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01 July 2013 @ 08:46 pm
No one deserves to be happy. No one deserves to have friends. No one deserves to have love.
Everyone has the right to be happy, to have friends, to feel love and loved. Everyone has the right to have a shot at attaining these things.

If you feel you "deserve" these things, that you are entitled to them, perhaps because of actions you performed, it leads to things such as the "Nice guys finish last syndrome" - as if you being nice promises you anything, aside from you being nice.
It's the same as something Gaiman said many years ago (I think) - writing definitely involves luck in getting published. Writing good books, numerous ones, gives you more chances at being noticed, but it doesn't entitle you, it doesn't promise you success.

No one deserves happiness, or friends.
But, to all those of you who are or had been my friends, who listened to my inane chatter, or who shared their inane banter with me - thank you for your time, thank you for the trust, thank you for the friendship.

I didn't deserve you (and you didn't deserve me), but I'm still thankful, perhaps even because of the above.
03 April 2013 @ 08:27 pm
Today on the road home I've come across a billboard stating "6 out of 10 girls are ashamed of their body," and it got my quite thoughtful, so I thought I'll go along the trail of my thoughts on the issue.

Now, I think this is a serious issue, and not to take anything away from it I immediately thought "And how many boys are ashamed of their body?" - this wasn't meant as a slam on the issue, but just as something I got intensely curious about. I also remember reading a statistic for a specific year that stated that for every 10 girls who've underwent sexual harassment 6 boys had undergone the same.

Anyway, from then on I wondered how they had come across this figure - had they polled simply asking girls if they'd ever been ashamed of their body? Had they used indirect metrics in order to measure it? I'm going to assume they asked them directly, or at least think on the implications assuming they had. This is a big assumption, but let's go with it.

So, this is one of the things that got me thinking about boys, even if asked in an anonymous questionnaire, how many boys would be comfortable answering, admitting, they they are ashamed of their bodies? In essence, this means admitting it to themselves first and foremost. Admitting you're ashamed sounds to me like something that can be quite shameful. It sounds a bit ridiculous, but that's the way I feel.
Likewise, I remember reading some discussion on how people who suffer from chronic depression are also suffering from PTSD - to accept you're depressed is a depressing realization on its own. To know a panic attack could come knocking at any moment is in itself a source of anxiety and stress.

Furthermore, I sometimes think that sometimes people are not happy, sad, or neither, until asked. Just like when asked your opinion on something you've never thought of before, the asking can nudge us into forming an opinion, adopt a stance, and leave our super-position. I mean, when asked whether we are happy or not we form an opinion, and then define ourselves as being that until something makes us revisit the decision, our classification of ourselves.
So, when asked whether we are happy or not, and we think of the issue and "Discover" that we are unhappy, I posit that in some of the cases it's the thinking that defines us, turns us into unhappy.

Likewise with the question in the assumed questionnaire - had these girls been ashamed of their body had no one asked them such a question? The asking of the question is part of the same culture that puts so much emphasis on the issue. So much emphasis that I suspect for this question, people ask it themselves all the time.
I don't think I'm ashamed of my body as such, for instance, but there are definitely times I am uncomfortable with it, or uncomfortable with it with regards to how it is perceived by other people. Perhaps I am ashamed of it and it is just semantic hair-splitting that differentiates the two.

But perhaps there is some sign of power, and one can get better by recognizing that they are ashamed of their body (or unhappy, or whatever), because surely you can be X even before recognizing it, before making it explicit to others and yourself. Perhaps it's an important fact that these girls can recognize that they are ashamed of their body, perhaps it's even important they can admit it. I have no idea.
I do wonder whether any of those 4 out of 10 girls really aren't ashamed of their body, or are just unable to admit to it. I wonder how many boys are ashamed of their body, and how many would be able to admit it.
Current Mood: determineddetermined
Current Music: Fairy Tail OST
18 June 2010 @ 03:35 am
Well, as soon as I finish writing this, I'll be going to sleep. Which is fitting, as I'm going to post about a dream. Of course, this is a dream from yesterday, so its memory is not as vivid anymore.

I will try to paint the memory, because listing it coherently by order is now beyond me.

There are flying shapes in the sky, they are monsters. Someone calls, or perhaps I only think of them as "Nyssor". There is also a dragon, I am not sure if I see it, but it is there. The skies have a full moon, clouds lit by the moon, and tall buildings. This gives a NYC vibe. All superhero movies default to NYC.

I am in a building, it feels like a tavern. I know there are two people here besides me, perhaps three. Sometimes we wear kevlar. The tavern sometimes has walls of concrete and sometimes they have a more wooden classic feel. Think Beowulf.
We talk of what is to come, I am not ready, so they say, so is true. I take my axe/hammer. I stare at this metal drum, or the wall. I power up, and I think without tossing my hammer the metal drum thing lifts, shines like a heated metal, and then a huge hole appears in it, in the shape of line going from top to bottom. I shout at some stage.

The people are amazed. Someone, this third possible person says something to me. I am angry, I look at them with fiery eyes, I stab in their direction with my finger, and a cup flies, or is broken, or is lifted in the air and moves in their direction. It is magic.

This was my dream, in which I could only think of it as being Thor, in a way.

Possibly my fondest dream memory since my ninja sneaking over the golden walls of the dark dungeon back when I was roughly five years old.
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
18 May 2010 @ 01:13 am
This is only half-way organized. A brain-dump written for yesterday. Take it as such. It's also a rant.

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Current Mood: stressedstressed
15 May 2010 @ 08:15 pm
I'm reposting this from my Geekorner-Geekulture blog, for amnesiack. You can comment here, but commenting there will be nicer of you ;)

Scott Pilgrim

Scott Pilgrim against the world. A comic book released in the form of books, 5 released and 6 total planned, by Bryan Lee O'Malley.  Well, there's a movie now so I'm sure more people will hear of it, and hopefully the creator will also earn more money. It's not like independent comic writers (comic sold through Oni Press, which houses a lot of independent and manga publications) are known for the piles of money they swim in.

Anyway, it may very well be that Scott Pilgrim is a reflection of the generation that I am a member of, the "Y Generation", or in the case is, which Scott Pilgrim makes quite convincing, the "Yeah! Generation." You see, Scott Pilgrim feels to me like an invention that hails in spirit from Seattle, though it's actually Canada, but let us assume that it is Seattle's spirit for the moment, the city that had brought us Grunge, the city that had brought has Starbucks. In other words, it's a hipster city. I have hipster friends who live in Seattle or in its environs and whom I can think of as "Seattleans" in my mind - even though I've never actually been to Seattle myself.

