Saturday, April 28, 2012

Avacyn Restored

If you're a huge Magic the Gathering fan like me, the you know that there was the release of the new set, Avacyn Restored, this weekend. It got a lot of hype, due to the story line, and potentially good cards, and two new mechanics: Soul-bound and Miracle. This weekend, I had the chance to go to a pre-release tournament, where I got to play with the new set. With all the new stuff introduced in the block, was it a good decision? Personally, I am mixed like a lot of people I know are.

First is the mechanic of Soul-Bound. They are creature that can attach them selves to other creatures to give them new attributes, such as double strike, hexproof, and trample for example. They are not equipment, for the creature has attack and toughness, but they just give the creature they latch on to special qualities. You can choose to soul-bound two creatures, or you can not, and each creature, both the one with soul-bound, and the one without, can stand on their own. Now, with the introduction of soul-bound, they decided to make a few creatures that would die instantly if they are not soul-bound to anything, which to me is a dumb move, but I guess anything to introduce the mechanic.

Miracle is where I think Wizards of the Coast, the publisher of the cards, have really broken the game. Miracle allow you to cast a card for considerably less than the original cost if it's the first card you draw for the turn.My main problem with this is the fact that you can essentially cast Day of Judgement(In this case Terminus) for one white. And to make matters worse, it adds all creatures in the bottom of the deck, and there is almost no chance of getting the creatures unless you have shuffle cards and search cards. In a way, I guess it makes it easier to board wipe, but at the same time, it's being rather unfair. Also, the other miracle cards are rather ridiculous as well, due to power effects being cast for very little if its the first card you draw in a turn. The flip side of this is the fact if its in your opening hand, then you can't use it for its miracle cost, which could potentially balance out the mechanic.

The Avacyn story that goes along with the set is also pretty good. Grislebrand, a demon who is rebelling against the angels, traps Avacyn, the protector of Innistrad,in her own Hevault along with him self. Lilliana Hess went to the plain of Innistrad and tricked Thalia into opening Helvault, freeing not only Avacyn, but Gislebrand and all the other demons. She fails to kill Grislbrand, but Avacyn restores power to the humans of Innistrad, and she drives away the demons and zombies away from Innistrad.

The story is actually pretty good, and it adds for an interesting background for the set. I personally like it, due to the good vs. evil , but also somehow evil vs. evil. Avacyn is the supreme angel, and she is well designed, and Grislbrand  is also well designed. The story has all of the characters from Innistrad and Dark Ascension, which connects the Avacyn to the rest of the set

Overall, I am pleased with the new set, though some of the mechanics seem a bit broken. If they can work out the kinks in the mechanics, then this set would be perfect and add more diversity to the set. All I must say is that I hope they don't add to many new, and possible broken mechanics.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blogger: Now Introducing the New Cluster-Fuck Format

Change seems to come to the best of websites, that's the undeniable fact. Sometimes things change for the best, and other times, which seems to be most of the time, they change for the worse. When blogger, the company that does the Blogspot and my blog, announced that they were doing some changes, at first I was a bit skeptical. After viewing the changes, I must say that I am displeased at the new format.

The most obvious change is the home page: it is odd in my mind. In a way, it is more organized, and in a way it is less organized. Sure, everything is condensed, but before, I could visit my home pages and have clear links to things such as "New Post," Monetize," and my personal favorite, "Overview." Now, those links are hard to find, and the only thing really on the front page is the blogs that you subscribed to reading list. While this might benefit the publishers of these blogs, how am I supposed to find where to publish my own stuff?

Another problem I have is the link to the stats section. To me, this actually has to be one of the most important parts of the blog, because then I can track how many views come in so that I know what to write to make the audience happy. On the new format, the stats link is a bit weird, having to click on the graph, rather than the button that says "Stats."

Overall, I am not pleased with the new Blogger Interface. Luckily for me, I can change it back, but like Facebook, I'm scared that they will make everyone use the new format, whether we want it or not. Now I know that this is a free service, and we don't have to agree with everything the comapany does, but if I'm hoping if enough complaints are filed, then they will change it back, but like Facebook, I am not expecting this to happen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Three Stooges

As a comedy lover, I am looking for the next big thing in the comedy world. It seems that now comedy is run by stoner comedy (movies such as the Hangover) or movies that are paired with romance. It's rare to find a pure comedy movie, however, I have found it. The Three Stooges, a classic, remade for modern times, filled to the brim with simple, but yet effective, slap-stick humor was a sure win for me.

