Saturday, June 10, 2017

Live Spectacle NARUTO ~Song of the Akatsuki~

After 2 years, Live Spectacle NARUTO is back in Singapore. Song of the Akatsuki is a continuation from the first live spectacle with Naruto's journey to find Sasuke and Sasuke's journey to have his revenge towards Itachi. This second live spectacle ends with Sasuke learning Itachi's past and vowing to destroy Konohagakure.

The first live spectacle is spectacular enough to make me want to watch this second one without thinking twice (though not spectacular enough to hook me to Naruto anime or manga :p haha). Thus I am still not familiar with the story and characters. However, I think I enjoy the first live spectacle better which is more lighthearted, has nicer displays of various characters' ability, and has better plot and character development. In Song of the Akatsuki, there are 3 camps: Naruto's side, Sasuke's side, and Itachi's side (the Akatsuki). There is not enough stage time for each camp and hence the character development for each person is lacking. That makes it not so easy for people who are not familiar with the anime/manga to follow the story, unlike the first live spectacle. The plot is also darker and more serious which makes the various songs rather similar and boring. There are more songs so this feels more like a musical than the first live spectacle which feels more like a live stage to tell the story. The special effects are not too remarkable. In fact, there is only 1 that is considered extraordinary: the giant inflatable Deidara when he is about to do his explosion.

The part that I missed the most is the interactions with audience. There were only 2: 1 at the beginning of each half, when a few characters entered from front doors and then went up on stage. The layout of Marina Bay Sands Grand Theatre is rather sucky too as compared to Resorts World Sentosa with the absence of central aisle. When I saw the seating plan during booking, I thought there would be a central aisle between rows W and AA and hence I chose AA although it would get me a middle seat in the middle of that row. I was so disappointed when it was not the case. I remembered that at the first live spectacle, usually there would be activities at the aisle. If the seating plan was drawn better, I would rather choose an aisle seat although the row is slightly further back. However, similar to the first live spectacle, it was not a full house, perhaps because it was a 1pm show on a Saturday. It was a blessing for me as I could move to row GG to get an aisle seat. Staff asked for my tickets and luckily she allowed me to sit there since it was empty. Anyway, it is still in the same price category as my AA seat.

Similar to the first live spectacle, the cast sang Hikari Oikakete live. I am surprised that it is still the same theme song! Anyway no complaint about that since it is quite a nice and catchy song. Some of the cast ran across the aisle to high 5 with the audience and lucky for me to switch seats and I get to high 5 with Kakashi (Yuki Kimisawa), Sakura (Yui Ito), and Sasuke (Ryuji Sato)!! Okay I missed Sasuke's palm so I only managed to grab his thumb lol. Naruto was too busy with the VIPs on the first row.

It was unfortunate that I knew about this live action only 2 weeks ago when I went to Kinokuniya website as there was a banner to promote 10% off of ticket price for Kino members. By then, all the good seats were already taken. Next time I would not mind getting the first row to be able to see the cast facial expression better. But for today, it was $101.20 (including $4 booking fee and after 10% Kinokuniya discount) well spent.

In terms of merchandise, I bought the programme booklet ($30) and the photo set ($80). Lol I was complaining about the photo set last time but I am just a sucker for this kind of thing lah. The price is actually reasonable as according to the official website http://naruto-stage.jp/ the original price is 2300 JPY (~ SGD 28+)for the programme booklet and 350 JPY for the photo of a character.(~$4+). The complete photo set contains all 16 characters (and each character as 2 photos). Buying the photo set entitles a free special photo but I can only choose 1 out of 4 (Team Konoha, Team Hebi, Team Akatsuki, and Orochimaru & Kabuto).
No special 'gift' of this which contains all the characters

Friday, June 9, 2017

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman movie is long overdue. After all, she is the best female superhero ever made in Marvel and DC multi universes combined together. No doubt about that although I am more of a Marvel fan than a DC fan. Sorry Storm, I love you but I still like Wonder Woman that tiny bit more. DC movies have been disappointing so it is great that Wonder Woman is getting a lot of fantastic reviews. Reviews for DC movies usually are bad and I even gave the heavy weight Batman v Superman a miss.

