Tuesday, December 30, 2014

CNY 2014, Salzburg: Castling, Mozart, and an Escape from Schnitzel

After Munich and Vienna, it's time for the third part of my February jaunt across old Europe. I've put off typing this for quite some time- it's been some 3 months since then, but I'm pretty sure that I can remember most of what I did during this day trip that was somehow decided on a whim. There are a few things that are still burning fresh in my memory though- the first being the insanely high cost of inter-city rail travel in Europe, and the time needed to get from Vienna to Salzburg- around 3 hours in all. In hindsight, it might not have been that bad, seeing as how a shinkansen trip from Osaka to Tokyo takes 6 hours, though I can't recall the price for that, as I had a Japan Rail Pass for that- Austrian train fares caused quite a dent in our metaphorical pockets, no thanks to the exchange rate So what really hurt was the time needed, and not because of the actual journey time, but because of our own requirements: some of those in our group just weren't the 'get up early' type, and absolutely had to wake up at a reasonable time and have breakfast. Add in- wait, subtract 3 hours from the day, 3 hours for the return- and subtract all that from the brief window in the day when the sun is actually out (it was winter, by the way), and what else is left? Not much time. Or light, for that matter. But enough of my rambling- on to Salzburg.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (るろうに剣心 京都大火編) - Mixed Feelings, and a Disturbing Malaysian Cinema Experience

Well, it's been some time since I've touched anything Kenshin related. The last one was of course the first live action adaptation back in 2012- or was it the Shin Kyoto Hen (New Kyoto Arc) OVA? I couldn't recall, so I did some digging. Facts don't lie, but they do surprise: I did publish a post on Shin Kyoto Hen, but did not cover the 2012 movie at all, despite finding it to be a realistic if somewhat (un)faithful adaptation of the original manga- a solid adaptation topped only by the Gyakuten Saiban movie (here).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Japanese Film Festival 2014: Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)

What is this, the 11th year in a row that I've been to the Japanese Film Festival in KL? It doesn't feel like much time has elapsed since the last one- it has been a year since the tenth festival, and also a year since my post on it- time is moving frighteningly fast. One year ago I was somewhat disappointed that they did not show Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises), but true to the organizers' past form in successfully bringing over major new films, here it is in 2014. Ghibli movies are big events, of course, so I suppose it shouldn't have been a surprise to have it screened here at some point.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Japan Again: Climbing up the Tourism Social Ladder - From Floors to Futons to Skyscrapers (2014)

Preface: I had originally flirted with the idea of writing this post as a series of haikus/senryuus for each amusing, pleasant, and irksome event that occurred on this trip, thinking that I would save a lot of time (on word count), but it didn't take long for me to remember that composing indirect poetry is much more time consuming than a detailed step-by-step forensic recollection. Laziness saves the day again. Without further ado, please enjoy the following Massive Wall of Text.

I wasn't too keen on this trip, having been to Japan in December last year and again in March this year, but hey, who am I to thwack a gift horse on the snout (please ignore my uncalled for bastardization of the proverb). "Guide" is my profession within the family (examples of titles held by others are Pianist, Artist, etc.). I'm quite glad that I avoided being gifted the title "Lawyer", despite having a Bachelor's in the field (though I don't have any particular bias against the profession, mind you). Funnily enough I have never been called by what I actually do, probably because it's a mouthful to say- Recruiter, Headhunter- or legal dealer in persons, if you so prefer. Enough of that, though. To tie the two items together- though I am as almost always the designated Guide, having been to Japan twice in a short period, I really didn't have much of an idea of where to go or what to do. This wasn't helped much by the majority of the group not being very interested in what people usually go to Japan for- onsen, (traditional and otaku) culture, history, the red light districts... ahem. Moving on:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Maleficent (2014): On Love, Child Welfare, and Awkward -nomics

6th June 2014 marks the day where I finally worked up the courage to pay money to watch a Disney movie in a cinema. Actually that's a lie, since I did pay to watch Iron Man 3 and The Avengers. I've been somewhat biased against Disney movies for years- I am of the impression that Disney films are mostly Western Bollywood musicals with fluffy and happy (throughout or eventually) plots. For a recent and popular example, let's take a short peek at Frozen. I considered watching it (briefly), but was put off by the constant singing and the fact that there's a little ugly talking snowman in it- call me racist (or speciesist?) but I'm not a big fan of snowmen, the only exception being the twisted ones in Calvin & Hobbes. I wasn't even interested in listening to the hit song Let it Go- something about it grates my nerves (though I've yet to listen to the entire song- so color me biased). Heck, the only thing I somewhat enjoy about the movie Frozen is that every time I do a "Which Frozen Character Are You Quiz", I get Elsa. Enough of that however- chew on my thoughts on Disney's Sleeping Beauty remake/retelling, Maleficent.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

CNY 2014, Vienna: Disinterested Foreigners, Dead Pianists, and yet more Schnitzel.

