March 30, 2011

A Plea to Watch the Original Akira

I feel so out of the loop, because I only found out today through an article on that they're going to try to do a live movie of Akira.  For those of you not in the know, Akira is a brilliant anime film based on a manga series of the same name.  And I do mean brilliant.  It's a story that focuses on the corruption of power and the painful metamorphoses of adolescence through a plot focused on secret government testing and psychic powers.  As many years as it has been since I last saw it, I still remember it being a great film.  It was also one of America's first taste of what anime had to bring as a medium, and thank god because it's a brilliant piece of work.

So now, before any of you see the live version, I URGE YOU to watch Akira as soon as possible.  Now.  Before it's ruined for you.  Before you can only think of it as the movie release that's slated in 2013.

Because the brilliance of this movie will not be repeated in a live action film.

The cracked article I link to above makes some valid points that I don't want to repeat here.  My point is that you can tell with the way that the producers are going about this adaptation, the substance of the original piece is going to be lost.  Casting is a little more focused on who's popular right now, even if some of the actors mentioned could definitely do the parts justice.  But also, they're going to strip away the setting and essentially the background that made the story and characters powerful.  I'm not saying you can't talk about the themes presented in a post-nuclear future Japan in a story set in the United States, but you definitely can't talk about them in the same way.  Japan has a history that is plagued with natural disasters and large-scale attacks in a tiny amount of space, on an island of people who (mostly) share similar ancestry.  America is an expansive country full of diversity that was necessary to make it survive, with different geographical cultures that only recently have consistently started to interact with each other  and the country hasn't had to fight any war on it's soil on a large scale in over a century.  Unless you count vague propaganda wars on Terror and Drugs.  You cannot get the same story.

This is where I think a lot of producers fail to adapt their products correctly when it comes to acquiring foreign properties.  You lose a lot when you flip the setting so unceremoniously.  As much as you may feel you can just change the background and have the story be the same, it's very rarely true.  Shakespeare was able to produce stories that can do that... not many other writers have.  And it's not a failing on the writers part.  Some stories can only be told from a certain place.

This is one of those times where it would possibly make more sense to be inspired from the original work but then admit you are doing your own story. Inspiration sometimes works best.  I think I would be lesss frustrated if that was what's going on.  But I think they're hoping to slap the name Akira on the movie in hopes of getting nerd sales on top of the regular sales because it's been working for the comic book industry.  Hence why I am extremely suspicious.

Regardless of even if this live action movie exists later on, watch Akira.  You shouldn't need an excuse to watch a great piece of film.

March 23, 2011

Writing Experiment Idea

I've been thinking about a way to make sure I am consistently writing something, and it's hard because usually I need something to help me keep focused on task.  Usually that involves an end goal or an incentive. 

At the same time I am interested in economics and the now changing economy, how the idea of the "middle man" is slowly fading in certain industries, including the publishing industry. 

On top of that, I still have the universe of DeWitt in Titania dancing around my head. And I want to play with is.

So now I have an idea: A blog that pays for each short story!

It's a little experiment that will keep me either preoccupied writing or preoccupied with economic questions to ponder.

I would start a blog associated with a PayPal account.  For every $5 (or whatever fee I decide later) I receive, I would write a short story that I would post on the blog.  Of course, I would start one for free, and then see what happens.  The stories would all be set in the same universe, but not following the same characters.  And requests here and there would be allowed.

This may not be big, but it's something I'm pretty interested in.  Of course, I would like to see what you dear readers think.  Opinions?  Suggestions?

March 22, 2011

In defense of fan fiction.

This is a tough one to write.

You see, as a writer who totally isn't one who wrote a universe that sparks fanfiction, it's really easy to detest it.  Especially when you focus on all the bad ones written out there by teenage girls fantasizing about being in that universe.  I remember admitting I've been there before when I first wrote about my previous DA:O crush.

I know, I'm such a girl.

Anyway, fanfiction with Mary-Sues and that are poorly written definitely make fan-fiction seem like a horrible idea.  Sometimes, it is.  But sometimes, it's a fantastic tool for writing.

