Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP MJ...

I loved Micheal Jackson the Entertainer. His achievements as an performer are unquestionable. Since he really hit the skids earlier in the decade, i.e. Post Martin Bashier interview, I've really been rooting for an awesome comeback. A redemption for all of those who used him and took advantage of him over the years. In the end, despite his strangeness, there was never proof of the transgressions that were charged upon him. So that argument is moot now. He was an Entertainer. Quite possibly the greatest entertainer ever. At the very least he's in the same category as Sinatra, Presley, and The Beatles. He changed music and entertainment forever. For me, he will be missed most for the redemption he was never able to achieve and so deserved.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Watchman Failed??

I've been hearing this around the Internet for a while now.  I'm sorry Watchmen may be a lot of things but it was not a failure.  According to Box Office Mojo, it had a $55 million opening, made $107 million total in the US, and made $180 Million worldwide.  That is not the definition of a Failure.  In fact it's a massive success considering it's a niche story, with unknown characters, and had and R rating.  

Magic: The Gathering on XBOX Arcade

I, for many years have opined the fact that I can no longer play Magic on a regular basis.  In College I had a large group of friends who played all the time.  Every Thursday Night was Magic Night;  we'd Get Drunk and play a 6-8 player game until the wee hours of the morning.  It was awesome.  After school I've always been mildly depressed that I could no longer play; Mainly because my pride will not allow me to go to the local comic shop and play with the 12 year-olds.  That for me seemed to be entering a new level of Loserdom that my ego just couldn't handle; this despite my geekyness in other areas.  Now that has all changed.

Recently I downloaded the new XBOX 360 Magic game from the XBOX Arcade.  I was skeptical at first because Wizards of the Coast's previous attempts at capturing Magic in video game form have been far lacking.  So far I've been impressed.  There are 3 primary game modes: Campaign, Challenge, and Live Arcade.  There is also Co-Op play, a Tutorial, and a Mentoring program.    

Campaign mode is a basic versus mode against the computer.  You start out with a Green and a Red Deck.  Each of your opponents have a specialized color deck so  you can choose the deck that best suits your opponent.  When you win matches you unlock new cards for your deck, and beating certain opponents unlocks new decks.  Overall I've played this mode the most, mostly because I've been refreshing my memory on the game rules before I start playing other people.  It's also important to play through these, because gaining new cards and decks helps you have a bigger bag of tricks when you play real people.  

Challenge Mode puts you in dire situations and forces you to figure out the best strategy to win the game.  It will start you with Low Life and a strong opponent breathing down your neck.  You'll have a Hand of cards and some Mana on the table, and you instructions are to figure out, with the cards in your hand, how to beat you op pent in one move.  It is challenging, and it's a fun way to learn strategy and realize new way to use cards to do maximum damage per hand.  

Live Arcade is pretty much what it says.  The same modes are available as with all Live Arcade games.  You can play Ranked or Non Ranked games.  and you can select Quick Games or play with friends.  I haven't played Live Arcade much, but I assume the experience is the same as with most games; half of the players are Tools and the other half are Rage Quitters.  I'll get there eventually, though.  This may be the first game I'm actually interested at getting Ranked in.  

Overall I'd have to give this game an A at this point.  It's fun, and challenging, with plenty of variety of play.  I can get my Magic Fix without feeling like a complete loser... even if I really am.  

This Gundam is FABULOUS!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Change 123



To go along with a previous article posted by

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kindle uses other then Kindle Store

I just got a Kindle 2 for my birthday a couple weeks ago and I'm loving it to say the least. Already finished a couple of books from the Kindle Store, but I quickly learned the products you buy from Amazon would only leave you scratching the surface of the wonderful device.

My favorite thing to use the ebook reader for is Manga. A PC program called "Mangle" will take a folder of images and put them in the proper dimensions for your Kindle. So I quickly learned to put about 10 volumes of a Manga in a folder, convert and then upload to the device. It is simple and fast to do. Of course I only encourage you download Scanlations of Manga that haven't reached these shore yet.

That being said, LICENCED manga publishers need to get their head out of the sand and start realeasing some of these titles to the Kindle Store. Every second they don't, money is vanishing into thin air.

But that is a topic for another post.

