Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

New Monster Cap: 649

September 16, 2010 Commentary, News 5 Comments

 

So Pokemon Black/White isn’t due to release in Japan until this Saturday, September 18th, but leaked screenshots and other goodies have been trickling online gradually all week as Amazon and other retailers began shipping things out early. As there isn’t a lot of shipping distance to cover in a small country like Japan, this meant that people were getting games way ahead of schedule. Today, poor-quality photos surfaced online of all 156 new monsters, bringing the full Pokedex total to six hundred forty-nine.

I am so excited.

Seriously. For me, the build-up to Black and White has been very similar to the build-up to Gold and Silver, which, as the very first new generation, was the Most Exciting Thing Ever. Sure, by now — generation five and almost fifteen years old — the franchise’s new additions are pretty predictable: new island (based off New York City, baby!), new trainers, new attacks, season changes, three-way battles, more Wi-Fi stuff, and of course, new Pokemon. But as tried as the formula is, I am still most excited about the new Pokemon. I like having new things to collect. Monsters were cool when I was eight. Monsters are still cool, dammit.

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At the beginning of August, I read an ANN article about the release of a legitimate fan remix album featuring a variety of otaku favorites. That the DJ, Pete Ellison, a.k.a., INITIAL P, bothered to get official permission to produce the album struck me the most, considering how few seem to worry about the legitimacy of selling anything fan-made, even as fanart rules are slowly sweeping through the Artist Alleys of various conventions. A week later, while I was at Anime Overload in Austin, I checked my inbox and was very surprised to find an email by Ellison asking if I would review the album. When I got home the following Tuesday, Anime Love Hardcore had already arrived on my doorstep.


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Tokyo is a pretty expensive place — it is especially bad when 1) it’s your first time visiting, and 2) you are an otaku. You are in Glorious Nippon, the Weeaboo Mecca! There is stuff that you want to buy everywhere. It’s pretty overwhelming.

On the bright side, I think few are naive enough or hopelessly optimistic enough to think that they won’t be spending crazy amounts of money on merchandise while in Japan. On the down side, even those who come prepared with money to spend and a budget to spend it on can get caught up in the insane amount of stuff they encounter while they’re there. There are a few places that almost require a visit, but there are also places that you’ll happen upon almost unexpectedly. Those will get you, those unexpected places full of impulse buys. Here are the top five money-sinks for weeaboo in Tokyo from my own personal experience:

5. Akihabara

Akihabara is the most obvious place. You go there knowing full well that it’s a huge fantard paradise. You go there expecting to see stormtroopers dancing in the streets and flash mobs breaking out in “Hare Hare Yukai” in addition to the maid cafes, manga cafes, pachinko parlors, the billion electronics stores, arcades, and seven-story buildings filled basement to roof with nothing but anime merchandise. Yes, that is buildings, plural, all seven to nine stories tall. Filled with anime merchandise. Seriously. It’s like the biggest convention dealer’s room you’ve ever seen. Multiplied by some obscene number. Sure, buildings in Tokyo all tend to be tall and narrow, so one floor might not constitute as much, but once you’re climbing the stairs in your fourth or fifth building, the magnitude of it all really starts to sink in.

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Review: Asterios Polyp

May 26, 2010 Review Comments Off on Review: Asterios Polyp

 

I don’t read as many Western comics as I probably should, though this mostly my own fault. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli was a title I’d heard tossed around a lot in the last few months, but even with a roommate’s recommendation and several mentions on SEQALAB, I put it off. Well, with my college days wrapping up, I decided I was going to take these last few days to read every single one of aforementioned roommate’s comics before we all went our separate ways for the summer. This collection, naturally, included Asterios Polyp.

Annnnd Asterios Polyp is easily one of the most amazing comics I’ve read in recent memory. This is also one of the shortest reviews I’ve written in recent memory, mostly because I find that language is failing me in my attempts to tell you just why this book is amazing. Besides, it’s always easier to ramble on about why I dislike something than why I like something. There are more synonyms for negative words than there are for positive words. Asterios Polyp been nominated for four 2010 Eisner Awards, and if it doesn’t win at least one, then by golly, the Eisners must not mean much anymore.

