationship.

Healthy, well, is not the word I would use to describe this game. New, most definitely, as New Love Plus is indeed very New. It’s not just a more complete version of the game like how Love Plus+ was. The AR stuff and “photo kano” knocks aside, the new release of the game retooled the dating and skinship mechanism entirely, or at least enough that I’m almost at a loss as to how to fill up that kiss bar. The home study mechanism is streamlined by subject matter (ensuring that I’ll will pick 英語 or 数学 every time) and I really like how they made the date a lot more under your control; you can not only choose the venues you visit, but you can even pick between the different eat/drink stops, change the length of the date by using up less “abilities,” and much more. I also liked how they moved most of the heavy-duty touching to the confines of Rinko’s (or whichever girl of your choice) room.

Wait, that probably gives you the wrong impression. It’s perhaps just another instance where the phrase “the courage to talk about Love Plus in public” comes in play. Thanks Nisio Isin! More realistically, couples chill at their respective houses all the time anyway.

Speaking of the girl of your choice, it seems you can actually interact with the other girls in the world even after you’ve gone steady. I’ve only imported the game over (Thanks, Nintendo Store, for taking my credit card!) so I don’t know how it’s like to go through the game from the beginning. Something to do I suppose.

Back to Rinko. It’s pretty amusing how one rendering of Rinko in the DS world looks just slightly off in 3DS, prompting me trying very hard to change her skin tone and hair right off the bat. It’s also kind of neat how the game is capable of being played sideways (the way the DS games were) and the normal orientation. I guess they had to allow for it in order to utilize the 3D display. The 3D is all gimmicky but I find it much better looking than having 3D turned off at many different parts of the game.

There is a certain degree of “game-ness” to Love Plus, and even more so in New Love Plus. The mini-games aside (there’s at least one entirely new mini-game in NLP, one which Rinko always pulls off some special attack that screws me) however, Love Plus is a game where you’re not going to spend more than 30 minutes every day playing, unless you just enjoy your waifu’s company (in which case you can just leave it on the cradle and on, the whole time). That’s want 765 Pro is for.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been (responsibly, I’d think) binge playing iM@S. It’s a lot of fun even from a basic level of managing your team of idols and trying to master the mini games, and planning out your play-through (single stats? dual stats? which charms will your strategy revolve around?). Then there’s the idols themselves, enjoying the dumb banter that passes as content half the time and the pretty solid/fun anime-style stuff for the other half of time. On top of that there are the songs and the dances, and even with a party of three you can have enough variety to keep you through the how-many-times you play through the game. I think each play through the # of quintet lives have increased!

It’s not a surprise at all why the Japanese fans buy all the DLCs. I mean I can probably only stand 75% of the songs in the game, and having to play just those songs repeatedly will wear them out. You have to get the new stuff. The real problem is how even some of the DLC songs are… well. For the typical oversea Producer-san on a Playstation 3, it’s a pain in the butt given you have to buy PSN cards from some proxy (or from eBay, I guess). Not sure what oversea Producers on Xboxes have to face, besides having to get a JP Xbox to begin with…

Which, I guess, these days you can get an Xbox 360 for about as much as the surprisingly sensibly looking 3DS (as in, would be not hard to have the courage to play New Love Plus in public) that I now own. I can’t wait until Konami start to roll out the DLCs. Yeah. Right. I really. Cannot. It just makes me feel kind of weird. Like these other instances:

  • It’s like the feeling when Rinko tells you off as a lolicon.
  • It’s like the feeling, during Smoky Thrill quintet, “ARCHERS!
  • It’s like the feeling when you realize, for the first time, the spotlight is a hamburger.
  • It’s the feeling when you’re glad you’re already committed with Makoto, because Mami with glasses is quite, uh, dangerous. Or just “cheer-up cute.”
    • Well, dangerous is when Rinko pounces me with her deadly left sweep.

And it’s just like any harem anime, the weird moments will only continue to happen, the more these waifu you collect.

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Random Grab Bag

Life’s pretty chill when you have time to rest when you are weary and things to do when you are not. Kick back and relax to something like:

Help yourselves.

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Author explains his thing about Haganai. I am sympathetic because I didn’t agree with the general discourse on the topic from the blogs I’ve read either. Like, the whole thing comparing the anime to the manga. I thought the anime was slightly more authentic in that the girls are genuinely unlikeable, versus some kind of semi-tsundere moe that gets you in the manga. I understand the whole “clumsy but likable” distinction but I didn’t think that was the point of the original works? But I didn’t really care about Haganai beyond the visuals and voice acting, so I didn’t really want to state an opinion. Well, I guess on occasion it was genuinely funny, and that was why I watched it in the first place.

