Sunday, September 30, 2007

Club to Death Angel Dokuro Chan

This show is so absurd it cracks me up. Everything is just so exaggerated and extreme. This review put it well.

"Dokuro-chan is a violent show; a show that revels in its filth. It enjoys being dirty. Stuffed within its approximate 114 minutes is gratuitous fanservice, comically graphic violence and gore, and jokes about puberty, sex and pedophiles, repeatedly coming at the viewer at the speed of a bullet train."

Every time Dokuro kills Sakura (every time you say? Yeah, it happens a lot) she brings him back to life with the magic words "Pipiru piru piru pipiru pi!" If I ever start playing an MMO again, I'm gonna put that in my raise macro and see if anyone gets it, even if they don't I'll get a kick out of it.

Silence by Shusaku Endo

A very memorable novel that brings up interesting issues concerning Christianity in Japan. It's about Sebastian Rodrigues, a Portugese Jesuit in Japan in 1638 and the trials he faces there. According to wikipedia, Martin Scorsese is going to make a movie! But the wikipedia article gives away the ending, which was the best part of the book for me, so I say don't read the plot summary if you plan on reading the book or seeing the movie.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

This is one of my favorite books of all time. In college I planned on making an abridged/simplified version of it for English Language Learners, but sadly that project never got very far. It’s the story of Siddhartha, the son of a Brahman, a holy man in Hindu society. He knows he is very blessed, that he should be happy, but feels like there is something missing and decides that this way of life cannot bring him happiness. So he leaves his father and becomes an acetic monk, then seeks the Buddha, then finds a lover and a job and gets rich, then escapes from those worldly pleasures and becomes a simple ferryman and tries to teach his life’s lessons to his son, but his son runs away. In the end he is enlightened in a way that is very Zen or Taoist, he realizes all is one, too much striving is futile, happiness has to come from within and that this is wisdom that cannot be taught, only learned by experience. As usual, the wikepedia article is well worth reading.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Google Reader

... is my new favorite thing. It makes the internet come to me! Bwahahaha! I guess it might not be too amazing to some people, but for me, someone who is on the internet all the time, a swivel-chair potato, it's a huge time saver. It's like TIVO for the internet. It tells me when sites are updated and gives me exactly what I want from that site.

School Days

I was gonna make this blog post back on September 28th but I left it as a draft because it's such a messed up show I wasn't sure if I wanted to mention it on my blog or not. I watched episodes 1-3, then skipped to 11 and 12, from stuff I read online though, the main character, Makoto, sleeps around with lots of girls during the episodes I skipped. This show is so messed up... that ending was totally disturbing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fighting Games

Fighting games have come a long way in controls and mechanics. I never cared about Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat for one main reason; the moves were just too complicated and cumbersome. I could never figure out that slide your thumb from down to forward thing, or that slide from back to down to forward thing and even when I did get it right, it wasn’t satisfying, it hurt my hand. I also hated the never-ending combos that you had no chance of escaping like in Killer Instinct. People could keep killing you forever, even after you were dead, just to rub it in your face. How messed up is that? Naruto and Smash Bros, on the other hand, have beautifully simple controls so anyone can pick it up and start playing. Naruto’s chakra mechanic lets you escape those endless combos, and in Smash Bros you can air-dodge, roll away, attack while getting up or a number of other things to avoid combos. But I hate those elitist moves (like L and Y cancel and wave dashing) that people figure out because they have too much time on their hands. I want a fighting game that’s as fun and balanced as Naruto or Smash Bros, but doesn’t have the crazy freak moves that only people with turbo hands can pull off. Hopefully Brawl we be like that.

Dubs VS Subs

Often the topic of debate among anime fans is which is better, the original Japanese dialogue with subtitles or the English dubbing. I usually prefer subtitles. Dubs are not ALWAYS bad, they're just USUALLY bad. Various problems crop up, like matching words to lip flaps. This is absurd since in many cases the Japanese dialogue doesn't fit the lip flaps either. It also kills the emotion or humor because unless it's translated really well and creatively, the timing of the line in English will not fit the Japanese. They feel the need to match high squeeky obnoxious voices with equally high squeeky obnoxious voices, which somehow become even more obnoxious in English. Humor is difficult to translate, Azumanga Daioh goes from being hilarious in Japanese to being annoying in English. Another odd occurrence is that Kansai dialects get turned into southern dialects, it makes no sense whatsoever.

That said, some dubs actually improve a show. A scene that was only a little funny in Japanese is given a new twist to make it funnier, typically this happens with good one-liners since there aren't a lot of lip flaps. Some of the best dubbing I've heard is Kyon in The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi because he's not bound by lip flaps (you hear his thoughts a lot) he can just speak in naturally flowing English. The more recent dubs done by Disney of the Studio Ghibli movies are amazing, because they put more effort into making it work. Sadly, most dubs though are done in a quick, sloppy manner to meet a deadline and end up ruining the enjoyability of the show.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi

One of the crazy things about this show is that it was not originally aired in chronological order, it has been sorted out since then, so I watched it in chronological order, but I can see how it would work out of order too. I love the beautiful animation, music, comedy, mystery, suspense and overall coolness in this anime, but what makes it a classic in my book is that it also has some intriguing ideas to think about and employs some really unique story-telling techniques. My favorite parts are Kyon’s monologue in episode 1 about accepting reality and Haruhi’s monologue in episode 13 about feeling so small and insignificant considering the population of the world, and of course the ending.

