Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Nendroid Day!





Got two new Nendroids today: Itoshiki-sensei from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Pixel Maritan! Looks like customs dug through the box, or it got damaged or something. Haven't opened them yet because I'm thinking of redoing the layout of all of my shelves. Didn't open my 4-week old Yoko Nendroid yet, either. The room is filling up quickly, at this rate I think I'll need to stop collecting which at this point wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Blarghy


Things have been falling too far into disarray lately. Been meaning to play a lot of games that I bought and somehow an entire week has slipped through my fingers without touching anything entertaining. Got Resident Evil 5 over 2 weeks ago now and haven't even unwrapped it. My sleep pattern's all messed up, and it's been a "ronery" couple of months. I feel kind of like I've hit bottom lately, nothing really stimulates my interest and part of me doesn't want to be around anyone, either. The reason for the latter being that the cycle of meeting, getting to know and then ultimately being let down is just too much anymore. I always seem to make the wrong choices in who I choose to befriend, I don't really trust my own instincts with people judging anymore. Friend-wise it seems like everyone is heavily involved with someone to some degree, and I end up feeling like a total third wheel. And I feel like I myself couldn't even make a meaningful connection even if I wanted to -- nor would anyone else want to with me, heh. Though I don't think I'd meet anyone around this east coast Siberia that I'd want to be with permenantly anyway, so... "Professionally" I remain unfulfilled and I still have no complete picture of what I want to do, I pinball back and forth between so many things anymore. And that's enough bitching for this session, just needed to get some things off of my chest. ^^;

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Here we go again...


Just when I think that I'm over buying sprees of new and irrational hobbies -- and I have NO idea where this one came from -- I looked up the smallest scale of model train that exists. Gulp. I think I might have been browsing Hobby Search and looked up at the "Model Train" category, honestly. Anyway, there's a picture of the one I want, above. It's not really expensive, so much as a frivolous thing that: if I don't end up getting into it, I have a piece of hobby just sitting there doing nothing OR if I do get into it I'll end up spending a lot more on it. Here is the set I want, it's the Yamanote Line, and amazingly it lights up accurately too!

Quick Sketch


I posted this on DC.com earlier, might as well put it here because I'm proud of it. I actually lied on DC for the sake of not sounding like a babbling idiot. I said I did this sketch after I saw the SFIV x Lucky Star sketches from a Japanese magazine. Actually, I got the idea for it after I got the Lucky Star Meets Fate cosplay set from Wonder Hobby '08. I need to invest in a scanner one of these days. I have a 10 MPixel camera but no scanner. ^^;

I think I overbought...


I was given a bottle of this just as something to drink a little while back, and it was delicious. There's also an orange flavor that has like rose hip in it or something, that also rocks. So what did I spy with my little eye when I went to Target with Laura the other day? A big sale for a dollar a bottle! What's up now economy?! At any rate, I bought about a dozen and I'm getting tired of somes pear. Which is what it should be called, I can't even taste any apple in it. Perhaps I'll let the remaining stock take up valuable fridge real estate and drink the rest when the inside of my mouth no longer tastes like a pear.

...On the other hand, off to the left is a "Fuyu gentei", or winter limited, version of white choco potato snacks that I wish I had a case of now. =P

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Anime Rewind: Cowboy Bebop




I went back recently and started rewatching Cowboy Bebop. A series that was once rated as the number two anime series of all time in Japan (behind Evangelion), Bebop has dazzled fans across the globe for almost a decade now. Releasing in Japan in 1998, it came to America in late 2000, and was released across the globe throughout the early 2000's. For a time when anime became super-popularized I got really sick of hearing about and seeing Bebop, but now I feel I've distanced myself enough from all of those people who liked it because they'd heard that others liked it. The series spoke for itself back then, and even a decade after, I can see why.

Sure, the series dates itself by looking at it. Anything made a decade ago would. There are different, digital methods of making just about everything from backgrounds to the animation itself now, so naturally it looks different. However, the presentation is what distinguishes CB from other 10-year-old franchises. I watched Evangelion for the first time last year and being made just a year and a half or so before Bebop, Eva looks kinda old by comparison. I can't really say that there's been a comparably creative story in anything I've watched since. The characters are plausible for the year 2071 but still sort of "crazy", and most importantly they defy the archetypal cast that ruin a lot of anime that would be good if it weren't for that. The music is top-notch, created especially for the series by established jazz musicians, and not just the OP and ED but the cuts inside of the episodes are tailor-made too. The pop-culture references mixed with traditional Japanese culture, mixed with cyberpunk and semi-post-apocalyptic all work in the series favor as well.

How does it all stand up to the test of time? To me, everything is just as fresh as ever. Granted, this is the remastered version, but the fact that it hasn't been redone in any major way and it still looks and sounds as good as it does is wonderful. Watching the first few episodes over again gave me chills, that natsukashii feeling of watching a classic. That familiar music playing during the action sequences, those hand-drawn backgrounds, outstanding choices in seiyuu and most importantly creative plotlines, admittedly make me long for the days where "moe" was the exception, not the rule.

