Sunday, December 30, 2012

End of the year... End of holidays..

Sigh.. holidays are always bittersweet.. or perhaps sweetbitter if there is such word. After more than 10 years living away from home, it is always hard to leave home. My family and my treasures are all home and it is very difficult to leave these behind.. Haiz.. I find it a chore to clean my figurines and my manga cupboards but alas, I have to take care of my treasures right? Life is always ironic. If I don't buy these things, I would not need to clean and tidy up the cupboards.. But then if I don't buy these things, I wonder what I will do to make myself happy. Bleah.. I am more or less done with the packing, something which I hate to do! I actually love packing when I am going home. So perhaps it is not the "packing" but it is the leaving home part which makes it hate-able.

Christmas is over and this year I did not actively search for a Christmas present from myself by myself and for myself. Haha.. Had been shopping too much for this year.. But looks like God still gave me a Christmas present. I did not know how but I somehow bumped into Gundam Wing Resin by B-club listed in allaboutgundamwing.com. I actually knew about the existence of this item a few years back when I saw its advertisement in one of the Gundam Wing Japanese books. But at that time, it was not listed in that website yet so I had no idea the name of the item. I found one in Yahoo! Japan. Yay!! Kinda pricey for 3675 Yen (the selller claimed the retail price is 7350 Yen) but it was my childhood (or perhaps teenhood) dream so I am glad to get it.
Since Gundam Wing was out more than a decade ago, I did not expect that the website will have any more updates. So it was a good surprise to see updates on the merchandise section. Bleah, I want the Gundam Wing Clothes Change Cell and the Phase DX cells leh :( Dunno how where to find liao.. I knew I had a few of the Gundam SeeD Phase DX cells. I got it from Takashimaya B2 sale many years back. I did not know there were a few more series of these Phase DX cells. Anyway, at that time I had not come across online shopping so I doubt that I would be able to get the rest also.

Still on the topic of Christmas present, my mum wanted to give me a Christmas present. I told her I had nothing on my mind so there was no need to give one. Again, I did not know what prompted us to enter a Catholic shop at Mall Kelapa Gading. To be honest, the shop has been there for years but this was our first time entering. I saw a beautiful rosary made of aquamarine T_T There is an aquamarine bracelet rosary too!! The full rosary costs Rp. 1.275.000,- while the bracelet costs Rp. 275.000,-. The beads for the full rosary is bigger (10 or 12mm) so I was tempted to buy that for the aquamarine beads! However, in terms of usability, the bracelet would be better as it will help me to pray rosary when I am on the move. Furthermore I have no bracelet rosary yet, 

On the rainy Thursday, I set my mind to buy both!! Haha.. But by the time I reached the shop, I changed my mind and in the end I bought none. I have so many rosaries which I don't use (I am still using my very first rosary from a friend in primary school) so I think this aquamarine will also be collecting dust. I did not buy the bracelet because it had 11 beads and a cross. This is the same as rosary ring from my friend which has 11 protrusions. So I don't know whether these are normal rosaries or they are for other prayers. I thought rosaries should have 10 beads and a cross for 10 Hail Marys and Our Father/Glory Be respectively. I gave myself a few days to see whether I could sit down and pray a full rosary at one sit. If I could, I will start that habit again and there is a reason to get the full aquamarine rosary. Anyway, I succeeded for a day. Haha.. Okay that's a sign for me not to buy.

Anyway, I am still happy with the Gundam Wing Resin. I hope it would arrive safely and is still in top condition :D

Friday, December 28, 2012

Yamato Nadeshiko Shinchi Henge


Synopsis:
Blessed with good looks, Takano Kyohei is always suffering from the unreasonable behaviour of customers who want him and the sexual harassment of his store manager. Because of his hot temper, he loses his head on this occasion and is fired from his part time job. Then one day, the glamorous house owner, Ms Nakahara proposes, "I'll give you free board and lodging if you can turn my niece, Sunako, into a lady!". Kyohei, and Toyama Yukinojo, Oda Takenaga, and Morii Ranmaru, the other guys living together in the same boarding house, are enthusiastic, but the person who appears before the four of them is a spooky girl whose hair covers her face and who loves horror and vampires. And so, their tumultuous communal life begins..

My opinion:
On the surface, the story looks "usual" with typical shoujo manga elements such as: an ugly and antisocial girl who stay with 4 uber handsome and popular guys, school/dormitory life, conflicts with family, etc. The personalities of the 4 guys are also typical: the hot-headed one, the "girly" one, the cool and quiet one, and the womaniser. But hey, this is the best dorama of 2010. There have to be plenty of reasons.

First reason is the humour. Being another dorama based on manga, the humour and jokes can be over the top. So it is cool when these over-the-top things can be made realistic, believable, and still hilarious on screen. And this is closely tied-in with the actors who play their roles well. And the actors are the second reason. Well, perhaps the more accurate one is the acting. They can switch modes from being lame, funny, serious, angry, frustrated, sad, touched etc easily. This applies not only to the main 5 people but also to the supporting casts. Basically, that makes the dorama very watchable. The supporting casts are not mere decorations as there are few subplots which centre about them.

Third reason is the plot. The theme of "don't judge book by its cover" is a common thing. But people tend to relate it to someone ugly or stupid. Has anybody thought that good looks can also bring problem? I would say that it is a genius to think that way. While on one side we see Sunako's problems with her peculiarity, on the other side, we are also presented with the problems from the ikemens due to their good looks: stalking, sexual harrassment, just to name a few.

People will expect that in the end, the ugly duckling will change into a beautiful swan. I don't know about the manga but in the dorama, it does not happen. So words like "What matters most is your heart, not your face" or "Be yourself" said by the characters are not empty words. That is another bonus point for me. Having said that, it means that throughout the series, there are very few opportunities to show the pretty side of Oomasa Aya (who plays Sunako). I love her bad-ass side especially during the fights in episode 1 when she is wearing kimono. Yea...

Afterthoughts:
My life is not perfect. At times, I hate my job and I hate my life. There are times when I wish that I were born to a rich family.. Or that I were born damn handsome or talented so that I can make a living from being a movie star or something. But hey, the grass is always greener at the other side although in reality the greener side may have more shit as the fertilizer.. After watching this, I don't think it is a perfect life to have strangers stalking you or to have parents forcing you to take over family business and maintain family status. Which is better or which is worse? I don't know.. What's best is to make the best out of what I currently have and who I currently am.

And at my current age, it is kinda horror to challenges in love lives that guys commonly face: scared to commit, worried of being rejected, scared that other people see our weaknesses. And the most horrific thing is to watch Ranmaru's love story. While I am NOT a womaniser, I see some resemblence with him: my friends are mostly females but yet I am still single. Other than the common horros that guys face, I have to admit that I am still selfish and I love myself so much that perhaps I am unable to love another person yet. Gosh.. looks like an arranged marriage or even a matchmaking is fine with me at this stage of life sia =x

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Final Fantasy VIII Transcendent Artist's Collection: Rinoa & Siren

This post is very outdated as I actually got hold of the item in late October from a seller in Indonesia for Rp 3,500,000,-. Okay that's the way we write currency in Indonesia using comma instead of full stop. It is about $450 so more or less the same as what I budgeted it for. The figure is still undamaged, except for imperfections on the base. This figure is numbered 1317. Later on, I purchased another damaged figure of Rinoa & Siren because it was being sold with undamaged Squall & Bahamut which was the one that I actually wanted. That turned out to be a big disaster as I wrote here and here. The damaged figure is numbered 445. Actually the damaged Rinoa & Siren is quite common because the way Kotobukiya made the packaging. When the box is put lying down, instead of standing up, the weight of the figure presses on one flock of Siren's hair (wings?) so that flock of hair (wings?) always breaks. So I am glad that I managed to get one which is undamaged.

