Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Expensive Miku, cheap Miku

So I had a nice big thoughtful entry all written up and ready to post but, just before I hit the 'publish' button, I decided I didn't like it and deleted it all. I'm pretty tired, so my second attempt will be shorter.

cannot have

I hope we can all agree that the Magician Miku figure that was recently released is a fine bit of work. Unfortunately, it's a garage kit and was a very limited release, so you could be forgiven for giving up all hope of getting one for yourself. Don't worry though, there's still a few available here and there, such as this one being auctioned on Yahoo Japan - there's still two days to go, but the current bid is already a hefty ¥86,000. Painted or not, that's a veritable shitload of money. Maybe she'll be made into a PVC figure, god knows anything Miku-related is a license to print money.

As for the American Miku saga, be sure to buy Miku's first US single, "The World Is Mine", which is now available on iTunes and Amazon! The press release, which rather misleadingly made it seem like the song itself had only just been released for the first time, was published on Reuters about two weeks ago to no one's notice, and on various other bastions of journalistic integrity such as MTV to slightly more attention. Cue the weeaboo hipsters claiming to have liked supercell (as if they were some super obscure underground group) before they were popular.

ANN reported that the single peaked at number 7 on the iTunes charts, which seems pretty impressive, although the competition wasn't as fierce as you might have thought. Somewhere over the Rainbow charted higher, but The World is Mine did beat out the ever-popular Rasputin and Amazing Grace.

I also thought it was interesting that both Amazon and iTunes are asking 99c for the single, while it's being offered as a free download on supercell's own website. No doubt this whole process will be repeated sooner or later for Melt and Love is War - if people are willing to pay, it'd seem a bit silly not to.

I'm still baffled by the choice of song, and would have thought something that doesn't show off Miku's glass-shattering soprano potential quite so much would have been a more obvious choice, but what would I know. I  find the whole situation fascinating though, and will continue to keep an eye on it.

That's all. I'm going to sleep. Good night.

Plug Suit Asuka status: Dispatch from outward office of exchange. Maybe if I keep refreshing it'll get here faster.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


Another wave of lethargy has swept over me, and I've spent the last few days doing more or less nothing. I think it's passing now, so I'd better take advantage of it while I can.

I-it's not like I WANTED to b-buy you or anything

I said in my last post that I was looking into getting an Asuka figure, possibly Alter's. Within a couple of days, the following things had happened:

  • I looked at a few other possibilities, but preferred Alter's
  • A post in the /fig/ thread on /jp/ alerted me to Amiami having a good sale on her (46% off!)
  • Amiami emailed me to let me know that UBW Rin was going to be another month
By this stage, I was ready to accept that it was fate and just go for it. I had the money saved up for my May order anyway, and it even worked out cheaper (and I've got another whole month to save up the money for Rin). She's coming by SAL so I expect her any time between tomorrow and Christmas.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Korean clickan games and Chinese cartoon figures

I was going to post the other day but Blogger seemed to be having some issues. Not like I really had a lot to say anyway. It's been a pretty uneventful week, but the best is yet to come: only a few hours until the GSL finals! Earlier in the week I was at uni late, and the room cleared out a bit earlier than expected, so, along with two other guys in the class that follow the GSL, I decided to try and pull up the current game on the projector. It worked, and it looked amazing, but I only ended up watching the one game because the security guard kept coming past and looking into the room disapprovingly. I'm not sure if it was because we were using the room for non-uni purposes or because we were watching video games, but probably a bit of each.

Now I can turn gay for Tasteless twice as fast!
Today's games will be between InCa (P) and Nestea (Z). I'm hoping that Nestea will win but I'm mostly just hoping for some decent games rather than one all-in after the other like the last few seasons. They'll be streamed free at GOMtv if anyone's interested.

I decided to go through my figures and get out one of my first acquisitions to display for a while - I can't remember exactly when, but sometime late '08 or early '09 I got this Rei. I can't remember if she was my first figure or not (Garan no Dou Shiki being the other candidate) but I've had her for a while.

The reason I bring it up is that I've been thinking I'd like an Asuka figure to go with her, but I'm really not sure which one. I was thinking maybe Alter's Plug Suit Asuka, but I'd be interested in any other good Asuka figures you might know of. I won't be able to actually buy one for a while since I've got my May preorders looming, but I'd still like to have an idea of what I want.

