Saturday, March 25, 2017

Haikyuu!! Season 3

That's it.. I finished 3rd season in just a few days. Haikyuu!! Season 3 only consists of 10 episodes and features solely on the match between Karasuno vs Shiratorizawa. It is so long because this final is the only time that the winning team has to win 3 sets which open up the possibility of playing a 5-set game.

It is not fair to be biased just because I have watched other sports anime. However there is something about sports show which is addictive, even when the same tropes are being repeated all over again: teams with stark reliance on individuals ability vs teamwork principle, powerhouse vs underdogs, injuries, the emotion at the brink of loss, how the tide turns, etc. Anyway, the 3rd season does not wander too far off from the first 2 seasons in terms of what has been done well and what has been done badly. And similarly, there are more bad than the good things.

Pacing is terrible. I know there is no way that every points can be depicted and usually there are only so many exciting and emotional moments that can be used. However, to have 3rd set is over at a glance while the other sets drag longer is like showing that they really cannot bother at all to sew everything smoothly togther.

For a 5-set game, I think it is a wasted chance that they don't play the benchwarmers that much. On the bright side, Tsukishima becomes a focus in this season which is good and Sugawara gets to play a bit more. However, Ennoshita is back to a benchwarmer and Kinoshita and Narita (the other 2 second year guys) completely has zero match time AGAIN. Well nothing surprising since right from the start, Haikyuu!! is always crazy only about Kageyama and Hinata. Although it is still irritating that as usual, Hinata always gets the final point.

Instead of the usual brute force and luck in scoring points, it is quite refreshing to see more teamwork and team strategies from Karasuno. Facing Ushijima who is a great attacker, there is a bit more focus on receiving, blocking, and defense. Teamwork and team strategies come into play since none of Karasuno players can match Ushijima on one-on-one (hmm.. is there even a one-on-one in volley?). This is nicely built up even until the final moment of the match.

I am actually quite surprised that there is so much hate surrounding Haikyuu!! and the favourite word used is "overhyped". I don't really feel that since I don't really see a lot of Haikyuu!! figures or artbooks. Lol. Yes, what a barometer to use to judge a series popularity. Haikyuu!! is not the best sports anime out there but I think it is still not too bad. After all, tt still has those tension and emotion filled moments which make sports anime fun to watch.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Aozora Yell

Tsubasa Ono and Daisuke Yamada entered Shirato High School inspired by a Koshien baseball match that they watched when they were younger. Tsubasa dreams of supporting the baseball team as member of the band at Koshen while Daisuke dreams of playing for the baseball team and reach the Koshien. Tsubasa has an uphill task as she has never played brass before while Daisuke has to fight his injury.

The movie starts in an usual manner as both main characters are not childhood friends. Both of them happen to be looking at the display cabinet of the school trophies and make a promise to fulfill each other's childhood dreams. That is a kind and innocent friendship and not the typical chasing the dream for a relationship or "I am doing this for you" kind of thing.

Aozora Yells tries to cramp so many things into a movie and everything start to go downhill from there. Despite the 2 years time jump, things get repetitive first. At the beginning when Tsubasa and Daisuke are in first year, the focus in on Tsubasa's struggle in the brass band and Daisuke is supporting her. After the 2 years jump to their 3rd year, the struggle is Daisuke's injury and it is Tsubasa's turn to support him. Overall it still feels repetitive. Even the baseball matches are exactly the same: 0-0 score until the last inning and Daisuke will either make or break the match and the brass band competition is similar too.

I am not sure what the focus for the movie is. Relationship does not seem to be the thing as Daisuke 'rejects' Tsubasa in the first year saying he wants to focus in his baseball (how I wish in real life girls are the ones declaring their feelings to guys!), music is not the thing as the scores and performances are boring, sports is also not the thing as the matches are not exciting too.

I am disappointed because I was having quite a high expectation before watching this. I came to know this from Youtube's video of Kiseki by Whiteeeen. Kiseki is the theme song of Rookies and originally sung by Greeen. So I was curious who/what is this Whiteeen and when seeing the clip about baseball, I am hoping for something as good as Rookies too. Gosh I feel so old now that I actually watched Rookies in 2010 !!