Okay moving on to the figure itself. The box is 37cm (H) x 29cm (L) x 20cm (W) and white is a bad choice of colour as it ages quite horribly. The statue itself is majestic. I never really like Siren or Rinoa in-game but I can't deny that this figure is simply the best out of the 5 in the series. Siren's massive hair (wings?) gives volume and imposing angel-like presence to the figure. The figure is about 18 inches tall, about the same as Seifer & Odin. The way the hair (wings?) is design is simply breathtaking in the details. The figure is sculpted by Kenji Ando who sculpted the fugly Quistis and Selphie. As expected, Rinoa is fugly too although Siren is surprisingly pretty here. And one thing which makes Rinoa & Siren unique as compared to the other statues is that Rinoa is not detachable from the main statue. Ironically, the statue is better paired with Seifer & Odin than with Squall & Bahamut. Seifer & Odin is as tall as Rinoa & Siren and Odin's horn looks from far like demon's wings, making it a good pair with Siren's angel-like hair (wings?). The only complaint I have with this statue is that Rinoa and Siren are facing different directions that it is difficult to determine the "front" side of the statue for displaying purpose.

Enough of words, it is picture time. As one statue is in Jakarta and the other is in Singapore, I am unable to take them side by side like what I did with Seifer & Odin. However, one noticeable difference is that the undamaged on has more yellowish hue rather than angelic white that the damaged on has. Funny..
Front side of the packing box
Back side of the packaging box
Top side of the packaging box
Serial card
The other side of the card
Unboxing.. The statue consists of 3 parts: Siren & Rinoa and 2 hair (wings?) extensions
The statue and the packaging box
 Some close-ups of the statue below.
Darn!! it's blur!!
Siren facing front
The subject to discussion up to now: What is the thing that Rinoa is holding?
Yes.. Heartilly is spelt as Heatilly here -_-
Next few pictures are taken with the statue at my house in Jakarta. This is taken in the balcony for better lighting from the sun. The figure definitely looks awesome under the sun.
Too much zoom destroys the image quality
 Okay, the sun is playing trick to the eyes here. The figure looks very yellowish here haha..
The base is damn chui!! Thanks to the sun it is easy to see the wooden base!
Update: I managed to sell the damaged one (serial no: 0445) in July 2016 for USD 600. Lucky me, a few weeks later I found an undamaged one for 36600 JPY (including shipping) from Mandarake. I don't think I will be taking photos of it. The serial number is 0935.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Hello, Hello! And Merry Christmas :)

For this year's Christmas, my mum's family had a reunion because my uncle, who is now staying at New Zealand, is in Jakarta. Certain things just do not change even with time. I have difficulties mingling around with cousins from my mum's family. Bleah.. No problem with the uncles and aunties though. This is kinda ironic because age-wise, I should be closer to my cousins leh!! Haha..

One thing I note is that for those who spent time away from home for their universities tend to look for jobs which allow them to stay at home while for those who spent time at home for their universities tend to get jobs which are away from home. Okay, I am an exceptionally sad case as I was away for studies and am away for work. Bleah.. Well, I have resigned to the way of life which God wants me to do.. Anyway, today I am a proud owner of Galaxy Note. During the phototaking before we left, everyone wanted to take pictures with their cameras/phones and the poor photographers had to squeeze into a corner to capture everyone. When it was my phone's turn, he exclaimed: "Wah! This is a cool wide screen!". Yay.. Beat all the iPhones and Blackberries out there. Lmao.

It is not an exaggeration to label Mariah Carey as the Queen of Christmas songs. I went to a few different malls and her music was always played everywhere to the point where it gets sickening to hear her voice. Haha.. Well, I guess she is still the awesome one because people don't really enjoy her duet with Justin Bieber. The original All I Want For Christmas Is You remains the most played Christmas song.

Nothing special here.. Just that this is an 2012 performance.

Time to sleep early today. Haha.. I celebrated Christmas by eating Tiramisu and drinking Sake at midnight yesterday. The tiramisu was damn good that it kept me awake until like 3 am.. Lol.. Damn shagged now.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Unusual Christmas (Eve)

This year's Christmas is a different one for me. Previously, I set my own "tradition" to not leave the house for a few days before and after Christmas so that I can spend time listening to my Christmas music and watching my Christmas movies. Well, the music is still on but I absolutely have no time for the Christmas movies. Instead, I read 2 books to build up the Christmas mood. I can't remember when I bought the books or when the last time I read them. Haha.. I could only recall vaguely what the story is about so the time is ripe for me to re-read them. Anyway, they are the only Christmas-related books that I own.


The first one is called The Christmas Train by David Baldacci. Pardon me for the tiny picture as I cannot find a good one online. Thanks to the newer (but uglier) cover of the 2011 version. The story is about a disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon who had been banned from taking domestic flights due to some security misunderstanding at the airport. Tom now had to take train from Washington to LA to spend Christmas with his girlfriend. He met interesting people on board and this was what made train trip special: strangers form bonds during the short time together. Unexpectedly, he met his ex who happened to be the love of his life on the train. With theft on board, blizzard, and plenty of romance, this part detective, part disaster, and part romance is a brilliant, heart-warming holiday tale. The ending may be a "cliche" to many but I think it captures the spirit of Christmas: to give presents (suprises!) to people who are dear to your heart.


The second book is The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. Despite the title, the mystery is actually not something horror. The story is about a young boy with an Advent Calendar. Each window comes with an interesting story about a procession which travels back both in time and in space to the birth of Christ in Betlehem. Is the story somehow related to the small girl who went missing on a Christmas Eve 40 years ago? With every element of Christmas (advent calendar, angels, the 3 Wise Men, the sheep, biblical quotes, and Christianity history), it is an amazing read for Christmas. I wonder whether this is based on real historical events of angel sightings around Europe? Hmm.. No time to google it.. The ending is quite nice although the kidnapping part is a big question mark. Haha..

Another half an hour before Christmas but I would just wish every one a very Merry Christmas. Do not forget about the one who matters most on this special day: the birthday Boy!! On this note, Happy Birthday Jesus. I apologise for, again and again, failing to bring a special birthday gifts for you T_T

I would like to end with a quote from The Christmas Mystery book which I think summarises Christmas nicely.

"It would be find to work out how many kilos of stones and timber have been used to celebrate Jesus's birth, not to mention how many cakes have been baked or how many parcels have been packed. Christmas is the world's biggest birthday party, for everybody in the whole world is invited to join in. That's why the party has lasted for so many years."

I am not being biased. Based on my own experience, Christmas has always been a special and magical time to me, even before I became a baptised Catholics. Despite all the criticism about secularisation and commercialisation of Christmas, I think it is part of spreading of Christmas magic and joy. You don't need to know Jesus to experience Christmas joy. Yup.. because God's Christmas message is always about love and peace and love and peace are universal.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I survived the End

So the world did not come to an end YET! This means that I have survived two "end of the world" scenarios: the millenium bug in 1999 (was it by Nostradamus) and the Mayan prophecy in 2012. People just like to concoct their own stories to create a big hoo-hah. It seems that when it comes to the end of time, believe in what Jesus said: Not even He knows the time, only the Father knows about it and that Jesus will return in the same way that He left the Earth 2000 years ago. Anyway, since the world did not come to an end, it just means that my sucky life continues as usual.

