Forum Posts Following Followers
2718 68 93

SlowMotionKarma Blog

"Biting the Hand The Feeds" or "Fan by Proxy"

  Busy, busy, busy. Even though I haven’t been to school in a few years, my “year” still starts about the same time the school year starts. I’m guessing it’s because of my aunt and cousins… well, I know that’s why. Anyway, the beginning of anything in life is always a little rough. I was used to spreading things out over the whole day and now I only have ¼ of that time so I’ve had to stick to a tight schedule with my “extracurricular” activities.

  A week ago I made a hard push to get all those pictures finished up with. The total was at 16,000 before I started and in two days I got the number down to 13,000. It’s still at 13,000. Luckily (I guess) a lot of the pics were either too small to do anything constructive with or they were doubles so I was able to sift through them and remove all the unnecessary ones. I still have quite a bit to go through, but it helped my outlook on the situation knowing I could knock out a few thousand in one weekend. Maybe there’s hope for me after all… maybe.

 

  I’m also slowly burning all my “essential” files to DVD. I’ve finished up with the completed anime series I had. That freed up a nice chunk of space on my HDD. I’ve also backed up all my pictures. Maybe a little back-story is necessary…

  A few weeks ago (just after my last post I believe), my computer had a potentially catastrophic event. A few of Window’s system files “mysteriously vanished” (I say that because I didn’t have any viruses) and the OS wasn’t able to load on system startup. I couldn’t even start in safe mode or anything because there was no way for Windows to load at all. Luckily I had my XP disc so I was able to boot into the system recovery console. And luckily (again) the recovery process was a success. If that didn’t work then 8 years worth of pics, video, text and various data would’ve been lost forever.

  After that, I went straight to Best Buy and picked up a bunch of DVDs. Later on I’ll get an external HDD and just back up everything, but for now all I really care about is my pics, video, text, and a few save game and program files. It’s a slow process (because I don’t have a lot of time to work with) but I’m getting it done. A secondary benefit to all of this is I get to free up a lot of space on my HDD. I think somewhere around 240 GB is taken up by all these “essential” files, so I hope to cut down my HDD storage-space-usage by at least half. There are a few things I’ll keep on the HDD even after I back them up.

 

  On the subject of backing up anime… well maybe that’s a stretch but I needed a bridge to the next topic. *sigh* Anime! This section is anime, ok? There has been a lot of downloading going on. I’ve been neglecting Blood+. I only have the first 26 episodes and it’s up to ~47, so my Azureus is working overtime.

  Something I’m extremely happy about, episodes 15-18 of Ergo Proxy came out last week. I was just about to give in and start downloading the raws, but luckily Pino-no-Usagi pulled through. I’m “caught up” again, and I swear, this series just keeps getting better and better. Every episode has its own feel, and you really can’t find a “boring” one in the lot. The second I finished episode 18 I was dying to watch 19. Even all the other anime I’m keeping track of have been put on the back-burner because I only feel like watching Ergo Proxy. I think that if this series keeps going the way it has, it will be on my Top 10 Best Ever list. There’s a lot of good out there, but Ergo Proxy is the cream of the crop. I just can’t say enough about it…

  Local anime news is starting to get interesting too. Trinity Blood and Bleach will begin airing on [adult swim] starting September 9th. I liked Trinity Blood and Bleach… well, it’s good but lately I haven’t been into it. Maybe I’ll just watch it on [as] instead of worrying about the fansubs. I’m happy about the Trinity Blood though. A few friends of mine haven’t seen it and I really think they’ll like it.

  The lovely Hilary Haag will be reprising her role as Teletha Testarossa in *shudders* Funi/ADV’s localization of Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid. The first volume is in-stores October 3rd I believe. Hilary is amazing. Best (American) female voice actress EVAR!! I’m glad to hear TSR is licensed, that means I can buy it now and complete my set, but I’m really worried about Funimation’s involvement. The only series that seems untouched by their evil editing was FullMetal Alchemist. And I’m not even sure about that. It seems like everything they touch they have to change somewhere…

  And speaking of localization companies, Bandai released an ultimatum to the fansub community about their soon-to-be released Ghost in the Shell: SSS movie. Essentially they said that if they caught anyone fansubing or distributing it online, they’d take the person/people to court and fine them. They also said that the fansub community brings down their sales and is overall a detriment to the local anime business. Stuff like that just chaps my hide!

  I DO NOT BUY ANIME I HAVEN’T SEEN. I watch fansubs. If I like the series, I buy it when it’s available. If I don’t like the series I don’t buy it. They seem to think that their crappy “trailers” give the community a good idea of the series. WRONG! Most of them are just opening sequences. Who the heck is going to spend ~$160 total on a series they know nothing about? Come on! People in Japan get to watch the series on TV; and they still buy the DVDs there. What Bandai has done is what you call “biting the hand that feeds”. I have a serious inclination to set up some kind of boycott against the GiTS: SSS movie. Of course realistically speaking, it would never work, but that’s the level I’m at. I can’t believe they think fansubs are bad for the industry. Where the heck do they think everyone here finds out about anime? There aren’t any (good) official anime review sites, the only widely known anime magazine is Newtype (and frankly reviews aren’t their strong suit) and the “info” provided by the “official series sites” all these companies have are quite pathetic.

  On top of that, years ago I read somewhere that Bandai was praising the fansub community because it was “helping bring anime awareness to the masses” (loosely quoted). And now that they have a “thriving business” they’re going to turn their backs on the one thing that helped make them successful? Pathetic. Bandai, I spit in your general direction!

  Hopefully all the other companies won’t follow suit. It will be a dark day when the localization companies band together to stop fansubing. As much as it would hurt me to do it, I think I’d stop buying anime. The audacity! *counts back from 10* Anyway, I doubt fansubing will disappear no matter what the companies do. Look at all those crack and warez sites out there (which I happen to disagree with BTW). For the longest software companies have tried to stop that, but they still prosper. I can understand it if a company doesn’t want their products stolen. I firmly believe in “if you like it, buy it”, and of course there will be a few bad eggs in any situation like this, but still, the sales reports don’t lie and I think that overall fansubing communities ultimately help the local anime business.

 

  Well, now that that’s over… Hurricane or Tropical Storm (whatever it happens to be now) Ernesto is now forecasted to hit Florida. Looks like I (meaning Houston) dodged a possible bullet. My heart goes out to anyone that is affected by Ernesto though. I’m just glad we haven’t had a major hurricane come this way. Unfortunately, we haven’t hit the peak of hurricane season, so the danger hasn’t faded yet. I’m just hoping nothing serious comes our way. Statistically one is eventually going to hit Houston; I just hope it isn’t for a long time.

  The anniversary of Katrina is coming up soon. There have been a lot of programs on TV about it. Even now when I see footage from those days (or weeks) after the storm, it really gets to me how the government; local, state, and national really dropped the ball. Those people were counting on having rescue and aid from their country and it just never came. On top of that, people that were trying to help were being turned away. I really hope America learned from that “experience” and if anything that bad ever happens again I hope they’ll be quick to act. So many people suffered because of the inaction; such a sad thing to see happening.


  I’m hungry, so I’ll cut it off here. There were still a few more things I wanted to add. Maybe I’ll find the time to finish up and post tomorrow… maybe. A quick Haruhi wall I  made 'cause I needed a Haruhi wall:


 Turn around and slap Bandai in the face, Gundam!

"Super Awesome Update Week || Whatever" or "Ah! Megami Sa-My Birthday"

  What happened to the other Super Awesome Update Week Entries? They got canned. It was my birthday weekend, and I didn’t feel like doing all that work. Besides, I had other things going on. Also, what was so great about super awesome update week? It was just a bunch of normal posts posting more frequently than “normal”. Deal with it people! (Like my blog is that popular…)


  Anyway, August 6th was my birthday. I’m now the big 2-3 years old. And what has changed? Nothing. Of course I wasn’t expecting some dramatic change. This whole aging thing is quite gradual as I’m sure everyone knows. Let’s see… what did I do for my birthday? I ate!

  First I went with my dad to eat at this Mexican food place. It’s a restaurant owned and operated by Mexicans who serve Mexican food; just for whities (white-Es). So it’s not real Mexican, its Mexican tailored to the whities. Tacos = meat and lettuce and cheese served in one of those crisp corn-tortilla-bowl-things. A real Mexican taco is a flour tortilla (corn was too valuable selling-wise to eat everyday) with refried beans (you make a big pot that lasts all week), Mexican rice (real Mexican rice, not that brown rice with small veggies in it), some kind of meat (this would be the smallest in the taco equation), and if you’re super lucky, some cheese. But whities like using forks to eat in restaurants so they make the taco tailored to them. They also serve “avocado salad” which is just guacamole over lettuce. The reason I like going there is because they make great enchiladas. Super cheesy and piping hot. The cheese and sauce are still bubbling when they serve it to you. Awesome.

