Life has many ups and downs, and that is especially true for me ever since I came to Japan last year. Repeating one month after another, it has been just rough cycles of things looking hopeful then things going wrong. This month was another down, another unsuccessful effort, another moment I must endure through. April was approaching. The start of a new year for businesses and academics in Japan. It was the prime time to seize an opportunity to change my situation. But once again, outside of my control, I fell into another pitfall. Ahh… this is the taste of failure.
This failure was only a small taste of what it would be like when my time runs out. My time in Japan isn’t over; it continues. Seeing it positively, a friend told me that things have simply reverted back to the original plan of studying for a year. While nothing improved, it didn’t worsen either. …or so I would like to fool myself into thinking.
In the past 6 months, I have been through a fair share of struggles and suffering. I honestly considered the option of giving up and going home. Oh, how I miss my mom’s food. Oh, how I miss playing with my brother. Oh, how I miss not having to worry about work and money. My life back in the States was not satisfactory. I was accomplishing nothing there, so I left to pursue greater happiness. But I am accomplishing nothing here either. I am exhausted… Just exhausted…
Without a future, the promise of friends was the only hope that kept me going. My friend March wants me to move into his dorm where space opened up and my friend Lettuce is coming to Japan. There were some dim lights in this dark dark tunnel…
Nothing changed much around my desk during this dreadful month.
The month of March was appointed by the Japanese government as Cyber Security Awareness month. This year, they had a collaboration with Sword Art Online, holding an event in Akihabara on the weekend of the 4th and 5th. I attended both days and it was a worthwhile experience. To be a participant of events for things I love feels great (whether or not I belong is a different story), something since the Gunpla Expo in November last year. More details and photos of the event in a separate post.
My progress in SAO:HR. I was in Oldrobe Forest, and found the monster needed in order to get through a path blocked with poison gas. Then, my next couple sittings of playing the game were watching several cutscenes and events. First was chatting with Klein (nice to see), then a cutscene with Philia and Leafa. The next one was an unexpected long cutscene involving Kirito, Asuna, and featuring キズメル（Kizmel）, a character I am not familiar with and appears to be from the SAO Progressive books. There was a hilarious moment with Kirito. The next time I played (11th) was going through more cutscenes. Liz’s store opened and automatically upgraded my default armor to a new version. Going to my room triggered the 2nd part of Strea’s high school girl event involving Strea, Yuuki and Asuna doing flower arrangement. Upon trying to exit the town to field, Premiere’s story event triggered. We visited a large tree and then a cave in Oldrobe forest where Premiere made more prayers. Back at town, I needed to talk to the party about Premiere’s quest before continuing on my progress on Oldrobe forest. The dark rainy forest was unmotivating to play through, so I want to beat this area quick, and thus proceeded straight forward instead of checking out dead end areas. The next day, I reached an area with constant poison rain. I defeated some NMs, and there were new undead type monsters I haven’t fought before, and also stopped the poison rain. Finally, I passed through all of the forest to reach a cave system that has a layout reminiscent of the dungeons in previous SAO games. The cave had a lot of glowing plants. After one floor, I had to return to town for more story cutscenes, but nothing major happened just yet. Next time (19th), I cleared the Oldrobe Forest region at last. Prior to that, I first watched an event with Silica and Liz, then an event about Argo’s dog-phobia. Afterwards, I continued on floor two of the glowy cave system, fought a number of NMs without too much trouble. The third floor was the boss room, challenging Grimm The Provident Gigas with Asuna, Leafa, and Shinon in my party. Personally, I didn’t enjoy this boss fight as much as I did the first boss, mostly due to a gameplay design flaw. Anyways, with the Oldrobe Forest region cleared, some story cutscenes triggered, further developing Premiere’s character.