(this review contains no spoilers)

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Dropped: Heroman

May 25, 2010 Dropped 4 Comments

 

Does this make me unpatriotic?

The only reason I picked this up was because of Stan Lee’s involvement, which I guess is funny because I’m not a huge fan of anything credited to the man. And most of the things credited to Stan Lee were made awesome by other people anyway. But it still felt obligatory. Maybe it’s because I’m graduating with a degree in comics and no one in comics ignores Stan Lee, as senile as people are calling him these days. Regardless, I wasn’t expecting much out of Heroman, which is why I don’t feel bad about dropping it at episode two.

Hell, I almost went ahead and dropped it at episode one.

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VAMPS
VAMP’s debut album
10th June 2009

VAMPS

You know, I really dislike self-entitled albums. They kind of make mentioning them in a [band]’s [album] format awkward. Moving on, despite being a fan of hyde, I was never really that interested in VAMPS. I mean, I adore hyde’s work with L’Arc~en~Ciel, and his one-time collaboration with Gackt for “orenji no taiyou” was also amazing, but his solo work leaves a lot to be desired (especially in his third solo album, Faith), and that’s what K.A.Z. had previously worked with him on. And as VAMPS’s debut US tour did not visit any city I was remotely close to, I felt even less compelled to familiar myself with the music.

Additionally, the overt-vampire references in all of this — in the band name, the album name, the label name, and pretty much all of the song names and imagery — kind of made me facepalm. I would expect it from Gackt, who only recently came out as a mere mortal and has a long history of vampire and goth sound and imagery. But, well, I guess it really isn’t that big of a surprise coming from hyde either… considering the fact that he’s acted as both a vampire and a ghost, songs like “Midnight Celebration,” various photoshoots, and a lot of his fashion and accessory choices. Well, whatever brings all the fangirls to the yard, right?

And in the end, hyde is hyde, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I eventually decided to pick this up. So here we go:

TRACK 01: BITE
Thirty-second opening track! Starts off with some very classic horror elements — swanky TV noises in the background, creeking door, clock striking, howling, a woman moaning sensually and a scream! Classy.

TRACK 02: LOVE ADDICT
Now some rockin’ guitar with a very catchy beat. hyde’s vocals start rough and excitedly, a welcome throwback to some of his older work. Lyrics are in Engrish and they are hilarious as usual, so I’m not going to try too hard to decipher what he’s saying. Melody is pretty negligent as the song progresses, but the guitars carry a steady beat, so there’s at least that to tie things together. End of the first chorus has a weird break before hyde comes back in slowly, in a lower voice. K.A.Z. (I guess?) providing some backup vocals here and there, but nothing really substantial or interesting. I think the repeated lyrics near the end are “right on time, let’s go,” but it could also be “let go.” It frustrates me sometimes that hyde has spent so long singing in English, but it rarely seems to get more understandable. Guitars fade out to the end. Not a good song, not a bad song.

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I think it’s a little pointless to make “best of the decade” lists when a majority of the series you’ve experienced, period, were from this decade. Excepting the random movies and shows I saw dubbed in Chinese or whatever as a kid and those from the glory days of Toonami, most of what I’ve seen debuted post-1999, including pretty much everything currently on my favorites’ list (not that I ever really figured that out).

So instead of that, here are nine series I kind of meant to watch at some point during the last ten years and never got around to, either because I was too busy or too lazy or too cheap or forgot about it. Maybe I’ll get around to some of these eventually, but some of them will probably just slip on further and further into the back of my mind where I’ll forget about them like I’ve probably already forgotten about a dozen other things I intended to watch at some point.

These are in no real order.