  For dinner I went with mi Tia and my cousins to Red Lobster since I’ve been craving fish. Also, Red Lobster has those awesome biscuits! I can eat a kabillion® of those things! Super good! I forgot my to-go box in their car though, so I lost the biscuits I took with me. If only I could turn back time…

 

  Today my first issue of Megami Magazine arrived fresh from Japan. Talk about an amazing magazine! Even though I can read most of what is in there, it’s still super awesome! Granted I know who most of the characters are already, so I kinda know the situation, but still. The first Newtype magazine I ever saw was a Japanese version and I loved that one too. I see these types of magazines as more of an artbook than just a magazine. Heck, I subscribe to Newtype USA, but I know (and most probably have seen) all of the featured series in there before it comes out. I like these magazines for the art. It’s just another little piece of “otaku culture” as stupid n00bz say. Go to Japan and call yourself an otaku; see what happens chump.

  Back to Megami… there were 12 double-sided fold-out center-fold dealys, making a grand total of 24 mini-posters, plus a “standard size” poster in the middle. That’s a lot of stuff. There’s also a small manga insert, the pages are really thick (durable, yo) and it’s filled to the brim with the latest, cutest anime characters (dudes not included). Super awesome. I’m using “super awesome” a lot in this entry. So I spent a few hours pouring over the contents of my new magazine today. A little bit ago I removed all the mini-posters and stuck them on my wall. I’m quickly running out of vertical real estate for my posters and wall scrolls (although these will never be moved) and calendars and what-not. But don’t worry! I’ve worked out a plan to allow about 6 more mini-posters to be put up, then I’ll move to plan B which allows about 3 more, and there’s always the ceiling… After that, though I’m going to be making some hard decisions. Long story short, I’m quite satisfied with my purchase/subscription. Favorite poster? The Fate/Stay Night ladies-in-yukata poster AND the Haruhi poster. Of course they had a Haruhi section…

 

  Speaking of Haruhi, I’ve started re-watching Melancholy of Haruhi again; this time in the “right” order according to Haruhi herself (if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about). Things make a bit more sense, but then again, I have seen it all already. When I first started watching this series, I though it was just another school-comedy-with-cute-girls anime, but it really turned out to be quite refreshing and entertaining. I’m just getting sick of all those fanboys who constantly swoon over the series. It’s not God, you know… Still stuck on Ergo Proxy and I’ve watched the first two Glass no Kantai. Can’t wait for more!


  I’ve started tracking a new game: Gothic 3. I briefly played Gothic 2, and didn’t really get into it, but this new one looks to be better than the last. The game is coming out (supposedly) next month sometime, but I still don’t know enough about it to make any kind of informed decision regarding it’s worthiness-to-be-played-by-me. I also haven’t heard anything new about the Eureka Seven PS2 game. Is that even out yet? Guess I’ll have to go over to Gamespot and actually look at game stuff instead of going straight to the unions. Oh, one more thing… Crysis is awesome! Thank you.
 

  I finished up my secondary wallpaper for my second monitor a few days ago. It’s Angel Jibril Aries and it goes with the other wallpaper I posted in the entry before last. I like having a main wallpaper with the character front and center, and a secondary with the character(s) off to the side so I can have “free space” (space without a character) to put temporary icons/files/folders. So without further ado:
 

  Super awesome, no? I love putting them in clouds. Front Wing knows how to design great looking characters. I’ve recently looked into their past projects (before Makai Tenshi Jibril), and of course I’ve been keeping up with their new stuff. There’s even a segment on their new project in Megami Magazine. HA! I wonder why none of their stuff *cough* Jibril *cough* hasn’t been turned into a bona-fide anime series. COME ON!! Just do it anime studio guys (or girls)! Why are people even compelled to put things like that? Do we really think those studios are reading our little blogs? Self-delusion.
 

  Now that I have finished the Jibril wallpapers, which were on the top of my make-a-wallpaper-out-of-these list, I can move on to the thousands (really) of other pictures and wallpapers I need to create or fine-tune. I need help. I just can’t stop saving cool pics to make into wallpapers. I’m never going to be finished! Even if I did 100 wallpapers a day, it would probably take 2 or 3 months to do them all. And that’s only if I don’t save any more, which I will. I don’t quite remember exactly when it all got out of hand, but it was about the time I found all those H-Game CG capture ZIP files. *sigh* Doomed, simply doomed.
 

  Well, that’s about it for now. Just thought I’d keep my blog fresh. Have a good weekend; good golf, good tennis, or whatever makes you happy. MARVIN Zindler, Eye-Witness News!


  Celebrate my birthday, Gundam!

Super Awesome Update Week || Entry 2 or The End.

  Fonts. I’m still undecided on this junk. I thought I knew which font I wanted for my “default”, but after typing a bunch of papers, I’m sick and tired of it. Also, it’s come to my attention that my font doesn’t show up on other people’s PCs unless they have the font installed. I knew that applied in text-sharing situations, but I thought that web pages showed the text in the style chosen, not in the default boring Arial or something. Why the heck is there even a “default font override” feature on web browsers then? So that’s my question to you. Do you see generic text fonts on my blog entries, or do you see the fonts I use/see? After looking at my page over at Blue’s house, I’m guessing it’s the first selection. Unless you do see the special fonts (which would be better) and Blue’s browser is using the override… A more important question would be: Do you understand anything I just typed? I’m tired.


  On the subject of stuff not going right, I’ve formed a hypothesis: The world is ending. Let’s think about this for a moment. The last few years have been freakish occurrence after freakish occurrence. The 9/11 disaster, the stupid war in Iraq, Bush being re-elected, the horrible tsunamis in the east, record hurricanes, record catastrophic-level hurricanes, mild winters, freakish and severe heat waves, mass-coral bleaching, heightened tension/war in multiple countries around the world, disappearing species, rampant human pollution, the list goes on.

  Of course most of these events have been years in the making, but it all seems to be coming to a head. Before 9/11 who would’ve guessed something like 9/11 would’ve happened? Exactly. We’re America. We’re invincible. We’re the super-est superpower. Blah, blah, blah. That’s all you heard, then BAM! 9/11. Anything’s possible.

  From that came Bush’s war. Seriously. I’m all for supporting our troops, and I love America. But this war is the stupidest piece of poo I’ve seen in a long while. When is Bush going to realize this is a bad idea? Does he really think that constant occupation and death of our soldiers will create peace in Iraq? Does he really think that soldiers from America are promoting peace in Iraq? Why are all the terrorist groups bombing junk? To get us out of there! So what’s the answer? Stay? Come on! This “war” is doing nothing but promoting hostility and the suffering of all the innocent people over there. Which brings me to…

  Bush. We went from a (relative) peaceful nation with a huge surplus and happy citizens living in a country most of the rest of the world respects, or at least considers an equal, to a warring nation with a huge debt and pissed off (or confused) citizens living in a country most of the rest of the world despises, or at least considers foolish. Name one positive thing Bush has accomplished. Catching Sadaam? Granted. But look at the price we and the Middle East are paying for it. His original goal was Osama, remember? What happened to the whole “bring justice to those who were responsible for 9/11” shtick he was spouting? Down the toilet so he could follow daddy’s vendetta against Sadaam. Then there are the blatant problems internally with the country he’s just pretending don’t exist. Come on! You’re the leader of America. You’re probably in the most influential spot a man can hold on Earth, and no one respects you! Number one clue you’re doing something wrong.

  Now to natural disasters. The terrible tsunami during Christmas years ago. And since then, there have been like 3 or 4 of what I consider “major” tsunamis in the same region. Of course tsunamis aren’t a new occurrence, but the frequency of the disasters seems to be increasing by a huge amount lately.

  Hurricanes or typhoons too. We had a record number of hurricanes last year AND a record number of major hurricanes. The rest of the world wasn’t spared either. There was a hurricane that reached Europe for the first time in decades. Australia had a horrible catastrophic-level hurricane last season, the Asian nations had quite a few major typhoons, and already the US is seeing their first storms this early in the season. Even if we are in a cycle of increased frequency, I can’t believe this is “normal”.

