Florence

I finally played Florence this morning, and yeah, as everyone has been saying, this is such a wonderful little game. It feels more like an interactive story/comic than a game, but whatever you call it, it’s a joy to take in, with superb visuals, storytelling, and music. Certainly one of the best mobile game experiences out there.

Spring 2018 Anime Season

After a few disappointing anime seasons, I found myself enjoying most of what I wanted to watch during this past winter season — I really liked Junji Ito Collection, thought Kokkoku was pretty good, as well as Devilman Crybaby (although I haven’t finished watching it), and I watched the first episode of B: The Beginning and will watch more. When I started looking into the new spring season — which I always do on AniChart — I found quite a few things I was interested in watching. Below are those series, and I’ve already started watching all of them, so I’ll indicate what I think so far, after 1-2 episodes.

FLCL Progressive
I’m a huge fan of the original FLCL (as is most everyone who’s watched it), and when a sequel series was announced, my first reaction was that I didn’t think it was a good idea. I still tried to keep hope alive that it would be good — and the fact that the original creators are back was a good sign — but I’m just shocked at how much I disliked the first episode. I’m going to watch the second episode when it’s out, just to make sure, but wow, I was bored to tears with what I saw in episode 1. I even rewatched the original series last year, and still loved it, so it’s not a case of me not being into this series/world anymore.

The Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These
I didn’t really know what to expect with this series, but figured I’d check it out because I liked the idea of galactic battles as a setting (I don’t feel like we get a lot of series like that anymore), and that it’s produced by Production I.G. I’ve watched the first 2 episodes, and I’m really digging it so far. It really is all about the space battles and the tactics used, and the first episode ends on a great cliffhanger. I’m pleasantly surprised by this.

Lupin III: Part V
I love Lupin, and have watched a lot of his series and movies, and so was pretty happy when I saw they were launching a new series this season. I’ve watched the first 2 episodes, and so far it’s really fun. It’s an interestingly modern setup (people are following Lupin — and getting in his way — through social media), and yet it feels like classic Lupin. I’m pretty sure I’ll be enjoying the rest of this.

Megalo Box
Despite the name, this is actually an Ashita no Joe series set in the future, in celebration of the series’ 50th anniversary. I’ve never read or watched anything that has to do with Ashita no Joe, but the description sounded interesting — a world where cybernetically-enhanced boxing matches take place — and I liked the first episode. The world looks very Akira-esque (if not of that quality), and this is probably the way to get me to watch a sports-themed series (I don’t tend to like watching sports-related anime).

Fist of the Blue Sky
This is a prequel series to First of the North Star. I know the basic setup of First of the North Star — and I can’t wait to play the game by the developers of the Yakuza series — but I’ve never read or watched any. I thought the first episode was pretty neat — its CG cel-shaded, like Knights of Sidonia and Ajin, and produced by that same studio — and it’s funny to see these ridiculously muscled-up characters interacting with crazy kung-fu-inspired moves. But by the second episode I was already growing bored with the story — and lack of action — and so I’m not especially excited to continue watching it. I might give it another episode.

Ash vs Evil Dead (Season 2)

I thought the first season was an incredibly fun return to this character and this world, and I was quite looking forward to the second season. It aired a while back, but was just recently added to Netflix, and so far (I’m halfway through) it’s just as fun. It’s kinda insane who much they manage to fit into one episode, and the casting of Lee Majors as Ash’s dad was pretty inspired.

Lost in Space

I watched the first episode of Netflix’s new Lost in Space series, and gotta say I was really impressed. That first episode feels like a movie more than a TV series (in terms of production values), and it sets things up quite nicely for what’s to follow (i.e. I really want to know where this thing is going to go). I was cautiously excited about the series following the first trailers, and I’m glad that it seems to be avoiding the sci-fi curse Netflix has these days (most of its sci-fi productions tend to be disappointing).

Andre the Giant

HBO released a new documentary about Andre the Giant this week, and it’s quite good. I already know Andre’s story — from being a fan of wresting during that era, as well as the great biographical graphic novel  by Box Brown — but this is a nice round-up of his career, and there were bits that were new to me. The part where they talk about his legendary farts had me in stitches. It’s an amazing life, but a sad one as well (because of his condition, and how he decided not to properly deal with it).

