Archive for January, 2012

Some Reviews

Well it’s back to school for me this week. I wasn’t productive over the break at all. Time for reviews of some stuff I saw and read and played over the break.

 

Anime: Steins;Gate

So Scott convinced me to watch another anime, I didn’t love this one as much as Spice and Wolf, but it was pretty damn good.

Steins;Gate is about different methods of time travel, I give them mega props for trying to explain the logic behind the time travel but I was still confused. Time travel will never make sense to me. But for what it’s worth the plot was really interesting. I had no idea what direction the show was going to go in and the ending really surprised me. I found most of the characters likeable overall, but there were still instances that annoyed me. I’d recommend watching it, the ending left me satisfied, even if it didn’t manage to distract me from Spice and Wolf.

Light Novels: Spice and Wolf 1 – (part of) 6

After finishing the Spice and Wolf anime, I was left wanting more. I haven’t gone in a craze like this since I was obsessing over Twilight Princess, and prior to that, The Lord of the Rings movies coming out. But the sad thing is, since all of the books have been released in Japan, I can’t go hunting on the internet for fandom like the others because I’ve learned the hard way that there are spoilers. So I bought the 5 books that have been translated into English. I found a fan group translating book 6 (because Yen Press is too damn slow with releasing them) and read all of what they posted.

The Pros: The books go into more detail with certain things than the anime does, especially with Lawrence’s thoughts both when he’s making deals and trying to figure out Holo. I also felt some of the trading stuff was a bit easier to understand, it’s explained in more detail and you can re-read anything if you don’t get it the first time.

The Cons: At times it feels like the translator (Yen Press only) doesn’t give that much of a damn, while other times it comes across great. In book 4 (which was not animated) they talk about poisoned rye, they were obviously talking about ergot but never called it ergot. They called it by some other name I’ve never heard of. I think they’re assholes and ditch the horse in book 6… I think. Yen Press is only releasing two novels a year… and there are 17 in total. This is unacceptable.

Movie: The Artist

I wanted to see this when it first came out, but it didn’t come to any theaters near me until it started getting nominated for awards. Anyway, The Artist is a silent film that’s about when talkies first come about and about how a famous talkie star falls while a new young actress rises to fame. It was a really interesting experience to watch a silent film, without anyone talking you find yourself looking for emotion in the actors faces and body movements, along with the music. The dog, Uggie, was by far my favorite part of this movie. I do not understand WHY he was not nominated for best supporting actor. He clearly deserves it more than any human. I highly recommend seeing this movie.

Game: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (GCN)

I bought this game on a whim since it was only $10 (used) and I was interested in playing it for a while. It was a short game, but the game play and story were good. I really enjoyed it.  It’s probably the only time I’ve ever understood some concept of time travel. What I loved the most about this game, is that the more you progress, the more of the prince’s shirt comes off. Knowing this makes me pissed off that that didn’t happen in the movie.

 

So that’s all for now. I probably won’t be posting much since school’s starting up again.

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Review: Spice and Wolf (seasons 1 and 2)

This review is free from spoilers, so if you’re looking to avoid them feel free to read. I really only mention a few events in the first few episodes. Also a warning that I use a fair amount of profanity in this post. I’ve been trying to avoid doing so but I couldn’t help myself in some places.

I’m not one to watch a lot of anime. I went through a weeabo phase in high school that died when I got fed up with how women, romance and a number of other things were typically portrayed in anime and manga. Women are so often exploited, romance is bullshit either stemming from childhood friends (I hate this theme, I’ll save my reasons for another post) or is some weird hentai shit, in all girls schools they’re all lesbians or the principal is a man. I went to an all girl school, and believe me they’d sooner torch the place than have a male principal. That shit just doesn’t fly. But I suppose that fits all to well into the “women are weak and exploitable” vibe so many animes and mangas have given me.

Then this summer Scott convinced me to watch the first season of Spice and Wolf with him. It’s available on streaming Netflix if you’re interested. I was completely surprised when I fell in love with it. We finished watching season 2 this week. This is one of the most unique animes I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s about two things, trade in what I think is supposed to be a historically inaccurate medieval Europe and the relationship between the two main characters, Holo and Kraft Lawrence (pictured above).

The story starts when Lawrence, a traveling merchant finds Holo in his cart. She tells him that she’s a wolf/harvest goddess and that this town used to be her home, but since they’ve converted to Christianity they don’t appreciate her anymore and she wants to return to her hometown in the north. She has two forms, girl with wolf ears and tail and giant ass monster wolf.

