Tuesday, August 28, 2007


It's been a while since my last update. Various events and a busy work schedule didn't really help. There were a lot of concurrent events and projects all happening within the same time frame, and I was tied down with some tasks so it left me very little time to update. And then there was the AHM. It was my 7th time running the annual Army Half Marathon event. Nothing much as changed, but I decided not to push so hard this time. Every year, I pushed myself to the limits and end up having legs which ached so much I had to limp around for 3 days. This time, I took time to enjoy the run, and my legs didn't ache as much and I could even run around the next morning.
Like I promised in a previous entry, I wanted to contribute and to join in the voices of the anime fans in Singapore. The Odex "revolution", due to its scrutiny by the friendly neighbourhood police officers and also other anti riot police, was reduced to a "People's Action Figure Party". Check out the link to find out more. Although not a lot of people turned up, I believe that it was due to the fact that we were being observed by watchful eyes, and that the photo shoot only lasted for a short while, much earlier before the actual stipulated timing. We didn't want to cause any trouble to anybody, and so we dispersed after our mission was complete. For those who turned up but missed the shoot, I thank you and do keep reading to find out what's happening in the saga. :)
I brought along my Ultraman figure to join in the photo shoot. Zero made those nice little banners which the figures held, to show their displeasure against Odex. Check out the link above for more information and pictures from the day.
For a very long time, I had the impression that downloading anime was totally fine and legal. Mp3s and movies were illegal, because the CDs and DVDs are being sold to the general audience. Anime from the net, on the other hand, were just recorded off Japanese TV, which was free to begin with. So until a certain anime becomes licensed and is being picked for distribution, it felt perfectly legal to just watch shows which were broadcastly freely in another country.But still, things aren’t that simple. Realising there is money to be made, intellectual property issues were abused and fans are the ones who suffer.

What could a company such as Odex do to please the fans? It’s tough, because anime fans are already used to getting their anime merely hours after its broadcast in Japan. Speed fan subs with superb quality are dime a dozen, with HD quality raws to boot. And it’s free. Truth is that the people who hate Odex now just want their anime to remain free. And that’s pretty selfish. I have to admit I’m guilty of the same thing too. But I would have no qualms about forking out money on an anime series, provided that the DVDs are of good quality. Many people are using Odex’s inferior goods as a reason to bash them, which is totally right. What’s not so convincing is that I have a lingering suspicion that these very people are the ones who only want free anime.

Back to the question of what can a Singapore company do to ensure that the local anime fans are satisfield, while supporting the anime industry and not violating any IPs? Will high quality DVDs with freebies really suffice? Is the typical Singaporean that easily satisfield, when the option to download is a click away? Do I really want to wait for 3 or 4 episodes of Claymore to be released? Can I really wait that long when I already feel that each episode ends so fast? I’m not sure if I can even convince myself, even though I already see the bigger picture and the problems that come with it.

Is there a win-win situation in such a money centric society? I believe there is, but it’s a long road ahead, and it begins with education. People have to realise that there is a price to everything. I don’t believe that it’s even possible to stop people from downloading songs, animes, and movies, but I believe that a compromise can be reached. If I really liked a movie after seeing it on theaters or even on TV, I make it a point to buy the official DVD. Not so with anime series, because I had paid for some really expensive anime DVD sets before with really terrible translations. To me, this is a good way to show support to the distributors and the animation studios.

While importing R2 DVDs from Japan seems a little too extreme in showing support, my point here is that if a company other than Odex is bringing us quality anime shows, we should really show appreciation by parting some of our hard earned cash on our beloved shows. Even if I have all the episodes of Claymore with me, I would still gladly buy the official DVDs if: the company gives me HD standard encodings, multiple subtitles such as English, Japanese (that would be awesome), Chinese, etc. Add a Clare/Teresa/Flora figure in it and I’ll be sold instantly.

This brings me back to my first point. The only way to bring Odex down is to be its rival. Give what the fans want, and you know there will be people who will support you. I’ve mentioned that it’s a long road with many battles ahead, but I’m sure more and more Singaporeans are aware of what’s happening in this Odex saga. Many will still cling on to P2P downloads, but with a higher level of awareness, hopefully people will start to pay for what they like. Otherwise, we might lose what we love. よく考えてください!

