Moonbeam City

I am so in love with this show. I keep trying to really get into Archer – I don’t hate it or anything, but can’t get into a groove of watching multiple episodes for some reason. Moonbeam City is getting compared to Archer a lot – animated comedy for adults that relates to law enforcement – but oh man did this ever click for me. It’s set in the 80s, with a delicious aesthetic that is bathed in pastel pink and blue hues. I love the animation style, the character designs, and that first episode is funny as hell. Great voice casting too with Rob Lowe, Elizabeth Banks, and Will Forte. Can’t recommend this enough.

Gotham Season 2

There seems to be a lot of love-hate for Gotham out there – most of my friends who watch a bunch of the super-hero shows (like Flash and Arrow) have all given up on it. I found myself enjoying the first season though, especially for the Penguin character, who I felt was the true standout. Season 2 has kicked off, and the first episode is pretty iffy and kinda all over the place. It feels like they’re embracing camp much more than they did in the first season (i.e. pretty much all the scenes in the prison). We’ll see where things go though.

Ametora

W. David Marx’s upcoming book on the popularity of the American Ivy League fashion style in Japan in the 60s, Ametora (short for “American Traditional”), comes out on December 1, and you can pre-order it from Amazon.

This is a project that David has been slowly cooking – let’s call it a crock-pot of a project – for quite a while, and seeing it finally get to a point where it’s almost out and already getting some great coverage – like a recommendation in the latest issue of Monocle, pictured in this post, and an excerpt in Lapham’s Quarterly – is really fantastic. There’s no one I know who is more knowledgeable about this topic – and to be honest, the history of modern fashion in Japan – than him (he even wrote a thesis on A Bathing Ape).

This all gets me feeling quite nostalgic. David is one of the very first friends I made when I first moved to Tokyo over 15 years ago. We became acquainted slightly before my arrival, through a Pizzicato Five mailing list, which is how I made all of my first friends in Japan.

Yes, even back then, electronic communications were a thing, imagine that.

Over the years we’ve each had our own entertaining journeys, and his involved producing some excellent music (under the Marxy monicker), and before launching the Néojaponisme website with Ian Lynam, he was quite well known for some epic online essays about Japanese culture that evolved into some of the most pointed and heated discussions, usually with Momus playing the role of foil.

So yeah, Ametora, can’t wait to read it.

Fate Tectonics

This is an interesting game, and I’m not quite sure how to describe it. I guess you could start by saying it’s a god game, as you are building a world, but then it also feels like a puzzle game in that when you get new pieces to add to your world, you have to be careful where you place them, making sure they fit with what’s already there – they act as tiles, so think Carcassonne, in terms of adding pieces and spreading the map. Mixed in are elemental creatures that affect the world you are building, and everything is presented in the form of delightful sprites – a nice change of pace from the regular pixel aesthetic we see in so many indie games these days. I’ve only played a couple of hours so far, and I haven’t wrapped my head around how everything affects everything yet (I think), but I’m sure having fun with it.

Heavenstrike Rivals

This is a new free-to-play tactics game on iOS from Square Enix, and I was interested in giving it a shot based on the screenshots I saw. The gameplay reminds me a lot of Hero Academy, another iOS tactics game I quite liked, but it still manages to feel like its own game. I especially like the character designs – and overall, the game is pretty slick. It does have the free-to-play trappings of energy and random character drops, so it’s doubtful I’ll stick with it long past the point where it gets frustrating unless you have hard-to-get rare characters, but for now I’m enjoying playing it.

Dragon Quest

Last night I was re-watching the Dragon Quest episode of AmeTalk (which originally aired late last year) and although it was fun, it made me realize how DQ illiterate I really am – I’ve only played 4 (the updated version with 3D graphics that was released on the DS), 8, and 9. Since these games are now all available on iOS (up to 8 at least) I decided to grab the first one, which sells for about 3 bucks. I started playing on iPad, which is where I usually play iOS games, but found that the on-screen virtual control wasn’t comfortable to use on the big screen, and so started again from iPhone – which is definitely better, and you can tell that that’s the screen this iOS version was designed for. I’ve only played a bit so far, levelling up a few times, but I’m enjoying the simplistic story/gameplay so far, a nice change of pace from everything else I’m playing these days.