New Hagaren Very Close!


A new Fullmetal Alchemist anime is sneaking up on us, and I couldn't be more delighted! It seems like they're going to do it right this time around and be true to the manga. 4th trailer below:

GDC 2009 - CryEngine 3 Demo


A CryEngine 3 Demo video, passed along to me by a friend, looks positively sick. The site doesn't allow embedding, so here's the link. -_-;

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nintendo DS = Goodness



Haven't really posted anything in a little bit, mainly due to lack of anything interesting coming along. Other than... I've rediscovered my DS due to my R4 cart and a plethora of titles that would've otherwise cost me well over $500 if I had acquired them through "non-R4 means". *ニコ* I've been alternating between ぼくらの検定 (Bokura no Terebi Geemu Kentei) or loosely translated, something like: Our Videogame Certification, and Puzzle Quest. The latter of which is super addicting, my friend's girlfriend did a lot of the art for it, and I like it all the more because of that.

I'm sure everyone's heard of Puzzle Quest by this point in time. After all it is available for nearly every platform including the iPod Touch. Game Kentei, however, I'm sure not a great many people know about. This game is produced by Namco and features a number of canonical Namco titles, as well as some weird obscure ones that I've never run into before. Games like Dragon Spirit, Sky Kid, Galaga, Galaxian, Dig Dug and Mappy appear in 10 to 90 second minigames where you have to accomplish various tasks to succeed. It's sorta like a totally Namco, totally 8-bit Warioware. Other titles pop up too, I've encountered the Famicom SD version of Splatterhouse, Wagyan (a game with a little green dinosaur that seems strangely familiar for some reason), Family Stadium and more.

The presentation and layout are fairly outstanding. The interface and menus have that distinctly Japanese feel to them, complete with 8-bit sound effects and soft, lush visuals. The top screen allows you to take control of Picotto, your navigator that looks like a yellow arcade machine with a cute smiley face on it. ^^; You can walk through the city Picotto lives in and as you progress in the challenges you can talk to the various Namco characters that show up. My favorite is the "foreign" tennis player that speaks broken Japanese (mainly all katakana) like "Mai neemu izu".

You engage in "challenges" that consist of five-event gamuts, for each one you get a rank from S to C depending on if you're successful or you fubar it or you fall somewhere between the two. You have three hearts, if you really suck and manage to deplete all 3 before you finish the five events for that part, then it's game over. If you (more than likely) finish all five in a group, depending on how your ranks tally up, you get a Bronze, Silver or Gold medal. This works two-fold: you need a certain number of points to get the "certification test" for that rank and Bronze awards 5, Silver 10 and Gold 20, also, accumulating Gold medals gives you access to an Endless Challenge Mode, game-specific Challenge Modes, "Melody Badges" that play music from the various games (not a bad idea for a shokugan or gashapon toy, imo, like Soundrops) and more.

The challenges themselves range from insipid or easy to frustratingly idiotic. I'd say that if you want to save yourself frustration, you wouldn't buy this game unless you had some decent command of the Japanese language, or at least someone nearby that can read for you on the fly. There are a few games I don't recognize that require reading within the challenge, and much to my pleasant surprise I understand things second nature now that a few years ago I would've struggled with. One is a game where you have to get information about a crime and then accuse the right person (or anthropomorphic animal as the situation dictates), another where you have to identify the character in the picture, a dating sim where you have to "capture the girl's heart!" by reading what she likes and responding correctly, a word game where they give you a hiragana character and number of characters in the word and then you have to pick the picture that matches that, a game where you have to mix items to create a new one, and a game where you have to search a room for clues and find a ring based on those clues. So yeah, not really for non-readers so much. Not to mention having to read the objectives of the challenges themselves.

All in all it's a really fun, really addictive game. It's really redundant at points, as the endless mode, the game-specific challenges mode, the categorical challenge mode and the online rnaking mode are all pretty much the same thing just packaged differently. But trying to get Gold on every challenge is fun and not a short or easy task, believe me.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Few Words...

You know, I was having a conversation today with my friend who works at a famous game company. We were discussing how back in the day we used to love games that were mainly Japanese in origin, and how it was a shame that the state of the gaming industry in Japan is so sad anymore. And I went on to remark that the state of anime was kinda poor as of late, too. It has improved as of the end of last year, imo, but for a while there it was kinda touch and go. I fell out of love for a little bit.

