Friday, April 30, 2010

Idol Friday! May'n

This might seem an obvious choice since I've been giving Macross a huge reach around for the past couple of months, but at the same time it seems like a crime that I haven't focused more on one of the main aspects of Macross: the music.

I did talk a little about Yoko Kanno and her contribution to the series, but if you watch Macross Frontier there is one defining musical voice of the show, and that is the singing voice for Sheryl Nome, May'n.

Born as May Nakabayashi in 1989 (must be a good year for producing future Idols), May'n had her first big breakout song in 2005 with the hit, Crazy Crazy Crazy. Since I don't live in Japan and haven't followed her career that closely I can't for sure say that she wasn't as big as she is now after being chosen to be Sheryl's vocals, but I have a feeling she owes a lot to Macross.

Personally, her voice took me a little while to get used to. In MF she sings in English a lot, and her English isn't very good at all. But once I got past that I realized she has a very unique sound, and defiantly doesn't sound like every other J-Pop idol flooding the market right now. My favorite song she performs in Frontier I highlighted in the Kanno article, "Welcome to My Fanclub Night SOS" and it is still one of my favorite anime tunes to date.

I think it is the fact that you can really hear the passion in her voice is what I like about her. It's the perfect voice for a show with a strong music presence because you are almost guaranteed to be in tears at some point in the show with her music playing along with a sad/happy scene.


Audio quality on Live performances stink but at least you can see her in action on this one:

And for something not in Macross Frontier:

And I HAVE to include this one:

Gundam Runner

As seen on Danny Choo, some Otaku has seen fit to construct his own RX78 Gundam using runners only.

For the layman, a "runner" is the rectangular piece of plastic you pull the actual pieces of your model kit from. So using Runners to make a model kit is very resourceful and extremely meta.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

KFC Double Down: AAR

KFC Double-down was announced on April 1st and was initially thought of to be an April Fools Joke; to my amazement it was actually released on April 12th.  The idea behind the "Sandwich" is to substitute the traditional Bun for two Fried or Grilled Chicken Breasts.  Ultimately it's the commercialization of something that's been going around the Internet for a few years now.  It started when a couple of guys decided it would be funny to see if they could get McDonalds to make them the most outrageous sandwich they could think of, so they fired up the digital camera, and negotiated with the drive thru girl to make them the "McGangbang."  The McGangbang is a Spicy McChicken sandwich stuffed in the middle of a Double Quarter-Pounder.  Their videos became minor hits in the various Internet communities, and spawned tributes and new combinations; Including a precursor to the Double Down using two Burger King Tender Crisp Chicken Sandwich patties.  

I'll be the first to admit I'm a bit of a Fast Food connoisseur.  I'm one of the few these days to actually openly admit to loving Fast Food.  As someone who travels around the world, there is nothing like being able to get a Big Mac pretty much anywhere; it tastes like home.  I saw the Double Down as the ultimate Fast Food sandwich; It's a shot across the bow to though who don't believe we the consumers can choose what we eat responsibly.  I had to try it.  I had to stand in solidarity, and vote with my wallet; for liberty and the freedom to make stupid choices.  

Boy did I make a stupid choice... 

With excitement I ordered my Double-Down.  I had to keep this memory fresh, it was first time I'd experienced the MOST AWESOME SANDWICH EVER.  I ordered a combo, I decided to skip the fries, and got Green Beans instead, this meal shouldn't be completely fried.  I headed home.  After getting situated at the table, I pull out the cardboard box, and open it expecting a crispy golden brown breasts like you see on the commercial.  Like most fast food the real life almost never does the picture any justice.  It was a little soggy and pale.  I'm guessing this had more to do with the fact it was sitting in the box steaming while I was on my way home, I can't really blame KFC for this.  I picked it up, It actually had a little weight to it, and contemplated how to attack.  As you expect, unlike a normal sandwich, two uneven chicken breasts slapped together doesn't exactly make a single congruent product; so some effort was required to decide where to start.  After picking a corner I take a bite.  Salt. Very Salty.  Something has to be really fucking salty for me to think it's too salty.  According the nutrition facts this thing has 1500mg of salt alone.  That's equivalent to one of those hungry man TV dinners.  Regardless it was still good.  The chicken was moist, and the cheese and bacon worked well together.  They should work well together as this is really just Chicken Cordon Blue.  It wasn't until I got to my third bite, and got a mouth full of the flavored Mayo they put on the thing that it all turned south.  It was at this point that I realized what I was eating, it just became too rich.  I ended up finishing. but it was not a comfortable night.  The grease and fat just made me feel awful. 

Overall I think KFC has a loser on it's hands.  It just doesn't work.  It seems like it should be the greatest thing ever, but let's be honest It's absurd.  I see them making this a limited edition annual thing like the McRib, but I don't think it will find a permanent place on the menu.   

Tsundere Thursday: Callie Maggotbone

I'm not going to throw you for one loop, but two. Instead of having Tsundere Tuesday, I'm giving you Tsundere Thursday, and instead of giving you a cute Japanese anime girl, I'm giving you demonic American cartoon character.

Wait! Don't go just yet.