I completely forgot about Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary whose official date was 18 December. In the end I gave up on getting The Sky: The Art of the Final Fantasy by Yoshitaka Amano. I just hope that Dark Horse will really produce the slip case at reasonable price. In place of that, I ordered the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimania back in November. I am crossing my fingers that they are really artbooks and not full  of Japanese text which I can't freaking read. I only remembered about it when cdjapan.com informed me to top up the shipping fee 2 days ago. Sigh.. To keep the suspense (and to keep the news new), I will only talk more about it when I have the items on hand.

Christmas is just around the corner and I flipped open and re-read the Christmas cards since more than a decade ago. I don't really have a lot but it was a journey down to memory lanes since the time in primary school. It is quite funny to see what and how kids wrote back then. And it is interesting to note how I was like back then. Not boasting but I am not surprised to see that my friends noted me as a smart kid since back then. What surprised me is that I actually was quite naughty and mischiveous since my primary school times. Lol.. I thought I had been a good boy all these while.

Technology has its boon and bane. I thought it kinda sucks that technology actually kills the culture of sending of Christmas cards and whatever cards for special occasions. It takes skills and a lot of thoughts to choose the pictures, choose the words, or even pen down our own words. And the ultimate beauty is that if we keep these cards and re-read them again a few years down the road, it is like a magic which allows to you relive your past. With all instant messaging, sending whatever wishes for special occasions becomes quite meaningless. Oh well.. However, one wonder of technology is that it keeps people connected. I actually miss my primary school friends. Ironically, I cannot remember maybe 90% of them both in names and in faces. Sigh.. Yup.. when I graduated from primary school, it was not an era when internet existed. My primary school did not even have a year book!! Bleah.. It will be wonderful if someone will organise a reunion. Haiz..

Thursday, December 20, 2012

20-12-2012

Today is a special day. Perhaps there will be no more dates with recurrent patterns until the next century. Oh wait, that is IF there will be next century. Today is also a special day because it may be the last day of this earth. Not sure whether those Mayan "prophecies" will come true and tomorrow will be the end of the earth. I hope if the world really comes to an end then I will have a ticket for heaven.

My eyes nearly popped out in delight when I saw the December pay being credited to my bank. Hehe.. I wonder when I will have such amount as my normal monthly pay sia. Haha.. Anyway, I have never own such a large amount of money up to know so I am feeling 'rich' right now. But no worries, no mood to spend on anything as I realised that I spent close to $10000 for my toys throughout 2012. That is a crazy amount, ridiculous in fact.. But oh well.. I think it is just the initial rush of having money and splurging. Now that I almost have everything I want and have no more space to keep things, the spending should stop. I think I should start thinking of investment. And for the coming new year resolution, I better set a limit on "monthly allowance" for my toys.

I mostly finished the foodstuff I brought back for holiday. Baumkuchen was a waste of money. Despite the cool name, sponge cake is sponge cake, even if it comes from Germany, even if it is a complicated one to make. So to be honest, there is nothing special about Baumkuchen. I also brought Royce Potato Chips which were covered by cheese. I did not store it in fridge (anyway the recommended storage is 25 deg C or less) so it was kind of yucky to hold somewhat-melted cheese. Taste-wise, it is not cheesy enough.. and there is not much potato chips taste too.

I will end with AKB48's latest single "Eien Pressure". Yay for another 1 million sale single!! Not as catchy as "Gingham Check" but at least better than "Uza".


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I always wonder why old people still wake up so early even though they are no longer working. Now I know the answer! It is not easy to get rid of habits formed form decades of working. Jeez.. I have only worked for less than 2 years and I can get rid of the bad habits from working live. Grr.. For the past 3 days, I always woke up so early.. Previously, it was the norm to wake up at 9 or 10 when I was at home for holidays. In addition, despite my regular instant noodle breakfast, I feel hungry at 10-11am and then I would have a late lunch. Even in the evening, it is almost impossible to stay away beyond 1am. Bleah.. For goodness sake!! It's holidays, man!!

2 weeks is a short period of time. Sad.. I will not have enough time to do what I want to do. Currently I am still in the midst of reading mangas while at the same time listening to music from the various J-Pop concert vcds I own. It is interesting to note how my interest (read: the ways I waste money) has shifted from years to years. In my early days, I used to buy J Pop concert vcds. I stopped at 2005 with Ayumi Hamasaki 2005 Concert Arena concert. Then Gundam model kits caught my interest followed by Final Fantasy Play Arts Figures. After started working, now I am eyeing at expensive resin figures.. Bleah..

My recent interest is in movie books which was started by Harry Potter books. I bought the making of Marvel Avengers movie although I have not read it yet. I already flipped through it but I am somehow disappointed with the lack of commentaries. I recently ordered the Art of the Rise of the Guardians. Yup, the cartoon is a nice holiday movie for 2012 and it rekindles the child in me. I hope the book is nice. I don't know what's the problem with this book. It has always been out of stock in Amazon. I wanted to buy it from Kinokuniya during the Christmas sale but it was out of stock after the sale period started. Grr.. I ordered it from Book Depository so I hope there is no problem. This marks my first time using Book Depository too.

Anyway, books issue aside, I have watched Tackey & Tsubasa [Hatachi] de Debut Giant Hits Concert with all Johnny's Jr (2002), V6 Live Arena Tour 2002 Feel Your Breeze "one" summer, and V6 Summer Special Dream Live 2003. I am glad that after close to 10 years, the discs are still playing find. With all the HD video quality nowadays, VCD qualities from a decade ago look so amateurish :p Haha.. Anyway, it is quite something to see how these idols have aged haha.. It is especially interesting to see the big names like Yamapi, Ryo Nishikido, Toma Ikuta, and Kat-tun when they were still Johnny Jrs a decade ago. I had no idea who the heck they were a decade ago as internet was not an in thing during that period and information on Japanese idols are not so easily obtained like nowadays. Watching these "old" shows makes me interested to get at least one new Johnny's concert vcd/dvd. I think it will be cool to see how things have changed within a decade. Perhaps I should get one of Hey!Say!JUMP's SUMMARY show. And with all these boybands, I am also interested to get AKB48's concert vcd/dvd!! I am pretty sure that these girls can put kick-ass shows too. Hmm.. time to find one particularly before Acchan's graduation.

I have 5 more titles which I hope I can watch before the holiday is over: Ayumi Hamasaki Concert Tour 2000, Ayumi Hamasaki Arena Tour 2005 -My Story-, SPEED Live 2003 Save the Children, w-inds "Prime of Life" Tour 2004, and Kinki Kids Dome Concert F ~Fun Fan Forever~ (2003). I think I never watched the last 2 haha.. I bought them simply because I would like to know whether Kinki Kids and w-inds were good. SPEED was also not so memorable to me. Oh well, maybe I remember those which I owned the cassettes.

I actually would like to re-read Rurouni Kenshin manga (thanks to the live action!), still have about 4 Gundam kits to make, as well as to re-enjoy all my anime books and take good photos of them. Looks like I really have no time :(

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas shopping

For the past 10 years, I always went back for Christmas except for 2 occasions: YEP to Cambodia and FYP. It is not a new thing to buy things for my relatives. However, I never consider any of these as pre-Christmas shopping. This year is the first time that I think I am having a shopping for Christmas. My mum informed me that my uncle who is residing in New Zealand will be coming over this Christmas, thus it is a time for Christmas reunion with my mum's side of relatives. Again this is not the first reunion. However, it will the first reunion after I started working. I have to give face and buy something right?? Lol.. I know that nobody asks me to buy anything but I think I should give something. My aunts always bring something for everyone when they come from holidays overseas so I think I should reciprocate this gesture.

Anyway, I do not want to pretend to be a holier-than-thou. Ironically, this giving is not with Christmas spirit. It is really for a mere giving face (or in other words: showing off) since I already earn my own money. I can say honestly that I only have the true spirit of giving when I donate or contribute for charity. The reason is simple: because I do not expect anything in return and I am giving for a cause which I support.

