Archive for January, 2010

Durarara – 04: love in the time of cholera

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

I think I have been a romantic for quite some time. In fact, my top five anime revolves around love stories that have impressed upon me, whether they focus on the romance itself, or are only tangential to the main plot. When I saw the fourth episode of Durarara (I’m grateful gg returned to their normal selves), I liked the episode a lot because I saw the patience of Shinra in waiting for Celty. He cares for her, even if she is a Dullahan, and has done so for the past twenty years. The only character more patient in waiting for their love is probably Florentino Ariza of Love in the Time of Cholera, one of Marquez’s seminal works. Nevertheless, I admire the patience that he has for Celty, especially because one of the features that attract and define a woman to a man, the face, is not with her. He does not even mind even if the head does not come back to her so long as she remains with him. I found it to be one of the better illustrations of unconditional love in anime, and the episode itself continued the ambivalent nature of the show: perhaps humans may be bad, but they are only bad sometimes; other times, they are good people, and most of them, overall, are decent, despite everything.

Durarara’s quincunx

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

I wasn’t expecting anything from Durarara. I still don’t, because it’s still in its formative stages. But what I have seen simply oozes with both style and quality. The series is heavy with dialogue and characterization, something I am not averse to. The first episode did not blow me away, however: it just made me feel that the anime series knew what it was and what it was going to be, and it paced itself carefully. Mikado’s epiphany in the first episode simply felt that it was actually just the beginning, but the central focus, or at least what really drives the story is Certy Sturlson, the headless motorbike driver.

The opening credits and the ending credits, however, are other stories altogether. Compared with the sanity and realistic tone of the first episode (everyone seems so real and so seated in Tokyo [except of course for the motorbike driver and Heiwajima, but even it’s arguable that people like him can exist in real life]), both the opening and the ending just exudes a coolness and confidence in it that does not rely on catchy tunes sang by cutesy voices. How they introduce the focal characters in the story was very impressive. I liked how they were able to portray Orihara Izaya and Heiwajima Shizuo’s character in just the opening. I suspected Izaya was just like Itsuki Kamiyama of the GOTH manga, and he pretty much was: he was unscrupulous, mordant, and sharp, as we have seen in the second episode. On the other hand, the ending credits were not as visually impressive, but the aural effect of the music was still pleasant. To some extent, I was reminded of the excellent audio from Samurai Champloo, especially because of the jazzy music.

The third episode merely continued the excellence of the first two episodes. Having said that, I wrote of Durarara as a quincunx primarily because the secondary characters center on Mikado’s triad, with all revolving around the presence (or absence) of Certy Sturlson, the headless (horse)woman. The beauty of Durarara is the ambivalent humanity of its characters. In the second episode, Izaya was peggged to be simply quite an asshole; however, in the third episode it can be noted that he appreciates kindness and courage just like any other man but with his own methods. While the show really is transcended by the presence of her, the characters and their relationships are multivariant and colorful as each other.

durarara-relations

From this point on I still do not know where the series is going towards. But I find it really entertaining and smart, something I find in only a few anime series. I’m hoping that it keeps its pace up. It’s also very refreshing to see certain references to anime that have aired recently such as Cencoroll, Jigoku Shoujo, and Kuroshitsuji. (Baccano aired some time ago, but it was done by the same studio and the same writer that does Durarara! I thought it was a subtle and well-done easter egg in the show.)

Baccano, Cencoroll, Kuroshitsuji, Jigoku Shoujo, Aria (?), Jigoku Shoujo

Baccano, Cencoroll, Kuroshitsuji, Jigoku Shoujo, Aria (?), Jigoku Shoujo

Executive Games: on time and technology

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

I have been eBay free for two weeks now, something I am glad I finally accomplished (after some time). Back in December, however, I thought that purchasing another video game console was a nice Christmas gift to myself: I have been ogling over one of the earliest home video game consoles created, and I decided that it would be a nice addition to my collection. It was Executive Games’ Television Tennis. It was an extremely simple game of tennis, much like Atari’s Pong: all one had to do was to bounce a ball off two paddles and keep it in play as long as possible. Executive Games had a short run of creating electronic games, but it was a fruitful run, and they were able to produce one of the earliest home video games consoles, so kudos to them.

This is the game.

This is the game.

I could not help but wonder, however, how more patient the people were back then than the people of today. I mean, they were able to play a game like that for hours at a time. I guess it was merely the novelty of it all, but it just seems they had more tolerance for a game like that than we do today. Thirty-five years has done a whole lot for technology, and Television Tennis just reminded me of that. I think it was probably the novelty, though. After all, once the Atari 2600 came out similar games like Pong were quickly phased out.

