Friday, September 15, 2017

Pre-holiday emotional roller coaster

This is the usual pattern of holiday planning:
Long time before the trip while booking flights and planning of itinerary: ECSTATIC
As the trip comes closer, the planning gets to the details more: IRRITATING
1 week before the trip: I CAN'T WAIT FOR NEXT WEEK!
Few days later: Don't worry. There is enough time to prepare.
3 days before: YAY! Time to start packing.
2 days to 1 day before: OMG OMG CAN'T FINISH PACKING
Few hours before: I will just buy things at the holiday place T_T

Holiday should be a time to relax and to be enjoyed. But the Mr Perfectionist in me wants to prepare everything and that gives the unnecessary stress. Partly because I will be alone in a foreign land for the first day. Where does my YOLO-ness go? 15 years ago I was dumped to live in Singapore alone and many times I travelled alone: no big deal. Few years ago I took taxi in wee hours of the morning in Seoul and I resigned to my fate if I would be kidnapped by North Korean. Haha.. Now I am so old already but I can't understand why I am so worried and scared to be in Osaka alone.

I am not too happy with my hair but after yesterday's photoshoot for pharmacist day, I think I don't look too ugly. Today was teachers' day celebration and I think I look not too ugly as well. Hopefully tomorrow everything is smooth and see how things go la.

YOLO spirit man!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans (Season 2)

After done with Natsume Yuujincho seasons 5 & 6 and Yuri on Ice, I run out of idea on what anime to watch next. That's why I decided to give Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans season 2 a try despite the disappointing first season. I finished this in 1.5 months so it is not as terrible as the first season.

Season 2 takes a place a few years after the end of season 1. Tekkadan has grown to be quite big, even with an earth branch. Unfortunately, their ambition grows bigger than what they are capable of doing and this leads to their downfall. Orga seems to forget his dream to give happiness to Tekkadan and strikes a deal with McGillis who is overconfident that with getting Gundam Bael, he will have Gjallarhorn under his control and promise Tekkadan to be "King of Mars" -whatever it means. Sadly, despite getting Bael, McGillis does not gain the control that he is expecting and the tide of war is turned with McGillis and Tekkadan to be the losing side. Although it is too late, Orga realises his mistake in the end. Instead of going stupid to fight a losing war, he tries to find alternatives -even by an unheroic surrender- to ensure survival of Tekkadan members and ultimately realises his original dream of happiness of Tekkadan. 

It sucks to invest time in a series which end with the death of the main characters no matter how 'makes sense' as a story it is. The ending is sad but honestly I don't see any way that the story can go with Tekkadan being the victor of war. A lot of people hate that the war ends in favour of the antagonist, but just like real world, history is written by the winner. Rustal Elion does a lot of bad things and even fire the forbidden weapon, Dainslef, but noone cares since he ends the war. Does that sound a lot like how World War II ends with the atomic bombs?

Shit story aside, lets go back to this as an anime. As a Gundam title, Iron Blooded Orphans is underwhelming. It is being mentioned that there are 72 Gundam frames etc but only less than 10 appear eventually. With all the man-machine interface, it is no longer about who is the better pilot but it is more about which machine is stronger. The battles are disappointing and the deaths of the characters are stupid: Shino commits suicides (yes it is a suicide for going towards the enemy instead of backing of), Akihiro and Mikazuki die because of Dainslef barrage (imagine how on earth human can survive atomic bomb), Lafter, Orga, and McGillis all die because of gunshot (Lafter and Orga are shot by faceless and nameless characters too! urgh). Where are all the heroic fights and deaths etc? I have no idea what the heck Kudelia is actually doing in this series and for Mars independence. It seems that at the end of the war, Rustal just wants to focus on earth first that he is simply giving Mars over to Kudelia. It does not feel that it is because of Tekkadan's fight.

Characters are badly written and unrelatable. In the grand scheme of things, the war can be summarised as Tekkadan stupidly sides with McGillis' coup d'etat against Rustal. It seems that only McGillis has an agenda while Tekkadan and Rustal's Arianrhod fleet are just dragged into the war and story as a 'by the way thing' and do not really have a reason to be involved in the war in the first place. Everybody at all sides seem to be very stupid and brainlessly loyal to their leaders without any reason to justify their loyalty: be it Tekkadan members who mostly just follows Orga (don't they care of their own lives?), McGillis' nameless and faceless followers/army, as well as Julieta & Gaelio who do not seem to have any reason to fight the war and can be considered as silent supporters of Rustal's inhumane tactics and action.

Still about the characters, I am quite surprised with the threesome relationship between Kudelia-Mikazuki-Atra. Perhaps the creator wants to take a modern approach but their relationship is very cringey to watch. Occasionally sweet, but cringey most of the time. In addition, Yamagi is gay which is made clear and explicit and it is interesting that his object of affection, Shino, actually knows it and is pretty cool about it. McGillis is also revealed to be a toy boy in a brothel in his childhood. Not exactly his choice but it is still a surprising background story.

