Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tsum-ing back

Let's take a break from all the movie post and have a diary post about my boring life. Lol. Until now I still have yet to catch any of the Pokego legendary birds that I am lazy to play it anymore. Usually I will still switch it on when I am on bus journey for the egg hatching but for the past week, I can't even be bothered about that. My gaming attention returns to Disney Tsum Tsum again! Lol.

I played Tsum Tsum when it was first released and stopped playing (and uninstalled it) after 2 weeks because it was frustrating to be poor with coins and with tsums. Lol. I still remembered earning only 100+ coins per play and to buy the next tsums, I need 30000 coins. I got hooked back because on the bus I saw someone playing with Beauty and the Beast tsums and I thought they are cute! My luck is better this time as recently I have obtained Romantic Ariel, Beast, and Lumiere tsums. With more varieties and stronger skills, it is much more enjoyable to play now. I consider myself lucky because Romantic Ariel is the rarest (1/15 chance) from the current gacha, Beast is one of the better tsums for coins (although I don't really like him as it takes too long to charge), and Lumiere is one of the newer tsums with good fever gameplay. Hehe..

The mid-year toy fair at Takashimaya ended last week. I am glad that I bought the things that I wanted 2 weeks ago because when I came back last week, everything that I wanted was already sold out. The turnover was surprisingly so fast. In fact, initially I came on Saturday and I was eyeing Yokai Watch storage box. I don't care about Yokai Watch itself but a 30cm x 30cm x 30cm storage box for $3 is quite a steal. When I came on Sunday, I saw a new pile of Saint Seiya D.D Panoramation. There were only 3: Leo ($15), Virgo ($15), and Sagitarius ($20) which were bloody cheap compared to the original price. There were only 3 Virgos and 1 Sagitarius left. As they are quite bulky, I even had to take taxi to go home. I decided to buy with the aim of selling them and it was a good bargain because yesterday I managed to sell both Virgo and Sagitarius for a total of $80. Whee!!! That paid for all my spending + taxi fare. Haha... I hope Leo will have a buyer soon.
Well that is a small respite after my impatience with Digimon plushie set from Premium Bandai which was available from Japan but not Singapore Premium Bandai. I was impatient and just bought it now for 12000 JPY which is reasonable considering the release price of 10692 JPY. After I bought, there was another seller selling for 9000 JPY :( Dang.. if I waited just another week, I would save a lot and perhaps it would spare me from another fucked up SingPost service about the delivery of the item. 
The box is 60cm x 25cm x 20 cm which is VERY big
Ahh.. finally I can get a Gomamon plushie :)
My dad finally agreed to go to Japan next May. Hurray!! I managed to use my credit card points to redeem KrisFlyer miles for First Class tickets. Yay!! It is sad that A380 is no longer flying to Tokyo and I will not able to experience Suites :( After much deliberation, I just decided to YOLO. Despite the departure flight will be a red eye flight (i.e midnight flight), at least I will be able to experience the Private Room. I was deliberating to take Business Class for the return flight but then again I decided that I should just experience First Class since I will be sleeping most of the time for the first flight. Another consideration is the miles 'cost'. By redeeming Business, 1 mile = 3 cents while for First, 1 mile = 6.5 cents.

I am flying to Osaka in a month time and I have yet to settle the train passes there, USJ tickets, exchange Yen, etc. Bleah.. Better start doing something about it tomorrow.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

I saw the trailer for the first time before watching Conan 21st movie in May and boy I was really impressed. The graphic looks gorgeous and the action scenes are exciting too. It is quite rare for me to feel that way as usually I am not too impressed for too much CGI. July came and unfortunately there were a lot of bad reviews: bad story, bad acting, etc. Not to mention that the number of screenings after the first week dropped quite a lot and I had difficulty to find a suitable timing as I wanted to utilise my free ticket. I finally managed to watch it today. I was prepared to be disappointed and I was watching for the sake of not letting my free ticket go to a waste.

Hey Valerian is actually not that bad and I left the cinema feeling quite happy. Perhaps because I had low expectations that it did not take a lot to exceed my expectations. I find the acting to be ok, not as bad as what people say.

