Still kinda on break.

I’m still enjoying not blogging, which is why I’m gonna keep doing that, though of course I reserve the privilege of changing my mind at any time. Here are some random things:

  • Rurouni Kenshin: Hokkaido Arc manga is going to start in September. That’s actually next month. Wow, time flies.
  • I bought a vertical mouse, because a) I needed a new mouse anyway, and b) considering how tense my shoulder and wrist can get, I thought it was worth a shot! I like it so far! We will see if it will change my life.
  • I’m trying to find a better way to organise my wardrobe. OK, silly confession time: I love watching Youtube videos about ~home organisation~ and interior design, in the broadest sense. It’s kind of funny to see just how many different videos get made when the advice is pretty much always the same! Declutter, everything in its place, fold clothes, don’t buy stuff you don’t need, always clean up immediately, etc. There are no surprising, new approaches to the topic, no radically different ways of using shelves or whatever But you could probably spend hours on Youtube watching people fold pants in slightly different ways!
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Last week in fun

Oh my god, Darkwing Duck is going to be in the DuckTales reboot! Darkwing Duck is the only superhero I truly care for, and I am thrilled that he gets to be a part of this new, modern version of the Duck universe. He’s not been forgotten! I am very curious to see how this turns out. This also made me realize that 2017!Webby is essentially Gosalyn. It’s kind of ironic that everyone was praising the new Webby as a modernized, era-appropriate reinvisioning, and we all kind of forgot that in the 1990, that character already existed. And I don’t remember anybody making a fuss about it.

Maybe that’s what bothers me about today’s … idk, cultural debates? Everything is so polarizing. Something as mundane and common-place as a female main character is immediately discussed like it MUST be a daring political statement. It can’t be anything else.

I got sidetracked into watching Crimson Peak yesterday. Or at least part of it. I didn’t catch the first 30, 45 minutes or so, but the film was still easy to follow, since everything is really familiar and predictable. Spoiler warning! It looks like most people agree that the plot is predictable. Hilariously there are a few reviews or blog posts that argue against this, and say it’s actually really deep and totally defies expectations! Haha, no? Also, while I understand where people are coming from, and it’s not like I don’t pick up on these things, but I’m not going to praise this movie for its ~feminism~ when it all eventually boils down to a light-coded good woman versus a dark-coded bad woman, and all the men are siding  with the good woman against the bad one. Even the male serial killer has a change of heart, so that in the end, the crazy, evil woman stands alone while the heroine has all the privilege and support of society. A woman hitting another, mentally ill woman in the head with a shovel is not exactly peak feminism. Feminism should punch up, not kick down.

Right, so. Enough complaining. I’m not entirely sure how I ended up there, but Youtube eventually suggested me videos of old Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibouken action figures, so I’ve been watching those. There’s even a figure of Brass! That’s so cool.

Anyway, my immediate future plans: Tell you what, I won’t even TRY to write a blog post next week. I’ll take care of real-life stuff, and only when I’m all relaxed and content will I tackle my backlog of manga, books, videogames and whatever else I’ve been half-assing. That sounds like a good, responsible plan. Right?

The fun I had last week … lazy edition

Hey, I did it! I wrote three long-ish blog posts in the past week. This here’s technically a fourth, but I don’t think it counts since it’s just rambling. I’m really tired, so this is probably going to be a short post anyway.

Watching the opening of the new Duck Tales TV show makes me really nostalgic. Not necessarily even for the old TV show, but all those comics! I know it wasn’t a thing in the USA, but in several European countries, Disney comics were big. And they were wonderful. I think the next rainy weekend afternoon will be spend bingereading Don Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck …

Despite the fact I have a lot of unread manga waiting on my shelf! Reports of an upcoming Pluto anime has reminded me of the fact I still haven’t finished reading the manga. I should probably do that, too. But we’ll see when I get around to that …

I’m still making my way though Dragon Quest VII. I don’t think I’ll finish it in time for Ever Oasis, but I’m confident that I won’t take too long now. And I’m happy with my progress. I actually did a little bit of mini medal collecting and stuff like that, even though that does not advance the story and is therefore technically a waste of time (if you’re trying to finish a game quickly). But it’s much more fun to play more leasurely and not always be 100% focused on the next goal.

I have not really kept up with E3 news! I know that Hironobu Sakaguchi is going to reveal a new Mistwalker game next week, and that Nobuo Umatsu is involved, so that’s something I am curious about. Some artwork has been teased so far … Oh well, just a few days left.

Friday Ramble

I have been kind of low on morale lately, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been a cute, stres-free source of joy, and for this I am grateful. It’s funny because I originally dismissed the show, based on its trailer, as yet another comedy about an obnoxious manchild in a will-they/won’t-they relationship with an uptight female career woman. I was wrong! Sure, Jake’s a manchild, but he’s not disrespectful, inconsiderate or spiteful towards the other characters. And Amy is career-oriented, but far from a humourless killjoy. She’s an awkward weirdo in her own way. Brooklyn Nine-Nine even does the impossible: put Jake and Amy in a relationship – and it’s drama-free, just two grown-ups in a relationship, still being themselves. The weirdest thing. On top of that, B99 also has a great ensemble cast, is socially aware (kids these days call it “woke”, I guess) without being preachy, and it’s also really funny. And even when it’s not funny, it’s fun. It’s my feel-good show.

