Friday, July 31, 2009

Random Anime Recommendation

This is probably very old news to many people, but I recently discovered the Gundam series The 08th MS Team. I stumbled across it in a random topic in a modeling forum I frequent and thought I'd give it a shot based on all the positive comments it was getting. I was blown away. 

Compared to many of the more recent Gundam series like 00 and Seed, 08th MS Team is a breath of fresh air to me. Of course, I realize that it is a significantly older series and that I'm a Johnny-come-lately to all this, but it still kicks ass in it's own way. To paraphrase one forum poster, where something like Gundam Wing is "invincible robots doing killing ballet in outer space", 08th MS Team is gritty, dirty, and real. Instead of super-sensors spotting enemy units from large distances, the 08th MS Team relies on their hovertruck sonar, and a teammate skilled in listening, to pinpoint the enemy. Large amounts of time are spent in preparation for any upcoming conflict, which includes outlining the plan of attack, getting into position and listening for the enemies' advance. In other words, tactics. Once visual confirmation is made, the fights are over in a very short time. The terrain plays a large part in combat as well. The mobile suits aren't super-machines either, they are mass-production models, effective in combat, but nothing like say the Wing Zero Custom. For example, one episode shows an MS being temporarily sidelined because sand gets in its gears!

No "ace" pilots here either, just new-ish recruits and some seasoned veterans. If anything the only real ace in this series would probably be Norris Packard, on the Zeon side. Most characters are competent, effective pilots, but nothing like an Amuro Ray or Setsuna F. Seiei. Characterization is another plus, and it's consistent throughout the series. Shiro is a bit green, but talented. Sanders is serious but a bit haunted by his past. Karen is a bit harsh, but an effective pilot and officer. Eledore is extroverted but dependable in a fight, and Michel pines for his girlfriend, but is perhaps the most empathetic of the team. On the other side as well, the Zeon soldiers and officers are portrayed as real human beings, not faceless cogs in the military machine. The humanizing treatment given to all the characters really makes us feel for them. We empathize with the valiant Feddies, and feel for the injured yet brave Zeon. One truly sees how even opposing sides in war are made up of people who are essentially the same. It's a cliche sentiment, but one that's very appropriate here.

If anything, my only complaint would be that the love story subplot is a bit abrupt and perhaps not fully fleshed out. But considering the setting of said love story, it's not completely illogical. I would really recommend that you pick this up, especially if you do not have much experience with the Universal Century timeline of the Gundam series. And of course, after watching this I'm itching to pick up a kit of the RX-79 [G] when I get the cash, heh.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Epiphany

I had an epiphany the other night, whilst lying in bed waiting to fall asleep. For the first time in many many months, I realized that I finally understood why I've been without motivation to pursue many of my hobbies. I'll talk about model building, since it relates the best to what I'm trying to explain. This passage from pretty much sums up what I've been suffering from:

Do You Have It? AMS –  Advanced Modeling Syndrome;  is a condition that is characterized by a modeler’s obsession or continual pursuit to outdo his own capability & standard, resulting in the inability to complete a model kit. In the worst possible scenario, the modeler can suffer burnout and become incapable of doing any model kit for long periods of time.

The root for causes are many but can be typified by the some of the following examples below;

  • adding Metal thrusters, Spikes, Tubing, Grooves covers and also LED lit beam sabers to model kits,
  • adding mobility mods and making proportion adjustments,
  • surfing the internet for references and research on similar builds before embarking on the project and
  • many more.

All these itsy-bitsy things will trip-up a modeler, potentially reducing his/ her production levels to near-zero and leave them in depression, despair and remorse.

 I cleaned up the above a bit, but the gist is clear. And it's exactly what I've been going through. I've always had a bad habit of putting off doing stuff, because I always want to be perfectly prepared for the project I'm going to be starting "soon". First it was that I had to get a compressor and airbrush, then I needed a specific paint, then I ran out of primer, and on and on... Before long, nothing ever got started, and all the while I was planning three or four kits ahead! Pretty dumb now that I think about it. Instead of starting a kit I currently owned, I'd fixate on some new one, and I couldn't start anything until I purchased the new one. And like clockwork, when the new one came in, I'd lose interest and start fixating on something else. I had this problem with games too. While playing WAR, I'd get soo wrapped up in raising my Renown Rank that I started to dread logging in to play my "required" amount of scenarios instead of just paying attention to my current options and trying to enjoy just playing the game. 

Same deal with my drawing hobby: I'd plan a piece like a poster type illustration, start my  preliminary sketches and never get past that point. I'd plan and sketch and plan, but I would never start the actual piece.

Now that I've recognized this mental block of mine, I've begun making a concerted effort to actually start and finish a model kit. I'm trying to just sit down every night for a decent chunk of time and get something done. Even if it's just assembling/sanding one part, so long as some progress is made. I'm really happy about this new state of mind and I hope I'll be able to show you a completed project before too long. I'm actually looking forward to this. It's been a while.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm back. Now what?

Yes, after many months of inactivity, I return to this blog. However, I am not returning to my previous theme and subject matter.

I burned out. 

After months of hype and excitement, both with Warhammer Online and my blog, I began to hit a wall. It became harder and harder to come up with content, and I was logging in less and less. It became less fun and more work. In hindsight, of course it's easy to realize that getting buried in WAR and everything related to it was going to burn me out sooner or later. And just like most people, I didn't see it coming at the time. And eventually, I just stopped logging in and playing, and I stopped writing. There were other factors, of course. My fiance and I just moved to a new apartment, we had a minor car wreck, our wedding date is fast approaching, etc, etc.

So yeah, a bunch of stuff has been happening in a relatively short time, and it is only now that I feel caught up enough to try and start writing again. Since I'm no longer playing WAR, I will be re-orienting this blog towards my other interests, while still including video games. I've been getting back into plastic modeling, mainly Gundam models, as well as anime and manga. And of course some PC and console gaming. 

Luckily, my blog name is still relevant to the topics I plan to post about and the name will stay. If you are reading, you have my thanks. And I hope that what I write will still be somewhat interesting to you. I'll see you next post.