Saturday, December 17, 2005

Valkyrie Profile Week: An Interview

VALKYRIE PROFILE WEEK 2005 ends today, unless I come up with some sort of clever addendum that makes the whole thing worthwhile. Since I've exhausted my Valkyrie Profile merchandise, here's an interview with some of the game's voice actors.

It comes from one of the last issues of Gamefan—not the scattershot, grandly unprofessional Gamefan that Dave Halverson ran, but the Gamefan that started up after Halverson left in 1998. I never liked that version of Gamefan. While Halverson's publication maintained a good-natured aura in spite of its frequent stupidity, the second generation of Gamefan was much the opposite: surly, posturing, and fixated more on retarded in-jokes and homegrown catchphrases than games. You can see it in this interview, where Gamefan wastes time with a potshot at one of the editors when they could ask, just maybe, something about Valkyrie Profile.



In fact, most of the questions have little to do with the game. It's more like a glimpse into the actors' careers circa 2001. But you can read Megan Hollingshead's take on two of the characters she played, and her performance was easily my favorite from Valkyrie Profile.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Valkyrie Profile Week: Valkyrie Fight Tag

For this installment of VALKYRIE PROFILE WEEK 2005, I'm going to plug Valkyrie Fight Tag, a homebrew PC fighter that's probably known to anyone who liked or even played Valkyrie Profile. It's worth mentioning again for the sake of the people who didn't, just because Valkyrie Fight Tag is surprisingly solid, considering that it was likely made by a crew smaller than the PlayStation game's cover design staff.
Like a lot of “doujin” fighters, it's simple in design, with three buttons, easily performed moves, and not much game balance. The programmer(s) replicate the PlayStation game's sprites really well, making them just a bit larger, and the fan-art character portraits look better than some professional game illustrations. It's all a pleasant diversion, especially for Valkyrie Profile fans.



It's not quite a fighting game based on Les Miserables, but Valkyrie Fight Tag's worth whatever download arrangement The Underdogs runs you through. A pity it's not a fully licensed tri-Ace game, or it might've ended up in the PSP version.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Valkyrie Profile Week: Another Comic

VALKYRIE PROFILE WEEK 2005 continues with a look at another Valkyrie Profile comic I own. It's called “Kami to Hito no Tsumugu Uta,” which I think translates to “The Spinning Song of Men and Gods” or “The Song Cycle of Gods and Men” or something like that.

I picked it up at an Ohio anime convention, back when I still went to such things. The dealer's room had a corner entirely devoted to doujinshi. The vendor was a deceptively average-looking guy who had helpfully sorted his selection into the clean publications and the many varieties of pure porn. I walked by and saw a Valkyrie Profile book in the normal section. The art wasn't amazing, but the author had apparently cared enough to use a unique, crinkled, and antiquated-looking cover, and it caught my eye.

Then some preteen girls walked by, and the dealer started yelling HEY LADIES GET YOUR HOT YAOI CREAM-FILLED MAN BUNS COMICS HERE and WE'VE GOT HARRY POTTER AND INUYASHA FOR ALL YOUR YAOI NEEDS and other things that might sound clever if you were a recently paroled sex offender.

I looked at the slim Valkyrie Profile booklet in front of me and realized that it deserved a better home. So I bought it and left. With haste.



I thought that the comic might be horrifying filth in disguise, but it's quite straight-laced. There are no scenes of Lezard and Mystina screwing in a magical academy's broom closet or Arngrim and Lawfer exploring flowery knight love or the entire cast joining in a massive drunken pseudo-necrophilic Einherjar orgy in the halls of Valhalla. None of that.

Instead, you get two stories: one explores Lenneth and Lucian's relationship just as the game did, and the other deals with Claire, Lucian's common-law wife, as she figures out that, well, Lucian never really loved her. It's a bit on the bland side, and the art, while serviceable, is never all that impressive.



I get the idea that the author, Misuzu Fujimiya, really liked Valkyrie Profile and wanted to do a somber and faithful story about the game. It succeeds there, but I find myself of the opinion that fan fiction is better when it's just batshit crazy. Furthermore, I was disappointed to find a website run by Fujimiya, who's apparently drawing creepier stuff now.

So there's one-third of my vast doujinshi collection: a half-decent fan comic with a nicely textured cover and a reminder to avoid some or all parts of anime conventions.

Valkyrie Profile Week: A Comic

In honor of the recent news about Valkyrie Profile 2, I declare this to be VALKYRIE PROFILE WEEK 2005 and promise daily discussions of the game and its related merchandise until everyone's horribly fucking sick of it.
Today, we look at Yuu Hijikata's Valkyrie Profile manga, published in 2001 by Gangan Comics, for those of you who hunt these things. While a lot of legitimate game-based manga titles are collections of short stories, Hijikata's work tries to span the game's entire storyline in two 175-page volumes. This is not well-advised, yet it's strangely entertaining to watch it all play out.




At first, it all goes well. The first book covers the initial stretch of Valkyrie Profile, introducing Lenneth Valkyrie, the Berserk-inspired warrior Arngrim, bratty Princess Jelanda, and Belenus, who was just sort of boring and got sent to Valhalla first whenever I played the game.




The comic is paced better than the typical tri-Ace story, and though much of it is a line-for-line recreation of the PlayStation game's script, some differences emerge. Lawfer, whose death wasn't shown in the game, buys it in the manga during a big dramatic face-off with Arngrim (there's gay fan fiction in there someplace), and Lezard, who's like Harry Potter grown up and gone bad, appears earlier. Hijikata's art is fairly good, and I really dig the covers, even if they can't match the illustrations that Kou and You Yoshinari did for the game.




Unfortunately, the whole thing pretty much stabs itself in the eye during the second volume. The project's editors apparently stormed into Hijikata's studio to demand that the story wrap up in five chapters, so that's what happens. After a brief scene about vampires and the introduction of Lenneth's past-life boyfriend Lucian, everything shifts into a fast-forwarded account of the PlayStation game's last act, with Lezard and Mystina and Hrist and Loki all running around as the world ends. Granted, the original Valkyrie Profile's big finale is a deus ex machina in truest fictional form, but it was never as rushed and incoherent as Hijikata's version.

The manga's a fun curiosity for Valkyrie Profile fans, although its slavish adherence to the game's plotline means that there's not much to see if you've already been through the story on the PlayStation. But hey, geek merchandise doesn't have to make sense.