Saturday, 7 March 2015

My journey with Haibane Renmei

Before I even started watching this show, I had a feeling that I'd like it but never did I expect it to resonate with me to such an extent as it did by the time I finished it. Haibane Renmei provided this serene experience in the first few episodes and made me question my perception of a simple life. 

A Haibane's(people with wings as depicted in the above picture are called Haibane) daily life is not very different from what I do everyday yet I find myself stressed out over my life while I find the life of a Haibane 'dream-like'. The difference was simply in my perception, "I wish to live the life of a Haibane? Screw that, I probably already am" or so I thought - this is the sort of introspection that the show invoked and I was just half way through the show. There's more to this than meets the eye of course, I could go great lengths to ponder over the symbolism in the show which could lead to dealing with 'depression' or 'life and death' itself. 

Well, I don't expect what I'm saying to make sense right off the bat but the point is that the show is deep and thought provoking. Symbolism is comparable with Neon Genesis Evangelion to give you a gist.

If I haven't made myself clear yet, go watch Haibane Renmei as soon as possible! that being said, remember to savor each episode.

Haibane Renmei was adopted from Yoshitoshi ABe's doujinshi and it aired it 2002. I'm definitely hunting down all of his works after this: Serial Experiments Lain and Niea_7 are on priority.

Monday, 2 June 2014

My thoughts on HunterxHunter 2011

I've been lurking around r/anime subreddit of Reddit for a while now, it has become a habit once I'm on my PC, while I do post every now and then, lurking is what I do the most. A lot of anime stand out in the subreddit, one of them was HunterxHunter, it's an endless shounen action anime a la Bleach, One Piece and Naruto however it is relatively recent and shorter than them. I heard a significant amount of praise about the show enough to convince me to watch it. So I did end up watching it, I streamed most of the episodes as opposed to downloading them which is how I usually watch. Streaming was convenient given that I could watch it only during my free time on the PC.

Good pacing

I'm a patient guy, at least more patient than people I know so I didn't mind if the show had a slow start. Oh and I accidentally watched the first episode of the original series that released in the early 2000's instead of the reboot that started off in 2011, later realized that and I started watching the 2011 series. In comparison to the original series, it had a better or should I say faster pacing which was good and it maintained it all through the first arc. I enjoyed it or at least most of it, it's hard to say which episode out did the other, they were uniformly good. Same goes for the 2nd and 3rd arc of the series which is where I've watched until now. There were sequences where the show had some edge of the seat moments, that got my heart racing and stuff but they were few. However that isn't to say that it's boring most of the time, it is pretty fun to watch. Out of the 61 62 episodes I've seen(saw the 62nd while I was writing this), only two of them were recap episodes, the rest of them only concentrated on the story progress and didn't waste time over fillers or fan service. That said pacing is definitely one of the reasons what makes the show great.

Characters are what make the show all the more amazing

Gon Freecs

The show's lead character is pretty innocent and lively, sounds familiar? sure but this time it sounds appropriate considering Gon Freecs is 12 years old. His attitude manages to charm and his determination adds to it. Suffice to say that he's a loveable lead character which is mandatory considering the show's going to be really long and it won't be fun if you don't like the lead guy.


Gon's not alone in this, he's got a friend who, speaking in terms of personality is quite the opposite of Gon considering he comes from a rather insane household but that doesn't mean he isn't as likeable as Gon. He's calm and calculative but more importantly not happy about his life which is something a lot of people can relate to. It's not all fun being the smart/talented guy which becomes apparent after seeing Killua however for him Gon is what makes his life seem less miserable because Gon's the only person competent enough to become his friend. I'm using the word 'competent' because Killua has a rather unusual or should I say dangerous way of life, an average guy couldn't keep up with him enough to remain as a friend. One of the things most entertaining about the show is the interaction between these two twelve year olds, it sounds like a mundane thing to be amused by but it's not. Gon is pretty honest about his feelings while Killua isn't so open. It's fun to watch Killua blush when Gon thanks him or shamelessly admits something in praise of Killua to which  he usually responds with a "stop it, that's embarrassing", guess he qualifies as a tsundere.


While there are two other lead characters I'd like to talk about Hisoka, the antagonist of the show, at least Gon has an antagonistic relation with him. He's got this thirst for challenge that is something I find strangely amusing, fighting a tough guy apparently "turns him on" not my words mind you, that's what he says in the anime. Admittedly he's a bad guy but he's not just some bad guy, he's always on the look out for a challenge and it is only this drive to fight a challenging opponent that makes him seem like the bad guy. If I have to make a comparison he's like Sagat from Street Fighter series who fights for the love of it and that's what makes him amazing.


