Monday, December 31

Looking Back at 2007

It's been a hell of a year. Looking back at my past Rants and Raves, I realize that in the past year I had...

Discovered the Apple iPhone, and spent the next several months lusting after it, trying to forget it by turning to the 02 XDA Flame, but ultimately ditching the world of Pocket PCs and Windows Mobile for it. With the most lovely and big screen, a revolutionary touch screen, video playing that puts to shame all other mobile phones and a platform for apps that still continues to grow, it has since become my best cellphone to date. I still have it, and look to still have it into the New Year and the foreseeable future. But then, the only thing constant is change...

I discovered the sweet and double-edged pleasure that was Krispy Kreme Donuts, considered by some as a vice, others the nectar of the gods. I don't bring home boxes of the stuff regularly anymore, but it can't hurt to have a glazed or two every now and then. I think.

This was the year when I got my Playstation 3. Yeah, I got it too early I guess... the big games that I really got it for are only coming out THIS year- Tekken 6, Soulcalibur IV, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy XIII. Of the two uber-consoles, the Xbox360 had more titles and saw more playtime (but ultimately caused more trouble thanks to the frickin' 3RL crap). Still, I can't say I didn't enjoy all those hours of Virtua Fighter 5, and that one afternoon of Heavenly Sword. Well, games on the PS3 haven't been that great YET, but it's still a kick-ass media thingie and looks SOOOO Star Trek.

To coincide with the PS3, this was the year I made the leap into HD, finally and irrevocably leaving behind standard-definition TVs and buying my first LCD HDTV set. It's probably my most significant and enjoyed acquisition of the year, along with the iPhone and Cable DSL. It's been a widescreen world for me since then, and there's really no going back now.

On my HDTV I watched shows like Rome and Heroes. Rome was a bloody classic, although I still have to muster watching the second season. Heroes was enjoyable in its first season, but word of boring episodes, uneven storytelling, crappy new characters and even creator Tim Kring apologizing to fans for failing has made me dread looking at the second season. Oh well. At least Ghost Hunters is still creepily cool, and has new episodes and a spin-off in 2008.

If it was one show that I truly waited for and enjoyed this year, it was Avatar: The Last Airbender. The final season aired towards the end of the year, rewarding long-suffering fans with even more thrilling elemental action, deeper character moments and some big-budget battle scenes. And the darn Book of Fire is only halfway through! 2008 should see the Avatar's quest finally end, but hopefully this world and setting will live on in another form.

Comicspace arrived and seemed to be a great place to show off pages and interact with other comic people. But it soon fizzled out as got forgotten as other sites came in to populate cyberspace with pics, posts and flying sheep... from MySpace, Friendster, Multiply and... gasp... Facebook.

Comics were hit and miss. Civil War was pretty good, as was Infinite Crisis and 52 (eventually). Joss Whedon proved to be gold on the comic writing biz with his brilliant Astonishing X-men. Coming in later in the year were more pages of graphic goodness in Alex Ross' Justice, Adam Warren's Empowered and World War Hulk. However, all these goodies can't erase the unmitigated crap that was Amazon Attacks. UGH.

Speaking of comics, I wasn't too productive in the Indie front- no self-published work, but arguably what I DID do this year reached more people than ever before... thanks to my work on my secret "C.I.A." comic book and my new partnership with Groundbreakers Inc. for Ninja Girl KO! in Mangaholix Presents. The New Year will see a new issue out, so things look great coming into 2008. In the past year, I came together with Elbert Or and Carl Vergara to pass on our experiences to the next generation of artists and comic creators in Ateneo. However, I'm not quite ready to retire anytime soon. There's always a possibility of another K.I.A. book, and that Angel Ace story is still in the gray matter, somewhere. We'll just have to see.

This year seemed to mark the real beginning of CG movies as serious fare, with the CG and Sandals epics 300 and later Beowulf striking the box office at the jugular. First it was all-CG settings. Then it was all-CG EVERYTHING. Adult animated movies are beginning to move in. If you thought Hollywood stars looked airbrushed-perfect before, you haven't seen anything yet.

Still on movies- it was a year of Sequel-Busts like Spiderman 3 and Shrek the Third. The Simpsons Movie was a nice diversion, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was properly dark and brooding. I kinda liked Pirate of the Carribbean: At World's End and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer though, but I can't seem to find anyone else who shares these views.

Work went well for the most part- I'm still at The Salt Mines, where I've been working for the past three years or so. And I don't have any plans of leaving. Things look good, and God willing, they'll stay that way.

All in all, 2007 was a good year. It had it's ups and downs, but for the most part, it was coasting along nicely. What I think though is that it was mostly buildup for the year to come. The optimist in me is thinking that next year- THIS year in a few hours- is going to be even better in so many ways. I can't wait. The Future looks bright, indeed.

Thursday, December 27

T'was the Day After Christmas

I dared venture out into the sunlight today. I've been vegetating in The Sanctum since the vacation started, so I just needed some air. I was thinking that the mobs at the mall should have receded by now, but nosiree... at least Megamall was still crawling with folks. It wasn't unbearably crowded, but I soon found myself yearning for solitude once again. I wanted to try and get something cool, and at some points found myself wondering if I should get a new game (Naruto: Rise of a Ninja for the Xbox360) or a Blu-ray disc (Paprika) to take home. In the end, I balked and just got myself two things- a new belt (from McJim no less. Ownly from... McJim)and a new wallet. For the new year.

Afterwards, I headed home, just wanting peace and quiet once more. And the tranquility of the crowded yet silent internet. Hahaha. I'll try to slip in another mall foray before New Year, I think. But for now, I think I'll bother myself with more R&R, perhaps starting on the script for Ninja Girl KO issue 4, and trying to save the universe in Mass Effect for the Xbox360.

Man, I love vacations. Back to vacationing, then.

Sunday, December 23

Cartoony Christmas

It's the Christmas break, FINALLY, after a pretty long but eventful and ultimately rewarding year. Last week, the Salt Mines celebrated Christmas in a simple but rousing party that was made merry simply for the company. I am really thankful that I am able to work with people I really like and who apparently like me- enough to vote me one of the two most popular Creatives in our department. HO HO! It's nice to be appreciated, and certainly nicer to get a prize for it. Of course, the office Christmas party wasn't the end of the week, but for the rest of the remaining work days of 2007 we just spent the time winding down to the holiday.

Last night, I attended the Comic Quest gang Christmas party at Vin's place. There, we spent the night just enjoying the night air and each other's company, and experienced weirdness like El experiencing a sugar high thanks to his first-ever taste of a Krispy Kreme donut, a photo tour of Jamie and Iyay's honeymoon in the US and an odd half hour of watching 80's cartoon openings on Youtube. Certainly an odd way of celebrating Christmas, but damn fun.

I don't really have much planned for the Christmas break other than the obvious luxuries of oversleeping, enjoying holiday food, catching up on comics reading and videogame-playing and a little bit of shopping. I'll save some serious stuff- like planning the activities in comics for the next year- after Christmas Day itself.

For now, it's kinda weird to have to spend Christmas with just my nuclear family of Mom, Dad and myself, but with a good internet connection and Skype, our loved ones are not out of sight or out of mind. Technology is so grand, isn't it?

Happy Holidays, people! Be safe and happy wherever you are.

Tuesday, December 18

Losing is Half the Battle

It's been awhile since my last Avatar: The Last Airbender update, but since then THREE episodes have come out, the most recent coming out only yesterday! We've gone over the halfway point of Book of Fire. Only eight more episodes to go (well, nine if the 21-episode count is to be believed) before this magnificent animated saga comes to a close.

The Day of Black Sun is a 2-episode arc (consisting of The Invasion and The Eclips) that serves as Chapter 10 for Season 3. The culmination of a plot point picked up during events in Season 2, this involves the Avatar and friends' attack on the Fire Nation on the day of a Solar Eclipse- a day when firebenders all over the world lose their powers. Unfortunately, given that events in the last season lost the support of the Earth Kingdom's vast armies, the 'Invasion Force' at Aang and company's disposal consists of little more than a handful of very brave souls- the Men of the Southern Water Tribe, led by Hakoda, Katara and Sokka's dad, and a smattering of familiar faces and friends made in previous episodes. It's pretty cool to see guys like the Swampbenders, Haru and his tribe, the Duke and Pipsqueak and even The Boulder and The Hippo back fighting for the good cause. The plan is so daring that it just may work... a fast, violent strike right at the heart of the enemy, with some pretty awesome war machines made by the Machinist, in order to pave the way for Aang to face off with The Firelord and end the war once and for all.

UNFORTUNATELY... it's only halfway into the season, so you just know that things won't work out quite the way it was planned. In any case, these two amazing episodes show off enough action and pyrotechnics to please anyone, and the drama and pathos is pretty gripping- it had me glued to the screen the whole time. The whole Invasion has a big budget feel to it which is a truly cool achievement, especially for a TV kids' cartoon. There's even a little tease for a long-running loose end that hopefully will be addressed soon. When all is said and done though, the Empire, er, Fire Nation strikes back, and things get even worse than ever, but at least we don't have to wait a year to see what happens next.

Episode 3.12, The Western Air Temple is the latest episode and involves the gang's retreat to an old and abandoned Airbender sanctuary as they try to plot out their next move. For the most part though, it's a Zuko-centric episode as the now-fully reformed Fire Nation Prince tries to find a way to break the news of his new viewpoint in life to a bunch of people he spent the last several months hunting down like dogs. It's certainly an episode with awkward and uncomfortable moments, which are thankfully mostly intentional. By the end, things work out- sort of. Friendship has to be earned, trust somehow rebuilt and somehow Zuko has to help Aang overcome a major hurdle he has had to becoming a full-fledged Avatar. In any case, it should make for pretty interesting interactions for the last few episodes. It's been a long road to his redemption, and as we, the audience, knows, he's earned and learned so much. It's time this started to pay off.

