Top 5 Wii U Games I’d Buy Now (if I owned a Wii U)

If I was harsh with Nintendo a few days ago, let me show some love by telling you what games I’d buy if I owned a Wii U today. None of these games by themselves are compelling enough for me to want to buy a Wii U. However, if I owned a few of these games, I’d be pretty happy. I did the order of this list backwards for some reason. Maybe it’s because my first choice is a tad random:

1. Need for Speed Most Wanted

This may seem like an odd choice for #1. But I remember playing a game of the exact same title about 8 years ago. It was a game that I loved so much that I actually looked forward to going home after school to play it. The police chases were just awesome. If this newer version of the game can imitate those well, I will be a happy person.

2. Pikmin 3

As I said above, there is no game on this list that would make me want to buy a Wii U right now. Pikmin 3 is included. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to play it As a huge fan of Pikmin 2, there’s no good reason for me not to get this game.

3. Mass Effect 3

Having missed out on all of the games in this series, I wanted to finally give it a try with the last one. While I’ll be missing out on the first two games, I have heard that the game plays well on the Wii U.

4. Super Mario 3D World

I wasn’t so interested in this game as I was hoping for something a bit closer to Super Mario 64. All “main” Mario games since then  have done a good job. I think Super Mario Sunshine did a good job capturing a sense of the things that made Super Mario 64 good, and of course the Wii’s two “Galaxy” games were both a lot of fun. So while the style of this game is a bit different (and I’m still a bit uncomfortable about this whole cat suit business…), Nintendo seems to have an idea of what they’re doing still.

5. Nintendoland

Well, I’ve heard good things about this game when you have some friends over. Frankly, the gameplay videos make it seem too good of a game to pass up completely. Like Mario Party, there is probably little appeal if played by oneself.

There are still some games I’d consider getting:

-Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed

I played a quick demo of this game at GameStop. Wasn’t amazing, but seemed to have potential. And I liked the original one for the Wii quite a bit. But with Mario Kart on the horizon, I could also pass this one up.

-Lego City Undercover

Like the recent Hollywood movie, this game is said to have a good sense of humor. That alone would probably make it a good buy.

-The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

While I am not sure that I would die without this game, it would be fun to revisit.

Seriously Nintendo…Where Are the Games?

Harsh title? Harsher reality. The Wii U has been available for consumers to purchase since November of 2012. That means it’s been out on the market for a period of 16 months. I still can’t think of one ‘killer app’ game for the console.

It might be worth revisiting what Nintendo has accomplished with their previous consoles in their first 16 months. Let’s start with the Wii. I could consider The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess a Wii game, but it is more of a Gamecube (GCN) game at heart. But even excluding Zelda, Nintendo had Metroid Prime 3, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros out on the Wii the same time 6 years ago. These were good ‘killer app’ titles and the system also boasted other decently well-received first party titles such as Super Paper Mario and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. The system also received what was considered the best version of Resident Evil 4 from Capcom. The system was off to a pretty good start.

Now let’s look at the library of GCN games in its first 16 months. It’s somewhat similar to the Wii, with Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Other acclaimed games include Star Fox Adventures, Pikmin, Animal Crossing and the cult classic Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. This is also not forgetting Nintendo’s best pre-order bonus ever-The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time with upgraded resolutions and a ‘hard mode’ via the Master Quest game. While other gamers were beginning their ‘hardcore’ lifestyles with the Xbox or PS2, I was pretty content with what Nintendo had to offer on the GCN, even less than 2 years after launch.

The N64 also saw quite a few good games in its first 16 months. While the best of the N64 was to come in 1998, the N64 was graced with the two killer apps of Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye 007. Other acclaimed games include Star Fox 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Pilotwings 64 and Mario Kart 64. Looking at the N64’s initial library provides a basis for us to consider how the Wii U is doing now. The fact is that the N64’s library didn’t have an amazing first 16 months, despite games like Star Fox 64 and Mario Kart 64 supporting the already good Super Mario 64.

The N64 needed another year to really grow in its amazingness. But that’s all it needed. 1998 gave the N64 some incredible games that are still widely remembered (and played) today. The biggest one, Ocarina of Time, was just one of the great games released that year. Banjo-Kazooie also saw the light of day and gave the incredible Super Mario 64 a run for its money. F-Zero X and other games helped the console along as well. The next year, we saw Nintendo release Super Smash Bros. and Donkey Kong 64, along with Mario Golf, Mario Party and Pokemon Snap. In 2000, the games kept rolling out, with Perfect Dark, Banjo-Tooie and Majora’s Mask. Pokemon Stadium and Mario Tennis also saw the light of day.

