Film Review: From Up On Poppy Hill

“I was expecting more talking cats” was what one of the people I went to see From Up On Poppy Hill came out of the film saying. Studio Ghibli have become famous in the west for surreal fantasy Anime like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. What a lot of westerners don’t seem to know is that they are also famous for making emotionally charged films that are set in the real world.

There are no talking cats in this film, no sentient fires, no giant forest spirits just people. And that’s not a bad thing.

From Up On Poppy Hill is based on a Japanese serialized comic by Chizuru Takahashi  and is the story of a high school kid in 1960’s Japan, the Olympics are just around the corner and the school club house is being threatened with demolition. Also she’s fallen for a boy with whom circumstances arise that make her feelings a little awkward.

It’s a whimsical tale, heart warming at parts and laugh out loud fun at others, the incidental characters make this film as much as the leads, I think I could watch an entire movie starring the head of the philosophy club, or the bespectacled artist sister of the main character.

If you come into this film expecting talking cats, you are going to be disappointed, the only magic in this film is in the interaction between the characters. If you come into the film expecting character growth, good story telling and an insight into what it was like to be a kid in 1960’s Japan, then I don’t think you will be walking away from it in the slightest bit disappointed.

Bravest Warriors: Animated Space Adventure Series by the Creator of Adventure Time

Bravest Warriors

I spent my evening last night watching these 5 minute episodes of Bravest Warriors, the new animated space adventure by Pendleton Ward the creator of Adventure Time.

I’ve only recently been inducted into the Adventure time cult, but I’ve fast grown to love the show, these episodes have everything that makes adventure time fun, just condensed into an even shorter time span and…

IN SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!

The episodes are to air exclusively online on the Bravest Warriors YouTube channel, and Boom Studios are releasing comics based on the show that you can buy now!

The Art Style is adventure time, the humour is adventure time, the voices are for the most part adventure time, and it has a chip tune theme song, what’s not to like, I’ve embedded the first few episodes here so you don’t have to go anywhere to watch them, you can thank me later.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Via Laughing Squid

Why Don’t We Have These in The West? Retro Game Bars!

The state of webdesign in Japan is miles behind that used elsewhere, but Game Bar Continue in Osaka seems to be in America Muri (Think China Town but American but not really) And has a host of video game consoles that you can rent by the hour as well as booze (From my reading you aren’t allowed to bring your own games, although the statement might be that you are allowed to bring your own games…

????? ??????????

Also in Osaka is Game Bar Dendo which just has a static page. Although that has got a map on it…

And and address:

2nd floor leisure Misono 2-3-9 Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka Building Sennichimae ? 542-0074

TEL 06-6648-8148

Although sadly it seems like you can’t play any of their games, they are just for display… Points deducted for that I think…

In Kyoto you can find Cafe la Siesta who have a slightly nicer website but it’s also impossible to navigate as it’s all in a frame that is pretendinf to be a game console…

They DO have a map that looks quite retro:

More importantly they have a giant Game Boy!

06

Who doesn’t want to play this shit?! Their menu is pixelated too:

07

Source Hiyoko-g and again and again…

So why don’t we have this kind of thing in the west? Maybe we don’t have the geek culture they do in Japan, but I think that enough people would come to one of these if it was in a big enough city, and maybe diversified into board games too?

Is Microsoft Saying Fuck-You to Multi Gamer Households?

According to Edge Microsoft’s next X-Box console is going to require an always on connection to play games and games may be linked to a gamer tag to stop people reselling their games.

I don’t really care about the resell market, I’ve got games that I’ve had for over 20 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever sold a game. I’ve bought second hand games before, but I guess I’ll live without that.

Sure I’ll be a little annoyed that I can’t get classic titles that are out of print any more, I recently got my other half K.O.T.O.R. 1 and 2 for the X-Box and she loved them.