So Scott Pilgrim against the world. The plot as there may be is that Scott falls in love with this girl called Ramona (note, it's been two-three years since I've read any Scott Pilgrim). But there's a problem, Ramona's evil ex-boyfriends, all seven of them. What follows is a mocking super-hero-esque series of fights where the hipster, broke, slacker Scott Pilgrim is someone we (IIRC)  find out to have never lost a fight, and who is "too cool for school".

Note: It's been a couple of years since I've read Scott Pilgrim, so on one hand consider it a review of my memory of the comic, and on the other, I use it as a stepping stone to speak of a wider issue. Thank you.


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Score: Scott Pilgrim: Awesome level is more than 9,000! My enjoyment of the first two books is 3.7/5.

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Current Mood: busybusy
11 May 2010 @ 11:00 pm
I know I haven't blogged a lot recently (under-statement), and even less than I actually blogged in general had been posted here, as I decided to stop cross-posting from my other blogs here... I've been swamped with school, Chen, dealing with miniatures and such. I'll elaborate on this more as time allows, but that time is certainly not now.

Anyway, I've moved my game design blog from LJ to Wordpress, which I like better in handling, having no commercial, its appearance, how robust and easy to manage multiple blogs it is, etc.
The old blog was here, and the new blog (don't expect a lot of content, please) is at which has all the old content and a new post.

The new post is what I also want to talk a bit about here. The new post is titled Design Thoughts – Cranium Rats, Competition, Story, Currency. If you think its format is a bit weird, well... it was written in a class about Wittgenstein for the most part, so one thing followed another and so it came to pass. This Wordpress theme changed anything from say, 7.1.. to 7.A.b.c...

I wonder if I should've split it, both because it's pretty long and to make reading it easier. Points 1-5 could be seen as "Logistics", of how to handle the game, Cranium Rats. Point 6 talks about the interaction between Story and Competition, which #7 does as well but in a different manner. #8 talks about Currency and is more closely tied to Cranium Rats. #5 also deals with Currency to a degree, but slightly more "didactic".

I feel though it's hard to pin-point exactly, that this might also be of interest and slightly more broadly applicable than only to those who know Cranium Rats, or even those who are interested in competitive games who also have a story. I wonder how others feel.
I also can't really think of how to let people know of this post*, so consider this post the place where I allow myself to do so, and more than that, a post where I point people to the new blog, where things will rarely happen, but every so often, they will.

I specifically think of the new post, that sections 6-7 might be of interest to people, here's an example with 7.b.c-d:
c.In the joint realm (of story), competition can obviously revolve around story, over its direction, over controlling it, etc.
d.I find this option or at least its presentation as unfulfilling and insufficient, because every competition which occurs within a game of this sort will affect the story. Either directly, or by its control via currency which is exchanged between the players who will later use it in order to succeed within the game or to modify it on the player level directly. And so, even though it is an option, it could be said that every solution that will be given will already perform this, so there is no need to talk of it as a separate option at this stage.

Until the next time, where hopefully school will no longer bury me.

* I am also feeling the desire to feel appreciated, this what happens when you no longer blog regularly, because when you do, your regular readership "takes care" of it to a degree.
Current Mood: busybusy
03 February 2010 @ 04:00 am
I can feel the stress, the one responsible for most of which is myself, the everyday stress, the test period stress, rising.

I can feel it in the form of bile rising up my throat, of the clenching in my chest.

I can feel it aging me, taking away my vitality, my energy, my desire to keep plugging.

I can see myself doing this, to myself.
Current Mood: tiredtired
24 January 2010 @ 03:21 pm
This post is about the fear I feel when I think about the world. This is the fear I feel when I think about Israel. This is fear not only for my "success" in life, but the fear I feel when I allow myself to think of the future.

Sometimes I sit and think about the future of Israel, and it worries me a great deal. One of my Sociology professors had shared the same feelings, that he stays awake at night thinking about the situation his daughters and grandchildren will live in, and it resonated with me, not because it's true (which it may not be), but because I had the same thoughts, the same fears (minus the descendants clause).

I think of the Iranian atomic bomb, and while I am not sure I worry about it as being relevant (that is, even if they'd have it, I don't think that they'd fire it), it still worries me, even if only as a marker of escalation. I sometimes think back to the pre-WW2 situation, and then I wonder if it's entirely apt. That is to say, things are progressing more or less the same way, but it's not necessary for them to have the same outcome, and in fact, the situation is quite different because of the "power" of the country in question.
The lack of operative power is what led to the disbanding of the pre-UN body. But then again, the UN also has very little operative power. It mostly has the power that countries choose to give it in regards to them, and in the end seems like it's all up to the few "super-powers".

I sometimes wonder if Israel would ever be ostracized again, officially, by governments. That it'd suffer from embargos such as it did before. Israel has a relatively big agricultural infrastructure, which results in Israel "Exporting water" to Europe, de facto, but due to our relations with the surrounding countries, Israel can't really survive a political and economic embargo.

Some may say it's a result of my Eastern European Jewish mentality, but I would like to note all my ancestors had come to Israel before the Holocaust (AFAIK), and that one of the components of "Liberalism" or "age of enlightenment" is that you are a citizen of the world, and that you can move from one place to another, without having "Roots" to any one country (I do feel connected to Israel, but a lot of it is history, family and friends. I honestly do not know how related I am to this place. Spiritually is certainly not an adjective I'd choose).
So sometimes I think of my "need" to "escape", the game of chicken that is running inside my head. How long can I put off escaping before I would no longer be allowed, how long can I stay before it'd be too late? I want to have an "insurance", as many Israeli Jews treat their European Union passports and dual nationalities. They have somewhere to escape to. Of course, one of the rationales given to Israel's founding was so we would no longer have to run...

When I was a child I had a "future plan", go but not necessarily to a high end technologically oriented high school, or one where you can get a B.A. during your HS studies, get a degree in Computer Sciences, then go to the states. I ended up doing none of these things, but let's talk for a moment about the last.

As I grow older, and see the situation in other countries, I'm less and less enamored with them. All those shining beacons of liberalism and open-mindedness are not. I was naive before, but it goes beyond it. Some Hassidic Jews do not understand what it means to be a "saint" (not in the Christian sense, but more in the "Virtuous" sense). Look at Job, you can't be virtuous if you are not tested. The Hassidic Jews try to eliminate everything that might tempt them. This does not show how they do not give in to temptations, but how they run away and stop anything which might tempt them (they also present an almost mechanistic viewpoint, where a woman's voice or loose hair will tempt a man as if he has no choice, WTF?).

Likewise, look at the immigration countries in Europe and the USA "suffer" from, or to be more precise, are experiencing, and where it leads to. All those beacons of openness were only open when it was a moot question, when it wasn't a question at all, when they were pure. Once they actually have to practise it, it seems they are downsliding (not that Israel is any better, but this is brought about in relation to my childish hopes of going somewhere "better", which seems to be getting farther and farther away). And of course, as there's more ethnically different immigration, things seem to be getting worse.

