Sunday, July 30, 2017

Yuri!!! on Ice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Lan jiao

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

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

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

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

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

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

No progress

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Natsume Yuujinchou (Season 5-6)

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Identity crisis

So last week Harry Potter is celebrating its 20th anniversary after the first book was published on 26 June 1997. Time really flies but perhaps it is because I only came across Harry Potter in 1999 or 2000. Looking back, I was really really in Pottermore that I wrote a post about it. I was sorted into Ravenclaw back then. With the recent revamp of Pottermore, I decided to re-do the sorting (although there was a choice to reclaim the previous House) to see if I would get Ravenclaw again. I got Hufflepuff -_-"

So yes, currently I am facing an identity crisis. Lol.. Like yesterday during the Harry Potter film concert, when the conductor asked which House the audience is in, I could not associate myself with any. I used my gmail to create another account today and yet I got Hufflepuff again. No offense to Hufflepuff but I can't seem to relate to their values according to current Pottermore description: hard work, patience, loyalty, and fair play. In fact, I am a complete opposite: lazy/trying to find shortcut at work and very impatient.

The description for the other Houses are: Ravenclaw prizes wit, learning, and wisdom; Slytherin are proud, ambitious, and cunning; Gryffindor values courage, bravery, and determination. I think I am a Ravenclaw based on my preferences when answering the game-like questions (not sure if I am biased because of my very first Pottermore result) but yeah I am rather nerdy, proud of my brain, eccentric, and individualistic. But looking at my real life personality, I am not ashamed to mention that I am the closest to a Slytherin: arrogant, competitive, and will do anything (as long as not illegal) to achieve my goals, but I am not really a team person. Hmm.. come to think of it, I can't think of anything contradictory from Ravenclaw so maybe that's my House.

So because there was concert merchandises whatsover, I try to see if eBay has any of the concert programme booklet from overseas. There is nothing and instead eBay shows me wands. Of course the original wands from The Noble Collection are crazily priced and I could only afford the fake replica from China. The last time I followed the wands was in 2011 and that time I bought everything that was available: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Sirius, Draco, Sirius, and Fleur. Lo and behold, now there are 21 other wands that I have yet to own yet. I bought all (lol) and that set me back $200 exactly. Less than $10 each so it is a better deal than USD32.50 each from The Noble Collection. I am a peasant after all. Haha.. 21+9 is a total of 30 wands but that is still not a complete set. OMG hahaha.. Not to mention Fantastic Beasts..

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ~In Concert~

Film in concert is an interesting concept of watching a movie with a live orchestra playing all the background music. I watched Harry Potter films for several times and out of all the music, perhaps only the main theme song and Hedwig's theme are really legendary. Ultimately, I decided to spend the money just for the experience and possible concert memorabilia. I googled and overseas, they are selling programme booklet, wands, butterbeer, chocolate frog, etc. For someone who is still wishing to visit Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the thoughts of able to try butterbeer and getting merchandises are exciting.

I arrived an hour before and I was disappointed to find that there was NO concert merchandises whatsoever. I overestimated the screen size and height and a seat at the top level was actually too high. Although it was tiring for my neck, it answered my curiosity on how the concert was made possible. I found it intriguing that the orchestra would be playing non-stop throughout the 2+ hours movie and how they could keep track when to play at which scenes etc.

The conductor had a tablet in front of him, on top of the usual score, to help him. There are actually some parts in the movie that there is no music at all and the orchestra can take a short break. During these breaks, the conductor's tablet will show the movie. When it is time to play again, it is actually like a rhythm game and the tablet will turn black to give signals when to start playing and when to pause.

I find everything to be quite underwhelming. The orchestra played so well and it did not feel like watching a concert. Everything was quite smooth that it felt like watching a movie. That is like a double edged sword since it made the whole thing a super expensive movie experience for $109.

At the beginning of the concert, the conductor tried to hype up the audience by asking who belong in which House etc. He also mentioned for the audience to feel free to clap, cheer, or jeer at their favourite movie scenes instead of purely treating this as a concert experience. Unfortunately, throughout the show, there was little interaction with the audience. He also mentioned for the audience not to go home immediately after the movie was over because there would be a surprise form the orchestra but I did not see any surprise leh..