Summer Homework [Revised]

•September 1, 2008 • 1 Comment

* For my own reference…

Done:

>> History Chapters 23, 24, 25 (60+ pages)
>> History essay questions (x9)
>> The Joy Luck Club (read)
>> The Color of Water (read)
>> Chemistry packet (40+ pages)
>> Calculus webassign
>> English questions (x2 lists)
>> History/English report
>> Chemistry radicals

To Be Done:

>> NONE?!

Amazing.

Dennou Coil: A Circle of Children

•August 29, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Genre: science fiction / action /adventure
Setting: Daikoku City / future
Special Groups/Powers: hackers, encoders, kid detectives, illegals, Satchii, pets, glasses, meta bugs, meta tags
Selling Point
: semi-cyberspace world; unique lifestyles

First off, I must say: Dennou Coil has an amazing setting. It’s a futuristic, half-cyber, half-real world that can only be experienced fully when wearing “glasses” — a trend that is popular among kids, but sometimes lost among adults. You can liken this fascination with technology to our present day, in which kids are crazy-computer-savvy while their parents are lucky if they can find the power button on the monitor. Really, it’s a very cool setting. The town that the anime focuses on is Daikoku City, which is known to be the birthplace of glasses and cyber-world technology. However, don’t let all this science fiction scare you; life for the townspeople is exactly like our own normal lifestyles, and the characters are very human. That is the amazing part of this anime: the producers manage to fit in all this technological gadgetry, and yet life goes on normally. Of course, there are some unique qualities of life, which I will discuss at a later time.

Now, the story of the anime unfolds little by little throughout the episodes, though it’s not a clear, clichéd “save the world” type of adventure or anything. Rather, the plot revolves around a young girl, Yuko, who is nicknamed Yasako (“gentle child”), and her friends as they explore the mysteries of the half-cyber world. There are a lot of mini-plots that drive the central plot along, which I will not reveal, because that would totally ruin the fun. x)

Now, there are also cyber-pets in this world, which behave like normal pets and can interact with glasses-wearing humans. Though, strangely enough, they cannot actually be “felt.” Nevertheless, humans become attached to their cyber pets as they would any real ones, and the cyber-pets are loved and loving. Yasako has a cute little puppy called Densuke who gets into all kinds of trouble, especially with Kyoko, Yasako’s annoying little sister. And although Densuke isn’t the smartest pup in the litter, he is fiercely loyal to his owner… and it’s very touching, this kind of loyalty. (see below for picture)

Ain’t he precious? Now, there are also “Illegals,” which are viruses that target and infect cyber pets. There’s actually a lot more to them than just that, but again, no spoilers here. Illegals often exist in “obsolete spaces,” which are older, discarded versions of the cyber world.

Targeting these Illegals are machines called “Satchii” (short for “Search Maton”) who float around and bust things up with their lasers. The problem, however, is that the Satchii are a nuisance to children who wear glasses and do minor bad things, like messing with obsolete space and such.

Moving along. Fumie, Yasako’s friend, is a member of Megabaa’s Coil Dennō Detective Agency, a group of child detectives who basically run errands for Megabaa (Yasako’s grandmother and an expert cyber programmer). Fumie, in contrast to gentle Yasako, is outgoing, take-charge, and very well aquainted with the cyber world and its nuances. She invites Yasako to join the agency as well and introduces such things as “meta tags” (slips of paper with codes on them that do various things: shoot lasers, erect walls, etc.) and “meta bugs” (the basic resource that is used to generate meta tags; also a form of currency among children).

And then there’s Isako (“brave child”), whose real name is actually Yuko, just like Yasako’s. There’s a lot of compare and contrast that can be done between the two girls, but basically: Isako is very independent, very good with encoding, very cold, and very mysterious; Yasako is a little helpless, a little clueless, but always open and friendly. Isako is what they call an “encoder,” a powerful manipulator of cyberspace. Yet she, like all the other characters, is very much human, as you will see.

Ah, there’s a lot more stuff I could describe, but I’ll let you see for yourself… (‘cuz I’m a lazy mofo).

The selling point of this anime is obviously the half-cyber world and all its gadgetry. But it’s not just that — it’s the way it’s presented. Unlike most science fiction, where humans clash with technology, this world simply absorbs the cybernetic matrix, and the people live in harmony with their semi-cyber surroundings. And life goes on. Human lifestyles, emotions, virtues, and etc. are explored alongside the mysteries of the cyber reality, which is not so far from the emotions and virtues of humans as people would like to think.

