Blog 090 > Blondes or Brunettes?

+++++ School Rumble – S1 (1-26) – Started 01/30. Finished 6/29. D-WOW! LOL, hilarious! Plus rivalry, regret, romance and friendship. Fantastic!

Double-Wow! Even if everyone already knows this, I must say, even compared to other high-school comedies Kare Kano (5 of 5 stars), Azumanga Daioh (4 of 5 stars) and the more-supernatural Midori Days (4 of 5 stars) and Shuffle! (5 of 5 stars), this 26-episode series School Rumble (2004) easily ranks as one of the funniest and consistently-funny anime out there. While Harima may be the toughest delinquent at school, he turns to mush whenever he gazes upon his adorably-clueless classmate Tenma. Meanwhile, Tenma is equally obsessed with getting the attention of the ultra-distant Karasuma. LOL, the most-hilarious moments occur when this triangular dynamic is dazed and confused by other female classmates! Especially with the aristocratic blonde Eri, lol. Yet the comedy is also broadly woven with Hanai’s heart-breaking past, Akira’s mind-boggling background, as well as Yakumo’s shooting-star wonderment and Harima’s super-rival battles! Spine-tingling, side-splitting and eye-opening! Can’t wait to get to the Second Term, lol… 5 of 5 stars!

+++ You’re Under Arrest – The Movie (1999) – Started and finished 06/26. Not bad! Starts slow but picks up and concludes with an action-packed bang!

Unfortunately, the anime film You’re Under Arrest – The Movie (1999) wasn’t quite as funny, lol. Resuming their crime-fighting antics of the series You’re Under Arrest – Season 1 (1994-1997; 5 of 5 stars), policewomen Natsumi and Miyuki and the rest of Bokuto Station return to solve an unexpected terrorist puzzle. While the comedy and hilarity from the series is notably lacking, the overwhelming over-the-top action finally offers some partial-redemption for the rather slow-and-plodding start. Specifically, the climactic helicopter scene is reminiscent of a big-budget live-action Hollywood film!… 3 of 5 stars.

My Anime Viewing List >>

Blog 089 > My Eye on Mirai

Hey, fellow otaku! Some of you have already seen my first piece of fan art for called “Past & Future Circumstances” which depicts sisters Kako & Mirai Suenaga. Well, last night, I finally found some time to work some more on my next piece, portraying Mirai Suenaga in battle. But damn, due to my ongoing blog updates and other responsibilities, it’s been slow progress since May 28th; only my 10th random day in the last month. Sadly, no more than a couple hours each day.

So to rectify the situation, I thought a progress post would kick my anime butt into high-gear! From Draft 10a, here’s a 750×500 section of the full 1800×1200 battle scene so far, with layers and layers of temporary reference images beneath my black lines. My reference images include those from Fate/Stay Night and Ergo Proxy. But at this point, I estimate a mere 10% completed. Hmmm, maybe I’ll cut the frequency of my blog posts? Gahhh!

Past & Future Circumstances >>

Blog 088 > Beauty & Brains

++++ The Third (1-24) – Started 06/03. Finished 06/23. WOW! Epic yet heartfelt blend of Sunabouzu, Shana, Revy, especially Alita!

Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to finish two more anime series, lol. The first of these is the 24-episode The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye (2006) featuring the spunky teenaged “Sword Dancer” named Honoka and her caretaking comrade, the state-of-the-art desert tank named Bogie. The warm trusting dialogue between person and object reminded me of the dialogue between Shana and her pendant Alastor in Shakugan no Shana, while the post-apocalyptic desert societies reminded me of the anime Sunabouzu and a less bloody version of the manga Battle Angel Alita. And it’s no wonder that Honoka reminded me of the no-nonsense chick Revy in Black Lagoon, since they’re voiced by the same actress: Megumi Toyoguchi! Overall, the poetic atmosphere and music provides a heart-warming undercurrent to the high-tech obstacles and low-tech odysseys encountered by Honoka, Bogie and their companions. Touching. My only complaint are the two random episodes that are animated in an annoyingly different style. But otherwise, the series is definitely powerful and passionate enough to earn 4 of 5 stars!

+++ Starship Operators (1-13) – Started 03/10. Finished 06/23 via Netflix. Not bad! Battleships, politics, drama, tragedy and hope. Yet too short to bond!

The second series is the 13-episode Starship Operators (2005) depicting the turbulent journey of a state-of-the-art starship and its crew of bright young cadets, facing powerful kingdoms, alliances, battleships, networks and politics. At the center of the crew is the strategic genius Sinon, who struggles to find meaning and purpose, even love, amidst the chaos and tragedy, while formulating new ways to outwit outnumbering forces. The battles are fantastically engaging. The animation is crisp and clean. And the inspiring opening song reminds me of the opening for Please (Onegai) Teacher, lol. Unfortunately, with such an epic potential, the series seems too short to gain broader bonds with its many characters. However, the conclusion does carry a subdued melancholic power and a lingering after-effect of needing to know how the story continues. I suppose you can always read the original novels, right? Haha… 3 of 5 stars!

