Well, that crept faster than expected; coupled with this year's eventful TGS, I guess I'll take the incentive. In retrospect, I really wanted to get in on this discussion, so to emphasize I've glossed through every point made in notepad -- expect a long read. As well, here's to Arturo sharing 9/18 with his birthday. Talk about an omen of sorts.
To mirror Scotty's view, I've honestly got very little wind of this incident up until you guys mentioned it in recent discussions. I knew tidbits like Jupiter and Ryuuguu Komachi weren't well-received, in addition to common iM@S2 gripes, but not to the extent it was back then. Having browsed our wiki for clarity, the matter piqued my interest. Being a fan since late 2011, there's little need saying that I've hardly been affected by the changes announced. Granted though, since I'm fond of Ritsuko a great deal, I won't deny that even I'd get a little more than peeved at her withdrawal, had I established myself years beforehand. Just a timing thing to convenience myself more than anything, really.
As for 961's presence, I admittedly can't have a say on Jupiter's reveal nor how much a negative reception I'd have; this goes back to my initial point. Personally however, I too enjoy the concept of rivalries, and as a consolation for Scotty, Project Fairy in SP was a service to this trope, in spite of them being unproducible. Moreover, Kuroi accentuates this as I'm partial of having antagonists in stories -- a final obstacle for the protagonist. That said, Kuroi also has a touch of realism; despite the stereotypical movie-villain they've went with him, those shady methods for success can be correlated with reality. As an aside, Scotty would totally go hard for a Kuroi G4U volume, amirite?
Back to Jupiter, the only real criticism I have stems from their first appearance, when they're really only portrayed as common bruisers. That, and the later two members arrived very late within iM@S2; they seemed almost an after-thought. Still, the anime at least improves on them with their defined personality traits. On the broader subject of males, the point of segregation should be stressed. Up until recently, iM@S was indeed partial to a male fanbase, and the introduction of male idols pretty much threw things out of whack; people aren't used to this extent of change, even today. I doubt I'd ever get into SideM, solely because of how hard it betrays the customs I'm so used to.
Looking back some, part of me sympathizes with Ryo because he's been wrought a lot of flak from these results, what with it being considered invasive to long-term fans. For being a fairly unique character, he's essentially victimized. Speaking of Dearly Stars, I see Scotty's point with it's bargain status. While I'm open to an idol's point of view, it'd just hearken back to what I've said of change; producers need to produce, as is tradition. To more a personal gripe, I'm jaded by the fact we'll never see Eri Mizutani in the light of day, whether due to HanaKana's prestige or the fact Dearly Stars is what it is. She's been our first hikkomori, whereas someone like Ai is just... a Haruka archetype.
Moving to the brunt of audience reactions, Gami-P screwed up pretty hard at their performer's expense -- especially Wakabayashi, who from what I know nearly broke down. That soured me bad; nobody with that level of dedication to their fans should have to endure this. In fairness though, I can only echo the timing of these announcements were piss-poor. Hell, Famitsu confirming the lack of an online component only fueled the fires, but whether or not to say it until later was a can of worms in itself. So, I'm unsure how better off they'd be announcing that. If anything, I was unaware Sony mandates new content for re-releases -- incentivizes more Ryuuguu Komachi love, at least.
On a more substantial point, cultural differences can't be understated as well. It's really interesting to hear of that and gender differences. Regardless though, I feel it's fair to criticize the extent of backlash the Japanese fanbase had gave; between the scrutiny over the radio shows all the way to genuine death threats, one can't deny they're batshit crazy. Hypocritical even, given their reputed love of these seiyuus. That said, I do think the gaming culture itself should be segregated from the general Japanese one, solely to due how fans can negatively react in any announcement scenario. Despite this, I definitely heard of the horror stories regarding broken disks and merchandise.
About the Master CD 2 announcements, I can definitely empathize with Ryuuguu Komachi fans who were initially left with no CD. Namco was very wise to reconsider; cutting Iori and Azusa, the achetypes of tsundere and big-sister? Yeah, that's like standing on tracks begging for the oncoming freight train, round to the foot be damned. Speaking of Ryuuguu Komachi itself, I can't be too hard on them; it's what I've been first exposed to. Would I be disappointed had I came upon their announcement years before? Most likely, but I'd deal with this if only by the virtue it'll be the one thing keeping their seiyuus around. At the same time, one can't blame fans for their initial knee jerk, either.
Coming iM@S2's release, it's undoubtedly a flawed game even outside the controversy; I felt the region-locking, linear story mode and gating unlocks to multiple playthroughs were the cornerstone of issues. Onto story writing, I haven't touched upon SP to properly gauge differences with iM@S2 -- that, and there's the language barrier. From what translations tell me, the author of iM@S2 definitely had an awkward way of carrying himself to the audience. Thankfully, One for All happened to become a thing afterwards; it addressed many known flaws and adopted a sandbox style, which personally bodes well with me because God forbid I stomach rigged festivals and the old, clunky UI.
But sure enough, you guys quip about Chihaya. Time and again it's been said, but I've been a good sport about it, what with keeping shut so as to let the joke present itself. But now? I'll lend my two cents -- I feel this can be rationalized, point being Chihaya's established laryngitis, which was wrought upon singing. This can be in every respect permanent, given her stress. When you helped her recover, this would evaporate her condition. As for the blue bird? I'll give you that much, both for how it's a result of the author's writing and depending on the audience to see this as a symbolic interpretation. Overall though, this is another thing addressed in the anime so it flows naturally.
More to a relevant point, Yukiho's seiyuu change was certainly noticeable -- even with my being first exposed to Azumin. Back in the day, Azumin's voice indeed felt rough with Yukiho's appearances in iM@S2 and the anime. Like... it wasn't defined, at least up until recently where she opts to do it her own way instead of being Hase. I've personally not heard of the latter's voice that often, but I definitely respect her for the idol she began. As a Yukiho-P and someone who treasures the 'this-voice-owns-this-character' mindset, I'm surprisingly content with Yukiho now. It's a shame the circumstances of Hase's life caused her retirement, but as ever for me to say? Here's to her prosper.
Come to think of it, this is probably the scariest form of change in my eyes; like I said, I treasure the aforementioned mindset because once I've mentally clocked in a voice for a character I love, I'd never be swayed for another. I can't place my finger on it, but this stems from a sentiment that any character is a reflection of those who provide their voice to them. To change that, with the worst case scenario being Asami Imai... wouldn't bode well for me, in addition to any long-standing interest I may have anymore. Granted, people grow and move onwards, as does life around them for the merrier, but I can't help but feel an emptiness inside. Damn, I really do take this to heart.
With all that established, I hope I've lent a profound view of my interest and desires. Again, I'll thank Arturo and co for providing the discussion. To hear the very mention of 765 come this PS4 release is undoubtedly soothing, too. On a comedic note, I can't help but laugh at Virgo's shout-out of Rule 34. Suddenly, familiar pai touch vibes. :3