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Music Review: Cinematic Volume 1 by Grégoire Lourme

Year: 2012
Tracks: 18 (this release
Genre: Soundtrack, Classical, Orchestral, Electronic, Ambient, World
Similar Artists: Celestial Aeon Project, MuswayStudio, Epic Soul Factory
Online: Jamendo, IMDB

Grégoire Lourme is a French composer that is one of the more prolific artists on Jamendo. Whilst his web presence is somewhat lacking, one gets the impression that the time that he would otherwise be spent social networking is directed to composing his rather expansive music catalogue. His albums are usually tied together by a theme, such as his 2017 release Spy. Today, I am discussing the first in his lengthy Cinematic theme series.

Volume 1 is a collection of instrumental tracks perfect for action, suspense, drama and science fiction sequences. The tracks are full-length and well-composed, making use of a big orchestra sound. It also utilizes pacing to great effect. I would usually go into vocals and lyrics, but given that it is an instrumental album it is not applicable. What I will say is that each track is a pleasure to listen to.
Favourite composition? If I had to chose a favourite track, I think it would be the ninth track The Empire Burns. The composition has a wonderful build-up and ability to elicit emotion from the listener that is prevalent in many of Lourme’s songs.

Whilst the tracks are geared towards film and television, they also work well as the soundtrack for writing science fiction, fantasy, action and adventure stories. If that interests you, I’d recommend checking out this album as well as Grégoire Lourme’s other releases. There is a lot on offer, so be sure to check out his music. 



Anime Review: My Hero Academia Season 1

Year: 2016
Episodes: 13
Online: MAL, Wikipedia, IMDB, Crunchyroll
Genre: Shounen, Science Fiction, Superhero, Action, Drama

I first discovered this anime by chance whilst checking out the AnimeLab website a few episodes into the first season. Those first ten minutes perked my interest and I decided to put it in my watch list. Late last year, I finally persuaded my spouse to watch the English dub with me. As expected we both loved it.

My Hero Academia follows the life of a boy born without special powers, also known as Quirks. This is unusual in that Quirks powers are the norm rather than the exception. Izuku Midoriya wants to be a hero like his role model All Might, something that becomes especially relevant when he meets the man himself. In lieu of some “personal issues”, All Might is looking for a protégé to take up his mantle and sees something special in Midoriya. After some deliberation, All Might decides to train young Midoriya and offers to transfer his own powers to the lad.
After managing to pass the entrance exam, Midoriya manages to gain entrance into an academy for getting a hero license. Although he manages to develop friendships with most of his fellow classmates, he also has to contend with a kid that he used to look up to. This will become one of several major points of conflict for the series. There are also forces at play that have plans beyond harassing members of the academy. Plans that have larger implications on the world as a whole.

I really like this series. Midoriya is a really likeable protagonist that is surrounded by a cast of interesting characters. These characters are given time to shine throughout the series, allowing us to see growth. We see failure being used as a catalyst for change, showing the willingness for certain characters to learn from their mistakes and try different things in order to overcome difficulty.
With any good series, some characters are also immune to change. This is played out time and time again with Katsuki Bakugou, a character that is arrogant, spiteful and prone to violent outbursts over the pettiest things. He might have some neat abilities, but his attitude makes him understandably disliked by those around him. It also emphasises how different he is in mindset to Midoriya.
The plot and pacing of My Hero Academia is masterfully done. As the first season moves on, we see genuine threats for Midoriya, his classmates and teaching staff. This conflict from external forces the characters to work together and to adapt to a very real threat. It allows us to see limitations of several of the characters and also results in the viewer realising that this is only the beginning of trouble for the characters.
The world setting for My Hero Academia is well-fleshed out. Information about the world is rationed out in manageable bites so as to be relevant to the flow of the storyline. The timeline of the arrival of Quirks is something that fascinated me, the affect of which had understandable ramifications for this alternate Earth. We also see this timeline becoming more and more relevant to the conflict of the heroes over time. It was really neat how flawlessly this is woven into the plot.
Many people will likely comment on the art style. Whilst it isn’t your usual crisp anime art, it is perfect for the narrative of the series. The over-the-top design that works really well and offers a very unique viewing experience. Probably the closest series in art style in Gurren Lagann, which I don’t consider a bad thing.

In conclusion, whilst this series is not necessarily my favourite it is certainly up there. It is highly enjoyable, with a really neat story and cast of characters that I genuinely cared about. I highly recommend this series to fans of shounen action and the superhero genre.

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Video of the Week #026

Whilst this segment is usually focused on titbits on knowledge or mastery, I’ve decided to do something different this week in order to start a discussion on how we can change a design in order to change some element of the object in a fundamental way. This week’s video is a video focusing on a small craft produced, as created by long-time craft vlogger Ana DIY Crafts.

Based on the video, consider how the materials affect the use of the object. Consider the traits of other materials, instead of those used in the tutorial, How would these effect the procedure for making the owl gift bag? Would other equipment be needed? What materials and equipment would you chose to improve upon the design? How would they improve it?