The last stretch of episodes now beckons- the series is set to end with a momentous 4-episode finale (episodes 18 to 21), so we have five episodes of buildup to the endgame. It's been a long time coming, but this should be awesome. Book of Fire is going to end with a blast.

Tuesday, December 11

Ninja Girl On Duty!

When the Groundbreakers are around, keep a lookout for a Ninja Girl on guard! The image above is an artwork made by Kriss Sison as a standee for Mangaholix Presents exhibits, campus tours and workshops. When I find a good printer, I'll have my own Michiko on guard at the Sanctum. For now though, I'll make do with her guarding my iPhone and PSP on cool Ninja Girl KO! wallpapers. DARN she's cute. Kriss is the MAN!
Anyways, the second episode of Ninja Girl KO! is being produced as we speak, with more slick martial arts high school teen action comedy, though when the next Mangaholix Issue hits stands is still TBA. I'll keep you all updated once I get any news.

Wednesday, December 5

Prepare for the Next Battle!

The Tekken 6 Arcade Intro. The Fighting Soap Opera continues...

Yeah, this is another videogame post best left for The Lone Gamer, but like Metal Gear Solid 4, this game is so popular and universal that it's part of everyday life and blogging for me as well. It's the flagship fighting game everyone knows. It's TEKKEN!
Tekken 6 is coming. Actually, it's already arrived- in Japan, though. For now, all we outsiders can do while we wait for the inevitable international arcade release and PS3 home conversion is salivate at blurry, low-res videos of matches on Youtube. But what has happened since the last chapter in the Mishima soap opera?

We last left the Tekken crew in Tekken 5 with then-hero Jin Kazama defeating both his evil grandfather and father (Heihachi and Kazuya, respectively) and then moving on to vanquish his GREAT-grandfather, Jinpachi Mishima, who had been transformed into a demonic creature by his long imprisonment underneath the Mishima shrine. You'd think that with Jin now in the pilot's seat of the powerful Mishima Zaibatsu, things would be cool and peaceful. But NOOOOO...
Given that Jin had a pretty sinister smirk in his Tekken 5 CG ending, you just could tell that things weren't going to go well. Apparently, after taking command of the Zaibatsu, Jin starts taking his company and personal army, the Tekken Force, into world politics. The Zaibatsu's power and influence soon starts a world war, which ends with Jin on the winning side. With almost every country pummeled into submission, only one force stands with enough power to challenge the Zaibatsu- G-Corporation. And by coincidence, the new leader of G-Corp is none other than Kazuya Mishima. Once again, father and son do battle.
And so, the Sixth Iron Fist Tournament is announced, with a special bounty being placed on Jin Kazama's head by Kazuya. From all over the world, fighters come together once again. Some wish to stop the world war. Some seek revenge. Some crave power, or just the thrill of combat or the rush of blood. At the end of the tournament, a great evil awaits, and one fighter will decide the fate of the world.

WHEW! Melodramatic, ain't it? Well, I SAID it was a soap opera, didn't I?

Anyways, Tekken 6 will come with the whole regiment of characters that appeared in the last installment, the arcade/psp/PS3 release, Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection. Along with undead soldier Dragunov, spoiled little rich girl Lili and back-from-the-dead Armor King, the Tekken regulars are joined by four totally new combatants. Leo may seem to be a bishounen youth, but SHE is actually a girl dressed up like a guy. She comes in seeking revenge on Kazuya for the suspected murder of her parents. Zafina is an Arabian/Egyptian beauty and guardian of a royal tomb who is seeking out the meaning behind a prophecy predicting the end of the world should 'Two evil stars meet'. Miguel is a Spanish matador and brawler who's out for Jin's head for the death of his beloved sister (Darn, these Mishimas know how to make people angry, don't they..?). Finally, Bob is a martial artist whose unique body shape (okay, he's morbidly obese) belies his agility and power. Of course, those seeking favorites like Paul, Law, Lei Wulong, King, Nina Williams... they're all here and looking better than ever before.

As for the end bosses- well, here's the word. Waiting for players in the penultimate stage will be Jin Kazama himself- not Devil Jin but normal Jin- albeit with permanent Rage enabled. Once you wipe the floor with him, you'll face off with Azazel, the latest and BIGGEST end boss yet in a Tekken game. Azazel has already been seen before in the game's trailers- he's the dragon-like monster with the beak and floating crystals- and he seems to be some kind of ancient demon or god. What he IS, though, is a large target, and so far players seem to be kicking his arse handily despite his ability to earthbend and use flying crystals for attacks. Hopefully he'll be buffed up and made more formidable for the home version.

The game of course looks pretty awesome, rivalling or perhaps even surpassing Virtua Fighter 5 in graphical splendour. Character models sport incredible detail, along with facial expressions and individually-layered and modelled clothing (more on that later). Even better, all the animations have been redone, and new movements have been added to make Tekken 6 different and fresher from its predecessors. A big factor in the gameplay now is something called the Rage System, where a character whose lifebar is reduced to near zero gains a surge in power to allow him/her to inflict greater damage and catch up to his/her opponent. Air combos are now monstrously powerful and can empty life bars in seconds- I do hope they tone this down quite a bit.
Another treat in store, taking a cue from recent fighting games, is Character Customization. Even more detailed than that in VF5 and Tekken 5, Tekken 6 will allow players to give their favorite fighter a unique appearance. Since the character models in Tekken 6 are basically 'naked', you can swap or remove as you wish from the available wardrobe of tops, pants, shoes, gloves and so forth as you want (don't count on having the girls topless though), and add cool stuff like swords and guns. These accessories won't be just for show though- apparently some items have special abilities which can be used in battle- Anna, for example, can throw her high-heeled shoes at her opponent (it would be hilarious if you actually KO someone this way). Bryan Fury has been shown using a shotgun to juggle his enemy, while Bruce has at his employ a gang of baby chicks (!). These Item Moves are probably more taunts or minor moves, at best, and shouldn't really be anything more than a fun diversion and fan service.

As of this writing, the Japanese arcade release has been out for a week, and the game is making the rounds in arcades. So far, Namco is still updating the game for the final release at the end of December, making tweaks to the fighting system and adding in options and customization options. Hopefully all this playtesting will result in a perfectly-balanced, supremely playable game. This early though, Tekken 6 looks awesome and it will surely be a system-seller for the PS3 when it punches onto the console sometime next year. Since the arcade version is operating on what is basically a PS3 board (it even has the same XMB interface!), I expect the home version to arrive sooner, rather than later (though apparently only after the release of Soulcalibur IV on the PS3). I can't darn freakin' wait.

2008 is gonna be a good year for fighting. In games, at least.

Sunday, December 2

War Freak

I love the Discovery Channel and National Geographic channels like no other. However, I seem to detect that these funds for knowledge and learning are also places where the US Military does some of their most subversive advertising. There are TONS and TONS of military specials, war shows and series about weapons, smart munitions and other scary stuff that basically imprints on anyone watching that the Americans are FREAKY armed like hell and no one should dare mess with them.

Which is fine, whatever. I just find myself just cringing whenever I watch the show Futureweapons with the bald-headed ex-Navy SEAL host almost oozing with GLEE as he shows off piece after piece of murderous hardware designed to blow human bodies up into little-bitty chunks. Morbid, but fascinating stuff. But yeah, I wouldn't mess with the US military...

Saturday, December 1


I was able to watch the CG-fantasy flick Beowulf a couple of days ago, and I must say I'm glad I caught it in a theater. This sort of spectacle needs to be seen on as big a screen as possible. What can I say? I was certainly amazed and enthralled at the visual artistry of the film, much more so than Robert Zemeckis' previous CG cartoon effort, The Polar Express. The characters onscreen still, slightly have that 'uncanny valley' sort of thing; you KNOW they're not real, but after a while it doesn't matter. After a while, you're just watching performers onscreen, not thinking all the time they're just pixels made to look like Anthony Hopkins or John Malkovich. Strangely enough, the one actor who doesn't look the same onscreen and offscreen is Ray Winstone, who plays the titular hero. Apparently he was cast for his voice and his age, perhaps, since a great part of the story happens in the warrior's more senior years.

But as fabulous as most of the CG graphics are, I have to say there are things that still aren't gotten quite right; mainly WOMEN. Barring Angelina Jolie's succubus-like Demon Mother, the other female characters tend to all look like Glenn Close at the start. I can't figure it out. There's still something about the female form that the CG artists behind this flick just haven't gotten yet. Oh well.

All that aside, I have to say that this was a pretty slick fantasy epic, well worth watching and seeing. The best thing about it for me is how solid everything felt, like the world it was set in, the texture of stuff from wooden walls and gold-painted skin to the disgusting pus-laden flesh of Grendel's scummy skin. Also incredible, the way the camera moves everywhere, like it was attached to a fly, following everything from the path of a gold coin thrown from a king's hand to the bloody swath Beowulf's sword cuts through the gullet of a monstrous sea monster. ASTOUNDING.

I'll be picking up the DVD I guess, since this does seem to be a keeper.

Wednesday, November 28

Scummy iPhone

As if to remind me of its POWER after I have been doting recently on my new PSP Slim, my iPhone just got itself quite a bit of gaming prowess. SCUMMVM, the game system that powered all those classic Point-and-Click videogames like Day of the Tentacle, Secret of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, has been ported over to the iPhone platform. With an interface perfect for the touchscreen-master device, the SCUMMVM games not only play great but look great on Apple's mobile.

The trick is, of course, getting both the emulator program (freeware) AND the game files (bahala na si Batman how you get them) onto the iPhone. It requires an openline, unlocked phone and several apps, WiFi and a bit of fiddling with 1P addresses. But it's easier than it seems, and I got it working fine. So now, my iPhone's not so much the boring, non-gaming device I whined about yesterday.

Doesn't mean I'll be throwing away my PSP though. Not while Tekken and DOA are there. Heh.

Tuesday, November 27

New Toy!

Slim and Lite!