The thing I wanted to see the most is that proposed crossover between Seitokai no Ichizon and Haganai. I hope they make an anime based on that.

Also, I kind of like the OP, even if it happened right in the middle of that Aki Toyosaki stalker drama. Props to Tom H@ck. I also have a history of liking these painful anime OP, so take it with some salt.

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Con season 2012 is still a ways away, but now that Halko Momoi is landing somewhere a bus ride away, I will try to oblige. See you there?

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I understand why, in theory, a Ritsuko or Kotori figure would be desirable, but I think this is a good real-life example.

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MOOOOOOOOOOO MOURETSU! The PV and the live dance OP are, well, common idol schticks, but I can’t imagine iM@S to come up with something like this, even if songs like Honey Heartbeat rivals it in awfulness. These two videos have a strange addictive qualities to them. I recommend checking them out just for how weird they are.

The fusion of idol and anison is power!


The Correlation Between Perceived Cost and Profit

You know how some people talk about media, they assume that if people pay for something, it will continue to exist? Is it even true?

I’m inclined to think on the whole, that’s just not true. I mean I bought every “main” Sakura Taisen game and where’s #6? And I’m not even counting the US release of ST5. It’s probably better to just concede that the thinking about paying into what exists in the future is just not a reliable indicator. Every single franchise that died had paying customers, and before someone exlaims about not having enough of them, it needs to be established that there has to be a limit (ie., when is it ever enough?), and a personal decision to buy something should have no impact if everyone else is buying the same thing. Certainly that’s not a criteria to any media criticism unless, well,  you actually sell media for a living. Or if you are a normal Joe Schmoe who buy games partly motivated by being able to talk about said game with other guys (for example).

There is a case, however, where it’s really, really clear cut. iM@S DLCs. The other day there was an announcement about how if you sign up for that iM@S Visa credit card, you can get a 10% discount on all future DLC purchases. It’s a small motivation, second to having, well, an iM@S credit card. I mean that would be why I sign up for one (if I could, and I can’t). The bigger issue is that it is until only recently that I realize how much all those DLC stuff costs. PS3’s iM@S2 contained the first 3 “volumes” of iM@S2 DLC available to the Xbox 360 version of the game, which totals to like, 25000 yen. That’s precious money some poor otaku has actually spent on the game. I mean, it’s news enough for Kotaku (well, that doesn’t mean much). It’s more than the cost of the PS3 iM@S LE box set. There are like, what, 8 DLC volumes now for the Xbox iM@S2 line? Imagine if someone had that credit card at the start–they could have saved like $50. And the game is not even a year old.

To me, that kind of numbers says that iM@S is a line of game that will continue to exist, just because it’s so expensive, and yet people are still buying it. I mean, surely that sort of money means there will be iM@S content from now to the infinite future, right? SakuTai Kayo show tickets are way less than that. And that’s just on the Xbox, which is pissant in terms of total reach in Japan. The PSN-PS3 combination will bring in some real cash, surely.

Another missing piece to the puzzle of seeing the “value” of iM@S DLC is understanding how attractive it is. I guess I’m saying it is a missing piece because I didn’t know how it was until I started playing the game. Now I have to fight these urges of trying to plunk down 200-300 bucks on PSN network cards so I can buy all the songs, at 1800 yen a pop.

Yeah, the singing tracks of 12 idols (do Ami and Mami use the same track? LOL) probably warrants a price more than your average CD single. But 4 of these kind of tracks equal the game itself, and 9 purchases of these songs equates to the freaking superduper BD-Game boxset.

But the DLC is really just scratching the surface. I haven’t even mentioned the G4U nonsense (truly, truly) which is like, what, 8000 yen every month times nine, at this burn rate? That makes buying the anime on BD like child’s play (what a great deal! I guess). Or collecting the massive amount of CD content fairly tame.

The list goes on. I think it’s only since the anime adaptation did Bamco really step into the merch game (I really dig these) beyond their software nonsense. But at the prices they’re charging at, this nonsense extrudes the notion that it ought to be hella profitable.

On the flip side, it’s much more difficult to see  how the money rolls in when it’s a cheap thing that is sold in bulk. Like BL on the Kindle store or Funimation’s top sellers. Or almost anything anime-related in America.