Then again, perhaps I should be laying low for a while based on an ad I noticed on my blog recently:
They're onto me!
On mouseover, the URL appeared to point to Australian Customs' list of prohibited goods for import. The knock on the door will probably come any second now...

I've played a bit more Minecraft on the sever too, but I still never remember to take any screenshots. I might just leave it to HHH and NEET, who write better posts about it than I would anyway.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Some songs and American Miku

By now anyone who's interested has undoubtedly already heard about the whole Toyota Corolla promotion featuring Miku, but I felt like adding my two cents anyway.

Like others have said, I don't see it having any value for Toyota. Most (dare I say all?) Miku fans can't afford to buy a new car, and anyone who doesn't already know her is going to be confused if not well and truly put off by the commercial. Well, the long one at least. I think the short one is a lot better for a number of reasons: the narrator isn't wanking on about dreams and works of art, we don't hear Miku's banshee wail, and we don't hear the "ima sugu ni yo" which I think seems a bit out of place - foregrounding the Japanese vocals would just serve to further distance people. If I saw the short commercial and didn't know about Miku I think I'd almost be tempted to look her up.

But it's not really about selling cars. Miku's English debut is coming up, and Crypton are trying to drum up some excitement. Surely that's not so bad? Well, no, but I still think it's a bad approach since there's still the problem of it doing very little to expand the potential market. In fact it could well end up reducing it, restricting the scope of English Miku to the 'otaku' community.

What I think they should have done is something more along the lines of Yamaha's VY1, which sounds fairly similar to Miku but was released without a character image and was advertised as having a unisex voice (although it sounds quite feminine). Obviously Miku already has a well-established character and this is the leading cause of her success, but given the Western market's general distaste for overtly anime-looking goods, I think playing down her character a bit in advertising would have been a better choice. This would give Miku more of a future in professional music (as a backup vocalist or whatever) rather than being shunned as a piece of chinese girl software. 

I could be wrong. Miku could catalyse the 'otaku' (I don't like using that word but it conveys meaning well) community into a state of unprecedented creativity and we'll actually get some good works made using her voice. I'd very much like that, but I remain pessimistic.

That's enough negativity for one blog post so I'm going to post some music. None of it's new or anything, just some tracks that I've been listening to recently.

I picked up this CD (Puzzle) on a whim when I was in Japan last Christmas, and this song's been stuck in my head on and off since. The circle is 恋竹林 (koichikurin) and the song is SA/BA/O/RI. Miku's voice is pushed a bit high but it's still pretty catchy. Another song off the album that I particularly like is Puzzle, which has a fairly similar sort of sound.

This one's Orbital, a fairly old song sung by Teto. It's got a fairly muddy sound but I really like the voice. The same guy did a second version of the same song called, not surprisingly, Orbital 2nd. It's got a cleaner sound and uses Rin as well as Teto. It's a good song too, though I think I still prefer the first.

This one isn't Vocaloid related at all - it's リラの街から (From the town of Lyre) by ORIGA, who is probably best known for her vocals on the Ghost in the Shell soundtracks. It's in Russian, I think it was released over a decade ago, but I think it's a beautiful song.

I played some Minecraft earlier with HHH and NEET. It was fun, and they've got some impressive structures going. I was going to hop back on and play some more after dinner but Cella (a Korean Zerg player from team SlayerS) is streaming Starcraft 2 and he's damn entertaining to watch. His English is pretty good too. I'll have to get back on tomorrow and work on my little house some more.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Fun in high school carparks

I think I may have mentioned a while back that I have a "job" scoring high school debates - if two hours of work every second or third week can really count as employment - and I did this again tonight for the first time in a number of weeks. The school where the debates were to be held was nowhere near any public transport option so I had to resort to driving. For some context, I only have a car because my parents gave me their old one, and I never use it except to drive to visit them. I certainly avoid driving it in the city at all costs, mainly because public transport is so much cheaper and far less stressful. 

The vehicle isn't exactly roadworthy, missing, among other things, a left side mirror, a working second gear, a way to wind up the back windows, a functional handbrake, and a full complement of indicator lights. Luckily none of that matters since it has a CD player and two working if hissy speakers with which to play my terrible terrible music.