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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Two Korean Dramas worth looking at

I know I'm stepping away from Japanese stuff and telling you about Korean things but I'm doing this because I think it's really that worth it. The first of which is:

Yi San is about the life of King Jeongjo, the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty. He's famous in history for being a king who sympathized with the common man and tried to help life for all despite having such a proper upbringing. It starts off with him as a child and follows his life as the crown prince and later king during one of the most hectic times in history.
It's one hour per episode for 77 episodes. I'm not usually keen on historical dramas but this one was really well done. There are parts where the pace gets sluggish and resorts to filler, but overall this was a really great show. The cast is decorated with a handful of famous actors as well as actors from a previous drama known as Dae Jang Geum which took place in the same dynasty 200 years before Yi san. This makes familiar faces mix with different roles and so viewers of both shows can see how well the acting is.

This show does deviate from the actual historical records, but it follows the general line of history well which is interesting. There were something that viewers were worried about in terms of historical precision as some parts are really vague but it was handled delicately and worked nicely. The actors fit their role really well. My main problem is how many females express their surprise in erratic heavy breathing which annoys me beyond belief, but that's a personal thing. Another annoyance is how flashbacks occur as it usually references something that just happened... I guess it's really just the style of direction and I can't really do anything about it.

Wanna know something else that rocked? I watched the entire show on cable with professional subtitles (that needed a type checker) with a single day delay. If only anime came out like that we wouldn't have so many piracy issues.

Soulmate is about 4 couples who are trying to look for their one "true" love, or the missing half of themselves. Some settle with marriages in which they thought they loved, while others are playboys who don't really believe in such a concept. In general, this is actually a very generic drama with a typical story. What's great about it is how it's done well. It's one thing to use a very typical idea, but putting that in a great execution deserves praise. The humor is quick and precise and each character has a very distinct personality that works well when mingling with the other mains.

It's one thing to have a show with a plotline everyone can guess. Because that show normally comes out as a generic run-of-the-mill, low production value show. But when someone steps it up a notch, adds better direction, adds production value, suddenly that show becomes really good. You no longer care if some pairings were typical, the fact is: Effort pays off. The more effort you put into something, the better the result will be regardless of material.
It's broken into 2 seasons each with 12 episodes. The first season is kind of an ice breaker with a twist, while the 2nd season is where the pace picks up and you get a lot of information at once almost emulating life.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Darker Than Black - Review

Darker Than Black is about how a mysterious gate appears in Tokyo along with psychics who've made some form of contract with the supernatural. These psychics are then referred to as Contractors since they gain power in return for having to do something each time they use their power (thus contract). In comes Hei, a contractor who works for an underground organization simply referred as "The Syndicate" who doesn't seem to be restricted by any mandatory obeisance in return for power. Add in Officer Masaki Kirihara who's trying to figure out where these contractors came from and you have a story.

If you think this is one of those anime where there's a minute opening, with a somewhat non-linear plot development combined with unique characters that wraps up well in the end, you'd be right. A lot of anime seem to take this turn where they tell the story through "everyday" life situations and add in character development at whim. I'm not a big fan of this kind of story telling as I feel that's kinda cheating to get character development and backstory in a very distant approach so it looks like it wasn't randomly called but it is effective. I also kinda hate how then this becomes an excuse to not be definite with a coherent plot because then it can be "explained later."

Regardless, character development was done well and by the end you learn to like and understand every character (my personal favorite is Yin). Once the "main story" picks up (which is actually surprisingly early) the story gets as intricate as the characters. The story is more than just two sides duking it out. As complex as people are, the story have multiple parts and different perspectives that you can see from. Even the multitude of individual contractors that are encountered in the anime each have their own reason for choosing to be one and have a unique contract.

The animation is really well done. Then again, it's to be expected as the animation team is the same ones who did Full Metal Alchemist, Wolf's rain, Rahxephon, and Ouran High school Host Club. Each character is distinct and very clean. Just watching it is awe-inspiring. The music is just as amazing, but then again that's to be expected. With Yoko Kanno in charge of music, you get a nicely orchestrated symphony that fits the situation.

In terms of production, Darker Than Black has a lot put into it. Original work really beats shows that are derived from manga. Having a good director and original concept along with good production values becomes quality work that's worth at least one viewing. and it shows. You get good music, good animation, concept and an overall great show. It's slow at times but this 25 episoder has a nice balance of action, romance and plot development that should hook a lot. Unless you're REALLY against action anime, take a look.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Anime update

Third Black Lagoon green lit
Umineko no Naku Koro ni confirmed (The second "naku koro ni" game. Probably going to be released after third Higurashi is done.)
Third Zero no Tsukaima confirmed.

And the third School Rumble coming soon (That's a lot of thirds....)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sorry for being away...