The beginning sets up the movie pretty nicely as a science fiction that is still grounded on reality. The international space stations has grown big enough with more and more nations joining that the Mother Earth considers it a threat. For peace, it is decided that the space station to leave the earth gravity and to travel the universe. Fast forward a few hundreds to the future, other species (or aliens) join that the space station grows big enough to be called Alpha. 30 years ago, a war with an alien species resulted in destruction of Planet Mul. A group of survivor wants to re-create their planet and this puts them in conflict with Alpha to get the last surviving 'converter'.

The plot in the actual film is actually quite weak and is not as grand as it sounds in the synopsis. It is  a good and bad thing. The good is it is rather refreshing because the Planet Mul survivors are peace loving so the story does not go down to the usual war among the species. The bad is the lack of actual conflict making it rather boring. The 'antagonist' is not the usual evil power hungry human aiming for world domination. He just does what he thinks best for the human and the peace in Alpha although it is questionable to sacrifice a planet and its inhabitants.

The impressive graphics in the trailer is the best as it can get and in the film, they are only for the purpose of introducing how vast Alpha is. The futuristic space ships and control stations in Alpha is nicely contrasted with the natural paradise-like Planet Mul and the barren Planet Kyrian. Action scenes, other than the one at Planet Kyrian, is just like any other normal action scenes with guns. I find it a huge loss that despite boasting so many different species, the focus in this movie is just humans. Bleah.. There will be so much room for amazement if the aliens are also involved. Oh ya, I find Rihanna's dancing is a bit random too lol.

Apparently this is based on a French comic book series from the 60s titled Valerian and Laureline. I guess that explains the direction where the plot is going. If this is from America, there will not be peace loving Planet Mul inhabitants. Lol. They will be all out for revenge and the humans will be the evil race who wants to rule all the other species. No doubt it will be more appealing in terms of story lol.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Gintama

Based on a super popular series, boasting popular actors and actresses, visual that is faithful to the original anime/manga as well as period drama, great box office performance in Japan: all the recipe needed for a good anime/manga adaptation. Although I am never follow the original series, I decided to watch it even without reading reviews, whether for the plot or the movie.

I feel that the movie will be have contrasting reviews depending on whether the person watching is a fan to begin with. I don't follow the original story so I find the plot is quite weak, especially considering Gintama is more like a gag series. I personally enjoy over-the-top performance to replicate the over-the-top expressions and scenes from anime/manga. I also find the references to another series (that is what makes Gintama quite unique for a comedy) hilarious because I am familiar with the series they are referring to. However, for non-fans, they will find the comedy lame and they will not get the references or understand why the fans are laughing.

The setting is kinda lame right from the start as Japan is invaded and ruled by aliens. Even so, I think they really cannot be bothered about the plot to begin with. The rather weak plot gets further thinned down with all the comedy elements in between that people looking for a good story will find themselves in a "WTF is this movie" kind of feeling. But then again I don't know if the plot follows the original anime/manga that fans will like it.

I can close an eye to the story since this is meant to be a live-action of anime/manga which usually is average at best in general. The thing that I can't stand the most is the CGI. The CGI is painful to watch and it is as if the movie producer does not even try to blend the CGI to reality. The CGI looks obviously like a computer work added in a post-production stage. Ouch.. I think not acceptable given the technology today. Even Power Rangers in the 90s is not this awful.

Gintama plays its trump card well with the comedy and self-depreciating jokes throughout the movie. For example, Gintama said that Elizabeth cannot be an alien and must be a human wearing a cosplay wear and a few moments later we are shown with Elizabeth falling down and the human legs showing. The casts sing the initial opening and closing song in a "can't be bothered style". In fact the initial opening scene is like a karaoke session with the karaoke video only showing Shun Oguri's name (the real actor name who plays Gintoki) all over as if he is the only cast in the film. But ultimately, just like the discussion between cartoon Gintoki, Shinpachi, and Kagura at the start of the film, it will be difficult to win over new fans with this live action movie.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Filming

Looks like I have to forgo my secret desire to be an actor. I thought I am quite thick skinned but in front of camera, I am actually very shy :( I am okay with photos, I can tahan videos, but I totally cannot make it when it comes for interview.