The Kindle has also helped with my RPG gaming needs. While I hate to admit in public I use GameFaqs, the only excuse I can provide is I'm trying to rush through the Megaten games as fast as possible so I need a guide handy at all times. And seeing as how Nocturne guides cost over $50, it is much easier to go to Gamefaqs, grab the FAQ, put it in a txt doc and send it to my Kindle. Then as I play the game I have handy the entire FAQ, right in front of me in ebook form. And since the battery life on the Kindle is amazing I can leave it sitting in front of me, while it is "on" for an entire gaming session. Excellent.

To go hand in hand with the above, and nearly combining both of those purposes, I recently bought Soul Hackers for my Japanese Sega Saturn. Of course the game is only in Japanese, but translations exist online. I'm sure you've guessed by now how I handled this conundrum, but I'll go over it anyway. I download the translation, upload it to my Kindle, and as I play the game, the translation is sitting in my lap the entire time.

I tried all these methods before with my iPhone, but the small screen and the aforementioned battery life became a hassle. The Kindle is an ideal solution over these problems.

Also I have used the Kindle to download entire Japanese novels that have been translated by the fans.

Here are some links of some of the things I mentioned in the above post:

For Mangle, go here:

http://foosoft.net/mangle/

For a huge archive of Scanlated Manga:

http://stoptazmo.com/

And some good translated Japanese novels:

http://www.baka-tsuki.org/

Any Video Converter

Finally...  a program that will transcode Subtitled MKV files to .MP4 or AVI, and Keep the Subtitles intact.  I discovered Any Video Converter This weekend.  There are actually a plethora of applications that have been reversed engineered, and have the exact same functionality as AVC; I chose it because it was the first hit on my Google search.  I'm not all that sure if AVC is actually the original version, but it doesn't matter it works.  AVC is sort of a Jack of all trades in terms of Transcoding.  Initially it's a DVD Ripper.  It will Rip any non-DRM DVD and automatically transcode it in the file format you want.  It gives  complete flexibility in terms of Subtitles and Alternate Audio Tracks.  As stated above it's biggest plus is the ability to transcode any file type including MKV files into file types usable by various media devices.  The best part is unlike other transcoding programs you don't have to break the Subtitle file out of the MKV before you can transcode.  If the Subtitle file exist and is embedded it will write it into the new file.  The application will also allow conversion of YouTube videos, so those handy YouTube channels from Funimation and Bandai Entertainment become free game to download and watch on your devices, it even cuts out the commercials.  The Output is determined by the Profile for the device that you have selected.  The Profiles set the file type and the appropriate resolution for the Output device.  Devices that are available, among others, are:  XBOX 360, iPod, iPhone, Zune, and PSP.  So far the program is working great, at this very moment I'm downloading and transcoding all 26 episodes of Ouran High School Hosts Club off of YouTube for watching on my XBOX.  I hope you don't think less of me.  

Friday, June 19, 2009

ANN Interviews Yoshiyuki Tomino

Yoshiyuki Tomino the creator of the Original Mobile Suit Gundam series is the Guest of Honor this weekend at Anime Fest in NYC.  ANN was fortunate to be able to Interview him.  Nothing to Exciting or New in the interview; it is the first time I've seen him speak directly about his change of perspective in his story telling from his early days.  In the 80's his nickname was "Kill-em-all Tomnio" because he had a tendency to kill almost every single character except the main protagonist at the end of the show.  Starting with Turn A Gundam his outlook change, and decided that anime was an entertainment form.  Anime should be uplifting and inspirational.    Now that I've finished the TV run of Z Gundam I must take a look at the Compilation Trilogy he made for Theaters in 2005/2006, because apparently in his Retread he has modified the story quite a bit to make it match his modern frame of mind.    I plan a more in depth review of Z Gundam shortly, but I will say this; I have no idea how you make that story upbeat.  

[ANN]  There are some who say that your philosophy in life has changed over the years. They point to the differences between the Z Gundam series and the Z Gundam movies that were made two decades later. Do you feel you have a more positive or negative outlook on life?


[YT]  Until I was middle-aged, I liked to cram my frustrations into my works. However, my mindset changed when I realized that anime is an entertainment medium, and it has to be something people look forward to. That line of thinking is plain to see in the Z Gundam movies.In other words, the films were an expression of the fact that by nature, all people have both a positive side and a negative side.


Link to Whole Interview at ANN


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reeses Pieces

I wish I had something more thoughtful to post about but I don't. But I thought I should talk a minute about how completely marvelous The Reeses Company is.