Lastly, I think it is perfect to cast Ryoma Takeuchi as Daisuke Yamada. I never read the manga but when I looked for some images, I am surprised that the way he smiled is very similar to how the manga is drawn: a big happy smile. It is refreshing to see big happy grin as Japanese dramas tend to be somewhat mellow or flat in terms of the emotion. How I wish I can be someone with a big infectious smile to make the people around me happy when they see me. Wishful thinking indeed.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Silent Voice

A Silent Voice (Japanese title is Koe no Katachi) is a story about primary school classmates who are separated and then meet again when they are in high school. Shoko Nishimiya is a deaf girl who gets bullied by her classmates until the point whereby she transfers school. When the class is confronted about this, Shoya Ishida takes the blame. He is not the only bully but he is the biggest bully. When he tries to defend himself that he is not the only one being mean, the other small bullies turn against him. Because of this, Ishida becomes the outcast until his high school to the point where he considers suicide. Until one day he meets Nishimiya again and he tries to make amends.

This movie was out of my radar and I only came to know about it when a colleague asked me if I already watched this. By then, it was already airing for 1 week. I only watched it yesterday since I was off anyway. I was reluctant to watch as the graphics is not that appealing. However, the reviews were pretty good and some even said that it is better than Kimi no Na Wa. Hmm.. I should have trusted my gut feeling to judge an anime by its graphics as I don't really enjoy this movie. Haha...

Usually I like things to be somewhat real but A Silent Voice is too real that it becomes too painful and too boring to watch. Lets go through the painful part first. It is painful to see the bullying and the fake friendship things because they are real. That is also what happen in real life: people bully those different from them and when confronted, bullies will never admit that they are bullying. It is also painful that classmates are usually fake friends. It is also painful to see how people don't change with time: the coward remains a coward, the nasty remains nasty, the fake remains fake, etc.

At the same time, it is boring because watching this is basically watching real life in an anime. It is so real and painful as I mentioned in the above paragraph that the usual fiction stuff where everything ends in a happy ending is absent. People and personalities simply do not change over night or over the years and this is shown here. Those irritating kids in primary school remain as such even when they are in high school. Just like real life, we just have to accept one another's suckiness and choose to take it or leave it.

This movie reminds me of a classmate in secondary school who is also has hearing and speaking disabilities. I admit that I was not an angel who deliberately wanted to be helpful but I would help and not avoid him. However, I am also proud that I am not like those in typical Japanese anime/drama who try to be very helpful but at the back actually get frustrated. Interestingly, there was no bully too in the class. In a hindsight, perhaps it is because we were secondary school students and hence a bit more mature than primary school children in the movie. Yes, primary school children is more childish and I can imagine they don't know how to treat a disabled a classmate and end up bullying. However, the teacher is partly to blame since he is not doing anything and the bullying simply spirals out of control. Aaargh.. I was not exactly a jerk but now thinking back, I feel like a jerk for not doing more to help him back then.

Maybe it is just me but I really don't find this movie enjoyable or touching. I don't even know how people can consider this is better than Kimi no Na Wa as well.

Monday, March 20, 2017

100th Birthday

I survived 4 flights in 48 hours period. It is tiring but honestly I don't mind this kind of businessman high and frequent flyer life. I went to Jakarta on Friday night. I reached home at 1am+ and I only had 2 hours to sleep before catching a morning flight to Pontianak. I took a flight back to Jakarta at 130pm today and I continued with another flight back to Singapore at 815pm. Enough about the plane and back to the ground now.

Since I am overseas, I decided to just keep quiet during all the preparations for my grandma's 100th anniversary. My principle is if I don't have anything to add value or I can't do anything to help, shutting up is being helpful. I am glad that I did that. People were so disorganised as everyone only wanted to do a part without care what others were doing and people were just complaining about everything when they themselves were part of the problem.

The food was terrible, the events were messy, and my only entertainment was the photobooth outside. They had a mass planned but did not assign the people to sit on the prepared chairs. I was asked to sit and hence I could not take enough photos outside. Sian.. I hate to go for mass in Indonesia because I cannot follow the words. I only took a few pictures. Family pictures were hassle to get as my dad was all about talking to people. Seriously.. As everything overran, I did not know who was to make the decision whether they should extend the photobooth as 30 minutes extension will cost another Rp 500000. My biggest regret was for not taking a picture with my grandma: just the two of us. Near the end, I was just with her at the photobooth before I pushed her wheelchair back. Why did not I take the photo even when the photographer gave a signal? It was because I did not know the photobooth was extended or not. It is all over now and a chance like this will not come again. No point remembering and getting sore over this so for now I can only say f u c k you all.

Seeing how all these people behave, I don't know whether this celebration is about my grandma or it is all about themselves. I feel quite sad because my grandma forgot about me on Saturday. At her age, her memory is failing. Sometimes she remembers and sometimes she does not. It is sad that on Saturday, it seemed to be her 'off' day. Today when I saw her before flying back, she could remember me and she was chatty like the good old day. If only she was like that yesterday during the event.