Miki Saito

I’m so happy to see artist Miki Saito getting a lot of attention these days.

The best thing about hosting PauseTalk all these years was that it gave me the chance to meet so many interesting and creative people, and Miki was one of those people. She was a regular attendee since returning to Japan.

She’s just launched her second exhibition this past week since moving to Tokyo – at Wada Garou – and instead of me describing her art, you can take a look at the articles on both Spoon & Tamago and The Japan Times.

Justin Epperson

Wanna get a street level view of Tokyo and its surroundings?

My friend Justin Epperson is someone I’ve known for quite a few years, but it wasn’t for photography. He’s worked many years for the excellent Tokyo-based game localization company 8-4, and he was always the one who was nice enough to invite me to take part in the episodes of the 8-4 PLAY podcast I’ve been on.

But he takes mean photos too.

I knew he had studied photography, but it’s only in the past month or so that he’s decided to spend some time rekindling his love of photography, and he’s been sharing the results on pretty much a daily basis through Twitter, Instagram, and a blog called Gaijin Eye.

What you’ll immediately notice is that he likes to focus on the people of Tokyo, which is not something I think we’re used to seeing – it’s much easier to just take photos of the places, but we tend to shy away from getting too close to the people that make those places interesting.

I’m so happy to see Justin develop this side of his skillset, and I hope you will too.

A Creative Tokyo Canvas

Canvas gives a permanent and accessible digital database to Tokyo’s creative community.

It’s something that was often brought up at PauseTalk over the years, this idea of building a proper database for all of the interesting creatives who would attend the events, which would then make it easier for everyone to reconnect, or just to create a useful one-stop site for when you’re on the lookout for a designer, photographer, etc. I of course listed all attendees on the PauseTalk website, but that wasn’t very convenient in the long run, as you’d have to scroll down to old posts to see who attended a particular edition – and then there’s the fact that most of that site’s archive is now gone.

At one of the last PauseTalk events before I left Tokyo, there was talk by a lot of people of finally coming together to create a proper online database. I don’t know if Canvas is a result of that, but it’s certainly great to see it exist.

The person behind Canvas, Mark McFarlane, is a good friend and someone I’ve worked closely with (on PechaKucha-related projects) and so it’s really great to see him take his digital studio, Tacchi, and put it behind a project like this.

The site is currently still in beta, and so even though I already like a lot of what it has to offer, I’m sure it’s going to do nothing but improve, and see its community of creatives build and create beautiful things together.

Domain Dance Redux

The domain dance is not quite done yet, but things are mostly working.

As I wrote the other day, I decided to transfer my domains from GoDaddy to Name.com, and I’m pretty happy with what I see of the interface of Name.com, and how easy it is to set up things (like MX records to use Google Apps, etc.)

But there’s always something.

Following the hosting issues I experienced a year and a half go, I simply moved my sites to Tumblr, and was using my domains with those blogs. After the transfer, PauseTalk.org doesn’t have any issues, but for some reason jeansnow.net doesn’t want to stick – if you follow that URL, it does indeed go to Tumblr, but inside the Tumblr settings, it refuses to keep jeansnow.net as a domain for this blog (it saves it, but when you reload the settings page, it’s no longer there). Oh well. I’ve opened a ticket, we’ll see if anything comes out of it.

There are no issues with my mail though – I use Google Apps for that, and the domain switch went very smoothly. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s not much that stresses me more than issues with domains, hosting, and the like. I still have never really recovered from losing my blog’s entire archives last year – basically, a history of my entire life in Japan – and so anytime I do something to change things in that space, I get nervous. 

But all of this has me thinking about this site again, which is a good thing, as it’s again making me want to make it a bit more active. 

Update: My jeansnow.net domain suddenly started working again over the weekend, so all’s well that ends well.