Although it may be slap-stick humor, there is a story behind the humor, and a very good one at that. The Three Stooges, Moe, Curley and Larry start off in an orphanage, where they torment the orphanage nuns. After Moe nearly gets adopted, which a little boy named Ted gets adopted instead, ad the Three Stooges continue living in the orphanage as helpers, though they tend to make more trouble than they actually help. One day, the nuns tell the boys that they would have to leave due to the orphanage closing. The boys then set off in to the real world, trying to garner the 830,000 dollars required to keep the orphanage open, and along the way, meet some interesting people.

The characters were such a stand out in the movie, that I think they deserve an award for it. True, none of they didn’t have the character depth that most characters would get an award for, but the comedy style, and their interactions with each other was spectacular. The comedy style was amazing, and the actors carried it out very well. In fact, the characters were so funny that I don't think I stopped laughing the whole entire movie. I will give the characters credit, they manages to bash the whole Jersey Shore cast, and they managed to bash a  slew of things in popular culture, thus making the remake effective to today's time.

The story was decent in my mind, though I think that it played a big part but yet a little part in the movie. A big part due to the fact that half the skits had to do with them getting the money, but also, the slapstick humor could be used in any situation. While this might be a movie killer for some, it was personally a win for me, due to the fact that despite the humor being versatile and that it was too plot intensive, but just easy going with humor.

The acting was excellent in my mind. They were consistent with their accents, and the way they pronounced certain words, and their signature sound was also well done. The other actors besides the Stooges also did well, minus the Jersey Shore Cast, but they got beat up by Moe, so they served their purpose. The reactions of the characters to the Stooges stupidity were priceless, and while they couldn't have really done anything about it, they took it like pros. 

Overall, this has to be one of the best movies I have seen all year. The comedy was brilliant, the acting was phenomenal, and the movie, overall, made me laugh the whole entire time. If a movie can make a person laugh the whole entire movie, then it is a win in my book. I highly recommend that you go see it, and along with that, learn some comedy stunts from them. It was an very interesting watch, and I hope that the Three Stooges can become a franchise like it has in the past, due it being one of the best movies I have seen all year. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why Black and White 2 Will Be the Death of Pokemon

If your an avid Pokemon fan like me, then you know that there are currently 649 Pokemon in existence as of Generation V. We have reached the games cleverly named Black and White and that we are due for the sister game. News of new Generation V games hit the new recently, with a scheduled release in Japan of June 2012, however, this news was not what most fans expected: Two games called Pokemon Black and White 2. That's right, a direct sequel to long-loved series that many grew up on. While this maybe ground-breaking for the Pokemon world, I think, however, that this will be the death of Pokemon.

My first complaint is that we are not getting a sister game to the long loved series. In every generation, we have had the two main games, starting with Pokemon Red and Blue versions, and the sister game was Yellow, then we progress to Gold and Silver, accompanied by Crystal, and so forth and so forth. In generation V, we were hoping for the sister game that put a different spin on the story line, and by the titles Black and White 2, we are implying that these will sequels, not sisters games, like the Pokemon Grey we were hoping for. For most people, the sequels to Pokemon Black and White would destroy a long standing tradition in the Pokemon games.

According to pre-release info that this would be a totally new and different story line, which does not make sense for the game to be called Black and White 2. There will be new protagonist designs, and, unlike Black and White, it looks like you'll be able to find Pokemon from previous generations. Now, when I think sequels, I would think that it would have at least some common themes from the game before it, effectively making it a sequel, not an add-on. From what it looks like from the trailer, there isn't even the same gym leaders from the original Black and White; it's totally new. I think that if they were going to pull this stunt, I think I'd rather take the sister game to Black and White, and perhaps cross my fingers for the sixth generation.