It's not like I'm slacking off, I'm forgetting to set future posts. As of now I'm working on time-management and managing everything between my job and my leisure.

I'll let you guys in on my job. The company I work for is called Vector. It's often been regarded as a "scam" and illegal and Evil. I've heard some call it soul-stealers. Here's what Vector is. It's a marketing corporation. A company that helps market Cutco products. Vector is a company to make money and what I am is a sales representative. The salesman. I don't go door to door nor do I make cold calls. My commission rises as I sell more but I also have a guaranteed pay of $18.50 per appointment. No, this doesn't reimburse my transportation. I'm to file a 1099 tax report as an individual contractor. Who am I? Someone who's trying to take this company in the most neutral light as possible.

It is not a scam nor is it a quick way to make money. It's a hard job that's rewarding if done well but has the chance of being a let down. Yes, there's a chance you can lose money. That's how sales works. It's a risk, but at least you get a guaranteed pay. How am I doing so far? I've received my first promotion and am now paid 15% on what I sell. How is my work ethic? Horrible actually, which I why I took this job. My work ethic was something I wanted to improve, not only that I took a ridiculous amount of flak for taking this job from my parents. Instead of getting pissed, I'm taking that to work harder and prove to my parents and to myself that I can pull this off. My friend's sister did the same thing and was able to fund her own study program to South Africa. That's not jealousy in my writing, that's inspired awe. That has just made me want to work harder.

How's it going for me? Poor actually. I may have lost more than I've made (though that single sale probably helped supply me for a while.) but overall I don't really regret taking this job. Call me brainwashed but I understand that it takes a ridiculous amount of work to do but I also need to adapt quickly. It's been about a month, but I'm STILL working on my calling approach as well as my presentation. This isn't a get rich quick scheme and I understood that. I also understood that going to the office also takes a good amount of time and what I'd have to do is learn to manage my schedule very well. This kind of job isn't for everyone. I'll say that. For those who think they can just make a couple calls, get appointment and watch the money fall is an idiot. It's a hard job and takes effort. I want to do well and I want to try and beat my friend's sister.

I'll also say this. All the branches are DIFFERENT. Since people are different every manager will have a similar approach but personalities could be different. Every state, country, town, office has someone different and LOCATION actually MATTERS. The company is based in Olean, New York meaning you're more likely to get better service the closer you are to the East Coast. The top ranked states happen to be the tri-state area because the products that we sell are expensive and closest to New York. However, rank seems to have a giant impact on the offices as well. Here's the thing.

My manager isn't pushy, manipulative, nor does he have "devil horns" hiding in his hair. He actually listens to me, tries to work alternatives with what he can (he told me to start working with recommendations even though it's only my second week) and tries to push me to be the best I can do for the company. Yes. He's hired to make money, but he also CHOOSES to be a manager. He decided 4 years ago to want to be a manger and went through extra training. He made the investment (of $2500) to open up an office and try his best. He drinks a ton of red bull everyday, loves watching movies, and loves to joke. He has 80 thousand in career sales and is regarded to be really good at phone approaches by the division leader. We play snaps at Team-night out and the occasional eating contest where the loser pays for the winner's food (we take the receipts and write it off on our taxes so it's fine). What's more? There's a handful of managers who are just as laid back as he is and willing to listen to our problems. To me, he's a cool guy and even if I didn't work for him, if I just met him while touring a campus, we'd be friends (if we weren't already).

I understand that not everyone's like that and there are bound to be branches that don't do as well. I've also heard reports that some sales reps neglect to mention some facts and some managers are very pushy. My entire school is wary of reps like me because last year some graduate was extremely aggressive and if not pushy, stoned out of his mind DURING appointments. How has that left me? Not in a good situation. I get (quite) angry responses and I need to commute about an hour everyday but honestly, it's worth it. I'm spending the summer in a manner that I honestly feel would help me out in the long run. If I'm not selling, I'm just talking to parents and conversing about college. This has also made me fight my fears and my extreme shyness. Despite how I am on paper or with friends, I'm actually a very anti-social person in public. This job forces me to talk to people, and in the end (even if I don't do well) I feel like there will be benefits.

To me, those benefits are greater than the cost (and if I get lucky, I could offset the costs with my paycheck). Yes, it's time consuming, hard, and I've actually cried from stress on one occasion and from lack of success, but you know what? I didn't let that stop me. I knew that I wasn't doing my best. I was still slacking off, I was afraid to call some people, I wanted to skateboard but I've made a firm resolution to work. I'll probably flat line but I'm actually fine with that. So to those who are looking into Vector, good luck. It's hard and you need to dedicate a large amount since it's NOT an hourly pay, but think. Make a firm resolution if you will and don't be afraid to say no and look for other jobs.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Awesomeness this way comes.... PERSONA

Just in (13 hours ago) news for Persona 4 is coming.
P4 Trailer

If you're confused about the first 10 seconds, they're flash backs from previous persona games. From what I can understand. You basically get all the features from P3:Fes and more. Glasses seems to be the motiff for this one, so we can stop with the high school suicide jokes now.

