Saturday, December 14, 2013

Super Hero Taisen Z - Our 2 cents

Just finished watching the subbed version of Super Hero Taisen Z with Rena. And as usual, it was the case of too many characters and seriously the plot doesn't even matter most of the time. It's fan service the entire way, and many of the nostalgic teams and characters show up for no reason at all. At perhaps that's the whole point. I'm not one to critique shows obviously aimed at children, so you won't get too many complains from me. If I were to complain, usually it's how they completely did certain individuals out of character: doing some thing they would never do back in their own series.

Nonetheless, I guess Rena had a good time remembering all the older Sentai Teams. She recognised most of the Sentai cameos, including the monsters, which was pretty impressive since even I cannot differentiate which monsters are from which series half the time. Her sole complaint: waiting for Gaim's appearance, not knowing that this movie was released before the debut of this year's Rider. Well, what can I say? We had a blast watching and will keep watching as long as they keep making them :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Welcome to Sean's room

It's been much too long since I've last posted. I've been neglecting this blog for too long since I've not been doing any new videos of late, and that work has been keeping me rather busy. Nonetheless, since the last update we've finally shifted to our new place, and along with that comes my own room (at last). Since the inception of the original designs by our ID, I've requested for display shelves. Lots of it. And he followed my requests. Here's the video of my room, where I've finally got the area to display stuff I've been keeping for years. It might look at lot, but most of them are not really expensive and you're looking at a collection over a decade. Lastly, enjoy the video! :)

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Remaking Robocop

The new Robocop remake just released its first trailer this week. To me, the movie is iconic and defines the entire genre of sci-fi action flicks. Well at least in the 80s. Back as a kid I was totally geeked out by this movie and I've lost count of how many times I've watched it. Saying I'm a big fan is an understatement. Although the sequels and the series and other spinoffs were pretty much terrible, the original stands out and I believe many guys my age still love Robocop until this day.

I'll just sum up my initial thoughts in this short blog post. Firstly, I felt that the technology was too advanced for a Robocop movie. With that kinda high technology drones and cyborgs, Robocop becomes irrelevant. Not to mention I love how Robocop moves in the original. Here he jumps around and rides a motobike. Too advanced, I say. I also didn't like how he can flip his visor around like Ironman. In the original, you never get to see the human in him when he first appears. The whole process of finding himself via lost memories was the draw of the movie, and the picture you see below is the money shot of the movie: the first time we see his eye after he becomes Robocop. In that instant, you realise that Murphy was still alive.

This of course links to the scene where he unscrews his helmet, and sees himself via a cracked mirror for the first time. Even without much dialogue, you cannot help but feel for him and how he has lost everything and has become a product working for a large evil corporation. But in the remake, he runs around, fires double uzis, and flips his visors around. I'm not too comfortable with that but I'll hold on to my hopes. And yeah, I did get goosebumps hearing the line "Dead or alive, you're coming with me." But context is important. If he says that to any random thug I'll get pretty disappointed. In the original he says this to Clarence Boddicker, as both Alex Murphy and Robocop, and that's what made it standout. Till the next trailer these are my thoughts for now :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Kamen Rider Motifs

Back in 1971 where kids shows weren't nearly as gigantic as the franchises they've grown to become today, character designs were pretty straightforward. I present my point through this blog post on how the Kamen Rider designs have progressed throughout the years, from the Showa era to the present Heisei era. 

The Showa era riders were basically designs based on insect motifs. They had distinct insect like figures, and were considered bugs, with the exception of a few riders. But case in common, they were always designed after an animal. Here's the breakdown:

Kamen Rider Ichigo, Nigo - Grasshoppers
Kamen Rider V3, Riderman - Dragonfly
Kamen Rider X - Waterbug
Kamen Rider Amazon - Monitor lizard (yes, a lizard)
Skyrider - Locust
Kamen Rider Super 1 - Honet
Kamen Rider Black/RX/Shin/J/ZO - Grasshoppers

Fast forward to the Heisei era, where everything is about money and making parents and collectors alike to buy more toys. The Riders these days come with fancy belts and are sure to have gimmicks that is based on collectibles. Such examples are cards, rings, switches, coins, whatever they can mass produce in different designs to get you to commit into their products. The character designs have been straying away from the original formula of insects or even animals. Note I'm only talking about the main title riders and not the sub riders, simply because there are just too many.