  And this past winter, on a global scale, was one of the mildest on record. I always joke about Houston only getting one week of “real” Winter, but this past year that really was all we got. 6 days of sub-60’s winter. And if you check the records of other places around the world you’ll see they also shared the cold weather deficit.

  Now in the summer seasons here in the northern hemisphere, countries are having record-high temperatures that are sustained for more than a week. Heat waves are one thing, months-long (much) higher-than-average weather is another. And it’s just not normal to me. I seriously can’t remember being as hot as I am now when I was a kid playing in my back yard. It got hot, but not this hot. And again, this is on a global scale. Other countries around the world are experiencing the same thing.

  Another environmental sign of something happening is the mass-bleaching of the coral around the world. It is not uncommon for sections of a coral reef to bleach due to some imbalance in the system of the region. If you look around, though, you’ll find that all over the world, whole reefs are bleaching completely in time-frames as short as weeks, and worse of all, they aren’t recovering. Some scientists estimate a complete loss of coral reefs in the next 10-20 years. That just doesn’t seem possible that we could loose all coral reefs in just around 50 years (total).

  Then there are other smaller occurrences. Freak volcano eruptions, the melting of the polar ice caps, earthquakes, warring countries, a general sense of hate-thy-neighbor, the popularization of conflict and scandal, general apathy toward all of these events, I could go on and on and turn this entry into a book; everything just seems to be stacking up. I think I could even handle it if one or two of these things were happening. But just in the short span of my life (22 years) all of this has started, escalated, or developed parallel to each other all at the same time. It just seems hard to explain it all away with the “coincidence” plea. I really don’t think this is something to be ignored.


  I can even go into the realm of the supernatural. First let me say that this isn’t exactly a field I put much belief in…

  I’ve heard from at least 10 different people in at least 10 different situations from these psychics, or conduits, or whatever they want to be called that the fabric between this world and the next is weakening. I don’t believe in the “I see dead people” side of spirits. I believe there are spirits and some choose to watch over us, or try and hinder us, but I’m not one to buy into the “ghosts walk among us” theory. Yet in light of present situations, and the odd amount of these “ghost sightings” I’ve come across in the news, or television, or radio, I’m starting to think maybe this is just another facet in the whole picture; one I’m not seeing. And (at the risk of debunking this entry’s so-far fact-based, scientifically-sound theory) I’d like to include this possibility in my hypothesis.

 

  All I’m trying to get across is things seem to all be happening quickly, together, and now; and I really think that everyone is overlooking or ignoring the fact that all of this happening isn’t normal.

  I quote one of my favorite… quotes… from Dante’s Peak (roughly): “If you place a frog in boiling water, it’ll jump out immediately; but if you place the same frog in cool water and slowly heat it to boiling, it will just sit there and boil to death.” It can’t sense the gradual change in temperature of the water, so it is completely oblivious to the fact that it’s boiling. I think that we (as in humanity) are kind of like the frog in this situation. All of these things are happening, and have been building over these past few years, that we just aren’t putting the pieces together.

  Maybe I’m just tired and in one of my over-analyze-ation moods right now, but the situation of the world just isn’t sitting right with me. If you’re actually interested in the “natural” aspects of all this, check your local listings on the Discovery Channel for Global Warming: What You Need to Know. And below is a long, boring speech from a scientist (I actually love watching stuff like this though) about Climate Change.


Put things in perspective, Gundam!

Back from the Dead or Super Awesome Update Week || Entry 1

Here I am. Back from the great beyond. OK, so I wasn’t really dead, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve even looked at my page, much less post anything/change anything/do anything related to it. I don’t really know why I haven’t updated in so long, I just haven’t. Between my kabillion® pictures I’m working on turning into wallpapers, various video games I need to play, anime I still need to catch up with, and any other miscellaneous tasks I’ve been up to, I just haven’t found the time to sit down and type up an entry.

Fret not, for I am determined to make up for it with 4 posts coming this week, and a renewed determination to re-stick with my “one entry a week” goal I used to keep up with.

And while we’re on the subject, I’m going to check out everyone else’s page and drop some comments too. This whole 360 thing has been sitting on the back burner too long. Now, for the actual post…


That video is an outtake from the Rurouni Kenshin DVDs from the English voice actors (obviously) that I find quite hilarious. I’ve even made it my new blast. Also, in my new blast, I decided to change my song to Wheel of Fortune from the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest soundtrack.

Speaking of pirates, I’ve been thinking about doing a My Love For… Pirates entry, but there just isn’t enough pirate stuff out there to justify such a post. But I do love pirates. And now that I think about it, Pirates of the Caribbean is really the only pirate-related anything that quenches my thirst in that category. I’ve seen all the pirate/ swashbuckling movies out there (that I know of at least) from the start of film as we know it until recent times, and the only movie that comes close to the coolness of what I see pirates as are the PotC movies. Most older pirate movies have a bunch of brightly colored pirates singing happily on a boat… not very pirate like.

The real life of a pirate, or any sailor, was hard. Long trips, horrible conditions, horrible food, disease, mutiny, pirates (yeah I know), etc. What hooks me with these movies is the romantic scope. There’s fantasy (that’s fantasy based in seafaring folklore), wonderfully stylized characters, awesome crazy battles, treasure, double-crosses, and this grand sense of freedom and adventure. And up until now, there wasn’t anything that captured that feeling. Now all I need is an epic pirate-based video game to play…

If you haven’t figured it out, I’ve seen the new Pirates movie… 3 times. It wasn’t my plan initially to see it so much, but 3 people (or groups of people) approached me separately, and at different dates with an invite/idea we should go see the movie. So I did all 3 times. If you haven’t seen it, I’d highly recommend you do, unless you absolutely hate pirates. It has a great story (for a fantasy-pirate movie), great characters (especially Johnny Depp’s Cap’n Jack Sparrow, and Not including Orlando Bloom’s character… mostly), and awesome action. So go on!

I’ve also seen A Scanner Darkly. If it’s out in your area, give this one a look too. It’s a great “original” movie. I haven’t seen anything quite like it before, and on top of that, the story is good. You’ll just have to stomach Keanu Reeve’s acting.

Other than those, there really isn’t any goodness in theaters now. Spider-Man 3 is coming out next year, and that series can’t do wrong. I’ve also recently seen the TMNT teaser trailer. Turtles was one of my favorite cartoons/movies when I was a kid, and this trailer actually makes me excited to see a fourth movie starring the turtles. It’s CG, but the art design and overall style looks super cool. I’ll just have to kidnap a 10 year old to go see it.

Anime: let’s see…

Ergo Proxy is still my favorite of the season. Watch or die!

One of my most anticipated series is finally airing, and coming out fansubbed. Glass no Kantai. I’ve downloaded the first two episodes, and plan on watching them just after I finish up here. GONZO. Epic space opera. GONZO. ‘Nuff said.

Ah! My Goddess, Blood+ and Mushi-shi are all in their “second season”, and still good.

I have all the Soul Links, but they’ve been put at the back of the list since a friend of mine says it doesn’t really end well. No bother, I have like 20 series I’m watching so I can afford to prioritize a bit.

Manga:
ROD: Read or Die Vol. 3 is in stores now!! Get it.


Video games:
Playing Prey now. Pretty good game. It isn’t revolutionary like it said it would be, but it definitely is unique. I’m just sick of that “crazy sci-fi” design that is prevalent in all Doom3Engine-based games.

I also recently picked up Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked for the PS2. It really carries the spirit of the series over into game format, and the gameplay is stylized in such a cool way. I’m really happy I too the leap and bought it, even though I try to stay away from adaptations of series/movies to games (and vice versa).

My Dreamcast still has life left in it. I got a light gun and House of the Dead 2 a few weeks back from off of e-Bay, so I had to play that too.

I’m still waiting on the Eureka Seven game to be released (another adaptation I’m liking), Xenosaga III is coming out in August in Japan and November here in the States, Half-Life 2: Episode 2 is out in December (the new trailer is great), and Portal- a game from VALVe that will ship with Ep.2 looks amazing. I don’t think I’ve been as excited as I am to play a puzzle game. Check out the trailer below.

Hop on Steam, or go to your favorite game-news-site to grab a higher-res copy and marvel at the awesome new effects the Source engine will be getting.

