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Here you can find all of the Anime Basics videos and the Psykoneko's thoughts and insights on anime, manga, and movies!  Enjoy!

--Psykoneko NYU! =^..^=

Sunday
Sep052010

Quickie Update for Black Jack…

Today I went to Japan Town in San Francisco. Yesterday, I bought two of the Black Jack volumes put out by Vertical, Inc. from Dr. Comics and Mr. Games in Oakland. I read them without a breath between so when I saw the third volume at Kinokuniya today, I HAD to get it. I must say, the Vertical, Inc. volumes do NOT disappoint. Even though some of the stories were repeats from the original Viz volumes (they did a kind of “Best of”), I couldn’t put them down until I was done with all three. Now I need MORE!! I just wish they weren’t so expensive. The books are really nice quality volumes and have about 12 stories in each so they are about $16 a piece. Quite unfortunate. Another expensive habit, I guess.

PS. While I was there, I also got a “Lucky Star” Kogami Akira figure today to go with my Izumi Konata and Hiiragi Tsukasa figures! YAY!!! I LOVE AKIRA!!!

Friday
Sep032010

Manga Review: Blackjack

Black Jack was published between 1973 and 1983 by legendary mangaka Osamu Tezuka.  Tezuka wrote other great works like Kimba the White Lion and (of course) Astro Boy prior to this series and it is a great representation of his awesome storytelling powers! 

I found two volumes of this popular medical manga at Book Off in Gardena last week and it didn't take me too long to figure out that it was a story of an unlicensed doctor, named Black Jack, that performs medical miracles for the rich and poor alike.  From the richest, most corrupt people, he charges outrageous sums in order to force a sense of justice on the corrupt and sometimes, the medical miracle he provides isn't exactly what people are looking for from him.  The two volumes that I found were published by Viz Communications in 1999, but they are no longer in print so they were $15.99 new and I paid $11 for them used (which is a lot higher than the usual $5 for manga there).  Also, they are formatted backwards (ie. the English way, from left to right).  It should also be noted that the Viz versions are not in order and contain special stories from later on as well as some earlier stories. 

Vertical, Inc. began reproducing the manga in the normal Japanese format in 2008 and they are still continuing the series.  I haven't seen any of the Vertical, Inc. versions, but I would assume that as long as the translations are pretty good, they are a good read as well.  You can also see "Black Jack" the anime which consisted of 62 episodes shown between 2004 and 2006 and a second anime of 17 episodes called "Black Jack 21" which was released in 2006.

The story is more episodic than serial, with each chapter being fairly self-contained, except for a few key points, like his child-like assistant Pinoko.  I really enjoyed the stories since they were fantastical, but believable.  Tezuka didn't want to be too technical and so the medical jargon is sparse.  We are supposed to believe that Black Jack is superhuman, and he is definitely that. 

Sometimes, it looks like Black Jack shirks morals altogether, but you will have to read the series to see how that comes out.  I love that the stories are short, sweet and to the point.  The art is typical Tezuka so expect to see some Astro Boy look-alikes and the extreme medical closeups are pretty detailed (sometimes, it is kinda gross).  This is definitely an old manga so some of the art may seem outdated.  The writing, on the other hand, is excellent and edgy, I felt like I was on the edge of my seat wondering how things were going to wind up at the end of each chapter...How is he going to save the day this time?  I was pleasantly surprised each time since it seems like each ending is more of a twist that the last.

Altogether, this manga is great...unless you are squeamish.  But if you aren't, I definitely recommend it!!  Good luck finding the original Viz translations, but I am sure the Vertical, Inc. ones are pretty easy to find at your local manga retailer.

Monday
Aug302010

Japanese 3 or Crazy Kanji Studying….Starting Tomorrow

I am SO nervous.  I start my third semester of Japanese tomorrow and I am so worried about all of the kanji I am going to have to learn.  If you don’t know what kanji is, it is all of those crazy chinese characters that Japanese people use IN ADDITION TO their two alphabets of 42 characters (that’s right, 84 characters of sounds PLUS thousands of chinese characters!)…I swear this is going to drive me crazy.  Supposedly, I am going to be able to read a newspaper by the end of this class.  It seems like such a tall order since I can barely get the meanings in easy manga (ie. Yotsuba and Chi’s Sweet Home) without asking the Psychotaku for help.  ARGH!!! 

Well, I guess I can just try my best (ganbatte yo!).  I just hope that the first month isn’t too crazy since I have my Professional Geologist exam to study for this month as well.  WHY did I have to get accepted this year!!??  I mean, I am happy that I finally got accepted but why couldn’t it have been last year, when I was re-taking Japanese 1 (it had been three years since I had last taken it).  ARGH.  This is getting pretty scary.  I never thought I would get this far in Japanese.  I thought it would just be a fleeting hobby….but no.  I am going to Japan in March, DEFINITELY. 

So I am saving up and I need as much knowledge of the language as humanly possible before I go.  I really don’t want to have the Psychotaku translating for me everywhere.  That would ruin my trip and make me feel like I wouldn’t be able to get by in one of my favorite cultures.  That would just be awful.  He is so lucky that I am from England and he only needs to understand accents when we go to visit my homeland. SO LUCKY!!! 

Well, wish me luck in this crazy endeavor…full time work (including long days of field work) is not conducive for learning a language…I just need to get past October 2nd (my PG exam) and maybe I will have time to study all of the kanji that is sure to be thrown my way.  I already have my first two semesters of kanji flash cards ready, I just need to get a full command of most of them before tomorrow…think I can do it?!!!