Kamen Rider Kuuga - Stag beetle/elements
Kamen Rider Agito - Dragon/beetle/elements
Kamen Rider Ryuuki - Dragon/Knight
Kamen Rider Faiz - Phi/Dragonfly/Shark
Kamen Rider Blade - Rhinoceros beetle/Cards (spades)
Kamen Rider Hibiki - Oni/Taiko
Kamen Rider Kabuto - Japanese beetle
Kamen Rider Den-O - Train/Peach (yes, a peach)
Kamen Rider Kiva - Bat/Vampire
Kamen Rider Decade - Barcodes
Kamen Rider W - W (the letter), grasshopper
Kamen Rider OOO - King/coins
Kamen Rider Fourze - Rocket/Astronaut
Kamen Rider Wizard - Magic/Jewellery

Here comes the new Rider for 2013. A few months back there was this rumour of the new Rider being based off the popular mobile game Fruit Ninja. He would just a knife to chop off fruits and transform using the seeds. I was like "RIGHT. How can people even take this seriously?" Well guess what. Kamen Rider Gaimu, our latest Rider, IS FREAKING BASED ON FRUITS. And a Sengoku theme as well. Just look at him. LOOK! He has an orange for a face and armour. Rumours are that him, with other riders, will have different fruits for different armours. I've already seen pictures of the banana, pineapple forms, and there's a listing for a durain form. No joke people. 

Well, I guess it's the same every year. We complain about their designs in the beginning but when we see them in action we start liking them. I remember hating Den-O and Kabuto in the beginning, but those 2 are now one of my favourites. I'll post more thoughts when the show starts :)

牙狼〈GARO〉~闇を照らす者~: Failing to meet expectations

南里 美希 has become the sole reason why I'm still watching 牙狼〈GARO〉~闇を照らす者~. The plot is all but broken and it's aggravating because it had so much potential and it chose to throw away 2 seasons of established background stories.

First episode sets us up with a new protagonist, along with 2 new lead characters who are also Makai Knights. There was so much potential to show the rivalry between each distinctively different character, but nothing done to establish them. Nearly 20 episodes in and I've never seen anyone of them kick ass. Even when they finally teamed up, there was no emotions between them. 

Not intending to make this a long post, but I really hate the fact that all the transformations and fight scenes are totally done in CG. It's not too bad if they are good, but I really detest the low frame rates and awkward animations. Seasons 1 and 2, although it was obvious they were using rubber suits, had much better plot and fight scenes and the Makai Knights looked really awesome while kicking ass. The short stories in season 2 were great and had depth in characters and plot. Here, it's a mess. I thought Garo going blind (see above pic) was going to be cool but they didn't even try and show how bad his eyes were damaged in human form. 

Well, at least they have Rian. That's the one positive thing I have for the show right now.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Where do all the toys go?

I strongly suspect myself to be a victim of circumstance. With eBay and Amazon being the heinous masterminds tempting me with all those specially customised advertisement emails. They have mastered the art of customer tracking and know what I will spend money on, based on site visits, search informations, cookies, etc. 

Well, that's my best excuse for spending a little too much this month. Once again in my defence, the things I buy are relatively cheap. The key word here is of course 'relatively', and I benchmark with the high end stuff such as Hot Toys which go for hundreds a piece.

Me? I go for candy toys and cheap Funko Pop figures like the one you see above. $10 USD a piece, cheap cheap. Though, if you factor in the taxes and import fees the cost goes up quite a bit. Especially when the annoying thing is Amazon doesn't ship everything over to Singapore and I have to engage the use of 3rd party shipping services.

