Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Lest I Forget (to update this blog)

Public holidays in the middle of the week should really happen more often. Being able to sleep in on a Wednesday morning is a rare pleasure.

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic for me. Being on placement some 40km away from home is really making me realise how much I took it for granted when I could get to uni in a 15 minute bus ride. Now it's a 45 minute commute in the morning, and longer on the way home if I'm a bit late leaving and get caught up in the rush hour traffic. I don't really mind the time that much (at least I can listen to music and relax), but the fuel costs are putting the pressure on, especially since my car isn't very fuel efficient in the first place (~$100 a week).

The riverside "express"way. It would be about 5 more minutes before I got to that  overpass.
To make matters worse, last week I noticed my car felt a bit funny to drive. I was still half asleep so I didn't think too much of it, but as I drove it really started feeling bumpy, so I had to try and get through the traffic and off onto a sidestreet, where a quick look confirmed my suspicion: I had an incredibly flat tyre. Now, and I know this may come as a bit of a shock to you, I'm not very mechanically inclined. I knew there was a spare in the boot, but I had no idea what to do with it, so I had to call for roadside assistance. I then had to sit in my car twiddling my thumbs for an hour and a half before the guy showed up and changed the tyres over so I could get to my classes. I was worried about getting into trouble for being late, but thankfully everyone was understanding.

I then went to a tyre shop where the guy took a look at my flat and told me, rather succinctly, "Tyre's fucked mate". So in the end I had to pay almost $150 for a new one - I was almost definitely ripped off but by that stage I just wanted to get the problem sorted and not have to think about it any more.

Thank god I have exams in two weeks and that'll be the end of that placement. Of course my next one is even further away, but at least I get accommodation out there for the duration.

Late September? Heaps of time!

It's a good thing my figure preorders aren't coming in for a few months, I'm counting on being able to scrape the money together somehow. I'm looking at a pretty expensive May order (Panty and Saber Motored Cuirassier - I spelled that wrong and the first spellcheck suggestion was "circumciser". That's not a Saber figure I ever want to see made) but I should just be able to afford it, and then I've got nothing coming in until the end of July.

delicious Aoko

My copy of Mahou Tsukai no Yoru came in just a few days ago, and I'm excited to play through it. I've heard mixed opinions, though I'm trying to steer clear of internet discussion just to avoid spoiling myself. I'm sure it'll be a painfully slow read considering I'll need to make very heavy use of a dictionary but I think it'll be worth it. I got the first edition so it comes with this neat booklet with character profiles, concept art and some full-page drawing in it.

I'm hoping it will give me motivation to get back into VNs in general. There's a number of VNs that I've been meaning to read (Kara no Shoujo, Symphonic Rain, Deardrops etc) but it's hard to get the motivation to start knowing that I won't be able to read much per sitting and certainly won't be able to marathon them. I tend to get hooked easily, and staying up all night to read chinese porn games is just going to end badly. I remember when I first read Tsukihime - I just shut myself in my room for a few days doing nothing but sleeping and reading. I ended up feeling just like Shiki did during most of Hisui's route. Good times.

I was going to talk about this season's shows but I think that should probably be left to another post. My favourite show so far is Game of Thrones, but it's a solid season for anime and there's a lot that I look forward to watching every week.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The season that was

I watched a few shows that ended recently, namely Another, Black Rock Shooter, Chihayafuru, Nisemonogatari, Persona 4 and Rinne no Lagrange.

Another was pretty enjoyable, even though it didn't quite end up as I thought it would from watching the first few episodes. It sold itself as a horror anime, revolving around a curse that was causing students in a particular class to die rather gruesome deaths. It got a bit cheesy in parts, with things like cliche horror music playing before something bad happens, and I'm not entirely sure whether that was intentionally cheesy or not. The characters were a bit underdeveloped, particularly the side-characters, but the story of the curse was told quite well and I enjoyed the ride. 

Mei >>> Twintails. Not to say twintails was bad at all, but eyepatch wins out.

Just when you thought teen angst was bad, Black Rock Shooter introduces you to the wonderful world of pre-teen angst. Girls with ridiculous problems deal with them in the worst possible ways, then we find out it's all because of magic. And possibly rainbow birds. In its defence I did quite like the otherworld CGI animation. A lot of people dislike CGI on principle, but it can look good and this is a reasonable example of that. 

I do think it's time to lay the BRS franchise to rest though. It's come pretty far considering it's all based on some illustrations, but I'm not sure how much further it can go considering the lack of underlying story. Having said that, the characters and setting is very visually appealing and I'd quite like to see an OVA that just completely abandons story for some fight-scene eyecandy.

I really liked Chihayafuru. I'd never even heard of karuta before watching it, but I do like game/sports anime in general and this one was certainly presented in an interesting way. The shoujoesque parts (i.e. the Taichi-Chihaya-Arata love triangle) don't get a lot of attention with the anime squarely focusing on the game itself, which to me is a good thing. I also quite like the way that the protagonists don't win all their games, and while I've seen some complaints about the fact that they seem to lose more often than not, you can still look back and see how far they've come over the course of the show.

The characters are all very likeable (except for Taichi being a little brat as a kid), and I really enjoyed the show as a whole. I hope it gets a second season.

I didn't like Nisemonogatari as much as I liked Bakemonogatari. The clever dialogue was still there but the plot felt very pointless compared to Bake and the fanservice was really ramped up to compensate. My memory is probably playing down the amount of fanservice in Bake, but I remember feeling like there was an underlying story and that it was pretty important, whereas I really don't get that feeling with Nise. The character designs are still great, but I wouldn't be eager to watch it again. I'll still probably watch future adaptations in this series as I hear that the plot picks back up again.

Persona 4 was alright. As an adaptation it was pretty good, especially considering the scope of the game and the limited number of episodes, though it did feel a bit rushed leading up to the ending. The fight scenes were also fairly short, and it's a bit annoying that the final episode/OVA won't be out until October. It was a good watch if you've played the game (which was obviously the target audience for the show), but I'm not sure how much you'd enjoy it otherwise.

Rinne no Lagrange was my mecha show for the season, although I'm considering watching Aquarion at some time as well, since it seems to have been fairly well received. Rinne was a good show from the visual aspect, as to be expected from Production I.G., and I really liked the three main girls - Lan is damn cute, Madoka pulls off being relentlessly positive without it just getting irritating, and Muginami is fine too. 

From a story perspective it's less impressive, with the whole mecha thing being largely sidelined for slice-of-life school activities. This creates a jarring contrast on the few occasions where shit suddenly gets real, since afterwards the characters invariably cheer right back up and move on like nothing ever happened.

The OP was the best of the season. I liked the show and will watch the next season, but you may be disappointed if you're watching it only for the mecha.

As for the coming season, I really haven't looked at what's coming up. I know I'll at least be watching Fate/Zero but I'll play it by ear for the rest. What do you think looks interesting?