I got myself a brand new PSP Slim last weekend, and I'm having a ball with it. Yeah, I know, I know... I HAD a PSP several months ago, and I really didn't have it for very long. In fact, my first PSP was with me for all of less than three months, and I was really only able to play about three games for any length of time. The portable was a bit more expensive then, and all the games I had were originals, so I was paying for each title through the nose- even the crappy ones (and I did buy a couple of crappy ones). Sad to say, lugging around the PSP with delicate UMDs wasn't the most convenient or comforable thing to do, and the fun wasn't there for me then. So, I eventually bade goodbye to it.

Well, things have changed a bit since then. All over the place now is the new model PSP Slim and Lite aka PSP2000, which is unsurprisingly slimmer and lighter than the previous model 1000s. But never mind the specs about how the thing is 20% lighter and thinner- the nicest thing about local PSPs is that they all pretty much come with homebrew firmwares, large-capacity Memory Sticks and ISO games. What does this mean? Well, it means that you don't need to get those crappy, easy-to-get-scratched-and-ruined UMDs... games are little more than files that you load into your Memory Stick, and play from there. So you can pretty much bring a whole arcade's worth of titles in your PSP, and not a single UMD in sight- thus, Light on the weight but HEAVY on the gaming!
Add to that the niceness that the usual PSP package costs even less than the previous offers did months ago AND gives you tons of games from the get-go, can you say... SOLD?

So now I have my new Piano-Black PSP Slim (I passed on the Ice Silver, Florentine Blue and Rose Pink variants...), loaded to the rafters with games like the indispensable Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection (to tide me over until Tekken 6), Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (really, the game that got me interested in the PSP again), Puzzle Quest (a hilarious mix of Bejeweled and Fantasy RPGs), Jeanne D' Arc (Anime-themed RPG set in the War between France and England), Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops (which I sinfully didn't get to play on my previous PSP) and Sid Meier's Pirates (classic). Heck, I even have Dead or Alive PSX loaded in my PSP as well- running at a lovely 60 frames per second at BLAZING fast speed, it's like a whole new game with upped challenge thanks to the copy being the PAL version (which contains several extras unseen in the NTSC games). Plus, it's the closest thing to Virtua Fighter anyone can get on the PSP. Except with swimsuits.

So now, I have the perfect companion to my iPhone, which despite all it's loveliness and multimedia power, is pretty CRAPPY when it comes to games (Tic-Tac-Toe, anyone?), and another way to fight boredom whenever it rears its sleepy head.

Anyways, if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment to keep in Ivalice...

Wednesday, November 21

Now Sneaking Into Your Favorite Bookstores

Mangaholix Presents #3 is now available in National Bookstore and other places where magazines and comics are sold. This third issue of the locally-produced manga-zine is full to the brim with awesome art, cool stories and characters and tons of content to enjoy.
The stories include the latest installments of MHP's mainstay stories. Midknighters: Fistfight Manifesto, the Ocean's Eleven-meets-Fight Club action adventure takes a break from all the beat 'em up action and takes a look at the softer side of one of the macho heroes. Aporia continues the comedic fantasy adventure of Kapres and Tikbalangs as Apo, the exiled Kapre, confronts his pursuer. Meanwhile, action heats up in the realm of Engkantos as secret dealings continue to play out. In the musical sci-fi fantasy Pulis Pangkalawakan, the band meets a new ally in their battle against the Parapaps... and maybe a new love interest?
Also in Issue 3, a cool feature entitled Musical Icons Manganized where some of the hottest local bands (Sandwich, Itchyworms, Urbandub) get re-imagined by the awesome artists of Mangaholix. And finally, game and gear reviews aplenty as well as in-depth reports on the recently-concluded San Diego Comic Con round out this overstuffed issue!

Oh and of course, Issue 3 contains the debut episode of Ninja Girl KO!, brought to you by yours truly and awesome artist Kriss Sison. Martial arts hi-jinx and light-hearted adventure begin when hapless student Anton Alcazaren crosses paths with the Philippines' cutest and deadliest war straggler- the lovely kunoichi Michiko Yamashita!

Get your copy of Issue 3 (and 1 and 2 if you don't already have 'em) NOW NOW NOW! WAHOOO!!!

Saturday, November 17

WRATH OF KON (a.k.a. a MADman's Komikon 2007 Report)

Another year, another KOMIKON! For starters, I'd like to congratulate and thank Azrael and the members of Artists' Den who worked hard to make this, The 3rd Filipino Komiks Convention, an awesome and cool reality. I've been to all three Kons so far, and they just get better and better each time. A great personal thanks comes from me as well to Groundbreakers Inc., the grand crew behind the hottest new local mangazine (shameless plug!) Mangaholix Presents, for making the day particularly cool, exciting and rewarding for me.

One can only lament that we, the local indie komiks/komics/comics creators/artists/producers/fans/enthusiasts only get one day in the whole year to really call OUR OWN. But then, at the end of the several hours, we're all probably too tired and spent (both in body and in spendable cash) to go another day like this. So yeah- we only get one day, but what a day it is. Crowded, chaotic, creative, completely crazy and cool.

Really, the Komikon is like every other convention out there- get a bunch of people who like the same thing, and get them all together in one place to swap stuff, stories and laughs. At the Komikon, it's always a fun time. The only things I see more of other than comics, toys and fun stuff are giddy smiles and expressions of glee and wonderment (or puzzlement from the odd man/woman out who just wandered into the area by mistake thinking it was some tiangge). The local indie comics community, which also extends to local gaming and hobby interests, apparently, is particularly friendly, close-knit, courteous and pleasant to be around with. It's great to just wander around, meet people in the field you've worked with/crossed paths/swords with/heard of/idolized/been envious of, and just talk shop, swap war stories, give solicited advice and what have you.

There were the usual suspects- seasoned indie professionals who have been around and made their names in the local community. Then there are the youngsters- kids in college or just out ready to storm the world with their hot-off-the-copier ashcans. The next generation, right there. I have to say, it's great to see the Indie Tiangge table filled with tons of new stuff, fresh and ripe to be read and appreciated. I'm a little sad that I wasn't able to scoop up every issue on offer- I blame the ATM for giving me 1000s in bills and the ever-present problem of change. Oh well.

It's wonderful to meet fans and readers of your work, and it never ceases to amaze me how people still keep your stuff to heart years after first release. I was given copies of the original Angel Ace to sign, as well as Angel Ace Again and Next, Siglo and even a couple of copies of Cherry Blossom High. Man, it was great! I have to apologize right now to those fans and readers who approached me and then I can't remember their names- my memory is horrid (but I often remember faces better), but I love you guys and appreciate your support for Angel, Kai and all my other comics to no end.

HECK, you guys and gals are the reason I keep doing this thing.

My main place was at the table of Jonas San Diego, who graciously and generously allowed guys like me, Elbert Or (who selflessly allowed himself to be my cashier... El, I am gonna treat you to lunch or dinner next time we meet. Seriously), Carl Vergara and Dave Hontiveros to squat and peddle our wares. Me? I just brought ten copies each of all the Angel Ace Again! releases (including NEXT!), and five copies of K.I.A. which I had laying around The Sanctum. Nicely, I sold most of them during the day, and gave a couple of sets away to some special people. Not bad!

A few feet away, Budjette Tan and the 'New Alamat' crew of Ian Sta. Maria and Mervin Ignacio displayed their cool new releases- Budj of course had the latest Trese, but his boys had their first major release- Skyworld, a fantasy action-adventure with distinct Pinoy flavor and awesome Tikbalang versus Aswang action. Great stuff!

A stone's throw away, Gerry Alanguilan would be selling the latest issue of his critical and popular indie success, Elmer... unfortunately a mishap in directions almost caused the stocks to get delivered all the way to San Pablo, Laguna. Yikes! Luckily, the comics eventually arrived to the delight of the fans.

Vin Simbulan (Isaw At Iba Pa, Kid Continuum) and Andrew Drilon (Karaboy, Kare-Kare Komiks)were by for a while, but had to leave shortly for another engagement at the other side of the world. Like a tag-team, another couple of good friends came by- Arnold and Cynthia Arre were along to get into the fun and spend a nice lunch with me. On a table nearer to the main stage, the Seven Seas crew was gathered, and I met Taga-Ilog(Pasig) and Michael David (Kubori Kikiam) and got their latest stuff... FINALLY!!!! MORE MINA AND DANTE!!! AAAAH!!! Really, seeing you guys made the day all the brighter.

Of course, my main joy for the day was the release of Mangaholix Presents Issue 3. At the Groundbreakers Inc. table, Head Honchos Ian Cang and Emmanuel Javier presided over their hardworking artists who were scribbling away awesome sketches by the minute. Where was Issue 3? It was a bit late, but literally arrived HOT OFF THE PRESSES in the afternoon. The copies were, thankfully, excellent (if still a bit damp from ink) thanks to production from the Culture Crash guru himself, James Palabay. Great to see ya again, James! Reactions to the new ish, and to a certain new title, Ninja Girl KO! looks great. Hopefully, it's all great from here.

And of course, it was great for me to finally meet in the flesh not only Ian, but Kriss Sison as well! Incredibly enough, the two of us managed to fashion a pretty slick, 10-page manga episode without ever seeing each other eye-to-eye. WAHOO! Gotta love the internet. Anyways, it was awesome meeting you, Kriss, and I hope this results in more, more, more great pages from both of us to the readers.

Other stuff. Fun stuff as well. Met Oliver Pulumbarit (Lex, Nancy and Argus) and had a group pic of him with me and Arnold together- Lourdes School alma mater unite! Met Fero Benedict too...and got reminded I owed him a review and never delivered. OOPS! Sorry, Fero!

Some cool guys and gals from Tale Craft, a locally-produced card-based storytelling game, got me, Carl and El to judge their storytelling contest. It was fun, albeit very difficult to hear the stories due to the overly LOUD emceeing from the central stage. SILENCE!!! STORIES BEING TOLD!!! Oh, and congratulations, Evil Dex!