My Anime Viewing List >>

Blog 087 > Japanese Cuisine & Comedy!

One or two weeks ago, as part of her ongoing HTML studies, Vanessa suggested a weekend study session followed by lunch at the Osaka Japanese Restaurant on Sahara Avenue (Las Vegas). She later decided to skip the library, and on Saturday (yesterday), we finally went to the restaurant! Due to circumstances, I reached the place about 45 minutes before she and her sister Arlene did. But during the wait, I recorded a little video (at the bottom of this post) to pass the time, lol…

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Blog 086 > The Pirate & the Lolita

Damn, I couldn’t help it! Not only a new Gothloli Asuka pre-order for August-September, but now grabbing two new pre-orders for October-November! First, a 1/8-scale “Space Pirate” (from Intron Depot 4) with bright-blue hair, black leather and yes, lots of skin, lol.

Second, a 1/8-scale “Gothloli Ryofu” (from Ikki Tousen) with bright-green hair, white stockings, plus removable two-piece top, removable bloomers and removable skirt! In other words, yes again, lots of skin, lol. Snatch ’em now before they disappear forever… or until a possible re-release, haha. Meanwhile, looks like several low-budget months of ramen for me…

Blog 085 > Does Faking It Matter?

So this morning, I come into work at my cubicle and check my emails. And oddly enough, just for the heck of it, instead of auto-deleting, I checked my home spams to find an “Anime Figure” email from another collector: “H-Gurl”. Definitely not your typical spam! And guess what? Her email was simply a friendly message complimenting my collection and noting some “red flags” concerning possible bootlegs or fakes in my collection. With my Tessa Testarossa (Full Metal Panic!), I agreed with her assessment, not to mention the scratches, deformities and poor finish. But for such a scarce version at the time, paying $1 or $2 (plus shipping) on ebay was better than nothing…

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Blog 084 > Shana & Himekuri Girl, Finally!

A-ha! Finally! Sorry about the last two teasers, but no more! After more than a month since my last photoshoot, here’s the full photoshoot of my 1/8-scale “Gothloli Shana” and 1/7-scale “Himekuri Girl” figures!

Manufactured by Toys Works, this flaming-haired blazing-eyed gothic-lolita PVC version of Shana — from the anime Shakugan no Shana (4 of 5 stars) — features her smiling in a white short-sleeved top with a black skirt and stockings. She bends forward with her orange-wrapped sword behind her, and her trusty companion Alastor hanging as a pendant from her neck. Fiery yet proper, haha!… Meanwhile, designed by Yoshizaki Mine — of Sgt. Frog (Keroro Gunso) fame — for the cover of the Japanese magazine Comic Himekuri, sculpted by Tomohide Enoki, and manufactured by Kaiyodo, this purple-and-black gothic-lolita PVC version of this cute cover girl portrays her kneeling in a skimpier top, a more-colorful and elaborate hair adornment, and a longer more-flowing skirt. On top of that, while not apparent in the photos, the intriguing paint scheme is embedded with tiny dust-sized sparkles, like a glistening sheen of rainbow mist. Wow, glad I got her!

For this Canon photoshoot, I saved 73 shots, then narrowed it down to these 60 shots. (For 10 of the 60, I Photoshop-enhanced the poor lighting by duplicating the image layer and applying a “Screen” blend at 50% opacity). Now, without further ado, enjoy the photoshoot!

Otakurl it! >>
My Anime Figure List >>
Click for Full Photoshoot (60) >>

Blog 083 > Another Tease & An Act?

Oops, I lied in my last post! I lied about posting my anime-figure photoshoot NEXT. But not really, since I’m posting the next TWO posts at the same time, haha. So to continue the anime teaser, here’s another figure shot above!… And below, here’s a Dr. Pepper photoshoot I planned to show Anna…

Calling Dr. Pepper? LOL, okay, only my best Ukrainian friend Anna (a.k.a. The Real One) will get this “inside joke”. But for a couple of months now, she’s been missing “that f*cking Dr. Pepper!” When she first mentioned Dr. Pepper a couple of weeks ago, I told her I hadn’t had it for ages! Did I forget the taste? So last week or so, I bought a six-pack, and despite the initial weird flavor, it was easy to get used to, lol. Not bad at all. Soon enough, it’s pretty good! :)))… And now, my 9-photo reaction…

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Blog 082 > A Tease & An Invite?

Hahaha, sorry about the anime teaser! But rest assured the figure photoshoot I postponed last week is being posted next!… Instead, here’s the photoshoot I promised weeks ago to take for my brother Joel. He’s getting married this September 1st, and this is my simple but effective step-by-step capture of “unraveling” the invitation as designed by his fiancee Christy. Nice, huh?