Hang ‘Em High

The biggest western (I’d say) from 1968 is Leone’s Once Upon Time in the West, but I watched it a few months ago, and so I’m not including it in my current 1968 movie marathon. I did quite enjoy watching Hang ‘Em High though, which I’d never seen. A classic western, with Eastwood doing what he does so well (even if he’s not as as cool as he is in the “Man with No Name” trilogy). Great flick, and I look forward to watching a few more Eastwood movies from that year.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Well, I watched my last 1987 movie on Friday night, and then on Saturday night I was already kicking off a 1968 run with what is THE movie of that year (and one of THE movies of all time). Watching it again now — it had been quite a while since the last time I saw it — it’s still amazing to see just how well the visuals have aged. I’d say it probably looks better than a lot of sci-fi movies from the 80s and even 90s. Yes, it’s still the mindfuck it’s always been (and the first thing I did when I finished it was to go online to read up again on the various interpretations), and you definitely have to be in the mood to watch something that’s slow-moving like this, but it does indeed deserve all of its acclaim. It’s also so innovative in the way that it presents itself as a linked anthology of 4 parts (early man, discovering the first monolith, Hal’s story, and then arriving near Jupiter). It’s also funny to see a film include a proper intermission in the middle — I wonder when they stopped doing that for long films. As I’ve done for 1967 and 1977, I plan on watching 10 films from this year — I also thought about doing a 1958 run, but there are only a couple of films I’d really like to watch from that year (Vertigo and Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle).

Like it’s 1987

Well, my latest movie marathon, for the year 1987, definitely took the longest (starting in October of last year) — not because of the quality of the films, but probably more because I burned out a bit on watching so many 80s movies last year, and needed to take a break. When I kicked off 1987 and made up my list of potential movies to watch, it was actually looking like I could end up watching 40 or 50 movies. I decided to cap it at 30 because I wanted to move on, leaving a lot unwatched, like A Better Tomorrow II, Angel Heart, Dirty Dancing, Fatal Attraction, Hamburger Hill, La Bamba, hell, even Princess Bride! But as with the other years I’ve revisited (1967, 1977, 1985, 1986), I had a good time doing a deep dive into a year’s movie output. What’s next? Since it’s 2018, I now plan on revisiting movies that go back decades, and so I’ll kick it off with a marathon of films from 1968.

Below are all 30 films from 1987 that I watched (in alphabetical order), with links to my thoughts on each — or you can just click on the “1987” tag.

  1. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
  2. Beverly Hills Cop II
  3. City on Fire
  4. Creepshow 2
  5. Empire of the Sun
  6. Evil Dead II
  7. Full Metal Jacket
  8. Good Morning, Vietnam
  9. Hellraiser
  10. Innerspace
  11. Jaws: The Revenge
  12. Less Than Zero
  13. Lethal Weapon
  14. Mannequin
  15. No Way Out
  16. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  17. Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrole
  18. Predator
  19. Prince of Darkness
  20. Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise
  21. Robocop
  22. Some Kind of Wonderful
  23. The Hidden
  24. The Last Emperor
  25. The Lost Boys
  26. The Monster Squad
  27. The Pick-up Artist
  28. The Running Man
  29. The Untouchables
  30. Wall Street

The Last Emperor

I capped my 1987 movie marathon (of 30 movies) with a film that holds a special place in my heart. I didn’t watch this film when it originally came out, but rather during the summer of 1993.

At the time, I had finished my first two years of university, specializing in Mathematics, and I was feeling lost. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, but just knew that it didn’t involve Mathematics (or at least, not to have a career based on that). I took the decision that summer that I would leave my program, and instead enroll in a Liberal Arts program. I didn’t know what I wanted to focus on, and so for that first year decided that I would take a big variety of classes, and see what stuck. Around that time, I watched this movie, and was intrigued and fell in love with the world that was presented (even if part of that world was rather harsh). So when it came time to pick classes, they included some language classes (German and Spanish), philosophy classes, and one class on the history of communist China. I never liked history classes in high school — for me, it was just about memorizing dates and names, and I hate anything that involves rote memorization — so I had never had an interest in taking any at a university level, but the topic interested me. That class — given by professor Chungchi Wen — not only led me to discover that a history program was right up my alley (you’d get to sit and hear all these great stories, and the exams where composed of 1 question, to which you would answer in the form of an essay, which is where I developed my love of writing), but it would also mark the first step of my Asian journey. The following year I declared a major in History (and a minor in Mathematics, due to all of the credits I had accumulated), and after that program was finished I moved to Montreal and enrolled in an East-Asian Studies program, which led to an opportunity the following year to go study Chinese at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, which is where I met my wife (who was studying at the same university), who happened to be Japanese, which led me to move to Tokyo, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Sure, all of this is not just because of this movie, but I still can’t help but point to it and see it as a sort of trigger for everything that came after. As for the movie itself, how is it now? I still quite enjoyed watching it, and it’s still a beautiful film to watch, but having everyone speak in English comes off as incredibly unnatural to me (back then, it didn’t take long before I discovered the cinema of Zhang Yimou, with a body of films that further inspired me), and there’s some iffy acting as well. But yes, it’s still a very special movie for me, and I’m thankful for the life choices that came out of it.