In pleasant contrast to the last Kon, it was great to have adequate food and drink stations around this time, instead of having to crowd around that ONE Smokey's Stand last year. Thankfully, the venue also wasn't as hot as the last Kon as well, thanks to the many cooling fans set up all around. Unfortunately, it would invariably lead to people crowding and hanging out in front of the fans and blocking the coolness. Oh well.

At the end of the day, people were tired but triumphant. Tired but smiling. Tired but glowing with new purchases or flushed with sales. Me, El and Joel Chua winded the day down with dinner at Katipunan and a long chat about the past day and other funny stuff. Oh, and a long-winded review of mine about those crappy Shake, Rattle and Roll sequels.

The great thing about the Kon for me is that I always end it afterwards with my Comic-Making Spirit reinvigorated with new energy. Enough energy, hopefully, to last me till the next Kon. HOHO! Have to get back on to work on the next Ninja Girl KO! script. Have to keep plugging away at getting the next K.I.A. book off the ground. And how about the Angel Ace graphic novel I seem to be eternally planning? And what else may there be up my sleeve? With luck, we'll see some stuff in the near future. Before the next Kon. Or by the next Kon.

Seeya all next time, people! Till then... Support your local Indies! Support the REAL Filipino Komiks!!!

Elbert Or, Carlo Vergara and David Hontiveros.

Me and Andrew Drilon visit Taga-Ilog and Michael David at the Seven Seas table.

Vinnie Simbulan and Budjette Tan give the Kon a thumbs up!

Everyone gathers at Jonas Diego's table.

Manga Team KO! Finally, I meet the incredible Kriss Sison.

Arnold and Cynthia Arre are in the house!

Busy, busy, busy at the Groundbreakers Table!

More, more, more pics here!

Friday, November 16


The local news once again got me wishing my Vanishing Ray was real. A day ago, a man went into a Court building in Las Pinas and gunned down his own wife, whom he had some altercation with, and her female lawyer who tried to get in his way. The bastard was caught in his own house today, showing apparently no remorse at all for his deed.

The Supreme Court washed their hands of the matter, saying that it wasn't their fault since they're not given enough budget to provide adequate security in court buildings.

So what... anyone can walk into the courtroom and gun down anyone who files a case against them now? I mean, no death penalty anyway so why not?

What an amazing country we have. Government officials zip around in multiple luxury cars and own vast mansions, and we can't even afford proper protection for our courts.

WHAT THE FUCK. Fucking broken shit this country is. FEH.

Thursday, November 15

KOMIKON 2007: Malapit NA!

It's just a day or so away, the one day in the year when Indie Komiks and Comics can meet and match. Lots of familiar faces will make their appearance, but we're all hoping lots of new people come and see what the local komikeros, manga-kas and comic book creators have up their sleeves. I'll most probably be hovering around the Groundbreakers Inc. place where they'll be selling Mangaholix Presents Issue 3, but I'll be sure to drift around and grab myself a copy of whatever catches my eye. I hope you guys all come and grab a copy of Mangaholix!

Seeya all there at UP's Bahay Alumni on Saturday! Later!

Friday, November 9

Where It Counts

So here I am, watching cable. On one channel is Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace. On another, there's Serenity, the movie sequel to the short but sweet Firefly sci-fi western series by Joss Whedon.

Easy to see how superior writing, characters and direction make the smaller sci-fi epic far, far, far superior to the overblown, woodenly-acted, horribly scripted and directed big-timer. I'll fly with the Serenity over any Pod Racer anytime. Hahaha.

Back to work then.

Thursday, November 8

Slammin' Artworks

The gang's all here.

The last time I bought a book from Udon, the rockin' band of artists who made Streetfighter and other Capcom franchises cool in US comics, it was the Eternal Challenge: Streetfighter Art Book which I love immensely. And so, even though this newest volume from them- Udon: Art of Capcom- costs a whoppin' 3K, I got it without batting an eye. Okay, I shed a tear of blood, but that was it. In any case, the hefty volume full of lovely full-color, videogame-inspired, action-packed art is just right up my alley- and also that of quite a few other guys since this volume is promptly selling out at Comic Quest.

For the most part, the book is composed mostly of Street Fighter, which is great since that's my favorite of Capcom's properties. Aside from the images of Chun Li and company, there's a bit of Darkstalkers, the supernaturally-themed brawler, a bit of the Feudal Japan adventure Onimusha, a bit of Resident Evil (No Milla Jovovich though), quite a bit of Rival Schools and some other cool odds and ends. Thankfully, aside from the tons of cover art for Udon's comics, there are gobs and gobs of stuff never seen outside of the book, so I consider this a good purchase. Certainly, it's great reference material for hot, butt-kicking babes and that alone is worth the price of admission.

Great stuff! Now, back to cranking out the comic pages...

Wednesday, November 7

Mangaholix Presents Issue 3

Coming on the Kon.

Here's the cover for the third issue of Mangaholix Presents, and this is extra-special for me since it contains the first episode of Ninja Girl KO!, written by Yours Truly with art by Kriss Sison. It's not yet available in stores, but you can grab the hot-off-the-press copies on the day of the 4th Komik Convention at the UP Bahay Alumni in UP Diliman, on November 17. Gloriously, I'll finally be at a Komikon again with something I did, instead of just walking around just buying stuff. Now I'll be there hanging out with the Groundbreakers and signing copies.

Aside from MP3, things look good on the little something I'm whipping up specially for the Kon- it's a one-shot K.I.A. story entitled The Prize that I'll be putting out in a special Komikon-only Ashcan edition. It'll be at least 12 pages but could be as long as 22 depending on how things go. Basically, it's one long fight scene, and brings back a familiar character to anyone who got the K.I.A. anthology comic.

Things look cool! Can't wait for the Kon! See you all there on the 17th!

Tuesday, November 6

Empowered 2

Emp and friends return!

A pleasant surprise greeted me when I came home tonight... my copy of Adam Warren's Empowered 2 arrived today! Like the first issue of this black-and-white graphic novel anthology, I had to order it from Amazon since local comic stores were unable to acquire it for me. The second compilation of short stories about the misadventures of Empowered or Emp for short, a C-grade superheroine with self-esteem issues and an extremely destructible and exposing super-suit brings more R-rated bondage and cheesecake, along with pages and pages of Warren's luscious pencil art. The sophomore volume also supposedly delves deeper into the other members of the cast aside from Emp herself, including her thuggish but unerringly chivalrous and supportive boyfriend/mercenary Thugboy, her hard-drinking gal pal Ninjette and the guys and gals of Emp's super-team, the Super Homeys.

I wonder how many people in this country have this book? I'm pretty sure there are lots of Adam Warren fans around, and it's certainly his best work so far. It just takes a lot more effort to grab this book, making it one of my more valuable comics as yet. I'll be sure to give it a read-through as soon as possible and bump it up to the head of my horrendously long overdue list of unread comics... Sigh.

Monday, November 5

Creepy Fun

As I've always said, I love spooky shows. This past Halloween, I have to say I was kinda disappointed that I wasn't able to watch a lot of Ghost Specials on local TV (I missed the Magandang Gabi, Bayan Halloween episode, I think) save for the one from the daytime show Noypi, which featured some footage of some supposedly 'dancing little shadow people' on a foray in a cemetery (I couldn't discern anything). Good thing though I got my creepy fix anyways- six hours of Ghost Hunters in their Halloween 'Live' special.

Basically, the Live show, which started off with an episode last year, has the TAPS Team (The Atlanta Paranormal Society) taking viewers online and on TV along for the ride on a real-time ghost hunt. Last year, it was at the Stanley Hotel (the place that inspired Stephen King's The Shining). This year, TAPS returns to the Waverly Sanatorium in Kentucky, a now-decrepit and abandoned tuberculosis hospital where thousands are known to have passed away from the illness. The place is made infamous mostly by the presence of a 'Death Tunnel', a long downward passageway or body chute where corpses are literally slid down for cremation. YEESH.

The Ghost Hunters had quite an active investigation the last time they were in Waverly, with a mysterious running form showing up on camera, and various creepy sounds all over the place. This year, the team, along with ECW superstar Elijah Burke contended with more sounds and creepy paranormal phenomena. The six-hour special wasn't as eventful for home viewers as the previous year, but it was still weirdly engrossing to watch even though like 80 percent is just the hunters and their guests chatting and walking in dark corridors. The best parts of the special were the previews of the Fourth Season of Ghost Hunters, and of Ghost Hunters International.
Ghost Hunters International (GHI)is a spinoff show that features familiar faces from the TAPS team, including Brian Harnois and Donna La Croix. They'll be going all over Europe and other countries investigating haunted spots and applying the tried-and-tested TAPS methods of debunking and evidence-gathering... it looks pretty creepy cool, so that's double ghost hunting fun to be had. GHI is set to debut in January 2008.

There's no shortage of ghost hunting hi-jinks in the near future. Now if only there was a second season to the anime Ghost Hunt, I'd be really happy. And scared.

Friday, November 2

Starting from Zero

The really irritating thing about having your PC zapped by some virus or corruption is that you have to start from scratch almost every time. That is, unless you're careful. Well, I wasn't that careful the last time, so when my computer suddenly conked out, I got scrubbed with all the data in my 200 GB Hard Drive wiped clean. Even more irritating, I lost my Internet settings and information. DAMN!

Well, a week after I was able to scrounge things back together with a little help from my friends. The PC's back working, though there are still some kinks. The main HD has now been partitioned, so data will be safe even if the system gets Kayoed again. Thankfully, my internet connection was restored as well, even though it seems to have gotten a bit slower now. Well, what's important is that I'm back online and back working. At least, until the next big kablooie, and that's probably inevitable. DAAAAMN!