Here me out, please.

When you've graduated enough in your writing talent, you realize there are essential parts to every character, every single one, that help you write the scene.  Motivations, goals, flaws, histories, yada yada yada.  What's even more important is that you know how to utilize those components to make a complex character that is relatable.  The same goes for setting--different components, but the same basic idea of using the tool effectively.

Writing a fanfiction, you already have that set out in front of you, which is one of the hardest parts of writing any story.  You don't have to flesh out as much, and you've been given a lot of details to work with.  This gives you some flexibility to hone your craft.  You now have something that helps you, as a writer that is, work on delivery and your use of the (hopefully extensive) vocabulary and style you've come across over the years.

It comes to being a great way to practice.  People in all other sorts of professions practice somehow, why not writers?

I'm sure some of you are figuring out I'm only writing this entire thing to defend any fanfiction I may decide to write soon.  Believe me, I am not posting it here.  As much as I can justify its existence, I still feel a little shame when I come across the idea.

Not as much shame as reading my original series Star Trek fanfiction from when I was in highschool.  *shudder*

March 18, 2011

Beat Dragon Age 2!

Hey readers!  You missed me didn't you?  Yeah, well once again I was sucked into another Bioware game,  and on top of all the other things happening in my life, it soaked up a big chunk of my time. Literally, this game soaked up 47 compelling hours of my life.  And of course, I'm going to review it.  You ready to listen?

Well Varric is going to tell you anyway.

Story: Oh many the story.  I have to say, this is the first time in a video game where there was a scene that made me cry.  Like really cry.  From the get go, you play Hawke, male of female, who is trying to survive and avoid the blight in Ferelden.  You try to find safety in Kirkwall, and over time you do gain more notoriety, but not without huge sacrifices.  Death is a constant fact of life.  Conflict is inevitable.  And the choices you make are gut-wrentching.  There were definitely points when I had to fight people, and I felt horrible having to do it.   
The game's story is a tale of freedoms over safety, and it's amazing how strong that theme is and how is enhances the game because of it.  And your characters all have their own story that has it's own built in conflict within the game.  Are you going to help with a project that may bring back a demon?  Are you going to save someone's life if the entire city's well being on the line?  If you're like me, and you love video games because it's an interactive story device (with fictional violence for fun!), you won't be disappointed.  Bioware does deliver.
Only complaint?  Like much of Bioware's stuff, it's very binary.  No middle ground.  Someday there will be a video game that allows that option.

Gameplay: Similar to the previous game, where pause and play rules the day, you command your Hawke and three other companions in battle.  Strategy is a must, especially if you're playing at the harder difficulties.  Be ready to be selective about who comes with you, balancing everyone's strengths.  
Selecting Attributes and Abilities is less guesswork now.  Attributes, in the style of DnD's abilities, clearly show what about gameplay will change if you raise them.  Abilities can not only be added but modified, allowing you to be a master a a couple of specialities rather than a jack of all trades that you stumbled into the first game.
The part that I personally hate?  WAVES of enemies.  You finish one set of baddies and suddenly out appear from nowhere another set, and then another set!  Especially in the beginning of the game, it totally cramped my style because it affected the way that I would plan my battles.  You get used to it, but it's just a little frustrating sometimes when it's not even a boss battle and you've killed the baddies and then six more of them show up.  Dude!  Party's over, the chips are gone and the hosts are going to bed!  In a boss battle I fully expect it and prepare for it, but it got repetitive when I'm just walking down the street.

Design:  First of all, we must admit that it's not going to take a lot to look better than the last game.  But it does look good!  Especially if you don't mind looking at the same cave in a different part of the map over and over and over again.  Everything looks good possibly because they scaled it back and focused.  I'm for that to an extent, but I don't like every warehouse or cave looking exactly the same for all of the side missions.  But they do look good, and would be believable if you didn't see everything all the time.  The details do make everything awesome, including making your family look more like your Hawke when you change your preset base face.  
However, you can tell that the game was rushed.  It glitches more than it should.  I just upgraded my motherboard and it definitely is not the issue.  Cut scenes were cut off and there was a whole side mission that I could not complete and cannot be completed across all platforms.  What the hell Bioware? A lot of people are complaining that they rushed production, and I'm sure EA put pressure on the team.  This makes me sad, because it shows.  If this is the reason, Dragon Age 2 is a great example how taking the time to polish makes a big difference.

