Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kimi Ni Todoke & Kamisama Dolls: Reviews coming soon

I have recently gotten into watching Kamisama dolls - one of this summer's series. I am also beginning to watch Kimi Ni Todoke the movie (yes grad school has really lagged me on my must sees).

I will give a review of Kamisama when I finish watching the third episode. As for first impressions, the intro art was really good. I remember seeing screenies on another blog and thought the colour choices was a bit faded but nice. I have to say the same with Kimi ni Todoke - the colour choices aren't a vibrant HD - but it gives everything a nostalgic feeling. Which I think is fitting for older audiences reminiscing about high school times.

Kimi ni Todoke
Nice colours right? Like taken from an old camera

Monday, July 11, 2011

Anime for Kids: Why I'm hooked

Lately I've been hooked on Soul Eater and Fairy Tail as my source of entertainment. Though there's certain things that do bug me, such as obvious plot twists, dry jokes and over-exaggerated characters, there are still things that I thoroughly appreciate - which may be why I have watched nothing but children anime for the past 6 months.

Fairy Tail

Fairy Tail

Imperfect but Young Characters

Rather than making perfect characters, the series creator make sure that each character has a flaw that they have to overcome - which we assume they overcome as they grow with age. This makes it really easy for us to side with the character and cheer them on as they overcome their imperfections.

Full of Spirit

Black Star

Black Star from Soul Eater

Another thing about the protagonists is that they aren't hit with the cautious and hesitant nature of adults. They follow their hearts and go at things full throttle.

Challenge our Assumptions

What I've noticed is that they establish certain roles and relationships that we the audience take as absolute. Examples of these are: Gray and Natsu fight but will always be best friends, Erza is dependable and will always be in the eright, Professor Stein is Shibusen's greatest asset. After making these clear, the series challenge these notions through different events and plot twists. This is a really good way of keeping the viewer engaged.

Foreseeable ends

Igneel from Fairy Tail

Igneel from Fairy Tail

The last thing I am going to talk about is that each of these series have a end=point which will signify the end of the narration. For Fairy Tail, it is when Natsu finds Igneel. For Soul Eater, it is when the witches, kishin, and Shinigami end their war. This doesn't necessarily mean that this is how the story will be resolved - it could end with no resolution (i.e.:Natsu accepts that he will not find Igneel) or minor resolution (i.e.: Shibusen beats Arachne but the war can start again in years time). But the magic with this is that there is an end point - we are assured of avoiding a never-ending anime loop that only makes episodes to generate gross income. This is really important for me personally. I appreciate series that focus more on the storyline than stretching episodes or creating a season hit.

Now if you excuse me, I need to watch this week's Fairy Tail =P

Saturday, July 2, 2011

From Kitty to Gaga to you - make your own hairbow

Made cute and lovable by Hello Kitty and then trendy by Lady Gaga - the hairbow is a hairstyle that will not only make you adorable and cute, but fashionable and stylish.

Lady Gaga

Here is a video done by Cutie on one way to make it.

Basically the steps are as follows:

  • Take the top layer of your hair and make a high off-side ponytail.
  • Split the ponytail into three sections. One for each side of the bow and a little tiny piece for the middle.
  • Use bobby pins to hold the bow in place. Cutie used a backwards comb to add texture to her hair (I skipped this step because it adds way too much flyaways and frizz)
  • Optional: Add cute hair accessory

The first time trying it may take you half an hour or so to get the feel of it. But consecutive tries are much faster. My last attempt at the hairbow only took me 10 minutes and it was my second try at it.

My hair bow

I highly encourage you to try it. It's easy and I got nothing but compliments from it

Monday, June 27, 2011

July Dramas: Ouran High School Host Club & Hana Kimi remake

Ouran High School Host Club Drama

The July issue of LaLa (the magazine that originally had the OHSHC manga has confirmed a live-action drama series. Yusuke Yamamoto will be playing Tamaki Suou and Haruna Kawaguchi will be playing Haruhi Fujioka.

(Yusuke Yamamoto - Tumbling, Hana Kimi, Atashinichi no Danshi)

(Haruna Kawaguchi - Yankee kun to Megane chan)

I'm really skeptical about Yusuke's ability to portray Tamaki well. Though his face is renowned as gorgeous in Japanese culture - I'm not so sure that it resembles Tamaki's well. We've seen Yusuke do the bad boy act and the supermodel girly-man act. Transitioning into a well-refuned, child-ish yet charismatic character is going to be interesting to see.