But what will make me think twice about getting an X-Box 720 if they do this is that I live in a two gamer household, with two X-Box 360s and I don’t buy games just for me to play, I buy them so I can play them as well as my other half. I already find it really irritating that we have to decide who gets to activate the DLC code for a game when we buy one, this happened when I decided to give Mass Effect 2 a shot 3 years after my girlfriend completed it: I couldn’t use the online features because she’d used the code on her gamer account.

But if I can’t play the game at all… Screw you Microsoft I’m not even going to buy your console.

Sony have a way around this, they have a parent account and all other user accounts are sub accounts of that account, so I guess if you activate a game for the parent account it would remain active for the sub accounts.

Microsoft don’t, as far as I can tell, do this. They have a family version of X-Box Live Gold which allows you to pay for 4 accounts to be gold for less money, but they don’t have a system of attributing accounts to a household.

To be fair to Microsoft previously they didn’t let you log the same account onto two different consoles without importing it over which would stop it working on the old console, so they recognise the people might own more than one X-Box, but do they recognise that more than one person might “Own” a game?

I’m not averse to buying two copies of a game to play multi-player, I own two copies of Halo 3 and Borderlands 2, both so that we could play multi-player over 2 consoles, but I really object to buying a game twice so that both myself and the person I live with can play a single player game.

Vi Hart Makes a Video about Makeing a Video about How She Makes Her Videos

I’ve shared a few of Vi Hart’s videos before, they are a gift to anyone who wants to make math fun because they are fun and about math. She made a documentary with ebstudioslive about how she makes he videos then she made a video about how he made that video, and all her other videos.

Recursion is fun…

Lichtenstein Makeup by @c0louredlights

Have actual hi res images but thought I’d upload this in the meantime… Had wanted to redo my pop art makeup for ages as it was my first ever finished look and I know I’ve learned a lot since then, though I still love the original pictures. Rebecca’s hair being blue and incredible face made a great opportunity to try it again.

I have a soft spot for posting pictures of People wearing Lichtenstein Makeup. some of my  most viewed blog posts of all time are collections of Lichtenstein make up images and I’ve also posted a tutorial I found online which people seemed to like.

So I was pleasantly surprised when twitter suggested I follow @C0LOUREDLIGHTS (Tumblr) a Glasgow based make up artist and upon looking at her profile saw an example of Lichtenstein style make up. Looking through her Tumblr I found yet another which made me even happier:

Brainstorming: Last Humans Not On Earth

I saw the image above on Reddit, it’s a picture of the World Trade Centre after the events of September 11th 2001, taken by the only American not on earth and I had a story idea.

What if the threat of impending nuclear war or some other catastrophe has lead the UN or some other Global body to take representatives of each and every Nation and put them in space for safe keeping? Orbiting in a space station are 2 people from each and every Nation on Earth, or maybe just the ambassadors to the UN of each member state?

The inevitable happens and all human kind on Earth are wiped out, the people on the space station are the last survivors of a dying species.

What would happen?

An alternative would be for them to be safely stowed at an “unknown” location under the sea, like the recently revealed DARPA project.

Alternatively the UN might have “set aside” a cross section of Humanity for safe keeping, either underwater, in space, of underground. These people would have had regular contact with the surface to keep them up to date with the happenings, but their goal was to be a disaster recovery backup for humanity, isolated from any natural or un-natural disasters or disease.

What are these people’s lives like? What happens when the signal from Earth suddenly goes down?

What kind of people are these people?

You’d have to have people trained as builders and farmers as well as scientists and engineers. Politicians

How Many people are there?

Assuming they have been down there for a few generations, you’d need to have a large enough population to prevent inbreeding being an issue.

How would you train them?

If the containment is to last several generations how do you train them? Training people in engineering and science is easy enough, at least in the theory, but how do you train farmers and carpenters who are trapped underground/in space/underwater without fields to farm and wood to work on?

When they eventually come out do they know what they are doing?

How long will they have stayed away?

Are there actually other survivors who don’t know about this program?