All in all, this is an amazingly creative, original, and poignant anime. The technology will fascinate you — the emotions, in later episodes, will captivate you. I highly recommend it. There is nothing more I can say to do it justice; so go ahead and see for yourself.

Rating of Truth: 96/100

Summer Homework [Updated]

•August 29, 2008 • Leave a Comment

* For my own reference…

Done:

>> History Chapters 23, 24, 25 (60+ pages)
>> History essay questions (x6)
>> The Joy Luck Club (read)
>> The Color of Water (read)
>> Chemistry packet (40+ pages)
>> Calculus webassign
>> English questions (x1 list)

To Be Done:

>> Chemistry radicals
>> English questions (x1 list)
>> History essay questions (x3)
>> History/English report

MUST FINISH BEFORE SEPTEMBER 2nd …

Kino’s Journey (Kino no Tabi)

•August 28, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Genre: philosophy / science fiction (some)
Setting: various “countries”
Special Groups/Powers
: travelers & talking motorrads
Selling Point
: intellectual; tranquil & muted atmosphere; sensitivity towards / examination of different perspectives + cultures

Well, “Kino’s Journey” is one of those procedural anime like Jigoku Shoujo or Mushishi. In other words, all of the episodes follow a certain pattern, but each episode has its own individual story or adventure. In this case, every episode deals with Kino traveling to one or more countries on her motorrad (talking motorcycle named Hermes) and experiencing the different cultures or customs of the area. Most countries are charming, but with a catch — some are strange, some are unpleasant, and some are truly nice. Because this is one of those procedural anime, and because the pacing is rather laid-back without a lot of action, things can seem slow or repetitive at times. However, the stories and themes are all very interesting, and within each episode is something new to behold.

The tone of the anime is subtle and easygoing. The animation and graphics are fair, and the music is quiet. The overall atmosphere creates a sort of quiet look and feel — like a daydream or a peaceful stroll.

Some of the highlights of this anime are its daydream-atmosphere and philosophical/intellectual themes. Kino’s so-called journey is not so much a physical adventure as it is a journey of the soul; she’s not going anywhere in particular — she’s just traveling for the sake of traveling. Theme-wise, the morals of each story are slightly ambiguous, always leaving the viewer with something to think about. There’s never necessarily a right or wrong answer, and this anime portrays that fact very well. Speaking of which, one of the best things this show has to offer is a great tolerance for people of different lifestyles and mindsets. The “countries” that Kino visits are not based off of specific countries in the real world, so there aren’t any ethnic affiliations, but they still have their unique customs and quirks. The show is very respectful toward different cultures, carefully exploring them so as to give the viewer a more in-depth look on what may seem, at first, like a society of freaks. For these reasons, I consider “Kino’s Journey” to be a refined and compassionate show.

Now, Kino herself (yes, she’s a girl) is a very interesting person. At first, Kino may seem somewhat detached and emotionless, but that’s a misconception. It’s true that she makes an effort not to become too attached to any one location, but she’s not emotionless — far from it, she is a very warm, compassionate person. Kino has a quiet nature that masks both her warm personality and her incredible skill with a gun. And, well, the latter point may seem absurd or clichéd, but if you think about it, a girl traveling alone in the big-bad-world has to be strong enough to protect herself. This is made apparent during several episodes and the short movies.

However, the most prominent characteristic of Kino is that she is very open-minded, able to enter a country and abide by their customs (no matter how strange they seem), so as not to disturb or offend the citizens. She never tries to stick her nose into others’ business; she doesn’t try to change the way people are. I find this a refreshing point of view, contrary to many anime/TV shows, where the main hero is always right and basically goes around beating on people in the name of justice… until they have sudden changes in heart and decide to leave the dark side.

Pfft.

PFFT, I SAY.

I’d like for them to try that in real life — see if they don’t get jumped within the first hour. Because, really, people have their reasons as to why they act the way they do. And do you live so flawless a life that you can tell others how to live? No. You don’t. That’s because there’s rarely ever an indisputably right or wrong answer.

Also. Hermes, the faithful motorbike companion, has a surprisingly cute personality. =)

Overall, “Kino’s Journey” is a pleasant, thoughtful soul-journey. I’d recommend it to anyone, especially if you don’t mind procedural anime. The pacing is leisurely, sometimes dragging a bit, but the stories are always something to think about. And Kino is a wonderful protagonist: she’d love to take you along for the ride.

Rating of Truth: 92/100

Baccano!

•August 27, 2008 • 1 Comment

Genre: action/adventure; thriller; romance
Setting
: Prohibition Era (1930’s) / United States
Special Groups/Powers
: immortals, thieves, mafiosi, assassins, rebels, alchemists… etc.
Selling Point
: large character cast; fast, compelling pace

Baccano = Italian for “noise,” or as the anime producers interpret it, “stupid commotion.”