I’ve also “subscribed” to Megami Magazine, and my first issue should be arriving next week sometime. Can’t wait! I’ve always wanted to subscribe to it, and now I did. W00t. *sigh* How stupid. No one uses 1337 anymore. But it is funny watching that commercial for parents. It goes something like this:

(shown on an “IM screen”)

Cool Parent: Do you know the latest lingo your kids are using? Like “pos”?

ParentWithKids: No? What does “pos” mean?

Cool Parent: It means “parent over shoulder”. It is used to warn friends that a parent is in the room.

ParentWithKids: Wow, thanks “Cool Parent”! I didn’t know that.


Bwah Ha Ha Ha! How stupid! First, “pos” and all that IM junk ISN’T leet-speak. Secondly, if your kid isn’t stupid, he/she won’t put something that obvious on screen. Come on! I suppose something like this is inevitable, after that whole “leet in the news” thing that was going around. Humans… Oh, and doesn’t “pos” mean something else already? Yeah, I thought so.


Well, that’s enough for now. You’ll be seeing a new post either tomorrow or Wednesday. I’m going to leave you with my most recent wallpaper creation. It’s an Angel Djibril (read my “angel porn” entry) wallpaper I made after finding this awesome scan of either the box-art or some manga cover (which I don’t think exists, which is why I think it’s box-art) and I couldn’t wait to get it on my desktop.

Return to 360 triumphantly propelled by the burning force of your spirit, Gundam!

Cool Harry or My Kind of Ending

The Final Harry Potter Scene ||

So I found out that at least two people die in the last Harry Potter. Not that I’ve read the books, cause I haven’t; and not that I really care what happens, BUT I’ve seen the movies and I’ve been told what happens in the books so far so I decided I’d add in my two cents on the last events of Harry Potter (and make it a lot better!):


About half way through the book Harry and Hermione confess their love for each other, finally. Stuff happens, you think Voldemort is vanquished then: there’s some dramatic love scene (or “kissing” scene if they’re too young) in Harry’s dorm room as they share a moment of complete happiness. Just afterward, Voldemort bursts in via magical teleportation and rips Hermione from Harry’s hands. He offers an ultimatum to Harry: “Find me and finish our battle one-on-one and I’ll spare your young love’s life.” Voldemort disappears in a puff of magical smoke leaving Harry alone in the dorm tower.

He immediately teams up with Ron and Dumbledorf to scry Voldemort’s location. The gather junk and beat minions. Just after they cast the spell to find Voldemort, Harry gets a vision from him via mental magic: Voldemort is gripping Hermione by her hair and he says, “too late Potter!” then magically slits her throat. He loosens his grip on her hair and she slumps to the ground, slow-motion.

“No! Voldemort! What have you done?!” Harry cries out in utter desperation.

“I was getting bored waiting for you Harry. You know, without your precious girlfriend by your side you’re useless. It really makes me wonder how you withstood my ultimate curse. Oh well… the fun’s over. You’re no threat to me. Tootles”, he replies before giving an evil laugh.

“Voldemort!! I’ll never forgive you for this!”, Harry screams into the sky, his hands clenched into fists. Ron and Dumbledorf look toward Harry.

Dumbledorf cautions, “Harry, you must calm down. The depths of your power haven’t even been discovered.”

“I don’t care about that! I have to destroy Voldemort and extract vengeance on all the horrible things he’s done to me!”, Harry responds with rage filling his voice and mind. His eyes close tightly as magical energy begins to surge from his body. Intense waves of burning energy pour out from him, knocking the two observers back.

Ron looks to his surging friend and exclaims, “Wicked!” Dumbledorf stares dumbfounded as Harry lifts off the now crumbling ground, more intense waves of energy coursing from him. Inside Harry’s mind and spirit a barrier breaks. This barrier has been holding back the true nature of his powers and the true nature of magical energy.

Harry’s eyes open slowly and his gaze turns to his two allies staring in disbelief below him. “I’m going to end this now, once and for all. Voldemort’s is going to pay dearly for this.” His eyes burn with magical energy fueled by hatred.

“No, Harry! You must stop this. The world could suffer from the amount of power you’re attempting to control! Please, it’s too dangerous! We could all die!” Dumbledorf’s pleas fall on deaf ears.

“I don’t care about that anymore. All that matters is killing HIM.”

With those words, Harry gives a hard glare at the wall next to him, and the sheer power now present even in his gaze rips apart the stone, creating a gaping hole he flies through. The air around him sizzles with intense heat as he tears through the sky like a comet. His new abilities grant him the ability to sense other magical creatures and he locks on to Voldemort’s presence immediately. Harry’s course changes almost instantly causing thunder to sound as the very atoms are ignited in assistance to his grim, selfish desires.



“Everything’s working out perfectly, master,” rat-guy (the dude who was a rat, then human and works for Voldemort) assures, spitting and drooling as he talks.

“Are you sure everything will go as planned? Harry has shown odd fortitude against you before,” questions Malphoy’s Father.

“Do you doubt my awesome plan, Malphoy’s Father? I require my servants to be more… trusting than this…” Voldemort replies. “You’ll see Harry dead today. His spirit is crushed. After all, his love is dead,” he adds jokingly.

Just as Voldemort finishes his sentence, they all turn toward a loud, thunderous, earth shaking event approaching them. It’s red-hot energy sears the top of the trees and the clouds swirl and evaporate as the phenomenon passes on it’s course straight for the three onlookers. It lands hard, creating a large crater in the earth. The three antagonists squint in the brilliant red light coming from the crater. As their eyes adjust and the intensity dies down slightly, Voldemort notices first what this occurrence really is.

“Harry Potter!” he exclaims in pure shock.

“Voldemort. I’ve come for your life.” Harry states as he shifts his body, ready to attack.

Voldemort, doubting his own power for a moment begins his expositionary speech detailing his master plan, “I’ve orchestrated this to get you to-“ His words are cut off as Harry furiously interrupts, “I don’t care about any of that! You’re dead!”

Harry lifts from the crater, glowing more from the release of magical energy. He shoots toward Voldemort in a flash, not even giving him a chance to react. Screaming with fierce dedication and anger, Harry pulls his right arm back and straightens out his hand (flat… like a spear). Voldemort’s eyes widen in surprise and fear as Harry thrusts his hand and arm through Voldemort’s neck. Voldemort grabs Harry’s upper arm in a futile attempt to stop him. His fingers sizzle, burning from the sheer power given off by Harry’s rage. The tissue surrounding Harry’s arm lodged in Voldemort’s neck begins to burn away as Harry flashes an utterly evil smile.

Voldemort gargles and coughs, a pitiful attempt to express the pain he is experiencing.

Harry slowly asks, “How does it feel? Does it hurt?” as his smile grows wider. He removes his arm and Voldemort crumples to the ground in a pathetic heap. He stands over his wounded foe, vengeful triumph shining in his darkened eyes.

Rat-Guy musters up the courage to attempt to save his master. But Harry’s gaze is all-seeing. Before Rat-Guy can take a second step, Harry is right next to him. Rat-Guy’s eyes shift to his side as Harry’s hand grips Rat-Guy’s face. He lifts the squirming, helpless servant into the air and slams him into the ground. A squeal escapes Rat-Guy’s muffled mouth; the last utterance he is ever to make. Harry’s magical force crushes Rat-Guy’s face into the ground, leaving the bloated, dirty body behind.

Voldemort is healing slowly.

“Do not interfere with this, you worthless creature,” Harry says to the remains of Rat-Guy.

Malphoy’s Father takes this “opportunity” to attack. He draws his wand and points… at nothing. Harry is no longer where he was.

“Behind you, fool.” Malphoy’s Father hears. He immediately spins around to see Harry grinning at him. His hand shoots out to cast a spell from the wand, but Harry already has his arm in his grasp. He bends it back until it snaps. Malphoy’s Father screams in pain and falls to his knees.

“Please Harry, have mercy on me. I am only a pawn in all of this after all. You’re a good person. You wouldn’t harm one such as me… would you?”

“Crawl away in shame and leave me to my vengeance. I only care about him. Make sure we never meet again.”

“Of course Mr. Potter.” Malphoy’s Father crawls away as Harry turns his back. Malphoy’s Father then slowly pulls a second wand from his coat.

“You fool!” Harry growls. Malphoy’s Father’s last ditch effort misses due to Harry’s great speed. Harry lands next to Malphoy’s Father, holds his hand palm-side facing Malphoy’s Father and unleashes a magical blast of heat. Malphoy’s Father screams in utter agony as his body is burned to a crisp. Harry turns away from the smoldering heap, his power surging even more.