I usually like some realism in the fiction work that I read or watch. Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans depicts war story very realistically with the blurring of the line between good and bad as both sides seem to be justifiable with their actions. McGillis wants to end corruption within Gjallarhorn while Rustal just wants to maintain his position. While Rustal is ruthless in war, he is not exactly the enemy who corrupts the Gjallarhorn or starts the war. In that sense, he is not exactly the antagonist. This plot itself is okay. Unfortunately, other characters lack of believable motivation and they become mere plot devices and pawns. To me, that is the main reason that I find this Iron Blooded Orphans suck as an anime. I take Gundam Build Fighters over this any day :)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Osaka trip planning

Long weekend is over! Although it was not really a long weekend for me because I had to work yesterday, the holiday on Friday gave me a breather to plan for my Osaka trip in 2 weeks time. The worst part of a holiday is always the returning to work and the planning. I am always amazed with people who go for solo travel. I am not even solo travelling this time! I am only solo-ing on the first day yet I feel so stressful to prepare things. Yes, only ONE FREAKING DAY! Lol. So yeah personally I prefer a holiday in which I just follow people blindly.

I settled the more important things like USJ ticket, transport from airport to Namba, data roaming and router rental. However I spent more time to look for not so important things like where to shower after arrival (thank goodness there is airport lounge at Kansai Airport that I can use after arrival) and where to store my luggage while waiting for my airbnb check in time. Other than coin lockers, I find an office to store luggage for awhile. In fact, there is even a service for the luggage to be delivered from the airport to the hotel directly. Wow.. If I stay in a hotel this time, I will definitely use that. Haha..

My plan for day 1 is actually to visit 2 photo studios for samurai and kimono photos. That is why I am very particular about showering lol. I also want to explore Namba, Denden Town, and Osaka-Umeda areas to see if there is any good shopping places to return to at the other days. Apparently Mandarake Grandchaos is just 1 block away from the airbnb place. Hoho..

Holiday is a good reason to replace my gadgets. My Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 (the original tablet and not the current handphone whose name is without the .0) is near its end of life with LCD bleeding and dying battery. Repairing it does not make any financial sense and hence I might as well buy a new tablet.

I bought the tablet in 2013 the same year that it was released. I am honestly very disappointed with Samshit after this. Only 4 years and they are no longer offering service to their flagship item. Bleah.. seriously.. Currently tablet market is terrible. The cheap ones (i.e those below <$300) have worse specs than my current Note 8.0. The newer one, yes I am looking at you Samsung Tab S3, is above $1000 and no way I am going to spend that much of money anymore for Samshit.

I usually avoid rotten Apple but it is finally time for me to jump to iPad. iPad mini and iPad are in the $500-$650 range and the only competitor is Samsung Tab S2. Both iPads are 2017 release while Samsung Tab S2 is 2016 release so it is a no-brainer which one I will get. After intensive 1 day research, I decided to get iPad and hence I went to Comex. This was my first trip in maybe a decade lol. It was not as crowded as expected. There was ample space to avoid direct human to human contact. Yup, those anime fairs are actually more crowded. But seriously, the promoters were really pesky. They just shoved flyers to you. At the beginning, I still politely smiled and lifted my hand to declined the flyers but eventually I just ignored them altogether. I know you are all doing your work but still, sorry about that.

In the end, I did not buy any iPad. Haha.. Initially I wanted to get iPad 128gb but I find the size is too big :( iPad mini 128gb has a nice size but it is onl $50 cheaper than the bigger iPad. Not to mention that iPad mini processor is 1 generation lousier than iPad. Haiz.. I think I shall work my Samshit until its end of life and I hope it does not explode.

Haiz I better settle my hair cut and exchanging Yen first.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Running again

August passed and I survived the first month of my manager role. Thank God for all the help and support. It is a miracle things are not broken apart yet and I still survived.. just with more white hair and pimples. I have to be honest that lately my tyrannical side starts to surface. Gosh I know that this is one of my weaknesses that when noone is reining on me, I may just go crazy. Haiz.. Only God can help and rein me.

As part of training for the running event on 1st October, clinic organised a practice run at Toa Payoh Stadium on Wednesday. Wow.. that was my first time jogging again since my hernia surgery in 2014. For 5km, it would be 12.5 rounds in the inner lane. Obviously I did not complete and I gave up after 8 rounds haha... I did that in 20 minutes. It made completing 2.4km and cross country (4.8km) runs in my secondary school and JC more than a decade ago miracles. How the heck I completed them.. Well things remain the same: I would still fail my NAPFA.. and once I stopped a while to walk, there was no way I would be back up jogging till the end.

I am quite disappointed because all the time and money spent on gym for the past 9 months do not seem to bear any fruits :( Firstly I was even slower than I used to be :( Yes I know I am a more than a decade older now and bla bla bla but still :( I also only lasted for 20 minutes which is the usual duration of my gym sessions. Yet I felt as tired as the quarterly testing. Even more weird, I found my arms more tired than my thighs. Alamak.. arms were just swinging lightly for balance leh. So can't gym today, tomorrow gym is closed for public holiday, and saturday I can't go too.

On a good note, Final Fantasy Mobius Anniversary month has come to an end too. I did not get anything good from the boosted greater summon pulls. However, I got Tonberry and Zidane jobs from the free daily pull. I am hoping for Squall but I guess I should not be complaining. It is still better to get something than nothing.
I can only say that I am used to seeing Zidane in SD form. This will be what Zidane would look like if FF IX is made in normal scale. So awkward haha...

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.