Sunday, February 28, 2010

marasy videos on NicoNicoDouga

You know 'marasy' is a damn skilled pianist and is worshipped by Touhou fans from YouTube and Nico Nico Douga alike, but this piece really takes the bite. I've been impressed by most of his works so far, but this brings my impression of him up a notch.

The way he maintains 3 melodies (inclusive of cross hand), the really messy and odd left hand rhythm and still manage to keep good articulation and pitch is really commendable. This is the kind of performance that can either inspire other pianists or just cause them to give up.

And I'm not done searching for his works. There seemed to be a lot of great videos not uploaded to his youtube account. Too bad embedding is a little screwed up for Nicovideo, so just click on the link above.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Anime: "Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann"

I usually compare Evangelion with Gurren Lagann. They are two sides of a coin indicating emotional level: Evengelion is the "Emo" side, while Gurren Lagann is the "Gar" side (if you don't know what 'gar' is, just take it as the opposite of 'emo'. It'll take some time to actually explain how the word came about).

The story is about beastmen who lives on the surface, preventing humans who live underground to emerge and also controlling their population. Bascially it is to prevent the humans' ability to grow and expand. Simon is just a simple driller in his home. His 'brother', Kamina, envisioned that he will one day reach the surface.

One day, a meccha fell from the roof of the underground home Simon lives at. Fighting it is a beauty (now a regular and popular character to cosplay) with a huge sniper rifle named Yoko. Kamina and Simon somehow got involved and eventually ended up at the surface, where an endless battle against the beastman ensues.

The anime can be a little nonsensical especially to those who are used to meccha animes being 'logical' and 'scientific', where everything is some how explained on a reality level. Gurren Lagann's logic is very simple and based on one thing: Spiral Energy. As long as you have the will, it will be converted to this 'spiral energy' which can be converted into...just about anything.

So based on this idea, you can imagine how hot-blooded the anime can be, since the more hot-blooded you are, you more powerful you become and the more nonsense you can do. Your meccha's leg is broken? Get angry, get mad and get serious and the leg will magically heal. In many ways, this anime can be both funny and exciting at the same time. It teaches how 'when there's a will, there's a way' at a very...nonsensical level.

So far I've used the word 'nonsense' a lot, but I'm really not putting down the anime. Trust me, if you have watched this anime and try to recommend it to your friend, it's hard not to make it sound stupid in one way or another. It is essentially the storyline and cinematography that are incredibly well done. Add the 'nonsense' and you get one intense, exciting and funny anime.

Also, when I meant funny, I meant the 'holy crap that's insane!' kind of funny. If you've laughed over the first time Nanoha does Starlight Breaker to Fate, you'll know what I mean.

Of course, the whole story is not just gar gar and more gar. There are a couple of emo episodes where a certain character is depressed over something I can't tell you due to spoilers. There are also 2 sections to the anime, the parts before and after the beastman are defeated. The 2nd part takes some politics into play, the first time the anime actually have a dark sense of seriousness.

This makes the whole anime all the more engaging. It brings you into the world where anything can happen as you as you will it to, and pulls you straight back to reality. It's this subtle blend of events that makes you feel somehow that this 'Spiral Energy' exists within you and really makes you believe that 'when you have the will, you have the way'.

Or maybe I'm just thinking too much lol. Nevertheless, it is a very VERY good watch which I definately recommend. I just find it odd that the anime actually kicked off in its popularity after a year or so after its out here in Singapore. Enjoy the ride :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

SF4: 3rd strike characters are in!

3 new characters are announced (Makoto, Dudley, Ibuki) bringing a total of 9 new characters for the next installment of the series: Super Street Fighter 4.

Will there be more? The game is said to release this March.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Review: "Maestro! Jump in Music"

As I am currently still unable to dedicate at least two hours in front of my consoles whenever I'm home (which is not very often), I decided to browse through DS games in search for anything interesting. 'Maestro! Jump in Music' was a recent game that caught my attention.

It is rather weird to classify this game. It is a hybrid of action and rhythm games, although there is more focus on the rhythm part. You play as the pink-colored Presto the Bird, trying to save the world from eternal silence by the evil spider Staccato. As you play the game, you travel from stages to stages, eventually playing against Staccato every 3 stage you complete.

Every stage represents a song. The songs are mostly classical, though there are a couple of rock-songs-turned-classical-songs. Most of the songs in the game are popular, unless you are REALLY REALLY deprived of all classical music in your life.