It is not easy to find something expensive looking but not too expensive and presentable but not too big. Actually size is always my main concern because my luggage is a bit small. This time I have no toys to bring home but still I am running out of space. So yeah, small things most of the time look kinda cheap. That's why I always wanna find something small which does not look cheap. Lastly, no point buying expensive small things because the first impression that people have towards small things is always "they are not expensive". That's the reason for me to always find something small, presentable (does not look cheapo) but actually is not every expensive in price. Haha..

The challenge does not end there. It is quite easy to buy chocolate or something but I am paranoid about the chocolate melting by the time of the reunion. That is why there is no way I can get the atas chocolate from Royce, Godiva, etc even though they suit my criteria: small, presentable, and affordable. Thank goodness my mum's relatives are usually not fussy about food and gifts so anything with Christmas theme should be find.

The bigger headache is for my dad's relatives. My dad will be visiting my grandma this Christmas. My grandma is a Catholic but I have an aunt and few cousins who are not. Christmas-themed gifts are out as I think it may seem offensive. On top of that, they are still relatively very cheena and do not really like western goodies. Faints.. At Takashimaya, I see more Japanese confectionaries. I don't think they will be pleased with these "exotic holiday delicacies". Sigh.. 

Anyway, tomorrow is the last shopping session and this time is for my own family: dad, mum, sisters, and I. I will buy something which I like. If they don't like, then I finish myself lor. Haha..

My heart should be quite painful to see that this holiday affair will cost me about $300. But guess what, I do not feel so! Haha.. For the past 24 years, I have been leeching money and gifts from people. Now that I start working, it is time to show them the same love that they showed me in the past. So I feel quite happy to be able to give them something from my hardwork. Hehe.. Giving is truly better than receiving (although my cynic self thinks that both are equally bad: giving means showing off and receiving makes me feel paiseh).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Can't stand idiots

Okay I missed the once-in-a-century 12/12/12 to write a post here. I had the intention to do so but I was too tired last night. I met 2 friends with an initial plan to have the buy-1-get-1 Starbucks promotion. In the end, we only had dinner. Oh well, friends are more important than free Starbucks k! Lol.

I am going home soon and I desperately want Saturday to quickly come. I am getting edgy lately with the various things which happen in my life. Firstly is a follow-up of my damaged Squall & Bahamut statue. I sort of "won" the Paypal dispute but I was asked to ship the items back. Of course I made noise about this, why should I be paying for sender's mistake to improperly pack the items! The reply I received was laughable: Paypal thinks it is fair for both party to "waste" money for the shipping o_0 What kind of logic is that?

Anyway I don't know who the people are at Paypal office but I think they should hire people who can write decent and understandable English. I got another reply from a Paypal staff who "sensed my unhappiness": Paypal would be sharing the shipping back cost with me. What the heck does "sharing" mean? I asked about that and another person replied me "You need to send us the receipt of the shipping back fee so that we can share the cost with you. I hope this explains". What the.. I asked what "sharing" means and the reply I got was "sharing means sharing". Bleah.. Anyway, they informed me for this one time courtesy, they will be reimbursing the shipping back fee. Wow..

Sounds good eh? But wait.. my concern does not end there. I asked them for the name of the addressee as they only gave me the address. Sigh.. I also asked them what happened if lets say the dishonest SMJ decided to refuse to accept or refuse to pay taxes for the items which I shipped back. The reply is this cryptic message:
"Beside the postage fees, after you shipback the item to seller and seller was receive the item or other issue like custom fees, damage, refuse by seller. We'll follow our buyer protection policy monitor for you.
For your information, on your shipback item issue we are given 10 days for you to shipback the item is mean the deadline is fall on 21 Dec 2012.
For the shipback information has been provided at our previous email dated on 11 Dec 2012."

Fuck it lah! Fed up to keep asking explanation for their dumb replies. Anyway they did not grant me time extension and I will not be able to meet their 21 Dec 2012 deadline (that's the end of the world anyway!). I will be away! Damn.. I told them I request to send the package after new year to prevent customs delay to minimise risk of the parcel goes missing or damaged bla bla bla. What to do since that is being ignored. Oh well. Since it is almost new year, I think I will just let it go la.. I will consider the money wasted as "throwing away my bad luck". At least I get all the 5 statues and can stop looking for them online! Oh wait, I forgot to mention that Paypal again informed me the addresse WITHOUT the recepient name. Facepalm! How do they expect me to ship something this expensive to an address but without a named recepient?

There was actually another Squall & Bahamut statue which went on sale last week. I bought it (through another middleman service) but it arrived with damaged gunblade. The middleman informed me about the damage and I asked him to return it. Really bad luck T_T I don't know how much money I wasted for that.. The damage was again at the gunblade but it broke to 5 pieces. Bleah.. the one I am currently having broke into 3 pieces and it was already impossibly difficult to fix. With 5 damaged pieces, this one will be a goner.
I apologise if I sound so anal for my posts below. Before I start working, I do not believe in discrimination based on education level. Yes, I was so idealistic that I thought nobody was born stupid. It is just a matter of being smart or less smart. "Less smart" is not the same as "stupid". I always believe that when it comes to work, attitude is more important than qualifications bla bla bla. I am utterly wrong. There is a reason why some people can go to university and some cannot. The reason is that some are smart and some are dumb. They are dumb because they have poor attitude: lazy, no work attitude, and childish just to name a few. But if I am in a bitchy mood like today, I am sorry but to label them idiots.

If you do not like to do something, please say no and I will not force you. If you do not say no, even if you give me black face and make noise behind me (I still can hear you), I will still take it as a yes. Yup, some people have no balls and can only use their mouth for a useless thing: bitching. Hello.. bitching does not solve anything. If right from the start you do not want to be involved in the project, why did you not tell my boss? Scared? Yeah.. Why don't you say it now? It is not too late for me to help you to tell the boss and I won't disturb you anymore. Scared? Yeah.. Then shut up and do it.

Best quote that I heard was "If I get that kind of pay then I do not mind doing this thing lor". Fine, I challenge you, I give you my pay, can you even do my work? Go sit down there, go "diagnose" and "recommend medications", go crack your brain for ideas for new projects and to write reports, bla bla bla.. For fuck's sake, you don't even have the bloody qualifications! Think before you open your filthy mouth! I told you from the start to give ideas because we were stuck. You are too stupid to give any ideas so the best you can do is to carry out other people's dumb ideas. It is as simple as that. If you do not want to do and cannot give idea, then please quit the job, thank you very much. That is working life. I don't condemn people who boast. But people who boast about things they cannot even do? That is laughable!

Even though in my whole life I have more girls than guys to interact with, one thing that I really cannot stand about girls is that they always take everything to heart. Jeez.. I am not sexist but to me, work is work and personal life is personal life. Girls cannot separate the two. If you do a mistake, I can scold you for the mistake but I am not scolding you or your personality. If your ego is bruised because of that, that is your fucking problem. My problem is with your work, not with you. But if my problem is with your work attitude, it is as good as my problem with you. But still work is work.. I can scold you for one second but after I am done talking about the mistake, I can still treat you as before I am scolding you. If you are offended because of me scolding you for the mistake, that's your fucking problem for not able to separate professional and personal life.

And I don't know why for these "lowly educated" people it is damn bloody hard to admit a mistake and say sorry. Jeez.. everybody does mistake. When one does a mistake, one must say sorry, admit his/her mistake, learn from it, and get over it. That is the correct way. When you deny or even try to point fingers, that will only make things worse. Again, I am telling off your MISTAKE, I am not telling YOU off. There is a difference. When you start to argue, it will turn the affair into I am telling YOU off.