Sure, she might not technically be Tsundere since she isn't Japanese. But Tsundere is a made up term anyway so it already had a blurry border. And really, strictly speaking you can't get more Tsundere then a half demon, half human girl. She is pretty much the most extreme example of a Tsundere.

Callie Maggotbone comes from the cartoon on Comedy Central called "Ugly Americans". As for Callie herself, she isn't just any normal half demon succubus, she is the daughter of Satan himself! Her mother was a human ritual sacrifice for Satan, and when the two came together, out came Callie. For a demon she is actually very level headed, all things considered, but her bad side is not something you want to be on the other end of.

If you aren't watching "Ugly Americans", you probably should be. After years and years of seeing horrible show come and go after South Park (Drawn Together is at the pile of that shit list, followed by Lil Bush, and Mind of Mancia (not sure if that was after South Park but it needs to be noted for its extreme suckatude)), I initially immediately switched the channel when I saw the title screen for this show pop up. Once, twice, three or four times burned and all that.

However, the other night I kept it on Comedy Central while I did something else, and this Ugly Americans show totally pulled me in and caught my interest. It's funny and clever, and a little bit sexy. Everything Drawn Together wanted to be but failed every single time.

So I admit part of Callie being honored here today is a little bit like me making a deal with the devil to try and spread word about this really good American made animated comedy. We need more of these.

Sadly there isn't much in the way of Callie fan service pics (or ANY pics for that matter), and this screen cap was all that I could manage, but I am certain some Deviant Artist is working Rule 34 as we speak.

Ugly Americans Official Site

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mech War at RoboGames 2010

They even have to fight in the first person...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cubscouts and Videogames...

Kotaku is reporting that a Videogame belt loop has been added for Cub and Webelo scouts.  For those not in the know Belt Loops are for Cub Scouts what Merit Badges are for Boy Scouts.  As a former Boy Scout I have to say I have somewhat mixed feelings about this.

On one hand I agree with the Kotaku editor's assessment that this is actually a responsible idea.  The award isn't given for being good at games.  It's given for being a reasonable gamer.  Teaching a friend how to play.  Managing your time so that you can do your chores and play games.  Learning how to comparison shop, and what the age ratings mean.  In the end it's not a whole lot different than any of the sports related badges.  So earning the badge isn't rewarding the Cub for sitting on his ass playing games, it's rewarding him for managing his time and money.

On the other hand, this makes me a little sad.  Is this what it's come to?  Scouting is about doing things as a boy that your average suburban kid no longer gets to do.  Camp, climb rocks, and tie knots.  It's about doing the things that make boys boys; a trait that has been somewhat lost in today's over-protected PC world.  Perhaps I'm wrong.  BSA's mind seems to be in the right place.  Thing change and kids change, and they do have a business to run.  The silver lining I suppose if one lard-ass kid joins Scouts purely for the pleasure of earning this award, and then finds the world outside that he's been missing.  Then it was all worth it. 

Source: Kotaku

DBZ Kai to run will start running Saturday Mornings this fall...

It was announce that CW4Kids will start running Dragon Ball Z Kai this fall; which to you and I would be remember as "Kids WB."  DBZK is an attempt to remaster and condense the original 291 episodes of the original 9 season show to about 100 episodes, and allow the show to more closely follow the pace of the original manga.

Part of me should probably envy kids these days... They get to watch the whole saga again fresh like I did, sans filler, and power up episodes.  At the same time I feel for them.  For me the filler was a right of passage.  When I finally finished episode 276 (The Funi dub actually had less filler than the original), it truly felt like like an accomplishment.  I'd diligently watched for three years at that point, watching and re-watching, keeping track of schedules and rumors; always waiting with baited breath for CN to announce a new schedule.

For most of these kids DBZ won't be the kind of transformational show like it was for Gen Y.  For most of them it will be regarded as disposable, indistinguishable from the rest of the e/i garbage on Saturday Mornings.  Sonic X? Bakugan?  For us DBZ was was the gateway drug.  There were shows that really got you hooked on anime; for Lonecow and Diviner it's Eva, for myself it was Gundam.  For me at least and most of the people I know DBZ was the show that made it OK to watch anime.  It was the common denominator.  Like Star Trek or Star Wars.  The first hit is always free...

As for the show itself.  sorry US anime industry; my condolences to Bang Zoom... Further review soon to come...

 Source:  ANN

Another Anime Distrbutor Bites the Dust.... Who Cares?

So the CEO of Bang Zoom Entertainment came out today and said they will stop dubbing if fans don't support their products. Add him to the list of every other anime distributor in America who has said the exact same thing when facing the death knell.

You know we can all sit here and pretend to take the high moral ground by wagging a finger at each other and say "You shouldn't watched fan subs."

But I look at my DVD collection of anime I bought for five years and realize I haven't watched them more then once except for a handful of titles (Evangelion, Code Geass, etc). It sucks we are expected to buy 26 episodes of a show that we might not even like.

The truth of the matter is they did this to themselves with bad business models and the slow as molasses turn to digital distribution. Originally we had to pay $30 for three episodes of a 26 episode series. It was the only way to get anime so we bent over and said. Please sir can I have another? But to me this is their comeuppance for trying to screw the fans over for so long.

