Blog 101 > Shakira Versus Motoko

WOW, Shakira! First, let me say that during my workday breakfasts, I always keep the Spanish TV station turned on, since Spanish morning shows are always funnier, dancier, and never as serious as American morning shows. Much easier to wake up with a smile, lol. Well, today, the music video show of the hour played a newer Shakira video “Las de la Intuicion”. Usually, Shakira doesn’t turn my head, but I think this is the first time I thought “WOW!” seeing her. I don’t know why, but in her short black outfit and that bright blue-violet wig, she looked especially hot! If you remember my Blog 094 > Ghost in the Figure!, I think Motoko’s got some burning competition, hahaha!

Full Motoko Photoshoot (92) >>

Blog 100 > Another Dental Vacation!

Hahaha, yup! Another 6 months, another dental vacation! For those on LiveJournal who remember my Post 446 > Dental Vacation? back in January, you’ll know what I mean, lol. Damn, today was even more fun! Besides Jana’s easy cleaning of my teeth which started at 10am, most or all of Tiffani’s patients cancelled, so I was able to goof off with them till 12 noon! Talking about everything from losing weight, to Jana’s and my ex’s and best friends, to frames and LensCrafters, to getting more photo-boards and taking photos, to opening my laptop and visiting each other’s MySpace pages, to dating and finding people on, to joking about Tiff’s obsession with the owner of the Palms Hotel & Casino, hahaha!

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Blog 099 > Weapons in the Wind

Whoa! When I first saw her, I virtually fell in love with her! In fact, it’s been a while since I ordered a figure BEFORE seeing an anime portraying her. In this case, she’s 1/7-scale “Fumie” from the Edelweiss eroge (Japanese erotic videogame) with her long raven-black hair, white windblown dress, and old-style pistol and shotgun. There’s just something gothic yet classical, stoic yet carefree, angelic and demonic, about her! So yeah, I ordered her with a target release of November-December 2007. For those interested, the videogame story site is provided with the image below.

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My Anime Figure List >>


Blog 098 > Pardon Me Sir, Doctor Who?

+++++ Doctor Who 2005 – Season 1 (1-13) – Started 06/2006. Finished 07/21. D-WOW! Updated effects, action, but most of all, emotional drama!

Fantastic! The Ninth Doctor is fantastic, as is his time-traveling companion Rose Tyler! Yes, after 13 months, on Saturday the 21st, I finally finished the last 3 episodes (plus the Christmas special) of the expertly re-imagined Doctor Who 2005. As a kid up through high school in the 80’s, I remember watching all of the classic BBC episodes — those available or recovered at the time — from the black-and-white rebroadcasts of the First through Third Doctors to the color rebroadcasts of the Third through Eight Doctors. Now, with the Ninth Doctor, all of the same quirky, logical, and fantastical elements of the series are repainted in a more striking and reverberating post-9/11 light. The same but restyled TARDIS. The same but redressed adversaries. A-ha, the Daleks! And the same but more vividly portrayed 3D characters. Swinging me from cries of laughter to the edge of tears. Amazing. I can’t wait to begin Doctor Who 2006 with the Tenth Doctor. But damn, since the Time Lords held the ability for only 12 regenerations (giving a total of 13 personalities), the Doctor only has 3 regenerations left! Ah, no worries, he’ll find a way out, lol… 5 of 5 stars!

Blog 097 > When It Rains, It Soars

Wow. I don’t usually rave over a musical artist. But in this case, I must make a startling exception for pianist-singer-songwriter Charlotte Martin. It’s barely two weeks since her song “Every Time It Rains” struck me on July 4th via the internet radio Yet since then, I’ve been hooked by her heart-stopping resemblance to Tori Amos and to a lesser extent Kate Bush, whom she idolizes. Charlotte’s cover of Kate’s classic “Cloudbusting” is subdued yet piercingly refreshing. Tori yet not quite Tori. Kate yet not quite Kate. While some may deride her musical resemblance to her predecessors, Charlotte’s melodies and vocals are undeniably moving and clutching on a soul-stirring level that reaches their own. Fantastic! If you’re a fan of Tori or Kate and want to tread new paths that they themselves could’ve explored, then add Charlotte to your wish list. If you haven’t already.

Blog 096 > Snowfalls & Scissors

+++++ Kanon (2006; 1-24) – Started 07/10. Finished 07/15. DOUBLE-WOW! Childhood romance, melancholy and mystery! Heartbreaking and breathtaking!