In Israel, there's a demographic concern. And while Jewish Nationalistic politicians mean this in the sense of "There'll be more than 50% arab population in a short time" (Left-wingers too, nearly everyone on the left is pushing for two countries for two People, because they don't want a bi-national country), I'm looking at the economic side. Arabs on one hand and Hassidic Jews on the other, already comprise half the children in the first grades of elementary school. They do not participate fully in the workload, and not even close. There's both segregation of choice and discrimination from the majority towards these groups, but it doesn't matter why it is this way, and it'd have to change. Right now the Hassidic Jews are viewed by much of the secular public as parasitic, taking resources (more than their share in the population, due to political leverage points), and not participating enough in the work-force to pay, both via taxes and by requiring less resources.
Things are getting better there, but it's slow, and it worries me. Arabs of course are discriminated against and have much lower chances of attaining gainful employment compared to non-Arab competition, in the same workplaces.

There is also the "Army Participation" issue. On one hand, the army only needs 70% of those it recruits, or so it itself claims, and we can go round and round on whether an army is needed or morally right, but I have no interest in either going there or truly discussing it, save but to say that I think the right-wing argument is leading to part of this problem. If you ask people to join the army for nationalistic reasons, then non-nationalistic will only join even less. Perhaps they are trying to appeal more to the religious and very-religious sectors, whose army participation is lower?

Anyway, we are becoming more and more split there, as a country. We have an ever-growing sector of the population that is exempt from joining the army, and we also have more and more people who find their way out of serving, even though they belong to the sector that does send its members to the army. We are more and more split, less and less people "carry the effort", but since we don't need everyone anyway, what is the problem? The problem is that it's making us into two societies, those who serve and those who don't. Those who fulfill their civil obligations, and those who do not (we could easily switch "Army service" into "Paying taxes" here). This is a social illness, and not for nationalistic reasons, of "We must have a strong army", but "Citizens must carry equal burdens, and must follow the laws."

It can even be a social illness because that a certain group of society is required, forced, to join the army, while whole sectors get a legal and free pass. This splits us into two societies not just because we have different legal obligations, but because we see ourselves as serving not the country, but the other side as well. We pull the weight they are not required to.
Perhaps there should be no army, perhaps those in the army should be rewarded properly (which would increase the amount of the poor in the army, as then they'd have no "choice", and the rich people could basically "buy" their pass), but so long as we have a civil obligation, it's problematic that it's not shared.

And all these things frighten me when I think of the future. Israel, the world, Israel and the world...
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Current Mood: hungryhungry
14 January 2010 @ 01:57 am
Well, I hadn't updated here lately, and for a while, I didn't update Geekorner either.

Well, I'm still alive, there's school, which is sometimes busy, you know how it is. Most of you know from Facebook, but for those who don't, I have a girlfriend, her name's Chen, and we've been dating for over a couple of months now.

2010 resolutions? Well, I'm going to decide what I'm going to do once I graduate, but that's only because I have to, seeing as I graduate this year ;)
Current Mood: contentcontent
A couple of days ago I posted on twitter the following:
""Story Now" is a passive activity, once you're active, it's ahead or before."

Scott Dunphey asked me via twitter to elaborate on it, so I said that I'd try and secure permission from Paul Czege, with whom I had a conversation on the matter, and the above was taken from said conversation. Note, I find it amusing, and well, very internet-esque, that on this thread someone took two tweets I've made and wagered I have an axe to grind against hippy story games.
Damn, but I should've taken that wager! (I do find it genuinely amusing, I'm not even slightly offended or snarky)

Anyway, here is the transcript.
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Current Mood: contentcontent
04 November 2009 @ 12:03 am
My other blog, Geekorner-Geekulture will likely pass 10k hits today or tomorrow, and I'm looking for people who want to make a small doodle, photoshop something, write a haiku, or whatever, which I will post on the congratulationary post when I make it.

Thanks guys :)
And yeah, the blog is doing splendidly!

EDIT: Clarified, there is no congratulatory post yet, I'm looking for stuff to put in it :)
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
03 November 2009 @ 01:00 am
We'll begin with my NaNoNoWriMo 2009 thoughts, and move on to my questions to those of you loyal readers of my blog (LJ-friends, this seems oriented only at the Geekorner posts/crowd, but it's not, address both sorts of posts if you so desire).
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, where one attempts to write 50,000 words during the month of November, with the emphasis being put on quantity over quality, trying to get people to write. I am not going to write a novel, and if we are honest, it's been several years since when "National" had truly been the focus of anything.

And so, I present to you NaNoNoWriMo, which stands for National Non-Novel Writing Month. In the end, NaNoWriMo is all about setting a goal to yourself anyway, so I'm thinking I'll be writing posts and ideas, and attempt to get to the 50k words mark (not all posts and thoughts would get posted immediately, but at the normal blog(s) spacing, and perhaps some will not get published at all). The posts will include philosophical musings I would like to elaborate on, perhaps a short piece of fiction or two, and posts. Posts for this very blog, or for my personal blog (say, about morality and politics), posts about Role-playing theory, and so on and so forth. Another option is to write about 40k words, and spend time editing and revising some of the texts of one or more of my RPG projects.
I might collect them all in one big PDF at the end of the month and share it.

Now, some questions to those of you who read my blog, or blogs:
  1. What would you like to see my write more about?
  2. What would you like me to write less about?
  3. Why do you read my blog?
  4. Does my blog give you something you don't get from other blogs/sites, if so, what is it? Feel free to list more than one.
  5. I began my "Things I Like" non-reviews as quite short (see the Tenjho Tenge, Gurren Lagann and Damages posts), and moved to considerably longer posts, which range upwards of 1,400 words (such as RahXephon, Mai-HiME, and 07-Ghost posts). How do you feel about that?
  6. Continuing the above, I tend to pick one thing in the Things I Like posts and focus on it, should I just keep that one thing, which is what I did in the shorter posts, or do that and also add other interesting bits?
  7. How do you like my "Non-review reviews", where I give thoughts on things, and elaborate on interesting things, but you can't tell from my posts what the series/book is about?
  8. Anything you want to tell me, or talk about?
  9. I am nearing 10k views on the blog. Does anyone want to do some piece of art for the event? :)

Current Mood: creativecreative
27 October 2009 @ 02:53 am

RahXephon is an anime from 2002 which has some things going for it, and also some things going against it, mainly the required comparison to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Another aspect of the series that will require mention and discussion is the use of sound and music in the series, which quite overpowers the series in its beginning, but thankfully its part and vehemence grows smaller as it goes on.