What I'm unsure about 

Those are what I thought made the anime a blast to watch, however there is something I'm mixed about, it's the story. The ultimate goal of a shounen action series is usually something that feels a long way off and HunterxHunter upholds that tradition, Gon is on the look out for his father who happens to be a pro-Hunter (just a name given to those into treasure hunting/adventuring; treasure is a loose term here). The first three arcs I've seen haven't really done anything extreme if I may say, they did have their exciting moments but at the precipice of an arc, the show decides to wrap things up but decides to store certain things for later. It's good but it's also kind of awkward at first and once I think about it, it does seem fitting. Still it does leave this void as certain things remains inconclusive. In other words, the show just post-pones it for the sake of the core plot progression which is unusual in shounen action anime. Most others just make use of it as an excuse to stall the core plot progression (I'm thinking about Bleach).

Well that's about what makes this show so popular: consistent pacing, amusing characters and the fact that it constantly reminds the audience about the core plot. I'm definitely watching this through the end or at least until this has me entertained, hope it doesn't go down hill anytime now. I've just started watching the "Greed Island" arc which from what I've heard is the pinnacle of the series.

Friday, 10 January 2014

I'm a what?! an otaku apparently


                                         An otaku is someone with a serious obsession towards anime, games or manga; to put it bluntly, this is something I've turned into last year. Not the most productive hobby/obsession of course, it started off with me downloading some anime to keep me occupied when I'm having food or just waiting on something. I also figured it's a good medium for me to improve my Japanese vocabulary (It has been very helpful on this aspect). I'd get to know what the fuss was all about. Little did I know that a lot of my tastes/preferences were going to change over the year.

                                                         It's not that I've never watched anime prior to this, I've watched but only occasionally. It was only until I came across some really good ones that I've taken it more seriously. As in, watching it more consistently and keeping track of every anime I've watched and maintaining a "to watch list"; obsession indeed. Through out the year I watched a lot of anime recommended by friends and some I came across in top 10 lists of various websites. The words "it has taken over my life" have never been more relevant. Wait, not yet, there's more. I've also taken a liking for the opening and ending songs for various anime and eventually I got introduced to jrock and jpop, end result: barely listening to anything English after that. Okay, now the words "it has taken over my life" have never been more relevant.

                           Out of the myriad of anime I've seen evidently I have a few favorites, regrets and those that were just good. I would love to talk about those shows but I haven't yet decided my approach. Create a top ten list? I've read enough such lists to say that it would be pretty dull. Review? not too keen on doing this either but I think I should just keep it simple and just talk about stuff I liked in a certain anime. That would be more convenient I suppose. That being dealt with, here's to hoping I'm more active around here at least half as much as I am on twitter.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Totally underestimated this next gen feature

                                      What I'm talking about is "sharing", something that was talked about in E3 and during the console reveal. I was in a frenzy for new games and innovations that could blow my mind during that time but I was gleefully being informed about what sharing is instead. Sure seamless Sharing was a convenience indeed but I couldn't really appreciate it with much enthusiasm. I got to realize how amazing this is when I saw a friend live stream his Killzone Shadowfall and Knack gameplay on while giving commentary. Moreover, I could even interact with him right while he was playing! (although it is limited to text). So kudos to the companies that saw potential and implemented it seamlessly. While gameplay videos aren't exactly a new realm to the average gamer, live streaming took it to the next level.

                                                Pay a visit to and you'll literally get to see people playing a game of your choice as we speak. Do note that Microsoft's Xbox One didn't get twitch streaming support yet (been craving for some Forza 5).

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The biggest announcement for me this E3 2013 was an EA game, seriously. E-freakin'-A.

This was the biggest E3 reveal for me this year and I have waited so long for this moment, so long that I feared it might not even appear. This was the E3 where EA revealed a new Mirror's Edge game along with an awesome teaser trailer! it overshadowed the whole DRM and no used game debacle in the console realm for me. My EA hate meter has dropped down quite a bit with this reveal as a result. Without further ado, here's the trailer for the game:
                 The trailer features a new terrific OST just as the original game, everyone who's seen the trailer are searching desperately for the name of that song. More info on the game being that it's a reboot rather than a sequel, which is something I'm okay with considering that the original game was not known for its story. One more piece of information about the game is that it's an open world - I'm glad about that but it's just that my perception of open world was kind of ruined by Ubisoft with their Assassin's Creed fanchise. I know that it's EA this time and it's completely different but still, I have nightmares about it being an open world, first person Assassin's Creed with lots to do but no motivation to do anything what so ever. Also the teaser ended with "coming... when it's ready" this is really great considering how EA usually rushes the game development process with their deadlines. Overall this is a very positive move by EA, so much that I'm almost not hating them anymore.