Upon thinking about it, for as innovative as the industry was as a whole in the 80's and 90's into the early 2000's really, it's taken that much of a downturn. The same could be said about anime and manga up until recently as well. I am by no means a prude, but being an adult of higher than normal intelligence, when everything turns to fan service and "PANTSU, KAWAII, PANTSU, OPPAI!" it gets grating after a while. If this is the linchpin of what you're creating, I think you should either reevaluate what you're creating or reevaluate your core audience. So many manga/anime that I've encountered in the last year have lacked any semblance of a story beyond that of like an eroge that I gave up on both mediums for a while. I don't mind a little sexual humor or fan service being injected into an entertaining or aesthetically pleasing (hopefully both) story -- in fact I like it a lot -- but when the point of the whole series is to innundate you with bouncing breasts and panty shots it stops being entertaining. (To me, at least)

The whole lack of moderation thing seems to have extended into gaming now, with games about going to an omiai pub and screwing some random hostess reaching consoles. It's either that or "kawaii mascot" games, which seem to be the equivalent of shovelware here, coming around in droves. Again, I'm fine with cute stuff, but when one spawns a thousand imitators, it gets old. I'm not saying that everything needs to be wholesome like Yotsuba, but when there's an entire industry "turning" because horny adults that never grew up can't stop gratifying themselves to 2-D women it ruins things for the rest of us. Everyone fantasizes both sexually and nonsexually, it's healthy, it's a natural part of the human condition to have some sort of escapism in our lives. But having some much of the same thing, and like this, just takes not only art and innovation a step backward, but humanity kind of falls a bit, imo, as well.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Yoko Nendroid 来た!


FINALLY I got my Yoko Nendroid! She is absolutely gorgeous, rivaling even my Shana Nen. She comes with three total faces, extra arms, extra legs, her positron rifle and a stand (of course). She seems to be about the only Nendroid in the series that is anatomically correct -- i.e. - she has her yokoppais intact -- and that fact makes me very happy. ^^; With shipping she was a little under $50US, in fact I think that's the first time in three years of shopping there, that I've gotten away under $50 at Hobby Search -- a momentous occasion to be sure.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Sora Kakeru Shoujo Episodes 1-3

A rare moment of quiet in this series

Girl on girl mech battles

Service cleavage? check.

Honoka, the bipolar telekinetic girl in a cat hood everyone loves to love

Itsuki, the angry archetypical cop

Oh yeah, Akiha also has weird dreams in a jazz club with a woman that looks just like her

Leopard Lamperouge

and a random cute shot until I realized that the potato-bot was saying they were eating potatoes, mecha-cannibalism! O_o

I have to admit, when I first started watching ep 1 of this yesterday I was confused as all get out about the premise because they start off with something that seems pretty grounded and then it gets ultra-convoluted very quickly. Akiha is the third daughter of the Shishidou family and her sister Kazane, who is the eldest sister, is trying to force her into an arranged marriage. Though I was well aware this was set in the future by the fact that she has a potato-robot maid who is also her best friend, when it gets to the point of the colonies and ICP (not insane clown posse, ugh, in case you were wondering) and loads of "old era" debris floating in space I thought maybe it was going to turn into time travelling or something. So it turns out that Akiha meets an "AI Colony" named Leopard, whose seiyuu is the same as Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass (it was weird to hear him be so "wacky") and along with him we're introduced to Honoka, a girl who is in some way connected to Leopard and has telekinetic abilities. Akiha ends up helping Leopard, and thus our story begins in earnest.

Throughout the next two episodes things become slightly more transparent, ICP is a police force in the colonies, of which Kannagi Itsuki -- your anime hot-blooded tough as nails woman that's bad at social graces archetype -- ends up going undercover at Akiha's school to investigate her and why the ICP is trying cover up the whole Leopard thing. Honoka ends up at Akiha's school as well to try and get her to help Leopard some more. There's a mech battle that spills from ep 2 into 3 after Honoka convinces Akiha to "borrow" some golden energy orbs (balls) from a nearby colony and we have a fanservice moment with both of them being stuffed into cleavagey suits to operate their mechs, called QT-Arms.

So far Sorakake is a pretty action-packed series. After watching a lot of Gundam 00 it seemed a little wacky, but I think that's like eating a handful of salty potato chips and then drinking a glass of Kool-Aid. Naturally you're going to say that the Kool-Aid isn't sweet enough after eating all of that salt, wow that was a really bad analogy. Anyway, I think if I go back to it for episode 4 I'll appreciate it more. Not that I don't now, it's a really entertaining series of which there is no shortage of gimmicks. I like the idea of the jagaimo(potato)-bots, the colony thing seems like it's going somewhere, the mechs are kinda cool, and Akiha seems vaguely original in that she's not explosively tsundere or too cutesy. It's also one of the few shows that isn't based on a pre-existing manga that I actually like (*retch* Wolf's Rain). I just wish they'd refrain from making a manga series around the anime after the fact, those always seem to turn out horribly. Oh yeah, and I'm happy that this didn't turn out with Akiha's escaping the arranged marriage thing being a major plot point so it ended up being Inuyasha in space or something...

Meiji Choco-Potato Mania!



Why oh why, when I'm trying to save money, did I have to raid my box of Japanese snacks? Of course they're wonderful and that's why I save them like a paranoid patriot hoards supplies for a nuclear holocaust. I found this gem from Meiji today, white chocolate-covered potato sticks, made from 100% Hokkaido-grown potatoes. They are awesome beyond awesome, salty, sweet, yum! ^^ I could order a case right now, it's a good thing that I'm short on funds until payday, hee.