Thursday, November 1

Happy Ending

Just a little delayed factoid I got from surfing online. Remember Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End? Well, spoilers be damned... we all know of course that the movie eventually has Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) taking the place of Davy Jones on the Flying Dutchman. This kinda felt like a terrible fate to befall the hero, since if we are to believe he follows Davy Jones' fate (only able to spend one day on land every ten years).
Well, it turns out that it's not as terrible as I thought. According to the filmmakers (and explained in a deleted scene from the film), the duty of being Captain of the Flying Dutchman only holds for ten years, normally. Davy Jones was left hanging by his lover, Calypso, and therefore continued to prowl the seas and eventually became a monster. In Will's case, since Elizabeth remained true to him (as evidenced by the final scene of the movie after the credits), he is freed from his servitude after the ten years and therefore can spend the rest of his life on land with Elizabeth and their son. Nice, that.

Just a little tidbit. Haven't found anything on what happened afterwards to Jack Sparrow though. Maybe a Pirates 4, hmm? We'll see...

Wednesday, October 31


For all my life, I've always been a sucker for scary stuff. I love watching ghost specials, Halloween episodes and shows about the supernatural. But I've never seen anything you can consider paranormal- aside perhaps from a coke can moving in a half-circle on my desktop for no visible reason (I think it was just the liquid inside sloshing around working with the wet surface).

No third eye regardless, my favorite shows include cheezy programs like Ghost Hunters, Most Haunted and even the now-defunct Scariest Places on Earth (at least, until it became like a Family Fear Factor masochist-fest in the later episodes). I even enjoy reading those Pinoy Ghost Stories books, although I've never bought one.

Maybe it's genetic, or cultural. Filipinos eat up scary stuff like candy- from the way we all perk up when local shows turn Halloweeny, or how weird headlines on our tabloids announce manananggals are on the loose or possessions are at an all-time hight always grab our attention. Even in the modern age of internet and cellphones, the supernatural is still always in the back of our minds. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So I guess I'm just gonna curl up in The Sanctum tonight with a bunch of sweet treats, turn up a scary show or creepy DVD and just get scared out for the fun of it. Happy Halloween, everybody!

Tuesday, October 30

Resting in Peace

The next few days give way to Halloween and our very own Todos Los Santos holiday. This year's celebration/commemoration of Undas is particularly long (almost a week), so quite a few people are probably going away for a proper vacation (if they haven't gone already). Me? As always, homebody me is content with just staying at home and enjoying The Simple Life. As long as that life includes a stable broadband internet connection, next-gen gaming consoles, airconditioning, cable TV, fast food delivery and strong water pressure in the shower. Five-star amenities, right there. Heh. I just thank the Powers Be that I was able to get back my PC and internet working again before the holidays kicked in. That was cutting it close.

Anyways, I plan to finish whatever stuff I have that's slated for this year's Komikon, scheduled mid-November at UP's Bahay ng Alumni yet again. I have to admit, I actually kinda-sorta backed out of my previously-announced K.I.A. Unkillable story since it is so similar in flavor to the upcoming videogame, Jericho (for the Xbox360). I'm thinking up something else for Kai to chew on. In the meantime, something cool may come up for the Komikon from my end, and that's not just my stuff with Mangaholix.

In any case, long breaks like this don't come too often, so let's all just enjoy it. With the crap that we all have had to deal with in the days prior, we all need a little breather.
Avatar Blowout

Christmas sure kinda came early this year, in terms of Avatar: The Last Airbender. This past weekend, I received not one, but FOUR new episodes. It's like this- apparently Book of Fire has progressed up to episode 9 in the UK, and thanks to the universality of the web, it wasn't long before I got to watch them as well.

The Avatar and the Firelord, episode six, takes up not the present-day Avatar Aang and his nemesis Fire Lord Ozai, but their predecessors- Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin. Roku, of course, was the Avatar before Aang and a Firebender, while Sozin was the one for whom the upcoming Sozin's Comet is named- the man who started the Fire Nation's expansion in the first place. Incredibly enough, it is revealed that the two were once best friends, at least in their childhood to early adulthood. Conflict however soon came when Sozin revealed his plans for expanding the borders of his country to Roku, something that the Avatar could not allow, friend or no. What happens next is an expected betrayal and an Avatar's demise, and a surprise revelation that once again rocks the house of one scarred crown prince.
This episode was a ballsy installment, for it focuses not on the established cast but on characters so far only heard of in the world's history, or as side characters. Avatar though pulls it off well with a story that continues to reveal more of the plots and threads which make this series so compelling.

The Runaway, episode seven, involves (finally) a story centered on the girls, Toph and Katara. Once again, the rivalry between the two master benders comes to the fore, involving Toph's spate of money-making schemes and scams that fast gains Katara's ire and creates a rift between the two, leading to potential danger... Danger further made complicated by the return of the Combustion Man.
First of all, the Toph vs Katara fight at the start of the episode basically makes this episode AWESOME (I just wish it went on longer- Aang is such a Killjoy). The character interaction afterwards is very much welcome, and just goes to show why these characters are so loveable. My only complaint is that maybe the Gaang should just stand and fight the CB instead of running from him all the time- Aang doesn't have a very good showing in this ep, particularly, getting knocked out and having to be bailed out by the others. Aside from the CB's continued harrying of the heroes, this is mostly character building for Toph and Katara, which is never bad but kinda feels like filler at this point. At the very least, Katara's newly-discovered 'sweatbending' is pretty cool and really shows how the creators are really getting into the thick of their world's powers.

Deeper waterbending secrets continue in episode eight, The Puppetmaster. This is easily one of the most unique episodes in the whole series, both for the pronounced 'horror' or fright elements (this IS a Halloween special, I gather) and the presence of somewhat more mature elements. The Gaang encounters a seemingly kind old woman named Hamma, who takes them into her inn. They eventually discover that Hamma is a waterbender- the only other waterbender of the Southern Water Tribe aside from Katara. But not all is what it seems as a spate of mysterious disappearances has been striking the nearby village. Hamma soon reveals that she has a secret waterbending technique for Katara- something that the young master may not want to learn.
A very exceptional episode for many reasons, if only for the new and somewhat macabre aspect of waterbending revealed- BLOODBENDING- which allows a waterbender to control a living being like a puppet. My biggest gripe in the episode involve's Katara's unwillingness to use the technique. Certainly controlling a living thing against its will is something the just and heroic Katara wouldn't be easy with, but it's a very powerful and viable technique, obviously. In a more adult anime or series, the Bloodbending could perhaps either harm or kill it's victims... here, it doesn't seem to have any other effects than the possession. The lack of harmful effects lessens the believability of Katara's aversion to using the power and the inevitable duel with Hamma. I understand that given that this is a kid's show, they can't really go too far. But still, this was a pretty ballsy and relatively mature episode that features some impressive bending and combat animations.

Finally, episode nine, Nightmares and Daydreams takes a WILD turn as it has Aang suffering a period of total anxiety as he and the Gaang arrives at the Invasion Force rendezvous point ahead of schedule. The spare time gives Aang time to reflect on his coming destiny- and it scares the pants (literally) off him. What follows is an often hilarious series of dream/nightmare vignettes which have everything from cameos to singing and dancing sheep, references to anime and even a very teenage kissing scene which will have Avatar shippers giggling with glee. On the other side of the coin, Zuko appears to be adjusting well to his royal life- he's got a loving (if eternally bored) ninja girlfriend, the respect and adoration of his subjects and the attention of his father, the Fire Lord. But why is he STILL not happy?

The episode ends with Aang finally coming to grips with his fears, setting the stage for the long-awaited INVASION next episode. But with the series just at the Mid-point, it's quite obvious that it's a long way still before this battle is over- which is fine by me. Hopefully from here on in, there won't be any more fillers or sidetracks anymore. There's just one more episode left before the series goes on a little break (I think), then it's ten episodes to the end of the Avatar saga. Darn, on one hand I wish it would never end, on the other I can't freakin' wait. This is going to be HOT.

Perhaps the most incredible part of seeing all these Season 3 episodes is the realization of how the series has developed since the happy-go-lucky, bright and cheerful episodes from Season One and Two. Certainly it's a lot darker, more mature (though still not as jarringly mature as how the Harry Potter books did eventually). It's come a long way, and darn, just keeps on making me love this series all the more. This show has me to the end and beyond.

Friday, October 26

More Killing to Come

Afro Samurai, the GONZO-made anime featured on Spike TV about a revenge-driven warrior voiced by actor Samuel Jackson, will be having a second season. The further adventures of Afro, according to creator Takashi Okazaki, will have the current Number One Warrior 'losing his way' and 'getting tired of killing'. Events will eventually wake Afro up to the true destiny and meaning of being the world's top warrior and bearer of the Number One Headband he shed so much blood for last season. Also mentioned, Afro's adversary this time will be an 'alluring' female warrior- since, according to Okazaki, seduction and violence are musts for the US audience.

Well. I certainly didn't expect this. While I found Afro Samurai watchable, I didn't find it particularly likeable. On the other hand, with a hot enemy babe on the horizon instead of scabby old men, this may just be the season where the makers get things RIGHT. Also, giving Afro more of a meaning to his exploits rather than just self-serving revenge may make him a more appealing hero. We'll see... the next season of Afro Samurai is set for sometime in 2008.

Sunday, October 21

Avatar: The Last Airbender Double Episode Review

Two more episodes of Avatar, for a grand total of five so far. Five more to go before we get to the dreaded halfway point and season hiatus!


Sokka's Master is a pretty refreshing installment, finally addressing 'Boomerang Guy' Sokka's final realization that he has to improve himself to become more useful to the gang. After having to sit back (again) while the others defeat a crisis with their bending powers, Sokka resolves to get stronger. On a suggestion from Katara that they go shopping to cheer him up, Sokka eventually decides on finding a teacher to help him learn battle skills- a nice way by the by to reveal where Toph actually got her mad bending knowledge...
Anyways, the local swordmaster, Piandao, soon accepts this strange youth as his student despite having no references or offerings, and we go through a pretty hilarious and sped-up training segment with Sokka showing off as much resourcefulness as he does actual sword-fu. In the end though, Sokka's admiration and gratitude for his teacher is so much that he can't avoid not telling the truth about his true identity...

