Saturday, January 11

Hanging with a dog boy and enjoying the weekend.

Inu Yasha and his demon-slaying band.

Ah. The first work week of January is over, giving way to the first weekend. Bliss. Well, I still have to make sure I mix in play with some playful work. Have to start working on several comic projects I have on my plate, including the KC Strange pages and Angel Ace. Gotta make sure I get in an hour or twelve of Suikoden III though. Speaking of that most-beloved of games, we spent probably the whole night's dinner and after-dinner chat talking about it and other RPG videogames. Jason and Mike were probably alienated by our references. Dean, Gig, Dino and me should get them to play more games. Heh.
Anyway, last night I finally got to start watching episodes from the latest DVD collection of Inu Yasha TV series. IY is an anime series set primarily in Japan's Feudal Age. The titular character is a half-dog demon, half-human boy who is looking for the pieces of a shattered mystical orb known as the Shikon No Tama. At his side is Kagome, a Japanese teenage girl from modern times, who got involved via a magical time-travelling well and the fact that she is the reincarnation of the deceased priestess who originally protected the orb. Basically, the series is all about their adventures to recover the pieces of the orb (which was shattered in the early episodes), their battles against a powerful and malevolent enemy who is also after the Shikon, and of course, Inu Yasha's and Kagome's growing love for each other. Awww.
Rounding out the cast of good guys are Miroku, a somewhat lecherous but good-hearted priest with a black hole in his hand; Sango, a beautiful monster-hunter who has a big chip on her shoulder (along with a HUGE boomerang) and Shippo, a kawaii little fox spirit. Aside from the TV series, there is are a couple of anime movies, the latest of which was released in Japan just this past December.
IY is based on the popular manga by Rumiko Takahashi, the same manga-ka (creator) behind Ranma 1/2 and Urusei Yatsura. Anyway, the TV anime is over 100 episodes long and STILL going strong in Japan (Takahashi titles are always long, long affairs). Have to keep watching lots of those. For an in-depth and detailed view of the Inu Yasha anime, click here.
The rest of the day is filled up to. Of course, I have my regular expedition to Greenhills, and a premiere showing of the US version of The Ring later with the gang. Looks like a fun weekend. Got to enjoy it all!

Friday, January 10

Me, My Shelves and I.

The sanctum is getting crowded. Every cabinet, shelf compartment and drawer is full or near-full. I'm getting near the capacity level... a result of my pack-rat ways. On top of the shelves have been consigned my old books and fantasy novels... stuff I have turned my back on since turning to the digital realm for most of my recreation. Now that I think of it, I really should take them down, dust them off and take care of them better. Sure, I will probably not be reading those old Dragonlance novels again anytime soon... but they did give me endless hours of reading fun years ago. Note that down...
A problem for me are the sheer huge number of stuff I can't throw away. First among these are the old VHS tapes I collected years ago. I remember buying the bulk of these anime tapes from CATs in Virra Mall, Greenhills. I spent a fortune on those tapes! Sheesh. I've actually sold quite a lot to Jason, keeping several because I don't have them yet on DVD or VCD, and for sentimental reasons. Maybe I can find a compartment somewhere to put them all into. Another large percentage of space is taken up by old VCDs and CDs, and CD cases. These are particularly hard to move since they are hard plastic and can actually cut me if I'm not careful. At least they don't take up as much space as the tapes. Anyway, I have to sort through them... a LOT are stupid throwaway VCD movies, but there ARE a few gems. And stinker gems, like a clear VCD version of that ludicrous Dungeons and Dragons movie... I will NOT buy that in DVD, but I just have to keep a copy as a reference for sheer disastrous handling of an otherwise incredible franchise.
Then there are my magazines. I started collecting gaming mags back in college, and never really stopped. I could go through the piles and find some issues that still focus on Super Nes and Genesis reviews. DARN! Reading through them, you'd never have thought you'd eventually have the capability to play better-than-arcade quality games in your own home. I just can't bear to get rid of these vintage documents.
And then, there are my comics. I have two large drawers full of comics, and the relatively new issues are fill up two spaces on the cabinets. New additions come in every week. Darn. Gotta find space for that too. I am contemplating on getting plastic cabinets to store the comics in, safe from dust and insects (though I think the house is termite-free anyway).
Ah. Maybe space isn't really the main problem... perhaps it's more of organization. Despite the chaos of my sanctum, I want order. I want my room to be aesthetically pleasing in an organizational way. I want to just be able to stand back and say, 'All is well in my realm.'