The show even has a bit of a cult following, you can find dozens of videos on youtube of people doing the Hare Hare Yukai dance and fans calling themselves SOS/ASOS Brigade members. Check out the wikipedia article for more info.

What I think of FFXI

I've stopped playing MMOs for now, I'm just really tired of all the current popular ones. I might come back to them when they get new expansions, depends on who is still playing, how much time I have, and if the new content looks interesting enough. I wrote this a about a year ago, the games haven't really changed much, so I still feel the same way.

First of all let me say FFXI is a great game, I’ve played it for over three years, and I still play it now and then to check out new content and help friends with missions. There are many aspects of it I love and haven’t found in any other game. I like how so many battles, (like bcnms, hnms, pop nms, missions) take so much teamwork and everyone has to know what they’re doing. I also like how most of the best gear is rare/ex (like soulbound in WoW terms) so you actually have to go out and do something to get it. Most of all, I like the sense of community, after being 75 for a while you get to know most of the people on the server and enjoy making friends/rivals and watching/being a part of all the drama that inevitably unfolds.

I love playing the game more casually as I am now. The exp grinding, dynamis grinding, hnm grinding…it gets so old. There are so many things they could change to make the game more fun, and when I thought about it, it all comes down to two things.

1. User Unfriendliness

I recently saw several programs that add useful things like timers for when spells will wear off, how many shadows you have left, the cool down time left on spells and abilities, mini maps in the corner of your screen, it’s a shame SE doesn’t allow and encourage these things like they should. It amazes me how the same old arguments and inquiries about FFXI stats come up again and again. What affects treasure hunter, what stats affect what weapon skills, what stats certain food gives, what activates an item‘s latent effect and so on… In other games they’re kind enough to tell you what everything does! Imagine that! But at least it gives you something to talk about while you’re enduring hours and hours of…

2. Downtime

FFXI is all about downtime. 3 hour hnm camps, lines for a bcnm, waiting for airships and boats to arrive and depart, conflicting dynamis times, 72 hour wait between each dynamis, raise sickness, simply looking for a party… The majority of the time you spend “playing” FFXI you’re not even playing! You’re waiting to play. A lot of the downtime is unavoidable because other players cause it, but there’s way too much downtime built into the game that doesn’t need to be there. After coming back to FFXI from playing other games, even the speed of the fighting system feels slow. The delay of two-handed weapons is just ridiculous.

WoW and Maple Story are the only other MMORPGs besides FFXI that I’ve played, both are better than FFXI in these two aspects. Imagine what an awesome game FFXI would be if it were a little more like these games. I heard a rumor that SE is going to make a Secret of Mana Online, hopefully that will be a better game.

a real update

Well, it's fun to talk about blogs and review anime, but I guess I should actually give everyone a real update as well. I'm currently living at home with my parents very slowly getting the last few things I need to do finished so I can graduate. I've been done with classes for a while now, I just need to write a few papers, take a test, have a couple interviews and document some internship hours I completed over the summer. Once I graduate the plan is to get a job teaching English in Japan. I love teaching English (as a second language that is) working at Hometown USA was a blast, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Haibane Renmei

This anime has been on my mind pretty much every day since I watched it a week ago so I want to spread the word to anime fans and non-anime fans alike. Let me start by saying I cry a lot. Movies, books, anime, music, talks in church, closing ceremonies, they make me cry. This anime made me cry harder than anything I can remember. Just thinking about it for too long makes me cry… I’ll probably cry at some point while writing this. Don't let me give you the wrong idea though, Haibane Renmei is not sad, if you want something sad watch Grave of Fireflies. I cried because Rakka and Reki’s struggles, their doubts, fears and regrets so closely mirror my own and so their discoveries and triumphs are even more inspiring and uplifting. Okay, I know that was really vague, but I don’t want to give anything away. The music and animation are outstanding, the characters and the world they inhabit are well developed and interesting, and the story is definitely one you'll remember. If you want more info you can read the excellent wikipedia article about it.

Blah Log

Being the word nerd I am, I looked up "blog" on

Pronunciation: \ˈblȯg, ˈbläg\
Function: noun
Etymology: short for Weblog
Date: 1999
: a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer

I was hoping it would be short for blah-log, oh well, I'm afraid my blog is going to be a blah log. Seems to me like that's what they're good for, venting, ranting, telling stories and jokes, blah blah blah. Recently I've noticed my mom looking at blogs a lot, I guess maybe I got a little jealous. Sarah Benac has an awesome blog btw. I think I would've made a blog eventually anyways, I love throwing things out on the web via forums, online games, instant messengers, etc. and seeing what people think. I just read an article called One big, blog-happy family, about the Benac Family's blogging and then found and looked at my mom's own blog for the first time. I've never been great at keeping in touch with people. Sure, I've got an email address, a facebook account, a myspace account, but a blog is different, I think it's more my style, we'll see how it goes.