A very cool episode, if only for the fact that from here on in, Sokka should KICK arse, given as how he's been taught combat from a guy who apparently beat 100 soldiers single-handedly (according to the Nick website). The action and animation throughout this ep is pretty slick and cool, and the climactic swordfight between Sokka and Piandao is quite awesome- certainly right up there with the series' best action scenes.
Other than that- once again, cool humor from the rest of the troop, with a focus on the fact that Sokka is actually the comedian of the group, and no one else. Toph's little crush on Sokka gets a li'l bit more prodding, and finally we see a big development on General Iroh's side as well- intriguing, to say the least. All in all, a pretty good episode and my favorite so far in the season.


The Beach has been the talk of the Avatar fandom world ever since word of it came out from the last San Diego Comic Con. A 'fan service' episode focusing mainly on the Ozai Angels (Azula, Mai and Ty Lee) and Zuko as they go on a short vacation. Just having the evil (but admittedly hot) Azula and the limber Ty Lee in swimsuits is worth the price of admission, but well, this episode is surprisingly entertaining and insightful as we see new sides to our resident antagonists. Azula, for example, has been so far unbeatable in battle and the most formidable female villain in US cartoons in recent memory, but this comes at a price- NORMALCY. On the other hand, the perplexing romance between ever-angsty Zuko and the indifferent kunoichi Mai continues and heads into some rocks. I don't know about some fans' opinions out there, but I think they make a perfect couple. Ty Lee is, as always, a chirpy glow in the midst of all the negativity from her comrades, and even gets to have not one, but two crying scenes. There's a bit more of Zuko anger, and he finally vocalizes what has been brewing inside him without a doubt since the start of the season- perhaps a bit too much spoon-feeding, but perhaps it needed to be said.

In the end, 'The Beach' reveals stuff about our villains- just enough to make us kinda-sorta like them a little bit more if you didn't already, but not enough to make it hurt when they inevitably get a beatdown from the Avatar and friends. It's a bit of a twisted little vignette that comes complete with a Fire Nation-type happy ending, that is simply unique. Great stuff, and certainly a cool installment along the lines and flavor of the similar 'Tales of Ba Sing Se'.

On the Avatar's end, the Gaang gets the short end of the stick this ep, as Aang's carelessness leads to him getting spotted by some Fire Nation sentries. However, it seems that the group's general incognito status won't be changing anytime soon as the only one who gets the message is the new character known as The Combustion Man (from the Nick website), the tattooed assassin hired by Zuko. Armed with a unique style of firebending, CM looks to be a formidable opponent. However, I found it cool that Aang isn't shown to be overly weak or kicked around too much; he's actually showing more expertise in the use of earthbending as well in the short but sweet segment between him and the assassin. Hopefully this bodes cooler action in future installments.

That's that for this week! Next episode: The Avatar and the Fire Lord!

Friday, October 19

Destruction, Distraction?

Today, Makati was rocked by what was at first thought to be a gas explosion (it is now being suspected as a high explosive bomb). The incident happened all the way over at Glorietta, quite a way off from our perch at the other end of Ayala. As you'd expect, first reactions to the news of an explosion ranged from morbid curiosity to attempts at humor (which were, admittedly, a good way of coping with fear). It was only some time later as we saw footage of the damage on TV or on the Internet that the gravity of the situation weighed in.

The stricken part of the mall was a place I was very familiar with- the restaurant, Luk Yuen, which was supposedly where the explosion originated, was a place I had eaten in countless times. It was horrible to see the place, or at least the wide area around it- in ruins. It was like footage you'd see on CNN of some bombed-out buildings in some war-torn demilitarized zone. I never thought this would happens in Glorietta, of all places. I GO there.

The atmosphere in Makati was mixed- places where I went to- a production house near Pasong Tamo- had people crowded around TVs, commenting or wondering about the cause of this latest act of terrorism. People wanted to go home to the presumed safety of their homes, to be with their families. I was one of them.

Was this a terrorist attack? Or could it, as many are now wondering, just our own government exercising a measure to draw away attention from the latest scandal in Malacanang? Let's just say I would not put it past our politicians.

My God. Enough is enough. This is madness.

As of right now, 8 are dead, 113 wounded and 5 missing in this terrible event.

Tuesday, October 16

A Different Kind of Gadget Lust

Okay, I am beginning to sense myself inexorably being drawn to another gadget again.

No, it's NOT a phone. Rest assured, I am still even now enamoured hopelessly with my unlocked, hacked, customized iPhone. Nope, the new toy I am obsessing right now is... well, it IS a toy. A Playstation Portable, in fact. Yes, I already had one months ago, and sold it after I realized that I wasn't using it. Well, I've finally found a reason to play. It's called Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions.

Longtime gamers on the original Playstation (PSX) will probably know what I am talking about. In a universe of RPGs filled with spiky-haired heroes, melodrama and CG cinematics galore, Final Fantasy Tactics broke the mold by being a strategy-simulation game obsessed with menus, stats, levelling up jobs and shifting occupations. You spent as much time planning as much as actually fighting but... DAMN it was obsessively absorbing. Where do I spend my hard-earned Job Points? Do I level up or upgrade that skill? Do I work for a Samurai, Ninja or Dragoon? Is a damn Calculator worth it? What's the best frickin' way to beat that bastard Gafgarion's deathtrap?

The point of it all was an epic, albeit hopelessly confusing story of royal intrigue and high-stakes political conspiracy serving as cover for a diabolical invasion. Your main character, Ramza Beoulve, is a noble-born warrior who eventually finds himself having to fend for himself and a fragile principle of justice and truth in the midst of greed, war and ambition. I didn't know half of what really was going on, save that to progress, I had to build and train the most bad-ass, deadly, unstoppable army to walk the land. Which, unfortunately, could only consist of FIVE people. Gah. Still, once you got into the combat and got knee-deep into getting your soldiers onto their paths to becoming war machines, there was no turning back.

The game has now been recently released for the PSP, with all-new content such as new guest characters (notably Balthier the Sky Pirate from FFXII and Luso, a hero in another upcoming FF game), new battles and multiplayer and, for me best of all, gloriously lovely cinematics that bring the story to life in beautifully realized art-brought-to-motion and full voice acting. Really, I NEED to see the cinematics of this game. I want to see the story as I've never seen it before. I just have to.

This is the reason for me to get a PSP again. I have nothing else to get anyway- I already have the phone of my dreams. The next great PS3 and Xbox360 games are due in 2008. This is my project for the moment. I guess the road back to Ivalice starts now.

Thursday, October 11

Long Weekend

Ah, holidays. That's one thing you can always count on the government for- the readiness to appeal to our inner sloth. Anyways, I am really looking forward to the long break starting tomorrow. On the other hand, while I will be able to catch up on sleep, I actually have an agenda I will try to follow through the break.

For starters, I'll have to work on a short comic piece I promised to someone, and the deadline is fast approaching. My, oh my the weeks do pass like quicksilver when you're wasting it all away. Actually, the trick is actually deciding what to do- whether it be a K.I.A. short story or something totally new. I'm edging for the latter, but we'll have to see what happens. Anyway, I am really going for finishing this within the weekend, so please, wish me luck.

On the other hand, I really want to finish Bioshock as well this weekend. Bioshock is this awesome shooter on Xbox360, and the story and setting, mood and atmosphere are all amazing- my favorite game this year by far. Unfortunately, while I blazed halfway through the game a few weeks ago, I got sidetracked and left it by the side. I want to finish this already so I can go into forums again with no fear of spoilers. It shouldn't take too long and shouldn't detract too much from my comic chores.

I'll continue making new wallpapers and encoding videos for my iPhone as well. My current library is still nowhere as nice as my previous DIVX gallery, but I aim to keep on churning it out. Man, I'm still hot for my little iToy after almost two weeks, and that's good. Even better is that the phone has so far been very stable and free of any hang-ups, so coolness.

Oh, and of course there's the little matter of waiting for the latest episodes of Avatar and Ghost Hunters. WOOHOO! Fun, fun, fun.

Well, that's that. This weekend, if all goes well, should be very productive as well as restful. Later then!

Monday, October 8

The Next Filipino Movie Hero?

From the page to the box office...

News just bursted today that Arnold Arre's Andong Agimat has been taken under the wing of UNITEL's head honcho, Tony Gloria as his pet project. As one of the leading production houses in the Philippines, UNITEL has been lately getting into other projects, such as film. Andong just may become the next big Pinoy movie comic conversion since Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah.

According to Gloria, he's willing to put in a lot of resources into making Andong a hit. Depending on how the project sells, Andong may be a movie, a TV series or both- 20 million pesos won't cut it; 50 million would have been preferable but the project just may have a budget of 30-35 million, which is no small sum. Aside from that , UNITEL's best technology, such as HD cameras used in Hollywood films like Superman Returns will be used. Gloria has even mentioned that he's eyeing Robin Padilla in the role of the titular bad boy hero.

Of course, I'm quite excited at this bit of news- Andong is one of my favorite titles from Arnold, and I can't wait to see the characters and action leap from page to screen. I'm still taking this with a grain of salt given the record of Filipino movies so far, but I'll allow myself to be optimistic.

Andong Agimat is an action-fantasy set in a modern-day Philippines where mystical creatures and beings with superhuman powers walk among normal men. When Maria Makiling, a goddess in the flesh, gets lost in the grimy alleys and hostile streets of an evil-infested Manila, there's only one man tough enough to lead the fight to rescue her... Andong Agimat. Copies of Arnold's graphic novel are still out there in Power Books, Fully Booked and other good book stores. Find it!

Man, I'm excited in comics again. Hah!

Saturday, October 6

Hanging with the Avatar

Things get a bit hotter...

