Saturday, December 24

Traveller's Tales

Join Kino on her strange, melancholy journey.

I first read about the anime series Kino's Journey: The Beautiful World in an issue of Newtype USA. I found the animation style simple and kiddie, but after watching a couple of episodes on Animax, I found out that this unusual series is anything but. Produced by the same creators that brought anime the strange title Serial Experiments Lain, this short but sweet anime is something to see for those fans who think they've seen it all in anime.

Basically, Kino's Journey is about a somewhat mysterious and generally benign young traveller. Kino appears initially as a gender-nonspecific character... the child-like face could either be a pretty girl or boy, and Kino's body is slim and boyish, often covered by bulky travelling coats or jackets. Kino's voice is female, though this certainly isn't a conclusive point since male characters in anime have female seiyuu all the time. Still, Kino's mannerisms and empathy to other characters leads me to think that he's a SHE.
Anyway, Kino travels alone save for her sentient motorbike, Hermes. Early on we do find out that Hermes' voice is heard by anyone in hearing distance, so Kino at least doesn't have a few bats in her belfry. The presence of talking bikes in Kino's world isn't the most unusual thing- there are weird things happening in every place Kino travels to... stuff like wars, weird gladiatorial competitions, questionable morals and the occasional odd mystery. Of course, Kino is quite capable of taking on whatever comes her way- despite looking like a mild-mannered youth, Kino has some mad skills when it comes to defending herself... the times that Kuno shows off her deadly precision with firearms and other weapons provides the sharp bursts of action in this otherwise placid series.

For the most part though, Kino's journey isn't about some trailblazing pioneer or revolutionary- Kino is, as mentioned, a traveller, who comes and goes into a place for no more than 3 days (the reason for the specific deadline is revealed later on). She gets involved in the events with a measure of detachment, and little commitment, and then moves on. Kino is passive and a bit on the quiet side, but there's a lot of dialogue between her and Hermes. Despite not being your usual hero and having some peculiar thinking processes (in episode two she questions the morality of killing rabbits to help some starving travellers), Kino is an instantly likeable character, and you have to admire someone of such obvious competence (and lethality). What the point of the whole thing may be revealed in the long run, or it may be a moot point. Perhaps the old saying is true in this case- it's not the destination but the journey.

This is a pretty interesting series, though it certainly might not appeal to everyone for the lack of immediate gratifications like fan service, big action, mecha, magic and monsters. It's all about stories, some with a bit of danger, some with lots of thinking and often with a bit of sadness. It's a good title to visit, think about and then move on from. Which is pretty cool.

Join Kino on her journey with VCDs and DVDs at your favorite anime shops in the Metro.

Friday, December 23

Cab Scab

As Christmas gets closer, taxi drivers get a lot greedier, pickier and overall more EVIL. Recently, over 100 taxi drivers were caught violating LTO regulations of conduct by picking customers, contracting, refusing to take commuters and just generally being assholes.

For the past few days I've gotten my fill of bastard stinking taxi cabbies with the arbitrariness of God. Nine out of ten of these miscreants will try to justify their actions because of their economic situation, because it's not profitable for them, etc.

Well, SCREW THEM. I don't fricking care about their stupid reasons. DRIVE because it's your JOB, bastards. If you can't do it, QUIT your job or take a bullet to your worthless brain. Just DIE and give your cab to a better driver.

If a taxi driver gives you flack, REPORT them to the LTO. The hotline number just escapes me right now, but every commuter slighted by a cabbie SHOULD report these bastards so they can be penalized for making life harder than it already is.

In my perfect world, taxi drivers should be lobotomized eunuchs who know no pleasure aside from the joy of travel. Or commuters should be given the right to publicly flog or scourge troublesome cabbies. Yes.

Vanishing Ray. VANISHING RAY.

Thursday, December 22

Closing Time

DONE with work.

Salt Mines shutting down.

Turning off brain.

Need to pay bills.

Got to finish shopping.

Want to vege out.

Later then.
King Kong Lives!

Even though I haven't seen the new Kong movie yet, I won't be going into the theater not knowing how this movie ends... it's pretty much common knowledge that when the big ape climbs the Empire State Building at the end, he's not coming down... alive, that is.