I remember about five or six years ago being at a panel for ADV and the guy speaking was mad that Bandai had just released a DVD with 4 episodes on it instead of three, at the same price, and he wanted sympathy from the audience, because now they were going to have to include four episodes on each DVD. He didn't get that sympathy, and it goes to show how out of touch these corporate guys are, that they had the conceit that we wanted to give them insane amounts of money for nothing.

If I can watch a show subtitled a week after it comes out in Japan, what is there to encourage me, the consumer, to buy your dubbed version a year later? Especially if there in no advertising other then cute anime girls plastered all over ANN? What does that tell me about the show? Oh here is a trailer for Vandred that is nothing but fan service shots. Great. No thanks.

Of course Funi added shows to iTunes and you can buy digital version of all their shows. They seem to be doing fine with that, but according to this guy, no one is. Too little too late is probably the problem. Maybe all these companies need to fail, then in a few years a new company who has figured out a way to make money off anime will rise up with some fresh ideas and give us a reason to pay for products again.

Anime fandom started in America by a group of people who would snail mail VHS copies of fan subbed anime to each other. Somewhere along the line it got big, and now it seems to be going back to its grassroots beginning where fans just pass the shows among each other, and do the subtitle work for free because they love the shows. Except now it is on a much large scale then before.

And don't get me wrong. If you provide me a subtitled copy of a show that I can watch online with commercials, I will watch that version. If I can buy that version I will buy that version. These distributors have to pay the voice actors, so the prices are even higher then just getting the distribution rights, but the fans are showing they are willing to watch the shows online without dubs, so save money and stop dubbing them.

It's a shame that people will loose their jobs, and being corporate America this guy will probably be fine and all the people who work under him will be screwed, and they are probably actual fans and I feel bad for them. But don't look at the community who has kept you alive this long and tell us it's our fault. Learn to adapt is the first rule of business and you failed at it Bang Zoom.

Evangelion Lawson Convenience Store

Sure Gundam might get it's own theme store. Big deal. Anyone can open up a theme store.

But Evangelion went the extra mile and opened up a replica theme convenience store in Tokyo-III itself! Make to look like the exact convenience store in the anime.

Well it wasn't so much based on the store in the anime as the anime's store is based on it. Life imitating art imitating life?

However, unlike the Gundam store, this one was only a temporary attraction until May 17th.... or so it would seem.

So many Evangelion fans flocked to see the store that they had to shut it down after 12 hours. Really I can't beleive no one saw this coming. You take an old convenience store with an old parking lot, dub it the official "Evangelion Convenience Store in the heart of Tokyo-3" and don't expect people to flood the streets?

Hakone has been officially redubbed "Tokyo-III" over the last month to promote Evangelion 2.22 coming to Blu-Ray and DVD. Aside from the convenience store, they are going to have the premiere of the 2.22 Rebuild of Evangelion at the high school gym that Shinji and Co.s school is based on. There was also supposed to be an iPhone ap, that when you looked through the camera anywhere in Hakone you would see Eva-01 standing there looking photogenic, but she would look different depending on where you were standing in Hakone. Sadly this got canned because the citizens of Hakone didn't want random Otaku running around their front lawns taking pictures of Eva-01 standing in their swimming pools.

It's a shame the store didn't last because I could really go for some Asuka chips myself right about now.

Mmmmm Asuka.....chips.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Introducing Idol Friday! Kim Tae Yeon

Enough of these Virtual Idol's lets see some real ones!

Sadly, I'm going to somewhat retire Hatsune Friday's. Don't get me wrong though. If something amazing happens in the realm of Hatsune Miku, I'll be the first to post it, but for now I am changing it to a (hopefully) more weekly feature, showcasing an idol of my choosing.

Though you might expect me to kick this feature off with a Japanese idol, I'm actually going to another Eastern Country first, South Korea, where this week's idol hails from.

Her name is Kim Tae-Yeon, and she is a member of the idol supergroup Girls Generation (or SNSD as it is more commonly referred to).

Girls' Generation is like the Wu-Tang Clan of K-Pop. They have nine different members. To continue with the above ridiculous analogy, Tae-Yeon would be the RZA of the group as she is the groups "leader".

Born March 9th, 1989 this young beauty was discovered in a talent show in 2004 and from there her career blossomed. After joining SNSD, she has continued to have success outside the group as well, starring in game shows (We Got Married), starred in musicals, and launched her own successful solo career.

Despite all this she is still an active member of the group that launched her career.

I realize I'm kind of late to the game with my SNSD appreciation, but I first learned about them when they did a Samyang Ramen commercial last year to the tune of the Bubble Bobble theme music:


Here is a good interview with her about her upcoming musical. they also have a lot more cute pictures.

