Another good week! Living the good life, is, well, good. 8) My weekend was a little stressful (Nothing serious, but don’t really wanna talk about it), but it picked up soon enough.
Watched the short Patlabor: Reboot anime, I’ve been meaning to do so for a while. It was soooo short, only 7 minutes, but…I’ve watched it over and over again! The computer animation was actually decent and the new characters perfectly match the charm of the old ones. I especially liked the voice acting. Man, I wish this meant Patlabor would be getting an actual new series, but this was just a short one-off. Well, there’s that live-action patlabor I haven’t seen yet…
I bought Toukiden 2 earlier this week and I’ve been having fun with it. The original Toukiden (and Toukiden: Kiwami) was a game like Monster Hunter, where you have to hunt down giant beasties, cutting off their tails and bodyparts with swords or knives or crushing them with clubs or hammers, and then slaying them when they’re weakened. Then you can make even stronger weapons and armor out of monster bodyparts! In Monster Hunter you fought dinosaurs and dragons, while in Toukiden you fight oni and other demons from Japanese mythology, but the basic conceit is the same.
The best thing about Toukiden 2 is how much new content they’ve added. More monsters to fight and weapons to craft, along with new characters to join you, but there’s a lot of other stuff too! In the first Toukiden, like the Monster Hunter games, you would go on missions which took you from your central village area to an enclosed area you would promptly leave when you beat the monster (or were defeated). In Toukiden 2, however, it’s an open world now: You can leave your village whenever you like and run around an interconnected world where you can encounter a variety of monsters at your leisure, run into NPCs, and all that sorta stuff! It’s really cool and represents a significant step forward for the “monster hunting” genre, IMO.
It’s not perfect–my biggest gripe is that the graphics are OK for a PS4 game, rather than really beautiful. Yeah, I’m spoiled, and yeah, it looks nice, but it’s nowhere near as breathtaking as, say, Bloodborne. Of course, Bloodborne was exceptional, but even taking into account the differences between the games and their intent, Toukiden doesn’t seem exceptionally striking in terms of art direction. Essentially, the world outside of your main village is like a conglomeration of Japanese-style environments–a Japanese castle and shrine in a peaceful forest, the same in a desert, tundra, etc.–which don’t really seem to stand out much. Everything looks sort of “plastic-y” rather than as engaging as, say, Bloodborne or Dark Souls 3’s environments.
Aside from that, in terms of plot and aesthetics, it’s a solid Teen rating. The game isn’t terribly violent–one character dies, but there’s no blood, and another character gets shot with some blood, but other than that there’s no gore. The monsters are all otherworldly demons (you don’t fight people) who “bleed” this black mist, so there’s nothing scary about it. I might write a little more about its plot and where it falls in terms of Japanese tropes later on, maybe next week. 😮
Finally got back in touch with Gorge! Turns out he was having more Internet problems, argh! He’s finally fixed those up, so here’s hoping we can get ep. 24 of Dragonar out soon…
NEW CHAPTER OF BERSERK!!!!!!!
It’s been ages, as the author (Kentaro Miura) has been on a hiatus for a long time, but we finally got a new chapter of one of my favorite manga, Berserk! I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Honestly…nothing super significant happened (I don’t wanna spoil anyone who may be reading this), but at least we’ve seen *some* progress in the story. Also, while folks are complaining about the art, I think it’s OK…and in any case, regardless of the quality, IMO the imagery and ideas behind the pictures are really interesting. Thank God Miura hasn’t gone back to a hiatus and will release the next chapter on April 28…I hope he sticks with it this time, Berserk’s gone on for soooo long because he keeps taking these incredibly long hiatuses. ;_;
I’ve also been making my way through a great collection: “Moving On: Essays on the Aftermath of Leaving Academia.” It’s…essentially exactly what it says on the tin. A collection of essays by various men and women–some of whom completed their Ph.Ds but went for non-academic jobs, others who dropped out of their Ph.D programs before getting their degree. While I’m on track to get my degree with no problems, and I’ve generally had a wonderful time in my program, the insights of people who weren’t as lucky as I am definitely make for thought-provoking reading. If things had gone a bit differently for me, I might have ended up in the predicaments some of them describe! And even in my present happy state, the advice of successful Ph.Ds who went on to non-academic jobs is quite relevant to me, at the moment I’m thinking of going into the private sector rather than into the professorship, since I already had a good experience with someone there previously. But all that is something to discuss in more depth at a later date (along with my thoughts on grad school generally). For now, I’ll just say that if you’re a grad student thinking of quitting, a grad student who’s having a tough time, a newly minted Ph.D struggling in the job market, or (like me) a grad student looking for new perspectives on his experiences, this is a book you should definitely pick up. I thought all the essays were great and couldn’t really pick one out to be my favorite, though Daniel Mullins’ essay, “Foot in the Door Disease: A Survivor’s Memoir” probably had the most relevant advice for me in interviewing for the non-academic world. ;o
I also read a horror novel this week: Hunter Shea’s “The Jersey Devil.” Essentially, the cryptid known as the Jersey Devil–I won’t say it’s a real thing, but IRL people have reported seeing it, look on Wikipedia–has started flying around and killing people in the backwoods of Jersey, and it’s up to the tight-knit Willett clan, along with a cryptozoologist, to stop it–because their history is entwined with the creature’s dark secrets!
Honestly, everything I wrote about Hunter Shea’s other work, “The Montauk Monster,” applies to this one as well. There’s nothing exceptionally compelling about this little novel, but it has some nice gory scenes, so you’ll at least be entertained at a fairly reasonable price. The good guys are pretty likable, all the members of the Willett clan, ranging from grandpa Boompa to the good-looking girl, have something to make the reader appreciate them as people and care about their welfare, though they don’t have much depth, IMO. I wasn’t as impressed by the research in this one as I was for the Montauk Monster, though–doesn’t seem like Mr. Shea incorporated anything else beyond what most people probably already know about the Jersey Devil. Also, a lot of the “random people get eviscerated by the beastie” scenes started to see repetitive about halfway through the book. Still, overall I was entertained, so I’ll give this 4 stars :p
Sent a small missive off to my profs, dealing with both a bit of dissertation-related searching I was doing while waiting for their feedback on mah second draft! Not much…I just asked an archivist at the Moorland-Spingarn research center at Howard University if they had any sources I hadn’t looked at; after telling them what I’d already found, they said probably not. Ah, well…nothin to do but wait for the feedback. They said I didn’t need many more primary sources anyways, so I should be good ;D
This week was Restaurant Week in my town, but I didn’t eat so much cause my parents got me a lot of food they made themselves, so I might as well have availed myself of their generosity ;p Here’s what I did have, though.
Like I said, nice week all things considered. I’m gonna see the movie “Life” later today, I don’t think it’ll be good but I’m in the mood for a movie and some popcorn. I’ll tell you how it was next week.