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Author Archives: Trakand

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson Review

Rating: ★★★★★

As a general rule, I don’t like nonfiction.  Which is strange if you know me, because I’ve always been a history lover, a facts seeker.  But somehow nonfiction books manage to be incredibly boring to me.  It’s dry, it’s filled with facts, which is 100% the point of the book, but where’s the story?  I firmly believe that everybody’s life, any event has a story that needs to be told.  And every story doesn’t only have facts — it has people’s motivations and feelings.  You can tell me how many millions of people died in WWII and the numbers of death camps and Hitler’s words, but what were his motivations?  What where the motivations of the soldiers who ran the camps?

But I digress.  I should also add that I was given an iPad a year ago and bought the iPhone primarily because of its camera capabilities.  Other than that, I have always been strongly against the Apple brand because of its lack of consumer customizability and closed system.  While the biography isn’t a commentary on Apple, Steve Jobs did make all the primary decisions in the path of the company while he was alive, so I believe it’s important to know where I came from when starting the book.

Walter Isaacson does an incredible job with portraying Steve Jobs the tech giant, Steve Jobs the family man, and Steve Jobs the friends.  He spoke to Jobs’ allies and enemies in order to get a more rounded and unbiased view of the mistakes and successes of Jobs’ life.  Isaacson gave the general public a truly great insight into the life and mind of a man that those not directly in contact with him didn’t have.  He provided the motivation and psychology behind Jobs’ actions as well, painting the story of Jobs’ life.  There were times in the book you hated the person that you were getting to know, and times you admired him.  But by the end of the book, I didn’t dislike the Apple brand as much as I did, and I came to understand and respect Steve Jobs for what he tried to accomplish in his life.  I have not enjoyed a biography as much as I did this one in many many years.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in 5 Stars, Nonfiction

 

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Another’s Genre

Another’s Genre

After a brief one week hiatus, I am catching up on the new anime season. One series airing this season is called Another.  It is a based on a Japanese mystery horror novel by Ayatsuji Yukito, husband of Ghost Hunt and Shiki author Ono Fuyumi.  I haven’t read the novels, and so far only two episodes are out, so I only have conjectures as to the nature of the series.

It is most definitely billed as a horror series.  There are elements so far as well.  The first episode began with the main character narrating a story of a girl in 1972 named Misaki who died mysteriously in the small town of Yomiyama, yet after her death her ghost apparently stayed in her junior high school class, and she appeared in the graduating photo.  Fast forward to the present time, the main character, Sakakibara Koichi moves to Yomiyama and is transferred into the same class Misaki was in.  He begins to notice strange things occurring around him and especially around a mysterious girl with an eyepatch… also named Misaki.  There are currently hints now that if Koichi takes one false step, he could catalyze death and destruction primarily in the class, but also potentially in the whole school.

As it stands right now, this series could go both ways.  Ghosts/spirits on killing sprees is not a new formula to horror.  But probably what draws me so insistently towards believe Another to be a psychological thriller is its fixation with eyes, which we saw in Chaos;Head.  The way in which Koichi’s classmates avoid the topic, and the way they handle this spirit is also increasingly interesting to me.  It has really deepened the mystery for me of what exactly the consequences are, who Misaki is, etc.  There is a certain degree of psychological imbalance outside of the potential spirit… and that’s why I would like to believe this will become a psychological thriller.  The second episode even featured a grandmother, whose eyes you couldn’t see, running a shop with creepy dolls that stare blankly into nothing.  I have high hopes for this series, but I’m aware that at the first sight of cheap screams and thrills, I will probably have to drop it.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2012 in Another

 

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Horror vs. Psychological Thriller Part 1–A Look At Rebecca

Horror vs. Psychological Thriller Part 1–A Look At Rebecca

I don’t like horror.  When the eerie music and unsettling camera angles start in in a horror movie, I curl up in a ball, plug my ears, and squint my eyes.  Anybody who’s seen any horror knows that when those cues come into place, the movie is building up to a startling cut scene that makes the audience scream from fright.  After all, that is what horror is for – to frighten you in what is probably meant to be a cathartic way.  All it does for me is set me on edge.

On the other hand, I love psychological thrillers.  Several films that I enjoy are Se7en, Black Swan, Gaslight, Donnie Darko, Memento, and Perfect Blue, to name a few.  My favorite of the genre though, are Hitchcock movies, The Shining, and Silence of the Lambs.  I would like to take a little bit of time to talk about each of these to explain my preference for psychological thriller over horror. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Editorials, Horror, Psychological

 

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Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Review

Rating: ★

It’s an unfortunate truth, but many romantic comedy anime are harem series.  I recently gave Mayo Chiki! a rather unfavorable review, and in general… yes I strongly disapprove of this subset of anime.  That being said, Tomodachi ga Sukunai did slightly better in my opinion.  Maybe it’s because the anime’s focal point is half romance half slice of life.  Slice of life isn’t quite the right way to describe it, but the premise and most of the show consists of seven mostly high schoolers’ attempts to stop being an outcast and find friends.  As a result, hijinks occur between their clashing personalities, and the evil main female protagonist provides the audience with many laughs due to her love of putting the other members through torture.  It’s a pretty straightforward series so I won’t say much, but there is fan service galore, tastefully done for the most part, hilarious comedic moments, and a few touching dialogues here and there.  Every episode was entertaining, and for some relatively light humor done decently well, I’d recommend this show.