Back then, I guess the people assumed they were at the cutting-edge of technology when they had a Pong game in their homes. But time and technology, just like humanity, are fickle beings. Right now, I enjoy playing on that console, but only for 15 minutes at a time. One can only go so far with volleying an electronic ball. I appreciate the effort, however, and I appreciate its existence as a historical landmark in the evolution of games.

It also reminds me to stop wasting my money on eBay.

Alternatives to a plague of wish-fulfillment

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Ever since I obtained the Casio Loopy console I became privy to the reality of the possibility of getting the different video game consoles of yesteryear as long as I had the money. It was an epiphany that triggered a shopping spree that was neither merely petty obsession or impulse, but a maelstrom of both.

This is a cool game.

This is a cool game.

I absolutely refuse to call it an obsession, because obsessions are not sequestered in reality or rationality. They transcend both; in fact, they are irrational peregrinations into certain pleasures that can neither be controlled or placated. On the contrary, while I do purchase certain dubitable items off eBay (vintage video games, and vintage video game consoles), I do not purchase those items that are out of my reach, or unforgivably expensive for my status as a post-graduate student. I purchase items I know I can pay for and save for in addition to my desiring for them.

In the same vein, I refuse to call it an addiction anymore. Research into the psychology of addiction has made me realize that the fact I recognize and control my whims removes it from that definition. Despite my profligate nature with regard to the items that I have purchased, I have reined in a lot of my more stupid desires. Looking into myself, I can probably describe my current state (regarding eBay) as some sort of a chimera: the ability to be able to obtain the things that I wanted as a child dovetailed with my desires of youth does not bode really well. Understood from another lens, I know and recognize that what I spend is not money well-spent, but it is money that I spent and those things are things I own. It is a powerful feeling, one that has been welcome for nearly a year but is welcome no longer. I need to proceed to things that are more relevant and useful to me, or, if I can’t, at least on to things that are a lot cheaper.

The past few weeks, I have attempted to shift, once more, my passion for the video games of the past into the soap of the past. Soap is cheaper, after all, and it has served well as a new year’s resolution. However, when my mother called me, and I saw my Paypal account I realized I spent 30 dollars on soap. Just on soap. While it’s not an addiction, I realized that it was still a pretty stupid resolution and it does not really address the problem of me spending on useless stuff.

I’m looking for alternatives. I think I’ve watched a lot more anime the past month than the whole year combined, and it has helped a little, but not much. I want something unique that I can be passionate about without it harming my wallet in the long run. I know it ultimately boils down to self-discipline and a cathartic self-realization, but things are much easier said than done. I’m glad that I already made the progress of shifting the compulsion to something less harmful; now, however, I want to shift it to something productive.

Any suggestions? (Thanks for reading. :))

Sora no Otoshimono: a good anime, an excellent fanservice series

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

The new year has come upon us, and another decade of quality and travesty anime has arrived. To me, however, it doesn’t seem to start with a bang. Rather, it has started rather innocuously and weakly, as the anime serving for this current season has been quite weak. Nevertheless, there are some curious and interesting series to watch, such as Seikon no Qwaser and Chu-bra! If anything, they will try to stretch the boundaries of good taste. Perhaps they will even be known to cross limits no ordinary (non-hentai) anime series has succeeded in before. A likelier chance, however, is that they will fall flat and be grouped with the other failed experiments of fanservice.

I’m glad, however, that there are still some studios and some anime that can pull off a decent, fanservice-based show. I particularly thought that Sora no Otoshimono was a good watch, even with the character archetypes we have been familiar with ever since Love Hina came out. It was done by the same studio that did Ga-Rei Zero, AIC. I have much respect for the latter anime, and consequently for the studio as well. This merely added to the respect I already have for them: Ikaros is a lovable (if quirky) angel hiding a dark past that is kindly accepted by her perverted ‘master,’ Tomoki, who is the object of love by quite a number of ladies. It may sound banal (and it is, as it doesn’t try to escape the boundaries of its genre), but it’s a very good example of its genre, having pantyshots as good as its plot (which is quite good).

The soundtrack was also pleasing: Soba ni Irareru Dake was a melody I really appreciated, and the quality of the different EDs (each episode has a different one until the last episode) serve as another testament to the effort put into the show and the show’s quality itself. Sora no Otoshimono will not end up as one of the greatest anime of all time, but it is one of the best examples of its genre and one of the few that actually had a decent plot and made the fanservice work.

Happy new year to all!