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How fitting that this is the lucky number 13 edition of this series of posts. Damn my stupid pollen allergies!!! Aarggghhhhh… Sorry for the loss of control, but it’s really been a rough week, with no end in sight. It’s sad, really, because this time of the year used to be my absolute favorite time to be in Japan. But a few years ago I finally started getting hit by allergy attacks — it started the year they said the pollen count was ridiculously high — and since then I haven’t been able to escape it. I seem to recall that last year wasn’t so bad, but this year has been awful. I’m writing this with itchy eyes that I’d just like to rip out of my head! And this is despite taking pills, as well as eye drops and spray for the nose. If I’ve had to miss out on various events, now you know why, and it’s taking everything just keep up with work.
One thing that I have been able to enjoy through all of this is the anime series BOKURANO. It originally aired last year, and for some reason that I can’t remember I passed on it (even though it was on my list of series to check out at the time), but Paul’s recent rave (well, he’s been raving about it to me for a while now) got me to finally give it a try. I’ve watched the first seven episodes now, and I can honestly say that this is one of the best series I’ve seen in a while, maybe since the end of MONSTER. At first it comes off as a riff off of Orson Scott Card’s ENDER’S GAME, but then it quickly becomes so much more. I don’t want to go too much into details of where it goes, since discovering the various twists is part of the fun of each episode, but it’s definitely not a giant robot series — the sequences with the giant robot are few, and but a punctuation to the rest of the story. I’ll probably end up watching all 24 episodes quicker than I imagined I would, which is good, since I need to finish before the new spring season starts with all of its promising new shows.
Work on the book for Kodansha International is proceeding at a good pace. I don’t think I ever mentioned it here, but since he announced it a while back, I can now say that my co-writer is Brian Ashcraft, editor at Kotaku, and regular contributor to tons of magazines (WIRED, POPULAR SCIENCE, METROPOLIS). It’s been a joy to work on the project with him, and I don’t think I could have found a better partner in this endeavor!
Speaking of games, another form of relief for the allergies — since I’m not going out much or even cycling — as been gaming. About a week ago I got some games for my PSP, which I had to dig out (probably hadn’t played it in close to two years) to find that the cover on the analog stick was missing! I’ve ordered a replacement, but despite this, I’ve already played through GOD OF WAR: CHAINS OF OLYMPUS, which I think is the best game I’ve ever played on the PSP. I enjoyed it so much that it even made my take out my PS2 to play the original game again. The other game I got was PATAPON, a quirky rhythm game that I’m having lots of fun playing. It starts off easy, but later becomes surprisingly — but not ridiculously — challenging. The week before, I played through PROFESSOR LAYTON AND THE CURIOUS VILLAGE on the DS (which I also had to dig out, not having used it since the release of Zelda last year), which was extremely satisfying. I usually don’t really like puzzle or riddle games, but the setting and storyline turns into something so much more, and I’m already looking forward to playing the sequel. On the 360, I’m blasting through BIOSHOCK, which I’d say is the second best first-person shooter I’ve played (following HALF-LIFE 2). The sound design is outstanding, as is the setting, made deliciously creepy by using field recordings to tell the story as you explore the sunken world the game is set in. Lastly, also enjoying NO MORE HEROES on the Wii, and excited to no end that some of designer Suda 51‘s older games, FLOWER, SUN AND RAIN and THE SILVER CASE, are going to be ported to the DS this year. We’re only 3 months into 2008 and it’s already turning into a stellar year for gaming!
OK, time to spray the nose and drop some liquid in my eyes — death to pollen!