On the 17th, the new game Accel World VS Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight arrived at my doorsteps. I had the opportunity to play the PS4 demo at the SAO Cyber Security event, and I was pretty excited to see the PSV version and play with other Accel World characters, in addition to seeing how the story is. I stayed up late into the night (2:30 am) just playing the game, and pleasantly found that AW-SAO:MT is in fact much more driven by the story. Here, I will note the moments that stood out. Starting with Kirito and Asuna for the tutorial, the game then goes straight into the story and conflict, with Black Lotus joining in. The hometown of Ryne was strangely transformed but kept the original layout with some new spaces. The main street that was in Lost Song remained mostly unmodified, although now deserted in the corner. Going into my first dungeon, I was impressed at the completely redesigned aesthetic style and very glad to see that flight was possible inside, especially for the boss fight. The game is based on SAO:LS, so the world you play in is the Svart Alfhiem islands, but the story did take me to a small Accelerated World space. I wonder if there will be any AW themed dungeons. At one point, the perspective changed to Shinon and Leafa who were out in the field separated from everyone else by a wall barrier. Joining up with Sky Raker and Ardor Maiden, we defeated a boss, eliminating the barrier and unlocked the rest of the meadow island with access to the Maintenance Booth, where you can change your 3 party members without having to return to town. Playing some more the next day, I had my first death and several gameovers fighting against Scarlet Rain, who in her Enhanced Armament continued to murder me over and over. I eventually won, but only because of my extra party members helping in the background. Upon unlocking Scarlet Rain and Blood Leopard, I ran around the field pla ying with them for some time. Scarlet Rain was especially fun. At this point, the next island was unlocked, the Sudden Quest system was activated, and the town had changes too, with new shops and NPCs changing their locations and dialogs, in addition to new things in the gallery. Already, this game has more content than Lost Song did. The next time I played AW-SAO:MT was on the 23rd. In the newly unlocked ice island, the first event was reuniting with Klein and Ash Roller. I was very curious about Ash Roller and upon using him, hmm… funny and interesting, but hard to use effectively. So far, the mission has been to search for and gather all members of each team from the two worlds. Currently, the SAO team is pretty much completed with the main members, and the AW team is missing just a couple members. At this point, I started worrying about how long the story of this game is and if gathering all members of the teams mean I am getting close to the end.
In the few days of free time I had, I spent most of it with my attention divided between SAO:HR and later AW-SAO:MT. As for other things I did for fun, not much. I was able to read a bit of manga, finally resuming 神のみぞ知るセカイ after 6 months. I only played Gundam Breaker 2 once on the 11th with my brother, playing 2 add-on missions. When chatting with my brother that day, I talked about my patheticness and fear of not meeting his expectations of me. He told me that he is more disappointed about the situation that nothing has worked out, for I have been doing my best. Still, I am sorry for being such a useless brother who couldn’t accomplish anything with 6 months of time in Japan. I am supposed to be here not just for my sake but also his. And yet, I can’t even help myself. Next time we talked, we chatted about the AW-SAO:MT game.
Throughout this month, I relied on my friend March for mental support. On the 15th, I went over to March’s place, where he showed me one episode of ログ・ホライズン, which didn’t seize my interest very much. Then he showed me Re：ゼロから始める異世界生活. I didn’t have the intent of staying very long but not only was the first episode longer than usual, we actually ended up watching 6 episodes. It was good, and strongly reminded me of とある魔術の禁書目録. The 21st of March, spring equinox, was my friend March’s birthday. Ironically, it was a rainy day and so we did not go eat out as planned. Instead, I visited his place where I spend the night watching Re:Zero with him while devouring his snacks… The next day though, the sky cleared up and I fulfilled my promise of treating him out to dinner, but not before one episode of Re:Zero prior to heading off. We went to an all-you-can-eat yakiniku restaurant where we simply ate too much. Given the price, I made sure he and I ate up to our limit. The next day after that (23rd), March and I continued watching the rest of Re:Zero, finishing the series. Wow, there were some heavy moments, touching moments, and very cool moments. So… when is season two, or am I going to have to read the novels? Soon afterwards, upon checking the official website, I realized that Re:Zero has a PS4/PSV game to be released in just a week… Ordered!
Within the darkness of being stripped of my future and chained to the need of surviving the present, I had some moments of fun, an element of life necessary to maintain my own sanity. However, I am only barely hanging on with just a sliver of strength. This darkness isn’t despair, but exhaustion. I want to give up, to let go, to admit defeat. But you know… fate gives me just enough hope to keep on dreaming. And so I will continue to walk forward, for better or worse, until all hope is lost.
Watched these anime:
- 鋼の錬金術師 (ep.3~31)
- Re：ゼロから始める異世界生活 (started and finished series, ep.1~25)
- ロックマン・エグゼ (ep.26~29)
Was able to read these manga:
- 揉み払い師 (finished series – vol.2 & 3 finished)
- ニセコイ (vol.2)
- 神のみぞ知るセカイ (vol.25)
Finished this novel:
- 化物語[上] (finished, started and finished ch.3 するがモンキー)
Played these games on the PSV:
- -PSV- アクセル・ワールドVSソードアート・オンライン -千年の黄昏-
- -PSV- ソードアート・オンライン -ホロウ・リアリゼーション-
- -PSV- ガンダムブレイカー2