On the subject for the sixth generation, I do not see it happening at this point. There are 649 Pokemon in the Pokemon universe, spanning five generations, and to be quite honest, the design concepts for the fifth generation were not that good. If they are making a Pokemon based off an ice-cream cone, then they have clearly run out of ideas for Pokemon. I think that the Pokemon industry is slowing down, and the reason that they are pushing the Black and White 2 to be in the fifth generation is because I honestly cannot see the sixth generation coming. I think Nintendo would have to develop a new hand held system that can actually sell well, and not just a spin-off from previous existing systems. (I'm looking at you 3-DS) The previous two generations have been released on the DS, but I think that trend might end soon, and they need a new platform to launch games on. Another reason why I can't see a Sixth Generation game is because let's face it: they have pretty much run out of colors and minerals to name their games after.

The premise for the games is decent, but if the enemies are the same as they were in Pokemon Black and White, I honestly do not want to play it. I do not feel like battling the PETA of the Pokemon world again, Team Plasma. Pokemon is not supposed to be heavily story based, as they tried to make it in generation V. True, the previous generations had the evil team that tried to steal everyone's Pokemon, and a somewhat decent story that you sort of had to pay attention to, but not to the point of Generation V. The political themes that made its way into the game were almost unbearable, from animal cruelty to even some anti-war ideas.

As for Black and White 2, I can hope and pray that it will better than its predecessors, but at this point, I have partially given up on Pokemon just for the fact that they have clearly run out of ideas. I was thinking that since they have a Black and White 2, it would be in a different generation, but as it is in the fifth generation, I expect this to flop, but if it sells, I would not be surprised due to the fact the fans want something better than the original Black and White. I can hope that this will better, but only the release of it will tell.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dantalian no Shoka

As a child, I was quiet the reader. I would read almost anything from mystery, to action, and even the stuff in between. When coming across this anime, I couldn't help but to smile, and feel a warmth spreading over me, because it had to deal with books and mysterious powers, and it was set in one of my favorite times in history: The Victorian Era.

The story for this anime is almost simple: a young man named Hugh Anthony Diswald, living in London when his grandfather dies, and leaves him the estate, along with his massive library. When he arrives at the estate, and goes down to the library, he meets a young girl named Dalian, the black biblioprincess, who is one of the keepers of 906,666 deadly books called the phantom books-books with special powers that enable strange things to happen, such as resurrection, hypnotism, and other strange occurrences. Together, the seek out phantom books to bring about the balance of the world.

The story in mind had premise, but it felt like later on in the anime that nothing truely connected. In the episodes, it seemed that a point could be elaborated upon, but it didn't happen, and the characters by the next episode were relaxing again. The story in each episode sort of got repetitive, due to the fact it was basically start of in house to meet problem character, to investigation "could there be a phantom book," to discovering phantom book, to battling crazy person with phantom book, to crappy end of episode.  True, while I do like episodic anime, this was a bit too serious of an anime to really pull the episodic execution, and thus the biggest failure of this anime.

The characters for this anime were likable, if not a bit dull. Diswald has an interesting back story of being a former army pilot, but they only expand on this at the last minute, and I truly wish they did more with that. Dalian was the token tsundere loli of the series, and just being as much use as just saying "Hey, I sense a phantom book," and she grants access to the library that has all the books to stop the phantom book, and even then, Diswald is responsible mostly for stopping the rampage of the book. The minor characters were very forgettable, and even the ones that they tried to make seem important were still easily forgettable.

The art for this anime was what actually drew me into this anime. It has a serious tone to it, but also has a light-hearted tone to it, which make me happy. In the anime, the art was fluid, and the effects for obtaining the books was interesting. The characters were well designed, though I felt like that the side character designs were repeated,and I had a hard time distinguishing them sometimes.

Overall, despite its flaws, I enjoyed this anime, even  though at the end it seemed to stop making sense. I liked the concept, I just wish that they had gone a bit more in depth with the characters, and perhaps not make it so episodic in nature, and have a bit more character development. Also, this anime was too short and serious to even pull off the episodic execution.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Contraception Debate

It seems recently that there was a huge debate on whether or not the Catholic Church should be made by the government to offer contraception through its medical plan. However, some people disagree with this idea just because they do not believe that contraception should be used at all due to religious views. However, I disagree with the Catholic Church on the fact that it is immoral and wrong to use contraception, however, I am not totally on the government's side either.