If you're a charitable sort of person, or if you're the type that enjoys picking up on irreverent factual tidbits and annoying helpless people, there's a lot to feel sorry for the Viennese. In case you're wondering, German is the official language in Austria, and once in the capital you'll only see 'Vienna' in English text. Everywhere else, it's 'Wien', and the people living there are called 'Wiener'- interestingly enough the Germans saw fit to name a sausage after them (Viennese have the sense not to use the term- they call it 'frankfurter' instead, according to Wikipedia). On a vastly larger scale, most people either think Austria is either a province of Germany, or hear 'Australia' instead. The latter point can be applied to Australians as well, I guess. Anyway, after Munich, Vienna- the second destination on our trip.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Gundam Build Fighters (2013): Winner of the Marketing Plan of the Year Award

It is probably fair to say that the Gundam fandom was split into two factions (again) with the announcement of the 13th television series, Gundam Build Fighter (GBF). Coming right after the show known as a masterpiece, or amusing experiment, or travesty against history known as Gundam Age- the positive side of me can't help but feel that animation house Sunrise used GBF as a platform to give the finger to all their noisy fans believers. The more cynical part of me feels that they are using GBF as a giant marketing ploy... For once, both of us are probably right (judgment courtesy of the third impartial me). Without further ado- on with the obligatory summary.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tokyo 2014 (Again): Minor Repetition and Leftover Observations

I'll admit that I found myself rather surprised at being in Tokyo again, just two short months after my last brief stay there. For some reason (I never got around to asking why me), I was selected to accompany my manager on a business trip to Tokyo, to attend a sort of overseas work expo, where recruitment agencies from across Southeast Asia would set up booth to interview prospective job applicants.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sakura Trick (2014): I missed out on the Hanami Season, but this more than makes up for it

Image credit: mikan (ama no hakoniwa)
Provided I can find a suitable image, I should probably start off every single anime review with this meme, the 'special feeling meme'- one of the rare few that I actually like, mostly thanks to the rich context for those in the know, and for the actual effort involved in making in. Yeah, I know. I'm horribly late in jumping on the bandwagon, but hey, I'm a puffed up bourgeois who hates having to take public transport, remember? Geez, I can't believe that I actually spelled bourgeois right in (memory fails me completely- and conveniently, here) my first time using the word three years since graduating from law school. Back on track after that unnecessarily long-winded opening, I am definitely not late in cranking out this 'review' (commentary, more like)- this 12 episode show's last episode aired sometime near the end of March '14. On we go then.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CNY 2014 - Munich, Germany: All Hail the Chicken Schnitzel

Now before we go any further- Alle Rüstungs Exporte Verbieten: All export of armour is forbidden. Whatever that means. Why post a picture of what looks like some political party's slogan emblazoned on a minivan, when I have absolutely no comment or understanding of what is going on here, and it really has no bearing on what you will be reading in the wall of text to come? It's simple really. I chose this photo to start off this post, and so I felt that I just had to explain what's going on in it. Why choose this photo, you ask? Oh, you don't want to hear the honest answer to that, do you. Well isn't this photo just amazing? It encapsulates everything about Munich at the time of our visit. That's the Mariensäule right in the middle, standing tall and proud in the middle of a sprawling cosmopolitan city; then there's the active display of democracy, a large group of protesters or supporters of some odd political party, contrasted with authority backed by weaponry. This is the beating heart of Munich, the center of Bavaria...... 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Midair Movie Marathon: Four Flights, Seven Movies

Before I get into the meaty series of posts that will be my CNY travelogue for 2014- meaty in that I've decided to split the thing into separate posts for each city/country: Munich (Germany), Vienna and Salzburg (Austria), and Budapest (Hungary), I've decided to do a bitty write-up on the movies I watched en-route to and from Europe. Hopefully this will turn out to be somewhat therapeutic for me, having finished two long, tiring, and ridiculously overdue travelogues for my solo journey across Japan in Dec-Jan (look at my previous posts). In case you're wondering- this isn't going to be much of a review, but mostly just me saying random things about each film, with some light summaries peppered in. Without any further ado, here's the first, after the break.

Japan 2014: Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka

Continuing from where I left off previously- here's day two in Kyoto. I forgot to mention this in the previous post, but last night I did manage to find the famous Pontocho alley, and stumbling past several restaurants which all looked as if they could easily burn a hole through my wallet, I came across a little restaurant with a small takoyaki kitchen at ground level. I had six of the best tasting takoyaki I have ever had: hot, puffy, steaming, creamy little round balls of fluff. Hats off to the chef.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Japan 2013: Kobe, Hiroshima, Kyoto

This probably ranks as one of the most random trips I have ever made. Well I suppose the few times I've dropped by at Singapore are more random, but coming from Malaysia, a trip to Singapore doesn't really count for much. That declaration will probably earn me the ire of every single Malaysian who hasn't been to the little island state yet, but it's quite true. Singapore is small enough to not require a plan- there's not much to see that you can't find back in Malaysia anyway. Back on track- my workplace, though nowhere near Japan, is a Japanese run firm- and the Big Boss decreed that a year end long holiday similar to that back home would be nice. Whilst idly browsing through Airasia's website, I noticed that there was, quite conveniently, some sort of promotion going on. After a short discussion as to whether I should snap up the promotional tickets, I entered my card number, clicked 'confirm payment', and then sat at the computer thinking "OK, so what am I going to do now?" Oh dear.

Note: I made an editorial decision to split this trip into two posts, the second to be titled "Japan 2014 something". There are many reasons for this, one being to sidestep any incongruity in the titling, since my stay there stretched until '14, the other being that it's already the first day of March and I haven't posted anything since December last year. So look forward to more procrastination on the continuation of this post.