This is actually a double-review of two episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, since I managed to not watch episode 3.2 last week. Instead, I watched both The Headband and The Painted Lady tonight, back-to-back. Now I'm kinda regretting it (it's a long wait to 3.4 next week)... maybe I should just gather episodes en masse like I'm doing with anime. Anyways, here's what's happening in Avatar World.
The Headband has Aang and company arriving in the Fire Nation and donning disguises to travel through enemy territory. Predictably, Aang attracts attention despite wearing a headband to cover his arrow, and finds himself smack dab in the middle of a Fire Nation classroom. Soon he's fighting school bullies, getting a new girlfriend and setting up a dance party. Wait a minute... a DANCE PARTY? Yep, even though the freedom of the world is at stake, Aang still has time to get down and boogie. On the other hand, he does raise a good point that it's a fine chance to get into the minds of the next generation of Fire Nation-ites. On the other side of the fence, all is not well with Zuko. Struck with the fear of his newfound life being ruined if the Avatar is, as he suspects, indeed alive, he visits the imprisoned Iroh for some advice. But when Uncle refuses to even look at the Prince, Zuko takes another move that further distances him from the ranks of the good guys...

I didn't expect to like The Headband too much- but despite the weird premise, I enjoyed this second chapter of Book 3. The Gaang's new looks are pretty cool (even though Toph's soleless shoes don't seem consistent throughout), and the characters' interactions are as funny and entertaining as always. The highlights of the episode includes the moments where Aang refers to little tidbits into the past and the dance party itself- Aang and Katara's dance number (them actually doing their katas, I think) was wonderful and quite well-animated. In fact, I'd say this episode is a nice return to quality animation as opposed to the previous episode. Overall, a bit slow-paced but worth watching.

The Painted Lady is a Katara-centric episode, for the most part. The Gaang arrives at a fishing village in dire straights, thanks to pollution from a nearby factory. Katara finds herself unable to let the suffering villagers go without aid, and so the legend of the Painted Lady- a local magical spirit- is revived. Like the Headband before it, the premise seems wild- Katara's impulse to aid some Fire Nation citizens when they should be worried about their present quest seems ridiculous (at least Sokka voices this out more than once). But Katara isn't an ordinary, rational-thinking person. Once again, she shows that she's a hero, probably even more than Aang at this point, and that she's not one to turn her back on someone who needs help.
A little bit of action (one-sided anyway) at the end, some special effects and a fair bit of humor involving a schizophrenic villager and some mud-filled fish round out this episode. Still a 'filler' episode since it's not really about the main quest, The Painted Lady is again an entertaining installment in the series.

For both episode 2 and 3, Aang and Katara got the most exposure. Katara showed off how capable she has become as a waterbender and as a martial artist (hopefully this will continue to be consistent) in her graceful dance with Aang and her performance in The Painted Lady. Unfortunately, Sokka and Toph get relegated a bit to the background- hopefully this will be remedied in the next couple of installments. Next week's episode, Sokka's Master looks to steer the Gaang back on serious matters, as Boomerang Guy tries to make himself more useful by taking up sword lessons. But will he survive his crash course?

Till next time, Avatar Rules!

Friday, October 5

Living the iLife

It's been about a week since I got my Apple iPhone. Since then, I've been through the whole spectrum of emotion, from elation and joy when I first got it, to sheer terror and utter despair when the phone's system went kaput and I was forced to restore it back to a 'LOCKED' state, to the exhausted relief when I say my Globe SIM working again after a tech tinkered with it in Greenhills. But despite all that, I don't regret a thing. Getting this phone has been the most fun I've had in my life as a mobile gadget enthusiast, and despite it being a 'pirate'/rebel/unlocked/open-line/renegade unit, it just makes it all the more fun. Unlocked units have, at this point in time, all the perks- the use of any SIM and network, access to third party apps (free over WiFi), the ability to customize themes and more. As long as there is support for this platform- and it doesn't look like the Rebel Alliance of hackers and Mac enthusiasts will be tiring anytime soon- I'll be fine living like a mobile Jack Sparrow on my Black Pearl iPhone.

I'd say to all of you guys and gals interested in getting an iPhone, ask yourself this question. Can you wait? If you can, maybe it's probably safer to just wait till next year when the phone is released locally as a legit unit, probably under one or both of the big Telcos. There has been scuttlebutt that Globe will be getting the phones, and releasing it under a plan (I've heard talk of 5K plans). There's a chance that the units released here next year may be upgraded models- maybe bigger memory? 3G? Who knows... maybe it will be worth it. At the very least, it will be safe- you can have the use of any services and extras that will be coming with the phone, and if anything goes wrong, you have your warranty to protect yourself.

For now, all there is really is the WOW factor of owning the most hyped-up (even if it does live up to that hype in many ways) mobile gadget ever, the ability to do stuff Apple would never let you do otherwise, mostly for free, under your own terms instead of having to subscribe to any plan or scheme from the big companies. The pitfalls? If something goes wrong, you have to rely on the shop's warranty or your own tech know-how if you're savvy enough. The thing is, YOU yourself can actually unlock phones yourself (given the right conditions) if you have at least a laptop or computer and an internet connection, and the patience to research. Or just have a really techy friend (or someone in the know at PhilMUG.

But if you do want to have a 'pirate' iPhone, you may need to hurry a bit. The latest firmware phones aren't cracked yet, so what is already here is pretty much the only stocks of unlocked or unlockable iPhones you can get. I don't think there's a drought of iPhones- they're still probably readily available, though at some hefty prices. You just have to look for the best deals.

Me, I'm a bit wiser after my early birthpangs with the iPhone, but I seem to have reached a nice cruising level where I am just happy and content and excited for whatever comes next. I see myself staying with my device till a highly upgraded version appears (say, with 30 Gigs of memory, 3G, blah-blah-blah) eventually. For now, I'm still giddy with delight and still having that thrill whenever I send a text, watch a video or listen to a tune. Making new wallpapers is my new hobby. Heh. Anyways, happy as a clam am I. More as things happen, when they happen on the good ship Black Pearl. Later then.

Monday, October 1


Hey, how cool is this? I'm posting this using Safari on my iPhone. Typing is best done with one finger. Unlike the usual touch screen that requires the use of the tip of the fingernail, it's actually the soft, fleshy tip of the finger that works best. Also, it's better to type in English so the auto-correct function actually helps you instead of changing your words at the last minute. Anyway, I reckon with a few more days practice I'll be typing like a pro. Anyway, back to work, I guess.

Yeah, yeah, I got it.

Over the weekend I went out and just got myself the Apple iPhone (the 8GB version, not the discontinued 4GB model). Of course, I'm not alone- quite a few people have availed of the much-hyped device after the thing was unlocked for use with any SIM thanks to hackers extraordinaire that have defied the dictatorial will of the Mac Lords. I've been thinking about it last week every day, and on Saturday I acted on these thoughts. I traded in my 80 Gig iPod, added some cash, and got my iPhone. It was a bit funny to know that I was the first buyer of an iPhone from that particular stall I availed at, and there was a fair bit of commotion as me and sellers alike ooohhed and ahhhed at the phone as we unboxed my specimen. I have to say, once I had the thing in front of my, I was hooked. It looked so much prettier in the flesh than in all the Youtube videos I've been subsisting on online. And darn, it feels so solid and nice in the hand despite it's svelte slimness.
The sellers were inexperienced with setting up the phone, but they did manage to insert my SIM into it, so I wasn't completely left up a creek without a paddle. Still, it took me walking around V-Mall being very self-conscious and fiddling with the phone before I finally managed to make a successful call and be convinced that indeed, I had bought a replacement for my PDA Phone and not a slimmer, smaller-capacity iPod.

Anyway, after getting home my first order of business was, of course, to input my contacts and sync the phone to iTunes on my PC. It actually took most of the night to do the former- I had to do it by hand (at least I was able to get some practice using the virtual keyboard anyway). The rest of the night and early morning hours was spent getting the darn thing to talk to my computer so I could use it's prodigious media powers. It was a pretty chore, since I had to find and install Windows XP Service Pack 2 and then update iTunes to the latest version. Once all that was done though, I was able to sync my iPhone, loading it up with some videos and tunes.

What can I say? The darn thing is gosh-darn gorgeous. Just sitting there, it looks like a sleek slate of obsidian, ringed by silver. It's seamless and smallish-looking (it's a lot smaller than my XDA IIi), with most of the face taken up by the lovely, huge, 3.5 inch screen. It's all about the screen, I have to say, though side by side, in plain real estate my O2's screen is actually bigger... but the iPhone's has better resolution, brightness, colors and contrast. Watching video or even just looking at pics is damn fine on the iPhone's screen. Damn fine indeed. And better yet, unlike regular iPods, you can listen to music or sounds without the need for earphones, so this is indeed a media player you can just whip out in a moment for use.

But of course, even though it's a heavenly media player, is it a great phone? Let me say that it has lots of quirks. It certainly has lots of flaws like the inability to send a text to multiple recipients, no custom ringtones, weak-sounding text alerts and no cut-and-paste functions. But then, I knew all that coming in (I've read pretty much every review online). My likes overweigh all the dislikes and hiccups.

I'm already pretty used to just using my fingers to type, prod and use a touchscreen. I can live without MMS. I really don't need the functions that I can't use (Stocks? Weather? Maps?), and I don't really use PIM or email functions on a mobile. The camera, even though only a still camera, is quite excellent, even in low light situations, and that's more than I can ever say for my previous phone's almost useless camera. And the memory- you can only use about 7.2 Gigs, but that's a lot more than my previous ceiling of 4 Gigs with SD Cards. I don't need or use 3G or EDGE. If I can get the WiFi and Youtube apps to work, that will be a bonus. Most of my content I love to find, encode and sync on the phone myself. I'll miss DIVX and the TCPMP, but the quality of MP4 softens the blow. I'll have to build up a whole new library of videos again, but that's already a hobby of mine so no problem.

All that, and the phone's damn gorgeous.