Still, I'd like to keep my collections focused. The core bulk of my collection consists of Japanese Tokusatsu figures, such as the Super Sentai, Kamen Rider, and Ultraman figures. These are the main things I go for, but I also go for generally popular toy lines I fancy, such as Marvel (Spider-man and Ironman), Transformers (I am resisting the urge to go into the Masterpiece series but I do have Optimus Prime), the recent Kotobukiya Justice League line, and single pieces here and there such as movie inspired figures.

For example, I thought the Jaegers in Pacific Rim were pretty cool and so in my post movie excitement I've started to order the Neca line of the related figures. Not exactly as cheap as my main collection but I find them cool. So.... most probably I'll have to remain with the line for the next series.

And then there's the old classic figures which I can't really ignore if I find one that's cheap enough. Surprisingly I got this Son Goku piece at a really really good price, around $40. And it's huge! I'd totally get this if they have more from the DBZ series. 

More photos: This is the exact position they'd end up on my display shelf, which is coming soon in a matter of weeks.

I've refrained from getting the S.H.Figuarts for the Kamen Riders but I did get the Sentai ones, namely the Red ones but some of the nicer figures such as Dragon Ranger..... do eventually make their way to my collection.

In preparation of my new place I've also printed some mini posters. Getting excited and I plan to make more photos and videos of the entire setting process. Check back here soon for more details! :)

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Farewell Akibarangers さらば、アキバレンジャー

And so with another 13 episodes gone, season 2 of Hikounin Sentai Akibarangers has come to an end. Will this be the last? Hopefully not, considering it's been a blast watching how the show makes fun of Super Sentai tropes.

The show's primary audience are the adults who grew up watching Sentai. It takes references from previous shows, and makes fun of them at times, which gives hilarious results. The main character who's a sentai fan will notice certain "flags" raised by the enemy, and by doing so he's assured of victory. For example, whenever a main villain leaves the monster of the week alone when he's winning and says "I'll leave the rest up to you" he goes into cocky mode and knows he'll win for sure. Or when a new weapon comes, a new member joins, etc. And he makes use of this knowledge to beat difficult villains. It's hard to explain, but it's really funny.

There are even episodes where they make fun of the American Power Rangers. In this episode the original Red and Green Rangers become brainwashed and Americanised, and they have to remind them of their Japanese origins. Brilliant.

While I understand not many non-Japanese viewers or Sentai fans can understand the series, the creativity of the writers never fail to amaze me. This series takes a step away from the official line up, and the results are refreshingly entertaining. Here's hoping for a season 3. :) 非公認戦隊アキバレンジャーシーゾン「痛」は最終回で終わってしまいました。スーパ戦隊が大好きからこの番組はとても面白いと思った。シーゾン3の公表までに、さよなら、アキバレンジャー!

Friday, May 03, 2013

Movie thoughts: Mama (2013)

During our dating days me and Mabel used to watch a lot of horror movies. Those were the times when the Asian horror movies were released every other week. They ranged from the Japanese, Korean, Thailand, Hong Kong, and even Singapore. Sure many were average at best, but there were some really good ones which gave us enough scares to justify the movie tickets. I remember the Korean ones were really good, and so were the Japanese ones. I especially liked those with plot twists that you can't see coming from a mile away.

To me, what makes a good horror movie is it's ability to make you terrified.... even after you leave the theatre. The ones which haunt you and become the source of nightmares for the next few days, now those are the classics. A perfect example would of course be The Ring. The original Japanese one, not the horrible American remake. I distinctively remember how certain scenes were permanently embedded in my school day memories. The main reason why the Asian horror movies tend to be better than say western ones is the formula of not resorting to the "Scream" formula: relying on cheap scare tactics such as loud sound effects or the standard over the shoulder "boos". The good ones play with your mind. Take for instance, in many Japanese horror movies you never get to see the ghost's faces. In "Dark Water" you never actually saw the face of the little girl who drowned. In photos and posters, her face was always smudged. Likewise with Sadako in The Ring. It creeps you out, and makes you feel uncomfortable. That's one element which I felt gave the Asian movies the edge over the Hollywood ones. The ability to make you feel uncomfortable.