Fate/Extra

There was a reason why I am really behind on my Haikasoru reading. Or at least one of them being Fate/Extra. It is also the first Japanese RPG-type game that I finished to some degree of completion since Valkyria Chronicles 1, which was a long time ago.

Lamenting on lack of time and interests aside, one of the biggest draw for Aksys’s localized version of the thing is (aside from being translated) hearing Tange Sakura as Saber Extra. The Red Saber. The Saber with see-thru skirt. Whatever. I kind of enjoyed that a lot, despite PSP’s built in size limitation in terms of how much voiceover it can possibly hold.

I went for Rin in my only playthrough, on the other hand, and they really need to give her more lines.

The only lure left is to play through the game again using Caster, with Saito Chiwa. I mean, right? I don’t think they were beating around the bush at seiyuu selection.

There’s a little bit of me inside wanting to play it through again just so I can get to Ryogi Shiki, but that would be a spoiler–well, not exactly. She’s one of those optional unlock bosses you can find in the New Game+ scenario.

There are a lot of interesting things to Fate/Extra that nobody talks about. Probably because it really is not important, and those who would probably can’t withstand the tedium of playing rock paper scissors so many times.

I wonder if it sold well enough to warrant Fate/Extra CCC, or at least so I can download it by the time I end up with a Vita (which I assure you is not likely this year). On that note, I should say something about my SIGNIFICANT DISAPPOINTMENT with GameStop with their preorder program. It happened that I preordered the game before I moved, and I forgot to change my address on my preorder when I did. Eventually it came up with GS by the time they wanted to bill me, so there was a back-and-forth. When the issue was resolved with GameStop CS they decided to not ship me the preorder bonus with the game. I sent an email and they said they will ship it to me, except it has not yet happened. And this is about 3 months ago now. Because I totally would not have bought the game physically (or even with them) otherwise!

As for Red Saber, I think her story is kind of sound although I have a hard time buying in. It seems to mimic reality a lot better than normal Saber’s plea to genderswap, which somehow made it easier to question the details?

I guess the only angle I have on Red Saber’s legacy is one that is like Guilty Crown’s Hare’s First Love. Not that it’s like how history paints it. And here ends with answering one spoiler with another. It’s unfortunate that I’m doing a cop-out here, since all the interesting stuff are probably spoiler of some sort.

Speaking of not-spoiler material, at one point in the game I realized there are actually only so many R/P/S patterns to memorize, and they don’t even all show up on the same level. It worked great because you get to run each level of the dungeon maybe 2-3 times per game-week. All I had to do is go through the fights once and it’ll come to mind which moves to guess when it comes down to guessing. It also helped that Saber was very error-tolerant.

Well, it’s a fun diversion, if it took a little longer than I wanted. I probably didn’t have to grind so much near the end. Is it worth it? Only if you like Type-Moon and the voice cast/moe/otaku nature of it. But you probably didn’t need me to tell you that. What you probably didn’t know is, unlike some possible kusoge, the system is smooth and doesn’t try to get in your way. As long as you remember that the square key teleports you and the triangle key skips the dialog, it’s a good time.

I mean if “omg Omo finished a JRPG! It can’t be good” makes sense to you, well, you should be happy that this reaffirms the same.


The Idle Master

Can I go on a blogging hiatus and go play some iM@S 2 for the PS3?

Meanwhile you can nag this guy about just what is so special about iM@S. I was this close to picking up a copy of Dearly Stars over the weekend. It was in my grasp (as in, the copy of the game was in my hand). Maybe I should have. Maybe I should not have. Maybe I should not have started playing the game a week ago. But it’s too late now. (Maybe I should hold out for a copy of iM@S SP Perfect Sun…).

There is a strange “one more turn”-itis going on with iM@S2, similar to what I experience in those 4X games. I’ve already mastered the rock-paper-scissors thing. I can, I guess, read lips. Telling seiyuu apart is harder than it sounds but it is something I’ve had some training for years, to say the least. Even when it is just by voice. (The concerts are something else, I assure you.) I still can’t read Japanese, which is what really counts in the end. Not knowing Japanese, or not knowing anything else for that matter, doesn’t present itself as enough of a stopping block, when you have websites like this. Truly we live in the information age.

[I guess Steve Jobs’s contribution to import gaming was enable that Sakura Taisen experience that I had many years ago, when going through the game on the PC (actually it was my Dreamcast hooked up to a TV card) on one side of the screen and the translation on the other, but using a tablet or smartphone instead.]