To reach 100 years old is an amazing feat by today's standard and she is really an inspiration. Having said that, I am still not inspired to live that long. I am a selfish person and I really don't want all the physical challenges that come with ageing. Dear God, thank you for my grandma who is such a blessing for all the people around her. I don't mind that you take away my life and give it to her so that she can live longer, healthier, and continue to give happiness to the people around her.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Death Box

The name sounds eerie but Death Box is a special limited edition collector box for Death Note which was released in 2006 with a price of 18000 JPY. I bought it in 2014 for $159.42 including international shipping (I did not keep note of how much it was in JPY) which is not too shabby since it is quite rare to find this complete set and its weigh is 7.2kg. I only write about this now since tomorrow my luggage will be empty and I decide to bring this back to Jakarta because I am really running out of space here :( It has been a year since I wrote about toys so I am a bit rusty. I even forgot to take a picture showing all the contents. Oh well..

Death Box comes in a brown external box which measures 51cm (L) x 32cm (W) x 25.3cm (H). I am not sure if this is meant to be an external packaging box but I regard it as part of the item since the box is pretty well designed -if it is meant only as an external packaging.
Front side
Top side
Back side
Identical left and right sides
Inside is another black box which actually contains the contents. I think this black box is sleek yet sturdy. Velcros, instead of tapes, are used to keep things together which I think is brilliant. Velcros keep things together well but it is not messy to remove and put things back together.
Snugly fit inside.. not easy to take it out
The black box is rather plain but it suits the black and death image
Not sure if anybody will use the handles to 'carry' the box
Upon opening the black box
No velcro for this part but the contents do not become loose
The slipcase is secured to the black box by another velcro
Moving on to the contents, there are actually 7 things here. I read in the item description online that number 7 has connotations of death in Japan so that is the reason for having 7 things inside.

1. Artbook 'Blanc et Noir' which is Takeshi Obata's artbook containing illustrations not only from Death Note but also from Hikaru no Go and other series that I am not familiar with. I don't usually review artbooks so I am not going to write so much about this other than the fact that it has different cover compared to the same book that is released individually. Not exactly a fan of the cover in this Death Box edition but this covers really suit the Death Box theme better.

2. Stickers.. erm.. nuff said about this.
The stickers are placed in the black envelope (on the left) which also contains the art prints
3 & 4. B4 prints of some of Takeshi Obata's colour works and B&W works. I think the B&W works are some pages of the manga. They are printed in quite high quality paper so it feels like having art prints rather than posters. They are placed in an envelope which is slotted inside the same slipcase where the artbook is placed. I am listing these as 2 separate items as how the item is official described. Perhaps that's how they force to make as if this has 7 items inside. Initially I thought these prints only as 1 feature. Lol.
Just sample instead of showing all 12 art prints
5& 6. Shinigami's skull object and Shinigami's eye pendant. I am quite lazy to measure the box or the dimension of the items but both are made of metal. The skull is heavy while I have no comment about the pendant other than it is quite small. I am just a casual fan of Death Note from the live action movies but not reading the manga so I don't really know the significance of these 2 items to really appreciate them.
Both are placed in this same box. Don't mind the misspelling.
Not going to display this as I find it quite scary
I love the great definition of the engraving
The pendant is quite tiny
7. Light, L, and Misa figure!! Perhaps this is the reason for desperately needing to get this Death Box since unlike the artbook, the figure is not released on its own. It is commonly sold 2nd hand as loose at about 3000-4000 JPY each but since I also want the artbook, I might as well get the whole Box. In fact, that is my reason for getting the box since the cost is just a bit more expensive than buying the figure and the artbook separately.

I put this as the last as I am going to write more as if it is a separate figure. The box measures 22cm (L) x 19.5cm (W) x 29.4cm (H) while the figure itself is about 24cm tall. The box is pretty elaborately designed considering that this figure is just 1/7 of the content of the whole Box. Lol. 