Ganbatte ne!!!

Friday
Aug202010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World...Best Movie of 2010?!

Oh yes, definitly.  The script is almost straight from the graphic novels (yes, I have read them…and I read them WAY before the movie came out…well, except the last one since it barely came out), the directing is EXCELLENT, and the actors were perfectly cast.

First:  The Script.  I really think that they could probably take photos of the pages of the graphic novel and play them over the movie.  In fact, someone did that with the trailer…amazingly enough!!! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIR2XYGDxCo 

(I would put the video in, but it gets distracting).

Second: The Directing.  Oh wow.  Hot Fuzz directors + graphic novel = AMAZING.  I really think that this is the best directed movie ever.  The cuts kept you guessing (in a good way) and the way that they did some of the scenes was really awesome.  I especially loved the final boss battle (despite the fact that it didn’t happen in the subspace highway, like in the graphic novels) since it felt like it was still in some fantastic world.  It was every gamer, geek, nerd dream, rolled into a movie.

Third. The Casting.  Again, oh wow.  I know Michael Cera plays the same role in every movie…but THAT is why I love him (if you want to see him in a different light…watch Youth in Revolt).  Wallace (played by Keiran Culkin) was perfectly gay, Knives Chau (played by Ellen Wong) was perfectly obsessed, Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) was perfectly “not skinny” and mysterious.  Julie Powers was perfectly bitchy and believable (played by Aubrey Plaza).  Young Neil (played by Johnny Simmons) LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE Young Neil…I really don’t know how you can tell the characters apart in the novels, but the cast REALLY looked exactly like the drawings.  Every single character was so perfect!!  Sorry, I just can’t think of too many synonyms for perfect….and they REALLY were!!  Interesting fact: Bill Hader was the narrator..if ya’ didn’t catch it.  Also, I don’t think that you get how dorky Stephen Stills is until you watch the movie, it is kinda weird.  And Lucas Lee is so great….after the movie, we looked up some of the “movie posters” of his films and they are GENIUS!!!

Anyway, I think this movie beats out the A-Team (unfairly really, since this is a geek’s wet dream) for movie of the year.  It had me cracking up with just the Universal logo on the screen (you will see why if you go see it!!)

So go watch it if you haven’t already…I know I am planning on seeing it again.  It is such a shame that it didn’t do very well in the theaters…stupid Expendables and Eat, Love, Pray…..LAME!!!!  I think part of it is the word-of-mouth popularity of Inception…quite unfortunate.  I think this will end up doing awesome in DVD/Blu-Ray sales though.  I know I am recommending it to everyone I see!

 

Friday
Aug132010

DDR Release Party at Royal/T Cafe

Well, I told you guys I would post about this as soon as I could :D

The event was pretty snazzy, I mean, the location is trendy in itself so it wasn’t hard for Konami to just take it over. They had a DDR X2 machine set up in the front area, about 4 PS3s set up with the new pads, 2 Wiis with DDR Hottest Party, and 2 XBox360s with Dance Masters and the new Kinect.

First off, the most important thing, DDR for the PS3. It looked pretty ordinary, no flashy menus or anything. Very utilitarian. The Playstation Move integration was a bit dodgy to say the least. I played one of them and it just seemed to be a bit much to have to go back and forth between arms and legs. Plus, the arm part had four locations to go to, but only one circle each side of the four arrows to go along with it so it was confusing until you realize that each circle had two colors…then it was just a matter of which color went where. The song list they had was paltry, but it had a lot of famous pop songs by Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson…if you like that kinda thing. I personally prefer J-Pop on my Japanese dancing game, thank you very much! The song list wasn’t the full range though, so I am a little excited to see what Naoki et al. will come up with for us. They were saying that DLC is a definite at this point so I am also hoping that they will bring in all of our old favorites so we can play them on the PS3 with better graphics…at this point, DDR 3rd Mix looks pretty ugly on my pretty 40″ Sony Bravia. So sad.

Anyway, second, they had about a bazillion giveaways (though I somehow ended up with nothing). Everything from My First DDR to DDR Universe 2 for the XBox360 with a pad. So that was pretty cool of Konami.

Third, NAOKI WAS THERE, along with Jun and U1. I mean, how much more DDR can you get!!! They actually had three of the song contributors/game creators there!! So awesome. They each did a DJ set for us as well. I will have to post a video of it later. :D

Fourth, AWE was there…Go James Games!!! None of you know who he is but when I used to play (oh so long ago) he was one of the people that we were competing against for high scores. He is a super nice guy and it was great seeing him there!

Fifth…I got to play Night of Fire on the Dance Masters game for the XBox360…it was really neat!! It actually puts your picture up on the screen so you can see how retarded you look, I guess. Anyway, it was a little rough making the correct movements to get the game started since you have to wave your arm a certain way to make the menus move and to select or go back. So that was the roughest part. The game play was gorgeous though…it makes me want to get an XBox360……ARGH!!! For one game!!!!!

All in all, it was a great night for the fans. There were no hipsters in sight and all of the fans were super nice. It was great chatting with them about DDR and the state of the game in general!

Anyway, a great turnout, great company, and a great time had by all. Keep checking back for my videos from the show!!!  Check out my pics from the event on Flickr!!

Thanks for reading!

–Psykoneko NYU!!! =^..^=