This is a “Things I Like” post, and as such, it’s not a review per-se, but my thoughts on the series. Spoilers should come as no surprise, this post will have moderate amount of spoilers. Surprisingly little, if you ask me.

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Score: 7.2/10.
Synopsis: The personal relationships were well done, the characters were believeable and intricate, and I enjoyed watching them. That scene above is one of the most well done in my memory. The conspiracy and mythology in the series is quite opaque, and is detrimental to the series. Luckily, the role of the relationships is much larger (and this also explains why "so little" occurs for much of the series, because the focus is on characters rather than events). The animation is nice, but I'd have liked it to be crisper, and less yellow-centric. 

Current Mood: tiredtired
13 October 2009 @ 04:35 am
This will be a short post on Computer/Console-Role-Playing Games (RPGs), which are why I'm so scarce this week; as opposed to last week, when it was due to me attending a convention.
Rush and Irina Sykes. Protagonist and sister.
Rush and Irina Sykes. Protagonist and sister.

The Last Remnant, Square Enix's less than stellar last game, is the one I'm currently spending too much time on, which is exactly the point: These games work their magic on me in such a manner that even when they are less than stellar, my days are lost to them.

The way in which RPGs work on me is that there's always another goal, just nearby, and when you reach it, you've already got another goal or two on your sights. Not to mention that when you have a farther goal it is comprised of several mini-quests, or you find out that getting Super-Duper Sword Z makes getting Superlative Armour Y much easier, so the sword you never aimed for is now your new goal...

You know how they say most RPGs are 40-60 hours long, and if you spend more time on them, they can get up to 100 hours? Well, these people don't know me, who grinds and usually does ALL side-quests. I don't grind so things would be easier (and indeed, in The Last Remnant, as you gain levels, your enemies gain new powers and more life), but I want to complete everything available to me at each point.

Heck, you know how in Poke'Mon (the original gameboy games), many people rush to the end, and only then really work on their Poke'Mons? Well, I worked quite a lot on my Poke'Mon before, and then kept working later, both on getting new Poke'Mon and getting more of them powerful. I didn't just stay with my 6 uber, but rotated for more of a roster, and that translated to more hours. Of course, due to my bent-neck with the gameboy, I had a very hurty neck, my new chair helps ensure that my travels with Rush Sykes and friends will not be as hurtful.
Maybe it's bad, as it means I won't leave my computer, but nah, I won't be leaving it anyway ;)

World of Warcraft is an example of a game I've stopped playing in part because it was too good. I played WoW a lot, and I've realized, that if I keep playing it so much, I wouldn't be able to visit the forum ( and sites, and talk to the friends, I had at the time. And with the addition of the subscription fee, I've thought to myself, "Hm, if I'm not going to be playing it much, why pay for the subscription?" (I was in the army at the time, so my monthly salary was $80 or so, so $15 a month for subscription was not negligible).

So yes, these days when I look for MMORPGs, for instance, I look for games that are not as good as WoW, or at least, not as addictive (but when they aren't as good, I end up not enjoying them :D). Guild Wars works perfectly for me, less for being "less good", and more for the no-subscription. I haven't played since January, but I might install it again and give it some more of my time. Of course, that it takes 15-20 giga of hard-drive space is also consideration, so I might try and finish The Last Remnant first, you know?

The convention I went to has something to do with it, as I sat in the cafeteria during down-time next to someone who was playing, though it's been on my mind for a while that I hadn't played in quite some time. And of course, next month comes out Dragon Age: Origins by my favourite RPG-releasing company, BioWare, and seeing as next week the new school-year begins, I hope it'll go well.

The only way to stop this is to limit myself, not to "goals", as there are always more, but to time-spent playing. And no, "30 more minutes" shouldn't be acceptable, as you can find yourself looking at the watch again, and it's 3-4 hours later.
I'll cover the board game known as Infernal Contraption by Privateer Press in this post. I use the definition "card-game" even though it's a non-collectible card-game, ala Munchkin, which I think is really a "board-game"; I hope you can bear with that. Furthermore, I'll tell you the general gist of this post: We did not enjoy this game much.

This is a "Things I Like" post, so the review is more me covering opinions than describing the thing blow by blow, and all the rules.
In this game each player receives a deck of card, and must create a machine: Connecting "contraptions" that do things to power-sources, connecting "enhancements" to contraptions, and connecting one-time "consumables" to something. You get to place things only if they have matching "sockets", and you need to "pay" for each card you play after the first free card each turn.

Your goal in this game is to be the last man standing. I was actually a bit worried about this from a design stand-point before: This is not a game like Munchkin where we all play and have the ability to affect the game till it ends. Instead, players are removed from the game and may end up becoming bored. From my experience though, when someone gets removed, the game is usually close to completion, and the players are going to grow bored way before that as well ;)

There are a lot of cards, and while many of them are quite similar to one another, and only have slight differences in the rules, or their connectors are different and they are otherwise identical, this translates to every turn, where a player might have a completely new hand (other players' actions can grant and take cards away), they will sit huddled, and spend 3-5 minutes reading their cards and planning what to play, where. During this time, the other players can stop paying attention. There's only one card type (so 3-4 copies) that truly require you to pay attention to another player's machine.
A Contraption Card.
A Contraption Card.
The cards are certainly quite beautiful, and have a distinct art-style. I think their design though, is prohibitive for play. It is true, that since you can connect your card via one of the four connectors on the four cardinal directions, you might place it "upside down", but still. As it stands, when the cards are in your hand you need to tilt them to read them, and due to the text being small and the picture being so big, your attention is divided: There are too many things to look at, and either the picture draws too much attention, or you don't really look at it at all.
And then, once you have your machine, once per turn you activate it. In the beginning, my mother (I played with my mother and one of my friends), would read us what the card said, word-for-word. I told her, "No need to read the card, just tell us what to do," as I desired to speed the game up a bit. And that's the other shoe; while a player builds their machine, the other players sit there twiddling their thumbs, or begin reading on their new cards early hoping it'd still be relevant by next round. And when another player runs his machine, they just tell you for
the next 1-2 minutes what cards to draw, which cards to discard, etc.

This is basically a giant "mutual" solitaire game: You sit around and play with some other people, but the interaction between players is quite minimal. The only really social aspect of the game is choosing who to attack on each of your turns. Perhaps trying to cajole players to attack other players.

I think the only thing worse than playing it with 3 players is playing it with 4, as the time you sit there doing nothing adds up. Sure, if we'd have kept playing we'd probably have become more adept, and played faster, slightly faster. But for what purpose? It's not like what makes a game fun, which is actual real strategy beyond the basic (make it so you don't play too many cards a turn, as you'll draw your own deck out), and social relations, are there.