Despite the rave reviews, I think they still overrate and overhype the movie. Perhaps DC movies have been so terrible for Wonder Woman to receive such praise. Wonder Woman tells her origin story: how she met Steve Trevor, how she left Themyscira, and eventually stays to fight in mortals' world. DC movies are known to be darker in themes and atmosphere as compared to Marvel movies. Wonder Woman's initial awkward interaction in mortals' world is pretty hilarious. I guess they try to inject some humor to make the movie more lighthearted but it feels more like an attempt for the sake of attempting. It does not work as well as in Marvel movies which are genuinely intended to be more lighthearted.

I always love female superheroes because I like to see them kicking asses. The fighting scenes in Wonder Woman generally leaves me unsatisfied. With all the guns and firepower, there are not enough physical combats and there are too many CGIs especially for the final battle which renders it rather anticlimactic. Sorry but again I can't help but to compare it to Marvel movies which definitely have much more awesome fight scenes, whether for CGI-based superpowers or for physical hand-to-hand combat superpowers, and they are balanced very well.

The story itself is so so at best and certain parts feel too rushed. We are talking about World War I here but there is little war strategy whatsoever. It seems that Wonder Woman is simply thrown in to bulldoze her way through and to end the war. There is a lack of heroic moments or touching moments which is a waste considering the war setting. The ending leaves a lot of question marks. Is Sir Patrick actually Ares? Or is Ares simply using Sir Patrick's physical projection? How does defeating Ares conveniently end the war just like a snap of the fingers? What happen to Dr Poison? Since the movie is like a reminiscence from Diana's point of view, it is arguably ok to use it as a reason for a rather choppy flow. After all, we cannot remember every single things from our past.

Hmm.. I guess I am biased.. or it is really simply because Marvel makes better movies. While Wonder Woman is still quite fun and not boring/draggy, it is simply not entertaining enough for me to consider watching it more than once or even watching it at Gold Class despite its 2+ hours run. Anyway, Spidey is (home)coming in a month time.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Orange

I am so hyped up about this movie because of the OST on youtube. I only managed to find this after 2 years and even my friend had great difficulties to find this. One day, Naho Takamiya receives a suspicious letter from her future self in 10 years time. Initially skeptical about it, Naho begins to take letter more seriously when what the letter states starts coming true such as the arrival of a transfer student Kakeru Naruse. Future Naho informs younger Naho that Kakeru would commit suicide and she wants younger Naho to prevent that.

It sounds quite intriguing and boring at the same time. Lol. After all, a story involving time travel, time skip, time jump, etc to change the future usually does not make sense of time paradox. Surprisingly, Orange deviates from that in the sense that whatever changes that happen to the past does not end up changing the future.but ends up creating a parallel timeline. I am not sure if that is a good thing since the way I look at it, it feels that everything is simply a dream or wishful thinking. It is as if the future people are just sending the letters and dream/hope that the letters reach their younger selves and have a better new future, does not matter if it does not impact them who are writing the letter now. So yeah, if the future is changed it will turn out boring but if the future is not affected it feels like only a wishful thinking.

Among the 6 characters, I dislike Naho the most. I am not sure if it is her character or it is the actress who plays her (Tao Tsuchiya). She also stars in Aozora Yell and somehow both characters played by her end up equally boring. Well whatever it is, seriously Naho is just too boring among her friends. I don't know if such a group of friends can exist in real life. The friendship scenes involving the whole group are quite happy and touching to watch but the supposedly 'romantic' scenes of Naruse and Naho are too slow and boring.

The pace of the movie is rather slow and the time jumps between the future and the current make it quite confusing too. I find it quite boring and I only finished watching this in 4-5 separate seatings. Lol. But oh well, at least my curiosity about this movie is fulfilled now. I wonder if the manga will be better since the covers really give a cheerful vibe that makes people interested in it.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Online retail therapy

Finally it is time to say sayonara to my attempt to study Japanese language. It has been almost 2 years since I started and I am quite disappointed with my own progress :( It is ironic that if I continue, it will be to the pre-advanced level and yet I can't even string and say a complete sentence confidently. Learning language is tough. At the beginning, it was still simple enough and perhaps I was still enthu enough to revise diligently. But now, I am lagging like 2 terms behind in my revisions. I cannot remember the newer vocabs as well as sentence structures too. I guess it is a blessing in disguise that sensei no longer wants to teach on Sundays lol. I have a good reason that I am only available on Sundays instead of admitting that I suck that I don't want to continue. It really depends on my own willpower and desire if I really want to master nihongo :(