Like all 2D action games, Presto starts at the left corner of the stage and makes his way towards the right end of the stage. He will move across the stage automatically fast or slow, indicating the 'tempo' of the song.

As he moves, you are required to perform actions with your stylus onto the touch screen. Presto walks along a rope throughout the game. You can move your stylus up across the rope Presto is standing on to make him fall, or down across the rope to make him jump. This is to allow him to collect items essential for playing the missing sounds in the music played in the background.

There are a bunch of other actions you can do. You are required to 'strum' on strings located all over the stage at the right rhythm even though Presto is not on it. This also fills in the sounds to the music. Other actions include tapping on enemies to 'defeat them' (essentially playing a sound), drawing circles at vortexes, etc. Don't worry, they are all covered briefly in their respective tutorials.

When you encounter staccato, you are essentially playing a memory game. Staccato plays a series of sounds, you try to reproduce it using the same tools. You keep doing it until Staccato is defeated.

Overall, 'Maestro! Jump in Music' may not be greatest or the most fun rhythm game around, but it's still a fresh and novel idea that actually worked. I have loads of fun tapping, strumming and rubbing the touch screen as I try to find the best way for Presto to make his way across the stage for the perfect score. The only problem is that that there's not enough songs to play with.

Definitely a must-try.

NeetGeek gives this a 7.5/10


Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Lunar New Year!

Well, I don't really want to type out another long post so I'll just keep this short:

Here's wishing everyone a Happy Lunar New Year and a fruitful Year of the Taiga ahead ^_^. There are many things to look forward to this year! :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New Disgaea Title!

I remember a couple of days back someone told me that one of my favorite game studios, Nippon Ichi, is which I gave the slipshod response: "They should've focused on their more popular IPs. Actually they should just make a Disgaea 4. That would've been awesome."

Then on Sankaku I saw this.

Haha, I was right.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Marisa Nendoroid

I have a huge weakness for nendoroids and thankfully I haven't bought one up till now due to lack of dough, interest, or the fact that I'm too lazy to pre-order online and rather wait for it to arrive to...say...KKNM?

This time though, it seems nearly impossible to resist; pay just came in, I really wanted a Marisa item and it's really coming to KKNM just a bus ride away.

After which, I might get end up getting the Reimu and Sakuya one and maybe the rest if they are coming out -_-

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What a shitty week, rant on!

Not talking about things that happened to me. Just talking about me physically. I felt extremely lousy every day in camp, with no real motivation to do anything; just slack off and waste my time away. Is this what it feels like when my ORD is approaching?

A lot of my opinions of what I'm going to do changed over the past month. At first I just thought I could get away trying to apply into a local U with my shitty scores to be content with that, but that is not the case anymore. As my return to civilian life draws closer, thoughts about what I really want to do to put food onto my rice bowl occur more frequently.

As of now, I still believe I can turn what I enjoy doing into a job, be it playing the piano or programming. It's no longer time to slack and waste my life away anymore. Dreams of getting rich while sitting on a sofa are only dreams; if it miraculously happens, good for me, otherwise suck it up and do it the hard way.

Occasionally when I'm alone, I always think about what I love to do, think about if it will last for the long term, think about why I lost interest in the first place. Then I realize it was mostly just me being impatient plus the fact that I lose interest very fast.

I remember when I was like...very young, when I told my mum I wanted to learn playing the piano. I don't remember the reason; maybe I just loved how the sounds it makes can make me tremble. As years goes by, it became harder and harder to concentrate practicing the piano, especially with distractions that keeps interrupting me. Every time I decide to practice, some distraction will occur, resulting in me being frustrated. Add my impatience and I will just lose interest due to the frustration.

Programming is a rather different case. Most things I start doesn't seem to do anywhere. It's like I'm just doing on/off programming just for the heck of it, just because I still find it quite fun. In my previous projects, I will just fail to see where it will get me, and where the project will end up. Most of the projects I've done seems either disorganized or uninteresting, causing me to lose interest and quit.

It kinda feels that I'm sitting there, waiting for something worthwhile to do. The side-project I'm doing with YH seems pretty good so far. When I see the structure, I actually feel that something can be done. Random projects with no direction doesn't put rice in my bowl = no interest = no point doing = just let it die.

I always try to be perfect. I think that's the biggest problem. Everything I do must be optimized; min-maxing to me is pretty enjoyable. The problem is, it takes time, and my impatience will always kill it. It is a flaw in my character, and I recognize it many times, but I always fail to remedy it. The remedy is so simple actually: 'respark the interest'.