Throughout their journey the series attempts to explain various aspects of medieval trade. I will admit they often end up confusing the hell out of me. One part in season two reminded me a lot of our stock market, only with all of these random twists that complicated it. However I’m told that the novels go into better detail when explaining exactly how Lawrence is being screwed, or reaping in a huge profit.  What’s also hilarious is how much drama they add to all of it. It’s almost as if people were making attempts on Lawrence’s life instead of just trying to screw him financially, and when he expects to make a huge profit they plant seeds of doubt in your mind to create as much suspense as they can. I found that aspect amusing.

Now onto what really won me over, Holo and Lawrence’s relationship. I love the two of them, so much. Holo’s been removed from society for so long that she finds certain things confusing, but she completely knows how to mess with Lawrence. Later on Lawrence gets the hang of messing with her, but he’s much kinder about it. She has a habit of making him feel awkward, and she’s always right, often referring to herself as “Holo the wise wolf,”

and she is wise, she’s able to tell if people are lying or telling the truth just by hearing them speak in addition to being wise in other ways. She also loves apples, alcohol and expensive food way too much. In short, she’s a female lead, in a Japanese production of all things, that isn’t weak and feeble, exploited or dependent on a man (ok she does need Lawrence to take her to the north, but that doesn’t count). It’s even implied that she’s had well more than a few sexual partners (either wolves or humans or both) in the past. This is absolutely unheard of in anime. I love the irony that it’s much more likely that Lawrence is the virgin in this relationship. It’d explain why she’s always able to make him feel so awkward. They basically start to help each other out, eventually come to almost rely on each other and get along in a rather amusing way.I love their relationship so much because it’s nicely balanced and they seem to be equal partners, despite Holo having the upper hand.

..well more than a few sexual partners alright.

One last thing I love about this show, despite the inaccuracies that I’ll mention later, the music is quite accurate and lovely. There’s happy medieval flute music, Holo is messing with Lawrence flute music, Lawrence just struck a deal music, etc. It reminded me a lot of the awesome music they had at the last Renaissance Faire I went to during the Shakespeare performance.

And now, since I always manage to find a problem with everything I will tell you my issues with the series.

Japan fucking up any history besides their own – Anime, manga and video games  always do this, always. Just look at all of the stuff they’ve named after Norse mythology that’s completely inaccurate. That Loki anime was probably the biggest insult to my ancestors I have ever seen in my life. I don’t know if its the difference in culture that blocks a true understanding, or them just preferring to adapt European history and myths to what they’re used to. In short, the clothing is horribly, horribly  inaccurate, Lawrence’s lack of an actual beard is inaccurate (The dude selling the fake relics in The Canterbury Tales had a Lawrence type beard, my teacher said it was symbolic of him not being a real man) and the spread of Christianity is inaccurate. They make it seem like these towns are just converting out of nowhere… when really the conversions took place much earlier due to Roman influence and such. The only thing that truly makes sense is there still being pagans in the north because the Vikings were the very last ones to convert.

The Japanese voice acting and fanbase – I watched the dubs, don’t even watch the subs, they’re horrific. They gave holo the “kawaii little girl” voice, which does not fit her character at all. I can only assume they gave her that voice because it fits her appearance, and it goes right along with making women seem cute and weak and all of that other bullshit. Now as far as the fanbase goes, I was looking for a Holo body pillow in an effort to help one of my friends repay a prank played on the other. The only one I could find gives her a nervous/scared facial expression. That face does not fit her character at all. She’s the type to make more of a seductive “bring it” type look. She’s not one to be scared and victimized just because she’s small. She always has the option of turning into a giant ass wolf and eating your ass as an afternoon snack. The one who should have that face is Lawrence, though I haven’t looked for a body pillow with him on it.

(By the way, sorry if I’ve offended anyone from Japan. I obviously don’t have a total understanding of Japanese culture, but these are vibes that I’ve gotten from anime and manga and they totally clash with the western culture I’ve grown up with.)

I also think some of the wolf/wolf pack mentality and confrontation that takes place in season 1 is wrong… but this doesn’t bother me so much because there isn’t really any of it in season 2.

But what I love about the problems I found with the series is that I’m able to not let them bother me. Why? because the primary focus is trade and their relationship. I’m able to joke about the historical inaccuracies rather than be super distracted by them. I’m able to avoid the shitty Japanese voice acting  by watching the dubs. The only sad thing is that they haven’t started work on season 3 yet, so I’m going to start reading the books. I highly recommend this series. And please don’t torrent it, I know it’s tempting but I really want Funimation to see earnings come from it to encourage them to make season 3. You can get the first season on streaming Netflix, or you can buy it on streaming Amazon for around $20. It’s well worth it. If you must torrent something torrent the typical shit that has bullshit romances and portrays women as second class citizens.