Shortly after an urban youth begins a year-long stay in the countryside town of Inaba, the rural town's peace is shattered by a horrific murder that leaves no clues or suspects. As the lone incident develops into a series of bizarre crimes, he discovers that only he and his friends have the power to solve the baffling case, bring those responsible to justice, and restore harmony to his new home.

Features will include: Party control (While the AI will probably be developed just as much, you'll now be able to take direct control. Yay! Taking a look at the trailer, there might be tactics where you can block attacks with other characters), Persona fusion, weapon crafting, and part-time jobs.
Taking place in the country side, I find it interesting how they try to add more and more to the game to simulate the two worlds. I think they've done Fes really well (You even had to walk Koromaru) and just adding on to that is great. I love how their "if it aint broke, don't fix it" policy and only fix the bugs and issues that players had with the previous versions.

And the music is just as good as always.

Awesomeness arrives: Dec. 9th. for the PS2. IT WILL LIVE ON!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Super Mario Hyadain

Youtube Video

A remix of the original song from Super Mario World (I think it's stage 3? I know it's the one where you have the platforms that spin around like a pinwheel from your "weight)
This one is the best one I could find. I know at first it looks really sketchy. Some parts don't make sense and parts of the lyrics are a giant "WTF"?

I actually find this to be a really funny video assuming you understand the subtle humor. I suggest reading this during a second view of the video. Or read this first if you don't think you could stand listening to a super mario remix twice.

I'll go through all the points of what is happening in this video. The entire video is actually "staged." That meaning it's not really the characters interacting with one another, rather actors that stand in for the characters. Instead of giving you time stamps (which I think actually hinder one's enjoyment) I'll give you general vicinities of where these points are.

- First point is the lead in to the chorus. It seems Bowser stuck his claw too far up his nose and is now bleeding. Poor Bowser. That should remind him to keep his claws dull.

- During the instrumental into to the second verse you get a shot of a dressing room. In it are all the actors. In the background you see a guy in a Yoshi costume giving Peach a massage while in the foreground you have the Bowser and Mario actors. Bowser's actor is the one closest to the foreground while Mario would then be the person in the middle through process of elimination.

- As the second verse starts notice how Bowser has an actor in his mouth. It seems he wasn't able to move fast enough.

- Mario's actor seems to have had some issues in the dressing room as well, and now you can see his frightening (yet amusing) face. He seems to get his mask on during the lead in to the chorus. (So why did he have troubles during a longer period of time...?)

-During the second lead in to the chorus, Bowser and Mario mention Peach's Tsundere personality. Tsundere is a term that's a combination of tsuntsun (meaning aloof or rough) and deredere (meaning lovestruck or sluggish) that's used in referring to girls who are "rough on the outside, soft on the in." Apparently the term was coined differently earlier and was once used for girls who had a very rough, stubborn personality but became very passionate and lovey-dovey later through character development. A subtle difference but one nonetheless.

-Intro to the third verse are two shots of Bowser and Mario's imagination and how they perceive (or rather daydream about) Peach. Following immediately after during the opening cadence is Yoshi and the slip of the costume as you see the face of Yoshi's actor.

- Interrupting Luigi, Bowser says KY which in japanese means "Kuuki Yomenai." It literally means that he can't read the air (the air referring to the atmosphere or environment around them.) Basically, Bowser is saying that Luigi isn't following the script with what Mario and Bowser are doing.

- Following Bowser is Mario who tosses Luigi an "ugly mask" as to mean that Luigi was supposed to follow along and purposefully look ridiculous like the other two.

- Peach's lyrics can confirm that this is a "staged" performance as she seems to completely reject Luigi. Thinking deeply for a second here, this would make sense had Luigi followed the script and looked just as hideous. That then makes me wonder what the next part of Luigi's script would've been had he not been kicked.

-They then talk about looks and the small amount of text that follows the different ranks is just means "around here" to note how their looks are.

-As they finish the final round of the chorus, there's a final shot of Bowser (without his mask) talking to Mario who's holding a slip saying "Puff Puff..." I can't read the second worse as it's blurred. However, the stroke order works for the katakana (alphabet used for foreign words) character for "ma" which makes me think that it was a slip for a Powder Puff Massage.

There were some things I liked about Scott-Falco's work with reanimating but lacking that subtle humor, I didn't find it as funny.

Oh yeah. Happy Fourth of July.