The very Earth begins to shake around Harry, the trees bending from the waves of energy pouring out of him. Voldemort, now healed, stands again. “Well, well, well… I never would’ve though you’d discover the depths of a wizard’s power. I guess that will make my victory all the more satisfying.” He lifts his wand and unleashes a blast of magical energy.

“Useless”, Harry states. He swats the bolt of energy away as if it were a fly, sending it flying into the air where it explodes. “Don’t you get it? Your life is over now Voldemort. You killed her. You have no other purpose than to die.” He speeds to Voldemort, grabbing his robes. Voldemort points his wand at Harry just to have it splintered into countless pieces by Harry’s vengeful gaze. Harry then tosses Voldemort high into the sky. He helplessly flails in the air, screaming.

Harry lifts his hands to the sky and, screaming with determination, begins pulling all of the magical energy he can muster into him. Streaming magical energy enters Harry’s body. The ground quakes stronger beneath the incredible power being gathered. The trees and rocks near him explode into dust, unable to maintain cohesive shape from the sheer force exuding from the young man.

Harry’s eyes open once again, and he looks to the sky, focusing on the now-falling Voldemort.

“This is the moment. The moment YOU DIE!!!” A huge beam of magical energy bursts forth from Harry’s outstretched arms, enveloping Voldemort as it rips through the sky. *Shot of the Earth from space as a beam of red energy leaves it’s surface and flies into infinity*

“Oh No!!!!!” Voldemort cries as the very atoms that compose his body begin to disintegrate. In a final scene of bloody carnage, his body explodes bit by bit. Fingernails, fingers, hands, arms. Toes, feet, legs. His screams become inaudible as the remaining body bursts, burning away to nothingness.

Harry ends the assault and falls to his knees, screaming in rage and sadness. Dumbledorf arrives shortly after the battle and tries to calm Harry down.

“Please Harry, it’s over now! You must focus and attempt to control the great and terrible power you are emitting! The world is in danger! Harry please!”

“I told you, I don’t care about anything. My reason for living is gone now. What hope is there for the world now?”

“Harry! Stop being so selfish! There are other things in this world. They do not deserve to die!”

Ron comes running, slowly appearing from his climb up the hill. “Harry! Don’t do this! Wait!”

“Stay away Ron!” The Earth cracks and crumbles outward from Harry. The sky has begun to swirl.

“Harry! There’s a reason to live. Hermione isn’t dead!”, Ron exclaims. Just then Hermione begins to appear from behind Ron.

Harry’s eyes widen and tear up. “Hermione? But… you were…”

“No Harry! I’m ok. It was all a clever trick by Voldemort. He hoped you’d be crushed if you though I was dead.”

“Oh, Hermione. I’m so relieved.. I thought- Ahhhhh!” Harry grabs his chest in pain as the magic surges even further, bending from his grasp.

“Harry!” Hermione yells. She starts toward Harry. Ron grabs her wrist, shaking his head “no”. She pulls away and continues toward him. “Harry, please! You must control this! I can’t loose you Harry! Not now!”

“Stay back Hermione!” Harry pleads. Hermione continues, falling onto him and wrapping her arms around his quaking frame.

“No Harry, I won’t leave you! You must control this!”

“Please Hermione! I can’t bear to loose you again! You must leave here!” He falls to his knees, Hermione following, her arms locked around her beloved.

“I love you Harry. I’d do anything for you! If that means my life ends here, so be it.” She closes her eyes and her body begins to glow faintly. Harry’s eyes grow even wider.

“What are you doing Hermione?!”

“Don’t worry, I’m going to help you.” Hermione looks into his eyes as her magical spell draws the excessive energy away from Harry. Harry’s eyes plead with her. Hermione begins to shed tears. “I can help. No matter what, I won’t let anything harm you.”

“No! Please! This is my fault. My rage and pain unlocked this power. I can’t let you pay for it!” He feels the extra magical energy leave his body. A loud shockwave expands and Hermione collapses; Harry catching and cradling her before she hits the ground. “Hermione? Hermione?!”

Hermione’s eyes open weakly. “Are you ok?” Her small hand caresses Harry’s cheek.

“Yes. I’m fine now, thanks to you.” He begins to cry.

“Harry… Harry…. I-“ She starts breathing heavier.

“No! Hermione no! Please don’t leave me! Why? Why was I so blinded by all of this? All it did in the end was hurt the one I truly love. Hermione, don’t go. I couldn’t live in a world without you!”

“I’m sorry Harry…. I can’t hold on… too much…” She coughs. “Harry, live. Live for me. Use this power to help stop anything like Voldemort from happening ever again. Don’t let others feel the pain you feel now.”

“NO! I can’t do it without you! How can I live in a world without you by my side?”

Hermione smiles slightly. “Silly, clueless wizard… Don’t you know that if you keep me in your heart, I’ll always remain by your side?”

Tears begin to fall more rapidly from Harry’s eyes. “My love. I’ll do as you ask. I swear I will atone for my selfishness and bring honor to your sacrifice.”

“Good. Good. Harry? Harry, I can’t see anymore. Will you send me off with one last kiss? Harry?”

“Anything you ask…” Harry kisses Hermione tenderly. Her smile widens and a single tear falls from her eyes onto the dirt below. She is gone.

Harry shuts his eyes tight, the last few tears squeezing from his eyes and his head turns up to the sky once again; Hermione’s lifeless, fragile body cradled lovingly in Harry’s shaking arms.

“Dumbledorf, can’t we revive her?” Ron questions.

“I’m afraid not, my child. Her heart and soul absorbed the raging and vengeful energy Harry was loosing control of. Even if we heal her physical body, there is nothing we can do about her spirit.”

“Wicked…” Ron quietly adds.

Harry sets down Hermione gently and pulls himself to his feet. “Hey Dumbledorf, could you take care of everything here?” Harry turns his head to the side waiting for a response.

“Of course, Harry.”

“Good… Hey Ron, take care of yourself.” Harry lifts into the air and takes one last look at his fallen love, then speeds off into the sky to fulfill his promise.


The End

Make Harry Potter cooler, Gundam!


[Edit] (A comment I added after the post): Thanks for all the kind comments. I've recently learned that Dumbledork is dead in the last book, so my story has even more plot holes... Want an explaination?

Umm.... he was... brought back.... yeah... by... Snape... who felt bad afterward...

There. All better!

But seriously, this is a joke post and all, but I think I'd actually be interested in HP if Harry The Hero was more "realistic". He's like Superman; super perfect law abiding help-however-I-can heroism that is completely BORING! I want him to make a mistake. I want him to fall. That will make the books and his character much more real. He's just a kid afterall. How can he constantly choose the right path? Everyone makes mistakes.

My Love For Half-Life... | [Part 2]

I first heard about Half-Life 2 online; news from the E3 2003 show. Instantly I was attached. Every article, picture, video, or anything else even closely relating to the new Half-Life I had to experience. The 5 or 6 main gameplay videos saw extensive use on my hard drive. I must’ve watched them each 100 times. I was there when it was “going to be released” in 2003. Money in hand, ready for the day I could go to the store and purchase it, I was crushed when the delay was announced. But it was only a few more months, right? Wrong. Another delay (thanks to stupid hackers) meant it wouldn’t be seen in stores until November 16, 2004. Luckily things went “smoothly” after and it arrived at my local Best Buy. I was there that very day and picked up my copy, the one with Alyx on the cover. One more roadblock reared its ugly head. You had to have the internet to play the game. At that time I was between ISPs (read: mooching off of free AOL trials for about a year), so I had to re-register, get my internet back, and get to installing.

As if fate was toying with me, after installing the game, it wouldn’t start up. Turns out I had to install CS:S to have a few critical files that allowed the Source engine to run. Uninstall, reinstall. It worked! I unplugged my phones, turned off the lights, locked all my doors (I do that anyway…), and prepared for the next ride of my life.

After 6 years, Half-Life was back! A brand new engine, the Source engine, with VALVe’s Havok Physics Engine integrated perfectly, and a host of graphical and logistical improvements. Add in the continuation of the Half-Life story and a host of varied combat and you have another hit on your hands. There is much speculation and debate over the “better” Half-Life game. I love them equally. Half-Life 2 is just a continuation with a different feel.



"Rise and shine, Mr. Freeman. Rise and shine. Not that I wish to imply you have been sleeping on the job. No one is more deserving of a rest. And all the effort in the world would have gone to waste until... well, let's just say your hour has come again. The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world. So, wake up, Mr. Freeman. Wake up and smell the ashes."