Ok, to the main topic. I watched Mama a few days ago, and to be honest I was pretty impressed. The reason why could perhaps be derived from why I spent so much time talking about what makes Asian horror films good. I felt Mama borrowed a lot of elements from the good Asian movies, and it made the movie stand apart from the rest of the Hollywood films. I don't really want to spoil anything for those who haven't watched the film, but what I do want to say is that while the plot might be a little unrealistic and perhaps some of the turn of events a little too far fetched, I enjoyed the movie. And that's coming from someone who complains a lot about "scary" movies. I jumped during quite a couple of scenes, which isn't usual, and I was having a blast laughing at myself. All in all, it's a good movie if you're into the horror genre. With mother's day round the corner, this might be a good way to remind yourself that a mother's love is forever :)

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Quick thoughts on Ironman 3

Finally watched Ironman 3 today after trying my best to avoid spoilers on social media since last week. I felt relieved actually, since I can now go read up on how the other viewers thought, about possibly the last Ironman movie we will see in a while. Or at least until the Avengers sequel. So without any ado these are my quick thoughts.

To set the stage right I loved the first film but hated the second. I thought the plot was weak and I couldn't stand a lot of the things that made the film cheap. Such as gapping plot holes that are obviously there for convenience's sake. Case in point, I didn't like how James Rhodes (or anyone other person for that manner), could just step into the Mk II, kick Ironman's ass and then fly away. I've always thought that the suit needed extremely fine tuning/calibration and that only Stark could use it. Anyway, the same thing happens in part 3 but I can just assume that the suits were designed to fit anyone. And I was happy to see that Petter Potts had problems controlling the armour.

Onto this movie, I must declare that I'm a non-comic book reader. Perhaps that's the reason why I enjoyed it. I don't have a lot of background knowledge on the Mandarin or the Extremis related story and took in everything fresh. Thus, there wasn't any hype to live up to in terms of the movie versions of long established characters. To many fans who were disappointed, I figure that it was because of the Mandarin being made a joke in the movie. But to me, I thought that it was still possible that the Mandarin exists. In the movie, it was mentioned that the actor who was brought in to play the role of the Mandarin received plastic surgery. Perhaps he was sought due to his resemblance to the actual Mandarin? Just a theory.

I thought the dialogue in this film was a lot better than the last one. I couldn't stand most of the conversations between Stark and Potts in part 2. This time round their chemistry was much better. Things I didn't like in this movie? While looking at so many suits was cool, I thought it made them look kinda "disposable". Pros and cons I guess. The plot itself has quite a few issues too but it's easy to look over them. For example, I thought Stark was taking it way too personal over Happy's injury. Yeah they were buds but to show such a public outcry was a little unjustified even for Tony Stark. I didn't like the President in the Iron Patriot suit part either, and I groaned when Rhodes used the suit to fire a shot at the wires to release the President. Remote sensing maybe? How else was he able to fire that shot? Anyways, to cut the whole post short, I thought the movie was pretty enjoyable, and the final post credit scene was worth the extra wait, although there wasn't any hints about the Avengers sequel. :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

KR Girls: Go Get 'em

Exactly 1 month's time before the very first Kamen Rider game gets released on the PS3. It's a Japanese only game, so here's where years of learning Japanese finally pays off! Well at least it gives me a valid reason to learn new vocabulary and get my dictionary app online again. I've ordered my pre-order exclusive version online, which gives extra music tracks from the original shows.