But THAT can change! Apparently, Peter Jackson and the producers of the King Kong videogame have placed an alternate ending in the game which lets Kong escape his tragic fate. To unlock the alternate ending, players must complete the entire game and then go back and play through various maps and earn a total of 250,000 points – which is within reason and definitely worth the effort.
Other un-lockable features include several Weta Digital concept art galleries, interviews with both Peter Jackson and Academy Award® winner and co-writer Phillipa Boyens, an “old movie” filter, a King Kong theatrical trailer and more.

Maybe I'll give this a try. Perhaps after seeing the movie. We'll see. Heh.

Wednesday, December 21

Salty Christmas

Today was The Salt Mines' Christmas Party. The whole crowd converged at a posh venue in Ortigas where we partied the night away with good food, giveaway prizes and lots of laughs. Every year we have this costume thing where we have a theme- this year was 'Philippine Icons', so everyone came as some popular person, character or whatever in Philippine pop culture, history or current events. There were cool ensembles like co-creatives Derrick and 3sha who went as 'Barrel Man' and 'Barrel Woman' (popular souvenirs with barrels that reveal big springy phallic parts) to simple stuff like my outfit, 'Mang Kepweng' (a cartoon/comic character). Thankfully this year I didn't qualify for the Worst Costume Awards. Heh.

Anyway, after the prizes were awarded, a musical band came on and the party danced into the night. I went off after a dance or two... there's still work tomorrow. Sigh. Anyway, at least I'll have time to do my last bits of Christmas Shopping into the long holiday break. Yay!

Tuesday, December 20

Game Over

It happened again, incredibly enough.

ANOTHER gamer in Korea apparently collapsed and died in an Internet Cafe after playing some game for TEN DAYS STRAIGHT. What the game the hapless game addict was playing is not yet known, but is sure to be an MMORPG (Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game).
All I can say is... WHAT DA FOCK? How can you play a game for ten days straight? What stoopid cafe stays on for ten days without noticing some guy is no longer eating or drinking normally? And what kind of guy can just play like that to death?

Anyway, in related news, apparently there IS a law in China banning continuous play on videogames for more than 3 hours- how crappy is that? Well, if it prevents these brainless game drones from dropping like flies in their turf, I guess it's called for. No such law in Korea though... perhaps they should work on that.

I can see it now... Chinese SWAT teams breaking into some house to keep a guy from playing the final stretch of Suikoden III since he went over 3 hours, ratted out by his mom.

Crazy stuff.
Holiday Break

It's a couple of days till the end of 2005, at least as far as The Salt Mines are concerned. That's more than a week of rest from the hustle and bustle of the ad business for me, and I can't be happier for it. I'll hopefully have time to enjoy and savour stuff, get started on new comic projects and pretty much just CHILL. Simple pleasures, but they're all I need. Oh, and I guess I should work on seeing that Kong flick somehow. Heh. T-minus two days and counting...

Sunday, December 18

Christmas Quest

Last night, the Quest Gang and friends came together as many times before in a cozy hotel room with a ton of food and drinks to enjoy each others' company for a Christmas celebration.
Present were, of course, Dean and Nikki, newlyweds Kate and Alex and the rest- Elbert, Camy, Jamie, Charles, Dino, Ralph, Andrew myself and of course, Vin.
Aside from the food and drinks, the main focus on the night was just having fun with games- well, more or less ONE game... a roaringly fun party game called Werewolf introduced to us by Kate. A cross between murder-mystery Clue and stuff like Hive Mind, the game requires a moderator to precede over the play. Everyone else plays as villagers, of which two are disguised lycanthropes, and one a Seer with limited vision. The challenge is for the townsfolk to find the monsters before they murder too many people for a lynch mob to form and defeat them.

It's a fun game, with accusations being tossed, tension getting high (not just for the villagers but for the wolves) and laughter almost unstoppable. I think everyone should try it... all you need are cool friends, a deck of playing cards and a place where you can scream and shout without a real mob forming to run you out of time. Heh.

Anyway, it was well into the early hours of Sunday that the party finally concluded, after we all exchanged gifts and got over the bliss of unwrapping. Once again, the Quest Christmas is done for the year. People have left, people have stayed, people have joined. But as long as friends in fiction and fun remain, December will always be a time for coming together. Till next year!