Reeses Pieces are my favorite of their products, and yes, that love goes back to June 11th (day before my first birthday) 1982. That day of course was the day E.T. came to theaters and put Reeses Pieces over the top of the M&M monster. But to give a movie sole credit is just wrong. If the product itself wasn't so damn good, I wouldn't be singing their praises even to this day.

Reeses' Peanut Buttercup's I don't love quite as much, but sometimes, they just hit the spot like no other candy alternative. I also recall a fine bit of advertising pizazz on Reeses part when they ran ads in the early 90's featuring all the different ways to eat a Reeses Peanut Buttercup. Of course this had every kid in school going to the vending machine and proving to their friends they could eat the middle out of those suckers.

That isn't to say Reeses don't have their dark side. Unlike many other candies on the market, it is very possible to "buy a bad bag" of Reeses Pieces or Peanut Buttercups. Sometimes that peanut butter inside goes bad, and while the end result isn't horrible, it just tastes off. By this I mean it doesn't taste completly revolting, but it tastes bad enough to ruin the expierence for a few months. This is a tradegy. Also, the perfered way to eat Reeses Pieces is in the default normal consumer bag. Not the giant bag you buy at the movie theaters. There is a much higher probability you will get some stale Reeses' in the movie theater sized bag, and will thus ruin your Reeses' eating experience, AS WELL AS possibly ruining the movie you are watching! Now that is a heavy price to pay for a large bag of Reeses'. You are much better off going with a Movie Theater Candy "standard" such as Sour Patch Kids or Snow Caps. You know, candies you don't buy when you are out and about.

This failings aside, Reeses' still stand out as my candy of choice, though I do treat them like a fine wine. Not "all the time" candies (as the new and not-improved Cookie Monster would say), but good when the work day is just going a little too long, or when you pop in that DVD of E.T. (just make sure you have the small package and not the economy size).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

People's Stupidity Amazes Me


electrocuted on train - Watch more Funny Videos

Monday, June 15, 2009

Live Action Akira Movie Canceled

Say what you want about Akira; personally I found it very lacking. I didn't see it until I was well into my modern anime hobby; so possibly if seen on it's original run in 1988 in Japan or when it hit the states in the early 90's it's impact might have been greater. That said, it's unfortunate when a high profile project like this, with Big Dollar Hollywood backing, get's nixed. Hopefully the impending Cowboy Bebop movie fairs much better.

<AICN>

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Eva 1.0 is getting Limited Wide Release





It's taken nearly 2 years but the first Eva movie, Neon Genisis Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone, is finally hitting North America in Limited Wide Release. It will be making it's way around the US in the Summer and will have a Limited release in Canada this fall.




I know where I'll be on the 16th of July...

<ANN,Funimation>

The Lifesized Gundam is Finished!!!

The statue will be open to general viewing for two months this summer in Odaiba in Tokyo. It is represents the "Real G" piece of the year long celebration of the Gundam Franchise's 30th Anniversary



<ANN>

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hearts Grow

State of Harem



As much as I like ground breaking and thought provoking titles, I find myself yearning for a breath of the nonsensical. The lovely harem. I again want to be taken to an environment where a dozen or so girls are surrounded by this lucky sucker (who thinks he is unlucky), all while he is trying to cram for some entrance exams. Everybody has a harem series as one of their guilty favorites and it's just an unfortunate situation that these types of shows are becoming a rarity.

Almost any anime fan who is asked about harem will undoubtedly single out Love Hina, The Tenchi franchise, Ouran High School Host Club, and in some cases Ah! My Goddess as the best of the bunch. Can we name anymore? Any good ones? After 2007?

It doesn't seem like an entirely hard formula in its incubation, and as long as there are cute girls and a funny atmosphere, it will create it's own niche in the anime community. Some people just want to laugh at the absurd. After someone watches End of Eva, or Elfen Lied, the best medicine afterward is a good ol' fashion harem!

Where are you?!

It makes me want to assume that the term itself is really just being fizzled out and shuffled into another layer of romantic comedy. Unfortunately, harems have their problems just like any other genre. There are usually a plethora of insignificant characters and as a fan of a particular series, your favorite character may get 30 minutes of screen time...for the entire show. There is also a "hit or miss" situation with the male lead. In my early stages of anime watching, I found myself routing for Tenchi. More often than not though, I got to the point that I wished he'd be castrated for being so indecisive. In an awkward way that made the series more interesting! The viewer is hoping that the protagonist fails!