My final recommendations:

1. Watch this anime. Read the manga. Read the books.

2. Do not torrent it you lazy cheap ass motherfuckers. Support this work of awesome by paying for it in some form, split the cost with a friend or multiple friends if you’re *that* broke. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE!

3. Watch the dubs. Don’t watch the subs, just don’t even go there. They’re horrid.

 

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Proof Of Me Being A Loser: 30 Days of Zelda – Day 5

So I’ve seen this 30 Days of Zelda Challenge floating around tumblr, and I’m giving it a go. Currently Days 1-4 are on my tumblr. I decided to do Day 5 here instead because I’m going to end up writing more than I feel should be written on tumblr. That’s right Day 5 qualifies for its own damn blog entry. Now let’s get to what Day 5’s challenge is.

Day 5 – A love interest you’ve had with any of the characters

It’s time for me to make some sad confessions and tell the story of how Link became my waifu. Yes I mean waifu, I do not mean husbando. I don’t see why I shouldn’t be allowed to have a waifu if Scott and John have them. But anyway, let me tell you about how much of a loser I am.

I believe I was in fourth grade at the time when I first laid eyes on a picture of adult Link in the instruction manual for Ocarina of Time. It was in that moment that he became my waifu. It was also the first in a long string of weaknesses for blondes.  I thought he was really pretty and spent a lot of time tracing the pictures of him that were in that book. I played Ocarina of Time until I got stuck and then ended up not touching it for years. It wasn’t until I was a freshmen or sophomore in high school that I picked up the game again and managed to finish it. I purposely made Link wear the red tunic as much as possible, because red is obviously his color.

Now that my family had the internet, I was able to fuel my Zelda craze further by going online. That was when I found out about Twilight Princess. Not only did the world look beautiful, but so did my waifu. It took them too damn long to release that game after announcing it, but the anticipation that lasted well over a year was thrilling. I remember buying a gaming magazine just because this picture (and others) were in it.

I spent waaay too much time staring at this

When the game was finally set to release, I remember being thrilled that they announced Link’s age as being 16 or 17. Why? Because I was 17 at the time. I even remember reading interviews with the creators in which they stated that in this game they wanted to make Link really cool. They even referred to him as “cool Link” in later interviews. They certainly accomplished that task. He was damn sexy in those leggings, riding Epona and using a number of his new weapons.

I was disappointed that his hat obeyed the laws of gravity when Link was standing upside down with the magnetic iron boots, but that his tunic did not. I was thrilled I got to see him with his shirt off.  I loved manipulating the camera angle so I could look up his tunic when he was attached to the flying plants with the claw shots. Plus he did that sexy flippy thing with his sword.  Skyward Sword Link does this also, but it’s just not the same. The animation is there, but the bad ass attitude isn’t.

I won’t refute that there was obviously something going on between him and Midna in the game and will admit that the game’s ending had me bawling. I wanted them to be together because they belong together, but that doesn’t stop Link from being my waifu. Other people chose to ship him with his bitchy childhood friend from his village, now that I couldn’t stand. If you ship Link and Ilia you are both delusional and wrong.

I mean I know part of it is my strange immediate attraction to blondes, but this Link was special. I guess the fact that we were both 17 at the same time had an impact on me, I guess feel as though he’ll age with me even though he’s eternally 17. What’s really happening is the game is aging with me, it’s the Zelda of my time, of my late teen years.

Now to take this post in a different direction. For the record: Skyward Sword Link is not my waifu. He has super fugly pants. I also think he’s meant to be with Zelda in that game… but I feel that Zelda’s meant to be with Groose because Groose is awesome. I mean yea, Groose was initially a douche bag, but how could anyone not love Groose after how awesome he became… plus he works out!!  Skyward Sword Link is a good boy who tries to act bad on occasion, Twilight Princess Link is a bad boy with a good heart while being capable of tolerating a woman’s abuse *cough* Midna *cough* My prefernce had been made clear.

And now you can all laugh at me and call me a loser. At least I’m not a forever alone with a body pillow.

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Review: Forks Over Knives

I first heard of this movie when I went to NYC’s first annual vegetarian food festival  way back in March. I was told it was a documentary about the benefits of a plant based diet. I finally got the chance to watch it when my dad found it on Netflix, we watched it and I thought it was very interesting.

The first thing I liked about the movie is that I don’t think they ever said the word “vegetarian.” “Vegan” was said only once, by a man being interviewed.What they do say many, many times is “a whole foods plant based diet.” It’s essentially a vegan diet but not in the way you’d think, no refined anything, no processed anything. That means all of those processed vegan meats and other processed vegan garbage is out.

