Friday, April 26, 2019

Avengers: Endgame

Since missing the first day of the advanced ticket sales, I had been in an emo mood since I could not find seats which were not in the first few rows until at least next week. I think the cinemas open more screenings and when I checked for availability again yesterday, I found quite vacant halls for Saturday morning. Luckily as we were discussing about this during lunch, my colleagues asked me to check Tiong Bahru Plaza and I managed to get a ticket for yesterday 615pm. Hehe.. There were only fewer than 10 seats sold when I bought but in the end it was a full house too. So after 1 year of waiting and few weeks of emo-ing, I finally managed to watch Avengers Endgame on the opening day.

I usually love spoilers but I managed to hold myself for Endgame. Lol. The only thing I found out from my friend who already watched was whether there was any ending credits scene. Haha.. I was preparing to hold my bladder and quickly run to the bathroom if there is nothing. So just a warning for those who are reading this but have not watched it, there will be spoilers.

I may be weird and in the minority that find Endgame disappointing. I find it worse than all the previous Avengers movie. Heck, I find it even more boring than Captain Marvel. As Endgame is consider part 2 of Infinity War, comparison is unavoidable. Infinity War is the pinnacle and Endgame fails to better it and feels so anti-climactic. Infinity War feels so well planned and hits all the right notes for the character interactions (despite the massive cast), some epic memorable moments in the fight, and great humour and emotional moments. Endgame is messy and rushed (yes ironic despite it being 3 hours long): unable to do justice to the so many characters both in exposure as well as final fight, hit-and-miss jokes, emotional moments that miss some 'oomph' from poor set up leading to those moments, and uurgh plot.

As expected since the first time I read the rumours about time travel, the story is going to be messy and non-sensical. I am not going to nit pick on that since the movie's explanation is that time runs differently due to quantum realm. Thus even by taking Infinity Stones from the past, using them for some time in present timeline, they still can return it to the exact time when they 'borrow' it from the past. That is fair enough. However, it is ridiculous not to address how changes in the past will affect their future self with the most jarring example: present time Nebula kills Nebula from the past without erasing her own existence.

Time travel aside, the main plot is also terrible as a lot of characters seem to be out of their character and they are just used as convenience plot devices. I am okay with them emo-ing over the snap bla bla bla but what happen during the 5 year jump? Do everyone just move on and do nothing until suddenly when Ant-man comes back, everyone is suddenly interested in Thanos again? Time travel is not Bruce and Tony's expertise but after this mention about time vortex, within a few days they are able to device a plan. Bleah.. convenient but rubbish.

Captain Marvel is the latest edition to the team and her involvement in Endgame is crap too.Without watching the ending credits of Captain Marvel, we will not even know how she returns to earth. Well even in Endgame, we still don't know how eventually she is 'accepted' as part of the team, how she finds the spaceship that Tony and Nebula is stranded, how she just disappears after the first fight with Thanos and how she simply reappears again at the final fight. While for the characters who return from the snap, they are just shown for a few seconds just to remind us the audience that they are present and they have returned. That is the biggest letdown for me. Even the long awaited "Avengers Assemble" rally is so weak and uninspiring (the tease at the end Age of Ultron feels more inspiring). The final battle is essentially a repeat of the final battle in Infinity. They have all the opportunities to make the fights better, after all it can be seen as a 'revenge' from the snapped characters, but nope.. none of that.

Endgame can be summarised as a trip down memory lane. We get to revisit the old movies from different angles and fill in the emotional missing moments that the characters in the present timeline never get to experience (such as Thor and his mum, Ironman and his dad at a timeline where Tony was not even born, Steve and Peggy Carter at a timeline where Steve was still frozen). It also provides a good closure for the pioneers to exit the movie but the meaning is sort of lost because there is not enough build up and follow up after Black Widow and Ironman's deaths and Captain America's growing old (which actually is completely out of character for him to be that 'selfish'). Some fanservice easter eggs moments, especially for those who read the comics such as Captain America's "Hail Hydra!", Captain America's wielding Mjolnir, Pepper join the final fight with Rescue Armor, New Asgard, Falcon to take up the mantle of Captain America, Professor Hulk, and so on).

In conclusion, I think that the movie makers begin with the main goals of nostalgia and providing closures for the 3 Avengers mentioned above and the rest of the elements is fitted in where and when necessary resulting in all this mess. Great conclusion to the whole MCU storyline since the first Ironman movie in 2008? Yes! Great movie on its own? Nah.. I would say it is quite rubbish as a stand alone movie.

All that hype and waiting for one year ends with tears for me.. too bad it is not emotional happy or touched tears but tears of disappointment. The Avengers and MCU have definitely become part of history in film making and cinema industry. With a closure like this, I am not that positive on the future direction of MCU. They have messed around with time travel, written characters out of characters, and brought characters back from 'fake' death (aka Thanos' snap) so there is nothing stopping them from going full comic book mode with retcons and bringing back characters from real death.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Conan Station (Yura Station)

This is the post specifically for Conan Station which is officially known as JR Yura station. Despite all the Conan tourism, it is essentially and functionally a small station in a relatively quiet city. Inside the station, they make use every possible space for Conan decoratives. Outside the station are all the additional things to cater to Conan tourism: a tourist information center, Conan statues, and direction boards with Conan decorations.