I'll still be learning how to use the thing, getting used to the idiosyncracies and little cranks in the week ahead most likely. Right now, I'm just having so much fun just playing with the physics-enabled scrolling. I guess I have to get a belt case since just putting it in my pocket is a no-no. But even with the hassles of starting up my new mobile phase, I'm pretty happy- it's been a while since I got really excited about a phone again, so I'm enjoying the rush once more. WOOHOO!!!

Sunday, September 23

Avatar: The Last Airbender 3.1

I've seen it! Thanks to the glorious Internet, I was able to watch the latest episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender a scant few hours after it was shown overseas. Well, what can I say? The episode picks up a few weeks after the final battle underneath Ba Sing Se- long enough for Aang to grow a full head of hair, and long enough for lots of stuff like the Fire Nation's occupation of Ba Sing Se to happen. The Avatar is in for a rude awakening in hostile-looking surroundings, as he finds himself on board a Fire Nation ship. Fortunately, it turns out the ship is under control of the Water Tribe and headed for the Fire Nation. Despite losing the Earth Kingdom's military might, plans are still underway for an invasion of sorts on the Day of Black Sun.

The Awakening is, to be blunt, mostly setup. We find out what happened since the last time we saw our beloved characters. Some are taken off the active board quite matter-of-factly, like the Earth King. For such an important character, he just goes off ala Kane in Kung Fu to 'travel the world' (with Bosco the Bear) instead of worrying about his occupied land (but I think he'll be back with reinforcements soon enough). Some familiar faces from the past show up, but sadly, not the ones I was hoping for. Aang has a bit of an angsty stage here, as he can't seem to accept that the world now thinks he's dead. Whereas Sokka and the others sees this as an advantage, Aang sees it as a dishonor- if everyone thinks he's dead, there's no more hope. He's failed in his duty and purpose as the Avatar.

On the other side of the equation, Zuko returns home to the Fire Nation to face a hero's welcome and a reunion with his father, the Fire Lord. Unfortunately for little Zuzu, Azula has made sure that his newfound redemption is a double-edged sword. My, my how does that scheming witch sleep at night? Very soundly, it seems!

The highlights and Pros of this episode? The new status quo is pretty cool. Katara and Toph get to show off their amazing powers. Sokka's still the fund for funny lines. Quite a few familiar faces return or make an appearance. Ozai's is finally revealed (not what I expected, really). Once again, great voice performances throughout. Finally we're getting into the Fire Nation. The ending scene made me gasp. WHOA.

Cons and Iffy Stuff... How the HECK did Zuko suddenly hitch up with Mai? Supposedly this happened in a side story, but such a thing should have been shown. No Iroh this week. No Suki or Kyoshi Warriors yet. Aang just flying off on his own was really pretty stupid, but what the heck- the kid's brain was frazzled. One thing about the episode- a lot of things are apparently taken up in the Avatar Nickelodeon Magazine (just out recently), such as Zuko and Mai going steady, and the gaang's adventures prior to capturing their present ride. I wish they didn't do this, but I guess with just 20 episodes to go, they have to cut corners somewhat.

Also, the animation style is the somewhat cutesy style from episode like Tales of Ba Sing Se, which is not bad (not as bad as in The Chase), but not my favorite quality in the series. But I think other episodes, like The Painted Lady will be done by the show's better animation teams.

I am really curious as to how the show will go on from here. As Aang is supposedly dead to the world, the gaang does have a bit more freedom to move in the sense that they're no longer being actively hunted. Aside from the overall plot of defeating Ozai on the Day of Black Sun, there's still Aang finding a Firebending Teacher (I'm still rooting for it to be Iroh) and Zuko's new life path to be followed. Well, at least we can be sure next week there will be another piece of the puzzle added to this fiery mix.

Next Episode: The Headband!

Saturday, September 22

Avatar Day

Today is the day. Well, actually, for us Pinoys yesterday was the day, but we're one day ahead. Today, September 21 in Canada and the US, is the debut of Avatar: The Last Airbender's 3rd Season, The Book of Fire. In a few hours, the first episode, "The Awakening" will be showing and finally breaking the months and months-long fast for Avatar fans. Starting tomorrow, the episode should be available in the usual channels for those who know where to look.

Man, it's been a wait. But it should be worth it. Starting from today, there will be a new Avatar each week for ten weeks. It's gonna be HOT. With fire, I mean. Moving on.

Thursday, September 20

Off the Rack

If there's something really unsettling about being sick (aside from the obvious that your health is in danger), it's the fact that you're on the shelf and in storage, out of sight and out of mind. You feel that the world is passing by without you and may soon think that they're better off without you. On the other hand though, it's for your workmates and people's benefit that you keep any virus and sickness to yourself and to no one else. It's nice that the Internet allows contact and stuff to be done regardless of whether I'm at my desk or not, but there's always that nagging feeling that I should be there.
But then, when you're sick, you're sick and you can only get sicker if you stress yourself out. It's a vicious cycle. The best thing to do is just relax, let the body heal and just redouble your efforts once you're back 100 percent.

Actually, I'm just pissed that I wasted my nice haircut after all this time locked up in The Sanctum. Oh well.

Sunday, September 16

Game Ads

As an advertising person and as a gaming addict, I find it quite amazing to see how ads and commercials for games have progressed since the days of Asteroids and Pac-man. Yeah, a lot are still just slick CG cartoons and there are still those 'out there' spots, but quite a few ads for videogames these days are surprisingly touching or poignant, or exceptionally well-orchestrated with unusual music to evoke different emotions. Or maybe I'm just reading into all this a bit too deeply. They're game commercials, after all. Here are a few of my recent favorites...

This is a spot for the Xbox360 shooter, Gears of War, which has since become one of the most critically-acclaimed and popular games today. The ad features the game's protagonist, Batista-lookalike Marcus Fenix, in some very dangerous situations, set to unusual music.

The Launch commercial for Bioshock, an Xbox360 shooter that has since become a blockbuster acclaimed for an incredibly well-told story and highly imaginative gameplay. It's the use of the classic song Beyond the Sea (sung by Bobby Darin)that elevates this from being just lots of slick action to creepy-cool slick action. The slick CG doesn't hurt either.

An even more recent one, this ad for Halo 3 (which is pretty much guaranteed mega-blockbuster status), the third part of an epic trilogy in which humans battle an alien threat called The Covenant. After a cliffhanger Part 2, Halo 3 promises to 'finish the fight'. The ad campaign includes an earlier spot called 'Museum' where we see an aged war veteran recalling the events of the final battle. This ad, 'Believe' just features the amazing diorama created for the game's promotions, set to a stirring score.

All of the preceding spots are for the Xbox360, so let's put in some stuff from Sony. Here are a couple of movie-quality commercials/trailers for the highly cinematic slash 'em up, Heavenly Sword.

Saturday, September 15

On the Outside

I was finally able to muster the will to leave The Sanctum today, forced more or less by the need to buy a new lithium battery for my TV's remote. So I hied over to Megamall, a place I haven't been in for about two weeks. Now, that isn't really a long time- but for me, who once lurked among the stores and arcades in Ortigas sometimes daily, it was a stretch. Anyways, I've really gotten over my malling phase- I just needed to get my stuff and leave.
The battery was tricky, the search taking me from one corner of the mall to the other. Eventually I found the small disc-shaped power source (also used in watches and specialized electronics, I think) in National Bookstore, of all places. I tried looking for a copy of Mangaholix Presents #2, but it wasn't out yet (I was told by Mangaholix honcho Emman that copies would be coming by Monday or so).

I went over to the Fourth Floor electronics and tech floor, where I looked for the latest cellphones and devices to ogle. Contrary to my earlier posts about it, the O2 XDA Flame doesn't seem to be all that hot. Yeah, the huge screen should be cool, but darn- according to reviews and comments online, the battery life sucks, the device's new system (which includes a 3D engine from NVidia) is pretty picky and doesn't even work with the essential The Core Pocket Media Player. In all, the cons are many and seem not worth the sacrifices.

I saw that the Nokia N92 is out, and it looks quite nice. At about 21K it's not that expensive and I kinda find it intriguing to have Mobile TV. The service costs about P488 a month for unlimited access to a bunch of channels, including CNN, MTV, National Geographic, History Channel and Jack TV (No Animax or Hero TV?), which seems pretty fair. Unfortunately, the service is from Smart currently, and I'm on Globe. With the hassle of switching providers, I'll just have to make do with my own content for now, I guess... or just buy a Smart Prepaid Sim to try it out.

Anyways, back to the Sanctum I went, after depositing blood at the bank (AKA Comic Quest). Still collecting Countdown in the hope that it turns out to be awesome. Really HATED Amazon Attacks... who would have thought a series with armies of hot warrior women would SUCK so much? World War Hulk rocks hard though. Nice stuff all around despite some stumbles.

I wonder what'll be hot the next time I venture out? That'll be something to look forward to. Anywy, closing The Hatch now.

Friday, September 14


It's funny to think that with a job that predominantly has me just sitting in a chair thinking all day, typing or drawing can actually cause back pains. But bad posture is certainly a problem for white collar workers and office staff, so much so that after a while we just don't realize our muscles and bones are all misaligned or off-whack from hours and hours of being bent in the wrong shape. That's why people should always take frequent walks around, breaks, stretches and other things to keep you off the seat and desk for regular intervals. It sounds easy to do so, but darn... sometimes you just get so 'into the zone' that you just forget to do these things. One look at the window, and it's noon. You start typing of surfing or thinking, the next time you look at the window, it's midnight. TIME WARP!

This week was particularly busy, with us all banging away at the grey matter and me attending a TV shoot that lasted up until dawn the next day. It was all a bit much and I just had to take a breather. Thank goodness for the weekend.

There are so many things I still have to do, and time is running out. I just have to get back in the zone for stuff that I really care for, even though recently I've been neglecting them for other stuff. It's just so easy to sleep it all away these days. But despite all that, I'm actually feeling pretty good about things. I should start taking vitamins again, I think.