Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rena - 4 months young

As promised, here is Rena's latest video! Just in time to commemorate her 4th month as well, as indicated by the video title. For those who have been following my videos so far, check out the last section of the video for the conclusion to the previous video! :p
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Sunday, March 22, 2009


The weekends always seem to fly by so fast. Work's getting more interesting too, but also busier and more frustrating at times. Well, coupled with the fact that I need to ferry both Mabel and Rena around makes the evenings seem even shorter. At least we can visit Rena almost everyday, and watching her slowly grow up is one of the most motivating things that we do these days.
Rena's staying with my in-laws during the weekdays, and comes home during Friday evenings, and back there on Monday mornings. Our time with her is comparably shorter than before, so that's why we have to cherish each and every minute with her. Until both of us settle down in work and become more comfortable with the timings, we'll stick to this routine before planning to take her home and a more frequent basis.
My previous blog entry on the Dragonball Evolution review was submitted to a few popular websites dedicated to the movie. These sites were updated on all the news and were my sources of information before the premiere of the movie. After I linked my blog to one of the entries there, my blog received a spurt of visitors. 357 views in less than 2 hours. Not too bad, and eventually I had over 1500 views in day. Pretty amazing, but I wished that the movie was better so that my review can actually promote it. Well, I'm not too keen on a sequel but a reboot sounds so much better.
My package from Hobbylink finally arrived this week. Not too big a parcel since it only consists of 8 figures. 5 from the latest batch of Legend Rider series and the remaining 3 from the Kiva series which have eluded me for the past few months. It's getting harder to get my stuff since I rarely visit the toy stores these days, and I even have uncollected goods for months.
The Legend Riders also includes the Ganbaride cards which can be used at both the arcade game and as well as the DX Decadriver, which I was tempted to get by in the end aborted due to the price. Still, pretty cool that I can own some of the cards which are seen in the show. More on Kamen Rider Decade below.
One of the few good things which came out of the Dragonball Evolution movie was perhaps the theme song by Hamasaki Ayumi. The track is named Rule, and was used because the Director wanted a Japanese song to represent the movie. He should have gotten more people such as scriptwriters and such. Anyway, I thought the PV was pretty cool, and I was even tempted to get a tatoo after watching. But I might not have a home to return to after that, so it might not be such a good idea after all.
Berryz Kobo (Berryz工房) released their 19th single last week, named "Dakishimete Dakishimete" (抱きしめて 抱きしめて). Like most of their songs, it's a really fast paced song and I fell in love with it almost instantaneously. Great rythm and beat, and the PV isn't too bad either. I'm looking forward to more of the hits than the other Hello! Project acts currently.

I've already completed Resident Evil 5 on the PS3 for a while now, but I'm still playing the game every now and then whenever I can afford the time, because there are still loads of goodies to unlock. I'm trying to get more bonus points to unlock costumes, and also getting myself familiar with the different stages of Mercenaries mode in other to unlock more characters and stages to be used in the said mode. Also, I need lotsa cash to upgrade my weapons to obtain infinity ammo in the main story mode. Well, good replay value for money I suppose.

The 9th episode of Kamen Rider Decade was broadcasted in Japan this morning. 10 episodes in, and we've already seen our protagonist visit a few worlds, namely from Kuuga, Kiva, Ryuki, and Blade. Next up, Faiz World (picture above). Although in an alternate dimension, it's still cool seeing the suits and the newly upgraded henshin sequences (with the same poses too). The final form rides seem a little extreme, more to cash in on the toy line, which is pretty elaborate considering that it's all linked through the barcode cards and arcade games. You can't possibly collect all the cards for use with your belt unless you collect ALL the toys in the different series and lines. Really, collectors and parents in Japan are going to have a hard time getting all these cards. Not cheap, too.
I've already watched the newly released DVD movie, Engine Sentai Go-onger vs. Gekiranger: The Movie (劇場版 炎神戦隊ゴーオンジャー VS ゲキレンジャー). Well, mostly the action scenes anyway. It's been a while since we last saw the Gekirangers so it was pretty nostalgic watching them fight along with the Go-ongers. While the movie ended with the current and past 2 season's red rangers, I've not been following Samurai Sentai Shinkenger at all. Hopefully I'll read some good things about them and come back later. That's all for this week. I'm working on a new Rena video, so check back soon to see it. Ja!
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dragonball Evolution Review

Dragonball Evolution opened here in cinemas today, 12th March 2009. I've been tracking the progress of the movie since its official announcement from 20th Century Fox back in 2007. I remember back then, most of the fans were still really doubtful of the actual realisation of the movie, since no actual ground work took place although the licence for the movie was acquired back in 2002. Everything were just smoke and mirrors, till James Wong was appointed the director and more excitingly, Stephen Chow as the producer.

Having walked out of the theater less than an hour ago, I have really strong emotions about this movie. As a kid and teenager in the late 80s and early 90s, I practically grew up with Dragonball. I owned the manga, bought all the movies, and heck I made my own Saiyanjin scouter. Spent a mini fortune on those darn Dragonball cards too. So naturally, I was more than excited when the movie adaptation was given the green light.

