Monthly Archives: August 2010

Brief & Trunks– I don’t know what’s going on, but I like it

MADS are addictive.  My favorite one at the moment is “Convenience Store”, which is old, so it has a ton of videos.  I’m not so enamored with the MADs, though, as I am with the song itself, which is by the Japanese duo Brief & Trunks.

I mean, holy shit.  It’s like Souichi Negishi came to life and grew a sense of humor.    The song’s catchy, jangly, and super cute, but also funny because it’s true– sometimes there is nothing better to do than go to the convenience store.   And goddamn do I hate it when cashiers do that with my change.   The video itself is hilarious as well.  Add in two skinny guys in button down shirts and  bowl cuts prancing around and playing leapfrog, and I’m sold.

Here’s another song by them, “Aonori (Green Seaweed), about those little turn-offs that can break a date.   But that’s it for the subbed videos, and there’s no information about Brief and Trunks in English whatsoever.  I had to find out more by searching their Japanese name combined with Google translate.    Turns out their entire philosophy is writing about everyday life “within a five meter radius”, which makes sense.  They’re listed as a folk band (?), and they broke up in 2001.  Translation there was nonsensical, but I’m guessing creative differences between the two.   So where am I going to find  adorable everyday-life songs now?

Well, I couldn’t find out much else about the other singer (according to Google Translate, his name is Makoto Fineroots, haha), but the main vocalist, Taga Hiroshi Ito,  is still active.  He has host hair now, but still plays the same sort of music,  same high-pitched nasal voice and themes and everything.    If only I could understand what he was saying.

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The movies man, taking over my life

I  can’t really sit down and bang out a blog post like I’d like to, so here’s a re-post compilation of slightly-edited movie impressions from my tumblr.

The 400 Blows

Amazing.  I have to thank Murakami for namedropping this film a million times in Kafka on the Shore, because I would have never bothered to check this out otherwise.  I honestly think this the one alienation-themed story that’s affected me the most.  I mean, Gregor and Mersault are too old and mature.  Holden Caulfield and Donnie Darko are too painfully close to my age and mentality for me to take seriously.  But Antoine?  There’s something powerful about seeing a twelve-year-old smoke, drain a bottle of wine, and desperately clutch a bottle of stolen milk as if a hobo with booze.  There’s not all to the movie, of course, but those images are burned into my mind forever.

500 Days of Summer

I avoided it for about a year because I thought it would be on of those “look at me, I’m so unique and quirky!” indieshit things.  I was so wrong.

I definitely get an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless vibe  from the lighting and shots, which were freaking amazing.   A scene that stands out in this regard is when Summer kicks Tom out of her apartment– minimum lighting, stark shadows, and cool colors make the scene feel cold, you can feel the failure creeping into the relationship.

The romance and character archetypes are exactly what you’d expect, but it works because the characters are  likable.     They’re not reference-spouting hipsters being oh-so-quirky, they’re just a couple of twenty-somethings fumbling around in love.   There were some pretty obnoxious reference drops (they start dating because he finds she likes the Smiths, are you kidding me), but it becomes endearing as the movie moves on.  The scene where Tom sings the Pixie’s “Here Comes Your Man” was particularly moving.

It may not be perfect, but I love this movie.

Evangelion 2.0


Holy fuck.  Exceeded my expectations.  I’m so glad I watched this before it got spoiled for me.  It’s very difficult to talk about without spoiling it, so all I have to say about the mech scenes now is that they’re  amazing.  From Eva Unit 02’s new introduction to the final battle scenes, I was filled with a burning glee.   I can’t really articulate the feeling,  but they made me so ridiculously happy it hurt.

Speaking of changed scenes, the retooling of the episode 12 battle was epic, while the modified episode 18 was probably a million times more heart wrenching than the original.   The changes I loved most, however, were the ones that fleshed out Tokyo-3 and the Children’s school days.  I think the scene that encapsulates these changes is when Tokyo-3 “wakes up”.  It’s an amazing sight, and really captures this homey feeling that the original series never had for the city.