And wake up you did. On a train headed to City 17. The art design of Half-Life 2, from the very first frame, was some of the most amazing I’ve ever seen from an anything. The city felt real. The world around me was in disrepair, crumbling ever so slightly. The oppressive nature of the city was as thick as pea soup. You could almost feel it. As I stepped off the short homage to the first game (train ride from HL2= tram ride from HL1), I was in awe. The textures looked great. Crumbling walls, tiled flooring, bloodstained interrogation rooms; they all gave the surroundings an ominous feel. I stood in the main waiting area of the train station at the beginning of the game, mouth agape, and took in the amazing sights and sounds. Dr. Breen’s voice betrayed his message of positive change. People were scattered about, speaking of tainted water, transportational mishaps, and the overly-oppressive Metro Cops that wasted no time making their presence painfully obvious. Sunlight filtered through the dust laden air. It was stunning. I actually felt uneasy while playing. Wondering what I was going to do, I headed into a checkpoint…

The beginning of the game was a wonderful “calm before the storm” moment. You walked around the city, stumbling around roadblocks, narrowly escaping detainment more than once. Things just seemed sad. All these people left without hope. This quaint city in a state of despair. Metro Cops constantly arresting or beating someone. Giant Stalkers patrolling off-limits areas. Floating scanners taking pictures of everything. What kind of world did I enter?

You quickly find yourself on the run from the Combine. Almost escaping, you’re knocked out after falling through some stairs and coming face to face with a shock stick. In a weird way, it was worth it because you were saved by Alyx. Of all the amazing characters in Half-Life 2, she is the greatest. And not just because she’s a hot girl either. More on this later. Half-Life’s Source engine (and the great art designers at VALVe) gives birth to some of the most lifelike characters in a video game. The expressions are subtle and realistic, the models are perfect, the textures detailed, and the voice actors do such a wonderful job. When you’re around them, it’s like you’re looking at a real person. They mind their space, face you no matter where you happen to be, they joke with each other, the lips synch perfectly with the audio, and they interact with each other flawlessly. I always laugh at the in-game scenes when two characters are supposed to physically interact. It just looks clunky no matter how good the rest of the game is. But in Half-Life 2 this is one of the best parts of watching these scripted sequences. When the sequence is over it feels like an actual event, interaction with other “people” instead of “just another cut-scene. And of course you never leave your first person perspective so the immersion is all the more… well, immersive.



This game is much more than just a standard first person shooter. You never get the chance to fall into a gameplay rut. You start off in classic run-and-gun fashion. Once you’re comfortable with that, you head down the polluted canals of City 17 on a airboat. A little later you’re forced into an abandoned and zombie infested town with a half-crazy priest guiding you. Then you’re speeding along a coastal highway in your buggy. You infiltrate a heavily fortified prison with giant bugs as your allies. You team up with Alyx to free her father. City 17 citizens rally behind you and start an all out rebellion. And finally you infiltrate the monolithic Citadel. The whole game gives so many different styles of play and interaction. Each style on its own is great, but together they make an incredibly fulfilling game. It’s hard to believe they packed so much into one little package. Some of my favorite moments are fighting the Stalkers and Gunships. There’s nothing like taking down a huge, powerful machine with a rocket launcher. And being chased by one is just as exciting. It’s pretty hectic when a 50 foot tall Strider bends down and follows you into a tunnel (where you thought you’d be safe), or when you and a group of rebels go head on with a squad of them. Good times.

But the most amazing part of Half-Life 2? The realistic physics and the gravity gun.

You get your hands on the Zero-Point Energy Field Manipulator about 1/3 through the game. From that point on, everything changes. If you can pick it up, it is a weapon. Things break, tumble, and explode realistically. Everything in the game has a true-to-life weight. I spent half-an hour just tossing around a paint can. It’s that fun. Add in cool physics puzzles, and what an amazing feature. At one point you are forced to navigate a sandy coastal area. Problem is, the Ant Lions (giant bugs a la Starship Troopers) are very protective of their land so you can’t step on the sand lest you want a horde of them attacking you. So you have to carry around doors or planks of wood to navigate on top of the various rocks or buildings across the sand to safety. It’s a physics puzzle quietly integrated with the game, and it’s one of my favorite moments. There are many physics moments that are just amazing throughout the game. “Like you don’t see enough physics in real life?” Sure, but I can guarantee you’ve never seen anything like this in a game before.

Throughout you are given bits of story, and like the first Half-Life, it’s up to you how much you want to experience. From the graffiti on the walls, to the Breen-casts, radio chatter, citizen exposition, and those G-Man sightings, there’s a host of new information to discover throughout. The plot remains as mysterious as ever, right up until the cliffhanger ending. This is one of those games that really makes you think, story-wise. I love a mystery. Scouring every nook and cranny for another small clue. Piecing them all together. The speculation.

This is the level of immersion and entertainment a video game can achieve. An amazingly complex story, robust and varied gameplay, wonderful looking graphics, first class virtual actors and actresses, physics that are true to life, and more to come!

The Case of the MIssing Post or Videos. VIDEOS!

Look around. Something missing here? YES! Well Yahoo360, where’s my “part 2” post? I posted it last Wednesday and now? *sigh* I was telling… I mean asking Blue to comment on my post and she informed me it isn’t here. *double sigh* Why didn’t anyone tell me about this? *triple sigh* Well, back to typing it AGAIN just so I can post it AGAIN and hopefully it will stay this time.

Maybe this is a good thing. Since 360 now hosts video… or at least allows imbedding video in blogs, I can post some vid captures of my gaming-ness in HL2 (and other games, coming soon) now. Pics are ok… if you’re a sucka! Video baby! Well, I’ll still use pics too… Still kinda worried about the copyright thing. I’m guessing if you use it “responsibly” there won’t be trouble. ‘Cause I don’t want to cause trouble, I just want to share what I like.

Today is father’s day. Happy Father’s Day all you fathers out there who are reading this. Are there even any fathers reading this? Seriously. Post a comment if you’re a father and you’re reading this. I don’t think my page’s demographic includes fathers. I’m speaking in a very loose, general context, just to let you know.

My favorite part about this whole upgrade (still in beta though…) is the custom themes. I happened to be up during the changeover so I was Photoshopping early in the morning getting my Kenshin ready. Problem is, I like changing stuff pretty often. I’ve been through what, 6 avatars since I started this page? Hopefully I can stick with this for now. I rather like it…

MP3 in blasts? Yes, please. A friend of mine was talking about how it would be great if you could include music in your page. Two hours later, BAM! Creepy, huh? I’m glad I picked 360 as my main journal page… now.



Hmm, what else… anime? Ergo Proxy has me. It’s probably my favorite new anime right now. I’m dying to watch the next one. Subbers are falling a little behind. I think it’s up to 16 or something in Japan. Let’s move it guys! A certain someone has me watching Strawberry Panic! In the interim. It’s actually interesting. At first I thought it was a “yuri-anime-that-is-being-yuri-to-be-cool”. Now, as of episode 6 at least, I’m enjoying it. Pretty funny too. I’ve been caught laughing out loud in public watching this one (on my iPod). So far there isn’t a “storyline.” It’s either going to be a slice-of-life anime or it’s just slow in picking up (like a lot of anime).

I’ve also re-downloaded Mai-HiME… again… to watch… again. A month or two ago, the first episode came with my Newtype and I foolishly watched it. That just left me longing for more HiME action. Now as I push aside all the new anime to watch the “old” I’m falling behind again. Well, except for Ergo that is… But come on! Who can resist a bunch of cool ladies with cool powers? Not to mention the comedy. Hey, at least I haven’t started on Eureka Seven all over again, and that’s hard for me because its on every week!

Kurau is great. It’s an “old” series but for some reason it’s on my mind. Fate/Stay Night STILL going on. When you get to the end of a series the anticipation level gets higher and higher. I’m pretty sure the final is out now, but I haven’t downloaded it yet. Can’t wait.



Time to cut this short. It’s Father’s Day and I’m cooking. Gotta get started now! Guess I’ll just RE-start on Part Two to my previous post tonight. Oh, and I LOVE the song in my blast. Anyone have a translation? Park Ki Young – Butterfly. *crosses fingers*

Guard my freakin’ posts, Gundam!