Simply breathtaking. Before starting, I expected another cute heart-warming comedy. But when I sat down before the living room TV, the opening snowfall scene between Yuuichi and Nayuki, followed by the stunning opening song and credits, unexpectedly blew me away. At once, I sensed this wouldn’t be another ordinary teenaged comedy-drama. And it wasn’t. As the series unfolds, the 24-episode Kanon (2006) introduces one leading male character — Yuuichi — and his five co-leading females — Nayuki, Matoko, Mai, Shiori, and Ayu — each with her own mysterious romantic ties to his forgotten childhood past.

Animated in the familiar style of his previous project — Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (4 of 5 stars; my max for a half-season) — Director Tatsuya Ishihara employs the same brilliant techniques to tell this moving collection of stories. From Yuuichi’s narration — reminiscent of Kyon’s narration in Melancholy and voiced by the same actor — to the stylish “camera” work — including hand-held camera blurs, split-second off-center close-ups, wide off-center perspectives — to the striking natural settings — moonlit snowfalls, sunset-lit pollen clouds, water fountain showers — Ishihara paints a natural yet supernatural world so nostalgic and personal that it rivals the quality and intensity of animated feature films, like Makoto Shinkai’s unforgettable Voices of a Distant Star. And it is here, against Kanon‘s magical backdrop, where the various high-school friends and family members experience everything from laughing adolescent antics to time-freezing tragedies. Complementing this vision is the equally haunting piano-laced bell-sprinkled soundtrack and use of Pachelbel’s Canon as a fitting play on the series title. Typically, if a series is powerful enough to move me to the edge of tears — such as To Heart (1999, 2004), Fruits Basket (2001), Saikano (2002), Mai-HiME (2004), Negima! (2005), and Shuffle! (2005) — then it earns 5 of 5 stars (or 4 of 5 for a half season). But with Kanon, I was on that edge three separate times — with Matoko’s, Mai’s, and Ayu’s heart-breaking stories. So my decision is easy… an overwhelming 5 of 5 stars!

++++ Pumpkin Scissors (1-24) – Restarted 06/21. Finished 07/09. WOW, epic action, glorious inspiration, and demonic intrigue!

What is a noble? What is a soldier? Struggling to answer these questions in an alternate-past timeline, the 24-episode series Pumpkin Scissors (2006) depicts both the mundane and dangerous missions undertaken by the Imperial Army State Section III, a small motley crew of atypical soldiers nicknamed “Pumpkin Scissors”. Led by the fiery blonde Second Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin and the towering but soft-spoken Corporal Randel Oland, this small band resembles a retro-steampunk version of the cyberpunk “Section 9” from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002-2005). In fact, Alice is easily reminiscent of another noble blonde — the Arthurian sword-wielding Saber from Fate/Stay Night (2006). However, while Alice is unquestionably an outstanding fighter, she differs from the cyborg Motoko or the stoic Saber in her uniquely outspoken, often reckless, and occasionally, even childish behavior. And it is this distinction which probably makes her, not only the most inspiring, but also the most endearing of the three. Beyond that, the epic orchestral soundtrack and consistently crisp animation push this series to 4 stars. Yet, despite the heart-stopping chills and goosebumps during the climactic battle, the lack of a deeper emotional connection or satisfactory resolution to the hidden conspiracy prevents it from rising to 5 stars. That is, until a second season is developed, haha. Nevertheless, a strong 4 of 5 stars!

Blog 095 > My Eye on Mirai, Day 16

Damn slow progress! Since my last update two weeks ago — My Eye on Mirai, Day 10 — found only 6 more random days to push forward my Mirai Suenaga battle piece, for a mere total of 16 random days since May 28th. But once again, here’s a 750×500 draft of the full 1800×1200 battle scene so far. Since the frakkin’ hair and gun details took so long (understandably), I’m hoping things will speed up a bit. For the sake of numbers, let’s estimate 15% (about 1/7th) completed.

P.S. Hey Danny! Oops, if you read this, just noticed that my username — xJAYMANx — on your Fan Art page is missing the first x. And after clicking my username, my Amazon “List of ASINs” seems to have disappeared… Wait, it reappeared a day later. ^^;

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My Eye on Mirai, Day 10 >>
Mirai Suenaga Fanart at >>

Blog 094 > Ghost in the Figure!

Konnichiwa! For this massive 92-shot photoshoot, we step away from our Gothic Lolita Girls, and welcome the 1/7-scale “Purple Motoko” and approx-1/10-scale “Blue Tachikoma” figures released earlier this year!