That having said, I do not understand the AVClub reviews of this show. I don’t really understand AVClub anymore, period. But this morning I was reading the review of the S4 finale and managed to pinpoint my issue: These reviews are anxiety-inducing. They have this undertone of doom, of future calamity. I just don’t have the energy to vague-worry about whether a 20-minutes-long sitcom episode took full advantage of the entire ensemble cast. Or if the cliffhanger’s stakes are believable enough. It’s a sitcom. I’m not saying don’t analyze it, but there’s this weird disconnect between what the show is and what some reviewers treat it as. But maybe that’s AVClub’s thing. The Elementary reviewer still complains about the show being so episodic. It’s a CBS crime procedural. Of course it’s episodic. Are there really no pop culture journalists who understand episodic television anymore?

What else? Videogames.  I’ve no idea why I’ve basically been stalling on Dragon Quest VII. It’s like I’m cursed never to finish a Dragon Quest game (except DQ9;  which – why?) and that’s awful! I am beginning to panic because next month will see the release of Ever Oasis and RPGMaker Fes. At once! I really need to finish DQ7 before I start another new game, but … I’ve not really been able to focus on RPGs at all.

I’ve been playing Pullblox (Pushmo in North America), though, and that’s been great. And the first 3DS game where enabling 3D actually makes sense! It makes it easier to play. I love puzzles.

I’ve also fallen behind on my manga blogging, which is dumb. Must. Find. Motivation. I actually have a half-finished post. Tomorrow.

And I’m currently wondering if I should just give up trying to find an English-language manga fandom. I read manga in French anyway, the French manga market is way better than the US one! But I’ve always done “fandom” in English, it’s what feels most natural. I just wish English-language manga fandom was more … interested in things beyond their horizon.

 

 

Wow, I finally finished reading Hikaru no Go …

I recently – finally – finished reading Hikaru no Go. I can’t explain why I stopped, many years ago, around volume 10. It … just happened? I wasn’t bored with it, I didn’t lose interest … I just never got around to reading the rest, and then time passed. A lot of time, come to think of it. Over a decade, and I dare not do the exact math.

Maybe I also didn’t return to HikaGo at that time because the manga ended in Japan and there was this vibe of disappointment about it. The general consensus seemed to be that Hikaru no Go ended suddenly, unexpectedly and long before its time, without a properly satisfying ending. But to be honest … HikaGo had a perfect ending – and then it continued for five (?) more volumes. It did not end too soon, it ended too late. It missed the perfect moment for the most impactful ending.

Hikaru no Go is amazingly well-written. I cannot even pinpoint exactly what makes it so good. All I know is that in theory, Hikaru no Go really shouldn’t be this amazing. After all, it is just a manga about a bunch of boys who are obsessed with a board game! HikaGo brilliantly proves that you can apply the sports manga formula to anything, even to an old, unglamourous board game, and it becomes exciting.

I’ve noticed that there are people in manga fandom today who aren’t familiar with Hikaru no Go at all. For example, I seem to remember that the guys on ChannelAwesome’s Weekly Manga Recap sounded like they had never heard about it, made fun of its premise and clearly had no idea that it wasn’t some random, forgotten niche thing, but one of the big hits of its time! (Not that this surprises me, the podcast seemed uninteresting anyway.)

But yeah, Hikaru no Go was big. :D It started a Go boom. Not just in Japan, or in other countries that already cared about Go, but even, like, in Europe. My parents heard about it on the radio! All my friends suddenly had Go boards! I had a Go board! (I’m … not good at Go.) These are such fond memories, man.

Now for the spoilery thoughts on how Hikaru no Go ended, and how it should have ended.

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Originality is overrated! and other thoughts on JRPG plots

I enjoy daydreaming about ~the perfect JRPG plot. Come to think of it, it’s something I’ve been doing since the 1990s, when I first played a JRPG. It’s a videogame genre that I find particularly appealing and even inspiring. I believe these games just give me a sense of fun, of adventure, freedom and discovery that others don’t necessarily give me. They are usually really long, they are about journeys and are full of interesting, diverse characters. (I don’t mean diverse in the modern US marketing speech sense, just that any decent JRPG party will feature characters with different skills, personalities and backgrounds. This is just more interesting than a cast of characters who all have the same age and the same approximate background and job … looking at you, Final Fantasy VIII.)

Anyway, what is the perfect JRPG plot? Or rather, what makes a JRPG plot great? I believe that it’s easy to overestimate the importance of complexity, realism and especially originality. These things are not actually that important. In fact, they can get in the way and destroy your gaming experience. Because that’s what a good videogame plot is: an experience.

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A look back on Nobuhiro Watsuki’s Embalming (and a tiny look ahead)

After finally finishing this series, and taking some time to think about it, I want to share some of my random thoughts on Embalming, the fourth series by Nobuhiro Watsuki. With the upcoming continuation of Rurouni Kenshin, it’s interesting to discuss the manga in the wider context of Watsuki’s works, too. Especially since a lot of Kenshin revival things happened during the run of Embalming. If you look at the character redesigns in the Kenshin Kanzenban manga edition, you can see the influence. Embalming was also put on hold while Watsuki worked on the tie-ins that accompanied the live-action movies. I think this did harm the series, also dragged it out a little bit. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but nothing ever happens in a vacuum, so there’s no use lamenting.

(This article doesn’t contain any real spoilers, but that’s also because it didn’t turn out the way I initially thought it miiiight. Obviously, deep thoughts and analysis is for later, today is for superficial rambling!)

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