It is June and Japan Point is having 2x promotion for Iroha Mart. I just noticed about this Japan Point thingy because of the banner outside Iroha Mart. Damn! I am so sad that I only knew about it today. Teppei Syokudo is also one of the restaurants that I can get points and I have ate there 8x this month! Although I know there is no way I will be the top spender to get the air ticket to Japan even with those 8 meals, I don't know if I am sadder about that or I am sadder about the fact that I spent so much already for food T_T

After a failed physical retail therapy to lift up my mood, I am hooked with the online one. Sigh.. It all started with my attempt to look for Conan movie medallion that was already sold out by the time I queued for Conan movie 2 weeks ago. I discover that there is always 1 movie medallion for each Conan movie! Wow.. 21 movies so far so there are 21 medallions to hunt for.. At Yahoo! Auction Japan, the price for 1 is about 800-1000 JPY each. It is too much hassle to buy one by one, not too mention all the proxy fees and domestic fees will build up so I am just waiting for people to sell a few at one go. So far I only managed to get a set of 3 for just 600 JPY!! Mwahaha...

After it reached the proxy warehouse, I thought it would be a waste to just ship 1 item. I had nothing else in mind to buy so I have no idea how I end up finding out about AAA Fantastic Over photobook. I don't usually buy concert photobooks but since this will be the last one with 7 members, I decided to buy it. The retail price is 3900 JPY and I paid 2760 JPY so I hope the condition is still okay. Apparently there are variants with each member as the cover (the contents are the same), The variants are already sold out and the second hand prices are scalpers' price.
I also bought Sexy Zone's second photobook. The cheapest I found was 1100 JPY and the condition was stated as unopened. It better be as such. The original price is 2300 JPY.
As part of promotions for Detective Conan's movie this year, Aoyama Gosho created a few limited manga covers with title Detective Heiji. It is supposed to be a joke since the designs are exactly like Detective Conan covers, only that it features Heiji and some Osaka landmarks. This Detective Heiji joke also made an appearance in the movie.
I spent 1500 JPY or 300 JPY each
Last but not least, Universal Studios Japan had Detective Conan's attraction: The Escape which unfortunately only ran until end May this year. 1 of the special merchandise is a Conan's watch minus the actual anesthetic effect. Lol. I actually avoid buying wearable anime merchandises (especially watches since my current 2 daily watches are good enough and I don't want to damage the merchandise watch) but I gave up resisting since this is not just a watch with Conan picture or logo smacked on it but it has a lid that can open like Conan's watch in the anime/manga. I can't find information of the actual price etc but I decided to just YOLO and buy it since I want to quickly ship all my items together :p In some of the item descriptions, sellers mentioned that can only get 5 a day at USJ and it is already sold out bla bla bla.. Don't know if it is the truth but this is partly what makes me to buy it. There is not any decent official pictures of it as well so I guess I will only show pictures after I receive the actual item.

Still about Conan, I am emo to find out that this year's Conan mascot actually went around for some promotional activities, just that they were not at Plaza Sing!! Sad.. I realised it only when I checked Odex facebook page to look for information on how to redeem the Conan pin.. Haiz.. So this year no picture with Conan :( The learning point, however, is now I know every year definitely Conan mascot will go around for promotional activities. So I better find out where next year and I must take photo.. wearing the Conan watch perhaps :p

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Smoking talk

In late April, I agreed to a doctor's request to give a brief talk for the doctors regarding smoking cessation. As I am away for courses for the second half of May, we have not agreed upon a date. As May was ending, I asked if a date had been decided as I was about to start preparing the slides. I was offered today which meant that I only had 2 days to prepare.. Ooops.. I am a procrastinator. Timeline was tight but I wanted to get this over and done with so I just said yes.

My old laptop does not have internet connection while my new laptop does not have Microsoft Office. I need the internet for more information and pictures to prepare my slides. I decided to try Open Office and Libre Office after pretty good reviews online for free alternatives for Microsoft Office. I could not stand the lag.. and when I viewed the end result in Microsoft Powerpoint, all the settings were different T_T

I slept at 2 am for the past 2 nights but I am glad that I am done with the talk today. Yay!! Usually I always prepare script for presentations but this time I really had no time. So it was rather impromptu. But I did mention to the doctors that my presentation was not meant to be something formal and mainly it was just for sharing of knowledge. So yeah, I am quite proud that I was able to do the presentation quite smoothly.

The feedback I have is pretty encouraging but I really hope that my presentation somehow will help for their exam. Otherwise I just wasted their time.. Some more there was a doctor who was on off day but decided to come just to listen to my talk. Wah.. pressure sia..