Then I will shed a tear for there are no more worlds to conquer. No cabinets to tidy. No drawers to fix.
Cry, cry.

Maybe I should ask Jason to spend the day over. That should get the room fixed up quick. Heh.
Juvenile fun for the mature gamer

"Hey, are you sure you're old enough to play with me?"

It's official. Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, the Xbox game I've been waiting for months and months, has been rated Mature by the US's ESRB (regulatory board). Reasons cited for this rating include gambling (there's a casino in the game), mature sexual themes and nudity. Tecmo, the producers of the game, said they were 'surprised' at the rating (they were expecting a Teen rating) but reportedly would not appeal the decision.
DOA Volleyball, or DOAX, is based on the popular fighting game series. This 'side story' or spin-off chapter takes the female characters and puts them in a tropical island setting where they trade in their fighting outfits for bikinis and swimsuits, and engage in heated volleyball matches and minigames instead of beating each other unconscious.
Tecmo has been VERY secretive about the game's main volleyball engine, but all reports point to a highly playable, addictive and intuitive game that will cater to players of all skill levels. Players will spend two weeks of game time taking their main DOA girl of choice all over the island paradise, relaxing and playing minigames for cash and mainly trying to find partners to play volleyball with. A very important factor in gameplay is the Gravure System, where you have to establish and nurture friendships with other girls to form a killer team. While this may bring thoughts of lesbian action (which will surely freak out Dean), this mainly involves gift-giving. Each girl has her own likes and dislikes, so you will have to figure out which of the literally hundreds of items on sale at the island's shops will perk her interest. A closer friendship means better teamwork and technique, which leads to more matches won, more cash earned, and more items to give away.
Of course, you can also spend cash to buy any of the 300 or so swimsuits in the game. These range from conservative one-pieces to simply scandalous thong bikinis that seem torn from the pages of an Ibiza catalog. Better yet, players can appreciate the wardrobe (or lack of) of the girls via numerous cut scenes of the girls relaxing, stretching and playing around in the island's venues... and yes, the camera is controllable during these sequences.
That all said, DOAX will NOT, according to the developers, have nudity of any sort (apparently with the exception of butt shots in some of the CG cinematics) or any sexual actions aside from the requisite pettings, hugs and sweet gestures of close female affection. However, the ability to ogle and interact with digital divas in skimpy swimwear has caused this game to be a no-no for kids under 17 in the US.
It's funny though that DOAX has really no nudity and violence and has content that basically amounts to about a day at a beach or a season of Baywatch episodes. The Mature rating though puts DOAX in the company of some very high-profile games: Metal Gear Solid 2, Shinobi, Unreal Tournament, Hitman 2, BMXXX and the Resident Evil series.
Of course here, that doesn't mean JACK since Manila doesn't have any such restrictions. Anyway, as far as I know, Xbox owners in Manila are all adults and males. This game will sell a lot of Xboxes here...
For the record, I'm getting it since I am a longtime DOA fan, I am interested in the RPG-relationship building mechanic, the volleyball physics engine and gameplay, and the all-new graphics engine used that is much more powerful than that in the already-awesome Dead or Alive 3.
Of course, the real reason is that this is the first sports-action/dating sim/rpg-strategy/vacation sim/girlwatching game to star my favorite videogame vixens, and I just have to have it. That and the ability to get a sexy female assassin to wear a pair of cute cat ears. Heh.

For an in-depth preview of DOAX, click here.

I wonder if the presence of bikinis like this in the game contributed to the Mature rating?

Thursday, January 9

Tweaks here and there...

Been fiddling with some aspects of my blog (none of which, thankfully, should make it CRASH again, earning me more kicks from Kai). I've added more links to the Cliques and Clicks Blogroll; not all of them are other blogs... some are just nice sites I just want to share. Some are links to my Anime Ace boards: The Lone Gamer is all about videogames, Big Guns, Bigger Eyes is where I post anime news and reviews, Homemade Heroes is for news on the Local Independent Comic front and Say Anything is for anyone to post stuff on that won't fit on the tagboard. Oh, and DOAtaku is our local obsession and news page for the latest on our controversial favorite game series, Dead or Alive. Check them out if you have the time. And say hello to Angel and the gang while you're there.