I could continue with third-party games and also the N64’s final year, which was still pretty good. We saw that the N64 enjoyed a decent first 16 months and a few years after that. So is it harsh to say that the Wii U is so lacking? Maybe it just needs another year? Perhaps it does. But let’s look at the Wii U’s first 16 months. I personally don’t think there is one killer app. Super Mario 3D World comes pretty close to that. In fact, after I get my hands on it for the first time, I may like it even more. If I owned a Wii U, there are certainly games that I would buy. That makes the system somewhat attractive. The fact is I would probably buy Mass Effect 3, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed and even the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (see newer blog post on that topic here). But the biggest problem with my current list of games is that they can be played on other consoles. The first three I listed are available on other consoles and the Wind Waker, while featuring better graphics and widescreen support on the Wii U is actually an 11-year old game (somehow). An exception would be Pikmin 3, which I would buy even if it wasn’t as critically acclaimed as it is.

That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with older or ported games. Some of the Wii games I own are just upgraded ports (Pikmin 2, Resident Evil 4, etc.) That’s why I said that I would buy all of those games if I owned a Wii U. So the fact is that I would get something out of the console. But what do you do when a developer/publisher bails like EA has? That’s a heavy blow. But as one YouTube video has pointed out, why would a developer invest more money in making a game with Gamepad support when it can just release the game and have it utilize ‘normal’ controllers and potentially better graphics? They wouldn’t-especially since the Wii U hasn’t proven itself in sales. I think 5 million is a good amount of consoles, but apparently EA doesn’t.

I think Nintendo is close. I think they have a lot of franchises and ideas. I think they could consider making a Star Fox game or a Metroid game or an F-Zero game. Except for Metroid, it has been around a decade since we’ve seen console versions of those other two franchises. Nintendo has completed its line of Mario games, with Mario Kart on the horizon. Nintendo also has Super Smash Bros coming this year (I was close to typing “next year”, as it feels as it could be delayed more). If it announced a title from any of those three franchises (Star Fox, F-Zero or Metroid), they would be in much better shape.

I can suggest to Nintendo what to do, but they have to be the ones to do it. Retro Studios has got to be working on something for next year-why not tell us what’s going on, Nintendo? How about that new Zelda game that’s been rumored for a while? I shan’t ignore Pikmin 3 which I am still looking forward to playing, but I think Nintendo is so close to making its Wii U look really good. This is why I think Nintendo is so close to failing, as well. Let’s see if they can hold up this year.

Nintendo cuts Wii’s Wi-Fi in May

In a bit of shocking news, Nintendo has announced that it will stop all wi-fi gameplay functions for its games on May 20th. I thought this would include 3rd party games, but this appears not to be the case-it means I might still be able to play the Wii’s Sonic Racing game after that date (if anyone knows for sure, let me know).

As this news broke about two weeks ago, this post will be more reflections on that piece of news. A writer of one article relating to this news said that it’s natural to expect that Nintendo would eventually have done this. I think it’s way too soon. This is the kind of thing you do as a company when many people are ‘done’ using the product.

My friend noted how it sucks for him that support for Windows XP is ending next month as it means he’ll have to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8(.1). This is very normal of Microsoft to do, and after having the OS for 12 years, that is very expected. However, the Wii’s wi-fi games have been going on no longer than 8 years. Furthermore, there are three newer Windows OS’s to choose from nowadays. In theory, nothing is being lost by the lack of support for Windows XP, in my opinion.

However, this is a complete shut-off of all wi-fi services. The obvious thing to me for Nintendo to do was to force users to play the Wii games on the Wii U to get the wi-fi service, Of course, it may not have been technically possible to program this. After all, if you load your copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl into a Wii U instead of the Wii, I doubt that once you’re in the game that it knows what console you’re playing on.