And some more SNSD music videos:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Probe Detects and Takes picture of a Solar Eruption

The Proba-2 Caught pictures of a Solar Flare last week has it headed for and hit earth.  The sun has been quite over the last couple of years, and this was the largest Coronal Mass Ejection in three years.  No damage was reported, but it did cause and extraordinary Aurora at the poles.  CME's and Solar Storms are two of the little thought about events that could actually end the world as we know it.  Whenever there is some kind of reporting or commentary it's fairly common to forget about Solar Storms.  The threat is real, and actually more likely than something like an Asteroid hit.  The effects of a major Solar Storm range from, like what happened to last week, Spectacular Auroras to the evaporation of the Earths Atmosphere.  The primary threat of a Solar Storm is EM interference like EMP can damage and destroy electrical components.  Over the years there have been major blackouts caused, mostly in the northern hemisphere, by fluctuating magnetic fields.  A very large storm has been predicted to occur within the next 3-5 years.  There are may unknowns but it has the potential to plunge the whole world into Darkness.  

I'm not a big time survivalist, I don't spend my days worrying about the end of the world.  If you have to worry, worry about this.  More so than Niribu, CERN black holes, or some Ancient Mayan Curse; Sun Storms are real, and we're due.  

Solar Storms

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kick Ass Sorta Kicked Ass..

In early January when the Hit-Girl centric red-ban trailer hit, Kick-Ass became one of my most anticipated movies all year.  From the onset the idea of the move hit's upon primal feelings that all superhero geeks dream about.  The question, Why Can't I Become a Superhero?  Normally this question is answered pretty quickly.  You can't fly, you don't super strength, inhuman speed, or healing abilities.  This conversation always leads back to the same few examples; what about Batman, Nightwing, Nick Fury, The Green Arrow?  Each of these are at the very least self made men, they got where they are via hard work, endless training, bottomless bank account, and last but not least extraordinary talent.  The one thing that hold sets all of these characters apart from you and me is the fact that each and every one of them is a psychopath.  They're unhinged.  This is the real reason superheroes don't exist.  You'd be bat-shit insane to actually do it.  This is what Kick Ass truly examines.

 Dave, the protagonist, is your normal Peter Parker type character.  He's a invisible to everyone but his friends.  He's had a tragically normal and boring life, and he's a comic geek who's always wanted to be a hero.  As the narrator of the story he openly admits his obsession with becoming a superhero borders on the psychotic.  His biggest problem in being a hero is that he has absolutely no skill whatsoever.  He's horrible, and he never get's better.  There was an 80's movie geek inside of me praying for a training montage, or something.  Alas it never came.  His is not without "Superpowers" though.  His first outing as a hero ends fairly badly; the injures from which he get's a sturdier frame and a high pain tolerance.  This never, of course helps him because his absolutely sucks.   This for me was one of the most painful part.  The whole move you're wondering when this will turn around, and it never does.  Failure it seems to also be a big theme.  

Big Daddy is the best example of pure insanity in the film.  He's exactly what a "real" Batman would actually be like. Lets face it.  Batman would not be a normal human being.  He couldn't be.  He'd be completely insane.  In the later years of the comic this has been examined quite a bit more.  Big Daddy is exactly the same.  Forged in tragedy and seeking vengeance, he vows to rebuild himself to defeat those who destroyed his life.  The only real difference his he has no qualms about Murder, Death, Killing any criminal that get's in his way.  An additional twist to the Big Daddy vs Batman is where the money comes from.  Unlike Bats, Big Daddy steals most of his cash from the Criminals and Dealers his kills.  Nick Cage does a great job of playing BD.  He's of course Nick Cage so there isn't a whole lot of range, but there is no doubt that Cage captured who BD was suppose to be.  Insane and funny.  With Cage, when he's being funny, you always have to wonder whether he actually intends to be funny/campy or if he's completely oblivious to it (see: Wickerman), In this case though it is intended and played up for masterful effect.  

Vengeance isn't Big Daddy's only responsibility.  Filling the "Robin" role is Hit Girl.  Big Daddy's 12 year-old daughter.  She is by far the most controversial character in the film, and probably the only real reason to see it.  Again, if Batman were real she's exactly what his ward would be like.  Forged in the same vengeance, and a complete audience to the formers psychosis.  Trained for years and brainwashed into believing that their way was the only way, this in and of itself is tragic.  What about childhood?  This question is almost never asked of Batman and Robin.  It's just assumed that Batman's wards get all they ever wanted or needed, including revenge against those who wronged them.  The question of a lost childhood is asked in this film.  Big Daddy is all too aware that what he had done to his child.  From his perspective of course training her to kill and enjoy killing was so that she could be strong, and never allow what happened to her mother happen to her (Suicide).  In the end he was did the right thing, as she is the only one who actually has the strength of will to do the right thing.  Yes she kills without abandon, yes she cusses like a Sailor, and yes is it is mildly uncomfortable seeing all this out of a 12 year-old girl.  Her awesomeness quickly outshines this, and IF they make this into a franchise like Wolverine to the X-Men she'll be the headliner.  

My overall impression of the movie was mixed.  It was one of those situations where the awesomeness had a very short half-life.  The further away I get from walking out of the theater I realize more and more that the movie was really lacking in many ways.  Again, for me at least, the fact that Kick Ass himself never quick sucking really puts a damper on the whole film.  He's suppose to be our underdog hero, and he never steps up.  He didn't add anything.  They could have cut his character out completely and given us two hours of Big Daddy and Hit Girl and I'd have been happy as a clam.  So the other problem is that with too much Kick Ass, there was too little Hit Girl.  She only really had two big scenes, which was far too little for the breakout star.  The ending does seem to set this up for a sequel, but I have no idea why they'd do one.  The story does wrap up nicely, where would they go?  Would Kick Ass actually get better?  If he does what was the entire point of the first movie.  So if anyone at Lionsgate is taking suggestions...  Drop Kick Ass and make it about Hit Girl and Hit Girl only, and for the love of god don't make it about Hit Girl getting her first kiss... 