: 4.5/10.

I forgot to say these two things before: First, my mother enjoyed the game, but she took way longer than the rest of us to play her turn. Same as her turn took double the time in Settlers or so. She was engrossed in her cards all the time, during our turns too, so she probably didn't notice their length. Second, the game has an add-on that adds "Interrupts", so to speak, that add to your options to act during the other players' turns. But since the main game is so sub-par, even if the add-on brings it up to par, it's too late.
01 October 2009 @ 05:11 am
Well, it's been a while since our last "Things I Like" post, so now we'll cover 07-Ghost, a new anime that just ended its first, 25 episode long, season last week. It's a slow-moving series, based on a still-running manga, but overall, it's worth it.
Protagonist and antagonist of the show.
Protagonist and antagonist of the show.
This is a “Things I Like” post, and as such, it’s not a review per-se, but my thoughts on the series. Spoilers should come as no surprise, but this post will have relatively few if any.

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Panty Explosion is a role-playing game about psychic girls and school drama. Classroom Deathmatch, the next RPG Jake had worked on is based on Battle Royale, to a degree. A game where a class of students must fight to the death.
This part of the interview will deal mostly with Classroom Deathmatch, but also with The Magical Land of Yeld, a fusion of Zelda, the secret worlds of Narnia, and Final Fantasy Tactics' job-system, a game about children in a magical world of adventure.

The previous part of the interview can be read here, dealing mostly with Panty Explosion, and the work-process Jake and his co-creators engage in.
I will have my comments (in italics and parenthesis), and most links had been added by myself. Hope you'll enjoy it :)

1. How did you decide on Classroom Deathmatch after Panty Explosion?
Matt and I had been selling Panty Explosion at GenCon (The biggest role-playing convention in the world, AFAIK), and the booth across from us was am import DVD seller called Cine-East. The couple running the booth were really enthusiastic about the game and helped us promote it at the show, and Matt and I ended up buying a whole mess of DVDs from them. Survive Style 5+, Saikano and a whole bunch of other stuff. One of those was Battle Royale 2, and Nick came over to the house and watched it with me a few weeks after the con. We were about half way through the movie and one of us was like "we could totally play this with Panty Explosion". And then at the same time we both blurted out something about a Battle Royale/Panty Explosion game. We wrote the entire thing that night.
Originally we had planned to release a yaoi-flavored version of Panty Explosion, but it never really happened. Maybe someday.

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Again, feel free to ask Jake questions, he said he'd love to answer them :)

If you have any comments or questions, please make them over on the Geekorner post. Hope you've enjoyed this! There are more interviews planned in the future!
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Current Mood: contentcontent
27 September 2009 @ 01:09 am
I'm sure many of you who do not live in a major country can empathize, and when it comes to ordering stuff from say.. Japan, most of you can empathize. At least, the non-Americans; who do suffer, but to a lesser degree*.
(This post will also cover why I didn't order the figure of Saber Lily Distant Avalon)

For as long as I've been able to read English, the Israeli Postal Service and I, we had been at odds. I wished for books, for DVDs, for media, for life, and it had conspired to keep these things out of my reach. Out of my hands.
I am not talking only that the customs office had taken my packages and kept them for longer than it should have (even when it did), but of all the times when we did not even order, for fear and knowledge, that the customs will stop us.

You see, we've used to order quite a lot from Amazon, which I'm sure many of you know of. Now, not only did we not get "Free Shipping for orders over $25" (nor even when I've ordered books for over $200, or when we've purchased the full Neon Genesis Evangelion perfect set, and I wish I were kidding, but it went for $150 or so... ah, thin DVD box-sets, I love you), but we had to tackle the customs. The customs used to stop packages worth over $35, and yes, that was a rather low amount.

It then became $50, but that did not help us much with Amazon, because what Amazon does is, list the cost of the order on the package. Not the cost of the items, and then the cost of the shipping, but all of it together. Customs step in when the items are worth more than $50, but with Amazon, we're still stuck with orders of about $35, which usually mean 2-3 books, or a DVD and a cheap book. No ordering a lot of books for me (How I wish I lived next to a Barnes and Nobles).
Of course, it didn't help that recently the United States Postal Service had revamped its services, which ended up amounting to: International shipping is faster, but costs more. Gone is my choice.

In case you're wondering, the amount of science-fiction and fantasy books brought to Israel, and the selection, is very limited, and usually amounts to stuff that is hot, or just got a TV series. Good luck finding most of what is released. What is sold here is usually sold at about 220% mark-up. Sure, they have to pay for shipping and taxes, but that's more than steep. That's crazy.

So suppose I do order something from abroad, let's enter "The Roulette", which is how it seems like the postal services and the customs office will charge money from me! And also, how much money they're going to charge:
  1. If your order is over $50, and they stop it, you will pay 16.5% customs for most items from countries with which Israel has a trade-pact, or 30.5% for items from countries with which Israel does not have trade-pacts, such as Japan, or for certain items (DVDs...). This is both item and the shipping cost.
  2. If your order is stopped, they may or may not charge you for the VAT (Value Added Tax), this is currently 16.5% of your order. Yes, this is both shipping and item's cost.
  3. Even if your order is not stopped, you may still pay the VAT, that is truly random. The process is that they decide to look at a package, and for that, you get the VAT. This means they can gauge the item's price or know what it costs. Supposedly the customs look at all packages, so I wonder why not all get VAT?
  4. If your package gets the VAT surcharge added, the postal services office, for the pains of taking the package from the customs and returning it to circulation so it'll get back to you charge $7.5 from you. I've had items before where the items cost a total of roughly $30, and I ended up paying $9 in charges. Only $1.5 being from the legitimate VAT... this is only since the Postal Services got privatized.
  5. EMS packages almost always get stopped by the customs. When a package gets stopped by the customs, you have to either go to the main customs buildings (4 in Israel or so), or pay the postal office $39 to send it to you (in addition to whatever other charges you're going to pay). This is a bit paradoxical, as EMS means I want my package soon, rather than have it stopped time after time...
  6. If the customs stopped your package, even if you don't pay customs (because it was under $50), and don't pay VAT (see, random, I'm already there, and they don't charge it!), then for the pleasure of housing my package I need to pay the postal services a flat fee of about $21. For 14 days, a package that's the size of a pen, or up to 6 pounds or so, that's the surcharge. Two packages, $42, and so on. No good splitting packages, unless you can ensure none gets stopped.
  7. Figures get stopped rather often, when they can't gauge the cost of the item, they're much more likely to stop it. EMS=stopped at customs, non-EMS=usually $7.5 surcharge and sent on to your home. Better.
  8. So, I want the figure of Saber Lily Distant Avalon by Good Smile Company, and it was up for order recently again on Hobby Search. According to their calculator, the figure would start at about $95. Since they only ship EMS, and it seems like a hefty package, so I calculated it to roughly $35 for the shipping.
  9. Amount to pay at this point: $120 for an amazing model.
Now, let us enter Israel, and add the postal service and customs' costs:
- Since the item will be shipped EMS, is nearly $100, and heavy, it WILL get stopped. I will pay 30.5% customs, which would amount for $36 more.
- Since they have it, I'm going to pay VAT, 16.5% more, so $20 more.
- Since they stopped it, and they want me to pay for it, they're unlikely to forward it to my local post office, so the postal services would ask me for $21 more for holding it.
Amount added at this stage: $77, and the cost of getting to the customs' office and back, and the time.

