My Anime History – In the beginning

Just as popular culture shapes society, anime and manga has been a major influence in my life. It began as a simple source of entertainment, but over time it came to mean so much more and became a way of life. Besides years of entertainment, anime has provided me with new ideas, a catalyst for meeting new people, inspiration for projects, and a welcome distraction during dark days of depression. Without anime, I would not be the person that I am today.

My goal is to chronicle the anime that I have followed, a trip down memory lane. My memory isn’t that great, so I worried that I might miss a series or get dates wrong. I turned to the Internet to research all the anime that I have ever watched so that I could write a series of posts listing the anime I followed, with my thoughts, comments and memories of them. When I say “followed”, I am referring to anime that I watched as it was released, or aired on TV. There are many more anime series that I have watched after it had finished airing, but to blog about all of them would take a very long time. I plan to divide my posts by year and season, depending on how many series I need to cover.

So to start things off, let’s go to the year 1999 where it all began…

Neon Genesis Evangelion

I don’t remember the exact date or month, but it would have been early 1999 when SBS began airing an advertisement (see the above video) for Neon Genesis Evangelion. I was intrigued by the use of the song “Ode To Joy” and the fact that it was animated, but giant robots didn’t really interest me, so I initially had no intention of watching.

On the other hand, my brother liked giant robots, so I ended up watching the first episode with him, although I think I missed the first half of the episode. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Prior to watching Neon Genesis Evangelion for the first time, all the animation/cartoons that I had watched was tailored towards children. This was a new experience, and I was hooked.

For those who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon that was Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Wikipedia page explains the plot better than I ever could. The mecha genre still doesn’t interest me, but what I loved about the series is the characters and the story. I had to keep watching, I had to find out what happens next.

It seemed like an eternity, waiting for the days to pass before a new episode aired. I had just started high school, and during my lunch breaks I would go to the library and use the Internet to look up information about the series, and downloaded pictures which I would save onto floppy disks to take home. The series originally aired in Japan in 1995, so there were already a lot of websites available which analysed and discussed the series in great depth, and I would try to read as much as I could. I also stumbled across an excellent Neon Genesis Evangelion fan fiction called Eva-R. I used to print out chapters of the fan faction to read at home (we didn’t have Internet at home back then).

I ended up missing a few episodes because my family and I travelled overseas to Malaysia and Thailand while Neon Genesis Evangelion was still airing on SBS, but we returned before it ended its run on TV. I eventually caught up on the episodes I missed by borrowing the VHS tapes from the video store. Floppy disks? VHS? Video stores? Yes, it feels like a completely different era, and yet it was only 15 years ago.

Rei Ayanami

I pretty much lived and breathed Evangelion during those days. I had set the home computer desktop wallpaper to an image of Rei Ayanami holding the Lance of Longinus. Rei Ayanami is my favourite character from Neon Genesis Evangelion because I related more to her quiet and serious personality. I drew fan art of Evangelion characters and even dabbled in making my own fan website. It would be fair to say that it is thanks to Neon Genesis Evangelion that I began my interest in web development and programming.

Years later, I now have collected the entire series on DVD (platinum edition), plus the Death and Rebirth movies, as well as the remake movies that were released recently. I also purchased a small Rei Ayanami figurine, but I would really like to buy a larger one. I am eagerly awaiting the release of the fourth and final remake movie.

Technically, Neon Genesis Evangelion was not the first anime I ever watched, before that there was Doraemon, Dragonball, Samurai Pizza Cats, etc… but Neon Genesis Evangelion was the spark that lit my fiery passion for anime, and that passion was further inflamed in the year 2001 when SBS aired another not-for-little-kids anime series:

Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040

I remember watching Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 on SBS and eagerly awaiting the next episode each week. Again I was drawn to the futuristic setting, the characters and the story. In addition to continuing to scour the world wide web for more information about Neon Genesis Evangelion, I was now immersing myself in information about Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040. The series is a remake of Bubblegum Crisis which was originally released in the late 80’s (Tokyo 2040 was released in the late 90’s). To this day, I have never watched the original Bubblegum Crisis because I find the 80’s character design off putting.

While I greatly enjoyed this series, and often borrowed the VHS tapes from the video store, I don’t think I was as passionate about this series as I was was Neon Genesis Evangelion. For one, I don’t recall drawing any fan art of Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040. Nevertheless, I consider it an interesting sci-fi series and eventually purchased it on DVD too.

When Neon Genesis Evangelion and Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 ended their run on SBS, besides series aimed at children airing on weekday mornings on channel 10, I didn’t follow any other anime series until the year 2003, when access to dial-up Internet at home and fast Internet at univerity opened up a whole new world of possibilities, which will be the topic of my next post.

Figurine Display May 2014

Back in March, I bought a cheap bookshelf from Bunnings to store my manga collection, and to use the top shelf to display a selection of my figurine collection. These were the first few figurines I chose to display:

Figurines March 2014

I had planned to change which figurines I display each month, but I couldn’t be bothered dusting each figurine, carefully putting them back in their boxes, carefully taking them out of their boxes, piecing them together, positioning them nicely, etc. But earlier this week, my pre-order of the Kotobukiya Leafa figurine was finally delivered. So I have decided to put my Sword Art Online figurines on display.

From left to right: Griffon Enterprises Asuna (Titania), Alphamax Asuna (ALO), Kotobukiya Asuna (Aincrad), Kotobukiya Leafa (Fairy Dance), Toy's Works Akira E. Ferrari

From left to right:
Griffon Enterprises Asuna (Titania)
Alphamax Asuna (ALO)
Kotobukiya Asuna (Aincrad)
Kotobukiya Leafa (Fairy Dance)
Toy’s Works Akira E. Ferrari

Yes, Akira is the odd one out. She’s not from Sword Art Online, she’s actually from Aria. But I don’t have a box for her so she will be permanently on display. The pictures were taken with my mobile phone. At night. So these pictures don’t really show off how gorgeous they are. A closer look at each figurine…

Griffon Enterprises Asuna (Titania)

Griffon Enterprises Asuna (Titania)

I had heard that Griffon Enterprises had a reputation for producting stunningly beautiful prototypes, but the mass produced final figurine will not be as stunning. This is the very first figurine I have purchased from Griffon, and my verdict? The reputation has some merit. It’s still a lovely figurine, but it could have been better. I do like the way they have Asuna’s name printed on the base (this isn’t really visible in the photo >.<). Also, compared to the other Asuna figurines, this one is visibly smaller, despite all of them being “1/8 scale”.

Alphamax Asuna (ALO)

Alphamax Asuna (ALO)

Between the Griffon Enterprise’s Asuna (Titania/ALO version) and Alphamax’s one, I think the Alphamax one is prettier. But the face, I can’t help but be reminded of Aria from Seitokai Yakuindomo. I really like how light and airy the dress looks in this one. The pose makes me worry that over time, this figurine will start to warp downwards, but we’ll see…

Kotobukiya Asuna (Aincrad)

Kotobukiya Asuna (Aincrad)

This was amongst the first few Asuna figurines to be announced, so I pre-ordered it as soon as I could. Kotobukiya generally makes excellent figurines, so this was a no-brainer. I liked the interesting pose and the gold loops on the base. The way the hair flows on the right-hand side is a little odd though, and it looks even more odd when viewed from behind. But still, it is an overall lovely figurine.

Kotobukiya Leafa (Fairy Dance)

Kotobukiya Leafa

I had actually pre-ordered Griffon Enterprise’s Leafa figurine first, before Kotobukiya announced theirs. But when they did, I immediately cancelled my pre-order for Griffon’s Leafa, even though the Kotobukiya one was not available for pre-order yet. Asuna is my favourite character from Sword Art Online so I have no qualms about buying multiple figurines of her, but Leafa, I don’t like her enough to justify buying multiple figurines.

Anyway, what I love about Kotobukiya’s Leafa is the base with the tree trunk poking out of the water, it looks great on the blue table runner that I put on the shelf. Also, wings! Griffon’s Leafa didn’t have wings. The Kotobukiya one has wings which are semi-transparent with a gradient colour, unlike the wings on the Titania/ALO Asunas which are just a flat semi-transparent colour.

I also pre-ordered Good Smile Company’s Asuna (Knights of the Blood), but delivery was delayed again and again, now it’s expected to be delivered in June 2014. Maybe I will leave these figurines on display until the GSC Asuna is delivered to complete my Sword Art Online display.

My full figurine collection at MyFigureCollection.net

Quest For An Umbrella

I have had many umbrellas in the past. From full-sized umbrellas, to the small travel-sized umbrellas. For many years, I had a preference for the small compact umbrellas because they were more convenient to carry around. Until one year, I don’t remember when as it seems like long ago now, my mum bought a full-sized umbrella that had a plastic covering on it.

The plastic covering covers just about the entire length of the umbrella, and allows you to pull it back to allow you to open up the umbrella. It’s probably easier to see it in action than to describe it with words:

I thought it was the most clever umbrella I’ve ever seen. But eventually I lost it, no idea where it went. I found some for sale at the shops and bought one, but my forgetful self lost that one too. Then a few years ago, my mum bought two of these umbrellas. She gave one to my sister, and one to me.

My sister soon lost hers. I remember that I held on to mine a little longer. Roughly two years ago, the winter after I started my new job, I had carried my umbrella with me in the morning as it was raining. Perhaps it was because it stopped raining in the afternoon, or perhaps I was just tired after a long day at work. Whatever the reason, I forgot to take the umbrella home with me.

The last thing I remember was putting the umbrella under my desk when I went to work that morning. I didn’t realise I had lost it until a day or two after. I searched the office, but it was nowhere to be found.

I searched many shops to find a replacement, but no matter where I looked, no store I visited had the umbrella with the drip-catching plastic covering.

Fast forward to 2014, I had been without an umbrella for a while, I didn’t even buy a cheap compact umbrella to use because I wanted the plastic covered umbrella. But I have given up on finding one in local shops. So I moved my quest to the world wide web.

The first matching Google result was for Wonderbrella, but given the crude amateurish look of their website, I kept looking and found Cloud Nine Umbrellas. Both websites seem to be for US-based businesses.

I decided to choose Cloud Nine Umbrellas because their website looked more professional. I placed an order online for two umbrellas since they had a $15 for two offer (one umbrella was $8). I waited a week for a response to my order but received none so I sent them an e-mail to follow up on my order. They responded promptly but claimed to have sent me an e-mail shortly after I placed my order to ask if I would agree to pay additional postage for international order. I never received any such e-mail. Nevertheless, I replied back to tell them to proceed. But later, they sent an e-mail to say that they were not fulfilling any international orders at this time. I replied back to ask if they had deducted any money from my debit card. Apparently they did, but assured me that it was refunded back.

So I move on to my second option: Wonderbrella. I placed an order online with them, but they soon replied back saying that they were not doing international orders either. Both websites for Cloud Nine Umbrellas and Wonderbrella indicate that international orders are possible. Misleading websites are misleading…

I have come this far and invested much time into finding a plastic covered umbrella. Given that the umbrellas from those websites are most likely manufactured in China, I turned my search to AliExpress.

AliExpress is a Chinese website which allows Chinese manufacturers/businesses to sell direct to customers. I find that the website feels very similar to eBay, except no auctions, just set prices. I couldn’t help but feel a little hesitant, given China’s reputation for dodgy counterfeit goods. But I really wanted that umbrella, so I searched AliExpress for sellers, and picked out one that looked the most reliable to place my order.

Umbrella
Photo from the AliExpress listing

I paid for my order immediately and a week later received notification that my order had been shipped. I also decided to purchase a tablet case for my new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 from AliExpress. But days passed and nothing was delivered, no tablet case, no umbrella. I was starting to worry a bit, and in the meantime the weather had been rainy, and I was without an umbrella.

Eventually the tablet case arrived, yay. But the umbrella was still nowhere to be found. According to AliExpress, delivery may take up to 45 days, so I continued to wait. I little over a month after I placed the order, it finally arrived! It hasn’t rained since I received it, so I am yet to test it against the elements, but so far so good.

My quest has come to an end, and I’ll try my best to make sure I don’t lose this one!

My Little Farmies

When I was still somewhat new to Facebook and Facebook games were all the rage with news feeds inundated with automatically generated messages of gaming invites and achievements. Back then, I only played one Facebook game: Farmville. It reminded me of Harvest Moon, which is a series of farming games. But eventually I got to a point where my farm grew too large and became too time consuming to maintain, so I stopped playing.

That was many years ago now. Around a month ago, I found myself with a lot of free time to kill, so I decided to seek out another farming game to play. I didn’t want to go back to Farmville as that game gets more tedious as you progress, plus I can’t access Facebook on certain computers. Googling “farm browser games” shows that there are many farm-based browser games out there.

In the end, I picked “My Little Farmies” partially because I liked the way the graphics and layout looked, but primarily because it was created by a German developer whom later created the English version. Translating a game from one language to another takes a great deal of effort, so a game needs to be good enough to be worth that effort. Sure, I could’ve gone and read random reviews of different farming browser games to decide which one would be good, but having a company invest time and money into translating a game is a pretty convincing endorsement.

Anyway, I’ve been playing for a little over a month now. Being a “free-to-play” game, the developers need to make money somehow, and like many “free-to-play” games, this one allows you to use real money to purchase in-game currency to buy items that make things in the game easier or more convenient. For example, when clearing rubble from your farm, you can either clear it using “thalers” that you earn by playing the game and wait a certain period of time, or you can use “gold bars” which you generally purchase with real money and have the rubble cleared instantly. Or watering/harvesting crops requires you to click. Alot. When you farm expands, this means lots and lots of clicking. But there is an option in the game to water/harvest everything at one but it costs… you guesssed it… gold bars!

There are also certain crops/animals/items that can only be purchased using gold bars. Also, some later farm/warehouse upgrades cost gold bars, which effectively stifles your progress in the game unless you buy gold bars. Like most browser games I have played, initial game play gives you enough to do to grab your attention. But you will soon find that as you progress, a lot of time is simply spent waiting. Waiting for crops to grow, waiting for buildings to complete, waiting for upgrades to finish. Initially, the wait time is a matter of minutes. Then it becomes hours, then days… I did give in to temptation and purchased some gold bars to speed things up, but then making everything easy became boring. So I took up a new challenge: play through the game without buying gold bars.

Now, I had already purchased gold bars, so to undertake this challenge, I started a new account, a new farm. According to game rules, having more than one account is ok as long as the accounts do not benefit from one another via in-game trade. So the rules I have set for my challenge is:

1. No trading between my roxybudgy (gold bar) account and my sixfoureight (no gold bars) account.
2. No using real money to purchase of gold bars on the sixfoureight account.
3. Gold bars earned in-game can be spent on items that require gold bars.

Although I will try to prevent my sixfoureight account from benefiting directly from the roxybudgy account, there will be an indirect benefit of knowledge. Although my roxybudgy account was created 2 weeks before the sixfoureight, both are now the same level as I have applied what I learned from the roxybudgy account to optimise the progress on the sixfoureight.

So I am now roughly one month into the challenge. My farm is now size 7 and unable to expand further as upgrading to size 8 would cost 160 gold bars. Similarly, my warehouse capacity is stuck at 300 because it would cost 100 gold bars to upgrade it to 350. Therefore I need to carefully decide what crops/animals/buildings to use given my limited space. I have created an Excel spreadsheet comparing data and figures for the various items/aspects of the game and analysed that data to determine which crops/animals/buildings would give me the most amount of thalers/XP. And the result is this:

Screenshot of my sixfoureight My Little Farmies farm.
Screenshot of my sixfoureight My Little Farmies farm.

To generate enough thalers to pay for the buildings and upgrades, I primarily grew grapes as they yielded the highest net profit for my farm level. After upgrading my farm and warehouse as far as I could without using gold bars, I reorganised everything to focus on increasing my XP rather than thalers. That meant fulfilling as many customer requests as possible. On my roxybudgy account, I build every single building, crop and animal available so I could fulfil just about any customer request that came along, but having a lack of warehouse space causes much inconvenience. So for the sixfoureight account, I chose buildings that allowed you to purchased the 1st and 2nd upgrade with thalers, and grew crops that were required by those buildings.

My farm is now level 33. My initial goal was to expand my farm and warehouse as far as I could, which I recently achieved. My next goal is to unlock the cherry trees which can be obtained at level 41. Based on the game forums, it seems that at these levels, it requires a huge amount of XP to level up, but I’ll get there, and I’ll get there without spending a cent!

In addition to my silly little challenge, I have also been learning PHP and MySQL by turning my Excel spreadsheet into a real database. My quest to build my first PHP website and MySQL database can be found here: http://roxybudgy.com/mlfdb/

No More Free Parking

The other day I noticed a sign outside of Greenwood train station advising that all parking at all train stations will now be paid parking.

Well that sucks… I pay for parking anyway, so it’s not the price that bothers me. It’s losing my convenient parking space near the train station entrance and increased time waiting at the parking ticket machine.

The parking at Greenwood station currently has both paid and free parking. To the south of the station entrance is the paid parking area. On the east right near the entrance is free parking, and the northern parking extension on the other side of Hepburn Avenue is also free parking.

Obviously, the free parking right next to the station entrance is the first to fill up with cars, so if you arrive at the train station after 7am, you are left with either the free-but-distant car park on the other side of Hepburn Avenue which fills up second, or the more-closely-located-to-entrance paid parking which is usually the last to fill up.

I usually arrive at the train station between 7-7:30am. I used to park in the free-but-distant car park, but during the hotter months, the walk from the car park to the station and back again was a very unpleasant experience, and having to do that walk in the rain isn’t nice either. So now I park in the paid parking which usually has plenty of space as other commuters hunt for the last remaining scraps of free parking. But come 8am, all free parking is taken and even the paid parking fills up.

I start work at 8:30am, so I aim to leave the house around 7-7:15am to arrive at Greenwood station so I can get a nice parking spot near the train station entrance, pay for my parking without having to wait in a queue then it’s a short walk to the train platform. If I arrive later than usual, but am lucky enough to still get a parking space, I then have to contend with a long queue at the ticket machine.

When all parking becomes paid, instead of the southern car park being the last to be filled up, it will be amongst the first to be filled up, which means I may be forced to park in the northern car park on the other side of Hepburn Avenue and spend 10-15 minutes in a long queue for parking tickets before making the trek to the train station. The horror!

All parking will become paid parking on 1 July 2014, so I still have some time to savour my lovely parking spot near the train station entrance. Perhaps in future I may need to leave the house even earlier to secure a space near the train station entrance…

Links:
Transperth: Paid Parking is on its way
ABC News: Free train station parking abolished by WA Government in 2013 budget

Edit: Apparently queues at the ticket machine will not be a problem as Transperth will introduce “SmartParker” where you link your car details to your SmartRider and tag on at the car park, and parking attendants will use licence plate recognition software to check if parking has been paid for. See more information at Transperth’s website.

Giving in to change

For as long as I have had Internet access, I have been using a Yahoo e-mail as my primary e-mail address. I initially signed up for a Hotmail e-mail address, but soon switched to Yahoo because they offered more storage. Nowadays, storage space is hardly an issue as most free e-mail providers offer near unlimited storage.

Sure, when Gmail was released, there was much hype surrounding it, and I did eventually get an invite to create a Gmail e-mail address, but I didn’t like the webmail interface and found it frustratingly slow on my poor Internet connection. And so I continued on with my good ol’ Yahoo mail.

Over the years, I did end up creating other e-mail addresses with various e-mail providers for various reasons, most commonly to create multiple game accounts, but Yahoo remained my mail e-mail address. When I was job hunting two years ago, I signed up for a domain name so I could have a more professional looking e-mail address to use when looking for jobs, but because I don’t like checking more than one e-mail address, I had most of my other e-mail addresses redirect to my Yahoo one.

The time has come for change.

Yahoo has served me well for my e-mail needs, but as the little changes over the years pile up, not to mention the casino and Viagra spam, I feel like I want more control over my mail. And so I have decided to use the e-mail associated with my roxybudgy.com domain as my primary e-mail.

The change will take time. Over these ten years, I have signed up for a variety of different things using my Yahoo mail. Both important and unimportant mail comes through. It reminds me of a year ago when I moved house. I had to make sure the government, bank, insurance companies, etc were aware that I had moved address. The fact that many websites use an e-mail address as ID will not make the change easy.

My e-mail is not the only change I am making. I have decided to give in and use the latest version of Opera as my preferred web browser. I have been using version 12 of Opera ever since it was released. But when a newer version was released lacking many features that I love, I decided not to upgrade and continued to use version 12.

But as time went by, I was noticing more and more bugs and hiccups with version 12. When I worked on a Javascript-based website, I was finding that things were not working as I intended, but when I test my site in the latest version of Opera and Internet Explorer, everything works fine. And the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I found that many of the websites I visit regularly run much more smoothly on the latest version of Opera.

And so I give in. I will force myself to adapt to life without traditional bookmarks, without Opera Link, without a built in mail client (oh the horror, I have to use a separate program to access my mail D:) In return, I get a smoother Internet experience.

RIP My Opera

In December last year, I received the following e-mail:

When My Opera was launched in 2001, it quickly became an important place for us to meet with you. We have had much great interaction with you in our forums and blogs. This whole idea of giving you a place where you could blog, share photos and send emails turned into an interesting, and very large, side project. Over the years, we’ve seen social media, blogging sites and new messenger services pop up that offer more and better features than we could possibly maintain. These offerings are their sole business. You all know their names and you probably use their services already.

The explosion of these sites and the amount of resources we need to maintain our own service has changed our outlook on My Opera. We had a good run for many years, but we believe your content could have a better home elsewhere, so we have made the decision to shut down My Opera as of March 1, 2014.

Your My Opera email account will also be discontinued on this date.

I had been using the My Opera blog to make the occasional blog post, with my first post made on August 2009, and my latest post was in November 2013. As My Opera is shutting down on 1 March 2014, I decided to take the plunge and mess around with my first WordPress website/blog. And here it is!

Now I’m going to attempt to migrate my My Opera blog posts to this WordPress blog. Fingers crossed…

…and done! After Googling how to do it, it took no more than 10 minutes. Still have a bit of cleaning up to do though.