My Love For... | Half-Life [Part One]

  It was 1998 and I’ve had my very first computer for almost half of a year. A PC game was released from a small 64 man development team in Washington. The team was VALVe and the game was Half-Life. It immediately became my favorite game on the PC and quickly rose the ladder of personal popularity to the position it now sits proudly: My favorite game series of all time. But I should start at the beginning…

 

  Please turn your Gamers Republic Issue 4, September ’98 to page 48. Never heard of that magazine? Me either. The only real reason I bought it was to get the scoop on the soon-to-be-released Dreamcast. What I discovered in those pages would open my eyes to how great PC gaming can be. This magazine gave me my first encounter with Half-Life. It showcased a game with revolutionary graphical enhancements, such as individual color pallets per texture (instead of the per-map pallets common of the era), skeletal animation system with texture wrapping (drastically cutting back on RAM usage and allowing “realistic” animation), and an advanced decal system (allowing textures to be altered in real time, i.e. blood splatter or bullet holes). With that came advanced AI. The enemies communicated, worked together, *gasp* ran away from grenades and hid from your attacks. Add to that a wonderful sci-fi setting and beautiful level/art design and you have one of the most revolutionary games in recent history. Name a game nowadays that doesn’t employ a decal system. And texture warping; how many games feature talking characters where their mouths move? All of this started with Half-Life.

  But enough of the techno mumbo jumbo, what really makes me love Half-Life is the gameplay and story. I should stop here and warn of future spoilers. Don’t read on if you haven’t played Half-Life or Half-Life 2, you plan on it, and you don’t want the story ruined.

  The first Half-Life begins on a tram. You are Gordon Freeman, a recent MIT graduate who was recruited by the Black Mesa Research Facility to join their Anomalous Materials division. From the moment the game starts you are Gordon Freeman and you stay that way. There are no cut-scenes. You know only what Gordon knows. As you ride the tram, which is quite long (around 5 minutes), you get a glimpse of the giant facility you now work in. The opening sequence carries across the fact you are just an innocent scientist going to work. As you arrive at your stop, you are greeted by a security guard who escorts you to the entrance to the division you work in. You enter, get properly dressed (in the iconic HEV suit) and head down to the test chamber. Soon after the experiment begins it goes horribly wrong, opening portals to a strange world and sending the Black Mesa facility into a state of disarray and chaos. Your goal, then, is to make it out and send for help. What follows is one of the most intense and amazing game experiences I’ve ever had.

  This is a first person shooter. What will ultimately decide the game’s worth then, is the gameplay. From the standard shotgun and submachine gun, to the iconic crowbar, Half-Life covered every weapon category and then some. I’ll never forget the first time I got my hands on the gauss gun, a sort of laser gun still in developmental stage. That is probably my favorite weapon in the whole game. The game also dished out a wide variety of enemies ready to take you out if you didn’t first. From the aliens of Xen, to the human Marines and Secret-Ops femme fatales, you were constantly in danger. The action was pretty much non-stop all the way through. You’d get a break in the action every now and then, usually when important story elements were coming into play, but by and large you were always in danger. I remember in the beginning parts of the game, the Office Complex chapter, when you first were accosted by groups of the Vortigaunts, lightning-creating alien enemies. They’d teleport in from different angles, and I’d dodge their attacks while returning fire with my newly found shotgun. With the tight spaces of an office complex, there was only so much space to maneuver. You’d escape from the hall into a room just to have another pop out of the corner. Throughout the game, you had to stay on your toes. As you progressed, the spaces opened up, only to produce even tougher enemies.

  The game featured revolutionary artificial intelligence. At the time most enemies in FPS games ran around randomly and shot at you. Not here. The “Hazardous Environment Combat Unit”, a special division of the Marines infiltrated the facility after the accident. Their mission was to eliminate the threat and silence any survivors. Fighting them was at the same time challenging and amazing. They talked to each other. They worked together. The flanked you. They ran from your grenades. They laid traps. Never before did a game feature such dynamic enemy AI. The combat was intense. The first time I encountered these guys was just after they murdered a scientist who believed them to be his savior. They spotted me and immediately ran for cover. I threw a grenade to flush them out. They responded by throwing one of their own. I charged in head-first, only to be quickly surrounded and cut down. From that moment on I approached battles with my Marine enemies much more carefully.

  Moreover you were stuck between two warring sides. The invading creatures from the alien planet of Xen and the Marines sent to wipe out everything still alive. This added to the grand feel of the game. It gave the impression that things were happening around you, not just in front of you. At times you’ll hear gunfire in the distance, only to find battles already in progress. You’ll hear radio broadcasts, or PA announcements detailing calamities or victories taking place around you.

  In chapters such as On A Rail, you’d run into battles between the Xen aliens and the Marines, with the victor turning to target you. I thought, “Everything is going to hell around here.” When a game makes you believe you’re part of something bigger, you know it’s good.

  Half-Life provided immersion in spades. You never left the first person view through Gordon’s eyes. From start to finish you were Gordon Freeman. The level design was claustrophobic, linear and easy to navigate, but still made you think you were in a huge, complex facility in the midst of chaos. The story benefited from this type of design. If you sped through the game, you would have merely a base understanding of the plot. Exploration was rewarded, not with cheesy “you found a secret” messages, but with pieces to a complex story. One of the most notable mysteries to Half-Life is the one referred to as G-Man. You will see him (if you’re looking) many times throughout the facility. Conversing with others or observing, assisting, even hindering you on your way to find an exit. Then there were the scientists that told you what they know, helped guide you, or followed you. Security guards did the same. All these people you found along your way had tiny bits of the story. The PA announcements or radio chatter on your fallen Marine enemies often shed light on what was happening around you. There are messages written on blackboards, whiteboards, or even in blood that provided another piece to the mysterious puzzle of Half-Life. It all made you feel like you were this character, this one small character, who was unlucky enough to get caught up in the catastrophe. You felt uneasy, not knowing. You felt human. Rarely does a game provide this type of immersion. It wasn’t like watching a sci-fi movie; it was like you were in the sci-fi movie. That just made it all the more interesting. It gave your mission urgency; you had a reason to reach your goal other than to “beat the game.”

  The music was few and far between, but seemed to “know” when to play. It was mysterious techno-grunge, it fit the atmosphere perfectly. And when you heard it, you knew something amazing was going to happen, or something terrible awaited you around the corner, or a new facet to the universe was about to reveal itself. Such a subtle integration seems like it will be overlooked, or missed entirely but you didn’t miss it and it added to the atmosphere in all the right ways. In contrast, the mostly music-less game added to the immersion. Every shotgun blast, machine-gun bullet fired, explosion or yell for help was heard clearly. It felt real, not like a Hollywood movie with all the orchestration, but a surreal newscast from a warring nation where everything is loud and intense. Again, you felt like you were there, you were Gordon.

  Half-Life is the best selling FPS PC game ever. It has been awarded over 50 “Game of the Year” awards. I’ve played it at least 50 times through, and even though I know every nook and cranny I’m still entertained each and every time. This is part of the reason why I love Half-Life.

  Part Two coming soon...

"Bring on the New." or "Filling the Gap."

 

This isn’t going to be a long entry. I’ve failed my “one post a week minimum” goal, but I have a good reason. Busyness is me. I have a billion games to play, just-purchased movies I’m watching on my new TV, a graduation I missed, my lovely Master Replicas Mace Windu Force FX Lightsaber,

Image

a digital ton of anime on my PC I’m catching up on, and today…. Half-Life 2: Episode 1. Review to come… or better yet:

I’m introducing a new segment in my online journal here. It’s called:

“My love for: (insert subject name)”

Basically it’s a post that will be a fanboy-raving post on the many various things I love. Possible entries? Half-Life (ß Already writing it), Hilary Haag (ß already writing it… in my mind), anime, musical groups/bands, movie genres, political views, chicken, beliefs, morals, types of people.

I’m even thinking of doing the antithesis to this new segment. Maybe calling it: “You know what burns me up?” or “My distaste for: (insert subject name)” or “Why (insert subject name) is stupid.” OK, the name is still a work in progress.

Why create a new segment? Why call it a segment? Well, it seems my entries are either anime reviews or “what I’m doing” updates. I want to put more of “me” out there, and I love talking about things I love. So the perfect segment to do is My Love For… . I call it a segment because I can’t think of a better term. I have the review segments, the “what I’m doing” segments, and now the “My Love For…” segments.

Why am I posting this explanation? To fill the posting gap until I finish my “My Love For: Half-Life” post.

 

Bring on the new, Gundam!