Before we put the carriage before the horse, we must first ask ourselves: What is contraception? By the books, it is any artificial means to prevent pregnancy. Most people when they hear the word contraception think of oral birth control (the pill) or even sometimes condoms. However, contraception can take the form of spermicides, which kill the sperm right on the spot, to an implantation ring in the woman to prevent ovulation, to a woman getting her tubes tied, or a man getting a vasectomy, which cuts part off the vasectomia, the tube that connects the testicles to the penis, and in doing so, ejaculation, or release of sperm cannot happen. Most of these methods are not one-hundred percent effective, but they do cut down on pregnancies by a considerable amount, and in most cases, they can be reversed, and the woman can still get pregnant when she so chooses.

So what if women use contraception, and so what if men use condoms? They can stop using those methods almost whenever, and most surgeries used to make sure people don't procreate are reversable.

The Catholic Church does not believe in the use of contraception do to the fact that inhibits the main use for sex: Procreating human life. After a major document called the Humanae Vitae(Human Life) was published by Pope Paul VI in 1968, the Catholic Church starting taking its stand against contraception. It stated that sex was for only creating human life, and any means that go against that is wrong. They also believe that the pleasure derived from sex is the pleasure that God gave us in order to create human life, and that the pleasure can help a married man and woman become closer in bondage ot each other and God.

I, for one, do believe in the use of contraception, especially oral contraception for women, if they are willing to use it. It helps cut down on unwanted pregnancy because let's face it, not everyone who has sex is actually capable of taking care of a child. It could prevent the baby from the unwanted pregnancy from growing up in an environment in which the parents can't take care of it, and it could save to parents financially, because lets face it, which would you rather do: pay about 40-50 dollars for contraception, or pay out thousands a year, taking care of a child, and giving up your free time? Now, I am not saying all pregnancies are bad; if you want to have a kid, then I support you full heartily, but as for those who don't, contraception is probably your best bet.

Even for those not sexually active, I still approve of women using the pill contraceptive due to the fact it can help with periods. It has been shown to reduce period cramp pains, and make periods lighter in women who took the pill. The reson being is the fact that the pill releases oestrogen and proestrogen, which help with periods. While these hormones help with period pain, they also can cause some problems, such as spotting between periods, and chances of worsening depression. However, despite this, the chances of any side effects happening is low, and the benefits are well worth it.

Another option for women is getting their tubes tied, which prevents the egg from entering the uterus. Women can still get a period, but they cannot have children while tubes are tied. This method actually has about a 99% pregnancy prevention rate, with the remaining one percent happening from scar tissue connecting the Fallopian tubes to the uterus causing the woman to get pregnant, and if she does get pregnant, and some of these will end an ectopic pregnancy, which means the sperm and egg do not unite in the uterus, usually in the Fallopian tubes, or even the ovarian cavity, where the eggs are stored. These pregnancies will usually end in miscarriage, and if not treated, can cause the death of the mother but can also lead to hemorrhaging. Tying a woman's tubes can increases these ectopic pregnancies, with chances of an ectopic pregnancy However, this is considered a permanent surgery, and even though it can be reversed, the fetility rates of the woman are incredibly low.

Contraception for a man, in some ways, be a little bit easier than contraception for a woman. They can use a condom, a piece of latex that wraps around the penis in order to prevent the sperm from entering the woman. However, there is almost no other contraception, except for withdrawal, which is the withdrawing of the penis before ejaculation,but that is not one-hundred percent effective. Also, there is no approved "male contraceptive pill," like there is a pill for women, and vasectomies are optional, but after getting it reversed, the fertility rates for men sink, but not as far as a woman getting her tubes tied, due the fact it can be reversed easier. The last resort for a man to become infertile is (men hold your balls) castration, however, this would render a man unable to have sex, and a practically useless form of sterilization.

I also do support birth control because is is our natural instinct to want to have sex during and after humans hit puberty. Our bodies start making the hormones needed for sex, and the ability to make children. However, since humans are a bit more complex than animals, we realize that having children too young is a bad thing, due to one: we don't have the means to take care of them, and two: it is frowned down upon society. Birth control allows us to act on our instincts without having to pay the price of having to carry a child for nine months, and perhaps can save the potential father a bunch of money in child support. For the social standard, we look down on sex because of religion, and also, I think that some people think that humans are above animals, so there for we don't have to follow our instinct, but we are animals, and we have those hormones.