Carl Macek Passes

We've been covering a lot of Macross here in the last month, and the news that I read this morning wasn't the Macross news I wanted to read about. The Producer for the American version of Macross, Robotech, passed away on Saturday of a heart attack. He was only 58.

Robotech was a groundbreaking show for American cartoons at the time. Before Robotech, cartoons were pretty shallow "villain of the week" type shows made to sell toys. Robotech, being based on Macross, Southern Cross, and MOSPEADA, was mostly about characters in a future war who fell in love, started families, and dealt with the death of those loved ones. These concepts were not found in He-Man.

The decision at the time to take three unrelated shows and edit them into one, probably wasn't very controversial at them time, but has since garnered it's critics. I have never been bothered by the reediting done by Carl Macek and Harmony Gold. Robotech helped paved the way for anime in America. Back then, you couldn't sell a syndicated cartoon show to studios without 65 episodes. Macross was only 35, so something had to be done to extend it's life. What happened was Robotech, and because of that I have been able to experience how incredible a franchise it was, over the last month.

For me personally, like most kids, Robotech was my drug to wean me off of Transformers. In fact, just this last weekend, the same day Carl Macek passed (though I didn't know it at the time), I was at my parents house digging through all my old toys, trying to find any remaining vestiges of my Robotech figures. I didn't have much luck, other then a lone little green Spartan figure, missing a leg. That also reminded me of the exact moment I stopped watching Robotech, because every time I watched the show it reminded me my figure was broken. Regardless, Robotech was there during my most crucial development period.

So I can imagine that kids who didn't grow up in the 80's probably don't have the same level of respect for Carl Macek, but they should. Any anime fan, despite personal hangups over Harmony Gold, should thank Carl Macek for what he has done to help bring anime to America.

I also think the Robotech timeline is just as legitimate as any canon Macross Timeline. I like the idea that one show spawned three separate universes. In one you have the original Macross and it's subsequent sequels and prequel, Macross Plus, Macross 7, Macross Frontier, Macross Zero. In another universe that starts with Macross, you get the world that created Macross II. And then finally in the the last universe you get the Macross that spawned Robotech. They all had the same beginning, but they all went in three different directions. I find that to be an amazing exercise in creative expression.

So hats off today to Carl Macek, and respect what he did, so that you can enjoy all the shows you love today.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blizzard Sports

I hardly ever post anything news related, but this has really been pissing me off for a couple of days. I guess this hits me personally because if I was still playing WoW religiously, I would have been right in the middle of the download queue as well. We have Blizzard, charging $25 for a new mount that they released. They are obviously capitalizing on the poor bastards that are addicted to this game, and while achieving that, are making millions. What's even funnier is that I am sure the time it took their employees to design and make the mount consisted of maybe a week. WoW players have a different type of mental outlook on a variety of things that casual gamers are oblivious to. Grinding and raiding become joyous and sometimes rewarding instead of mundane and soul-sucking to the laymen. They are eating it up, but again, reiterating, they are completely addicted and being taken advantage of. I hate comparing any company to EA, but sometimes you have to call it like you see it.

Source: The Escapist

Friday, April 16, 2010

Big Bird in Japan


I distinctly remember watching this on Disney Channel in '89.  It was one of my favorites.  It has to be one of the contributing factors in my Japanophilia...

Super Mario emulated on Kindle... emulator

I love my Kindle for reading. But with the upcoming app store for Kindle, I'm afraid we will see a lot of weird crap like this on there that makes no sense being on the Kindle.

Of course I don't think this could actually work on a real Kindle, but someone will try.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Opera Mini for iPhone...

I downloaded Opera Mini from the Apple Apps store on Monday Night pretty much minutes after it was made available (I just so happened to be on); my impressions so far:

It is fast.  No doubt pre-rendering pages before they are sent to the browsers defiantly speed up page loading.  Basically what it does is when you go to a page it is pre-rendered on an Opera Server, and then the fully rendered and compressed page view is sent to your browser.  It is a fairly ingenuous way to deal with inherent lag and power constraints found on a mobile device.  I'm surprised that Apple didn't come up with this idea in the first place.

It's still buggy.  It's true, that if anything this is an Open Beta.  I've already found quite a few bugs.  It's crashed on my at least five times.  Also if you have it in Text Input mode, and swing the device from Portrait, To Landscape, and back to portrait quickly an image of the landscape keyboard will get stuck on the screen.

Some questionable UI decisions.  This is purely in the realm of personal preference, but for me the biggest problem is putting the Bookmarks menu within the setting menu.  This means that you are always at least two clicks away from your Bookmarks.  I assume this isn't an issue in Opera's mind because they have implemented a better form of Tabbed browsing using a home-screen with links to favorite sites a la Chrome and Big Opera.  I admit, I'm old-school a little bit when it comes to browsing, and though I use tabs; I'm primarily a Site to Site guy.  Also the the first thing you should do is turn on "Full Screen" mode.  The sandard address bar and menu bar take up 1/3 of the screen if they're on permanently.  This of course hides the menu which means your now Three Clicks from your Bookmarks.