About 3 weeks ago, I agreed to help a colleague for a fall awareness video since it would done in my clinic. Lucky I 'volunteered' myself or otherwise I would feel guilty if I were to find someone since it ended pretty late at 830pm. It was my first time to be involved in this kind of video shooting so I learnt that just to get 1 scene, multiple shots from different angles were required. With no script prepared, what I said for each take were slightly different. Haha.. Anyway script was not required because I was supposed to act out what I do at work everyday. So it was not really acting per se.

Today was another filming for a project that I am involved in. The discussion to get a volunteer was going nowhere so I just 'volunteered' myself since eventually the arrow would be directed to me as the smallest fry from pharmacy and the scene to be featured was a pharmacy scene. The pharmacy scene was a breeze since audio was not required. So I could just pretend to be dispensing as usual without worrying about my speech, grammar, language, etc. This time the production was even of a higher standard since it was by an external producer. There were big camera and big light too.

Then came the bummer which was the interview. According to the script, I would only have to answer 1 question so I prepared myself for that. During the actual shooting, I was given 4 questions! No matter how 'good' my English is, English is not my mother tongue. I was very nervous and particular of my own grammar if I had to do something impromptu. Not to mention when the questions asked were not for my personal opinions but I was expected to give answers which were representative of my project team members and my colleagues. Alamak!! It did not help that the producer wanted to have a different background outdoor and I had to do it at corridor. It was rather warm and uncomfortable. Not to mention that I was not sure if I should project my voice or if I should speak normally.

I did not know how many NGs there were and when I thought everything was over, I was given: can we repeat another time from a different angle? T_T It is a horror to see the end product but I really hope the final video will just exclude my interview part.

Gosh... now I really appreciate those celebrities who appear in TV. It is really not an easy job wor..

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Yuri!!! on Ice

Yuri!!! on Ice (yes with 3 exclamation marks) is perhaps the most hyped anime of 2016. When the first time I heard the title -without seeing any visual of it-, I thought the yuri means girls' love theme. Well it turns to be the opposite as a lot of people are saying that this should be a "Yaoi on Ice" instead. It certainly does not help that the acronym for the title is YoI. Lol. And perhaps the most hilarious comment that I come across is someone suggesting that "Yaoi on Fire"is more apt to describe the series as well as all the attention it receives.

Anyway, jokes aside, Yuri is actually the name of the main character, Yuri Katsuki, as well as his rival Yuri Plisetsky. YoI is actually an anime about figure skating. After a series of poor performances, Yuri Katsuki is thinking of retiring when he goes back to his hometown. Surprisingly, the reigning world champion Victor Nikiforov decided to take a break from competition to be Yuri's coach to help Yuri revive his figure skating career.

YoI is essentially a sports anime. However, in the first few episodes, the creators use a lot of bishounen and yaoi undertones to get people interested in the anime. Thank goodness the sports elements eventually become more prominent.

As a sports anime, YoI does an excellent job to portray figure skating in a realistic manner: whether the characters, the clothes, the performances, the points, the kiss and cry scenes. It made me watch some Yuzuru Hanyu's figure skating videos as comparisons. Haha.. There are no crazy inhuman movements and scores and I got to learn a little bit about the point system and figure skating competitions in general. Unfortunately, things get repetitive in the middle when the same songs and similar movements are re-used for the competitions and even the Grand Prix Final. As a main character, Yuri starts as a Japan champion already competing in the world Grand Prix so it is not the typical underdog becoming a champion kind of story. However, I don't really see how Victor trains Yuri and it makes as if what drives Yuri's performance is the romance element.

The characters are likeable and each of them has unique personality. Even the Yuri Plisetsky's angst comes across for comedic effect most of the time instead of making him like the unlikeable rival/enemy. While I like the international casts, I am quite bothered that they all speak Japanese. There is no accent differentiation or stark difference in the character designs to depict that they are all from different countries.

As the series progresses, there is a difficulty in maintaining the momentum. I feel that the climax is at the China Cup which is at the middle of the series. Subsequently, things get pretty repetitive and boring before the final episode which is completely anti-climatic. The ending does not hit a high note whether it is for the competitive sports elements as well as the romance elements. Anyway I am not even sure if it is correct to say 'romance' since the Yuri-Victor's relationship is also ambiguous. They are trying hard to balance between not make it explicitly shonen-ai/yaoi to keep the series mainstream but they still want a shonen-ai/yaoi feel to make girls go gaga.

