Category Archives: review

Maison Ikkoku – the unlikely romance

Maison Ikkoku is one of the first animes that I started watching, and ignited my love affair with Japanese cartoons. This unlikely romance between a weak student and the lovely female caretaker of his boarding house is surprisingly captivating when I don’t consider myself a big fan of love stories.

Godai Yuhsaku is a weak-willed college student who is aware of his own incompetence, and fear to confess his feelings for Kyoko, though it is plain to everyone that he is head over heels in love with her. Otonashi Kyoko is a young widow who cannot bear to let go of her feelings towards her dead husband Souichiro and so is unable to accept Godai’s feelings for her. Halfway through the story, her own feelings for Godai start to reveal themselves, though she denies them, unwilling to let another man take Souichiro’s place in her heart. To those around them, their growing familiarity with each other is very noticable, becoming, as other characters put it, domestic.

Living under the same roof, they had plenty of opportunity to interact, so 3 wacky tenants at the apartment were thrown into the story to mess up those opportunities. 6 years is a long time, and rivals for the affection of Godai and Kyoko were added to frustrate and test the depth of their feelings. The presence of these rivals push the 2 indecisive main characters to sort out their emotions and force them to move towards each other. They continue to get jealous of their rivals, though Godai would not admit it to Kyoko, and Kyoko would not admit it to even herself until much later.

That a good man like Coach Mitaka is Godai’s rival for Kyoko is entirely understandable, and it is amazing that he would lose to the incompetent Godai, whose only redeeming grace seem to be his kindness and dedication towards Kyoko. It is more amazing that Kyoko had to fight off 2 younger rivals for Godai, and had another 2 rivals who were so young that she did not take seriously. Somehow Godai has a tendency to attract young and simple girls. Perhaps Kyoko saw it the same way as Godai’s grandma, who once said to Godai something along the line of “Your grandpa was a wimp like you, but when I saw the desperation in his eyes, I knew he will love me forever.”

These obstacles and distractions drag on the story for 96 episodes. After all, Godai had to graduate and get a permanent job to be financially independent before he can propose to Kyoko. At about 20 minutes an episode, this comes to around 36 hours or 1 and a half day to watch. Not that I took it all at one go. I would have become numb and missed the fun of the show. Unlike much of Japanese manga and anime, the story actually gets somewhere and is more than just endless story arcs. It is a marathon story, but with a clear goal.

The whole point of watching is not to see how the story ends, but how the characters change along the way. I find these characters growing on me and I just can’t help but root for them. It was a delight to see signs along the way that Kyoko has more or less chosen Godai, and is waiting for him to be ready to marry her. Godai eventually graduated from college and found a job, 5 years into the story, and Kyoko realised after 4 years that she will eventually let go of Souichiro.

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Camera-less Nokia E51

My new job does not allow phones with cameras. Rather than to spend $68 on a simple 2g phone that i do not want to use, i extended my 2 year contract with m1 and got a nokia e51 for $98. It’s my first 3g phone, so m1 had to give me a 3g sim card before i could send out sms. There is no touchscreen. It’s a simple phone, not really a smart phone but at least i don’t need to give up bluetooth, mp3. And this is a 3g phone so i can potentially plug in my broadband sim card from my 3g modem and have internet access anywhere i go in singapore, though i have yet to try that. I can also connect to wireless@sg and surf for free without needing to change my sim card. It detects and connects a lot faster than my n311 pda. It takes an hour to charge the battery using the tiny charger bundled with the phone, and it lasts 3 days with moderate use, bluetooth on. Surfing on wifi can drain the batt very fast though.

I typed this entry on my phone using Notes, which came with it. What sucks was that I could copy from notes, but the browser that shipped with it does not allow pasting. So while I could type on the go, I couldn’t copy and paste directly when I’m at a wifi hotspot. I need to bluetooth it to my pda, or my home laptop with bluetooth, both receiving the note as a text file.

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Pizza hut Starzbites cheese extreme

These days, when I eat out at eating places that I used to enjoy when I was younger, I find myself asking whether I have suddenly grown up a lot and found the food portions to shrink in relation to my new size, or did the food portions really get smaller as inflation hits everywhere?

The pizza was tasty, cheesy enough to satisfy Sunshine and me, especially after we have sprinkled generous amounts of the cheese powder on it. We always finish half a bottle of cheese between the 2 of us. But we could not help but wonder if the price of garlic has gone up such that we could barely taste the garlic in the garlic bread. And did the price of mushroom also go up, perhaps due to the olympic games, because we can hardly taste mushroom in the cream of mushroom soup. Thankfully, Miranda orange tastes the same year after year, from the time when I was really young and got to drink it only during the lunar new year, till now when I am a father of a half-year old son.

The garlic bread and soup mixed in our stomach and took up quite a bit of space. We were a bit bloated even before the pizza arrived and could have skipped these. The pizza came in 6 slices with 2 “heads” per slice. One pizza is enough to feed 2. We will probably come back again if they have another new pizza that has lots of cheese in it. But we should skip the soup and garlic bread next time.

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Jap gore flick: The Machine Girl

poster of The Machine Girl

My first Japanese b-grade movie, and I found it very enjoyable. A Japanese high school girl with a machine gun for a left arm. Cool concept! The plot is simple, don’t take it too seriously, and don’t watch this gore flick after a heavy meal, especially of sushi. Very creative ways of dying.

Click here for the review on IMDB, or here for Wikipedia.

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Shocking review of The Golden Compass

While surfing blogs with wordpress.com’s Tag Surfer, I stumbled onto this quote of a review of The Golden Compass. When I first saw the advertisement, I was thinking that this is just another fantasy story based on some book and I was not terribly interested since many of them turn out badly. This movie is supposed to be very well done and totally subversive and shockingly had a very anti-Christian agenda. I had no idea. Now that I know, I will want to watch it so that I can have an opinion if friends and colleagues talk about it. I don’t want to say the wrong thing.

You can read more here.

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Curry chicken rice, old Hong Kong style, at Marina Square food court

The curry is tasteless. In fact the curry is more like gravy, or even soup. But at least the chicken is plentiful. $4.50.

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More TransformersLive bashing

There is a very good analysis on youtube explaining why the live movie is as crappy as it is. Don’t miss it if you are wondering how closely the live action movie follows the original Generation 1 TV series.

But don’t just take his word for it. Watch this compilation of the trailers and clips for yourself.

For me, it further confirms my suspicion that this movie is nothing like the beloved Generation 1 series that I grew up watching. Yes, the action is good but all the robots have changed. Scorpionok is so tiny all of a sudden! It is true, you can remove Optimus Prime and rename this as “Super Morphing Outer Space Fighting Robots” and nobody will know the difference. It is just not right. Spiderman, Superman, Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings are rare in how closely they followed the original. At least the themes and main characters are still there. The others are just… artistic license taken to extremes. Such extremes that the brand name is totally diluted. And yet this is so Hollywood.

This is one movie I’m boycotting.

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