Rip, we've got visitors. Hi!

Too... busy... playing... to... say... hi...
Buns on the Run

I usually don't get to eat breakfast at home. I wake up relatively late, so to arrive at an unreasonable hour at the office (as opposed to being ludicrously late) I usually just rush through getting dressed up right after I drag myself out of bed. The most I get is a glass of water before I leave the domicile.
So on the way, I get the munchies. So it was that when another one of those vendors selling food on the bus to Cubao came on, I was a bit intrigued. It was a guy wearing a uniform of Minute Burger (a hamburger chain) hawking hamburgers at two for 10 pesos. TWO for TEN PESOS! That's probably the cheapest burger ever (about less than twenty cents!). I first encountered Minute Burger hawkers at Santolan along EDSA, near a Minute Burger outlet. I didn't know they also came on buses at Cubao. Anyway, a lady ordered several of the burgers for her group, and I was listening. After she ordered, the guy took out the burgers from his bag... and it was revealed how SMALL the darn things were! PUNY! I mean, they're probably aptly named since it would probably take a minute or less to eat the things. Bun, sliver of thin burger meat (which is without a doubt full of extenders like those horrid Scott's burgers which MUST be at least 50 percent lard and flour) and ketchup. That was it.
So I decided against getting a burger myself. I got very hungry though, so I had my usual squid balls and gulaman at the MRT Station. Mmmm. Hot, spicy, satisfying and cheap. Though for what I spent there, I could have had six burgers. Makes me sick even thinking about it. Heh.
The Weekly Bloodletting...

I passed by Comic Quest last night and picked up a load of comics: Killraven 3 and 4 (which I got solely for the wonderful art by one of my favorite artists, Alan Davis), Elektra # 19 (which has changed interior art AGAIN!!! AAAAAHHHH!!!), Blade of the Immortal #75, and Mystic # 32 (which I admit I got since it features Giselle ala Jungle Queen. Rarr). Also got the latest Official Xbox Magazine. I got a copy of WWE: Smackdown 4 Shut Your Mouth (what a mouthful), and a copy of Private Dancer for the PC. Heh... that last one we will review in a later post. Heh.
Finally, Cams gave me a ticket for the premiere showing of the US version of The Ring on Saturday. Will it be as good as the Japanese original? It should certainly have better production values, but I will reserve my judgement for after I see it. I've heard they've followed the original script pretty much religiously.
Maybe they still used the Japanese names...Heh-heh... Yes...

Wednesday, January 8

3M Pizza

Anyone here eaten at this place? It's been like, around forever, so I am sure you've probably heard of it. But have you ever tried it? That's the trick. Not a Pizza Hut or Shakey's or even a Greenwich-level pizza place though; 3M is stricly Pinoy 'pitsa'... cheap, easy and satisfying at a base level. As you can tell, I love it. Though I've had some strange experiences. There was a time that I ordered their 'meat sauce' pizza; Imagine my surprise when it came topped with actual pools of meat sauce poured on the pie. WEIRD. If only it tasted as great as it was weird, it would have been perfect.
Well, the good thing is that the other, safer variants taste good. And you get it nice and toasty since they bake it in front of you. I am lucky to have a small kiosk of 3M at our building's cafeteria floor. I actually feel like a pizza right now. Mmm. Crunchy crust, pinoy-spaghetti sweet-spicy sauce, spice ham... Mmmm. Pinoy pizza. An Italian would gag, but hell, I'm not Italian now, am I? Heh...
The only thing is... what do the 3 M's stand for? Initials? Or may be Mura, Masarap at Marami (Cheap, Delicious, Plenty). One of the many mysteries we will never be able to fathom...
KC Strange: Finally out of the shadows

Whew. It was dark in there...