They approach they used was research based. It was about two doctors and what they saw in their studies. One thing they found was that protein from animal sources can trigger cancer, eliminating it or greatly reducing it can reverse the cancer. They had a record of deaths occurring in a country in Europe due to heart disease (I forget which). Anyway, during WWII the Germans took all their livestock to feed the army and the people were pretty much forced to eat a plant based diet. During this time the number of deaths from heart disease dropped significantly, and after the war they went back up to their previous levels. Mostly they talk about the impact of the western diet vs. a whole foods plant based diet has in regards to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. They spoke with a woman who reversed her diabetes with the diet as well as a woman who reversed breast cancer with it.

What I found interesting was the athlete and group of firemen they spoke with. The athlete said he initially gave up dairy because of an allergy but then decided to give up chicken and fish to see how it’d go. He found that it worked great and he looks like he’s in excellent shape. The group of firemen started the diet after learning that one of their own had an insanely high cholesterol… it was in the 300’s, but dropped over 100 points after 3 weeks of being on a plant based diet. They also said about half of firefighter fatalities are due to heart disease, something that’s so easily preventable with diet. Keeping firefighters not only helps them, but everyone else who depends on them.

There were a few things the movie didn’t really touch on that much, like why they didn’t use oil, or why fish is bad. They didn’t really touch on all of the contamination in animal products. They didn’t give any recipes, and it seems that they were just eating salads. However, the film’s website does offer recipes. If you’re squeamish I recommend watching with someone who is not. Ask them to tell you when to open your eyes since there are numerous clips of surgery footage, mostly for surgery related to heart disease.

I’d recommend this movie to anyone interested in medicine, health or just improving their life.  I enjoyed it and thought it was very interesting. I personally could relate to it because I’m trying to improve my own health right now by changing my diet. One thing I’ll say about changing your diet for the better is that I didn’t expect it to be empowering at all. I gained control of my life when I began saying “no” to the processed foods I had developed low grade addictions to.  At first I was hoping it would be temporary but now I have no problem giving up the crap I used to eat forever if it means I’ll continue to feel great. It’s renewed the hope I have of arriving at the day when I’m able to go off my medication and live a Crohn’s-free healthy life.

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I Love This Bread

This is probably going to be one of my lamest posts ever, but I had to write it. I love this bread, I love this bread so much.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve stopped eating anything with yeast in it. I hadn’t had bread for weeks and was really craving some. I bought this *true* sourdough bread at my local health food store a few days ago. It’s Berlin Natural Bakery‘s sourdough spelt bread. I love it so much. My mom says its probably because I haven’t had bread in ages but this bread has such an awesome flavor. It has a nice distinct sourdough taste, but it’s not too strong. Adding to the awesomeness of this bread is the fact that it only has three ingredients: Whole Grain Spelt flour, water, and sea salt. It’s not the cheapest bread, costing about $6 a loaf, but it’s totally non-GMO and 100% awesome.

I also owe a lot to this bread. Today while in the drug store I had to walk past the snack aisle and of course I wanted a lot of that crap. But I refuse to cave. I told myself to be good, and that I’d reward myself with that awesome bread when I got home. The peanut butter and honey sandwich I had when I got home was so awesome.  I am so happy I have a bread fix now.

I was disappointed with the other breads Berlin Natural Bakery listed on their website, since this appears to be their only bread without yeast. My biggest disappointment is that they have yeast as an ingredient in their “biblical” bread. In Bible times there was no yeast -_-

I also bought another type of yeast-free bread.It appears to be made for someone who’s allergic to just about everything in addition to having celiac’s.

This bread also tastes awesome, and costs around $7 and has a similar sourdough taste to the other bread I mentioned, however they’re both different in their own way. This bread is less awesome because it has a lot more ingredients, but it’s still better than the typical bread you’d buy in a store. This bread is made by Food for Life. I’ve already mentioned my disappointment with them having yeast in most of their other products.. especially the bread that they decided to name after Ezekiel. There was no yeast in Ezekiel’s time.

Sorry for hating on yeast, but it is my personal belief that we are totally not evolved to consume it, as well as most of the crap in the western/first world country diet. I further believe that we’re not going to adapt to these news food items since the health problems they cause tend to kill people after they reproduce. In the case of obesity, it doesn’t seem to stop people from mating and producing children in the first place. Though it does make them less desirable as mates I suppose.

I seriously need to get sourdough starter and make my own bread…

In other news, I have *way* more energy after being on this no yeast, no sugar diet for a few weeks. It’s awesomely insane.That is all.