I'm not one of those skeptics who scowled at the fact that Goku was going to be played by a caucasian. My perspective is that this wasn't going to be the Dragonball we know, and that it is only based on the series which possibly spawned the most successful anime franchise of all time. Thus, I'm aware of all the changes and will accept them, as long as the characters stay true to the original, and that the overall experience of the movie will still retain the feel of the series, and staying to the roots which have captured so many hearts around the world.
I advise that unless you want to be spoiled for the movie, refrain from reading any further. My thoughts on the movie will inadvertably be full of spoilers for those yet to see the movie, although reading on might lower your expectations a little so the movie might turn out to be more entertaining.

Here goes the hard truth. For the loyal fans expecting the Dragonball story and the characters you've loved for years, you will be sorely disappointed. The movie is only 89 minutes long, and there is a lot to tell within such a short duration. The audience are generally split into half: those who know Dragonball, and those who don't. For those who have never heard of the series, they will be hard pressed trying to piece the pieces together to form a coherent picture and storyline. The entire plot isn't built up properly, and leaves the casual viewer with more questions than answers. It felt simpler than the manga, but somehow more disorganised and stiched up abruptly. Scenes felt forced, and made worse by the horrible writing, with dialogue so bad and cheesy my ears almost bled. Yes, the lines are that terrible.

The acting left much to be desired about as well. Main culprit, sadly is Goku. While I have no problems with Justin Chatwin, whom I think does well in appearance as a live version of the protagonist, he really does need to work on his acting skills. Dialogues seem dead, and his expressions are limited. That's not the bad part too. The sad thing is that the Goku in the manga and anime, you won't find him in the movie. Yes, he's a student in high school as opposed to a wild child living in the woods, but I can accept that. All I needed was for him to be in character, sharing the same traits and having the same values and charisma as the original Goku. Well, that seemed to be too difficult to adopt, according to James Wong.
Of course, there are instances where Justin seemed totally Goku. The way he asked Bulma when they met for the first time "Are you Piccolo?", was awesome. That's one of my favourite scenes in the entire movie. The way he interacted with Bulma and how he ate and offered the huge drumstick, that was Goku. Though, the similarities end there. The original Goku was confident, yet naive. He was serious, hardworking, and never gave up. There wasn't really any romance with Chi Chi, since he couldn't understand the concept of love and couldn't even tell the difference between girls and monsters. The movie version? Serious, but always at the wrong time. Cheats in training, gets his ass kicked by a girl, and getting close to Chi Chi as a motivation for training? Right.

The plot lends itself to too many changes as well, many unnecessary and this is another aspect which most fans will get pissed off upon. The movie stated that 2000 years ago, Piccolo and his servant Oozaru dominated the Earth and cause chaos and disorder upon mankind. So..... the Saiyanjin colony sent someone to Earth that long ago, and this particular Saiyanjin became the slave of a Namek seijin? The movie never really answered this, and only left the viewers with the best answer they could come up with: The Prophecy. It doesn't work this way, and both types of audiences, fan or not, can't possibly accept this as an explaination.

Yes, several elements were retained, such as the Mafuuba and the Kamehameha. But I didn't buy Roshi's explainations, nor how he executed his version of the Kamehameha, which was for some reason not blue in colour. Goku's version was better, but the classic poses were replaced by fancy tai-chi stances. Not good, since little things like these ought to please the long term fans better.

Piccolo and Mai had virtually no backstory, nor did the existance of the Dragonballs. Chi Chi, was another character which was almost totally out of character. Not as feisty as the original, and too direct. The original was shy, but would almost kick Goku's ass unless he married her (long story). Dragonball Evolution tries to hard to make the romance a key aspect of the show, but really, Goku didn't need love. Not at this stage.
I would say that Roshi and Yamcha, are the ones which were more or less similar to their original counterparts. Roshi still remains a pervert, but wouldn't let Bulma's verbal threats stop him from grabbing her ass. Yamcha, still a thief, had some of the worsts lines of the movie, including this awkward romantic scene with Bulma. Maybe they wanted to retain the love-hate relationship between Bulma and Yamcha in the manga, but Yamcha was never this direct and good with girls. And did Roshi just resurrected Goku with a Kamehameha? That doesn't make sense at all, and Goku shouldn't even have been knocked out by a gun, much less on the verge of death.

Flashy and awesome CGI was promised, yet somehow I must have missed all that. The slow motion sequences had no meaning, and were used purely to try and impress the viewers. The wire-fu was much too obvious, and no one would have thought that this was a Dragonball movie. I was hoping that the fights would stay true to Dragonball, with staring contests, strength demonstrations, the usual evil grin and thrashing of the hero, flashing speed attacks, and over the top ki blasts. And none of this happened. Give me the fight between Goku and Vegeta, or Freeza anyday over this. In short, no aspect of the classic Dragonball bouts are found in the movie.