KC Strange is an unusual girl. Besides being the daughter of a mysterious paranormal expert, she got into her own business dealing with the unknown... as a private eye specializing in supernatural cases. Tough, streetsmart and possessing a sharp wit and knowledge of the arcane, KC's ready to take down anything that crosses from the other side into ours. For a fee, of course. This intriguing character was supposed to be my first comic collaboration with Nikki Alfar and Kestrelstudios. However, things didn't go as planned and went a little sidetracked. KC was consigned to go hunt aswang in the backburners for a while. However, an opportunity to finally let the mystic detective see print is about to happen. It's not very long, but will easily give KC more exposure than a lot of our other characters and titles. I'll be working on this one in the next few days.

Tuesday, January 7


Rahxephon is one new anime to look out for.

What does this word mean? Some kind of musical instrument? Some Egyptian diety? Or maybe the latest cellphone? Nope, Rahxephon is one of the newest anime series to thrill otaku all over the world. Rahxephon tells of the adventures of Ayato Kamina, a Japanese teenager from the city of Tokyo whose life suddenly takes a wild, fantastic turn one day. Mysterious aircraft appear and battle the city's self-defense forces, and then later fight mysterious mecha that appear out of nowhere amidst unearthly, eerie music. With a classmate named Reika Mishima, Ayato wanders into a hidden, secret chamber where another mecha is enclosed. As if summoned by a voice, Ayato enters the mech and soon becomes a vital part of a struggle between the forces of earth and an alien menace known as The Mu.
Rahxephon is very similar in theme and shares elements with the now-classic series, Neon Genesis Evangelion; we have a young, unsure teen hero being guided by a more mature female (like the Shinji-Misato relationship), a mysterious mecha, and a somewhat ambivalent earth organization behind them fighting a secret enemy. However, Rahxephon doesn't have the same technobabble (the jargon is more musical-based and often abstract) or the heavy stress levels of Evangelion.
The large cast of human characters is also very far from the crew of psychos in Eva; Ayato gets to meet and mingle with a large assortment of anime babes; from tomboyish fighter pilots and officers to ethereal cuties, sophisticated lasses and the token alien girl. Even the guys look so trim, like there was an architect or fashion designer in the production team.
Another distinct element of Rahxephon is the music; the jazzy, beautiful tracks contribute much to the series' atmosphere, from discordant piano keys to cool guitar riffs. The opening song of Rahxephon is one of the most beautiful theme songs I have heard in recent anime. If I find a copy of the soundtrack CD, it is MINE.
With cool mecha action and unusual designs, a large likeable cast, great music, excellent animation and an intriguing, complex story, Rahxephon is one new anime series I can heartily recommend to anyone looking for intelligent, well-paced animation that's as much about drama, character and plot as it is about action. Grab this if you can.
Hot Copy

On my way to try and find a copy of the latest issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, I found a copy of the latest FHM Magazine instead. The cover has four girls, among them the sexy Maui Taylor. Hmmm. Aside from featuring Ms. Taylor and the so-called Viva Girls, the issue also comes with a 2003 Calendar. With nothing else on my mind but the thought of how useful a new calendar would be, I purchased it. Great stuff. Thanks to my friend Dean for preconditioning me into getting a copy. Heh.
Strange Dream

Last night I had a very peculiar but quite exciting dream. I remember a lot of it quite vividly, so I decided to write about it. It was like I had been dropped into some kind of Aliens movie (As in, the Sigourney Weaver films), and I had been partnered with a Space Marine who looked a lot like... Sean Astin (yes, Samwise Gamgee from LOTR). I was given what I can only describe as a plasma rifle- which was very square-ish in look, but simply made me feel kick-butt. Heh. BRING IT, ALIEN SCUM! Anyway, my bravado didn't last since we seemed to be isolated and I didn't know how many aliens were going to attack. Plus, we tended to change settings; one moment, we were atop a building surrounded by wire fences; the next, we were down on the street. Just then, the attack came; several figures came out of nowhere and started bombing cars (Okay, an Aliens movie set on modern day earth? Yep. Weird).
Then, a whole crowd appeared. Of course, I started blasting away with my rifle. Well, I tried. I looked through the cool scope and could see the whites of the aliens' eyes... hey. They looked human. But kinda, zombie-ish. Okay, I was in Resident Evil. Anyway, I kept pulling the trigger of my toy gun, and all it did was shoot out tiny pellets that made one of the zombie flinch. At least they didn't seem hostile and were pretty much preoccupied with just falling in line for something.
As for my marine buddy, Sean, he seemed to be kinda frustrated that the 'aliens' weren't affected by our firepower, and he went wrestling with one of them. He kinda disappeared after that. So what happened next? Nothing. I woke up.
What does THAT mean? I have no idea. Maybe it's a reference to how me, being a creative person (symbolized by the Space Marine getup and the gun) am constantly fighting mediocrity and genericism in our clock-punching, lemming-like society. Or maybe everyone is an alien except me. In which case I am doomed since I just revealed myself to you all... Aaaahh...
Whatever. Weird dream. Freaky, freaky, freaky.