Let’s get this straight-there’s no way that the use of wi-fi is costing them that much money. They’re Nintendo. They have money to spare. This truly is the kind of thing that you expect a company to do after they’re way past the Wii. Now, I know that Nintendo is. But that is part of their problem. They’re not really in a position to tell the players that we can’t have this. Did they really think I was going to run out and buy a Wii U when I still can’t play a Smash Bros. title online? Yeah, right…

I can’t say it enough-this move was years too early. It makes absolutely no sense for them to have done this. They aren’t losing (a lot of) money on keeping the service up. They aren’t going to sell more Wii U consoles because of this. Had they kept this up, there would have inevitably been people who would have continued to play Mario Kart Wii online and defy Nintendo and not buy the Wii U version.

That is the only way that this news makes sense. Nintendo is hoping people will want Mario Kart 8, which may turn out to be a killer app for the Wii U. In fact, if the ‘X’ game from the guys who made ‘Xenoblade Chronicles’ actually gets released this year (along with ‘Smash’), then the Wii U will actually be a decent console to consider buying. But I am not sure that Nintendo is anyone near that point, even with the release of a new Pikmin and Mario game last year.

Nintendo is, in some ways, so close to actually rivaling the other consoles. But with the other consoles selling millions, Nintendo has some catching up to do. That is extremely, extremely sad considering that they had a year’s lead, in a sense. But that is also assuming that Nintendo was ever ahead. Were they? Their console prior to the Wii U was a console that didn’t output in HD. Nintendo’s got that now, which is why they should be doing well.

Nintendo is not doing well. But this could be their year. In some ways, if they don’t save their console this year, it’s going to be an interesting ride for them. It’d be nice if 3rd parties would support the Wii U again. Why not create a Need for Speed game for the Wii U again? EA complained about low sales of the original game, but let’s be honest-Nintendo didn’t exactly do its own part to make the console worth buying for its first 12 months.

Okay Nintendo. Do your worst! This is your year to win or lose it all.

2014 Oscars Predictions and Bowling

Well, I made this list somewhat quickly this year. I’ve seen 2 of the 9 Best Picture nominations which is actually probably more than usual in recent years. I’ll get around to the others this year, of course.

1. Best Picture: “12 Years a Slave”
2. Best Leading Actor: Matthew McConaughey, for “Dallas Buyers Club”
3. Best Leading Actress: Cate Blanchett, for “Blue Jasmine”
4. Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, for “Dallas Buyers Club”
5. Best Supporting Actress: Lupita N’yongo, for “12 Years a Slave”
6. Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, for “Gravity”
7. Best Original Screenplay: “Her”
8. Best Adapted Screenplay: “12 Years a Slave”
9. Best Cinematography: “Gravity”
10. Best Editing: “Captain Phillips”
11. Best Production Direction: “The Great Gatsby”
12. Best Costume Design: “American Hustle”
13. Best Makeup and Hairstyling: “Dallas Buyers Club”
14. Best Original Score (Music): “Gravity”
15. Best Original Song: ‘Let it Go’ from “Frozen”
16. Best Sound Mixing: “Gravity”
17. Best Sound Editing: “Gravity”
18. Best Visual Effects: “Gravity”
19. Best Animated Film: “Frozen”
20. Best Foreign Language Film: “The Great Beauty”
21. Best Documentary: “The Act of Killing”
22. Best Short Documentary: “The Lady in Number 6”
23. Best Short Animated Film: “Get a Horse!”
24. Best Short (Live Action) Film: “Helium”

1. Last year I was a bit daring with my choice of “Lincoln”. While some people will vote for “Gravity”, I really don’t see that movie winning. This year, I’ve seen 2 of the 9 nominees-“Gravity” and “Captain Phillips”. I don’t see Phillips winning despite it being a very good movie. “12 Years a Slave” seems the contender here.

2-5. Just going with the majority this year. Blanchett seems the likeliest one of all of these choices to win.

6. “Gravity” was a technical masterpiece, so Cuaron will win the Oscar here. “Hustle” is the dark horse of this category with “Slave” having a small chance as well.

7. This is a slightly tougher one, but I like to think that the Academy sides towards more of the ‘indie’ films in this category. This is a category where films like “Lost in Translation”, “Midnight in Paris” and “Juno” have won. These are films that can’t quite get the Oscar but the Academy wants to recognize them somewhere, and it’s usually here.

9. Lubezki should have won with “The Tree of Life” before so he will finally win with “Gravity”. This one is almost a gimme.