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Review: The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword

I’d been waiting quite some time for this game. After finishing it this morning, here are my thoughts. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers, feel free to read it all.

Overall, this game is awesome and kicks major ass. I’ll start with the upside.

The storyline: It’s incredible. According to the official timeline this game is supposed to be the first. It explains a lot. Having played a number of Zelda titles, I had already come to some of my own conclusions and wasn’t completely surprised by somethings, but other things were completely mind blowing.

The new boss keys and boss battles: In previous games you’d normally just find the boss key and open the door, this game made use of the motion controls in an interesting way. This time around you find twisted sculpture things and have to flip them around to make them fit in the door.  They also made the boss fights more difficult which is a major plus. You can even redo boss battles later on in the game and completing the game once allows you to play the game again in hero mode. I haven’t played much in hero mode yet, but it seems that it’s a harder version of the main quest, much like Ocarina of Time’s Master Quest.

DAT POMPADOUR!!

Groose: I was going to make a section for NPCs, but Groose is so damn awesome that he’s getting his own section. In short, he’s the best character ever. He starts off as quite a jerk but amazingly becomes very likeable as the storyline progresses. I’m really hoping that Nintendo gives him a spin off game. I mean who wouldn’t want to play The Legend of Groose??

We all know this was the real game.

He’s awesome and so is his hair. In fact, his pompadour even has a facebook page I highly recommend liking it.

Nintendo, I'm expecting you to make this a reality

The side quests: A lot of the side quests are pretty damn amusing. They introduce you to a number of likeable NPCs. A few of them even give you two options as to what you’d like to do, the best part is when they end up in awkward situations no matter which option you choose. I’d go into more detail but I said this review would be spoiler free.

The feel of other Zelda games: At times, it felt as though they were playing tribute to another Zelda title. The spirit realm parts felt a lot like being in the twilight realm, other parts had Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker and Spirit Track feels. I haven’t played enough of Majora’s Mask to say for myself but a friend tells me one side quest in particular was a throwback to part of Majora’s Mask.

David Bowie Demon Lord Ghirahim: As I mentioned in this previous post the (sort of) main bad guy totally looks like David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust. He may do creepy stuff with his tongue, but I found him hilarious… probably because he looked a lot like David Bowie. He gets more amusing as the storyline progresses.. and a lot more gay. Much like David Bowie. Well David Bowie’s true sexuality is shrouded in mystery.. I’m pretty sure Ghirahim’s is also.

As you probably know I can never like anything 100% without coming up with some sort of issue. Onto the downside.

The casualization: The first thing you notice is starting off the game with not 3 hearts, but 6, which is really ridiculous in my opinion. Later on you find a cheat sheikah stone, similar to the one they added into Ocarina of Time 3ds. Basically if you’re stuck at some point in the game it will show you what to do. What really bothers me is that they do stuff like this, but that now fairies only revive 6 of your hearts.  In addition if you die while fighting a boss and hit continue, you restart with 6 hearts and you wont get any of your potions or ammo back. It’s still better to save and restart the game.

The motion controls:  At times they’ve screwed up on me. When fighting certain enemies you need to swing the wiimote in a particular direction, even though I’d do this it wouldn’t register and he’d swing the sword the wrong way.

My anal story/timeline issues: Ok, they say Skyward Sword is first and then comes Minish Cap. This makes perfect sense and I wouldn’t disagree, except for one thing… watch Minish Cap’s intro and pay attention to the pictures.


Notice that the prior hero mentioned, who should be the hero in Skyward Sword according to the time line has NO HAT. Link in Skyward Sword has the famous green hat. Minish Cap explains the origin of the hat. I’m very pissed off that Nintendo didn’t even make Link’s hat fly off at the end of the game so that this part of the story would make sense. Nintendo, I’m really hoping the next game you make takes place in between these two games, and that the Link in that game does not have a hat.

The Music: Normally, I’d be raving about the music in a Zelda game. That’s not the case here. A lot of the music was crap and not memorable at all save what I believe is the game’s main theme. The only music they used from other games was the fairy fountain music. I was hoping for more of the old music to make more of a connection. Plus in Ocarina of Time, Zelda mentions that her lullaby has been in the royal family for generations, apparently it didn’t go back to Skyward Sword. Nintendo, I hope you explain the origin of Zelda’s lullaby in the game that takes places after Skyward Sword and before Minish Cap.

I highly recommend this game, despite all of my complaints. Play it for Groose, he’s the best. I want Scott to cosplay as Groose and myself to cosplay as Fi. We’ll identify ourselves as The Legend of Groose and be all the rage at comic-con this October.

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