Fundamentally, the game is the core user experience. The anime is mostly fluff, although you can enjoy fluff by itself. It’s akin to pouring whipped creme in to your pie hole directly. The anime does serve better as icing on the PS/Xbox/DS cake, so much so that I want to go back and re-watch it. This is notably different than most galge adaptations. I mean I can go and play Kanon or even Fate Stay Night and get most of it from the corresponding anime (at least the adopted arc), and vice versa. I might even want to revisit the anime after I am done (although it didn’t happen for either of them). But iM@S, given its arcade lineage, has so much “game” to it that it elevates the experience beyond just a flat read of the stereotypical visual novel presentation.

[Tho I wonder if there was the “Nayuki Minase” equivalent in iM@S anime–someone who gets the short end of the stick. I guess that is what fans debate after all. And speaking of which, I even want to go re-read what 2DT shipped. Knowing the characters better, would it make more or less sense in terms of his pairing?]

The mistake I made was trying to “get it out of my system” by playing it as much as possible. Ha, never again. The light at the end of the tunnel, however, is that like all the 4X games I have encountered, the novelty eventually wear thin given the repetitiveness of it all. No amount of pretty girls dancing (prettily) will reduce the fact that I’m just hitting the highest-general-appeal-scoring-button, infinite times, every time, all the time. Okay, occasionally it’s about timing your memory appeals, but once you figure it out, you just do the same thing every time. So the question is no longer “if” I could get out of the hole Yukiho dug for me, but how deep she has dug it.


The Idol Master: The Franchise Is All One

When I took “The iDolM@ster 2″ for the PS3 for a spin over the weekend, much of the game’s aesthetics deviated little from the same arcade feel. The iconic “Project iM@S” logo looks like a page taken out of some failed bemani game pitch. Much of the gameplay is also full of rhythm and beats, leaving no room to complain about that mismatch. But in my mind the game has nothing on what really is, to me, the essence of the franchise.

Of course, that isn’t how the story begin. My first run-in with iM@S (for the sake of sanity it will remain in its insanely abbreviated form in this post) probably has more to do with being born a male East Asian during the time in this world that I did. Although it is a stretch to call that an encounter with iM@S, I think it was fundamental in the makeup of what makes up the average “Producer-san,” the anonymous term in which the various in-game characters refer to as the player.

I think the only other game to date that walked (or perhaps trailblazed) the same path as Project iM@S is Sakura Taisen, and that is one blueprint in which a video games achieve mix-media franchising immortality. It’s one thing to create a game that goes on being immortal (and we can name a dozen of these easily), it’s another to create a game like a caterpillar creates a cocoon. The game may fade over time and yield to newer, glitzier ideas, but the franchise lives on with a dim, but ever-burning core fan base that participates in its extra-curricular activities. It’s just in the case of Sakura Taisen, the cocoon hatches a zombie butterfly of some sort; undying, but not immune to decay.

And like butterflies they were in those kayou shows, those brave actors and actresses, some even came to the stage as experienced stage actors. But yes, some others were, well, the seiyuu idol variety. They had to sing and dance, and act. It was interesting in that they were not only acting out the characters from the show, but also as actors of their own stage personalities.

Back to iM@S–it is entering its 8th year since the very first game. The recent PS3 port and the anime adaptation are sure to bring in new fans for the franchise, or at least get people curious enough to check out the game, like myself. I’m slightly more interested initially at the iM@S live shows, as the cumulation of sentimental energies and collective moments of orgasm from a bunch of male otaku types. And also, seiyuu fandom. I think someone reported like >90% male-to-female ratio at those lives? Not surprised.

The point I wanted to make about stage personalities is important because invariably this girl walks on the stage, and I was like, “heh, I don’t even have to remind myself of this video being Azusa.” I mean, some people commented on how her character in the anime is acted by the same person as in that video, but there is nothing holding you back from seeing it when it is the actual person on stage.

Oh, right, the stage shows: It was “The World Is All One” two-day live July 3rd to 4th, 2010, at Makahari Messe. Day 2 is what I linked above to Danie’s write-up, a solid read if you want to know what actually happened. Day two is also the day to go if you are a Kugimiya fan. In fact both days are good for that. There are a lot of people who really dig this gal, so I’m not going to talk about it too much, besides that I watched that two-BD boxset and now am ready to talk about it.