It could have been so much more with the fiights. At least let Goku and Piccolo go head to head with clashing fists before Piccolo showing a grin and sending Goku into the boulders and appearing behind him using super speed. None, and Goku's final Kamehameha looked nothing like the original. The final fight is one of the most anti-climax fights I've ever seen in any movie, and Piccolo should just hide in a cave in shame if there ever is a sequel (trilogy plans yes, but if this movie fails too hard......).

I've written pretty much now, and to conclude I would say that while you may or may not be a Dragonball fan, it's going to be hard to accept this movie. I'm not as pissed off with it as with Spider-man 3, but that's probably because I didn't expect much from this anyway. It failed harder than I could have expected, and I leave the theatre shaking my head in disbelief, with my wife nagging about wasting both time and money. And guess what, I actually agree with her. See this movie if you love to hate, and to see for youself how not to do a live action Dragonball film.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


It's been a short and busy, but eventful month for us. I've been sick for half the month, so that didn't help much. I've pretty much recovered from my fever, but the cough is still lingering around. Having to give multiple presentations at work was a horror because of it, but thankfully it didn't turn out to be too distracting. I really hope to recover soon, as I need to get myself back in shape really soon for the upcoming IPPT test in April.
Good news is that I've finally received the results for JLPT 2. It was a little earlier than I first expected, and I was really nervous upon getting the results. Failure would mean that I would need to retake again this year, and all the hardwork put in previously last year would be wasted. Thankfully, I passed! The grades were pretty bad, compared to my results for JLPT 3 and 4, but heck, the previous exam only had a passing rate of 22%, so I can consider myself top 20%, at least. All in all, I'm just really happy to receive the certification and hopefully it can open up more options for me in the future.
Haven't been posting Rena's pictures here for some time, so I'll post up some recent photos of her. If you haven't already, join me on Facebook for more updates.
Getting bigger, and more chubby these days. :)
Matching head dress for the win!
Matsuura Aya's (松浦 亜弥)been away from work for quite some time now due to her illness, but she's back with a new single just before her graduation from Hello Project next month. One of my favourite Jpop artist of all time, I've missed her voice and I'm really glad that she's returned, along with 2 songs which have really grown on me since last week. Her 21st single is called "Chocolate Tamashii", and was released last month on Valentine's Day, hence the association with chocolate. For those who didn't know, in Japan, Valentine's Day is observed by females who present chocolate gifts usually to a male, as an expression of love. On White Day, the converse happens: males who received a "honmei-choco" [chocolate of love] or "giri-choco" [chocolate of courtesy] on Valentine's Day are expected to return the favor by giving gifts, usually more expensive. Traditionally, popular White Day gifts are cookies, underwear, white chocolate, marshmallows as well as jewelry, and stuffed animals.
Kamen Rider Decade is now in its 6th week of broadcast. Although the stories are linked with the previous 9 series, the plot is told in an alternate reality, which is a convenient excuse of saying that the previous actors are all replaced by unknowns. As much as that sucked, it's still really satisfying to see Kamen Riders of different seasons facing off with one another, especially when they have similar forms using the same type of weapons. A very good example is Kiva vs Kuuga, since both of them share similar form upgrades with the same type of weapons.
Along with Kamen Rider Kiva, the Super Sentai series of 2008 also comes to its conclusion. Engine Sentai Go-onger's last episode ended a while back, and while I have the last 5 episodes around some where on my harddisk, I've never really got the chance to watch them yet. Will need to find some time next weekend....
And with the end of one series, comes the birth of another. Samurai Sentai Shinkenger (侍戦隊シンケンジャー) is the title of Toei Company's thirty-third entry in its long-running Super Sentai Series of Japanese tokusatsu television series. It premiered on February 15, 2009, the week following the finale of Engine Sentai Go-onger. It joins Kamen Rider Decade as a program featured in TV Asahi's Super Hero Time programming block. To be very honest, I'm not that interested in this one. In fact I hate the guy who plays Shinken Blue, due to the fact that he was in a picture wearing those bunny ears and acting cute. I hated him ever since then for acting so gay.
There are 3 games which I've been thinking about getting for the PS3 lately. They are: Resident Evil 5, Street Fighter IV, and Killzone 2. For RE5, it's almost a no brainer since I've been a fan of the Resident Evil series since the original on the PS1. Still one more week before it's release, and I'm already seeking for possible co-op mode partners to play together online.
However, I might not get SF IV simply because it's too expensive to get the game along with a PS3 joystick, which I believe one should get to enjoy the game to the max. It's just not that fun with the PS3 controller, although I believe I'll still do fine. For Killzone 2, the demo was great but getting the game might not be worth the investment, since I'm still not too much of a FPS gamer, and I'm still playing MGO regularly, which will have another major update coming soon. Well, having time to play games is still a luxury which comes with a sacrifice of rest and sleep. That pretty up sums up what I have to say this week, so until the next time, ja!
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