1. Voices of a Distant Star (2002)

After seeing 5 Centimeters per Second, I was very interested in seeing Makoto Shinkai’s other works. I was going to include The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004) in this as well, but I think I’ve actually seen a few minutes of that, either of the beginning or the end, I don’t remember. Voices of a Distant Star seems to have a theme similar to 5 Centimeters, which is depressing in that I can relate too well, but it also reminds me a little of PLANETES, which was considerably less depressing, perhaps because it slipped in a lot more comedy. Either way, this movie is definitely something I still intend to check out eventually. I really don’t know why it’s so hard for me to sit down with movies; I never feel like I have enough time.

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So I was in Tokyo for the first time, November 27th-December 12th. I was there with something like forty other SCAD students, all Sequential Art and Animation majors. This means I was in Tokyo with forty other nerds. Granted, not all of them were otaku, but come on, it’s a trip to Tokyo with art students. It’s anyone’s guess that most of them were, and even the ones that wouldn’t admit to it had at least a few nostalgic fandoms that originated from Japan. As a college-related trip, we did do class-related things here and there, but really, the majority of it was one glorified tourist trip. And shopping spree.

On our second-to-last day in Tokyo, everyone was instructed to show off all the crazy stuff they’ve purchased during the course of the trip. And if ever I needed confirmation that I was surrounded by a bunch of weeaboo, that was it. It was like a mini-dealer’s room. I was going to save these photos for the end of my eventual series of posts about Tokyo, but I figure, hey, it’s Christmas Eve. Let’s look at all the cool stuff people got in Japan. For all the money that we spent there, we probably aren’t getting any real Christmas presents anyway…

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Review: The Princess and the Frog

December 21, 2009 Review 1 Comment

 

A lot of people from my generation like to complain that traditional animation methods such as 2D cel animation and stop-motion have been replaced by less-worthy 3D counterparts. We’re all a little nostalgic for the oldschool stuff, but I think it’s a little unfair to suggest that 3D is somehow inferior or that it somehow takes less work. Sure, the time and effort it takes to draw every single frame of a character animation┬ámay have become a little under-appreciated, but those in the offended camp probably under-appreciate the time it takes to model, texture, render and rig a 3D character animation. Appreciation aside though, I did think it was a damn shame when Disney closed down its 2D animation branch after the disastrous Home on the Range movie, and was amongst the hopeful when the company later turned around and decided to make a return to its roots.

The periodic trailers and behind-the-scenes looks released for the Princess and the Frog all looked amazing. The character designs felt like they would have fit in well with the Disney movies of the early 90’s and the animation was similarly nostalgic. In addition to being a throwback to the animated features I grew up with, I was happy to see another film focused on a slice of American history and culture, in this case, the French Quarter of New Orleans before and after World War I. The music and musical style were less of a concern for me since movies like Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch and the Emperor’s New Groove worked perfectly fine without much, if any, bursting into song. Still, the last Disney musical was Mulan, and Mulan was all kinds of amazing, so anticipation remained extremely high for this film. I finally got to see it yesterday.

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Dropped: Kimi ni Todoke

November 7, 2009 Dropped 6 Comments

 

So I haven’t updated this poor blog for the past two months because classes and conventions and other obligations have been keeping me thoroughly occupied. I’ve avoided writing any sort of hiatus announcement because I hate the word hiatus. It implies that you can’t update while you’re on hiatus because posting implies that you’re “back,” which implies you’ll be returning to whatever the update schedule was prior to the hiatus. As it is, I don’t really anticipate being able to post much until mid-December and then, probably only for about three or four weeks before things get crazy again, but screw any kind of official hiatus. Mid-December is what I anticipate, but if I can and feel like posting in the interim, then I will.

And hence this post. Kimi ni Todoke has annoyed me enough to make me post about how I’m dropkicking its ass despite the delighted and downright fawning reception the rest of the blogosphere has given it.

I’ve said before that shoujo isn’t really my cup of tea. Though there have certainly been exceptions (Lovely Complex, Ouran High School Host Club), I think I’m generally disinterested in the genre because I just don’t care for what I perceive to be its stereotypical qualities: idealistic and naive characters, contrived romance, and related drama. And Kimi ni Todoke has all of those in spades.

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