I know recently you have been complaining about work. If you feel that you are alone being hardworking and your friends are slacking, then tell THEM off. Unfortunately, girls unable to separate the two. So you don't dare to tell them off and suffer alone. Whose fault? Yours.. You even entertain your friends who are slacking. That's too bad.. And what's worse: you vent it at me. Sorry, you've got the wrong dude. I, too, hate most of you. For 9 months I had suffered. I do most of the work while all of you happily congregating and chit chatting. So now after I am able to sit inside, are you jealous? Do you expect me to do your work while all of you happily congregating? Go eat shit man! Go tell your friends to work hard and I too will come out and help out. I am done having myself exploited.

Bleah.. I am still pissed. It is not my nature to hold back anger and my mouth.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Life is like the Amazing Race

The Amazing Race Season 21 is perhaps the most unexciting season of the few seasons that I watched. Firstly it is because there is a lack of people with interesting personalities and secondly it is because my favourite team was eliminated early. But perhaps the finale could be the best among all season.

The underdog team actually won!! Josh and Brent ended close to the last position in many legs of the race and not only once or twice were in the brink of elimination. And perhaps it really sums up my saying that "Life is like the Amazing Race", you simply do not know what will happen. You never know that your low-profile will help you just like how other teams will always target to eliminate the stronger teams. And who expect that the underdog will eventually emerge champion? I think that is one reason why nobody ever considered U-turning them. Of course I don't deny that luck is always at their side: like still remain on the race despite missing their flight, Josh is able to speak French and France was the penultimate leg of the race, and how the final leg took place in New York where they come from, and many more. In addition, despite being "bullied" by the other top 4 teams, I think winning the race is like "kicking the rest in their butts".

Of course this is not a philosophical "lessons of life" from Amazing Race as I am sure some teams lost because of unfortunate circumstances too. I really think they should get rid the part which force teams to take public transport. It sucks to see teams lose because getting dumb taxi drivers or taxi drivers who are out to cheat "tourists" for their money. That is the reason for Amy & Daniel being eliminated. I think it is a loss that they are eliminated prematurely. Amy is actually my favourite. Yup, the fact that she survived meningitis and able to race with both prosthetic legs is something. But what makes me like her most is how in the first episode, she showed the way to the other team and that cost her the number 1 spot. I always believe in karma so I am happy that Abbie & Ryan was eliminated (in a rather evil way too). I mean come on: Amy & Daniel already informed you where to go next and here you are 2 able-bodied people backstabbed the "disabled" one who helped you previously. That was really low

It was also a matter of time before the Sri Lankan sisters Natalie & Nadiya to go home. Although they are loud and irritating, I think they are the most interesting team for this season. I don't mind them winning until the point they stole James & Abba's money. Jeez.. Karma wield its judgement and they were eliminated. Anyway, I don't know what the hate to Natalie & Nadiya. Yeah they are loud, they are evil, they are bitchy, they are irritating, but I think they are honest in their opinion. And most importantly, they have big hearts. When they lost, they never blamed others or thought that other teams being lucky. They admitted their faults and kept joking that they sucked.

Anyway congrats to the winning team. I am sure their victory will inspire many people who feel that their life sucks and is full of failure.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rurouni Kenshin Live Action

Rurouni Kenshin perhaps is the first anime which started the anime boom in Indonesia in early 2000s. Before this period, anime is perceived as cartoons for children with the more children-centric titles such as Doraemon, Anpan Man, Ninja Hattori, Sailor Moon, etc available in Indonesia. Rurouni Kenshin opens the floodgate for more anime and manga with more mature (teenage and above) themes. For this reason, while it is not really my favourite anime, it still has a special place in my memory.

For any live-action adaptation of anime/manga, there is always a huge challenge to represent the original materials true to their origins, especially since many fans already have the mental images they get from the anime/manga On top of that, Kenshin is quite a big challenge with its vast library of characters (each with their unique personalities), serious bloody fight scenes coupled with many light-hearted comedy as fillers, and the older Japanese settings. For these reasons, I think the live action is a huge success. Many, but not all, aspects stay true to the anime/manga like the costumes (down to the print and the colours chosen), the plot (minor alterations from the original), right down to Kenshin's archaic way of speaking. The cinematography is mostly hits: action scenes are mostly realistic with minimum CG effects (except when Kenshin is running in superhuman speed) and how the different settings (police station, Takeda Kanryu's mansion, city Tokyo) are set apart with their own music and unique choices of colours. My only gripe with the cinematography is only the firing of the guns which is too "bright" and painful for the eyes considering the dark background.

However, I am disappointed with the few misrepresentations. The biggest one is how Aoshi Shinomori is not featured at all. I think the part where Oniwabanshu died protecting Aoshi is one of the most touching part of "Megumi arc". Instead, they include Saitoh Hajime character who actually does not appear in this arc in the anime/manga. Bleah.. I take Aoshi - Kenshin rivalry than Saitoh - Kenshin rivalry any time. Kenshin vs Sanosuke duel is a great treachery! What the movie shows totally does not show how these 2 guys ultimately becomes friends and compatriots. But come to think of it, the relationship among the characters here are rather "cold" and akward, unlike in the anime/manga in which they form a sort-of dysfunctional family lol. And because Sanosuke is my favourite character, I hate to see that his Zanbatou is not as huge and scary as how it looks like in anime/manga.

The actors act pretty well and I am impressed with Emi Takei (Kaoru Kamiya) as I think it is not easy to act out the dying part. However, Kaoru seems to be very shy as compared to the anime/manga version and that is a miss. This makes Yahiko seems to be just a naughty irritating kid as Kaoru is unable to reciprocate him and this is usually what makes Yahiko an interesting character in the anime/manga. Another gripe about Kaoru is that how she is prettier than Megumi in the live action!! Okay, perhaps they should find a prettier actress for Megumi! Megumi is well-played with her more mature personality and funny (seductive) personality accurately represented. Sanosuke is also fine although I am irritated that his role is somehow smaller than he should be and that his relationship with Megumi is also non-existent here. Bleah.. But the rowdiness, the "taking-off-coat", and the ease of swinging around his Zanbatou are just perfect. Sano is missing his "biting-the-fishbone" moments though. Takeru Satoh lacks the screen presence as the "leader" of the casts. Other than that, I think he is a good Kenshin. However, the most interesting character in the live action is ironically the antagonist: Takeda Kanryu. His over-the-top and exagerrated "I can buy anything with my money" personality is simply entertaining and wicked.

Honestly, I did not prepare myself before watching this. It has been many years since the last time I read or watch Rurouni Kenshin and I hardly remember the story. I did not even read the synopsis about which story is covered by the live action. However, the movie alone succeeded in reminding me of all these things and for that I think the movie is a big success overall. Time well spent and money well spent. I am a happy fanboy here. Lol.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Self-destroying habits

November was quite a bad month for my health. Both FairPrice and ShengShiong had Kettles potato chips on promotion. I almost bought and finished 2 packs each week. I wonder how much salt, empty calories, saturated fats, and other unhealthy stuff which I introduced to my body and my blood stream throughout the month. During in-between cravings, I would also buy et cetera brands of snacks with the excuse "to try" them out. Here comes December, the promotion ended, but when I went to Cold Storage, I still had the urge to try the various brands which are not sold in FairPrice and ShengShiong and those I had not tried before.. Bleah.. Who say potato chips cannot be addictive :( Rainy season is here and that completely puts a stop to my physical activities. I cannot even walk from my workplace to TPY central because it is always raining at the time I knock off from work. It will be scary to see the results of my recent blood test :( Of course a convenient excuse is: this is the end of the year so it is time to let my hair down and to enjoy myself. Yeah I can always make a new year resolution for next year to reverse all the bad habits I have been doing this month.