With all the hype, I hope there will be a second season in which Victor will be competitive again. It will be nice to see Victor and Yuri skating as competitors.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Lan jiao

Articuno and Lugia are the first of the Legendaries that are made available at Pokemon Go starting today. After gym today, I was going to Plaza Sing for lunch. On the way, I saw this blue bird at Takashimaya so I decided to detour. I only had 5 balls and obviously this lan jiao flew away goddammit. I am not trying to be vulgar since lan = blue and jiao = bird and this bloody thing is indeed a blue bird.

After missing Tyranitar 2 days ago, my mood to walk my buddy was already spoilt so I decided to go home. Again on the way, I saw another Articuno at Novena Square 2. I alighted to try to catch. I even bought Poke Coins since I ran out of raid pass today. I spent 20 minutes just to find the exact location of the gym. And even with 10 balls this time, it flew away again.

Seriously lan jiao.. I am so upset.. and so jealous seeing people already getting both Articuno and Lugia. Bleah.. enough Pokemon Go for today.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I used to think that patience and humility are the virtues most difficult for me to ever attain. I am still impatient now but at least I can mask it with "bo chup"-ness. I am not boastful but I am proud and arrogant. Although I can suppress the outward manifestation, deep inside I know that I am still far from being humble.

It seems now that being grateful and not cynical will be even a more impossible challenge for me. Nothing is perfectly good or bad in this world. However, even if something which is 80-90% good happen to me, I will still feel the emoness from the 10-20% which is not good. Heck, even for something that is 100% good, I will still grumble. Like today I received an email that I got a teaching award. The initial excitement of getting $$$ quickly disappeared with negative thoughts like: why is it only now instead of previous years? Is it simply because there is noone else to nominate and hence it is my turn this year, rather than because I am really deserving for this?

No matter what or where, the grass will always be greener at the other side because ultimately nothing or nowhere is 100% perfect. Since green is my favourite colour, it seems that I am destined to be unhappy forever and ever because I can't help but looking at new greens.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming

The reviews for Spider-Man (yes, there is a dash) are surprisingly mixed and both sides are rather extreme with their likes or dislikes. I only decided to watch it today since I still have 5 movie tickets which are expiring in November and I think I would be running out of movies.

I am actually at the camp that finds Spider-Man enjoyable. Marvel takes the correct direction not to reboot the plot about how Peter Parker gets his superpowers but to continue where Civil War ends. The plot is rather weak and forced since Peter is now "bored" with this daily life and is looking forward to the next big Avengers' thingy. While it is quite realistic as these superheroes also have normal boring life when they are not fighting super villains, it is not that appealing as a movie. The plot is also realistic in depicting that even superheroes have learning curves too. Spidey is all to eager to fling into action and still inexperienced to think of the possible collateral damages of his actions.

Vulture is a good super villain here. His motivation is rather low-key i.e. selling weapons illegally to support his family and we get to take a break from the heavier world destroying motivation of that sort. This motivation matches up nicely with Spidey who is still learning to be a superhero.

The action scenes are rather underwhelming too. There is not enough web-shooting, web-slinging, or physical fights. It is mostly CGI and CGI. That makes the only Spider-Man thing left is his personality: he talks non-stop. OMG yes a part of me find it very irritating but that is really his personality in the comics. Poor Tom Holland whom people may find very childish and irritating although he actually plays Peter Parker's personality damn well. I am not surprised that people dub him the best Spider-Man so far as his portrayal is the closest to the comic book.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is also missing the usual Marvel's comedic effects as well as the touching emotional moments. Iron Man is like-able here and he delivers some of the best lines ("If you are nothing without the suit then you should not have it"; "I want you to be better (than Iron Man)") despite his short screen time. The pep-talk and the part where Peter realises that he (almost) screwed up could have been better to ramp up the emotional parts.

Now that I have watched this, it is not surprising why reviews are so polarised. A part of me thinks it sucks as a superhero movie in which I am expecting action movie spectacles. Another part of me thinks that there has never been a superhero movie from this angle yet: the boring daily civilian lives. I guess Marvel is angling this movie to establish Spider-Man's position in the Avengers and the bigger Marvel Cinematic Universe, rather than to create a Spider-Man-centric universe. I am not gonna say this is movie good or bad, but I will just say that it is enjoyable enough.