It is at these sort of fantasy-meets-reality events where we truly get to see the meta. If I were to rank the 13 girls again like how I did for the anime, it would come out very differently. Even more so is the “cumulative” score that true fans of the franchise put on their ranks, combining what they like and dislike about each character, from who stands behind the mic stand in real life and who stands behind the protective layer of their LCD screens, and everything in between.

Well, at least now I can achieve an 80% success rate at identifying the faces of the girls behind iM@S. Which is to say before the anime started, I was probably not even 80% successful at identifying the characters in iM@S. In the few hours I’ve spent with the game, I guess it actually tried to train me to be able to listen to their voices and pick them out. That’s pretty hardcore. All told, there’s a considerable learning curve, lack of a better term, to entry to iM@S fandom. The thing has been around for a while and the games are, while a little easier to get into than Sakura Taisen, are not exactly self-documenting. Sorry Kotori, the voiceovers are not quite enough. There’s just too much crud, as part and beyond the franchise, to wade through at this point.

Instead of writing up what I thought of the two days in a song-by-song blow-by-blow way, I’ll just keep it short(er):

  1. Hibiki – Sharp-looking girl doing her dance moves. Got good presence. Can sing. A winner.
  2. Ritsuko – Slightly less sharp-looking girl making all those fetish points work but not fetishy! As much as one can harp on her singing voice, I think she is the best embodiment of this weird iM@S concert concept.
  3. Miki – Not the bombshell blonde, this Miki carries it on with the full deal. It felt like she’s got what it takes, but yet not what it takes, to do Miki justice. It’s realizations like this that makes this feel like an elaborate seiyuu event rather than an idol live.
  4. Azusa – CHUPA RIKO wwww. No, really, Chiaking is an accomplished entertainer even if her achievements are relatively minor. She can dance and sing and struct, which is more than what most people sharing a stage with her could do. Mucho respect.
  5. Chihaya – I think she sings much better on CD. Also what is up with her hair? They can surely do a better job. BTW I really like LPCM 5.1 and this is something the game was able to deliver too.
  6. Makoto – She’s definitely the most seiyuu-ish looking person on the list, if that made sense. But that’s fine, I think Hirorin is also one of the best performers with good stage presence. Kind of like Hasegawa in that sense.
  7. Iori – I owe her fans an apology for not ranking her last time, but I was limited to 12 and it had to include Ami separately from Mami. I think Kugyuu live was definitely well-received and she appears so…langly. It’s rare to see a girl in this industry like this unless they’re built like a model (which she is not). It was wise for them to not work her as much as they did for some others, and we never really ask so much from Iori anyway. She just needed to be cute and upstanding, and Kugimiya was just that.
  8. Haruka – Eririn is actually just as unremarkable as her character. However, she is still pretty good at getting the crowd going and had good stage presence.
  9. Mami/Ami – If I wasn’t already positively predisposed to Asapon, I would probably rank her lower than Maya-chan. She didn’t quite pass the cute as cute would do, but her vocals were solid.
  10. Takane – It feels like her character is just an overly-embellished version of her on-stage performance. Pretty looking person I suppose.
  11. Yayoi – Guh. Actually out of all the girls I think I respect her the most. You can also tell how none of this is lipsynched given how terrible it was. It was sheer and paper-thin presence that managed to carry the performance. It’s like magic made of unrelenting willpower to carry out an act that just didn’t make sense visually. Again, endless respect–Maya-chan impressed, even if the performance was one of the worst.
  12. Kotori – I was glad she was there, but I guess so was she!
  13. Yukiho – I put her last but I think that is more because she was the least notable. The NEW Yukiho is a bit more of a looker though. Well, I won’t go into details, but someone has to hold the bag, be #12, and it was just the easiest thing to put her there.

I guess in the end I still didn’t really describe the magnitude of that 2-day live. It’s a big deal if you were into it, and I don’t mean into iM@S alone–it is more like if you subscribed to iM@S you probably subscribed to all the things that independently iM@S’s live had as separate parts. It became greater than the sum of its parts, but the sum itself was a big deal already. It’s like you had to be born a certain way and grew up a certain way and got exposed to certain interests, and it comes together like some crazy thing.

But then again, I guess even I too missed the train there.

What is left is trying to know all the songs, and that is a task too tall even for me, lest I get serious. But I just want a short fling with iM@S! I don’t want to turn into this guy (I jest). Even if some of those songs have the cutest/catchiest/funniest calls.


