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A week in Tokyo August 28, 2013

Posted by ayasawada in Japan, Travel.
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Harajuku signage

Back in June, I had a “short, relaxing break” in Tokyo. This was my fifth time in Japan, my fourth in Tokyo, having stuck entirely to Kansai and Kyushu on my last trip. Seeing the Japanese capital again after 4 years, it’s interesting how much has changed – and not changed – both in the city and myself.

On the one hand, nothing much has changed. This is still the same Tokyo I’ve found my way around several times before. Convenience stores and vending machines still sell my favourite bottled green tea. I still know the Yamanote line like the back of my hand. Suica is still the way to travel, Ueno station in rush hour is still a nightmare. My favourite haunts of Ikebukuro, Shibuya and Akihabara remain largely the same. And unlike much of the western world, there are still physical record stores you can browse CDs and DVDs in. On the other hand, it’s amazing how much can change in 4 years, like the entire Radio Kaikan building being demolished or the Japanese population finally embracing the smartphone revolution.

I spent the days walking around my favourite parts of the city, doing the things I love and, unlike previous travel-rushed trips, just experiencing life as a Tokyo-ite. (more…)

2012 anime retrospective December 30, 2012

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Drama, Film, Manga.
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Hyoka
Another year, another great batch of anime watching. Despite my ‘cutting down’ due to time constraints, I still ended up watching over 20 shows this year, not to mention the odd OAV, movie, drama, live-action adaptation etc. etc. As I rarely get a chance to blog on a series’ end, I thought it might be fun to follow many other blogs’ lead and gather my thoughts in retrospect. (more…)

Gundam 00 movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer January 29, 2011

Posted by ayasawada in Anime.
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(SPOILER ALERT)
Two words: guilty pleasure.
The story, like the series, was pure confusing hokem, with space aliens thrown in for good measure (I agree with Divine on Random Curiosity, it’s pure Macross). And there are still far too many characters (several terribly redundant).
But this delivered pretty much what you got from the TV series, with better animation and a plot that really did take it ‘to the next level’ — which I guess is what you’d expect the studio to deliver in a blockbuster movie like this. Give the fans what they want after all…
And I am, above all else, a Gundam fan. Despite knowing this is marketable trash, I did love every minute of it. I did get extremely (pointlessly) excited by the shiny new mobile suits, beam-spamming, and deux ex machina, all delivered in SUPERB animation.
It’s awful in so many ways, and yet….
Guilty. Pleasure.
But what the hell does that title mean?
(Also: Giant space flower. WTF)

Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack (1988) June 26, 2010

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Char's counterattack
ANN

Wikipedia

The film that finished it all as far as Char and Amuro, and UC Gundam go. Having got all excited after Zeta (and more recently, the outstanding first ep of Gundam Unicorn) and not quite in the mood after hearing mixed things about ZZ, I jumped straight to this. And what a typical Gundam headfuck.

Char’s Counterattack drops you straight in the midst of another major conflict. Within five minutes you have to get your head round Char turning bad guy (again), a Zeon plot that puts the earth in danger (again) and a burst of new characters, allegiances and the usual batch of nonsensical military acronyms. But of course, this is the kind of stuff us Gundam fans thrive on :)

It’s all, of course, an excuse for Char and Amuro to duke it out in one final geek-spectacular battle. In this respect, Char’s Counterattack certainly delivers. I enjoyed the mecha battles almost as much as those in Zeta and the plot itself was interesting enough (especially with the random plot turns) to keep my confused mind engaged. There were also several ‘amusing’ digs at Char’s playboy lifestyle and seeming (or blatant depending on your POV) loliconism.

The problems with are really not to do with the film, but the ethos of the whole Gundam franchise — familiar faults like too many characters, too complicated a plot and nonsensical politics. But these matter little given that, if you’re watching this you’re likely a Gundam fan.

For a relatively new Gundam fan coming to the original MSG after Wing, SEED and 00, it was interesting for me to see  the template lain for Gundam plots to come (or, in cynical terms, how much every Gundam series hence has ripped off the original). Char’s Counterattack gives us the original Operation Meteor, as well as (I think) the first appearance of fin funnels. And in Quess Paraya another irritating Gundam brat that beggars belief why people fall for her (the weedy semi-romance between her and Hathaway Noa made 00’s Louise Halevy and Saji Crossroad look like Romeo and Juliet :P).