In all seriousness we do need more harems, and there are some really good ones. A decent one is made every year but it is not enough. We are getting our mech fix, slice of life fix, and FINALLY our Haruhi fix. We deserve a well-made harem. We need a chance again to laugh at the absurd.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shakugan no Shana


Go to my new blog that features only stuff from Japan to check out my impressions of this series. Sorry for the cheap plug!

Akibamerica

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to make Japanese Curry Rice

Cat Shit One



This was posted everywhere six weeks or so ago, but it's still the most badass thing I've seen come out of Japan in years. I can't wait for fall to see this in episodic form.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Char's Counterattack


Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack has been reviewed many times over the last 20 years. That said it is still a masterpiece, and by far the best story to come out of the Universal Century timeline of the original Mobile Suit Gundam.

Char’s Counterattack represents the final evolution of Char Aznable’s character and philosophy. It is also the final battle between Amuro Ray and the Protagonists of the original Mobile Suit Gundam. The Conflict between Amuro and Char span the entire Gundam Saga. As characters they share many similarities, their stories are intertwined in the threads of fate, which are finally cut free in the final chapter of the story.

Throughout the Gundam saga Char always had three goals; to create a peaceful existence for those living in space, the continued ascension of human kind into space, and the preservation of Earth’s environment. What makes Char’s character interesting is though these goals remain the same the means of achieving these goals are always in flux. Throughout the saga he finds himself on varying sides of the conflict. Char’s Counterattack represents the final evolution of these beliefs. For much of the series Char worked to force all of humanity to move to space, because it was humanities destiny. He believed that Newtype evolution was humanities next great step. It is his belief that human souls are dragged down by the gravity of earth; this prevents them from reaching peace and balance with the universe. After the events of Z Gundam where as a member of AUEG Char’s greatest goal was to stop those living on Earth from polluting the planet; in Char’s Counterattack he realizes that in order for the universe to achieve peace humanity must ascend to space, the only way to force this to happen is to destroy Earth’s environment, by dropping an asteroid onto the planet. To set this in motion, he emerges from hiding, and again takes command of Neo-Zeon.

Amuro is now a member of Londo Bell, the Earth Federation’s Special Forces unit. Londo Bell is a quick reaction force designed to put down insurgencies in space. Londo Bell is commanded by Bright Noa, the commander of the White Base and The Argama in previous the previous episodes. Though their job is to seek out and put down threats like rise of Neo-Zeon, but they are greatly understaffed and underfunded.

Char had a secondary goal in creating the Second Neo-Zeon war. It was to line up again Amuro in one final battle to the death. As the Meteor begins its decent into Earth’s upper atmosphere Amuro and Char meet. The battle is grand. Both have new Mobile suits, each with a variation on the new “Psycho Frame” material which agility in Newtypes and give Newtype like agility to non Newtypes. The “Psycho Frame” was actually developed by Neo-Zeon and Char leaked to the federation where it found its way into Amuro’s new Gundam; this so that Char and Amuro could meet as equals. After a protracted battle Amuro ends up on top. Char wanted to die, but his suit automatically ejected his cockpit pod. Amuro Grabs the capsule and heads to the asteroid. Amuro believes he can push the asteroid out of Earth’s gravity well. He slams Char’s capsule into the rock and uses it as a pad to push against the rock. He turns his Thrusters on full and begins to push. The Earth Federation reinforcements finally arrive; hundreds of men in standard mobile suits join Amuro in pushing the giant rock, but to no avail. They begin to combust as the rock moves into the thicker atmosphere. As this happen Amuro begins to take on the energy from those who have fallen. A faint glow develops outside of his Gundam. The “Psycho Frame” is amplifying and concentrating Amuro and Char’s energies. As this glow grows the Gundam becomes more and more unstable. There is a Giant Flash; the Asteroid begins to break up. The deed has been done, but all that is left of Amuro and Char are a faint Blue and Red surrounding the earth.

Char’s counterattack is an excellent film, and showcases Yoshiyuki Tomino’s greatest effort in both writing and directing. The animation is of a very high quality, on par with Akira and other late 80’s hand drawn anime features. It’s also notable for being the first Gundam episode to make use of CGI graphics on a protracted external shot of a space colony. The music and voice acting is good as usual. I defiantly recommend Char’s Counterattack whether you are a fan of the Gundam series or not.

WWDC Today


Can't wait for my iPhone to be even more perfect after today!