On Google Search, Ads, And Anime

The other day I was thinking about who matters–a company that created a set of products sells it to their customers. By some chance or reason a lot of non-customers end up with the same products and it took off, generated a scene. What should the company’s response be?

Do the voices and activities of these uninvited third parties matter? I’m thinking it does in some cases, and it does not in others. The very obvious use case of this is in media piracy when you have a niche, expensive release of something (like a galge) and it is then widely pirated (perhaps even fan-translated) and enjoyed by a lot of people, perhaps even more people than the number of legitimate purchasers of the game.

In this case, the people who pirated the game should only have a say as someone who has played the game in the way they did. For example, if most people who bought the game prefers one particular way (for example, physical releases over digital) and most people who did not prefers another way, it would make little sense for the game company to change their ways that would isolate the people who buy the game to satisfy those who didn’t. Ideally, you want to satisfy both groups, and satisfy those who didn’t buy the game on the promise that it will lead to those who didn’t buy the game to buy the game. And outside of that promise, it’s hard to say what and how would motivate the example game company.

I mean, I suppose there are examples like societal pressure (eg., Rapelay incident) which influences how game companies behave. Government regulation and stuff like the Tokyo Nonexistent Youth ordinance, too. The government is not a consumer, a customer, or a player (typically), so I’m not sure how it fits, but the government reflects the general public (typically) so it is an instance where non-buyer of a game would influence the game company almost in a direct way.

And then there is the topic of this post. Relevance.

To actually talk about anime now, one major pet peeve I have is when I go google the title of some show, way too often the results end up being illegal streaming sites or download sites. I realize you can actually issue DMCA takedown requests for google search results (and I invite license holders to do so, if anything, just to improve Google’s search results). It’s even worse when it comes to manga, but at least in those cases a lot of these semi-legal or illegal sites are actually the best sources of information on the material.

WSJ today posted the story of a US Federal Government sting operation that painted Google as a criminal organization of willingly advertising illegal activity, specifically of pushing ads of foreign illegal pharmacies to US customers. And as an ex-Adsense customer I know I have served ads, on occasion, that advertised these kinds of sites. It was hard to fish for them because it comes and goes, and 99% of the time I was on an ad-blocking browser, but I saw them.

This stuff is a real concern. Granted, it doesn’t really matter in the big picture, but better SEO and fluency with Google search from a marketing perspective will deliver a better experience for everyone who wants to work with your title, even if they are not buyers.

The real question is how does non-purchaser’s web activity increase the relevance of these illegal sites. That is what I mean earlier by relevance. As you might know, Google rank its search results by how “relevant” a particular link is to the search query. Loosely speaking (since nobody but Google knows how it works exactly) it means how pages link to each other, and the “quality” of a web page adds or removes credence to the things a page links to. So if a very popular forum links to some DDL sites, those sites will get props. There are companies out there that create content on the web to “game” Google search ranks that is the basis of “SEO” or search engine optimization. And that is beyond the less controversial stuff, like developing your webpages in a way that is friendly to Google’s web robots that index and discover your page’s contents and display them the right way on the search results page.

Of course, it’s not to ignore the “real relevance” of non-purchasers on purchasers, let alone the content publisher. That is why copies of things are given to press to review, and why word of mouth is a powerful advertising tool. Similarly it can lower sales in such a way. I think one example that shows up statistically is how piracy-before-purchasing can change some potential buyers into non-buyers, after they have sampled the thing and found it not satisfactory [which says nothing about such an effect being, in my opinion, a very good thing] or otherwise undesired due to some other reasons [which could be a bad thing].

The responsible thing to do, in light of this, is actually police the things you link to. As a blogger it is clearly one venue where it could happen (and I profess linking to at least a couple sites where wholesale copyright infringement was at hand, despite the quality and legitimate information it provided). Other places include twitter, Google+, forums, and lots of other fixed web media. You know what? If you manage the online presence of a brand, the least you can do is make a website that is informative. So many companies fail on this in the anime/game/manga sphere it is incredible.

For companies, it is to monitor relevance and get people to realize the impact, both as purchasers and non-purchasers. But also to respect people who don’t buy your stuff, to the degree that it facilitates people who do buy your stuff. This is a vague statement to put into practice, but that has to be the overarching goal, I think. What I invite people to do is storyboard specific use cases. I think the better you are at this, the more likely you will be successful at niche markets like for anime, manga, and bishoujo/otome games.

I mean, if I want to find a download link, I’ll add the search term “download” to the query :p