Total cost for a figure of 8,800 yen, shipped EMS: $197.

And this is why we can't have anything nice :P The fact that I need to pay about double the costs, even without paying for a deputy service or anything. I will probably hope for eBay, where the sellers ship via SAL, and ask them to write something on the order, heh.

Hobby Link Japan (HLJ) has a paypal free fast shipping sale until the 28th of September, where they will ship via EMS/other fast shipping, and not only will they "upgrade" it, so you still pay the normal cost, but the shipping will be for free. You must pay via PayPal, and rather than not pay for shipping, they'll just deduce the cost of it.

If you order something heavy (like Dakimura body), this is great. For me? This is not so great. First, they will ship via EMS, so the customs will stop my package unless it's only a magazine or something of the sort, and because the order has the shipping costs on it, even though the shipping was "free", I'd still pay the potentially 48% of the shipping's cost, which with EMS, is considerable. So I basically only get half of the shipping cost for free, but will almost assuredly pay taxes for the figure...

You know, if the postal services and the customs weren't so arbitrary, I'd feel better. Sure, we have a chance to get a pleasant surprise, but we can't really tell when we WILL pay, which sucks for making plans.

* Because Americans' customs ceiling is $200, IIRC.
Current Mood: tiredtired

Hello gang. This is an interview I've conducted with the game-designer and artist Jake Richmond, whom I've known for several years. The interview's first part will follow here, and the second part will be posted in a week's time. Jake does anime related RPG design, and this week we'll focus on Jake and the game of Panty Explosion. Jake's part of what is often termed as "Indie RPGs", which are basically "Official doujinshi" if you will; people create and publish a role-playing game on their own, for the most part. They're sold for ~$20.
Also, this is what people often call "Story-Games", games focused on the creation of a story.

I will have my comments (in italics and parenthesis), and most links had been added by myself. Hope you'll enjoy it :)

1. Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Jake Richmond. I live with friends in Portland, Oregon. I've been a full time freelance illustrator for about 5 years and a part-time art teacher for about 3. I make comics and games, and I publish my games under the label Atarashi Games. I rarely wake up before 1pm, and I never go to sleep before 4am. My blood type is A. I like Indian and Mexican food, collect video game art books and have a glasses fetish.

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If you want to comment on this entry, I urge you to do so on the Geekorner post.

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Current Mood: tiredtired
19 September 2009 @ 01:05 am
Today is the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShana, so, "Shana Tova" everyone (Good year)!

See you on the flip-side.

Current Mood: complacentcomplacent
18 September 2009 @ 07:14 pm
I wrote a long entry on how to get your blog a certain amount of success. It was long enough that I split it into two parts. Part 1 is about building up your blog, part 2 is about getting readers to your blogs.
No, SEO is not covered, that's when you have a brand, and belongs to marketing, not exactly for the blog.

Also, this reply to Joe McDonald might be of interest. A blog is not the same as a private journal. And if you want what a blog can give you, you also need to put in what a blog demands. This is different from a journal you update whenever you feel like it, and is basically a repository for your thoughts.
11 September 2009 @ 02:00 am

Onegai Teacher! (Or "Please Teacher!" or "Onegai Sensei!") is an anime custom-built by specifications. It has exactly what is expected of an anime of the genre, and is especially targeted at adolescent boys and/or otakus. It is basically, a wish-fulfillment series.
It does that very well, but naturally does very little else.

This is a "Things I Like" post, and as such, it's not a review per-se, but my thoughts on the series. Spoilers should come as no surprise, but this post will have relatively few if any.
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Current Mood: tiredtired
07 September 2009 @ 01:31 am
This may or may not be a permanent feature. But since many of the people currently reading this blog did not read this blog when it was new, it'll be here this time.
August in review (and yes, details are lacking, since Wordpress only shows me top 40 clicks/referers, and only "past 30 days" and such, can't tell it to look at August as a month...):

Hits: 1,955 hits in August, the first full month of posts.
129 hits in July.

Comments: 154 comments in August (including my own).
6 comments in July.

Notable Referers: Note, if your site linked through numerous sites, I can't see it, can only see the top 40 individual pages who referred. Also, counts some early September data.
Wordpress news (I made the fifth comment, mostly "bounces", one time-visitors): 300.
Animenano: 166.
Gunstray: 28.
Taikutsu Remedy (Snark's site): 28.
(It's not random that Gunstray and Taikutsu Remedy lead to so many hits here, it's in their site's setup.)

Notable posts (doesn't include posts people read off the blog's main page):
Figure Friday (1): 151 hits.
[TIL]: Element Hunters: 122 hits.
My Room, July 2009: 116 hits.

One more question before we continue; would you guys be interested in hearing how one can gain a nice level of activity on one's blog without too much effort (1.5-2k hits a month)? Or do you think you're all there and it's superflous?

And now, after the "read more" tag, a description of all the last couple of months' entries. Please check to see if there are entries you've missed which you would've enjoyed reading. Thank you.

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Current Mood: contentcontent
02 September 2009 @ 10:00 pm
Since not all blogs on my Geekorner-Geekulture blog are an exact fit for this blog, some do not get reposted here, they and their descriptions are as follows (feel free to head over and leave comments and engage in discussions there):

Zabuza and the Rare Ingredient!: A satirical review of a low-quality figured which is covered with the dust of ages. Literally.

My Room, July 2006: Pictures and text of how my room looked in July 2006. You will gain some insight and proof for my love of books.

Figure Friday. August 21st-27th: The five best and five worst figures announced during the week, along with a brief discussion of each. Anime figures, mostly.

eBay Addiction: A relatively long entry on eBay, how it traps you, etc.

August Purchases: What I've purchased during August, what I received during August. Not much meat, more of a list.
01 September 2009 @ 04:27 pm

So, some of you may know, I'm a university student, I'm one (1,800+ pages of material) test away from finishing my second year, studying Philosophy and Sociology/Anthropology. And one of the bennies when you get a too-open assignment, is to write about shit you care about. I wrote an assignment on Holism in analyzing RPGs.