Overall I'd say my experience is good.  It's not really ready to replace Mobile Safari yet, but I'm guessing that it's issues will be ironed out soon.  In some ways of course it will never fully replace Mobile Safari because Mobile Safari is so integrated in the overall OS that it would be impossible to replace it with it a Third party browser... Wasn't Microsoft sued for doing less?  It's also apparent that people were chomping at the bit for an alternative to Mobile Safari.  After just 36 hours or so it's already #1 in all the free app categories in the Apps Store.

Source:  Engadget

Gundam News Aggregation...

I know... it's been a slow 7 days, and I apologize, work, life, etc; If only blogging could be my full time job...  There are to big Gundam news items that have gone out over the last few days that I though were interesting.

First, the 1:1 RX-78 Gundam Statue that was displayed last year in Odaiba, has recently been moved to outside the JR station in Shizuoka, will have a new addition:  A 1:1 scale beam saber.  I know, this is somewhat old new for those in the know.  I think it hit the tubes around 2 weeks ago.  Regardless based on the mock-up pictures the Saber will be about 35-49ft long, and held in the the Gundams Right hand.  The end of the saber will be simulating cutting into a Block at the base of the statue.  Pretty sweet.  I so wish they had built this thing for permanent installation.  It's made of fiberglass so it wouldn't stand up to particularly extreme whether.  Hopefully, though it's still erect somewhere when I plan on going back to Japan next year.

The Second Bit of Gundam news is a new Gundam themed cafe will be opening in Akibahara next year.  Bandai plans to open the cafe outside of the JR railway station.  It will server a number of Gundam Themed foods like a special Jaburo blend coffee and "Gun-Pla-Yaki" which from what I can tell is a donut in the shape of the Original RX-78 Gundam model.  It will also sell Model Kits and the newest Gundam franchise merchandise.  Again, more reasons to be excited about going back to Japan.  I wonder how long they've been working this one out.  I remember all of the store fronts directly outside of the JR station were closed and boarded up in Fall '08 when I was there last.  It's possible they've had this planned for a while.

Source:  Beam Saber
Source: Gundam Cafe

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Macross (Frontier) Inpressions

It has been a long time since I've seen a show like this. It is the type of show that got me into anime to begin with. Macross Frontier rekindled a love I had for not just anime in particular, but science fiction as a whole.

As a kid, like many who grew up in the 80s, there was a single sci-fi franchise that captured every kid, and even most adults, hearts and imaginations. Of course I'm speaking of Star Wars. Before Star Wars there were many revolutionary and genre defining shows and movies, such as 2001 or even something like Star Trek. But Star Wars was able to present Science Fiction as not a "warning of the future" or "the evolution of thought and technology" but as a fantasy ground in which people could dream and wish they were part of, or at least hope that one day life could be that amazing.

As I've been going through all the different Macross shows, that feeling of adventure, and I suppose, "lost innocence" has slowly been creeping back into me until it culminated with Macross Frontier and I again felt like a kid on Saturday morning watching my favorite show, or going to the dollar movie theater with my friends to watch the same movie for the umpteenth time. That is why I put "Frontier" in the above title to this article in brackets. Last night might have been when I finished watching Frontier, but I recognize it was the end of this entire endeavor to watch all of Macross, and it has been an unforgetable journey.

I watched Macross Frontier at a snail's pace, unlike how I watch most anime these days, simply for the someone juvenile thought that, "I don't want this show to end." I will even gladly admit, that as I watched Frontier, I was concurrently watching other anime, and plowing through them. Shows that I liked as well. Shows such as Eden of the East and Ga Rei Zero, that I will without any qualms admit that they are technically better, and more intelligently written shows then Macross Frontier. But if given the option to rewatch all of Ga Rei Zero or Macross Frontier, I will always pick Frontier, because it is just more fun to watch.

And that is the point I was trying to make above. This is a show that just makes you want to live in that world, meet these characters, become a pilot and fly with the Skull Squadron. These types of shows might get pegged as escapist entertainment, meant to not challenge you or go against your expectations, and I am perfectly fine with that. After watching ten episodes of Frontier, you probably know how it is going to end. There are no plot twists here, and there doesn't need to be.

In my opinion this is exactly what "young Hollywood"'s problem is. Everyone wants to be a Tarrentino and make something that goes against expectations, that has plot twists or is based too much in reality. But this isn't why people started going to the movies. People go to movies and watch TV to be entertained. There is certainly room in this world for our entertainment to also challenge us emotionally and psychologically, and I welcome all those who try, but dammit sometimes I just want to have a good time and be swept away by the romantic idea of an ideal future where airplanes transform into robots and music can save the universe multiple times.