10. This one is a bit tougher for me as I haven’t seen three of the five nominated films. Rouse has won before with “The Bourne Supremacy”, but “Gravity” seems to be a tighter film in some respects. I really wish I have seen the other films, but if we assume that the long shots by Lubezki in “Gravity” were all in one take, then we have to assume that “Phillips” has the better chance. So, I’ll go with that.

14. Newman tends to get nominated a lot but never seems to win. As I haven’t seen “Saving Mr. Banks” it’s tough to vote for it. I think it would have to be incredibly original for him to finally win, so I’m going to say that that one is out. The same goes for Williams who has had his day in the Oscar limelight (and may have deserved more wins than he’s received…cough, “Memoirs of a Geisha” …) “Gravity” seems to be the favored choice here, so I’ll stick with it.

15. Oh, boy…it’s this category, hehe…Well, I seem to get this every other year, so maybe I’ll miss it this year? While this year may not be the toughest year in recent years for this category (I think back to the year that Toy Story 3’s song won and I somehow got the right), I think there are a few strong contenders. The obvious choice might be “Frozen”, but the Academy may have gotten wind of the amazing 24-hour music video for the song ‘Happy’, from the movie “Despicable Me 2”. While they shouldn’t have voted for the fact that the song had a good video, it certainly gives it some steam. I don’t see the song from “Her” winning. It’s just too dry and unmemorable. And then we’ve got the dark horse of U2’s ‘Ordinary Love’ which is a good song in its own right. It feels more like a good pop song rather than a song from a movie, somehow. But I actually quite liked this song. And even ‘Happy’ has that same kind of pop feel that ‘Ordinary Love’ has.

I almost made a post about why ‘Let it Go’ doesn’t deserve to win the Oscar this year, but this is about what song will win. I never got around to making that post, and it may look weird post-Oscars to make a post titled “Why ‘Let it Go’ should not have won” versus a pre-Oscars post titled “Why ‘Let it Go’ shouldn’t win an Oscar (even though it will).” I just have to admit that, as it stands, it’s probably going to win. Just don’t be surprised at a dark horse arising in this category.

17. While “Phillips” has a chance at Sound Editing, this is a year that I am not being too risky, so I’ll go with “Gravity” again.

19. Many people were wrong in predicting “Wreck-it Ralph” last year. This year I am going to go again with the obvious choice of “Frozen”, but don’t be surprised if there’s a dark horse winner here (ala Miyazaki with “The Wind Rises” or the not so obvious “Ernest & Celestine”.

21-24. I have a method of choosing these four categories that I’ve likely revealed before. I simply choose the film that has the most Oscar-worthy synopsis. Why do I choose this way? If the film was so good to be nominated, then I don’t need to have seen the film to know that it was good. So it’s just going to be which film would have likely resonated more with Oscar voters. This should be especially true of the two Documentary categories.

21. With that little exposition out of the way, here’s how I chose this one-“The Square” seems to have no chance. War movies tend to get nominated but don’t seem to have good chances at winning, so I’ll skip on “Dirty Wars”. “Cutie and the Boxer” seems cute, but probably won’t win. I watched the trailer and it reminds me of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” a little bit.

Then we get to the two real contenders. “The Act of Killing” has an interesting theme to it. They say the main ‘protagonist’ used to be a mass executioner, having killed over one million people. I don’t see how he’s still alive or not in jail (perhaps the movie explains that?) but it makes for an interesting topic, as he is asked to film murder scenes that may have been similar to ones he carried out in real life. Then we have the supposed crowd-favorite of “20 Feet from Stardom”. This movie is sure to hit more at home with voters, as it tells the story of unfairness in the music industry for backup singers. Still, “The Act of Killing” seems a bit more important despite it feeling like a more ‘distant’ film, so I’ll try that film this year.

And let’s go bowling:

24. Best Visual Effects: “Gravity”
23. Best Cinematography: “Gravity”
22. Best Leading Actress: Cate Blanchett, for “Blue Jasmine”
21. Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, for “Gravity”
20. Best Animated Film: “Frozen”
19. Best Makeup and Hairstyling: “Dallas Buyers Club”
18. Best Sound Mixing: “Gravity”
17. Best Picture: “12 Years a Slave”
16. Best Production Direction: “The Great Gatsby”
15. Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, for “Dallas Buyers Club”
14. Best Foreign Language Film: “The Great Beauty”
13. Best Leading Actor: Matthew McConaughey, for “Dallas Buyers Club”
12. Best Original Screenplay: “Her”
11. Best Sound Editing: “Gravity”
10. Best Supporting Actress: Lupita N’yongo, for “12 Years a Slave”
9. Best Editing: “Captain Phillips”
8. Best Adapted Screenplay: “12 Years a Slave”
7. Best Costume Design: “American Hustle”
6. Best Original Score (Music): “Gravity”
5. Best Original Song: ‘Let it Go’ from “Frozen”
4. Best Short Documentary: “The Lady in Number 6”
3. Best Documentary: “The Act of Killing”
2. Best Short (Live Action) Film: “Helium”
1. Best Short Animated Film: “Get a Horse!”

The Stanley Parable Review

This game is not worth $15. I thought this game would be upwards of 4-6 hours long. The game barely tells any story at all. Have I completely missed the point? I doubt it. The game is supposed to be a commentary about choices in video games. Frankly, I think The Walking Dead does a better job at taking to the player about choices than this game does. This is a tamer game that certainly has a goal of making you laugh, but lacks any sort of depth that you might expect if you had played a game like The Walking Dead prior to this one.

I read one review where the guy felt that he had wasted 2 hours and $15. I won’t disagree with the money part. The 2 hours that this game does offer (if even that much) is not wasted. It simply becomes very disappointing when you realize that the extent of the game is extremely small. I sort of felt that I had achieved something when I had unlocked the “making of” segment of the game, but that’s about it. The game may as well have 3 endings rather than 12 or so. While they are all different and unique, after you’ve seen about 3 or so, you don’t feel like there is really anything else to discover. If you’re looking for an open-ended game to explore, this is not it. That is sad, considering that the game is exploring the choice that you have in games. Even when you get the “true” ending for the game, the game doesn’t even let you explore this new area that you’ve encountered. It seems really lame.

I did a paper for a philosophy class in my college days. I talked about the potentiality of things. You can only do something that you have the potential to do. I can’t fly because I can’t fly. The game seems to give so little in the way of potential endings. For $15, I expect a bit more than what they offered. But let’s think about it in a different way. I could “fly” to New Jersey tomorrow if I wanted to, but it would be impractical. I would miss work and probably be fired. I would have to spend money that I shouldn’t be spending. The good thing is that, unlike real life, this game does reward the player for making a “wrong choice”. When I say “reward”, I mean the game’s narrator usually hates you for it.

But that’s part of the satire. You have to push through the narrator defying you or else you’ll keep ending the game with the easy ending. The subtle commentary regarding the choices that we have in video games is a nice change of pace, but I’d rather just play a game like The Walking Dead that truly tests my choices. In this game, I feel like I am just trying to find all of the endings rather than enjoy a game. That is the biggest problem with this game. Where it could have been a slightly engaging game with great wit, we get a lot of wit without the backbone that other games have. There’s no real substance. Until the game developers take any “Let’s Play” videos off of YouTube and such, I’d say not to buy the game and just enjoy it at a friend’s house or enjoy “watching” the game online.

Top 5 Songs from Sakanaction’s GO TO THE FUTURE

Sakanaction is currently my favorite Japanese band. They’re one of my favorite bands ever. All great bands had to begin somewhere, so I am going pick what I thought were the best 5 songs from this album. This is their first album, and their were only 8 songs to choose from, so in some ways this was difficult to narrow down. But here they are:

5. Yoru no Higashigawa

This is a great ending song for the album, and while it’s not a fantastic song on its own, it keeps things relatively light as we say “sayonara” to the album.

4. Inner World

In some ways, this song is the most Sakanaction-y of all of their songs, even though it’s a bit strange to call it that. After all, I can only make that statement knowing all of their current music. And yet, even with that statement, this is terribly original. The beginning of the song is simply the same sentence over and over (egaita; which could translate to “I drew a picture”, among many other possibilities). The build-up from the beginning of the song is great, and it holds the electronic synthesizer feel throughout the duration of the song.

3. Shiranami Top Water

This track starts off kind of light, but really builds toward the end. There’s not a lot to dislike about this song, and yet it’s a tad hard to explain what it is. It’s also the only song that has a music video that wasn’t shot in widescreen (I think…). Give it a listen.