Now slipping into review mode (lol): While some may proclaim a lack of crispness or boldness, this horizontally-oriented lower-cased invitation definitely conveys an unimposing elegance which reflects the wedding location at the Japanese-styled Kitano New York hotel. The maroon, leaf green, and gold color scheme also works. But then, if I’m going to be a groomsman, why do they want me to wear a navy blue suit? Gahhh, lol. Okay, let’s get to the dozen-photo unraveling…

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Blog 081 > Opening Pandora’s Box

Hey, ever heard of… Just a few weeks ago, I heard about it for the first time by overhearing a co-worker. Within minutes, I visited the site and tried out the online radio. And now, a few weeks later, I can’t go online without listening to my randomized “Quick Mix” of customized artist-based stations! In fact, the first tab in my Firefox 2 browser automatically opens to Pandora! If you search for “Linkin Park”, that station will configure artists along that genre, and songs which you can individually “approve” or “decline”. I think I’ve tried another online radio in the past, but I don’t remember it, lol. The thing is: It’s hard to believe that I hardly open my Winamp MP3 player anymore!… So for those sitting at a computer all day, who are open and willing to try out new music that fits one or many artist genres, without the clunkiness of transferring MP3 files, this may be a welcome addition to your musical day! P.S. If you’re interested, here’s the main page and here’s my profile.

Blog 080 > Browser Dilemma!

Gahhh. On the heels of my anime dilemma comes the browser dilemma which probably faces every web developer or blog customizer: Backwards compatibility or not?… Now that I’ve received enough unique hits per day to start considering it, what do you do when your preferred browsers for development (in this case, both IE 7 and FF 2) are used by 40-50% of the visitors, but older versions (IE 6) are used by another 40-50%? Like I said, gahhh!… Similarly, looking at this Kiddy Grade photo taken from my first Canon photoshoot back in November 2006, and knowing what techniques I know now after more than a dozen photoshoots, I could improve or redesign this photoshoot as well, couldn’t I? Or perhaps not. Why not leave earlier versions in the past? Well, because user applications are a bit different from images. And because I’m a nice guy, lol. So tonight, I decided to tweak my blog and website to be “a bit friendlier” and “less broken” in IE 6, while still being viewed best in IE 7 and FF 2. Good enough? I hope so! I’ve spent enough friggin’ time on this!!!

Blog 079 > Anime Dilemma!

LOL, dammit Danny, damn you! ^_^ Tonight, I was all ready to immerse myself into a full photoshoot of my 1/8-scale “Gothloli Shana” and 1/7-scale “Himekuri Girl” figures, but then I stumble across your latest blog post — more Mirai and Kako fanart! And guess what? After seeing the latest art and answering your “bedroom or battle” pose question, now I wanna postpone the shoot for a week or two, and continue constructing my next Mirai piece — battle pose! Damn you! But I forgive you, lol… So instead, I’ll post the new wallpaper background I’ve designed for this upcoming “red-and-purple-haired gothloli” photoshoot. Nice, eh?

Blog 078 > Will Figures Never End?

Ah, finally! My first figure-collection update in ages! Finally moved out the boring 8-year-old vases from the stepped wall in the living area, and replaced them with my collection of still-boxed anime (and Lara Croft) figures! Jeez, 17 figures still boxed! For those who don’t yet know, with the exception of some of my earliest figures, I don’t open boxes until I’m ready to do a full photoshoot. Then once I’ve finished the photoshoot, I display them in the ever-rising shelves above my laptop setup. Only 37 figures opened! And yesterday, I just bought and added a third tier of shelves to make room for new post-photoshoot figures. Argh, will it never end? But now, more pics…

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Blog 076 > Black & Red Blooded

+++ Black Blood Brothers (1-12) – Restarted 05/06. Finished 05/14. My speed review: “Action-packed mix of cute and violent!” (3 of 5 stars)

Before I forget, here’s my review of the 12-episode Black Blood Brothers (2006) finished last month before my vacation. Not quite the dark ultra-violent extreme as Hellsing Ultimate, but then again, it isn’t meant to be. While action still abounds and mystery still haunts surrounding the old-blood vampire Jirou, this anime clearly takes a lighter direction, exemplified by his cute little blond-haired brother Kotaru. The human female Mimiko also adds a touch of warmth and humor which plays well with both brothers. If anything, the series is a nice entertaining stroll to wash away the boredom, lol… 3 of 5 stars!

+++++ Red Garden (1-22) – Started 05/26. Finished 06/03. My speed review: “DOUBLE-WOW! Stylish blend of song, mystery, tragedy and reality!” (5 of 5 stars!)

Just finished Red Garden (2006) over the weekend! And damn, looking back at my Blog 071, I was definitely right! Like I wrote: “A Japanese series set in an American city — New York City. A black mystery surrounding a high-school girl’s death. A surprising yet touching use of tragic song. With an intense style conjuring the look and feel of BOTH Ergo Proxy (5 of 5 stars) and NANA (5 of 5 stars).” That’s right, both the permeating darkness and desolation of Ergo Proxy as well as the lighter day-to-day dramas of NANA. And as the 22-episode series unfolds, the secrets are revealed and destinies become inescapable, all with undeniable style… My 5 of 5 stars stand!

My Anime Viewing List >>