“Baccano!” is certainly commotion-worthy, but surprisingly, it doesn’t get much attention. And I don’t understand it! This anime is just absolutely FANTASTIC. I don’t mean that it’s flawless, but, wow, this show is too amazing for anyone to care. That is, if they’ve even heard of it…

On to the infomercial. “Baccano!” contains several, simultaneous plotlines and a huge web of character relationships. The story is set mostly during the 1930’s in America, but the three main plotlines run nonlinear within different years: 1930, 1931, and 1932. The adventure unfolds with the antics of an unusual thief duo (who show up everywhere), the initiation of a new mafioso, a dangerous train ride, and a sister’s search for her no-good brother.

It would take far too long to describe the intricacies of each plot, so I’ll move along. Some things to beware of in this anime are violence and blood. There are frequent fighting/killing/shooting scenes — not so much that it becomes grotesque and tasteless (reference: Elfen Lied) — but they do exist. I wouldn’t suggest letting young Hamtaro fans watch this, if you know what I mean, but for the average anime viewer, you’ll be fine. Hey, sometimes it’s fun to watch implosions of blood and guts, right?! …That aside, you’ll also experience a lot of initial confusion when watching the first episode, which seems like a crazy, tangled knot of characters and events. However, as the series goes on, the knot begins to unravel, and the show not only makes a lot more sense, but becomes extremely fascinating.

The highlights of this anime are the pacing and characters. As stated above, it’s fast-paced, confusing at first, yet captivating. The music is jazzy and upbeat, the animation is quick, and the action scenes are entertaining. The overall atmosphere of this show is rapid and exciting… a commotion of a show.

Now, the characters — oh, wow, the characters — are all very natural and human, despite their personal eccentricities and crazy lives (assassins, thieves, immortals, etc.). The cast as a whole is extremely likeable; you’ll finish the anime with not one, but at least five to ten favorite characters. Part of the reason is that there is a refreshing lack of stupid screaming superheroes (Naruto), clichéd ultra-pervs, and ridiculous moe/fanservice sluts. The relationships between the characters are also very unique, sometimes very touching, sometimes hilarious. Character interaction is very well played; it’s not just “YOO HAF DISGRACED MAH PEOPLE; WE SHALL NOW ENGAGE IN COMBAT,” or any such ridiculosity. The characters often meet or are related by coincidence, but this is pulled off well. And, finally, to spread the icing on the cake: there’s a very strong female cast, rather than the damsels-in-distress/wastes of space that you see in other anime. These girls are amazing.

No. All these characters are amazing.

<– end infomercial –>

…My, that rant was long. (*self-slap*) Anyway, in conclusion, this is a great series that needs way more recognition. I highly recommend it, though not for young children, considering the violent content. This, in my opinion, is one masterpiece of a tangled knot, with a shiny gem suspended in its center.

Rating of Truth: 96/100

Hanfu/Han Fu & Qipao/Qi Pao

•August 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Haven’t posted in a couple days. It’s because I’ve been preoccupied with some new discoveries as of late: articles of Chinese clothing called Han Fu and Qi Pao. They’re just beautiful, really. Being wholly American, despite my Chinese background, I’ve only ever seen Qi Pao on Asian-themed American cartoons (and other travesties of East-Asian culture), but I never even knew that Han Fu existed. Then again, I guess that makes me pretty stupid, because they’ve existed for thousands of years. =D

GO CHINA!

Qi Pao / Qipao…

Han Fu / Hanfu…

I really want a Qi Pao gown — but I really, REALLY want a Han Fu dress. You know, I’d love to walk into prom wearing that pretty multi-color one up there; it’s better than all the other mediocre/redundant/slutty prom dresses that you see all the time. (It’s called “elegance,” betches.)

However, all of the Han Fu cost well over $100… and the multi-color one is over $300. :’D Where am I to get that kind of money??

Actually, I have a plan. >=]

Birthday Present

•August 22, 2008 • Leave a Comment

(One more post for the day.)

Okay, just to be clear: my birthday is June 25th. My brother gave me my present… today. Two months late. Still, I won’t complain — they’re pretty cute. I am thankful. <3

As you can see (or not; I happen to suck at photography) they’re white Reeboks with a rainbow interior and under sole. Cute, right? =3 I mean, it looks a little gaudy, but it’s probably just because they were in the children’s section or something. (I’m a size 4: small feet.) However, it’s the thought that counts, so I like them just fine. <3