Engadget is the place to go for live coverage:

http://www.engadget.com/2009/06/08/dont-forget-engadget-is-live-at-wwdc-tomorrow/

Friday, June 5, 2009

Game Series Recomendation


Shin Megami Tensei.

I don't know how I made it this far in my adult life, being completely oblivious to this gaming franchise. These games, were not only ahead of their time, but they are physiologically more intelligent and involved then many of their RPG brethren.

I started the series at the very beginning : Megami Tensei the Novel. I know it isn't a game, but I didn't want to play the Famicom games so I figured the novel would suffice. Later I found out the Famicom games are actually direct sequels to the books. So I skipped the Famicom games and went stright into the Super Famicom games that have been fan translated, Shin Megami Tensei 1 & 2. These games hold up incredably well to today's standards. The first one not as much so, because all the textures are the same and you play from a fixed first person perspective in a 16 bit game. You get turned around A LOT.

However, the story in the first one is much darker. I couldn't help thinking about how, when it was originally released in Japan, I was sitting at home in America, happily playing Mario games, without any idea that people were playing a game where you form contracts with demons and then fight Satan AND Christians and destroy all life on Earth in the process. But damn it is good.

The second one, while more controversial because you fight and kill God Himself, seems tamer. Perhaps there is a stronger disconnect because the world has already been destroyed by the time you get to it, so it isn't as recognizable as a human civilization, and feels slightly more like a fantasy setting.

"Shin Megami Tensei If..." is the next in the series, but I haven't played it since no translation exists yet. I really want to play this one becasue it is an alternate take on the first game, where the world does not end (only your school gets dragged to Hell), and is the direct prequel to the Persona games. All Persona games happen in the same universe as the "Shin Megami Tensei If..." timeline.

The thrid part to the original series is called "Nocturne" in America and "Lucifer's Call" everywhere else. It is on PS2 and VERY difficult to find.

There is a ton of info on the "Persona" games online, so I won't go into all that, but I love those games just as much as the original series.

I will say, what I like best about these games are the subtitle nods to the others games in the series. At first they seem like they are all seperate entries like a Final Fantasy, but in reality most of them are in the same Universe, or at least an alternate Universe of one of the other series.

Of course I haven't even begun to touch on the wide birth of Shin Megami Tensei titles, but maybe that will be a new project for me with this blog. I'll focus on one at a time and give my opinion, instead of this sloppy post that just talks about random and unorganized thoughts concerning the series.

Haruhi Watch 2009


If you know anything about Haruhi, you know the poor fans have gone through quite a rough year trying to nail down when new episodes would finally be shown.

Well a couple of weeks ago, the producers finally stopped trolling the fans, and decided to premiere "Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody", the first new Haruhi episode in years. The episode was a fresh return to form, but now the fans are back wondering, "What next?" "What will be the episode layout from here on out?" "When will we get new episodes?"

So in an attempt to make this easier I've tried to find out when the NEXT new Haruhi Suzumiya episode will air.

As of today, the 10th episode to air is "Remote Island Syndrome" part I. So at least next week is confirmed to be another rerun.

So far all we have is speculation. The general concensus is the next new episode will air June 18th and will be called "Endless Eight".

Now I am not really with it as to how the episodes actually fit chronologically with the original light novels, so I'm sure the above assessment is corect. But I wouldn't be surprised if they just let the series run through episode 14 (old one) "Some Day in the Rain" and then finally start advertising a new season of Haruhi. "Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody" was a bone they threw in for the fans. But for a show as big as Haruhi to forego hardly any REAL advertising outside of its fanbase seems like a mistake.

My theory is that in a few weeks we will start seeing new ads for new episodes to begin either imediatly or a week or so after "Season 1" officially ends. That will have built up the hype train enough for people who haven't gotten into the series yet to finally jump onboard.

But I will still be filled with anticipation on June 18th in hopes of a new episode being aired.

Who is sexier?


Rei or Asuka?

If it was a question of cute... well I'd still go Asuka. The way she turns her head to the side when she doesn't get her way, that is cute. Her body language and fluidity, still cute. The fact she wears her red antenne even when at school. Simply adorable. Asuka wins the cute battle.

If it were a question of elegance, then I would have to go with Rei. Her reserved, cold, emotionless manner exudes elegance, or at least moreso then Asuka.

But the question was about which is sexier. Hands down that goes to Asuka. Just look at her. Fire red is always sexier then mundane blue.