Which, as a side note, I have to say the final episode of Macross Frontier is a Macross fans wet dream. Nearly every Macross show gets a nod and a subtle reference. My personal favorite cameo (because I've got such a hard on for Minmay) was when we find out one of the Zentrati officer's entire motivation for doing what he was doing was in hopes to somehow time travel or become one with the universe just to meet Minmay. This got me thinking. With all the other songs and respective idols in Macross, the show gives some scientific explanation as to why the music is affecting the bad guy, but with Minmay's case, I think it was simply pure infatuation.

When Minmay first sings "Do You Remember Love" on the battlefield, I can't help but picture one giant green Zentrati turning to another saying, "Hey Bodle Zor, what is that sound?"

Then Bodle Zor turns to his green vainy friend and replies, "That's the sound of one million Zentrati falling in love."

It's probably a good thing Hikaru never ended up with Minmay, because I'm sure it would have just started Space War II. Normal Otaku's are pretty harmless, but I imagine a Zentrati Otaku is nothing to scoff at.

So in the span of two months I have gone from casual Robotech fan, into a hardcore Macross superfan. And now with nothing to watch in the form of Macross, I feel a deep emptiness filling me that can only be temporarily filled by buying lots of figure and video games based on said property. It IS like my childhood all over again!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tsundere Tuesday: Saya Takagi

I'm going to shake things up a bit and instead of focusing on a Tsundere from anime, this week's feisty diva comes from the pages of the manga, Highschool of the Dead. And her name is Saya Takagi.

For the layman, Highschool of the Dead is exactly as it's name implies. A zombie tale, in the spirit of Romero type stories, that starts off in a high school and expands from there. Zombie movie fans should give this book a read. It isn't draped in Japanese mythology or magic. There are no magic girls fighting zombies, just highschool kids with guns and a strong sense of survival.

As for the Tsundere element, Saya Takagi grew up as the daughter of a wealthy right-wing extremist, and that background has undoubtedly fused its way into her personality. On top of that, her IQ is at genius levels, which she reminds her traveling companions every chance she gets. But she backs up her boastfulness with results. She is able to deduce that an atomic bomb that was detonated high above Tokyo skies had the effect of a super powered EMP, which shut off all electronics is Japan. Because of her smarts the group is able to stay one step ahead of all the other survivors of the zombie apocalypse, who are struggling to just keep their head above water.

There are many beautiful, intelligent, and compelling girls in Highschool of the Dead, of which Takagi is a member. She plays an important part, but she isn't a main focus of the story, unfortunately. Regrettably in one of the first issues, her contacts get dry and she is forced to sport glasses for most of the rest of the manga. I usually am not a fan of glasses girls in anime/manga, but I don't mind it so much with Saya. She doesn't have the soft melancholy look that most artists draw girls with glasses. You can still see her tough, sassy, fiery temper behind those transparent ovals. And it makes the few times she removes the glasses, that much more of a treat.

Sadly, being a manga, there isn't a whole lot in the way of pictures or merchandise of Saya or any of the Highschool of the Dead characters. But in October I am sure that will be remedied as the manga gets a full blown anime adaptation. However, the manga took a year long hiatus and seems to be no where near a conclusion, so be weary that the show might end in dreaded filler. But I remain hopeful because the trailer matches the manga frame by frame (but with smaller busts on the girls but lots more jiggle).

In any case when the anime starts in October, keep an eye out for this saucy Tsundere: Saya Takagi.

(Can you guess which one is Saya?)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ever Get Confused by Total Eclipse Of The Heart?

If so, the above flow chart can help you.  Proof Jim Steinman is a Genius?  Maybe so? 

Retro Game Awareness: Donald Duck Quackshot

This last weekend, on Good Friday, having nothing to do in particular I decided to go on a quest for some retro games. I just acquired a Genesis and Master System off ebay for a great price, and since then I've been searching for some good games for the system.

Sadly my quest thus far has left me relatively empty. It seems like every good Genesis game has been rereleased a dozen times on any number of collections put out by Sega. I just can't justify paying $10 for Phantasy Star II when I know I can get all of them on one disc for my PS3. But this day, I finally managed to procure something that I hadn't seen since my childhood, and until Disney starts releasing some of their old fantastic sidescrollers (they will eventually. This is Disney after all), there is no other way currently to get some of their classics, other then retro game stores.

The game is Donald Duck's Quackshot. Now, I am something of a Donald Duck connoisseur. And admittedly I only bought this game because it had Donald Duck on the cover. I figured it would be a pretty standard sidescroller that didn't offer much in the way of replayability or level design. I was very very wrong.

Disney, as stated before, used to put out some amazing games for the NES. This was mostly due to their games being developed by Capcom. Ducktales, Chip and Dale, even Little Mermaid were all the creme de la creme of licenced video games. They also set a standard with licenced properties that no other company could ever hope to compete with (Sunsoft came close with Batman). Once the NES era was over, and Disney and Capcom stopped making games together I had always assumed that Disney licenced games turned to crap.

Donald Duck's Quackshot shot my adolescent thinking with a plunger and completely turned it upside down. Quackshot is a great game. At first it does seem to be a standard shooter, and a fairly simple one at that. Immediately I thought (and feared) the game was actually intended for little kids. This might seem a stupid thought, as I did in fact play the other Disney games, like Ducktales, as a little kid. But those games were challenging, and not dumbed down. In fact, playing those games today still provides a real challenge.