But, hey, beautiful mecha, big explosions. I’m sold :P

Japan trip 2009: The otaku experience August 9, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film, Friends, Gunpla, Japan, Personal, Travel.
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Gundam and I, Odaiba, July 2009

Gundam and I, Odaiba, July 2009

So, I’ve written all about my Japan trip. But given the nature of this blog, it’s the geeky things you want to hear about right? ^^

Otaku highlights include the 1/1 scale Gundam in Odaiba, seeing Evangelion 2.0 in a Shibuya cinema (review to come in a later post) and discovering the ‘Akihabara of Osaka’ Den Den Town. (more…)

Japan! July 6, 2009

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Kyoto Gion Matsuri

Kyoto Gion Matsuri

I’ve fallen rather behind on my posts the last few weeks (got a stack of Japanese films I’ve seen to write about, not to mention the end of the Spring anime season, several volumes of manga and a few new albums and singles CDs). This is largely because of — what else — real life getting in the way, particularly conferences and events for work. However, I’ve also been planning and preparing for my upcoming trip to the mother country. That’s right, ayasawada’s going to Japan 三回! (more…)

1/144 HG Strike Noir Gundam June 14, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Gunpla.
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Some kits sit around for ages before you actually get around to making them. I got this one about three years ago, when my sister went on a trip to Japan. I’d actually wanted it mainly for the free promo DVD that came bundled with it. She came back with a heavily discounted box — marked down because it was sans DVD. Let this be a lesson kids, be honest why you want something when you ask people to buy things for you.

Thankfully I like the Gundam itself too — who wouldn’t love a black version of Strike Gundam with added weaponry? The Strike Noir is the main mecha from the Gundam SEED: Stargazer OVA anime, a spin-off of Gundam SEED Destiny with little to do with the main show. That actually worked in its favour given the stinking pile of crap Destiny turned out to be. For a three episode series lasting a grand total of 45 minutes, it was pretty good and I loved the ‘upgrades’ of the original SEED Gundams.

This is the first 1/144 kit I’ve made in a while, and probably the last I’ll do, since I’ve vowed to invest only in the better quality MG and PG kits. To be fair, Bandai’s gotten pretty good with it’s HG 1/144 line these days. With HG, a 1/144 scale figure no longer looks as cheap and nasty as the no-grade versions. While a splash of painting helps, there is nowhere near as much as used to be required and a quick and dirty job using just the stickers would yield a decent looking model.

Gallery on Flickr

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1/60 PG Strike Gundam April 18, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Gunpla.
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Flickr gallery

Finished up my 1/60 PG Strike model kit this weekend. It’s the first gunpla kit I’ve done in over a year. I struggled to find time last year due to moving, work, real life etc. Somehow it always seemed like there was something else I should be doing with my time instead. As such, all my leftover kits (and the MG Infinite Justice I got for Xmas) were left back at my parents place. But I try and do a bit every time I go back home to visit the folks. As such, this one — already a huge undertaking — took longer than if I’d spent every weekend on  it.

The whole thing took me about four months and reminded me how much I love gunpla ^^. The construction process I find very therapeutic (I’m a cleaning freak, so the clipping and washing of parts is a nice methodical task for me) and it’s nice to do something that doesn’t involve staring at a screen for a change :p

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Gundam 00 second season Ep 1-25 (complete) April 5, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime.
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exia1Another year, another Gundam series finishes its run. Gundam 00 finally ended with the end of its second season last week.I do like the split season idea. Kind of keeps things from getting boring over a 50 episode arc and raises anticipation. This worked well with Code Geass and Gundam 00, so am hoping they do something similar for the new Full Metal Alchemist and whatever new show follows.

So Gundam 00. For me, it was a bit of a mixed bag. Overall, I liked it, but was rather disappointed. It was fun without being very profound, considering it has the usual epic Gundam themes of war, peace and human evolution. It certainly got me more pointlessly excited than any other Gundam series I remember, even if every time it ultimately climaxed in ridiculousness :p Yes, I know it’s one big toy advert and most Gundam series inevitably end with a big confusing fight, but good Gundam, with a proper, engaging story arc and characters (like the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Zeta, or even SEED) can be so great I can’t help but feel disappointed.

SPOILER WARNING

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Gundam 00 music March 15, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Music.
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gundam-00

Gundam 00 has been exciting, if a little disappointing with its constant deux ex machina plot twists. What I’ve really enjoyed though is the music accompanying it. The OP and ED themes have been outstanding, so I thought I’d write a little to showcase another successful Gundam/JPop collaboration. Videos after the jump. (more…)