And gosh.. the dash is irritating! Why can't it be just Spiderman instead of Spider-Man?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

No progress

It is always one or the other. It is never both. Before I started gym-ing last year, I had no trouble controlling my diet but I had trouble committing to night jogging sessions. Now that I start going to gym, I am having trouble controlling my diet. Honestly, I think my current state is worse than the past because I am spending more money for both gym and the food. I am aiming to restart my diet again tomorrow. Lets see how it goes...

I have been gym-ing for 6+ months. Yesterday was the second quarterly testing and I am disappointed :( Comparing the results with the previous quarter, clearly there was no improvement whatsoever. When I did the first one in April, I was still doing squat pull. Recently, I have been doing some jump pulls but clearly I am jumping rather than pulling. Although I am not sure if I misheard the instructions that I had to hold my arm at 90 degrees or otherwise it would not be counted because in the previous test, I could hold as high as possible. Thus I was slowly lowering myself until 90 degrees and tried to hold there. Not to mention that the ring was so high that I had to "climb" the wall with my leg first to reach the position. So tired already lor...
I might have chionged too much for the squat and that was the only improvement that I could see. After that, my thighs were already at the limit. In fact the tabata showed my weaker state. In April, I did the 2x5kg dumbbells for the first 4 sets but yesterday I only used 1x 6kg mountainball and I still could not get past 4 sets.

I had to rush for a friend's wedding so I went for the quarterly testing in the morning. Next time I will definitely go for a late afternoon session like what I did in April. There was nobody and it felt much more relaxed. Yesterday morning was so crowded and we were queueing for the coach. To have strangers looking at me doing was also embarrassing especially since I am lousy. Not to mention that it made me even demoralised when I saw others were doing better than me. Even the petite girl before me was able to complete all the tabata set with 2x5kg dumbbells. Haiz.. I am really a loser.

It was so tiring and I nearly fell down when I wanted to grab my phone to take photo of the test sheet. My knees and thighs were wobbly and had no strengths. Partly because I did not really do a proper cool down since the next person was up on the line as well. You can tell how tiring it was from the lousy quality of the photos I took of the form. I thought the first one in April was so blur that I made sure I did better yesterday. I managed to keep the focus but the photo was still slanted. Not sure if the last number is 11 or 12 although it does not matter anyway.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Natsume Yuujinchou (Season 5-6)

Whee... Natsume is back after almost 5 years break with season 4 ended in March 2012. Season 5 was released in October 2016 and season 6 just finished airing in June 2017, making this as my most up-to-date anime watching experience. Lol.

The overall feel of the slice of life theme is still very similar to the first 4 seasons which is a good thing as that is what makes Natsume Yuujinchou special and unique. The is some progress in the story as in these 2 seasons, it seems that Natsume has grown in his acceptance in his power to see youkai and is interested to learn more about his power. He is now also more open to Tanuma and Taki when it comes to youkai things. With the limited number of episodes, this is done at the expense of the slice of life portion of the story. There is very few releasing of youkai names and there is fewer story involving Natsume and his classmates. The one I miss the most is the lesser interactions with Natsume's youkai friends. Even my favourite Kogitsune does not appear at all in these 2 seasons T_T

The best episodes from these 2 seasons are those pertaining to the people around Natsume. There is an episode of Touko's life before adopting Natsume (the white crow thing at the end of this episode really made me cry) and an episode on how Nishimura and Kitamoto becoming friends with Natsume. Reading people's comments on the message boards for these 2 episodes make me realise that I am not alone. A lot of people have the same sentiments with me that how we all wish that in our daily lives, we have kind people like the ones surrounding Natsume. I think we all enjoy Natsume Yuujincho because in our real lives, we are tired of the wicked people around us.

What is Natsume Yuujinchou without nice theme song?
Opening song for season 6: Floria by Tomohisa Sako
By far, this is the best song from the series. The melody is uplifting and the singer has a really soothing voice.

Reading the comments that currently the anime has caught up with the manga, I think it will be another few years before we can see season 7. And I hope they draw Nyanko-sensei back to the older style because I think he is really fat in this season 5-6 sia...