Sculpted by Tuyoshi Takahashi, manufactured by a Vice & Alter collaboration, and released in January-February 2007, this faithful 1/7-scale PVC rendition of Motoko — from the long-running cyberpunk epic series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex — portrays her standing coolly and calmly in her gray combat suit with a black pistol hanging loosely from her gloved hand. Just as the Major should be, lol… Meanwhile, manufactured by Art Storm, and released in May 2007, this excellent approx-1/10-scale Soft Vinyl version of the blue Tachikoma — also from the same Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series — depicts the bubbly Artificially Intelligent spider-like mini-tank in a joint-poseable bright blue armor. Just as slick as its animated counterpart!

For this Canon photoshoot, I saved 117 shots, then narrowed it down to these 92 shots. While I used Photoshop to clean up an annoying dust particle which reappeared in Motoko’s hair for many of the shots, no color or lighting adjustments were made. Now, without further delay, enjoy the photoshoot!

P.S. Internet Explorer has now officially pissed me off. If Firefox can handle 90-100 images (4-10 MB total) per page without breaking, then why can’t IE? For instance, (1) both IE6 and IE7 erratically interprets pure black (#000000) in these images as transparent pixels, which results in white dots popping up through these holes (even if I change the [img] background color to black!), and (2) when using [div] tags, IE also fails to display the [div] content as the total number of images approaches 100. Ridiculous. So from this point onward, I can no longer promise my support of IE. Sorry.

Otakurl it! >>
My Anime Figure List >>
Click for Full Photoshoot (92) >>

Blog 093 > Fateful Circumstances Revisited

I don’t know if this has ever been done before — creating a video by setting a figure photoshoot to music — but in any case, here’s my first one. Ever since my original Blog 044 > Fateful Circumstances anime-figure photoshoot (47 shots taken in March 2007) featuring Yukino & Arima (from Kare Kano) and Saber (from Fate/Stay Night), I’ve had this intriguing idea in my head, of somehow composing a slideshow and setting it to music. After a preliminary 3-photo test, plus a few hours composing this one, I think the video actually turned out pretty well for an experiment! Enjoy the show!

Original Photoshoot >>
Original Full-Size Video > 856×480 WMV >>

Blog 092 > Otaku or Not Otaku?

A few days ago, my close friend Vanessa and I entered into an intriguing (almost heated) discussion regarding dating, relationships, and eventually my anime blog, particularly my figure photoshoots! In a nutshell, she was notably concerned about how my figure photos — typically of scantily-clad anime girls — would look to the random or casual blog visitor (especially a Westerner) not familiar with anime and its unique influence in Japanese mainstream culture. While they carry artistic value, she noted that the photoshoots could still be mis-interpreted as “creepy” or “perverted”. Fortunately, she knows me well, and understands that this is a common Western stereotype of anime fans (or otaku). But I admit, she does makes a good point that most visitors don’t know me so well, especially if they might include potential employers or recruiters or yes, even a new non-otaku girlfriend!

Needless to say, I value Vanessa’s opinion very highly. I can still enjoy anime, experiment with anime photoshoots, and blog about it, but I can do so without plastering and magnifying those images throughout my entire website. Consequently, over the last couple days, I’ve reworked my website in several ways. (1) I’ve restricted my anime header images to only a few specific anime sections. (2) I’ve moved the full photoshoots away from my blog posts and into these anime sections, behind a low-level anime login. (3) I’ve also set this anime login to protect any blog access from my website (i.e. front door), while keeping the direct blog address open (i.e. back door). (4) Similarly, I’ve also moved more-sensitive non-anime pages behind a friends-level login.

By implementing these changes, I hope to accommodate not only my otaku friends and acquaintances, but also my non-otaku friends (like Vanessa) who may feel awkward or afraid of forwarding my website to their own friends, and lastly, the random non-otaku stranger who may be a potential new friend. For a non-Japanese citizen residing outside of Japan, does this social sensitivity make me any less of an otaku? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I guess it depends on whether an otaku is supposed to possess any social graces to begin with, haha!

Click for December 2006 Photoshoot >>

Blog 091 > Nope, Figures Won’t End Yet

So to answer my question from three weeks ago — Blog 078 > Will Figures Never End? — I guess not yet, lol. Since that post, 17 figures still boxed! While I unboxed two more figures — Shana and Himekuri Girl — I also received two more shipments — Haruhi Suzumiya (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) and Tenma Tsukamoto (School Rumble), two of the most-cluelessly stubborn and hilarious high-school heroines in recent anime. And now, their boxed pics…

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