Consider this an exercise in design thinking.

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TV Review: Goblin Episode 04

Year: 2016 – 2017
Other Names: The Lonely, Shining Goblin; Guardian: The Lonely and Great God; Prince Maker; Mr Sunshine
Online: WikipediaMyDramaList,  HanCinemaKoreanDramaAsianWikiDramaFever
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Drama, Romance

At the end of the previous episode, Kim Shin the Goblin (Goon Yoo) discovers that Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) can see the sword in his chest. He must now deal with the ramifications of this discovery. Where previously he liked the young woman but had resigned himself to continuing his search for the priestess that could remove the sword and put an end to his existence, he is confronted with the possibility that his days are numbered. Both Kim Shin and the Grim Reaper (Lee Doon Wook) begin taking anti-anxiety medication for their woman troubles, with amusing consequences.
As our resident Grim Reaper and Goblin begin tripping balls because of their issues, with Ji Eun Tak being put up in a nice hotel with Yoo Deok Hwa (Yook Sung Jae) being roped into helping her out. (The young man is still being watched like a hawk by his grandfather’s investigator.) The ghosts that Ji Eun Tak begin helping her deal with the girl that has been bullying her. However, she is getting more and more worried that Kim Shin doesn’t like her as much as she likes him. Eventually, Kim Shin visits her and the two go on some outings together, all the while Ji Eun Tak talks about the sword without realising that the removal of the sword is supposed to end his life.

This fourth episode certainly knows how to step things up a notch. Just when I thought that I had a decent grasp of Kim Shin, we see hiss reaction to the death of man that we met in a previous episode. It gave us more of a glimpse into his character, showing that Kim Shin has affected many lives over the centuries.
We also got to see the ongoing issues with Ji Eun Tak’s Aunt and cousins. We knew that magic had been involved but up until this point in time, it seemed like the gold bars were quite mundane. Between where they came from and the forgetfulness spell put upon the bars, the trio of nastiness and greed will likely be busy for a long time.
Finally, we see both Kim Shin and our Grim Reaper dealing with the implications of love. Whilst Kim Shin has a mortality problem, Grim Reaper has somehow lost the phone number of Sunny (Yoo In Na), Ji Eun Tak’s boss. Of course, he isn’t aware that Sunny is Ji Eun Tak’s boss yet but that will likely happen in the next few episodes. After all, there is only six more episodes to go and pacing dictates that it will have to happen soon.

Anyway, it was another solid episode and I look forward to watching the next. If you watched this episode, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section. Until next time, have an awesome day!

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Manga Review: 18 Diary

Year: 2003
Author + Artist: Akira Shouko
Online: MAL, Kissmanga, Mangafox (MF version is incomplete)
Genre: Shojo, Slice of Life, Romance

18 Diary consists of three one-shots, each focusing on a separate couple. The stories are cute and surprisingly varied, showing the complexities of school and family life from the perspectives of young men and women in different situations. The time constraints still mean that some ideas aren’t explored but I don’t have an issue with that because it was easy to root for the success of these three couples. There are no issues with consent like a lot of modern shojo series, with the characters having agency in their own decisions.

  • Story 1: A young woman is in love with a long-time friend who has had a long-time crush on a childhood friend. When his crush starts dating a college guy, he decides that he wants to do something to impress her. He enlists that aid of his long-time friend to teach him how to swim, leading to him realising that his affections should have been directed elsewhere.
  • Story 2: An angsty girl hooks up with a guy from school at a party. In lieu of leaving her parents stolen divorce papers for some bizarre reason at the hotel where they bumped uglies, the angsty girl and her beau enact a plan that is soon rendered pointless but manages to help them strengthening their growing affections for each other.
  • Story 3: A young woman that looks after her little brother makes the acquaintance of a son of the manager of her school. In spite of her long-term jealousy of this perceived black sheep of his family, she discovers a rather complex young man that wants to become a professional dancer. The two quickly become friends and then smooch buddies.

The characters are allowed to succeed and fail, but some readers will prefer a bit more conflict. The couplings also made sense, each character complementing the other. I suppose that it wouldn’t necessarily be a romance if the couplings weren’t complementary.
The artwork is pretty standard in style for the time that it was written. Whilst certainly not exceptional, it does what it needs to convey the situation and emotions of the character. It may not be as pretty as some of the new manga series, but I still find myself enjoying it a lot more than some of the newer stuff.

All in all, this was a really enjoyable anthology of shojo romance. The pacing for each story was good, it was easy to care about each character and the artwork was good enough to convey the story. I recommend it to long-time fans of the genre. However, it might spoil newcomers to the genre as it is in my personal opinion of higher quality than a lot of manga in this genre.

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Game Idea: World Leader Fighting Game

In lieu of a discussion that I had with my husband about ideas for new computer games, I’ve decided to post about the idea that I came up with. As the title suggests, it will be a game where you get to play world leaders, with a strong focus on the arcade-style fighting game element. I’ll attempt to go into enough detail so that people can understand the systems used as well as my reasoning for it. Please note that this is an exercise in creativity and problem-solving rather than something that I will likely ever work on. However, if somebody decides to use some of these ideas, then I wish them luck in implementing any of these ideas.