Haruna aesthetically is a good match to Haruhi's down-to-earth nature. Also want to see how she looks with short hair (thank you Horikita Maki for not taking on another androgynous role). Haruhi has a fairly simple personality and shouldn't prove to be a challenge.

The cast looking really good - look for this on July 22nd

Hana Kimi

Also coming out this July is a remake of Hanazakari no Kimitachi e (2007).

(old cast & new)

I'm not entirely sure why a re-make is happening 4 years after the fact - and why a korean version is coming out at the same time. I think the manga was okay - definitely not HYD worthy so why it's following the legacy is unclear to me.

Tomo and Maki were excellent in their roles (Oguri Shun was okay - Sano was portrayed very dark and expressionless - though I guess that added to his conserved nature and mystery). The new Sano seems very asynchronous to his reserved and clean-cut personality. Aoi Nakamura and Shohei Miura will be playing Sano and Shuichi. AKB48's Atsuko Maeda will be playing Mizuki.

I will be watching the Korean and Japanese remake versions to see how they fair out to the original - stay tuned!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Translation project: ハワイで大の学

So my latest translation project is going to be ハワイで大の学 - or Study of Hawaii. Despite the name, the book looks like this:

Cover of the book

It's going to be a challenge because they do not have hiragana over the kanji like it Yatsubato! If anyone has some recommendations on good ways of doing this via dictionary - I would welcome any advice!

Here is a snapshot of one of the pages - look for my attempts at understanding this book during the summer!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

1 Litre of Tears - The beginning

A couple years ago, my best friend was really hooked onto this Japanese drama called One Litre of Tears. It is based on a true story of a girl who dies from spinocerebellar degeneration, a disease that slowly removes your ability to control certain nerves - taking your ability to control your walking, speech, and everyday functions such as sports, chores, and work. As the name suggests, it has been designed to be a tearjerker for those watching it. Though I am sure that there is a story-based meaning behind the title.

Sawajiri Erika as Ikeuchi Aya, the protagonist of the story

After watching the first episode, it reminds me greatly of Myu no Anyo Papa ni Ageru, a drama about a father who has a similar disease that takes away his ability to control his nervous system. Of course, 1L of tears came out three years earlier, so the comparison should be the other way around.

My focus while watching this drama will be what narrative elements are involved in invoking tears from the audience. Based on the first episode, here are my thoughts:

  • Expected tragedy: we are aware that the protagonist dies, so we constantly expect negative outcomes from conflicts presented in the storyline.
  • Highly optimistic and young protagonist: She has hope and dreams prior to finding out about her disease. She is the star child among her family. She is young and should have a bright future ahead of her. The drama introduces her character pre-disease so that we can relate and grow to like her. Making her a really bright character also allows them to create a bigger change in mood and personality when the story progresses.
These two elements alone, add tension and expectations of bad events and character changes. I will create another post when I am in the middle of the series and when I am in the end.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cyborg Kitty

So a really big conference is just around the corner in Human Computer Interaction. To kick things off, a fellow grad student organized a Hack-a-thon (all day hacking marathon) for many of the conference attendees (including myself). One of the things I ended up making was a Cyborg Kitty which is what you would get if you mixed these three characters:

hello kittyDomokunMagnemite

You can make your own cyborg kitty with:

  • terracotta clay
  • 9V battery
  • 3V LED lights x 2
  • 3V resistor
  • Battery clip with 2 wires soldered on each positive and negative part.

You basically build the clay body around the 9V battery. Make the head with clay, leaving two tunnels for the eyes. Solder a negative and a positive end of each LED light to make them in series. Connect the remaining free negative end of the LED to the resistor. Place lights in the tunnels and complete the circuit by soldering the positive wire from the battery clip onto the negative part of the resistor and the negative wire of the battery clip to the positive end of the other LED. The clip acts as the neck connector. The longer your wires, the more headless and fun your kitty will be.

And here is my kitty. I have to hold the head in place or otherwise it would be dangling off (intentionally to add more oomph)

cyborg kitty

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Natural looking make up

With the summer coming just around the corner, I thought it would be good to do a post about make up that accounts for the heat and doesn't cake up or oil up. A look that is really popular in Japan and Korea is the natural look. The goal of this look is to look flawless but not overly made up. Two actresses who are known to rock this look are:

Erica TodaHorikita Maki

Erika Toda and Horikita Maki

These looks have a few key features:

  • Concealer with great coverage
  • Very thin foundation -> it looks like their skin, not a mask
  • Curled lashes
  • Nude lipstick (gloss optional)

Not being a make-up guru myself, I rely on vloggers such as xteeener, Michelle Phan, Catalina and Bubz. All have a tutorial on how to achieve this natural, healthy look but out of all of them, I have to say that my favourite has to be Bubz, which is embedded below.