I am not sure if it is the age or I am just unlucky to get this from someone who did not take care the items well since my figure is in a rather disappointing condition. The 'arc' is sticky which is basically typical of PVC figures which have been exposed too heat. The holes to put the pegs are also too big that Light and L are not standing straight as they should be. Sigh.. Anyway it is also not easy to buy this figure loosely nowadays. Well, beggars can't be choosers since I am getting this almost a decade since its release.
Pretty elaborate design right?
The back of the box has the illustration that inspires the figure (or is it vice versa?)
Left side of the box
Light and L are joined by the cuffs. Light is leaning way too much to his right.
The skull is a separate piece. I am not sure if its location is there since I don't see any skull in the illustration at the back of the box. Hmm.. the focus on this picture should be Misa but don't know why I end up talking about the skull
No idea why Light is shirtless
The back is just painted black.. Boring.. but they make a skull head at the bottom
These last 3 pictures are just to show you how confused I am to take a nice picture of the figure. I can't seem to have a nice 'center' since each of them is leaning and their pegs don't fit nicely to their holes.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Death Note: Light Up the New World

I am never into Death Note and I came to be interested in it because of the very first movie. I love the battle of the wits between Light and L although I was left a bit duh with Kira killing Shiori at the end of the first movie. I started to lose interest with the second movie as the theme of intelligence gets diluted with the usual cliche of people going crazy, love is driving people mad, and supernatural powers.

Death Note: Light Up the New World is set up 10 years after the original Death Note story takes place. Unfortunately, it is not capable to stand on its own. Not only with the references to the original Death Note story and characters but also with the plot, sub-plots, and tricks: new characters who are basically emulate Light vs L (even with the mention of Light's DNA and L's DNA for their successors), Misa and other characters who can't get over the now dead Light and L, giving up Death Note's ownership to forget about it if interrogated, can't be killed because someone else already writes down the name in the other Death Note, and many more. Perhaps the only original sub-plot is with 6 Death Notes currently present in the human world but that is also not used wisely since Shien (who is thought to be Kira's successor) kills most of them to gather the Death Notes and the story eventually focuses on him vs Ryuzaki (who is L's successor) quite quickly.

For people who are not familiar with the original story, I think they will find the tricks and plots quite smart and interesting, just like how I felt when watching the first Death Note. However, I am not sure if this movie is catered towards them since there are things which are not explained explicitly (e.g shinigami's eyes, Death Note rules) and audience who watch this for the first time may not understand. Even so, if this marketed towards people who is familiar with Death Note to begin with, there is nothing new here to make us feel excited.

When the movie was initially out in the cinema, I was tempted to watch :p But after seeing the reviews, I decided not to watch. Thank goodness I did and thanks SIA for having this in the in flight entertainment.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Haikyuu! Season 2

I watched the first season in late 2015 (I wrote about it here) and it took me a year to watch the second season after it finished airing. Second season still follows the formula of the first season, which I find only so so at best, which makes it even worse than the first season.

Half of this season is so boring as it is about Karasuno's training camp where winning or losing makes no difference. Anyway they keep losing their matches as their players are still struggling to learn new skills so that they can overcome Aoba Johsai when they meet at the next competition. The action only begins formally at the Spring tournament in the second half of the season. Unlike the first season, I find the matches in the second season boring. There is nothing exciting, touching, or dramatic that makes me want to keep on watching the next episode. The only touching moment in this season is the match vs Wakunan when Daichi was out because of injury and Ennoshita and Yamaguchi get more change to shine. Karasuno gets a new manager, Yachi, and I am glad that she plays a greater role than Karasuno benchwarmers. Shimizu also gets more lines at this recruitment period.

Second season also still follows the same character development that the antagonists are likeable and make viewers can root for them. The schools at the training camp are more like rivals than enemies and everyone helps one another to improve. Although based on the story, it kinda makes sense since Karasuno is not from Tokyo so they can only formally compete if everyone gets into the national championship.

At the same time, a lot of characters are still being underused even in this second season. While I like Ennoshita and Yamaguchi get more screen time, I think it is stupid to 'force' to make use of the substitute only when the main players gets injured. For a sports story, I expect something more strategical in making use of the substitute like when they use Sugawara to have a gameplay with 2 setters.

I am already like one foot inside Haikyuu so although it is still a so so series, I will finish the third season as well to see how things go.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)

This is the longest movie that I ever watched as it took me 2 months to finish watching it. I watched it on my SQ flight back to Singapore in January and I only finished it last Friday when I took another flight home. There was still about 15 minutes left but it turned out that I only missed the final 5 minutes or so. The rest of the time is actually the end credit lol.

I have heard the title previously. Although it does not sound that interesting for me to find it further, I find it quite intriguing: what lie? Haha.. But ultimately what makes me decide to watch this is that it is about music.

Arima Kosei is a former child prodigy in piano. He was trained by his strict mother. His mother's death traumatised him and since then he stopped playing piano since in the middle of the song, he would suddenly be unable to listen to the music. At school, Kosei is friends with Tsubaki and Watari. Until one day another girl Kaori Miyazono enters into their circle because she likes Watari. Kaori is a violinist and because of her, Kosei is able to overcome his childhood trauma and starts playing piano again.