Monday, January 6

Wanted: BIG-ass TV.

During lunch and on my way home, I walked around for a while at SM Ayala and in Farmer's Plaza looking for a new TV. I suddenly got this desire for a HUGE screen to play my games on, so I started looking. I had read somewhere that Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball would look simply awesome on a widescreen TV, so that was the object of my quest.
Of course, all I learned from my wanderings was that... widescreen TVs are FRICKING EXPENSIVE!!! We're talking in the six digits (excluding centavos). DAAAAAAMMMN. Anyway, now that I look at it, it wouldn't really be practical. Aside from the cost, watching regular TV on a widescreen would be pretty weird. I doubt it would even fit into the sanctum without me kicking out some stuff. Granted, it would make DVDs a lot better... but... nope. I guess not this year. Or next year. Maybe someday, widescreens will be more affordable. So I can let my grandson inherit my copy of DOAX to play on his widescreen. Hah. He'll probably have cyborg sexdolls by then.
Well, with my widescreen dreams dashed, I looked for a simpler alternative; flatscreen TVs. Not bad at all, and I have to say the pictures look great... but they're STILL pretty expensive (though not as astronomical as widescreens). I had to look for 29-inch screens, since I already had a 25-incher. I could probably afford it... as long as I don't eat for the next few weeks. Heh. Anyway, what I'd want probably is a new Philips Pixel Plus TV; that's the one I saw during the LOTR gala- it just makes movies move so... fuller. Still too expensive though. Grrrr.
It was at Farmer's Plaza that I saw a Daewoo 29-inch TV which was within reason, and it looked kinda good. But would it be worth the price and the effort? Now, back at home, I see that my old TV's still pretty great. And it would be a bitch to take out all the connections I've impaled it with. Hmmm. I'll try to save a bit more and see what happens. Till then, I'll make do with the old screen. Maybe all I need is better cable reception. Or probably just a copy of DOAX. Gotta focus on something, and keep the Spender in me under wraps. Down, boy. DOWN!!!
Victory at Work

Some recent events at work made me recall an episode from Band of Brothers. I think it was entitled Breaking Point . Easy Company (the US paratroopers the series is all about) had been without a leader for a long time. Their first and best commander had been promoted so far up, he was no longer allowed to handle the men himself. The replacement officer was an incompetent, indecisive, uninspiring and unskilled do-nothing. He was, as the men called, an empty uniform. This caused bad morale and almost led the company into disaster during a major battle. Luckily, a good replacement was sent in the nick of time, and the men rallied to win a stunning victory. Finally they had a leader again. But even during the bad times, Easy Company was lucky it had a good sargeant (Lipton, played by Donnie Wahlberg) who kept them from going too far under, and who kept the men together. So, they eventually weathered the bad times to survive the end of the war.
Well, that pretty much is very similar to what had happened in our office. Of course, sans guns, flying shrapnel or Nazi stormtroopers... My Creative Director kept our department together and when we needed to, got us to do quality work despite having an empty uniform at the corner office. She played our supportive sargeant... and now she's our new commander, too! Finally, she's been given the position she's had all this time in all but name. The great thing is, she's the first Filipino and woman to be in the position, I think (the position is usually reserved for expatriates and men). Great stuff. I hope this bodes for lots of victories ahead.

Gotta watch out for those darn Nazi stormtroopers though.
Kick Me. Again. HARDER!!!