Mabel recently accquired a new culinary skill: Apple pie! Kudos to Jojo who was her sensei, and Im glad that we have such a fabulous neighbour. Thanks for dinner on Saturday, it was great, and sadly I couldn't have a meal too filling due to the marathon the following day. Although I always use the joke that Misa-chan isn't the only guinea pig in my house, I'm actually very glad to try out anything new that Mabel makes. Chances are that it's delicious, and that I'm bound to become more and more horizontally challenged as time goes by. :(

To top things off, Mabel also secretly got for me a new hand phone, which I have been bothering her about recently. Although my O2 Xda still works fine, due to the strict rules of not being able to carry around camera phones I had to resort to bringing around an antique Nokia phone to work. And because I'm getting busier by the day, I really need a phone with PDA functions to sort my stuff out. And my poor memory isn't really helping. So, thanks dar for the phone! But not everything's a bed of roses. The Sony Ericsson has its fair share of problems. What really PISSED me off was that I had unknowing downgraded my firmware by using the online service updater. My phone, from the box had a newer firmware version than what the official SE site was offering. By using their software, my phone went down a notch by losing its better version of the OS. I was really angry because of this, and I couldn't find a way to resolve this issue. There were some other memory and pop3 funtionality issues, but the firmware issue's really triggered this chain of negative emotions. Hopefully they'll release this new firmware for upgrading online soon. If not..... arrrrghhh.

This year's Army Open house will be held from 30 Aug - 03 Sep 07 at Pasir Laba Camp. The Open House will showcase new concepts and capabilities of the 3rd Generation Army - high mobility through precise manoeuvre, lethal targeting through precision fires, and pervasive battlefield knowledge through precision information. AOH 2007 has been thematically organised into 7 "Worlds" to allow visitors to see what it takes to be a soldier in the 3rd Generation Army. Catch the Army in action, get a taste of soldiering skills, the feel of moving through a battlefield in the Army's suite of combat vehicles as well as a glimpse of what the Army of the future will be like. Besides all the action and adventures, you can also check out the Army story by going on a heritage tour and revisiting the good old days. And I'm involved as one of the presenters in Hardware Land! If you decide to go for the open house this year (the freebies and souveniers from each booth should be reason enough), do drop by and I'll try and get more goodies for ya.

And during the same weekend, Vivo City is organising an event with the cast from the hit TV series 'Heroes'. Being a fan, I really wanted to go and see some of the cast members, especially Masi Oka, who plays nerdy Nakamura Hiro in the show. Other than him, the other members who will be in Singapore include: Ali Larter (Niki/Jessica Sanders), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder Suresh), and Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman). Too bad Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet) isn't coming.... I'd make sure my schedule fits and make the trip down to Vivo City. The second season of Heroes will consist of 24 episodes, and the first season of a new spinoff, Heroes: Origins, will include six episodes. The second season is scheduled to premiere on September 24.

Matsuura Aya (松浦亜弥) is releasing her 20th solo single tomorrow, on the 29th of August. Yet another slow ballard, the single is titled "Egao" (笑顔), which means "Smile". The song has yet to grown on me yet, possibly due to the reason that I've been really looking foward to a fast track from Ayaya. The last fast paced song we've heard from her was with Fujimoto Miki in the group "GAM", and I think fans, as much as how we loved GAM, would enjoy another solo track from Aya. Anyways, check out the PV here.

As tight as my schedule is (or how I claim it is), I still try and make time for Tokusatus shows like Gekiranger and Kamen Rider Den-O, even if it means that I sleep at 1am. Both shows are great, but I'm liking Den-O a lot these days, and although I've mentioned in the first few episodes that this series would probably suck due to its out of the world rider designs, I'm inclined to say that this is probably the best series I've seen, even better than Hibiki, Kabuto, Faiz, and Blade. The humor really works in this series, and there are lots of twists and turns and also emotional scenes thrown in as well. Great show, and I hope it doesn't fall apart like last's year's Kabuto towards the end.
The Gekiranger series, on the other hand seems to take a turn for becoming more and more children oriented, which isn't good. With the appearance of the new animals such as penguin, gorilla and gazalle, it seems more or less like a freak show a la sesame street which kids would dig. This is why some of the previous sentai series turned me off by being kiddy shows. But there is still reason to carry on watching, if not for the 2 totemo kawaii girls in the show. The sub plot regarding the white tiger and the new violet ranger seems promising, and although the humor isn't as good as Den-O's, the show's still pretty enjoyable, at least for the time being.

This post turned out to be longer than I expected. Perhaps due to the lack of 2 weeks of entries I had more to say this time round. For those who dislike reading, I'm sorry but at least I'll end with a PV recommendation this time.... again. Until the next entry, take care, and if you do visit the Army Open House remember to say hi to me at the Army Intelligence booth at Hardware Land, Combat World. Ending off with one of my fave ED themes from Naruto: " Pinocchio" from ORE SKA BAND. Ja and cya!

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