 In the meantime while waiting for game related news to come trickling in, I've also been listening to the main theme of the game, sung by the Kamen Rider Girls. It's only the 2nd song from them I've really cared about, but I've been listening to the preview version dozens of times already. At this rate I might grow sick of this abridged version even before the actual single gets released. Till I get my hands on a copy of the game, I''ll be counting down the days. :p

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rena's Gwiyomi: Getting the video done

A few days ago I had this idea of doing up a video with Rena performing the Gwiyomi dance. It's basically a short and simple Korea song, with hand gestures that can be improvised as long as it fulfils its ultimate purpose of being cute. Initially, I thought about making a full video, but realised Rena's unlikely going to remember all the moves in the sequence so I changed it into a photo show video instead. Much easier but a lot of editing work.

Luckily she cooperated pretty well for the photo shoot, and that was the least of my worries. I just had to batch operate in photoshop to clear out the background, draw outlines, and resize the photos. Should be fairy easy provided I needed to invest a couple of hours. The song itself and the lyrics were readily available online so that's no issue. I only hope that we can do a full video in the future when Rena's ready. :)

I posted the video clip up on Facebook, and you can find the link either direct on my Facebook timeline or via this link. It's on youtube too and embedded here for your convenience.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Episode 2 gave us a few new revelations: Rian is a Makai Priestess that uses guns. Well, and her brush of course. She fled from her first fight and like the rest of her predecessors, she seems to be more suitable as a support role for the Makai Knights. 

And she changes clothes and hairstyles anime style, even faster than the knights who still need to summon their armour. Still, my favourite female character in the entire series (that's not saying a lot actually).

We learn that Zaruba doesn't talk to Ryuga because he thinks he's still a kid. Probably, if you compare him to Kouga. And that his armour will eventually turn totally gold, as hinted by what happened during the end of the fight with that poor salaryman monster. Nothing too outstanding but a lot more questions are raised and it sets up the rest of the season on a proper, character driven plot. And for those interested, yes, that brief nude scene that's customary to pilot episodes happened in this episode instead. So keep the young ones away while watching this one.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

GARO ~闇を照らす者~

Season 3 of Garo started airing this week in Japan. Since the beginning of season 1 back in 2005, it has now reached cult level status, following a string of successful movies and spin offs, based on the 2 seasons thus far. With season 3, the producers decided to start the series with fresh faces, and hence we have a new lead character this time, as the legendary Golden Knight Garo no less.

In the pilot episode, the only recurring character we see is Zaruba, the magical ring once owned by the previous Golden Knight, Saejima Kouga. It seems that the setting of this series is in the future, with the law enforcers holding futuristic weapons. The new Garo is now Dogai Ryuga, who looks younger than Kouga, more bashful and arrogant, but equally cold and serious. At least that's what it seems at first.

There is a visible make over to the Garo suit as well. It is no longer totally Golden. Dogai hinted that Zaruba has yet to accept him as Garo, so perhaps the reason why the armour is not totally golden is because he has yet to fully inherit the powers of the Golden Knight. But at least visually it still looks pretty cool. Pretty sure I'll get the Equip & Prop figures once they are released to complete my current Garo collection.

The trailer gave us glimpses of a young woman who uses magical powers. She doesn't seem to dress like the Makai Priestesses we saw in the previous seasons, but that might just be due to the time or cultural differences. Good thing is she looks hotter than Jabi or Rekka. Combined. :p

The pilot episodes of the 2 previous seasons both gave audience a little extra in terms of soft core nudity. This is an adult show after all, airing in midnight and coming with PG tags. It seemed like a cheap way to attract audiences since on both accounts the nudity was a little uncalled for. I was kinda anticipating this but there was nothing. Yes, the monster of the week is a bride but nothing hentai this time round. Just to be clear I'm not disappointed, just surprised... XD

The reason why Garo enjoyed such success is probably due to all the short, dark stories that reflect on society. Story arcs that stray from the main storyline usually lasts around 1 to 2 episodes, but I really enjoy the short stories because they are deeper than the average tokusatsu shows and trigger thoughts. I'll be looking forward to the rest of the season and will post updates when I feel like sharing more :)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Rena Worldwide!