OVERALL: 8.25/10

Play it!  It's a good story and a good game.  Is it perfect?  No.  But it's better than the majority of what's out there on the market.  It's a high quality game that has a great story and great characters.  Enjoy it!

What kind of Champion will you become?

March 13, 2011

Dragon Age II: New Crush (and short review)

In the first game I was totally falling for Alistar, the awkward templar who had a good heart and was the only other Grey Warden in all of Ferelden with you.  You bonded over loneliness and using flowers as weapons.

I'm now playing Dragon Age II, and who do I find myself enamored with?  The exact opposite of Alistar.

This Adrien Brody look-alike elf is super hot.  Do not deny that.
Crazy, right?  I go from a dorky sincere knight to a dark and brooding escape slave.  Why can't I be consistent?

Oh yeah, it's fiction, why should I care?

Review so far:  I like the story and I want to get more of it, and I like how it's a bunch of little pieces that will eventually come together, but... the fighting is getting in the way.  As in the cooldown times are way too long for such quick battle actions and wave upon wave of baddies.  The story is good enough that I'm still going through it.  Hooray for playing a snarky apostate!  I'll keep you all updated, I'm only in Act I and almost ready for the deep roads.

March 10, 2011

DnD Recap: The Saboteur Confesses

My campaign last Saturday had a couple of good twists, and now I finally have time to write about it!  (Don't ask, work this week is friggin' bizarre).

Legal Jargon!

The PCs had just recovered from a random attack of what seemed to be large metal ramming beasts, unlike anything they had seen before, all while capturing Teleport Mavericks who had been transporting boxes from the port they had just visited.  They secured the TMs in cells that would be protected from magic.  Bram and Atreyu decided to retire early while Escrow and Roto did a little more investigating by questioning the TM in her cell.  Both were interrupted by a huge attack within the capital with a dozen of those metal chargers.  The party woke up and took half of them out of the capital, the town guard able to take the other half out.  Some were captured and taken back to be questioned and studied.  Finally, the party had some time to rest.

The next day the party spoke to Councilman Hughes to report their findings and how next to proceed.  And then Atreyu confessed that he was acting as a double agent for Vidrigez.  He stated that these acts of war are not going to help Vidrigez or the Cornwellian Kingdom, so he wanted to stop a war before it was started.  Atreyu was immediately escorted to the Queen to report his confession, and the rest of the party spoke about what value he has.  Queen Elish was willing to give Atreyu a second chance, where Councilman Hughes would keep close watch on him through his agents in the city.  Atreyu did meet with one of his contacts and is now keeping an eye out on Councilman Pullman, seeing if he can be bribed.

Meanwhile, the questioning of the Teleport Maverick revealed that a man named Jareth was recruiting Teleport Mavericks straight from the university and giving them reasonable amounts of money for transporting things that they had no knowledge about.  The party is thinking of going undercover to discover Jareth and his connections, but they're still figuring out exactly how....


This may seem a little short but battle and deliberation can take up a lot of time in a game session.  Also, we lost the person who plays Roto this week, so we're on the lookout for another player.  We'll see who joins, and how it may change the dynamic of the game.

March 3, 2011

The Real Job

The other day at work I was talking to my boss and I told her she should start a blog (on what I'm not super entirely sure but she wants to write).  A resident picking up a package overheard and I ended up admitting I'm writing.  And then I said it's what I do on the side when I'm not in the office.

"No, this is what you do on the side.  The writing's the real job.  Don't ever forget that."

I started thinking about it and he's right in many ways.  The true passion is the one that's the hardest to pursue.  It's the one you have to work on to make the time, especially when you're recovering from the 9 to 5.

So here's to the real job, and hoping the side job doesn't get in the way.