After watching this, a lot of you may be thinking "Gosh that's a lot of highlighter!" And I honestly think it depends on what you're using. For bubs, the highlighter spreads really nicely and is absorbed to the skin so it is like putting on lotion with a bit of tint. For those of us who may not be willing to spend that much money for a Yves Laurent Radiant Touch, I recommend using a slightly lighter concealer and applying it with a small brush. As I am against buying more products than I need, I am currently using Benefit Erase Paste in No. 2 and applying it sparingly using a small angled brush. When that runs out, then I will consider buying a real highlighter.

The next concern is that a lot of the products used by Bubz is exclusively in Asia. If you are hesitant about buying make up online, this may cause some issues. I think in terms of concealer and translucent powder, you can definitely go for North American brands (assuming you are living in North America of course, if you live in Asia, laugh at my misfortune and go buy the products in the video). The key thing that you really need is the BB Cream. This is the key factor in keeping your skin looking like your own. Sephora has just started selling Dr Jart's BB Creams. Though many have stated it to be a bit on the pale side. If you are like me and have a bit of a darker complexion, you will need to find a BB cream that has a few more shades. Living in the highly asian-populated city of Vancouver, I have been fortunate enough to find a store that sells Korean Cosmetics (they are the leader in BB Creams). Many who live in Toronto, New York, or San Francisco should also have no issues finding an Asian store. I wish you luck on your BB Cream journey!

What I would use to achieve this look (some from the video, some from my own personal likes):

  • Concealer: Maybelline Pure Mineral Concealer
  • Face: Missha BB Cream in No. 31
  • Highlighter: Yves Laurent Radiant Touch
  • Powder: NYC Pressed Translucent Powder
  • Eye brows: Annabelle Eyebrow Pencil in Medium Brown
  • Eye Liner: Lancome Le Crayon Kohl in Black Coffee
  • Eye lashes: Mary Kay Lash Lengthening Mascara in Black Brown
  • Cheeks: MAC powder blush in Fleur Power
  • Lips: MAC Creme Sheen Lipstick in Shy Girl

What do you do to achieve the natural look?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Durarara! Where's your head at?

With my second semester of graduate school done (at officially 8am today). I am free to get back to what I love and that is blogging about my Otaku sensibilities. <3

Durarara started off as a Light Novel in April 2004. It was then adapted into a manga in 2009 and an anime in 2010. This post focuses on the anime since that is what I have been exposed to.


A still of by far my favourite scene in the series

What has gotten me thinking is the origins of memory and how it connects the brain to the heart. These thoughts were inspired by the character of Celty Sturluson, a headless rider from Ireland. She is in Japan in search of her missing head. She senses it to be in Ikebukuro and has been living there for 20 years as a transporter. Because of her disconnection from her head, she can't remember events prior to having her head stolen. She believes that obtaining her head will give her a greater sense of who she is.

Celty Sturluson

Celty and Shinra, another character in the series.

Having taken a class on Cognition and Perception, I have been fortunate enough to read introductory psychology on how memory works. Basically, the brain takes information from the senses (sight, touch, smell, hearing) and interprets it based on similar experiences that has happened in the past. If it a completely new sensation, the brain still tries to tie it to the closest similar past experience as a means of trying to understand it. It is like when people eat frog and claim it as tasting like chicken.

Since Celty is a supernatural being, we are allowed to ignore how she perceives the world without the use of a brain. We are even allowed to ignore how she stores information of events from the past 20 years. Despite this, I keep thinking about what about a headless body makes someone soulful and human. And the obvious answer at first is the heart. But upon coming up with this conclusion I come to wonder, How does the heart exactly tie to emotional connotations? Its literal function is to pump blood throughout the various organ systems. Why does it hurt when we're sad or feel light upon happiness? Is this simply a trick achieved by the brain because this is how we are expected to feel? I leave this thought to you, the reader, in hopes that you come up with the answers I could not. :)

In terms of the anime itself, I highly recommend it. The character development is excellent. The plot line isn't painfully linear. The art itself isn't too stylized but sophisticated. As show above, it also makes you think.

Rating: 4.5/5 -> simply because I am not done the series