However, again I was wrong. There is nothing dumbed down about Quackshot. It starts off a little easy to get you used to the unfamiliar shooting mechanics. Donald is armed only with a plunger gun. Instead of shooting an enemy and having them "die" they only get stunned. In this stunned state Donald must run past them before they become unstunned. You also have a "popcorn" shooter that will release a spray of three pop corn kernels that will in fact get rid of the baddie once and for all, having them fall off screen, but ammo for that gun is limited and not worth wasting it.

Before long it becomes apparent that there is more to the game then meets the eye. Once you reach the end of the first level there is a character there to tell you that you need a special key or weapon to get past the wall, so Donald has to call his nephews and his plane to pick him up and take him to a different country to acquire the weapon or key. So what seemed like a very linear game, is anything but.

This is where I fell in love with the game. On top of being a huge Donald Duck fan, I am also a huge Metroid fan, and this game combines both. It isn't just about getting a key, but also gaining new weapons and abilities that makes Donald more of a badass. Also this is where the good level design comes into play, because like Metroid, there is some backtracking as you traverse back through the way you came. The first time I realized that I would have to go back through a level the other direction I expected to be annoyed by the process, but the levels are skillfully designed, so that going the opposite way through a level feels completely different then going through it in the other direction.

Other Donald Duck aficionado's will enjoy all the Donald Duck comics references. There are numerous cameo's from the Disney comics universe. The main bad guys are Pete's gang, which I would have preferred the Beagle Boys, but I think this was Disney's transition away from Ducktales. However, there are great subtle nods to the comics such as some of the bad guys being straight from the comics, and favorites like Gyro, Scrooge and Daisy all make appearances. Also when Donald gets really frustrated he has a berserker mode, embodied in Donald's "hopping mad" state.

I got this game for $3 used, and needless to say it was well worth the price of admission. If you didn't have a Genesis growing up and passed this one by, and you are a Donald Duck fan, this game is a no brainier to try and track down.

Also in the spirit of the article here is something I aquired over the weekend. Another combination of two of my favorite things. Donald Duck and Transformers.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Alert the Media! Harry doesn't like something!!!!

Aint it Cool News is still the best place in the Internet to get Genre movie news and rumors.  It also was a great place to get truthful movie reviews by fellow Geeks.  In recent years Aint it Cool News has gone from being the bastion of ornery, hard to please, fanboy reviews to just another "yes sir" movie review site.  There are reviewers on the site like Capone and Massawyrm who give honest, fair, and diverse reviews.  Harry on the other hand, long ago, was corrupted by the dark side.  

Harry loves his access, that's really the long and short of it.  His reviews are laughable and weak.  It's become more and more obvious over the years that he loves his access so much that he will sell his principals as a honest critic for little more than thirty pieces of silver, and a back-stage pass.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I opened up Harry's review of Clash of the Titans to actually see a critical review.  He honestly didn't like it.  Now the review is as Milquetoast as we've come to expect from him, but none the less it's a truly negative review.

What's next?  Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty year of darkness! Earthquakes, Volcanoes; the dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!!!

Source:  Utter Dreck... 

Gantz Live Action TV Spot and other gripes

I'm a huge fan of Gantz manga, as I've stated numerous times on this blog. Also I've talked about this movie before on this blog.

I have to say in the images from what you can see it looks incredibly faithful to the manga. So I'm actually getting a little excited about this.

That being said, and this criticism isn't limited to the live action Gantz, but nearly all live action Japanese films. Why in the world are all their "trailers" and "TV spots" just a collection of behind the scenes shots of the actual film?

I'm a video editor by trade, and this is my business, and perhaps I should love the Gondry-esque idea of seeing the workings of film and seeing how it gets put together should get me excited to see the movie. But it doesn't get me excited. In fact, nothing takes me out of the mood quicker then seeing "making of" and "behind the scenes" footage. Hell I even hate watching that stuff on DVDs. That is slightly blaphamous to say in my field, as I should be looking at that stuff and constantly learning, etc. Screw that, I'd rather figure out how to do it myself. It completely ruin's the movie for me to see people working on set, because when I see the finished product, all I can think about is that damn C-Stand standing just out of frame that was shown in the "making of" footage.

This used to be a trait mostly exclusive to Japanese trailers, but it's slowly leaking it's way over here in the west. The new "trailer" for Robert Rodriguez's Predators was nothing more then behind the scenes footage, with, yes, an ugly ass C-Stand propping up something in every shot.

And that is to say nothing for the fact that every movie you go see now in theaters not only has a handful of television commercials, but also includes a ten minute "Behind the scenes" special of some in production movie that I am forced to watch because I got to the theater in a reasonable amount of time. Fantastic. Oh look there is Morgan Freeman on set talking to a guy in green spandex who will inevitably be replaced by some talking CG creature. But the damage has been done and the illusion is now ruined, and when that movie comes out all I will be able to picture is that idiot in green spandex talking to Morgan Freeman.

The above example was hypothetical and I don't know of any movie that features Morgan Freeman talking to a CGI creature that is currently in development. But there probably is, and it will probably be in needless 3D. However, that is an argument for another day.