Breaking the norm: Indie games

Here's a question: Do the graphics in games have to be photo realistic and detailed in order to qualify as good graphics and deliver immersion in gameplay?
Answer: Certainly not and I know enough games to cite my claim. I also don't have to point out that there are many gamers out there who can say the same. Keep in mind that by saying this, I'm not saying that games shouldn't look photo realistic or detailed, just that they're kind of overrated. Now let me bring in the games i.e. games delivering photo-realistic and detailed visuals along with games that don't.

Back in 2008:
Gamer1: "Holy cow! did you check out that new EA/Crytek IP Crysis?! it looks spectacular!! and that nanosuit looks swell!"
Gamer2: "I know! it's a PC exclusive, take that console freaks!! look at the freaking graphics, this is going to be awesome!!"
Now back to the present:
This was the dialogue between most PC gamers back then when Crysis was shown, Crytek even released a demo to show proof of the game's photo-realistic tenacity to those wanting to test it. It was a great demo, it even managed to land an impression on me so much that I bought it (oh look! proof that game demos actually help market a game).
Lets take a look at the gaaaaaaaame:
Isn't that amazing? the details, lighting & ambient occlusion and AA; surely these days, certain games boasting such visuals are sighed up on mostly because all that visual glory is just for looks, no actual gameplay improvement. But we're not talking about gameplay, let's focus on graphics. Let's look at another game called Fez, it's an Indie platformer, a completely different genre but speaking in terms of graphics, Fez's environment similar to that of Crysis i.e. it has trees, landscape, greenery, small buildings etc.
Here's a picture of Fez:

Would you look at that, it's just abstract, 3D pixel art but it's so beautiful. I don't know about you out of the two pictures I've got to say that this one, this particular one below really grabs my attention. It looks so amusing: I mean it obliterates the need for photo-realism or detailed visuals in a game.You don't have to be a videogame connoisseur to notice that. And guess what? this game was made by one person! Phil Fish. (Despite this, I didn't buy this game yet - it will have to wait since my wallet hasn't exactly been nice to me these days).
Let's look at some more games, how about the critically acclaimed Journey.
Journey is known for its immersion and serenity it offers players despite its short campaign, graphics were one of the major factors for simulating the serene and peaceful experience, so that game company along with some help from Sony Santa Monica Studios left no stone unturned when it comes to its visuals. The grain animation, the lighting, terrain and wind physics were done immaculately enough to say that immersion has been achieved but wait here's another game that does the same job without most(almost none of them) of the visual perks that Journey has.
Yes, Proteus is the game that defies that norm. It offers a calm and serene experience with plain 3D art and simple sprites orchestrating a beautiful environment. I have played both Journey and Proteus enough to make such a statement. I will talk more about Proteus later but I believe I've made myself clear.

                                            Not to say that photo-realism isn't an admirable trait, game developers need to rethink the idea of it. The legions of upcoming and already established Indie developers have really made us question ourselves about what we look for when we think about graphics in a video game - It's definitely not just photo realism or to render better more finer details, there's more. This has also paved way for faster development time and developers can focus on the actual core gameplay elements, particularly for indie developers. I'll conclude this article with some Indie games which are definitely worth checking out:

            You've seen a screen shot, now you've got to play the game, it's available on steam for 9.99$. Two words: Grab it.

           Braid is second in place of the best puzzle games I've played. I don't know if you like the puzzle genre but regardless I recommend you give Briad a shot, there's a playable demo on steam.  

Super Meat Boy 
           Tough but fun.

Hotline Miami
           Again, tough but gratifyingly fun.

           A beautiful piece of work
                                     These games should kickstart your Indie gaming life, you will understand the hype surrounding Indie and even make you look forward for more.


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Life of Pi the aftermath

Everyday an endless battle goes through my mind, trying to prove creationism, the purpose of life and ultimately God. Everyone goes through something similar in their minds, I don't know how often but it is evident as a human being. To ignore such thoughts as meaningless would be an ignorance, abandoning all efforts to determine the true purpose of life is in all honesty pathetic. Rants aside, the ripple to silence the chaos in the sea of my mind was the Life of Pi.
                           The movie made a terrific metaphor between atheism and faith - Pi's incredibly adventurous survival in the pacific ocean sounded lively and unfathomable, it is a journey people refuse to believe even though it is true, we live in a world where proof is the fulcrum, the judge and the jury. People's questions won't digest irrational answers that was why Pi had to come up with a story though incidentally accurate subtle nuances made it more believable. By the end of it the movie questioned what story did you like the most? the first or the second. This is a question that eliminates rationality from the equation introducing an opinion and on this stance the first story takes the prize. Finally the film ends with the statement in response to the opinion "And so it goes with God". It took a moment but I managed to fathom the depth in that statement. Mind you the ending differs with perspective due to its depth. My perspective however was a creationist view in that the truth may be unbelievable or irrational but it ultimately is the truth. This really silenced the chaos in my mind, it may be temporary but it is not under appreciated.