Since Christmas is coming, many shops are offering Christmas special menu. I don't usually drink coffee and I don't consider myself a coffee lover. However, when Coffee Bean or Starbucks are having new time-limited menu, usually I will be tempted to try. Lol..


Starbucks is having 3 Christmas-themed drinks. I tried Cranberry White Chocolate Mocca which was rather awful in my opinion. Today, I tried the Toffee Nut Latte which was even worse. Lol.. Anyway it was for free because it was Starbucks Christmas Open House today!! Hehe.. I did not go last year.. the last time I went was in year 4 of university when I had to stay back for FYP during the holidays. I remembered coming before 5pm and the queue at West Mall Plaza was already about 30-40 people long. To have only less than 10 people on the queue today was great haha.. 1 more left for me to try: Peppermint Mocca. I will buy it next week during the buy-1-get-1-free. And for this time, I am sharing it with a friend!! Yay..


Coffee Bean is rather disappointing. Their Red Velvet Cocoa Drink seems to be available in hot only and I don't usually buy hot drinks. Their Double Chocolate Peppermint is just their usual Double Chocolate with additional peppermint. How creative -_- No doubt I still prefer Coffee Bean to Starbucks because Coffee Bean has more (and nicer) chocolate-based drinks. But I expect something special for a special season mah.. Oh well.. another minus point for Coffee Bean on top of their lousier perks for the membership card too.

Something totally unrelated, I had a wedding invitation last Saturday and there is another one coming this Saturday. Haiz.. Jealous :( Finding a wife is one thing but inviting people is another thing. I remembered when I was younger I told my parents "When I am getting married, I want to invite as many friends as possible. Please minimise on relatives especially those I don't know and I have never seen before. It is my wedding, not your social event to show off that your son is getting married.". Okay, bad karma liao.. I realise now that I don't have any friend :( Let my parents invite whoever they want la.. I don't even know whether I can find someone to be the groom's bestman.. Sad.. I was blessed with such a good social circle back at home. Now I have none and I lost those I had back then. Is this even a life worth living sia?? I don't know when I start to be so skeptical about friendship to the point that I cannot really consider anyone as a friend.. Perhaps my standard is too high that I think everyone fails my friendship test and I end up with none..

Haiz.. The year is almost over.. Perhaps it will be good if the world is really over on 21 Dec 2012.. It will coincide with my wish to die young anyway..

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou


Synopsis:
Bakada High School is an all-boys school whose students are mostly delinquents and are only interested in fighting. Cattleya High School is an elite all-girls school whose students are rich and well-mannered. One day, it is announced that the two schools will merge to form Cattleya High School Second Branch. Conflicts and friction are unavoidable due to the vast difference in background. However, students from both school gradually learn to accept one another and grow to love their new school.

My opinion:
This is the very first collaboration between Johnny's Entertainment and AKB48, perhaps the biggest male and female entertainment agency in Japan respectively. That fact alone caught my interest to see how the series will go. Unfortunately, this turns out to be a pure crap.

The story is crap. There isn't really story here. It seems that the scriptwriter is only thinking "themes" for each episode and proceed to write whatever he can think of to fulfill these "themes". As other school-themed dramas, the themes will not run far from friendship, loyalty, romance, betrayal, rivalries, family problems, etc. However, the story fails to convey the messages from these themes.

Character development is non-existent and is worsened by poor acting. I have to admit that the guys act better than the girls. After all, there is not much acting needed to portray "cool delinquent" image as I think all guys can naturally behave this way. The boys also have differing personalities. The girls, unfortunately, look robotic. All the girls seem to behave, talk, act similarly. No differentiation whatsoever. -_- Basically it is an agony to watch this atrocious series. Thank goodness each episode is only about 20 minutes long. I don't know whether that is a good thing or that is the reason why the story is so underdeveloped.

Anyway, I think the guy actors are the more famous ones. Or perhaps it is because I watch more Shounen Club which is a Johnny's Entertainment TV show for the pre-debuted groups a.k.a Johnny's Juniors. The main guy (Shintaro Momotaro) previously acted in Snow Prince movie. Yup he was still very young then. Haha.. Kinda interesting to see him grow older and play a completely different character now. Another 2 guys (Koiichi Yugo and Hokuto Matsumura) were members of the now-defunct B.I. Shadow. And perhaps the most famous one is Takaki Yuya who is a member of Hey!Say!JUMP.

I have no idea about all the AKB girls. Except for the main 3 girls, I think the rest is rather ugly. Haha.. Perhaps that is why they are not in the main team, eh? Haha.. ok that is quite bad. Anyway, the main girl (Haruka Shimazaki) will be the center for AKB48's next single to be released on 5th December. Of course she got it not via fans voting but via jankenpo tournament, which is AKB's way to provide opportunities for the less prominent members to get a spot for AKB single. I will be looking forward to the single and to her performance in the single. Although I find her acting robotic initially, I grow to love her expressionless smile. Contradicting but oh well.. Haha..

My afterthoughts:
I think I wasted my time watching this. Haha.. I am amazed that a movie sequel was made for this drama. I will try to look for it to see whether it is better. Lol..

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dragon Zakura



Synopsis:
Sakuragi Kenji is a struggling lawyer due to his past as an ex-motorcycle racing gang leader. He is tasked to settle Ryuzan High School which is going to be declared bankrupt due to debt issues. Ryuzan High School is the lousiest high school in the country with students' average score of 36 and only 2% of the students can enter university. With such record, it is difficult to guarantee that there will be students for the coming academic years. When informed by his supervisor that this could be a model case of school closure due to Japan's falling birth rate, Sakuragi Kenji had a brilliant idea to make this a model case if he can save this struggling school. Thus he starts a special education class with the aim of having 5 students from Ryuzan to enter Tokyo University (Todai) in the following year to boost the image of the school and prevent the school from closing down.

My opinion:
I am a sucker for school-themed drama, especially one with high rating :p However, Dragon Zakura turns out to be something quite unique. It does not follow the typical group of high school delinquents who are reformed by inspirational and exemplary teacher as a role model. Ryuzan High School teachers are depicted as useless and selfish, while Sakuragi Kenji and the teachers of his special class seem to be more interested in results than in students' well being. High school friendship and romance are also very minimal here.

Sakuragi-sensei is a very unique character. He can be said heartless, ruthless, frank, and brutally honest. Throughout the series, he constantly reminds the students and paints the image of cruel reality of working life. This is in contrast to idealistic approach of many school-themed stories. I actually agree with many of the ideas presented by this drama. 

For example, as long as you get into a university and graduate with a degree, people do not care about your past or about how bad you did in your high school. Just like Sakuragi-sensei himself, he might be a useless motorcycle racing gang leader in the past but it all means nothing that he is a lawyer now. People are "scared" and respect lawyers. They do not even know whether he is a good or a bad lawyer, the fact that he is a lawyer, it already suggests that he is better than a large majority of the population. 

Sakuragi-sensei also emphasises on being exam-smart. Of course, some people think that education should not be focused on exam and grades but reality demands otherwise. It really does not matter how much you know or what you know. What really matters is that you can answer the exam questions and get the marks. Period. Brainless mugging and cramming is just useless. Some exam tips which he shared (and I agree with) are:
1) Focus on sciences because these are factual: right is right and wrong is wrong. With enough practice, everyone can master sciences. Do not even bother about social sciences as grading of essay can be subjective and practice may not always translate to better outcome.
2) He shared how English exam to enter Todai is marked uniquely: marks are deducted for any wrong spelling, grammar mistakes, etc. Marks are not determined by whether sophisticated vocabs and sentence structures are used. Knowing how the exam is marked, his suggestion is: just use simple English words and sentences and make sure as few errors as possible. No point trying to impress with "cheemology" attempts and end up getting penalised for so many errors.
3) Skip questions when you cannot understand or cannot answer it after trying once or twice. Move on and find those which you can secure marks first and then go back to those you have difficulties. No point spending time to attempt harder questions (with no guarantee you get them correct) by sacrificing easier questions.