I should really learn to stop tinkering with my blog template. AAAHHHRRR. Sorry for the slight time of dead space.
Japanese Beef Bowl

I had lunch today at Yoshinoya, a restaurant that specializes in Japanese rice bowl meals. Actually, their specialty is beef bowl meals, though they also have chicken and combo bowls (combo has both chicken and beef). Pretty good, fast food and the servings are quite ample. I have a bit of a fondness for Yoshinoya since I actually designed and drew their anime-style mascots, Yoshi and Noya. Yoshi is a samurai teen in baggy hakama pants who carries HUGE chopsticks, while Noya is a ninja waitress. Heh. I was kinda disappointed that at first there weren't any outlets nearby, but it seems that Yoshinoya's finally getting branches in places that I don't need a VISA to go to. There's one in Park Square, Glorietta, and I think another's opening in Megamall soon. Try it for nice beef bowls, and for nicer anime mascots! Heh. Shameless plugger.
The First Day of Work...


Okay, got that out of my system. Anyway, the day actually started quite nicely. I got up at about seven, even before my alarm/TV went off. I actually got to have breakfast, with nice toasted corned beef sandwiches (made with a brand-new sandwich maker my mom got for Christmas) and ice-cold Sprite (Well, it's better than Coke), which went down like liquid love down my throat. Mmm. It was just like one of those perfect anime mornings where everything is just peachy. The commute wasn't bad either... well, not too bad.
When I got to the office, which is still half-empty (a lot of folks are still in the holiday funk), I was greeted by several Christmas gifts from officemates. Nice, heh.
I hope the day doesn't turn too busy; I'd like to ease in back to work, not get avalanched by a deluge of Job Orders. Sigh. Anyway, I'll try to walk around at lunch and get a feel of the Ayala neighborhood again. It's been awhile.

Sunday, January 5


Uma Thurman gets to kill a lot of baddies in Kill Bill.

Heard about this upcoming flick? It's just the fourth film of some director named Quentin Tarantino. Like most of his other movies, Kill Bill looks to be a dizzying spectacle of violence, profanity and exploitative action. Sounds great. Anyway, it stars an impressive cast: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen and... David Carradine! Woohoo! The story is about a former assassin known only as The Bride (Thurman) who comes back for revenge against her former employer, Bill (Carradine). But of course, the road to the end is never simple, and The Bride has to go through her former comrades in the assassin game, each now far more powerful and deadlier than ever before. Of course, you can tell there's going to be a LOT of killing before The Bride even gets to Bill.
While it's set in contemporary modern-day, KB will feature Japanese swordfighting and martial arts as well as guns. There are touches of anime/Japanese overtones, like killer schoolgirls, and even some homages to old kung -fu movies and Bruce Lee films (Thurman sports Game of Death yellow in one major battle scene). And of course, since it's a Tarantino flick, there's bound to be lots of mature language that will inevitably be bleeped out on cable. So catch this in theaters or on DVD.
Violence, kick-ass women, blood and guts, masked villains and Yakuza, samurai swords, Lucy Liu in a white kimono and LOTS of Uma Thurman. Damn, this is going to be good. You can check out more on this movie at the official site, or download and view the teaser trailer at the apple trailers page.

Lucy Lui and her posse of Yakuza. She even has a Battle Royale-style schoolgirl on her side...
The Sanctum's Mirror

We spent the night at Dynatica Central AKA Jason's place, in a special 'housewarming' get-together. Eats included Yellow Cab pizza, chicken and sushi Jason cut up himself. There was also a selection of softdrinks and some liquor (though most of us kept tee-totalled). All I can say is... hey! This is kinda like MY sanctum. A single guy's pad, Jason's nice condo has a section for his books, comics and other documents, an entertainment center with DVD, a PSOne and a VHS. There's an area for some food prepping, a fridge and the bathroom, and the rest for entertaining people and for the bedspace. Of course, there are posters of anime/cyberpunk stuff all over, and Jason sleeps surrounded by various comics posters in perfectly-aligned formation. That must give good feng shuei. Heh. Anyway, it was fun to just hang and talk about stuff and just go through Jason's stuff. It reminded me a lot of my place, though Jason's principle is ORDER, while mine is leaning more towards CHAOS. Well, that's why I'm called the MADman and this blog Stark Raving MAD.