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Age 12: A Little Heart-Pounding

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 / No Comments

Age 12; the age where we are neither a child nor an adult. Do you remember yourself at that age? I only remember sitting for exams and feeling nothing but immense stress throughout every paper because it was either make or break for all graduating students. Puberty had probably hit me a little later, since I didn't show any apparent sign of such be it biologically, emotionally or psychologically. Nope, I wished that I had a growth spurt but my height remained quite consistent and changed very little. Even today, I still wish that I could be taller. Just don't ask how tall I am.

I don't think that any of my classmates had developed crushes on others, not that I had actually asked anybody but the atmosphere back then was down to academics and getting overwhelmed by the intentional segregation of classes. The teachers were all strict and extremely focused, and nobody really dared to rebel for fear of implicating their parents. However, in the rare case of an off-season, when the entire class got to relax, read comics and play games, a group of us would sit in a circle and start bantering. It was probably nothing deeper, though the little teasings and such had revealed certain changes among us.

What is love, or more specifically, romance to a 12-year old? The subject on first kiss quickly escalated among the girls of an unknown elementary school. Ayase Hanabi, Aoi Yui and Ogura Marin wondered about the ideal first kiss. That soon shifted to the boys in their class, whom were generally viewed as annoying. The exception was Takao Yuuto, the most popular boy. Yuuto was gentle, kind, rather mature for his age, and had a crush on Hanabi. He would act as a sort of hero in prickly situations, which had the vote of approval from the girls. Hanabi began to see Yuuto differently after a fateful incident. She used to think that he was just another boy around.

The teasing from the boys was often the teacher's headache since the girls would refuse to have anything to do with them, fighting back one another and such which created considerable tension in class. When Yui had her first period, her plight was blown up by the constant snide remarks from some of the boys, though they didn't specifically refer to her period (they never realised anyway) but how she could collapse from a stomach pain. After Yui was brought to the infirmary, those boys came over with her bag and apologised, thanks to Yuuto.

Rivalry was also in the air, though I find it rather unbelievable that it could happen among pre-teens. A plan to sabotage the recorder test had backfired after an insistent Hanabi refused to adhere to Hamana Kokoa's manipulation. Of course, Kokoa had attempted to direct the blame onto Hanabi, but she was after all a rather dumb girl (or Yuuto was just too clever) who would just do anything in an effort to crumble others. Hanabi was saved by Yuuto amid the chaos, and he nonchalantly said that the two of them had already kissed, to the sheer horror of the class.

Age 12; the age where we are neither a child nor an adult. What else had been present in your 12-year old self? If you could re-live your 12-year old self, what would you like to do? Where would you want to go?

Age 12: A Little Heart-Pounding.

Eccentrically Yours.

Written by J.Fluffysheep ♪

Figure Unboxing and Review: Oshino Shinobu (Good Smile Company)

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To All,
This was my grail for the longest time. This Shinobu figure by Good Smile Company is one of the best Shinobu figures out there, and probably the starter for all those donut-related figures, where the donut base doesn't feel overwhelmingly sweet probably because it has connections to the various concepts of the other characters in the anime.

I finally managed to find it and bought this for $100 at Chara Expo 2015 from the GSC shop. I think it's good money spent considering how she's around 10,000 yen in second-hand shops nowadays and I managed to find her in a new, unopened state!

Packaging 8/10
Her box has a nice window on all three sides and it highlights how she looks with all her parts intact. The colors of dark grey, red and pink helps you get in the mood for unboxing a cute loli donut-loving vampire, Oshino Shinobu.

I do not have a picture of her blister alone but she comes in three separate parts: the figure itself, her base, and the donut in her mouth. Do note that the donut she's biting on is small and you need to be careful not to lose it! Furthermore, her green helmet is removable as well!

Base 9/10

The only reason this base doesn't get a full 10/10 is because I do find that there's always room for improvement. 
The dark single-tone donuts are located where Shinobu is supposed to be on the base. I would have rather normal colored donuts there as well, to make the base look better on its own, but I guess this works as well...? However, there's no peg for Shinobu on this base so you might easily drop either while handling her, so be careful!