One thing which I find commendable is how the story depicts that these students are not stupid. With effort, success is within their grasp. And it is not showing the typical "effort", "hardwork", yada yada. To get the success, these students literally sacrificed their final year of their high school life for only mugging. Yep, no shortcut in real life. And I like how the realism is maintained right to the end when (spoiler alert!) not all students successfully passed the exam to enter Todai. Yup, it's cruel to see how their hardwork is not being rewarded etc but that's real life. Just by putting effort does not always guarantee success. However, I am slightly disappointed with the resolution for those which failed the exam. You know, Todai is the number 1 university. Failing to enter number 1 does not mean you cannot enter a number 2 university. I will still regard it as a success to enter another university, nonetheless.

I don't really have comments regarding the casts as the drama is rather "mechanical" than being "emotional". There is not much character development so I think the rating is pretty high simply because Yamapi is here. Lol. But I am still a human after all and thus for drama, I still prefer something more "emotional" than "mechanical". Thus overall, I still prefer the typical school-themed drama where friendship, camaraderie and high school romance predominate. Lol. But for those students struggling for exams or for their future, I think this drama should be quite an eye opener.

My afterthoughts:
My job is not too bad but I just hate it because it is not according to my aspiration. I know that getting higher degree will be an express ticket to a better future. Just the thought of having to study again, having to have residency programme in hospital settings, having exams bla bla bla is always discouraging. So similar to how these high school students gotta suck it up to be able to enter university for better future, I think I should also suck it up for a higher degree. The pain will be for 2-3 years but the rewards last until the day I stop working.

Lastly, complaining and being envious to other people are useless. I can't help it but often think "Gosh, these people were dumber than me in school. I can't believe that he/she is a doctor or a whatever now. Just the thought of having to see him/her as a doctor or a whatever makes me shudder". But who cares about your opinion when the rest of the people will think "Wow this person is a doctor or a whatever. He/she is definitely better than a lousy shit like you". So yeah, the only way is to study some more, get a higher position of higher profile than the people I dislike and then it is my turn to trample them like shit again XD

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Harry Potter Film Wizardry (Revised and Expanded)


Seriously I did not see this coming at all. I never expect that Harry Potter Film Wizardry book, which was released in 2010 before all the movies were released, would ever be reproduced again with additional materials from the 8th movie. That was why I eagerly bought the book last year :( Anyway, the book was released again with the title Harry Potter Film Wizardry (Revised and Expanded). Basically, it is almost the identical. The only differences are the obvious advertisement "belt" on the cover, the 6 last pages about the last movie (return to Gringotts, Battle of Hogwards, the Deathly Hallows, and the Tales of the Three Brother) and additional bonus of Film Photo Diary. As good as the name sounds, it is only a book with a few photos from each film and each film only gets a page. So yeah, actually nothing much.

Last year I had not used Amazon yet. So I still bought books from Kinokuniya. Amazon typically slashed 40-50% off the book price and charges about USD 10 for the shipping. Only know I realised that despite the additional shipping fee, the total cost from Amazon can still be cheaper than from Kinokuniya even with 20% members off. Oh well, what's done is done, no point for me comparing prices for items I purchased in the past, like how Harry Potter from Page to Screen is being sold for $100+ at Kinokuniya here vs USD 45 in Amazon currently :p

While on the topic of Harry Potter from Page to Screen, they are releasing the collector edition which will be called Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Film Making Journey, Collector's Edition. On top of the from Page to Screen book, this set comes 6 other books which cover the costumes, the arts, the props, the environments, the creatures, bla bla bla used in the movie. It also comes with replica of The Monster Book of Monsters. Sounds cool yeah? But I will give it a miss. The price is ridiculous USD 1000! I am not joking. It is not one zero to many but it is indeed one THOUSAND bucks! Even with 40% off from Amazon, I am still not interested. Haha. Greedy publisher.. I think even with saying "Collector's Edition" and "only 3000 copies available" will make people be interested if the price is this ridiculous.. Aaah.. just like the Harry Potter Wizard Collection which is also ridiculously priced and only produced in limited quantity, it is still not sold out until now :p Haha
Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Film Making Journey
Darn! It looks damn good!

I bought this together with Avengers: The Art of Marvel's The Avengers. I have always wanted to get the book after I watched the movie but I have always been keeping it on hold. After more than 6 months, the price did not go down further and since I am buying the Harry Potter book, I might as well buy this together to save on the shipping. I have not opened and read it so I can't really comment on this.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Update about my problem with Shopping Mall Japan

Wew.. Now I can very confidently advise people NEVER EVER use the service of this Shopping Mall Japan/SMJ. It seems that our discussion reached a stalemate and SMJ finally resorted to name calling. They called me "borderline fraud" for opening up a PayPal dispute as it "froze" that particular transaction. I actually do not intend on doing so as I am not aware that opening a PayPal dispute means freezing the funds on the disputed transaction. On top of that, now SMJ accused me of buying a damaged item and making claims for it. Utter rubbish. The item description only states "loss of colours in several places". I am not making claims for this. I am making claim for "broken base" and "broken gunblade" which is nowhere in item description.

I paid the problematic item with the non problematic ones so the "frozen" transaction is actually more than what I disputed. I just find it ironic how the guy is so angry to have his funds "frozen" and not to think about me at all: I am also at risk of wasting that amount of money because of the damage. Selfish greedy human being.

Original seller -> SMJ -> Postal Service -> Me

Obviously, the three points where damage may occur is original seller, SMJ, and postal service. I doubt that seller was trying to lie. As promised here are the pictures. If seller obviously pointed out Rinoa & Siren crack which is very difficult to spot, how can he possibly lie about Squall's Gunblade and Bahamut base which I posted yesterday??
I still give the benefit of doubt and ask SMJ to contact the seller about Squall being damaged. SMJ is too lazy to contact the original seller and there is nothing I can do about it. So yeah, original seller has been decided as a non guilty party.

Moving on the next party, the Postal Service. I made report on my side. I don't know whether SMJ made report on their side because right from the start their tone has always been negative. Initially they said "must be shipping damage" but after I sent them the pictures, their stand changed too "looks like they will refuse the claim as the box did not seem to be damage.. but still, the damage is done by postal service". Contradictory? Hell yes!

So now who is the weakest link? Am I being fraudulent for having SMJ being irresponsible for the damage? They had no proof that they did not mishandle it, they did not attempt to contact the seller about the damage, they did not attempt to fight for the claim from postal service if they think postal service is at fault. Who is being fraudulent here? Anyway, the only proof that I have for SMJ being the culprit is that they send the item with the box "lying down" instead of "standing up". As such, Bahamut is actually resting on top of Squall's gunblade. Considering Bahamut is about 2kg heavy, it is likely that this stupid packaging caused the damage.

And here are the 2 options they gave me:
1) Take the waiver of US$20+ service fee for the incurred damage to me of close US$800
or
2) Waste my US$200-300 for shipping and they will refund me the item cost only i.e I simply wasted US$200-300 for nothing.

Why should I be paying for the damage done by someone else?