2. Fukurou

It was hard to give this song a higher spot that Shiranami. Fukurou is a surprise of a song that comes towards the second half of the album. In case we think the band has run out of steam after Amefura and the album’s title track (hint-neither of those made this list, in case you were wondering), it comes back with this slower song that really shows the emotion of Ichiro Yamaguchi.

1. Mikazuki Sunset

Here’s a simple song that could. Here is a song that is hard to believe was Sakanaction’s first major PV debut, and the frontrunner for the album. Again, a proclamation like that can only be said when you consider all that they have done with their music in the later albums. But here shines a great example of what a little bit of electronic music and a little bit of attitude (not to mention slightly interesting lyrics if you can understand them) does for a song. This is a easy song to listen to and is surprisingly replayable. The music video seems rather normal to me, but this song is anything but, and it is a great song to represent this album.

 

The Last of Wiis in Japan

Nintendo will stop making Wii consoles in the Japanese market. The picture used in the article written by Japan times shows happy Japanese people who had just bought a Wii console.

This is kind of a interesting news article for me, because I sat in line for about 19 hours in 2006 to be one of the first in the world to own a Wii console. I lived in the US, and we were lucky enough to get it a couple of weeks before Japan did. There were very limited quantities and even after Christmas of that year, people were frantically calling stores and lining up. That was the first and probably last time I will spend the night outdoors to purchase a console.

That last statement is not meant to say something bad about the Wii. In fact, I have quite enjoyed it this past year even. I got around to playing Metroid: Other M, which I think is an incredible experience (albeit a bit short and sometimes frustrating). I am still playing through Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and I might someday finish Okami.

Was the Wii everything and a slice of pie? Perhaps not, but I still got my money’s worth, and I still think it holds a place in history. After all, it was Nintendo’s best selling console. It seemed like everyone had one, especially families. It’s obvious why the Wii will not be sold anymore-the Wii U supports Wii software and accessories.

And there isn’t much more to the story than that. Nintendo will continue to sell Wiis in the US, but that may only last the rest of the year. Times are changing, as the Wii U struggles to get itself into the hands of consumers. Let’s see if the Wii U can compete with the other big consoles that are looming.

Here’s the original article:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/02/business/nintendo-to-drop-wii-at-home/

(Un)healthy Food?

I feel like I keep hearing from people about food/drink choices that I make that are unhealthy. Perhaps lately, it’s been more on the drinks side.

I really don’t get it. I kind of just want to throw my hands in the air and ask, “Is there anything that isn’t, in some context, unhealthy?” I think most nutritionists and doctors would agree that eating or drinking only one thing is not wise. I think I’ve heard of dangers of too much Vitamin C (though Airborne has quite a bit, I do take some a few times a year), but then we need to have some, right? And while I think most people would agree that sugar isn’t the best thing for us to consume (think soft drink products and candy), we do need at least a little bit of sugar to process vitamins, right?

In the first place, is it really fair to say that one particular food or drink is bad? Let’s take some examples. There isn’t much good in Oreos, but couldn’t a person have two or three and be fine? Coca-Cola seems to be a bad idea, but wouldn’t one cup (8 fluid ounces) be okay? I mean, I am told that fruit juice is a bad idea. I suppose that the calories might add up, but is 100% fruit really that bad?

I am perhaps more at a loss when I consider that people tend to very quickly comment on other people’s unhealthy eating or drinking habits. However, people tend to overlook emotional or mental things that are unhealthy. I’m not going to get on here and say that I’ve got a great diet. If you think I am changing topics just to avoid the fact that I eat bad, you are already missing the point. I’ll admit it-I don’t get enough dark green vegetables, and probably many more things that I am too lazy to think about. Bad excuse? Yeah.

What about our emotional lives? I spend so much time making a budget for everything I spend, but I rarely take the effort to consider the nutrition facts for food and drink I consume. I would wonder how that would look. There are websites that do a good job of telling you how your daily eating habits breakdown in terms of nutrition, and whether you’ve reached or surpassed daily recommended values for things.

But do you see what’s happened? I’ve made it so easy to carry this blog post along by basically only talking only about food. I still haven’t really talked about emotional health. I’m trying to say that I think that we should consider our bad life choices that lead to bad long-term emotional effects more than considering our bad eating habits.

Think about it. Nobody kills themselves because somebody told them they shouldn’t eat a certain thing because it’s unhealthy. It’s because somebody told them that they are worthless. It’s because somebody told them that they don’t live up to a certain, potentially arbitrary standard. It’s because people talked more about their bad eating habits rather than some other bad habit that might be ‘eating’ at their psyche.

When are we going to stop talking about food and start talking about what matters?

The Kirishima Thing Movie Review

I did a post less than a year ago of the Top 5 movies of modern Japanese cinema. I had to edit that list to include this movie (I posted this post in 2013. A year later, in 2014, I edited that top 5 list). Here is a tight movie that seems to be a character study at first, but becomes something more than that in the end.

The Japanese title is a bit difficult to translate, but it would be more like “Kirishima quit the club, you know…”. You can see why they changed the title internationally. The premise of the movie is that Kirishima, a junior at a Japanese high school, has quit the school’s volleyball team. He was formerly the captain of the team, apparently. He doesn’t explain why he quits and he quits suddenly. It is merely one day before an important match, and the team is left trying to practice even more because of the loss of one of their best players.

Meanwhile, a somewhat big cast of main and supporting characters are not only left to figure out what is going on, but they start to realize more and more things about their lives and groups at school as a result of Kirishima’s decision. One of my favorite scenes simply involves one character probing a little further as to why a fellow student is doing what they are doing. It’s the very thought of asking, “Why?” that makes this scene dazzling. It’s something we all need to do a little bit more. We need to ask, “Why?” His friend even tries to stop him after asking that simple question, probably because the question is too forward to ask in Japanese culture, especially for two people who don’t know each other.

The movie sometimes takes a scene and looks at it in a different vantage point. This was a little bit of a surprise to me, but it allows us to see another perspective of what was going on as something else was happening in a previously seen scene. It is so interesting how seamless the movie integrates these scenes for the audience. There’s a scene in the teachers’ office where two students talk to a teacher about their idea for a new movie (they are in the filmmaking club). At first, we don’t see the beginning of that scene, but only a part of that scene. Later in the movie, we see the start of that conversation, but consequently, we don’t see that scene’s end. It doesn’t matter, since we as the audience have already seen it previously. Surprisingly, this stylistic choice is not as annoying as it sounds. For the most part, the characters drive the scenes, keeping them feeling interesting. If you were wondering what one character was doing while another character was doing something else, the movie lets you have that knowledge. It all carries itself well, and the movie does so in under 100 minutes. The credits begin rolling before the movie is even 1 hour and 40 minutes long. It’s pretty surprising how much is in this movie’s limited runtime; one can see why it won Best Editing at Japan’s Academy Awards this year (this movie also took home Best Picture).

There are people who say that they watched this movie and felt that “nothing happened” or that this is “just daily life”. They are not completely wrong, but it should be said that that is very much a part of this movie. This movie isn’t going for a huge dramatic setup for some overly sentimental scene at the end of the movie or something. The writing reflects daily life and doesn’t lie to the audience. We see the school clubs proceeding after Kirishima’s decision is made. By the way, it’s not like Kirishima’s choice affects every single student, either. There are a few characters who appear unaffected by Kirishima’s quitting and subsequent absence. The writer and director of the movie may disagree with me on that point. Perhaps he was trying to convey even the smallest changes among seemingly unrelated people that occurred because of Kirishima’s decision, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

It’s difficult to say who this movie is about. But then, this movie isn’t really about a person. It’s about a thing. It’s about what Kirishima did. It’s about how his one action has a ripple effect on the students of the school. While we may not understand why Kirishima did what he did, there emerges one character by the end of the movie who probably does. This movie didn’t go for a huge payout of an ending. Frankly, I don’t know what they would have done if they wanted something more climactic. In my mind, this movie ends at just the right moment. There was a point about 90 minutes in where the movie may have ended, and I probably would have been satisfied. A main message, of sorts, is left with the audience. But the final eight minutes or so contain a few scenes that clarify the events that have taken place. It is here that we get what makes the movie golden. So, in some ways, we do get a huge payout. Just don’t expect it to be as obvious and over-the-top as some other movies make it. Essentially, don’t expect an orchestra to come sweeping in as characters have their final lines.

This movie finds its ground in unearthing things about Japanese culture. In the end, I think the movie is trying to say a few things. One of those is that “School is life.” While life doesn’t seem particularly difficult for some of these characters, it clearly is for others. And they’re all just trying to navigate ‘life’ in their own way. Another message is more of the implications of Kirishima. This is as well as it should be, considering that this is a movie about Kirishima. But since this movie is as complex as it is, I want to leave that message for the viewer to discover.

This movie is never boring and never slow. So although I know why some people watch this and feel that not much happened, I think they are missing the point. The premise of the movie is what happened-that Kirishima quit the volleyball club. It’s interesting that this has already occurred, even by the very first scene in the movie. How the students deal with the aftermath is basically what this movie is about. So much happens in the movie beyond Kirishima’s decision, and those events demand our attention.

This is absolutely the best Japanese movie filmed within the last 20 years that I’ve seen. Some films go for too much comedy and over-deliver when the tone of the movie ought to be more serious (think Always and Departures, though I would say Departures still found itself and came together well enough by the end of its running time). Other films have obvious setups with emotional payouts that feel fabricated, even though we find ourselves shedding a few tears. This movie finds an amazingly perfect balance of keeping a relatively serious tone with some humor and also avoids getting overly emotional. In one scene, it was amazing for me to feel the emotion of wanting to cry and feeling like I would, though I did not, or perhaps could not. It was weird because I know I am supposed to feel bad for that character in that scene. However, I couldn’t cry, and I realized why upon repeat viewings. This movie crafts its characters so well that characters have flaws that are so extremely difficult to describe. Nobody is perfect, but these characters are so real. Like life, many things are not cut and dry. We don’t always know who to root for. We don’t know if we can be mad or sad towards someone or something, even though we may begin to feel those emotions. It’s so rare for a movie to be able to put me through those kinds of situations, and this one does it.

I could probably continue expounding upon this movie much further, but I’ll stop here. This movie must be seen, though it will be hard for non-Japanese to get ahold of this movie at all, let alone with English subtitles. This movie, like “Life Back Then” may have only found its place in film festivals in North America, but here is hoping for an eventual DVD and Blu-Ray release someday.

The Disappointing E3 Nintendo Direct

You can read my previous post to get a basic understanding as to why I am disappointed with Nintendo right now. I was just asking for some revival to some old franchises on the Wii U. Particularly, F-Zero and Star Fox would have been nice; Pilotwings also is a personal favorite of mine.

It’s bad enough that none of these franchises were announced, but what’s more, Nintendo somehow thinks they can sustain themselves with what they have coming up this year. As for now, there is practically no reason to buy a Wii U before next year’s E3. Don’t get me wrong-Super Smash Bros. looks amazing. The trailer was smart to show both the 3DS version and the Wii U version at the same time. I am also looking forward to Monolith Soft’s “X”, which will likely see a name change before its release. The problem is that neither game is being released this year. While X may be released before next E3, the odds of Smash being released before June of 2014 are extremely slim. If we’re really unlucky, we might have to wait until 2015.

For now, Nintendo has done nothing to sell the system to me. While I really want to play Pikmin 3, I can’t justify just that game for a purchase of a Wii U now. The price of the Wii U will likely drop before bigger games like Smash come out (hopefully) and I can know better if the system is right for me.

While people are sort of getting sick of the yearly Call of Duty and such, the fact is that if you are a fan of these series, then Xbox One and PS4 have you covered. I don’t know too much about their first-party lineups, but I don’t feel like they are shafting fans this much.

The Wind Waker will also be amazing. But while Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy stunned people, I just don’t see the same happening with the new Super Mario 3D World. Am I judging too quickly? Probably I am. It very well might be an amazing game. New Super Mario Bros. Wii was an amazing game. But when I say that games like Metroid Prime and Wind Waker are amazing games, there is some territory that comes with that. Those games are different enough that when I say they are amazing, it is on a different level. I haven’t played Fez, but if I say that it is amazing, it is still a very different type of game than Metroid Prime. Both are amazing, but on a different level.

So while I might enjoy the new Mario and the new DK experiences on the Wii U, I’d rather be experiencing a new Mario 64 like experience and a new Star Fox like experience. I think Nintendo is going to win over the younger and family market. But in this day and age, I expect a lot more. I am very disappointed with Nintendo right now. While I will look forward to a very epic looking X and a sure-to-be-good Smash Bros., Nintendo will not get much money from me in the meantime.

P.S. That is not to say I will stop buying games. I just bought Wii Party brand new, and am looking forward to potentially buying more Wii or DS games that I may have missed. But obviously, I won’t be buying into their newer stuff.