This is actually not the first time I've done something like this. The first time we were asked to write a major assignment (around 20-30 pages) was in the fifth grade, and I wrote about Dungeons and Dragons. I hunted down the articles in Hebrew written about it, publications translated on satanism, psychology, how the game was brought into Israel, etc. This was back when "Mitzuv" the company that brought D&D to Israel existed, and TSR too, so I just had my mom go to their offices and photocopy that stuff for me.
I might actually still have this assignment somewhere, perhaps even on a computer (though if I do, it's in Hebrew).

Now, I had a course in Philosophy about Holism, we've discussed the topic mainly through the lens of the Philosophy of Science and the Philosophy of Language, and a broad-picture was painted. We were told (we were told on the first lesson, so it didn't come as a surprise) to write an assignment regarding Holism, anything we wanted.
And then came the time to write the assignment, and I wasn't sure what to write about, so I turned to my interests, things I didn't need to do major reading about in order to crank out a roughly 7 page assignment, because being the procrastinator that I am, there was no time.

I recalled the arrow diagram of The Big Model in RPGs, and how all the levels had to be taken into account, especially in light of "The Lumpley Principle" ("System (including but not limited to 'the rules') is defined as the means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play.") and I set down to right.

Note, this assignment is obviously not without flaws, but I had constraints of time and space to begin with, and the paper had to be tailored to a specific audience. Roleplaying games may have needed a better explanation and breakdown, The Big Model deserves its own section, and of course, describing the roleplaying theory scene while giving everyone it credit too. But that was unfeasible. So things were simplified, and I'm sure some things were butchered.

Maybe it all makes me a bad academic, perhaps it even makes me a bad student, but the point is another: Use what you already know and care for when you can. Beat dealing with stuff you are either not passionate about (I quite like Philosophy, thank you), or need to read up on when you can avoid it (yes, I guess I am a bad proto-academic).

Here's a direct link to the assignment, note, it's a .doc (Word document, office 2000).
Also, this is the last day of the month, so expect some summary posts to follow this week, including my media breakdown, my purchases, a review of the Figures of the Month (I will see about that), and break-down traffic and posts made this month.

P.S. I know this is greek to most of you, "The Big Model", "The Lumpley Principle", etc. I touch on it in the paper you can read, and well, this is a blog about what I care for. And this is something I care for. So there you go.
P.P.S. The "About" page had been updated. The Links page still awaits completion.

P.P.P.S. for you LJ people: You'll get some more reposts, or a post linking to posts that don't really belong here, later this week.
Current Mood: tiredtired
Mai-HiME is an anime which I love. Many people don't love it as much as I do, and I will try to remedy this situation here, somewhat, and will hopefully help you guys love this series as much as I do.
Left to right: Mikoto, Mai, Natsuki
Left to right: Mikoto, Mai, Natsuki
This is a series that plays on emotions. That's what you need to remember. This post will have major spoilers, so the rest of it is behind the tag.

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EDIT: Synopsis: To summarize the post above: The series has some fan-service, the series has fights. The series is not about these things. The series is about delivering a story that impacts the viewers' emotions, and does so very strongly. Watch it for that, and don't stop watching because of the unfitting fan-service.
25 August 2009 @ 03:58 pm
This post is dedicated to my friends. Those who like SG, those who don't like SG, and those who do, but not in a manner that they feel like participating.

I want to begin this post by a statement. Like an earlier post about politics, there is no assigning blame in this post. There is me looking at something I see and trying to see where it came from. The question of who's to blame is nonsensical, it has no sense; there's no one to blame, it is what it is, and it is natural.

The thing I had observed was that some of my friends did not like Story-Games. It wasn't for them. Some would say it was signal-to-noise ratio being low, but others are having a grand old time there. But it's not too far off from the truth of the matter, which is to different people different things are noise and different things are sound. I also thought of some discussions that were had on SG lately, regarding the nature of community, and that specific people with shared features (often some of the people who were the earlier crowd on the Forge who released indie games), and I thought of this some more.

The thing that I came to, and when discussed with a couple of these people, they had said it made sense to them is, that there are two kinds of communities. There are "Ad-hoc communities" and there are "Communities for their own sake."

"Ad-hoc communities" are communities that are people gathering for a specific purpose, which unites them. They don't care about the other people beyond your care for humans, and for their role in the purpose for which you have come together. The Indie RPG scene is such an example, originally. People who wanted to design games, designed games, or such, looked for other like-minded people, and together formed a community which was a community for the purpose of game-design.

"Communities for their own sake" are what most communities become, especially ad-hoc communities where one is "locked", such as family or a high-school class. Well, they don't really become that sort of community out of necessity in all cases (you don't have to like your classmates), but since you're stuck with them, you become a community for the sake of having a community and being friends with these people.
This is what truly is the mark of a community for its own sake, the goal becomes to have this community, to be friends with other people.

Many if not most ad-hoc communities become this sort of community, I believe, because it's human nature. We talk to someone enough, even if only about something, and we tend to grow to like them, as a person. We talk to enough people long enough, and we like them as people. But this is the thing, such a community has as its highest goal, the community itself. If something is good for our interests, such as discussing game design, then we'd discuss game design.
But the thing is, if talking game design would run afoul of our highest goal, that of maintaining a community where everyone's friends (supposedly a Geek Fallacy, actually a human fallacy), then talking game design would be jettisoned. The community's goal is to have this community.

The thing is, that most of the people I seem to have talked to who "chose out" are those who joined in the early days, when there wasn't actually a community, and they formed an ad-hoc community. Perhaps new people who come to SG with this specific quest in mind leave, but I don't get to talk to them. In addition, they come to a pre-formed community, so it's not like they're surprised by where things are.
But those who "chose out", and that phrasing is important; they weren't ousted, they weren't kicked, the community changed and they chose to take themselves out of it for the most part. These people, to them it was some sort of historical 'bait-and-switch' (and please disregard any negative connotations). They came for a certain sort of community, and once that did become a community it shifted over the course of time, and the new community is not the one they had originally chosen to join, and so they left. They joined a community, but that community is no more, and had been replaced, by another community which occupies more or less the same space, and the same people.

This does have some actual repercussions, and again, this is not a value-judgment of whether or not this is how it should be, but me pointing out how things are and why. Such a repercussion is what happens when someone presents a tough criticism of someone else's games. This is not about hurting their sales, this is not about using tough language. This is about one part of the community 'attacking' another part of the community.
This actually stems from lack of distinction between one and one's ideas. Not on the form of the critique receiver, but on the community's. Yes, this small part is value-judgment by me, I'm sorry. But even though they know the distinction in general, all signs of discord must be quashed, and so criticism is quashed.

