Back in the Saddle

A year ago today, I rescued the archives of this site, and the process of going back and fixing all of those old posts (I wasn’t able to rescue all of the images, and so had to manually replace them with the aid of Archive.org) got me wanting to blog again about my love for Japan culture, and I’ve been doing it pretty regularly since.

For years, updates on this site had become quite rare — if you look at the archives now you’ll see plenty of posts each month, but that’s just because I imported my Debaser diary (previously on Tumblr, in which I write-up the media that I’m consuming), and so it makes it seem like I was consistently writing here. But that wasn’t the case. After a couple of posts about the rescue efforts (which ended up taking months), this was the first post that felt like a traditional JeanSnow.net blog post.

A year later, I sorta have a routine now where I mostly put up new posts on the weekend, saving stuff I want to highlight until then, and putting them all up in one batch. It would probably be better to parse them a bit more, scheduling them to go up on a daily basis, but I guess I don’t really care about doing it that way.

A couple of days after that return post, I wrote this, saying I had no idea if I was going to continue doing it or not, but I’m now happy to still be doing it. Blogging like this is how I started my professional writing career, and even though I’m just doing it for fun now, I like that I’ve come full circle, doing pretty much the same thing I was doing 15 years ago — although it’s not quite the same in that I’m no longer based in Tokyo.

DJ Dougie Jones

Longtime readers of this blog may remember that I’ve done a lot of music-related projects over the years, like my PLAY sessions at Cafe Pause in Ikebukuro, and then in more recent years my Codex music podcast. I haven’t done anything in the form of creating mixes or playlists in ages, but recently have been teaming up with one of my colleagues and friends at work, Samya Khemri (who together with me is part of the studio’s Game Online Operations team), in creating playlists in Spotify for internal events at the studio. Since we’re both huge fans of Twin Peaks, we call ourselves DJ Dougie Jones. The first playlist was for a happy hour on the studio’s rooftop terrace, the second playlist we did as a soundtrack for an evening of Cards Against Humanity (that we played in a meeting room), and the third one was for our team’s summer BBQ, that was held last week in a park not far from the studio. These are really fun to make — we basically bounce off each other, track by track — and I love the exercise of listening to something someone else has selected, and then trying to think about what would be fun to follow with. It definitely scratches my music itch.

Summer 2017 Anime Season

You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything about the current summer anime season, like I’ve been doing for the past few seasons, listing what I was interested in watching. Well, just like for the spring season, I just haven’t been able to find much I want to watch.

Interestingly, the only two new things I am watching are Gundam-related. I’m still watching the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt, which is slowly getting released as OVAs, and so actually started in the spring. The other series is called Mobile Suit Gundam Twilight Axis, and the pace is even slower — it’s getting released as web shorts of a few minutes in length, once a month. I’m digging the visuals, but I find it hard to follow the story — it might be better to wait until they’ve all been released, and watch them in one go.

I’m not really complaining about the lack of series to watch though, as it gives me more time to catch up on the pile of stuff I’ve been wanting to watch. I’ve already spotted a few things I’m in interested in for the fall season though, and I’ll write those up just before the season starts.

Like it’s 1986

40 movies in, I’m finally putting an end to my 1986 run of movies. Following the 1985 run of 30 movies I watched at the start of the year, I took my time on this one by not forcing myself to watch them in a marathon manner like I did for 1985. I had a really great time watching all of these, and although there are still a few more movies I could have included, I thought 40 was a good number to end on. Yes, I’m already thinking of exploring 1987 later this year, but I’ll take a break for now — my next film exploration run will be 1977, which I’ll cap at 10, just like I did for 1967.

Below are all 40 films from 1986 that I watched (in alphabetical order), with links to my thoughts on each — or you can just click on my “1986” tag.

  1. Aliens
  2. Big Trouble in Little China
  3. Black Moon Rising
  4. Blue Velvet
  5. Cobra
  6. Crocodile Dundee
  7. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  8. Firewalker
  9. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
  10. Heartbreak Ridge
  11. Highlander
  12. Labyrinth
  13. Little Shop of Horrors
  14. Manhunter
  15. Maximum Overdrive
  16. Peggy Sue Got Married
  17. Platoon
  18. Police Academy 3: Back in Training
  19. Pretty in Pink
  20. Psycho III
  21. Rad
  22. River’s Edge
  23. Running Scared
  24. Short Circuit
  25. Something Wild
  26. Stand by Me
  27. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  28. The Big Easy
  29. The Color of Money
  30. The Delta Force
  31. The Fly
  32. The Golden Child
  33. The Karate Kid Part II
  34. The Mission
  35. The Money Pit
  36. The Name of the Rose
  37. The Transformers: The Movie
  38. The Wraith
  39. Three Amigos
  40. Top Gun

Favorite 5 Games

There’s a tweet making the rounds right now encouraging you to share your favorite 5 games of all time. Narrowing down your favorites to a truly top 5 is of course an impossible task — I’d count pretty much every Legend of Zelda game as favorites — but I tried to do the exercise nonetheless, highlighting 5 games that had a strong enough impact on my gaming life that I would certainly count them among my favorites. Just below this I’d need to also include a Mario game (probably Super Mario World) and Ultima (especially Ultima 7), but for now, here are possibly/maybe my 5 favorite games (in no particular order).

Phantasie III: The Wrath of Nikademus
SSI was better known for all of the games it produced under the Dungeons & Dragons license (Pool of Radiance being my favorite), but this pre-D&D era RPG was a highlight for me. It’s quite possibly not a great game if you revisit it now, but I remember spending countless hours playing it, and a lot of those hours were played side-by-side with a friend in front of the PC (a Commodore PC-10), our own version of couch co-op. Also, the names I used for my characters in this game are the same names I continue to use for any character I need to name in an RPG.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Zelda series in general is my favorite series in games, and so narrowing it down to 1 or 2 titles is tough, but it’s hard not to point to A Link to the Past as a milestone (and its modern 3DS sequel, Link Between Worlds, is fantastic as well). The Super Nintendo graphics were astounding at the time, and it was certainly the game that cemented the series as a classic for all time.

Wave Race 64
I love Wave Race so damn much, and I can say that I also love the GameCube sequel (Wave Race: Blue Storm). Experiencing those beautiful giant waves was a joy, and added a fun level of randomness to the racing experience. More than any other racing series, this is the one that I’d most like to see a proper sequel, and so I keep wishing that we’ll see one on Switch.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
I was a huge fan of the Infocom library of text adventure games, and it all started with Zork, but the adaptation it produced of Hitchhiker’s is the title that is the most memorable to me. From the insanely convoluted Babel Fish puzzle (that you pretty much needed the hint book to help you through) to just the genuinely funny vibe throughout, it stuck with me.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Including a game that came out just a few months ago? What can I say, as someone who truly loves the Zelda series, this entry is as groundbreaking as it is fun as it is engaging. To see Nintendo produce such an amazing Zelda game thirty years after the first one is something I feel is pretty special.

New Territories

One of my favorite filmmakers, Anne Ferrero (Toco Toco TV, Branching Paths), is part of yet another beautifully produced series of video shorts/documentaries about Japanese culture. Called New Territories, it “aims at shedding more light on Japan’s art scene through the eyes of its local players, including artists, galleries, curators, writers, and more.” The first episode covers the Misako & Rosen gallery.