Putting that aside, I especially love the concept behind this base and we'll take a slow 360 of the base while reviewing the different character it features.
From the front, we see five well-made references already. Needless to say, the head and that ahoge will only link to our favorite main charater in Monogatari Series, Araragi Koyomi! His sisters also have a brief mention in this base with the two sunny side-up egg hairclips which they wear in the whole series, across the different arcs no matter what their hairstyles are. The stapler links to Senjougahara Hitagi (Araragi Koyom's girlfriend), the orange cap belongs to Sengoku Nadeko, while the pink bag belongs to Hachikuji Mayoi, who are the heroines in the series.
In this image, you will see Hanekawa Tsubasa, the ever-friendly class-rep who seems to know everything. Her image on this base is the cat ears and her trademark classes. The geta-shoes represent Oshino Meme, an apparition killer who aids Araragi Koyomi in resolving many of such apparition issues he finds, usually for a small (or, not that small) fee in exchange. Kanbaru Suruga is also featured with the bandaged arm, which of course, had to be grabbing a donut because what good are hands other than for grabbing donuts? 
I like how there are some donuts that are different from the usual brown ones that litter the base in this figure. For instance, there are some of a different shape near Hanekawa's ear, as well as the chocolate-glazed donut beside Hachikuji's bag. This little details halp to enhance this base by giving it more little details that you'll stop and ponder about when examining it.

Posing and Assembly 8/10
Posing is not a problem. Shinobu does come with many detachable parts so you could display her with or without her helmet and/or donut in her mouth. Each variation has a slightly different atmosphere to it, but I like to pose her with both.

You could probably pose her without her base as well, since her butt is flat and meant to be able to sit steadily on a flat surface without fear of toppling over. However, I do love this base too much not to use it so unfortunately you wouldn't see any pictures of her without her base, not from me at least!
With regards to assembly, she's quite easy to assemble, but a pain as well, depending on how you see it. She slides into place, with her feet fitting into the donut grooves, marked by the red circles. There would be two of these depression in the donut mountain that she's on, one on each side for each foot. Not only do the groove help to keep her in place so she doesn't fall out that easily, they also add to the realistic factor of the effects of weight on fluffy donuts.

But as I've mentioned before, there are no pegs holding this beauty in place so be sure to be careful and hold both her and the base when handling so neither of them fall.

Sculpting and Painting 8/10

Let's just say that there is a reason why she has been my grail for so long, and on such high demand in the aftermarket.

A simple 360 of her shows how well she catches light in the right areas. The sculpt of her one piece pink dress folds in all the right areas, giving her a dynamic sense of movement. And it actually looks soft and similar to real fabric. This is also reflected in the flow of the ribbon on her chest as well as the spaghetti straps that are falling off her shoulder. Of course, this is common in most of the higher-end scale figures nowadays but Shinobu is actually quite an old figure, albeit being re-released quite recently. 

Her hair is nice and perky at the ends, similar to how it is in the anime. Due to her unique hairstyle, the light that catches on actually highlights the ends that curl up. 
The donut that's supposed to enter her mouth actually fits better than expected. There are some lines on the donut at the end that enters her mouth to make it look more "held on" but I guess that wasn't very visible in the photograph I took.

The blush on her cheeks are loyal to the anime's illustration where she also has those cute ellipse pink blush with white highlights. The only comment I have is of her red eyes since there is too much highlight there for my liking, making her look more cute and loli-like but hey, that's more or less the point of this figure so I'll suck it up and stop complaining already~
Here is how Shinobu looks without the donut in her mouth. She still looks cute as usual but now that I know a donut belongs in there, I'm constantly wondering if I lost the piece when I see her without it. She looks like she's saying something without it though!

Enjoyment 8/10
Even with her helmet she's still adorable... no, wait... she became even more adorable!

There's endless amount of fun with this scale figure and I'll recommend everyone to buy it even if you don't watch the series! The only drawback is that she's more expensive than expected, but if you manage to find one in good condition for an affordable price, why not just go for it?
From Your Fellow Collector,

Terra Formars

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Antagonists in any novel, comic or movie these days are often multi-faceted, having their own set of beliefs or rules they live and die by no matter how misguided they may be. They aren’t just evil for the sake of doing so. Heck, you might’ve rooted for them on occasion rather than the heroes. Yagami Light from Death Note is an outstanding example.

Terra Formars has no intention of having a villain with that many shades of grey. Instead, you have perhaps the most irksome household pest as the antagonist of choice: the cockroach.

Grant them superhuman levels of strength, speed and intelligence thanks to centuries spent evolving on Mars and you have yourself an enemy that every reader will hate. Oh, did I mention that their sole purpose is to exterminate every single human being?

To add to the woes of the human race, an extraterrestrial virus with no apparent cure has been discovered, leading to a war on two fronts. Thankfully, all is not lost and mankind has a trick up its sleeve to combat these mutated household pests. Selected people have undergone genetic modifications, giving them the characteristics and abilities of a specific insect (or animal in later chapters) when activated.

These range from moths and scorpions to crabs and even octopi as the story progresses. The characters imbued with these powers are reason enough for me to continue flipping through the pages. Throw in an increasingly complex plot (the political agendas of each nation are exposed plus Earth receiving a very nasty surprise in the more recent chapters) and the manga becomes a weekly must-read.

These ridiculous events escalated from a simple premise. Humans planned to colonise Mars, terraforming the planet via the use of a modified algae to absorb sunlight and cockroaches to feed off the mold. Their corpses would then spread the mold as they fed and this process would eventually raise surface temperatures to Earth-like levels.

As you can see, Murphy’s Law decided to come into play, leading to all the members of the initial expedition to Mars getting killed by these superhuman cockroaches. Fast forward several more years and you have the ongoing Terra Formars storyline.

Making the increasingly complicated plot easier to understand is the art of Tachibana Kenichi. Adding to that is a single page summary at the start of every chapter showing what everyone is doing. Useful for more absent-minded readers.

Each character is incredibly detailed and the satisfaction you get from seeing cracks form on a humanoid cockroach’s shell and its innards spewing out as it’s beaten to a pulp will have you blazing through a 100 chapters in no time. Because who in their right mind actually likes these pests, let alone one that looks like its spent way too much time in the gym, right?

Terra Formars doesn't seem to ending its weekly serialisation soon and rightly so. Its novel concept, plot depth and attention to detail keeps it in my weekly must-read list.

Written by ET

PSO2 The Animation: Itsuki and RINA

Monday, May 23, 2016 / No Comments

No, it is not a typo. Itsuki and RINA is how they spelled their ingame ID. As the series as already ended, I feel safe to reveal that Rina is also SORO, that huge white Cast Ranger/Gunner. As the name implies, she plays solo with him, because she doesn't do team play.

But later she finally agrees to join a Team and she changes her avatar to this. If you are playing PSO2 now, Itsuki and RINA can be seen on 2F. Their Client Order gives a decent amount of experience every day.

But the story actually starts in 2027. Earth has seen interaction technology increase by leaps and bounds with the integration of  ESC-A, a revolutionary cloud operating system. PSO2 comes preinstalled with every copy. More of this when I cover what happens after the anime in the game. So you see the world with Itsuki, a newbie to PSO2. His friend introduces him to the game, and he meets SORO, actually Rina, online.


Itsuki, being a newbie, used his real name, a topic that is always discussed in the anime as a lack of common sense . Players will understand what this means. His class is actually Hunter/Braver. When you see him firing, that's actually a Gunslash, not class-related.

Radiant is its name. And it is actually a weapon skin, not an actual weapon. Players who want to make their character into Itsuki take note. Even in his awakened form this doesn't change. Looks cool though.

RINA is actually a Gunner/Hunter. I have trouble translating her weapon skin. It is also available for assault rifles. Frefi Aura(?) I give up. Those are huge for twin machine guns. Most are only half the length.

SORO does not have any unique weapon. These two are what he uses when he's your partner. They look really badass. He only uses big guns.

All of these guys, including AIKA, and PSOes's Jen, can be used as partners once you clear a specific client order of theirs. I will be showcasing those two characters next article.

Written by Don