3 years ago I made a video of Rena using pictures edited with PhotoFunia, an iPhone app which takes your photos and edits them with funny and interesting backgrounds. I recently went through the app again and found some new backgrounds, and hence did a few more photos and made them into a slide show:

I didn't spend as much time and effort as the last one though. I used to make videos every other week, but now I don't get that kind of time, nor the creativity required any more. I still enjoy doing up all these videos, as they remind me a lot of Rena's growing up process. Kids grow up so fast, and parents grow old so fast that if we don't archive these feelings, we are likely to forget how we felt as well as the emotions, when they eventually fade away with the memories. That's why I try my best to write my journal, blog, take photos, make interesting pictures, and make videos. All because I know I have a bad memory. :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Little milestones

One of the simplest and yet most effective ways of self motivation is to have something to look forward to. Well, at least that works for me. And that date cannot be too far away or else it'll lose it's intended effect. I always try to have a date to count down to, be it a small event such as a race, or something big, which I am about to share in this blog post.

As most of you have realised, I do not have a home to call my own at this moment in time. During this transit period where I've sold my old place, me and my wife finally managed to secure our second home. And we are counting down the days till we can officially move in. She is busy with thinking about our internal layout and designs, but for me I really just to have a place where I can be totally comfortable with, and that is the place you know you can truly call home.

Well, one thing I can't deny is that I'm looking forward to having my own display/entertainment room this time round. Since we have more space to work with this time, I'm going to have my own area to put up all my figures and stuff. And that's a lot of boxes which are currently stored away right now. I also have cartons of unopened stuff, which is just waiting to see the light of day. To me, this is one of the things that keep me moving, and the anticipation motivates me in ways which can be as subtle as putting a spring in my steps. It's the little things that keep you going. :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Struggling with OpenGL

Who would have figured that a module named "Interactive Computer Graphics" in a multimedia design course would have me pulling out my hair in frustration over an assignment that is to be entirely done on c++ and OpenGL API? I didn't see that coming at all, and was hoping for a module that's more theory than practical programming.

So imagine the rude shock I had when I realised that I needed to set up a c++ compiler on my mac. The last time I had to do this was back in poly, easily over 12 years ago. And this time the module simply assumes that I have background knowledge of basic C. Hell, I can't even remember what I had for dinner 2 days ago. It's impossible, I thought.

But surprisingly some of the things really did came back after a day of installing Xcode on the mac and messing around with the basic functions. The template given by the lecturer didn't help at all and I was better off editing source codes found on the net. Eventually, it took me over a whole weekend and a couple of days more to finish up the assignment. It wasn't perfect, but I added some enhancements in a bid to score better. Basically, I had to come up with a simple drawing application that allows users to draw simple primitive shapes in different sizes and colours. Would be easier if we didn't have to come up with every single line of code ourselves. OpenGL doesn't even have a build in API to draw circles, so work arounds have to be found. It was hell, compiling and rebuilding the code over hundreds of times at a time.

I can't wait to get the results and delete this off my computer. Though...... the thought of downloading the SDK for the IOS platform for apple products does sound kinda intriguing....

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Marvel over DC?

Most of you would have realised that I keep a lot of figures, mainly Japanese stuff such as Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, and Ultraman. I also keep other stuff which I have a fancy to, such as figures from games and anime, such as Final Fantasy and Transformers. I tend to keep my collection targets small, because I don't really want to spend too much on things that ultimately doesn't have much value. It's a hobby, yes, but I like to keep to the cheaper and easily available goods. 

My stay in the US has started me on a Spider-man collection. I had a few before, but those were restricted to a few statues which were mostly movie based merchandise. I'm hoping to keep a segment in my next home for such figures, so it's a new area of interest for me. Another series which has caught my eye is this upcoming Justice League figures from Kotobukiya, known for their high quality figures. I'm not a DC fan at all, but I really like how the figures look, even Superman whom I normally dislike. Ordered the first 4 figures and although they are a tad expensive I'm still keen to complete this line. And hopefully I won't keep up with Kotobukiya figures because it's a little too costly for my liking.....