I don’t like Mari though.  Her introduction shook me out of my happiness for a while.  Not only that, but we’re subjected to her tits after a particularly bloody and angsty scene.  She does cool things at the end of the film, but for the most part, her existence is jarring.

Regarding stupid fangirling:  I’m so glad Anno has finally decided to see it Sadamoto’s way.  And by that, I mean SHINJI x REI 4EVA!!!11!!!!

But seriously, Asuka’s already been the “true” end for two endings already.  I don’t know how it’s gone in the manga after volume four, but it’s obvious Sadamoto clearly favors Rei (see- Der Mond art book).

And Rei is so cute in 2.22!  I didn’t have strong feelings for her one way or the other in the TV series/End of Eva, but I really like the direction the movies are taking her.  Her and Shinji both, really.  The passive characters are really getting a chance to shine.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World cliffsnotes review

Pros

  • Fucking sweet fight scenes
  • special effects are top-notch
  • side characters are hilarious
  • genuine love for old nerdy things
  • good condensation and rearrangement of comic’s elements
  • over the top things (i.e. Patel’s song and dance, Vegan police) translated awesomely to the big screen

Cons

  • Micheal Cera.  Scott’s awkward, but not Micheal Cera awkward.  Didn’t help that Micheal Cera was even more awkward than usual.
  • shit characterization for the main characters
  • Simply not enough time.   There’s never any downtime for the awesomeness of a fight to sink in and be processed before another one on the same starts again, nor is their any time for the audience to even understand why Scott is fighting for Ramona. Definitely a lot of information overload.

Essentially, the comic’s weak points (weird pacing, not so likable mains, paper-thin line between referencing things for humor and referencing things because there’s nothing better to say) are exaggerated in the film, not remedied.  It made me sad that the characters never really get to hang out, because it was those scenes that endeared me to the comic.   I’m disappointed, but I still want to give the movie another chance.   You know I’m getting this on DVD.

In the future, butlers are robots

Back in the day, Chobits was the shit.   The little nerdlings were all over it; the spoiled few who actually managed to get some volumes of it passed them around the middle school’s network of dorks.  I distinctly remember huddling over a particularly racy volume during class, hoping I wouldn’t get caught.   Anyway, because we were young and  otaku-pure, we completely missed the point of what made Chobits so appealing.  It wasn’t about the sex jokes or the drama or the gothic lolita outfits (though those certainly helped), it was about one of the basest of geek fantasies:  sexy robot servants.

This kid had the right idea.

Sexy robots have always been a part of geek culture ( ex. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Hajime Sorayama’s art).   This concept was  fetishized even further with the explosion of maid robot anime in the late 90’s and early 00’s (Steel Angel Kurumi, Hand Maid May, Mahoromatic).   It made sense–if we were going to have attractive subservient robots, why not stick  them in maid outfits?  Clamp took this idea and ran with it.  It wouldn’t do for only for there to be only one robot, nor would it do for only the privileged to have them.  The only logical thing to do was to replace computers with robots.  To me, this is the most glorious thing about Chobits– in this world, androids are for the masses.

Unfortunately, real life isn’t even close to catching up.  Asimo can walk, but it’s not capable of opening a door.  Geminoid looks life-like and can make realistic enough facial expressions,  but that’s it.  Roxxxy, can, um, interact with you, but is absolutely terrifying.    Androids just can’t do much right now.   If we truly want mechanical servants in this day and age, we must turn to non-humanoids.

Meet Herb.

Herb’s beast.    He’s  autonomous– he doesn’t need a remote control or anything.   He can learn, navigate and interact with his environment, and even distinguish between objects.    If I’m not mistaken, Herb is the first and only robo-servant that exists today, and is estimated to hit the market in 2025.

But as you can see from this video, Herb isn’t meant for us lazy, able-bodied nerds, but rather the crippled and elderly.   Still, that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is truly amazing.   Attractive, autonomous androids won’t exist for decades, but Herb exists now, and that is good enough for me.