With most birth control methods being reversible, then why are people against them? I think the reason why they are sometimes frowned upon is because of social customs. Birth control basically states that women can have sex with out getting pregnant, and in a society where virginity is sometimes valued, it can compromise those values. In most Christian societies, sex before marriage is considered a sin, and is looked upon as being forbidden, and especially Catholic Churches who lay heavily on that, it can be turned into a bad thing.

As I have stated before, the main use of contraception is to prevent men and women from making children, and this could be looked at potentially as "playing god." If you can prevent the creation of life, then you are wrong, due to the fact the act is supposed to be used for making children in the first place.

Another argument against contraception is that Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) can be more easily spread through out the human population due to an increase of casual sex. True, the pill does not protect against STIs, condoms can help prevent transmission of these infections, though success rate of stopping them is not one hundred percent. Adolescences and young adults up until age twenty-six can get a series of shots that helps prevent certain types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which cause cervical cancer and genital warts.

Overall, I see contraception as a necessary thing to society, due to the fact it can allow people to follow their natural instincts to have sex, and not pay the consequences of having children. Also, it can help you women regulate their periods, and with men it could enable them to have sex with out worrying about child support. It is a necessary evil in my mind, and it can benefit society. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 1000%

In anime, it feels that there is never enough reverse harems. Sure, you might have Hetalia and the failed Starry Sky, but it seems they all lack one thing in particular: a good plot. When I found Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 1000%(UtaPri for short) I had almost zero hopes for it due to the fact it was based of an otome game and it had art similar to Starry Sky.However, I was actually pleasantly surprised by this anime.

The story is a simple one in my mind: a young girl, Nanami Haruka, wants to make music for her dream Hayato, and thus enter Saotome Academy, a school for idols and their composers. There she meets an array of boys, from the childish Kurusu Syo (Shou), to the serious Ichinose Tokiya. While at Saotome Academy, as she works with each of the boys, she soon discovers her true talent for composing songs, along with the bonds of friendship that are tried through and through.

To be honest, the story was the weakest point in the anime. It was simple yes, but the whole thing with the boys falling one after another for Haruka was just a bit unnatural. True, while they might have been trying to make it possible for the viewer to glimpse the potential for all the routes, it still felt jumpy, but had a nice wrap up at the end.

The art was very well done and each character was well drawn. The character designs were well thought out, and the characters were very bishounen or pretty boy. Also, the characters were brightly colored and some of the characters reminded me of characters from another   There was thing that irked me about the art, and although it was something minor, it irked me none the less: Haruka's eyes. When I first saw them, I honestly flipped. Eyes should not look like that, and why the artist had to do that is beyond me actually. I actually had to avoid looking at her eyes in order not to be creeped out.

The characters were probably one of the best aspects of this anime. Although they are all idol-wanna-bes, they all have distinct personalities, and they are likable. The guy's personalities range from the young ignorant, but lovable Kurusu Shou, to the guy that loves small and sweet things Shinomya Natsuki, to the cold and indifferent Ichinose Tokiya, to the rich, playboy character, Jingugi Ren. Though the guys were the shining point in the anime (as I expect them to be, since this anime was based off an otome game), Haruka was probably the let down in the cast. She is supposed to be that girl everyone can relate to, however she does come across sometimes as boring, and her character role is almost unimportant, but yet, everyone falls for her faster than a rock to the bottom of a pond. All the other characters felt flat, and needed some improvement, but seeing how this is an anime based off an otome game, I'll give them some slack.

The music was something else very notable about the series, due to the fact one, it was a music style anime, and two, in my mind it was very very catchy. Each song was also well written in the fact that they matched the characters' personalities very, very well. The music was well written musically, for example the melodies were well laid out and blended well with each other.

Overall, I would highly recommend this to any of my female otaku friends.  The guys were to swoon for, and they had all had their credits, and they were all likable. I will say this anime was not perfect, but despite its flaws, I still enjoyed the anime immensely. I hope that you can enjoy this anime as much as I did, and not just for its flaws.