 

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Winter 2011 Tentative Anime Schedule

With the new winter season coming into swing, I figured I’d lay out (mostly for myself) what shows I’ll be trying to keep up with.  It’e a little difficult since I’m travelling every month and busy with work, but I’m going to try to keep on top of things.

I really want to add Amagami SS+ and Zero no Tsukaima F to my list, but due to my two year or so hiatus from anime, I haven’t seen the previous series for both.  Here’s what will tentatively be my list:

  • Mon:  Ano Natsu de Matteru, Another, Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
  • Tue: Papa no Iu Koto wo Kikinasai
  • Thu: Black Rock Shooter, Recorder to Randoseru, Inu x Boku SS
  • Fri: High School DxD, Senhime Zesshou Symphogear
  • Sat: Area no Kishi, Nisemonogatari, Nouretsu Pirates, Brave10
  • Sun: Rinne no Lagrange, Aquarion Evol

It’s a lot, but hopefully things will be dropping off my list once everything is out and series don’t make my five episode cutoff.

So far, I’m not crazy about Recorder to Randoseru and High School DxD.  High School DxD accomplished more than most ero comedy action animes for me though, given I didn’t shut it off within five minutes.  They have potential to be somewhat watchable though.

I think Senhime Zesshou Symphogear has the potential to be the sleeper hit of the season.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Anime

 

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Kamisama Dolls Review

Rating: ★

The premise for this show seemed like it could be really interesting.  I’m a huge fan of mecha/god animes, so I was ready for this anime to grab me.  This post truly encompasses how I feel about this anime, then add a little ire, and you have my review for this anime.

My main gripe with this anime is that it spent 10 episodes or so potentially building up a showdown between two characters, one good and one bad.  The pacing was horrible, there were cute moments at the most awkward times, but it was building up to it slowly.  Then around episode 10, a completely random bad guy is suddenly introduced and the previous one is suddenly all but forgotten.  The only way the first antagonist is ever mentioned is in the protagonist’s back story.  Then suddenly at the very end of the last episode, he suddenly reappears!  … only to leave an unfinished storyline.  I can only say I was sick of this anime five episodes before the end, but my insane need to finish what I start pushed me through it.  Writing about this series makes me tired so I’m going to stop now.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in 1 Star, Anime, Series Overview

 

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The Science of Sleep Review

Rating: ★★★★★

Today I rewatched The Science of Sleep or La Science des rêves.  I had seen it in 2006 when it was first released but not since then.  It is a Michael Gondry’s third film, other notable ones include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Green Hornet.  The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg.  Gael Garcia Bernal has consistently been one of my favorite actors.  He is an incredibly versatile and daring actor (his role in La Mala Educacion or Bad Education really stands out in my mind).  He plays a somewhat neurotic and creative man who is unable to distinguish dreams from reality and does it with an incredible subtlety that makes you believe such a person could possibly exist.  While I have not seen Charlotte Gainsbourg enough to have formed an opinion about her, she does a great job in this movie as the girl next door to Gael Garcia Bernal who he falls in love with.  You never know quite what she thinks or feels until the end really, and I can only imagine the amount of acting skill it took to pull off such a neutral yet interesting character as hers.

I revisited the film with a friend of mine, and his first words after the film were: “I don’t know what to think!”  It is a truly difficult movie to describe.  Eternal and Green Hornet were Gondry’s more linear and sensical movies.  The Science of Sleep takes the viewer through a trip of the subconscious, and because we are viewing things from Bernal’s eyes, we are often confused ourselves of what is reality and what is dream.  On top of that, an unusual love story is woven in that is made further complicated by the increasingly thin line between dreams and reality.  As a result, it really takes a few minutes, or maybe a few hours, perhaps a few days to formulate a thought about the movie after seeing it the first time.  But one thing is undeniable about the movie: if you manage to stick with it and roll with its punches, it’s hard to not come out loving and sympathizing with the unhinged Bernal.

That being said, this is not a movie for everyone.  If you are looking for a psychological thriller, this is not for you.  A straight romance story, not for you.  A comedy, not for you.  A tragedy, not for you.  If you are willing to go on a journey, keep your mind open, and be teased and prompted and shifted into a position where you think about your own life, life’s disappointments, and life’s dreams, then this movie is for you.  I cannot say that this movie is really a story.  It is, in my mind, a work of art.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in 5 Stars, Films, Psychological

 

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