Interest is a very strange thing. You can be interested in something one day, and not the other. It affects your mood and whether you want to do something or not. If you don't respark the interest, the interest level usually have a high chance of staying low. When your interest level is low, laziness, procrastination and other distractions will kick in. When things like laziness goes in, it's hard to find the motivation needed to become interested again. Most of the time, taking a break and reflecting helps.

I realize I can't be perfect in my piano playing overnight. Every piece I play must be polished individually and carefully. I should feel happy about making progress instead of feeling frustration of having a slow progress. I know I'm not a genius, just someone who can play the piano and took enough lessons to play better than most. But I'm still not a genius. I can't sight-read well, and I can hardly play by ear. These things don't happen overnight for me, and the solution is simple: Practice -> Re-spark interest -> Practice some more.

The bottom line is, things take time. There's a pace for everything in the world: some fast, some slow. As long as I don't give up and as long as I can keep the interest going, I can do anything.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Anime: "Genshiken"

You've probably seen animes with parodies catered towards otakus like Lucky Star or Hayate no Gotoku, but there isn't one that fully captures the otaku nature like Genshiken.

Genshiken is all about otakus and their lives. It features a wide cast of the many different types of otakus and their hobbies, so no matter what kind of otaku you are, you will be able to relate closely to the happenings in this anime.

Ohno cosplaying Yoko!

Genshiken is based off a manga series by Shimoku Kio (yes, I wiki'ed it).

The story is simply about a quiet boy named Kanji Sasahara. Secretly a closet otaku, he wounds up joining Genshiken. Along the way, he will meet with the various members of Genshiken; the method chosen to introduce the different kinds of otakus to the audience.

Of course, an otaku series wouldn't be one without an anime to stand as a basis of their interest. Aside of mere mentions of games like CVS2, KOF and FF, Genshiken members watches and constantly mentions an anime named "Kujibiki Unbalance". After the first season of Genshiken was done, Kujibiki Unbalance was eventually created as a 3 part OVA. In 2006, it developed a 12-episode version.

Kujibiki Unbalance

So as we know, Genshiken is mostly about the characters and their reactions to different scenarios placed upon them, rather than the plot. So I'll just give a brief overview on the characters:

Kanji Sasahara: Initially a quiet closet otaku, Kanji eventually came into terms with his otaku nature as he spent more time in Genshiken. Although he has no talent in drawing, he is actually very motivated and plans to become an editor in the future.

Makoto Kousakaa: Kousakaa is your video game fanatic, particularly with ero-games and fighting games (did the author of Genshiken interview arcade regulars or something?). He is considered a 'pretty boy', and is the most upbeat of all the members, as well as the most dense. He has a girlfriend who share no interest in the otaku culture, although he is considered to be in a different level of 'otaku-ness' by most of Genshiken's members

Saki Kasukabe: Saki is Kousakaa's girlfriend and the only non-otaku character in the anime. She is the character that shows what 'normal people' think of otakus and their interests. In many ways, Saki's ignorance towards the otaku culture spices up the whole show. Towards the end, she grew attached to Genshiken and its members, though she still has no interests in doing otaku stuffs.

Harunobu Madarame: Maradame is your very typical hardcore otaku, who will do anything to obtain what he wants. If he caught wind of a rare item being avaliable downtown, he will be there no matter what. He's the kind with the 'Pay first, take damage later' attitude, and he carries it out to a rather alarming degree.

Souichiro Tanaka: Tanaka loves making stuff, be it plamo or cosplay costumes or figmas. He enjoys the culture of cosplay alot.

Mitsunori Kugayama: Kugayama is your artist without motivation. He loves drawing ero stuff and he stutters alot.

Kanako Ohno: Ohno is the first female member of Genshiken. She is an avid cosplayer and thus shares a close connection with Tanaka. Although she's soft spoken, she often attempts to make the other females around her cosplay. She has a fetish for middle aged male characters.

Chika Ogiue: Ogiue is the 2nd artist of Genshiken. She hates her otaku nature, but she ends up joining Genshiken anyway. She often draws yaoi doujinshi (fujoshi). Towards the end, she opens up as she creates her own doujinshi. There's some chemistry between her and Sasahara.

Manabu Kuchiki: Kuchiki is an annoying otaku. He's really annoying. He also loves anything that's cute and often mimics certain anime characters. Deep inside, he's actually a rather nice guy. Put these together and you get one really misunderstood otaku.

Shy Sasahara overcoming his otaku nature

Genshiken currently has 2 seasons and 3 OVAs. I don't know if 'normal people' will understand much of what is going on, but it is a great show for all otakus.