I came here twice: once in almost evening when I only explored outside the station and once in the afternoon when I came and left Hokuei town by train. I choose the better looking pictures so there are some pictures with strong sun and some with cloudy sky. As most people will likely visit the town by train, I will order my photos from the platform (as if just arriving in the station) to the outside. Enjoy!
The moment we alight from the train, the platform area already has so many Conan signages.
The right side is 'lighter' not because of the strong sun but because the paint colour is indeed 'bleached' by the sunlight
The waiting area for platforms 2 and 3
Staircase to cross from the ticket office (and platform 1) to the waiting area for platform 2 and 3
Rather than passing a gantry, we pass a sliding door to enter the station building where the staff checking the ticket is stationed. This small building is where the coin lockers, ticket machines, and waiting area are.
Conan stickers on the ceiling
Conan decorations everywhere
Coin lockers
The only available 'large wall space' near the ceiling is maximised with Conan illustrations
After exiting this building, the tourist information center is just on the right. There is a small selection of Conan goods here. The most important one that I recommend buying is the Hokuei Town guidebook. It will provide all the locations of Conan statues to ensure that you do not miss any. Although most of the statues can be found along the Conan Street from the station to Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory, there are a few that require detour. The book that I bought says "volume  04" since the locations of the statues may be different from the information that can be found in the internet from few years ago. Yep, all the more reason to get this book. The guidebook also has Conan Street Stamp Rally and you can get a small sticker if you can get 5 out of 9 stamps. The locations of these stamps are also indicated in the guidebook.
Conan banners
Decorations around the sitting area in this tourist information center
Decorations around the sitting area in this tourist information center
Decorations around the sitting area in this tourist information center
The tourist information center is on the right of the building that we exit just now. On the left of this building is toilet and bicycle parking area. On the way to the bicycle parking area, there are more Conan decorations.
A board pointing to the first Conan bronze statue
Conan's famous "Shinjitsu wa itsumo hitotsu!"
Map showing Tottori prefecture
 The iconic Conan town statue is at the carpark area.
The statue is not as tall as I imagined. I am almost as tall as Conan's shoulder from the ground. Climbing to the platform is not allowed.
The map showing the attractions along Conan Street but I will still recommend to get the guidebook
Conan Station is officially recognised as a name of the station
Conan Station as viewed from the Conan statue: the white door goes to the train platform and the brown door is the tourist information center
From across the street...
.. which essentially is the start of Conan Street
On my way back to Tottori City, I was lucky to board the yellow Conan train. There are 2 Conan trains: yellow and pink and there are schedules. I consider myself lucky because I did not check the schedule and was not expecting this. Haha.. Anyway the Conan decoration is only at the outside. The train will not wait for passengers to take photo. So I was lucky that this train that I took ended at Tottori City so it stopped for sometime to ensure every passenger alighted and that gave me more time to take pictures. Hehe..

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Tottori Sand Dunes Conan Airport

As promised, this is a separate post on Tottori Sand Dunes Conan Airport to show pictures of various Conan decorations in the airport.
This statue welcomes visitors after collecting their luggages and exit the Arrival area
Zoomed in for Ran and Conan

 Turning right from the statue is the domestic Departure area which is rather lacking in Conan decorations except for these banners

The bulk of the Conan decorations are on the left side of the Ran and Conan statue.
Boards showing various attractions in Tottori
Boards showing various attractions in Tottori
Conan Hall with 3D image effect for phototaking with the floor
I actually only noticed Kid when I took photo of the banner from 2nd floor. On the left of the banner is the staircase to go to the observation deck.
Kid is always 'hiding' at spots difficult to take photos
 Moving on to the decorations on the left side of the Conan Hall.
Promoting Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory (GAMF)
Promoting the Tottori Sand Dunes
Took this in a hurry and the captions are blurry so I can't figure out what these images are for
There is a small room to simulate taking photo behind a mirror but I only discovered this area on my departure flight when I was alone. So no picture for this. Moving on the right side of Conan Hall which has exhibitions of Conan's equipments.
Conan's skateboard and shoes
Conan's voice changer bowtie and spectacles
Details on Conan's equipments
The image on the wall at the staircase leading up to the Observation Deck
Photo place at the observation deck. Sadly I was alone so I did not have any picture here :(
Taken this on my 16/4 morning flight and they had not changed the date.
 Back to first floor and walking further past Conan Hall...
Conan decorations for the coin lockers
Memory test game station to flip matching tiles
Cafe Poirot decoration is not that big
The exit door next to Amuro sort of ruins the photo
Amuro Tooru / Rei Furuya
Kogoro Mouri
Plate signed by Amuro's seiyuu: Furuya Toru (notice his name and the name of character he is voicing)
Plate signed by Kogoro's seiyuu: Koyama Rikiya
Next to Cafe Poirot is a shop selling Conan merchandise. There are a lot of merchandises special to Tottori so it is a good place to get Conan merchandise if you have no time to visit Conan Shop at GAMF. It is bigger and has more Conan merchandise compared to the souvenir shop at Tottori Station.
Take note of the opening hours though 915-1730
Wallpaper inside the Skygate Store
Wallpaper inside the Skygate Store
 That's all for inside the airport building.
Taken from the carpark. Still plenty of space to make the Conan Airport logo bigger.
Conan decoration also extends to the carpark
These are all the pictures I took and there are still a few things that I did not capture: the walls and glass doors facing the carpark are also decorated with Conan, more images of the carpark sections, and framed Conan illustrations lining the aerobridge.

The airport was newly renovated and reopened in July 2018. So perhaps in a few years time, there will be more decorations added and that will be another reason to visit Tottori again. Hehe..