Rurouni Kenshin

  When I was a young lad coming home from school, turning on the TV, I’d watch a little programming block called Toonami. On Toonami one day was a show called Rurouni Kenshin, and it quickly became one of the first anime series that pulled me in. It is still one of my favorite series, and Kenshin Himura is one of my favorite characters. Unlike Dragon Ball Z which I now despise, and other anime in this genre, Kenshin is one of the few straight “battle-shounen” (my own term for anime in this genre) anime I like. This review is specifically for the TV show; but I won’t hesitate to suggest the two OVA, the manga (which actually finishes the story), and even the movie.

  It was hard for me to write this review, since it is a battle-shounen anime at its core, and fundamentally lacks the proper pacing a less battle-oriented genre would allow. On top of that, this series is very close to my heart; it was one of the first anime I watched and loved, and made me love anime.

Image

 

Story and Characters || 8 | 10

  Anime of this genre and popularity level aren’t known for a great story. Thankfully Rurouni Kenshin does a pretty good job creating an interesting universe equally historically accurate and fictionally robust. The series starts ten years into the Meiji era of Japan in Tokyo. A young lady named Kaoru Kamiya is out for the hitokiri battousai who is slandering her sword style. She spots a wanderer fitting the description and attacks. Thus is the beginning of Rurouni Kenshin. Everything sans the actual story and (most of) the characters are historically accurate, and provide a wonderful backdrop to the events in Rurouni Kenshin.

  Kenshin Himura is a wanderer with a dark past. He was the hitokiri battousai, a manslayer who helped bring about the Meiji era with his deadly skills. Just as the final battle was won, he disappeared. Ten years later, he has reappeared, with a vow to help as many people as he can to atone for his bloody past. He meets Kaoru one day on his journey and is pulled into her life. After helping her, he becomes a boarder in her dojo.

  They recruit an apprentice to the dojo’s Kamiya Kasshin Ryu in Yahiko Myoujin, the descendant of a long line of honorable samurai warriors. He has a strong spirit and pride in spades, but lacks the experience he so desires. Not too long after that Kenshin comes face to face with fighter-for-hire Zanza, whose real name is Sanouske Sagara. These four characters make up the central group in Kenshin. There are quite a few more significant characters, but I don’t want to give away too much of the story. All of the characters are actually well-developed, and throughout the series are developed further through the trials of their various adventures. Everyone has a past and a purpose, even the villains. This gives a reason to all the battles in the series.

  The battles themselves are great. They substitute mindless flash for a more methodical approach. Both combatants are at a war of will and strategy as well as by the blade with each other. Kenshin’s battles also include him trying to avoid the outcome and convince the enemy to simply consider the situation. The battles contain the height of the drama in the series, and often get rather intense.

  It’s hard to describe the story. It essentially revolves around Kenshin and company’s various battles with enemies. One of the biggest reasons I liked this anime so much is their interesting take on fighting. For an anime that revolves around battles, the main character has sworn never to take a life again. He believes, or rather hopes for peace and has committed himself to helping stop violence and oppression of innocent people however he can. It is at the same time heavy-handed, dramatic, naive, and comical. With each battle Kenshin gets closer to becoming the manslayer he has left behind, while at the same time is one step closer to his redemption. When not in battle the atmosphere is lighter and more comical. Kenshin’s inner innocence, or as some would call it, his inner simpleton surfaces, making him seem almost like a child. But that only masks a maturity and complexity of a hardened warrior. His pacifistic beliefs are constantly being put to the test as he comes face to face with more and more powerful enemies. And those enemy’s beliefs, although valid in a way, are tested and questioned by Kenshin. The series poses quite a few questions about war, revenge and redemption. A story full of contradictions, ideology, laughter and sadness makes this an entertaining series and quite a few steps above the generic battle-shounen genre’s standard offerings.

Image

 

Art and Animation || 7 | 10

  The animation was a hard category to judge. For it’s time, the animation is average. It starts off hand-drawn, and progresses to digitally-assisted by the end. Most of the longer-running anime made around this time (mid-90’s) show the same transition. Personally, the second arc, the Kyoto arc is the best animated in the entire series.

  Character designs are top-notch. I (obviously) love the Kenshin character design quite a bit. An awesome swordsman with red hair? Fuhget about it! But seriously speaking, the designs reflect the characters personalities while at the same time making them look like cool, tough warriors. The females retain a level of femininity and beauty, not something too common in this genre, which is good in my book. You can be tough and beautiful at the same time ladies. It’s even more amazing that they made the variety of characters in this series “believable” to the time period. Even the more odd characters (especially the antagonists) still look like they could exist in some way or another in the Meiji era. The settings are all straight out of a history book, and the art design reflects that. Everything you see in the series existed during the beginning of the Meiji era.

  Like I said earlier, the animation quality increases overall from beginning to end. It starts off “ok” and ends up “pretty good”. The character’s designs also evolve slightly through the series’ course. There are slight discrepancies in the design of the characters, probably due to the different key animators that came and went throughout. Nothing too drastic, just length/size of hair and other things like that. Again, I see it a lot in other anime of the time. The more pivotal scenes obviously received more care, and it shows greatly in the animation quality. It dips and rises according to the “importance” of what’s happening. It would be great if all anime looked as good as the newer stuff, but that just can’t happen. Considering everything, the art and animation in Kenshin is pretty good.

  The opening and ending sequences in Kenshin, and there are quite a few are all pretty neat. They used a few “new” techniques in a few, and others were just cool sequences to look at. Nothing really stands out in my mind, but I can remember them all. Again, pretty good.

Image

 

Music and Sound || 6 | 10

  This category is the most disappointing part. The first two opening and ending themes just do not fit the series in any capacity in my opinion. Most of the music in the series sounds made for a battle-shounen anime, but for Kenshin it doesn’t work. I would’ve preferred a more classic Japanese feel to the music. A few songs capture this, but it doesn’t really help the lacking soundtrack.

  One song I actually like. It’s the sixth ending theme, called “1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou.” That song and its corresponding animation sequence is the best, and only good op/ed sequence. Although the last opening and ending themes fit more than the others, they still don’t do the series justice. Taku Iwasaki’s work on the OVA would be the ideal music, but unfortunately it isn’t.

  The sound effects in the series revolve mainly around sword clashes and other battle sounds. Nothing spectacular here. Everything is appropriate and blends with the action, mind you, it’s just average.

  Now to voices. You want to watch Kenshin, you should watch with the original Japanese cast. The English dub isn’t that good. There are a few characters, like Kenshin, that did a good job (considering) in the English version, but the Japanese version is much better. Hearing “Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki” from an English VA just doesn’t compare to the Japanese VA. And there are other phrases and tidbits that don’t make the same impact or make an appearance at all in the English version (like “Aku Soku Zan” from Saitou). So watch with the Japanese language, unless you can’t read subtitles.

Image

 

Presentation || 9 | 10

  I gave the presentation such a high score simply for the feel of the story. “Romantic tales from the Meiji era” describe the series better than I ever could. Romantic in the real meaning of the word, not the “flowers and candlelit dinner” definition the word is commonly used to represent. There is a lot to this series. I’ve heard many people criticizing this series, and others simply not watching it because it was a “popular shounen anime.” You’ll never know unless you check it out for yourself. There’s something for everyone in an anime like this. Even people I know that think anime is “stupid cartoons” have enjoyed this series. Rurouni Kenshin's story strikes a clever balance between power, loyalty, honor, love and humor; all the themes that make for a great series.

  Quite a few aspects I didn’t delve into in this review, but suffice to say, this anime has a lot to offer. Like I said in the beginning, this review was hard for me to write. A series with such variety and with so much meaning personally, I’ll never be happy with a review because it will end up seeming like a generalization or a summary to me.  Hopefully I have convinced you to at least give it a quick try.

  The battles and themes in this anime can get pretty intense. For a child this is not. Nowadays, 13 and up would probably be the official rating.

  As for the DVDs, there are liner notes detailing some of the terms and history to the series that is interesting to read. Also, each volume comes with outtakes to the English dub that, in later volumes, gets quite funny. The VA that does Sanouske’s character is probably the funniest because he adds in a “lets get a sandwich” line in each volume. You’ll just have to watch to “get it” but it is quite funny. Other than that, there is the standard credit-less openings and endings, and art galleries you’d find in most DVDs.

  Rurouni Kenshin is a great series in my mind, and a series I think most people would enjoy. Like a diamond you find in the ground, there are a few flaws, but it can really become something special to anyone.

 

Buy it here.