I think my thought track is heading away from the original premise and going towards a Fallout type situation where survivors of a nuclear war live in a vault, but I think the key difference is that these people don’t start out as “Survivors” they are a disaster recovery backup for humanity, akin to the Seed Vault in Svalbard but for people rather than plants.

I’ll maybe post some more thoughts here once I’ve had a chance to incubate the idea…

Game Idea: Scrabble Dungeon

I’m not entirely sure where this idea came from, but bear with me…

Imaging a dungeon exploration game where you have to build the dungeon you are playing in by playing Scrabble (Or some other non trademarked version of the aforementioned word game).

Game Mechanics:

Each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet is designated a type of room, for example:

  • A. Easy monster room
  • B. Fire room.
  • C. Block Puzzle.
  • D. Boss fight.
  • Z. Treasure Room

A player is given 7 Letters to start with with which they must place a word down, this does two things:

  1. Creates the dungeon.
  2. Gives the player an amount of Experience points equal to the value of the word that they just played.

The player then has the option to play another word with their remaining letters, or enter the dungeon. Note that they don’t gain any new letters after playing a word.

In the dungeon the player has to overcome various obstacles, solve puzzles, fight monsters, perform acts of derring-do or whatever, they will gain items to help them along the way as the fight through the dungeon. As each room is completed the player will also be awarded a letter,  which they can use to place words on the board and expand the dungeon.

Each dungeon room will yield one letter, meaning that the player shouldn’t have more than 7 letters in their hand at any point, emulating scrabble, and forcing the player to play more letters and fight through the dungeon to play through the game.

Characters level up by gaining experience, whether or not they gain experience by killing stuff or just by playing letters is another matter, I’m not sure if it’s fair to only award experience points for placing letters as the letters you’d get would be random? I suppose it adds an element of chance to the game.

Getting the experience points for a room by placing it as part of a word before you play through it’s dungeon adds an interesting mechanic to the dungeon explorer genre.

Double/triple word and letter spaces would also probably have some effect on all the rooms that are associated with that placement, and there might be others that only had an effect on the dungeon rooms but not the word score.

I’m not sure what the win condition is, perhaps you just keep playing till you can’t put down any more words or till your character dies? Or like in Scrabble you play until you exhaust all the letters in the “Bag”?

Alternatively the game could be a two player game, in which the players battle it out between themselves. This would mean that a character could place a small word down and then complete a few sections of the dungeon while the other player is thinking of a word to prevent them from getting any more letters, you’d probably have to remove the limit on 7 letters per player, maybe have a limit of 10 letters to keep it fair?

Another possible game mechanic is that players can’t actually put down words that use tiles/letters for which they have not yet completed the dungeon room for. This forces the players to actually play the dungeon game, and puts a twist on the “You stole the place for my word” gripe that Scrabble players often moan to each other about it. “I didn’t steal it I fought for it”.

If the game is a two player game, then maybe players would gain some points for placing a word but would be able to get the same number of points again by being the first to complete the room associated with a tile?

Anyone have any thoughts?

Japanese Turn UK Into Cute Anime Girl

original (3)

 

Apparently a discussion thread on a Japanese website lead to them designing an anthropomorphic version of the UK as a cute anime/manga girl. There are a bunch of other designs inspired by this on this page, I’ve collated some of my favourites including the thought process behind transforming the UK in the gallery below.

Via Kotaku

Home Made Wooden Settlers of Catan

Full BoardOn the subject of home made board games here is another one, this time it’s Settlers of Catan again from Reddit, user amaurer3210 made this with his fiancée for a friends wedding.

amaurer3210[S]

I machined each tile from 3/8″ ply. Each one has six magnets set into the sides so that they snap together nicely.

My fiancee did the artwork while we then silkscreened onto each tile after staining.

We all play on it nearly every weekend.

The magnets are a great idea!

Arguably it’s not as professional as the one by Boardcrafting that I posted here a couple of years ago but it’s still very nice.