It does not sound like a very interesting story right? So what exactly makes Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso popular? Spoilers alert: Kaori dies in the end and that makes everything a bitter sweet love story. Kaori has a sickness since young (it is not revealed what sickness). Knowing that she does not have long to live, she decides to live her life to the fullest and to try reaching her childhood dream to be able to play music with Kosei.

Overall I am quite disappointed. I am expecting that it will feature good music but the songs chosen are kinda meh. The one I enjoy the most is the Little Little Twinkle Star which is also abruptly stopped. I am a sucker for sad and touching moments and I admit that this is quite touching. There is no antagonist whatsoever so the overall atmosphere is positive and uplifting despite the more emo tone towards the end. There is no betrayal, quarrel, or fight among these friends like the typical love stories. It may not be realistic but oh well... I was also so close to crying near the end when Kosei read the letter from Kaori. However, the ending feels kinda hanging.
Can't find the live action version so the anime version will do

So what is the answer to big question: what lie? It is referring to Kaori's lie that she likes Watari. The one that she likes is actually Kosei. When it is revealed, I was like CHEY!!! I am expecting something more shocking or touching since it is the title of the show. But definitely, the movie makes me more interested to watch the anime. Just from the clip above, I think the actors play the live action pretty well although they are not as hilarious as the anime.

1 important lesson that I learn from this movie is from Watari's advice to Kosei about girls/relationship "Whether you can or cannot, it is for the girl to decide". But oh well, I am still reluctant to be in a relationship.

"Last Scene" by Ikimono Gakari is the song played at the ending credits of the movie. It is really a nice song to conclude the movie.Very soothing yet still has the sad vibe.

Monday, March 6, 2017

So many things so little time

I have not been writing for the past 2 weeks and I 'owe' a lot of things to write as I have been busy with things that usually I will write about. I just finished with Haikyuu! Season 2, I just went back over the weekend to attend my friend's wedding in Jakarta (I definitely enjoyed the Pempek and Siomay!), I watched Shigatsu Kimi no Uso and Death Note: Light Up the New World on the plane, and of course I have a lot of rants from work.

Those are not all. Since it is already past 10pm and I have to work tomorrow (sianz!), I shall just write the shorter things first. I will be flying home again in 2 weeks time to celebrate my grandma's 100th birthday. Someone suggested red dress code which is my disliked colour. Having no red outfit, I decided to find red casual jacket as opposed to red shirt. That's how I ended up shopping from lazada for the first time.

Although the price is crazy cheap (plus free shipping or add about $3 for faster shipping), size is really an issue. The jacket I bought was advertised as international size L and it turned out way too small. I realised a lot of items are advertised as Asian size vs International size so I guess the one I really got should be an Asian size L. I lodged a return claim and I was refunded in full. Lazada allowed me to keep the item which is kinda useless so I gave it to a friend. I bought another one from a different shop and with different images but it turns out to be exactly the same jacket as what I got earlier!! Gosh.. Thank goodness I decided to bite the bullet and ordered XXL instead of XL. The XXL was just nice.

Honestly, the experience was not too bad. I mean where else you can get a casual jacket for <$20 lol. To add $3 for express shipping (i.e 1 week delivery) is reasonable too. The design/style is pretty decent although quality is according to the price with many loose threads here and there. However, the issue is the size. Even for those listings with sizes, there is a disclaimer that actual size may vary like 3cm from what is stated in the chart. Crazy! 3cm makes a huge different and there is a chance of getting a size bigger or a size smaller. Don't think I will ever buy clothings online again unless I am desperate enough like this.

Still related to my trip to Pontianak, my sister suggested to stay in hotel. She checked the price on Agoda but usually I use Expedia. The price at Agoda turned out to be $10 cheaper. It is significant considering the total cost was only $78. That is an additional website to consult when I am going overseas which means I have to be extra careful to prevent double purchase again.

I bought idols photobooks from and this experience taught me to use proxy next time. I paid almost $70 for shipping via vPost. Sigh.. Amazon sort of screwed me since they sent the books as 2 separate shipments and one of the boxes has too much air. vPost charges by volumetric weight or actual weight whichevery is greater and that big box of air cost me extra 2kg. Sigh.. Even with 2kg less, I think using Goody Japan proxy which charges extra 700 JPY per item will still be slightly cheaper. I am really pissed since the vPost cost even more than those 4 books.

That's all for now since the other things deserve a separate post for each of them.