The next big thing in Asian boy bands?

About yesterday,  the world was graciously presented with the creation of Naked Boyz, a 44-member, company proclaimed “male AKB48”. .. I’ll let the name sink in for a bit.   Being the boy band enthusiast that I am (and by enthusiast I mean I watch the PVs with catchy upbeat songs), I was elated to hear of this.    But a male AKB48?  Did that mean it was going to be filled with jailbaity-looking boys running around in school boy outfits and swim trunks?

Comparison of random Naked Boyz and AKB48 members

Well, no.    Surprisingly enough, most members are in their twenties, with some even in their thirties, (most AKB48 members are in their teens), and have a lot of variation in their looks (there’s even a mixed guy in there!).   This is pretty interesting– boy bands usually start with most members in their teens, and they all look like either this:

or this:

So just what is going on here?   Turns out, these guys actually already have entertainment credentials.  I can’t understand everything  that’s there,  but I see NHK programs pop up in a lot of profiles, and ANN lists a sizable amount of dramas.  This is pretty interesting because while there is a lot of cross-pollination with boy bands and Korean/Japanese dramas,  it’s always the boy band first, then the foray into acting.

So what are they trying to do here?  Is this going to be an honest-to-god boy band, or is it just some publicity stunt?   It’s impossible to tell at this stage, but here’s to hoping for a genuine 44-member boy band!

In Defense of Gen III

I’ve been really obsessed with Pokemon lately.  Unfortunately, I lost my copy of Silver and I lent Diamond to friend’s sister, so I’ve been stuck with Sapphire.

For those who don’t know,  Ruby and Sapphire were some of the biggest disappointments in many young gamers’ lives.   Why?

There were actually many problems, but the biggest one  was that there was only one region.  In the previous generation of Pokemon games, the adventure didn’t end after you beat the eight gym leaders of Johto.   It turned out that you could visit Kanto, the region from the very first games, as well!    You got twice that adventure in addition to cool new Pokemon and a night-and-day system.  Children everywhere rejoiced.

Cut to three years later, to the release of Ruby and Sapphire.   The new Pokemon were kind of lame; I could live with that.   Game Freak took away the special day and time events (i.e. bug catching contests) that made the day-and-night system cool; I could live with that too.  I could even live with the fact that there was no backwards compatibility, and therefore no way (at the time) to get my favorite old Pokemon.  But finding out that I was stuck in Hoenn after becoming Pokemon champion, and that the only thing left to do was the Battle Tower?   I became disillusioned on that day.

Histrionics aside,  I kind of fell out of Pokemon after that, buying the next gen out of obligation.   But after years of disinterest, Pokemon found its way back into my life.  And if the only way I could have a Pokemon adventure was through Sapphire, then dammit, Sapphire I would have to play.

I was pleasantly surprised.  What I find most entertaining about the games is the adventure itself– I can’t be damned with catching them all, and battling’s tedious after a while.  And you know what?  Hoenn’s the best region for adventures.

For example, look at the above.  That’s Fortree City, and as the name suggests, everyone lives in a tree.  Again:  everyone lives in a tree.

This is Pacifidlog Town.  It’s a very small town just floating in the middle in the ocean.  You don’t even need to go there for anything, it’s just something to find while surfing.

Lastly, I’d like to show you Sootopolis City.  It’s a city inside of a volcano crater, and the only way to find it is through diving in the ocean.  Out of all the places in Hoenn, this is the one I’d most like to see.

These three towns don’t cover all of Hoenn’s ecological diversity (there’s also a volcano, a dessert, and a marsh), but I think they encapsulate what makes Hoenn so amazing.   In the other Pokemon games, it’s basically just normal cities and small towns, and maybe some extreme whether and islands.  Hoenn is the only region with these amzing, hyper-eco friendly cities, filled to the brim with beautiful places that in real life only exist in a few corners of the world.   It’s the most thought-out out of all the regions,  and most importantly, it’s the most fun to explore.    I have finally made my peace with Generation III.