Grrh I shall wait for the confirmation from Singapore Post and after that I will just escalate the dispute and let PayPal decide. So be it if in the end I did not get anything back. Perhaps that is a wake up call for me to stop all this online shopping.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bad experience with Shopping Mall Japan (shoppingmalljapan.com)

Have you heard of a Japan deputy service? It is actually sort of a middleman to help people around the world purchase items from Japan (or Japanese website) where international shipping is not available. So basically the deputy service will help us bid, buy, and pay for the item and then ship the item to us. I am new to this service and I was considering it becaues I grew desperate to complete my Final Fantasy VIII Transcendent Artist's Collection. I managed to get Rinoa & Siren when I went back home a few weeks ago so I am left with Squall & Bahamut. I have been keeping an eye on one which is available in Yahoo! Japan for months as it is being auctioned with starting bid of 40000+ yen. Too expensive. So I was excited when there was an auction for both Rinoa & Siren and Squall & Bahamut as a set. Rinoa & Siren was damaged but it did not bother me so much as I already have 1 undamaged one at home. What I really wanted was Squall & Bahamut. My consideration was if this set were to be 40000+ yen, then it will be better than the 40000+ yen for Squall & Bahamut alone.

There are many deputy service out there and there is no concensus regarding which is good and which is bad. I tried my luck with a few but I ultimately used Shopping Mall Japan (www.shoppingmalljapan.com). Firstly, in everything, there are always pros and cons. Lets start with the pros first. To be honest, the website looks convincing, it has SMJ Guarantee, terms and policies, etc in good English. Okay, so I thought in case anything happen, I will more or less get my butt covered and communication should not be a problem. Secondly, instead of having to leave a deposit with them, they allow credit authorisation for the bidding. This simpler as I actually do not need to send anything before I win/buy something. Thirdly, it features auto sniper for auctions.

First impression looks good but unless you use something, you won't know how shitty and rotten things can be. This is where the nightmare begins. Firstly, the communication is awful. It takes them 24 hours (or more) to reply to enquiries. I have tried other deputy service whose response is around the clock except for the offline time which they designate. Now if you have experiences doing online auction, 24 hours is a long time. Worse, for every function that I do with the website, I do not actually have any notification. So I don't know whether what I request is accepted or not. And upon asking for clarification, I only got the reply 1 day later. And according to them "No, normally they do not give notification". Wow.. I am speechless.

Secondly, the cost is outrageous. I am not talking about "service fee" which I think is fair. It's their payment policy. They convert everything to US$ and payment has to made in US$, with their own conversion rate! How cunning and dishonest. Their conversion rate is always -5 yen than the current rate. So assuming 1 US$ = 80 yen, they will convert at the rate 1 US$ = 75 yen. Do the maths and that is already about 6.25% more expensive. I think it's a scam to get their income while claiming to have a "low/reasonable service fee".

Thirdly, they are irresponsible for any shipping damage. Yup, this is the worst possible attitude of a deputy service. They claimed that they do not lower value declaration. My first package cost me 18500 yen and in the value declaration, it was declared as 6100 yen only. Is that a big deal? Yes, because if something gets damaged, the insurance will only cover up to the declared value. For my second package, I requested to be declared a certain value because I do not want to take risk that my Squall arrived damage and I got nothing. Squall & Bahamut was declared properly but Rinoa & Siren was declared for 14500 yen even though I requested for US$ 200. You may wonder why such number but I won the auction for 41500 so when the boxes were shipped separately, I wanted to declare them about 50% each and that is how I came with US$200. Rinoa & Siren came okay so I don't care about it being declared lower value but Squall & Bahamut were damaged and this is the reason of my fallout with SMJ.

I immediately took photos of the damage and sent it to them. Rinoa & Siren came with damage as described by seller so I do not think seller is a scammer or something and sell a damaged Squall without documenting it. After all, seller pointed out the crack in Rinoa & Siren very honestly. So why lie about Squall & Bahamut? Another reason for me to think that seller is not lying is that the broken pieces are all there. The broken pieces are very small. If it was damaged from the start, I do not expect that seller still kept the broken pieces and shipped them to me. The broken pieces may look big in the photo but in the actual thing, the 2 gunblade pieces are about 3mm x 1mm in dimension. Ya, THAT tiny! These damages are more glaring than the crack on Siren's hair. If seller pointed out the hair crack, how could she/he miss out these major damages to Squall? I will show the crack on Siren's hair when I post about the statue, then you can see how "minor" that damage was as compared to these.




Thus the damage is likely due to shipping or due to SMJ. SMJ did not send the item using the original packaging from the sender. SMJ actually repacked every package before they send it to me. I don't know how but the possibility of them damaging/mishandling is there. SMJ, however, is being unhelpful and irresponsible. After looking at the photos, the reply was something like "Hmm.. the external packaging was not damaged so I don't think it was damaged due to shipping. I will let Japan Post know about it but I think they won't accept the claim". The moment I heard this, I immediately was like: Fuck you! It totally ruined all the trust I had. Not only they are unapologetic about it, they sound indifferent and unhelpful. EMS is insured for a reason and upon knowing something is damaged, the simplest thing that sender could do is to help with claiming for insurance. Until now, I don't know whether they bother to contact Japan Post or simply cannot be bothered about it.

So I asked them: if it was not damaged due to shipping, then either you damaged it when you repacked it or the seller was lying. SMJ conveniently thinks seller would not be lying (for the same reason as I have) and is not bothered to contact the seller. So what is left? SMJ damaged it right? No, they claimed they could not possibly damage it. So yeah, here we have a fantastic deputy service with the various Guarantee, Terms, and Policies which are mere bullshit. I bought an item which was advertised not damaged but I received it damaged. I don't care who damaged it what I wanted is a compensation be it from the seller, SMJ, or from the post office as they are the possible suspects who handled and could possibly damage the item. If SMJ, as one of the possibly guilty party, is not taking responsibility, the least that they can do is to prove otherwise. Contact the seller or the post office. That is what deputy service is supposed to do because that is what their service is about.

The story does not end here. This is where the story gets more interesting. After always maintaining the stand that they cound not possibly damage it, as a service recovery, they offered me their SMJ Guarantee provided that I returned the item to them for inspection. Lets do some maths. I spent close to US$ 600 for the item+ (lousy) service and another US$ 150 for EMS shipping to me. Assuming I returned the item and the fee is the same as how they sent it to me, I will fork out another US$150. And how much can I get from their stupid Guarantee? Only the item cost of 41500 yen or about US$ 500. So basically, I will be losing US$ 400 for nothing. Come on! Am I an idiot?

I do not know what else they want to inspect when I already sent them the pictures. Clear enough to show all the damages. Do they think I will deliberately damage a limited and out-of-production item simply for fraud?  That's really low of them if they think that way.

So I declined their Guarantee offer. And their reply was: okay then we will waive the service fee, I hope that lighten up your burden. US$ 21 for US$ 750 loss?? Hell yea -__- I consider a wasted US$ 750 because if I knew Squall & Bahamut was damaged from the start, I would not even bother bidding for the set. I already have Rinoa & Siren after all.

My last hope is with PayPal.. Crossing my fingers now.. Sigh.. I feel very helpless and hopeless because I am using a middleman. And the middleman is not helpful and may even be the culprit of the damage. Anyway, even if I cannot get any single thing, I cannot do anything about it :( I only hope that when people google Shopping Mall Japan online, they will come across this and think twice before using their service. In summary: poor communication, unfavourable payment rate, and if there is a problem with your items, you can just say bye bye to your money. SMJ is not bothered to help you (not gonna contact the seller, not gonna contact the shipper, but claimed that they could not do the damage while it is possible that they damaged it as they are also one of handler of the goods).To me, SMJ is only interested in getting your money. After they get your money, they will not be bothered with anything else.. Yeah.. talk about after service.. And if someone knows of a better deputy service, please let me know. I'm done with this crap.