History Bites
History Bites are the educational part of the game. It includes a timeline, quotes, recommended reading (books and articles), news reels, etc… to give players insight into the life of that leader. Each fragment will also be accompanied by its source, to give perspective as to where the information comes from. Yes, that will mean plenty of citations. 

Every fighting game relies on fighting abilities. Whilst combos are a thing in this game, the names of the activated ability are related to the history of the leader. This ranges from actions during war to those relating to government policy. 

Skins, Mounts & Pets
Skins allow the player to customize their unlocked leaders. Mounts allow the leader to move quickly across the battlefield in specific game modes, with a base mount for each leader. Pets give buffs for the leader but are only available in specific modes. Skins, mounts and pets are unlocked by achieving specific goals during gameplay, as well as for participating in seasonal events. 

The game has numerous modes. The basic storyline mode will unlock access to the character in other game modes. There will be a difficulty modes for all but the MOBA mode. As you’ve likely guessed already, the game would also online and LAN play for specific content.

  • Storyline Mode: This involves dealing with foes relevant to the career of the leader. Some leaders had shorter careers and will as a result be easier to unlock. This is a feature rather than a bug.
  • Free Mode: Using unlocked leaders, fight solo or team versus team. This allows you to have George Washington and Margaret Thatcher team up against Bill Clinton and Indira Ghandi.
  • Leader Vs Leader Era Mode: This mode will allow you to fight leaders from the same era as your chosen leader.
  • Open World Warfare Mode: Large-scale, objective-based battlefields featuring a large number of soldiers and leaders. Each map will have specific rules, ranging from total number of leaders, mission objectives and available leaders. Think Dynasty Warriors but with world leaders.
  • MOBA Mode: A MOBA for world leaders? Yes indeed. The maps will have different rules. However, the attacks that you can use whilst in MOBA mode will be different from non-MOBA modes to better reflect MOBA champion abilities.

The base game should cover modern history, as in the past two decades. However, games like this would feasibly make use of DLC. DLC will consist of eras that allow access to new leaders, skins, mounts, pets and history bites. For example, WWII and WWI. The release schedule would logically be new to old.

That is the main ideas that I’ve come up with for the game. It is pretty rough, admittedly, but I think that it would be a game that I would personally play because of how much content is available. If you have any feedback or suggestions of your own, feel free to post in the comments section.

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World of Keiko 2018-03-12

Hello again! A big shout-out to some new followers. I hope that you guys are doing well. Me? The past couple of weeks have been quite odd. I’ve started a new modern romantic drama story, am currently sore from exercise and am currently trying to unravel the odd problem of having so many interests. A first world problem, I know, but I am trying to find a way to make the most out of my time.

On the writing front, the new standalone story is moving along as best as can be expected. I finished the prologue which was about five thousand words altogether. As I thought on what I had already written, I realised that I needed to make a LOT of changes to it before I moved onto the first chapter. The prologue introduces several major characters, which lays the groundwork for later. The first chapter picks up about six years after the end of the prologue and a lot of things have changed for the main character. I could go into it further, but suffice to say that I have redone the plot outline for the prologue and finished the first scene, which is the first of several that make up the newly revised prologue. I’ll keep you posted on how it progresses.

I began my new exercise schedule on Saturday. I decided to go with push-ups, squats and sit-ups because of some reading that I’ve been doing on super-sets. From what I can understand, super-sets are exercises that partnered up in order to work different muscle groups in order to make the most out of a session. The idea is that doing set after set of the same exercise is usually coupled by lengthy rest periods in between. Chaining exercises that work different muscles reduces the need for these lengthy breaks because you are giving certain muscles a break whilst working another muscle. After you finish one set of each in the routine, you typically take a short break of around 45 seconds.
The super-set idea seemed logical so I decided to give it a run. Whilst the typical routines work say biceps and triceps, I’ve gone for three exercises that work significantly different parts of the body via push-ups, squats and sit-ups. The first day involved five sets of 10 push-ups, 20 squats and 20 sit-ups on the sit-up bench. On the second day, as expected, I was quite sore. As such, I was only able to get two sets of each done at the same number of reps. I decided to have a rest day today but intend to get stuck in again tomorrow. I am looking forward to it but am trying to be mindful of stuff such as muscle fatigue and the need for healing of those tears in my muscles so as to create muscle. 

What music have I been listening to of late?

I haven’t really been reading any books of late but I have been reading articles on writing and some news articles that spurred some interest. There are so many websites that offer solid writing advice, sites that I really need to frequent more often. I will have to rectify this because I get a lot out of reading up on stuff like story structure.

Well, that is it for this week. Thanks again for following this blog and I invite you to drop me a line to say hello. I leave you with the following music clip by Empire of the Sun: