Monster

Help! The monster inside of me will explode

Johan Leibert

This one is a proper psychological thriller. Though I watched only the anime, checking out the reviews and other things told me that the anime is a faithful implementation of the manga. Normally a psychological + thriller would happen to be my favorite genre, but I felt like Monster had to really earn my favoritism for it. Probable cause was that the series starts off a bit slow, except for all the drama in the beginning.

The characters are nice and friendly, not particularly ones that you would remember and get stuck in your head, albeit fun to watch while the series lasts. I had taken a break from the series after completing the first few episodes, maybe because I was not ready for that much cruelty and violence at the time. But, I would say that once I started watching again, I was quite hooked. I’m not the kind of person who enjoys watching anime for its kawaii nature. Well maybe there are exceptions 😅, but jokes aside I really root for the good stories out there.

Monster by all means has a very gripping story. I wouldn’t want to even give you a hint of what the story is like, because of its inherent complexity, it would be hard to giveaway without revealing a large chunk of spoilers. The only problem is that I was expecting a little more from Monster than what it had to offer in the end. However, that was kind of made up in the last scene. Then again, I felt like there was a disregard for the accountability for the murders that were committed during the series’s course.

I really hadn’t heard many things about this series before. But that does not come off as a surprise now to be honest. There is just a lack of luster to the anime that the more contemporary ones have in abundance to offer. There is also a blatant lack in romance especially for the sheer length of the series. It made me think that the author really wanted to deliver the point of the story rather than indulging in shenanigans for the sake of completeness. That is what makes Monster unique. It is great in the way that it is completely distraction free, but it is also the victim of its own character.

I felt like the author would have been content with the way the series ended, but I don’t think I felt the same. There is just a lingering lack of completeness and lack of accountability about everything. Perhaps that is what the author had intended in the first place, to leave the readers and viewers in a state of limbo, right on top of the fence, without dropping off to either side.

I am not really sure whether I should recommend this, but as far as psychological thrillers go, I think this is one of the good ones. So if you are a fan like I am, by all means give it a go 😉

Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the great debate about the nature of reality

Written by Manjit Kumar, I picked up this book because I had a natural interest in quantum theory. Before I read this book I pictured quantum theory as being a mystical being that has kept on eluding me. Not that I had made any effort of my own, I had kept a collection of chunks and pieces that I had seen and heard in various documentaries. One of the documentaries that I watched on quantum theory–on it’s applications–was quite enlightening for me, and that cropped up the interest in me to pursue my research further.

This book is definitely a good read if you have no clue about what the quantum theory is, and it’s also good for people who know enough to find it interesting but not enough to understand how it all came about. It dives deep into the history of events that came about in creating the quantum theory as we know it. I would admit that after reading the book I was oddly satisfied having uncovered the mystical creature but also a little disappointed because there isn’t that much to it! It might be because this book talks a lot about the debate between Einstein and Bohr over the nature of reality which is mostly covered in the second half. In the first half it outlines the timeline of the various discoveries, discoverers and scientists who found the key ingredients that were useful for the theory of the the quantum theory. Regarding the scientists involved, it even highlights their personas to make the reading matter more interesting, especially for a certain category of readers.

I think I really liked the way the author has explained a couple of scientific theories in the first half of the book. Towards the end when quantum theory is in full swing it becomes difficult to understand what he’s trying to say due to the lack of visual cues.

I would recommend this if you are curious about quantum theory, and don’t mind a little course in history, but I would have liked it to end on a high note. But as history is not exactly a work of fiction, I am going to have to live with that. That said, it delivers exactly what the book’s title says and more, even. Go for it if it interests you! 🚀

Isle of Dogs

I think I stumbled across this movie as I looked at my phone one day trying to find any good movies to watch on the weekend. Looking at the star-studded cast I went and checked out the trailer. It seemed good, definitely a movie that I would want to watch, but I never did. At least at the time. Weeks went by, and the movie stopped being shown in the cinemas. I remember being a little saddened by it because I did not expect it to fade out so quickly. In another few days, I had probably forgotten about it.

After a long while when I booted up my firestick to checkout content on Hotstar, I was mildly surprised to see Isle of Dogs in the recently added ones.

Of all movies, they got this!

I said to myself

Well, what do you know, I said to myself, I’m totally gonna watch this 🕺

And so I did. Just now actually.

The story intersects very much with Japanese culture. It feels longer than it actually is because there is a lot going on in the story, not because it was boring. The characterization is of course great, and it feels heavily inspired from Japanese anime/manga stories in the respect of having a wide spectrum of behaviors, habits, etc and also because of the different kinds of mindsets that characters have in those serializations.

The funny thing with the story would be that certain characters that you would think should get more development do not, but some totally other ones do. Although I find that to be okay, as a lover of different kinds of stories and such, I encountered reviews citing similar views. But those reviews were pretty crappy in my opinion, as they mainly highlighted all the negative things that they could find with Isle of Dogs. Don’t you get deterred by those. It’s definitely quite an underrated movie (in terms of viewership), not stars really. So people who have watched it enjoy it, but not many people have seen the movie, which is probably why it arrived on Hotstar shy of two months of its blockbuster release.

Upon reflecting further, I felt like the movie focused more on trying to deliver in terms of a complete story than delve into the smaller details of each scene, which I suppose appeal to some people more. I however, really enjoyed the film for what it tried to portray.

Weekend or not, if you just want to chill out and relax or watch something before your turn in for the night, you might want to tune in to this flick 😉

Upgraded my server stack!

I recently moved from Atlantic.net as my service provider to Everdata.com. I mostly switched because Everdata was providing way better plans at better prices (now, now, I’m not promoting anyone here… 😉) and most importantly because it Everdata is a homegrown company and my VPS would also be hosted India 💜

In any case, that’s not the whole story.

As is usual in life, I encountered a ditch before I settled softly on Everdata as my VPS provider. While trying out different options, a certain VPS provider (that I do not wish to name) provided me pretty awful service and because of that, I asked for a refund and looked elsewhere.

Earlier at Atlantic, I had a stack of 1 core and 512 Mb RAM. However, my new provider gives me 2 cores and 4 Gb of RAM! Of course, it costs way more, but still it’s reasonable for the current market price. Today is the day I paid for the second month and I’m so happy! 😀

Apologies for my absence, and the absence of this blog for quite some time. If only the transition to the new provider was smoother and with fewer hitches, the downtime would have been less. In any case, here I am and I’m here to stay!

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse

Dang! I haven’t posted in a long time, I’ve had my hands full with a lot of things. But a couple of interesting things happened along the way, for instance I watched the new Spider-Man animated movie <3

Looks might get a little deceiving with this one, the trailer is rad, have no doubt. But the movie got screened in the “Play House” section at my local theatre, and made me consider whether it was really only for kids or all kinds of audience. My skepticism had to eat crows, for the movie was way better than expected (well, actually I knew it had a great rating), but I would really say that this title is going to be remembered as one of the great animated movies ever created.

I should say that I am quite lucky to have watched this rare gem, I mean I went to watch it alone and came back to tell my friends how good it was. One of the best things about this movie was the unexpectedly great comedy that had the whole audience rolling on the floor with laughter. Then there was the childlike innocence that it came bundled with. The jokes didn’t contain any dark humor or anything, because let’s admit it, it was a kids movie. Just kidding!

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

You know when a game is good. When it has a good story, good gameplay, and for most good sound. BFBC2 offers all that, and also makes it really fun to play. I am not the kind of person who would wait for his computer to boot up for 5 minutes only to play a game to shoot up others. But yeah, this game gave me a reason to do just that. It’s the best FPS I’ve played, maybe even the best game so far.

The best part is that it even has this DLC called Vietnam or something like that and it’s just absolutely dope. No question about it, the developers who created this have done so with love and zeal. It’s so clearly visible. Even its reviews are fantastic on Steam at least. You’d be surprised to know that there is a multiplayer mode in that Vietnam DLC which works even in 2018. Like holy crap. DICE! I’m not sure many people still play that game, but I’d say that it’s totally worth every penny, and now you could get it for a huge discount every now and then.

What can I say, it’s definitely something that would set a standard in the gaming industry, and as a gamer that is something that I am proud of.

Getting a good deal from your Xbox One

I recently purchased an Xbox One X, mostly because it is supposed to be the most powerful console in the world (at the time of writing) and also because I thought the Xbox Live Gold deals seemed pretty good. As you might have already figured, I haven’t owned an Xbox before. Neither have I owned any other console for that matter. So I suppose I feel a little satisfaction at getting the most powerful console as my first console.

Well anyway, as I said I really liked the Xbox Gold deals. The part that I thought was really good was that you could play Xbox 360 games on an Xbox One. Also, the fact that I’d be getting 4 games a month with Gold. Little did I know that I had to download the Xbox 360 games on a Xbox 360! So when my subscription started, I was able to download the two Xbox One games but not the two Xbox 360 games. I really don’t know the point of this, but yeah it’s nothing short of silly.

I somehow got the intuition to contact customer support and ask them about this. Thankfully, I got a great response and a solution to my queries. Apparently, you can redeem the two other Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One by physically signing in on an Xbox 360 and then downloading them. Luckily for me, there was an Xbox 360 at my workplace and the rest was easy. But honestly, I searched high and low for this answer and I didn’t find anything that would help. Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place. The Xbox at my workplace is 4Gb and the game was 12Gb, so I had to plug in an external drive. The download to the drive didn’t start however, but the game did get added to my list of games (the purchase was successful). So as long as the space on the drive is more than that of the game, you can purchase it.

Into the World of Japanimation

Prior to coming to Pune I was informed that we had to give a talk on a topic. Little did I know of the format of the presentation! Thinking that I should get it out of my way as soon as possible, I decided to present it in the 2nd week.

When I applied for the first Pecha Kucha, I wasn’t even sure what I should be talking about. I had two weekends and about seven working days ahead of me to come up with a topic, make the relevant slides and practise delivering it to my collegues.

I’ll try to not disclose any further spoilers about TWU to our fellow interns who would be attending TWU at some point in the future. But to give you a gist of it, all went well with my presentation although I wish I had gotten more practice so that even my perfectionist self would approve of my performance!

Since I haven’t mentioned it yet, let me not keep you waiting any longer. My topic for the presentation was:

*drumroll*

How Anime is Made

If that seemed like an anticlimax, my efforts to lure you to read thus far have been successful. But pray, read on, I will try not to disappoint.

To the rest, let me explain, Japanimation and anime are one and the same. If you hadn’t heard of anime before, it is a category of cartoon animation which is produced in Japan. It is quite a culture similar to tech, programming, photography and the kind (I’m sure I’ve missed out a gazillion more things, but for the sake of this article let’s raise our glasses to inclusivity!).

My itch to tell the world about how amazing anime is has still not been satisfied. So, I must go on. But hey, you don’t have to if you don’t find it interesting!

This article is about the way I look at the different aspects of anime and the tremendous character and richness that it has got to offer. In case you want to get into the process of making anime you could take a look at this incredible article which I used as the base for my Pecha Kucha.

When someone asks me to recommend an anime, the first thing that pops into my head is Cowboy Bebop. It’s one of the most iconic anime in the anime community. It aired between the Spring of 1998 and 1999 and being an old gem, you would find the older members of the anime community being more familiar with it.

The story takes place in the year 2071 when humanity has achieved the technology to travel in space and colonize other planets. The story revolves around a group of bounty hunters who assist the police in catching criminals.

The show is a really carefree and mostly episodic but a non-repetitive bundle of joy! It follows the life of Spike Speigel and his squad (that grows in number as the series progresses) who have a variety of different skill sets that aid them along their journey and provide a living for themselves.

I personally love the jazzy outro and the retro-style intro music. Cowboy Bebop is a fantastic example of an anime that can be enjoyed by all age groups. There are so many elements that you can find in the story, a ton of comedy, adventure and even a little bit of romance, not to mention the badass action scenes, with episodes exuding a ton of creative ideas that make this two cour series an absolute delight to watch.

I would say it has a good re-watch value as well. I probably watched this before my Engineering had started, and I am ready for round two anytime. The features that make anime like Cowboy Bebop interesting are not just limited to the elements in the story, but it is also the characters that make it such a memorable watch.

Speaking of good character design, Seven Deadly Sins is an anime that definitely deserves a mention. Its name has been etched into my memory as one of the best shounen anime I’ve ever seen! There is a common pattern among shounen anime. They start off with an amazing premise but deviate towards a niche, uninteresting story during the end instead of covering so many more fascinating elements that the viewer is eager to explore in the existing premise.

But Nanatsu no Taizai (the romanized Japanese name of Seven Deadly Sins) takes a different approach. It is super crazy, hilarious and throws so much at you that, the best way to watch it is to turn off your brain and enjoy the ride! There’s an enormous amount of action packed into this two cour series, and I may also add that it has its fair share of light-hearted ecchi humor. That said, I would also like to put it out there that it’s got great reviews, but not an appeal that was as overwhelming as what I experienced.

I usually stick to a more serious genre of anime, not that that they do not involve comedy (just not slapstick comedy). The Seven Deadly Sins proved to be an outstanding exception in my anime comfort zone, and at the end of the day I learned something new about myself.

If you thought anime was restricted only to TV series, well, guess what! Some of the greatest creations in the anime industry are the anime movies!

You might have heard of the popular Studio Ghibli, famous for their movies like My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, etc. At first, they might seem like they are suitable for 6 year olds. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t watch them! People of different ages draw different insights, meanings and fun out the movies. But all the same, for everyone they could be an incredibly pleasant and enjoyable watch. I have watched most of the Ghibli movies along with my mum. Both of us are very fond of them!

Ghibli movies are known for their fantastical stories that capture our imagination and detailed and passionately drawn art that gives way to scenic visuals and characters that one misses and holds dear to one’s heart once the movie is over.

They span across a wide variety of genres, from a love story to a tragic loss, from a real world documentary to fictional islands floating above the clouds! I would be able to watch any number of them at a time.

One of my favorites from Studio Ghibli is a film called My Neighbour Totoro. It’s really a very light-hearted film to watch. It’s about two little girls, Satsuki and Mei and their Dad who decide to relocate to the countryside to be closer to their mother who is hospitalized. The story revolves around the little ones and the extraordinary creatures they encounter living peacefully in their surroundings. It’s a very beautiful story with beautifully drawn art.

Tonari no Totoro (romanized form of the Japanese title of My Neighbour Totoro) was aired in the year 1988.

One of Ghibli’s underdog titles is Whisper of the Heart although its Japanese name “Mimi no Sumaseba” (romanized) translates directly to “If you listen carefully”. It is one of the rare Ghibli titles that has romance at its heart and is executed stunningly well. According to MyAnimeList it is a shoujo movie.

Unfortunately, I remember very little of it. Which means it is time to re-watch! I might remember things vaguely, but I do remember that I had absolutely loved it! Also, I take a minute and listen to Country Roads by John Denver anytime I think of Whisper of the Heart. Here are some enlightening facts from MyAnimeList:

Mimi wo Sumaseba is the highest-grossing Japanese film of 1995. It is also the first Studio Ghibli film that was directed by someone other than Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, and the first Japanese film that used the Dolby Digital sound format.

While we are on the subject of Romance, let’s take a dive into one of the most heart-breaking love stories I have ever seen. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso takes the cake. If you’ve watched that series, just taking in the significance of the movie title might moisten your eyes. What can I tell you, it’s so beautiful and sad at the same time.

Your Lie in April (synonymous with Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) brings out the power of music in transporting you into the harmonious mind of the player of the musical instrument and letting to get a glimpse of their emotions. As a fan of deep themes, Your Lie in April was an absolute delight to watch! If you are touched by it like I was, you might even take up to playing a musical instrument.

If you are into sword fighting, and can tolerate gore you might like this anime movie called Sword of the Stranger. One of my friends had suggested it to me. It is honestly not a very popular film, since I haven’t heard a whole lot about it, but it is really good nevertheless. The animation and orchestration of the sword fighting are really top of the class. It’s really more of a thriller than story-centric and I found myself enjoying the film even though the story seemed a little difficult to grasp at the time. I would sum it up as an action flick, and just as with every other action flick this one has a good re-watch value.

Possibly a more story-centric samurai anime would be Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal. It is an OVA that gives birth to the popular Samurai X franchise. I won’t go into details because I can’t remember a whole lot, but I remember that it has got a lot more gore and bloodshed. I wasn’t really able to stomach that much violence, but that’s just me. It still has got pretty good reviews.

Steins;Gate might not have a great re-watch value but it’s number one on my “mind-blown” list. It’s about time paradoxes, time machines, and a really confusing plot which has got me goosebumps plenty of times through the course of the series! I would say that it’s a must watch. The outro music gives me shivers every time! Also, don’t miss the specials at the end of the series, they are totally worth it.

The re-watch value of this particular anime is less because once you know how it’s going to play out it won’t “thrill” you like it did the first time. So I’d recommend you to jump right into this masterpiece rather than reading reviews or summaries first. During the middle of the series it might get a little boring, but keep at it, because it will get interesting very soon. If you need more convincing, let me say this: it’s captivating enough to make you believe that time machines do exist (oh yes, they do!).

My most recently watched anime is coincidentally the highest rated on MyAnimeList. I do agree with the community on this one. It’s an extremely engaging story combined with stunning art-style and these elements together combined have resulted in a masterpiece created by the one and only Makoto Shinkai. The name of this masterpiece is Kimi no Na Wa.

Kimi no Na Wa was a highly anticipated movie prior to its release and once it was released people instantly started falling in love with it. It overtook the long standing Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood at first place. I believe that Makoto Shinkai has been on a course of progressive improvement due to the experience gained from his previous creations such as Garden of Words and 5 Centimeter Per Second but he hit the nail on the head with Kimi No na Wa.

I won’t give away anything even for this one, because I care about you and I don’t want to spoil the fun for you! I’ll say just this: it’s a very sentimental story which has a delicate way of tugging at your heart and reminding yourself that if an anime can be so beautiful, how much beautiful can be reality.

Contrast ~ An Amazing Puzzle Game

Recently, I completed this game called Contrast. Not sure how popular it is, but if you had heard of it before, I suppose it is famous!

You play as Dawn. Who is a Ghost? I do not know, but I didn’t ask myself such questions while playing because the puzzles and the graphics in general were really captivating. It was created in the Unreal engine. It has a good replay value too, but after a while. I mean the puzzles can get so hard at times that… Whew, the satisfaction you get from completing them is beyond GODLIKE! So yeah, it’s mainly a puzzle game with the puzzles getting increasingly complex as the game goes on. It even has a really good story and absolutely fantastic ambient lighting!

For some puzzles you need to find luminaries. It’s usually easy to do so, because they are in easily accessible places, you just have to look around a bit. But I think finding all of them in a level can be a little difficult (because I couldn’t). It’s essentially an open world puzzle game. A small world however. But it’s still very chic. It’s always night time in the game. The entire gameplay time is not too much, maybe for experienced gamers it would take 5-6 hours. Though a lot could be said about the puzzles. Some of them are outright challenging and require you to use a whole lot of creativity in order to solve them. Others require you to have good control over your button pressing since there is a lot of jumping around and dashing through the shadows involved. I would say that it requires a crazy amount of thinking because the developers were super creative in making this masterpiece. So if you are not ready for that, don’t buy this. But anyway, if you think your brain needs a little intelligent stimulation, this is the game for you. Don’t worry, the difficulty of the puzzles increases progressively. And I’m sure people online would have posted walkthroughs for them in case you need them.

Highly recommended, 10/10 would love to play it again!

Doki Doki Literature Club ~ The Review

This was my first VN, and I’ve just played one ending till now. Went with my instincts 😀

But I thought it would be good to share a few thoughts about how my first ever VN was. To be frank, this was an quite extraordinary VN (I keep saying VM in my head lol) even for those who are well versed in playing VNs. So, first off I’ll tell you how I found out about this game. Through Twitter and Reddit mostly. Saw a couple of posts relating to it, and especially one which was a picture from Twitch that showed that DDLC had more viewers than DotA 2 (I find that surprising no more, sorry DotA folks!). Well, anyway it just took one search to find that game on Steam and add it to my library. I hadn’t played it for a week or so, it was just sitting idly in my library. But I have this friend who was playing it and recommended it to me. So I was like, “Okay, let’s give it a shot.”

I won’t give away any spoilers other than the fact that it’s a psychological horror game (I didn’t know that when I started playing). Take the warning on the loading screen seriously if you are a sensitive person. Jokes aside, the story is about four cute girls and is essentially a dating sim. You are supposed to understand the personalities of all the girls and pick words that match their personality. Based on the highest number of words you pick for the girl that you want, the story changes and takes different routes.

It was definitely more fun than what it was worth (it’s free). I am going to support the developer (Team Salvato) for this amazing game. From a reviewer’s point of view, it could be said that the narration and dialogues were very well written. Just enjoy it! It’s worth playing, and recommending to friends 🙂