There is no anger, there is no hatred. This was a community of one sort, and now it is another. Once this is understood, you understand that this simply is a community with certain goals, with certain restrictions, and that it may not fit those who desire a different community.

So, why do I care about all this? Even though I like SG as it is now (for the most part)? Because I "suffer" from another Geek Fallacy, where I want my friends to enjoy what I do. Where I want them to enjoy what they used to.
I like my friends, I like SG, and this is not judgment, just an analysis.
Current Mood: hungryhungry
23 August 2009 @ 01:34 am
Yes, this is a big question, and I've asked some friends before.

I'm turning the answer-screening on, unless you say I can unscreen your answer.

I'm curious, regardless of whether you are happy or not right now, what do you need to make you happy, or at least, what do you think are the conditions necessary for your happiness?
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Yes, this title is another example of my endless wit.
This series was aired on TV here with daily re-runs, 12 episodes, each about 26 minutes. It's a drama that you shouldn't watch unless you're ready for vulgarities and a lot of naked.

Californication (IMDB, Wikipedia), follows writer Hank Moody, who's falling into pussy. It's not addressed as much, but from the way he's drinking and how early it is, I'd hazard a guess that the character is also an alcoholic.

Hank is a writer. Hank used to write. Hank does not write any more.
Hank used to live with the woman he loves, with whom he has a daughter, who doesn't live with him.
Hank used to live in NYC, but now he lives in California, which he loathes, though it is not entirely clear why.

Hank hates his life. Hank is not on a road of self-destruction, when we meet Hank, he's already at the end. He tries to get back with Karen, but this obviously comes only after she gets engaged.
This show runs for about 26 minutes of episode material, and is a drama. This is something I'm not used to, short-form drama. Sure, there are moments I laugh at in most episodes, but I wouldn't call it a comedy. I laugh because something is funny, not because the series is a comedy. And there's some difference I'm having trouble formulating in words.
The series does not have that much characterization, the characters stay more or less the same, and what changes is their relationships, very slowly, or the scenery, such as the women Hank beds, like an assembly line of fucking and self-loathing. Heck, I did get some vibes of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas from the series, if not from the series itself, then Hank did have some Hunter S. Thompson poured into him, or Hemmingway, or another of those old drunk, miserable, coots.

Hank's daughter, Becca, speaks in a dead-pan voice, and she fulfills the role of the greek choir (such as in Sophocles' play, Antigone) at moments in the series. Narrating to us how Hank is doing, what his nature is, etc. This is somewhat touching and sad, as she is also his daughter, about 12 years old, and knows of how flawed her father is.
As sometimes happens in such a series, you're left unsure who's the parent. Good thing Becca lives with Karen.

Hank: Who said you have to be realistic?
Becka: Mom
Hank: Oh.

Some other short points:
- The fake male orgasm never sounded or felt more fake. Seriously. No need to grunt when (fake) masturbating for the sake of the camera.
- This is not a story about redemption. This is not a story about falling. This is a story about the wallowing you do when you're at the bottom.
- Episode 10 is fucked up. It's written and feels as if everyone involved was high. The writers, the characters, us hapless watchers. It was weird.
Good acting by Madeline Zima, as a girl pining over an older man, whom Hank calls "Sociopath in training".

I'm not really sure how to classify this series, or how to describe my feelings towards it. I've enjoyed watching it, overall. But it was kind of a morbid fascination watch. It's somewhat well-made, and has some rough edges that I think are intentional.

Worth a watch. I will not try to grade this one, y'all.
Second season begins its daily re-runs tonight. Will share thoughts in 3 weeks or so, when it's over.

Current Mood: lazylazy

Yes, that title is way too long. Sue me :)
There will be a certain amount of spoilers.

Ga-Rei Zero had been introduced to me by my friend Andy Kitkowski's blog. He raved about how crazy the first episode was, so I had to watch.
You know what? It was all that. Heck, it was all that and more! It was spectacular, it was amazing, it was sublime. And it was twenty minutes.
These are NOT the protagonists of the series. Sadly.
These are NOT the protagonists of the series. Sadly.
Ga-Rei Zero is the anime prequel to the manga known as Ga-Rei, the problem is that the manga had not been translated to English, and honestly, most of us have not heard of it. I think this also affected our experience as we've known the anime was a prequel, and couldn't invest ourselves fully, I don't know for certain, as I did in fact know of the manga's existence before watching the anime.
The anime's first episode focuses on a team that kills evil spirits, and then you don't see them in the rest of the series, which is part of what made that anime so great; they could allow themselves to go all the way, they didn't have to hold back for the characters' sake, kind of like George R. R. Martin in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.
The second episode is also cool, we finally get to see the protagonists of the series, and the main villain, and the supporting cast. And they fight, and we find out they used to be friends.
Thus we get to what is the bulk of the series, when we see the characters' past. Blah blah blah, we loved one another, you were like my big sister, you were like my younger sister, we had to fight monsters together. And perhaps if I came to the series from the manga, already caring for the characters, I'd have loved it. Perhaps if the first episode wasn't so great (the second was also very good, but compared to the first, it was nothing), I wouldn't have minded.
These are. The protagonists, that is.
These are. The protagonists, that is.

But the first episode was that great. And I did not care for the characters prior to this anime series, and so I didn't finish watching the series.
I've heard there's a great paraplegetic fight around the tenth episode, but I didn't get there.

It's especially vexing, but I suspect also successful in one regard though, you really want to know about some of the villains, the monsters, butterfly-boy. But for that you'll probably have to read the manga, so I guess the anime series also was created to draw more readers to the manga.

The art in the series is on the very high end. Character design and technique is very sharp, buildings look good, nature is especially lush and vivid. The monsters look a bit too CGI for me, but I think that may be on purpose.
Kagura, the younger character is especially cute.

The opening song is the same as the ending song, except when it's played at the end of an episode there's no art. The art is of good quality, the song has a nice up-beat tempo, and shows you some of the background story which is what most of this anime is (which then leads to the first Yomi-arc of the manga). But, the words matter here, they kinda have in them what this is all about, about betrayal.
Sadly, the YouTube video is like in most cases, lacking translation of the lyrics. The lyrics matter, somewhat.

You know, if the series was actually about the awesome characters in the first episode, I think I'd have liked it more.

Score: First episode: 10/10. Second episode: 8/10. Onward: 6/10? It was ok, but nothing special, and not what I really set out to watch, in the context, maybe even 5/10.
Feel free to watch just the first episode, or the first two, and treat it like an open-ended OVA. Well, the first episode resolves itself, more or less.

Current Mood: calmRelaxing