Today I participated in a small meet-up with programmers working at mail.ru. And of course it was bound to happen — when I woke up in the morning, there was no internet connection. After the only remedy I knew about (did you try to turn it off and on again?) didn’t help I even overcame my fear of phone calls and contacted the support. Despite all these desperate measures the connection was still dead and I was about to put off the meeting for a day. Luckily, we figured a solution — the phone connected to the laptop and working as a modem for the win! Surprisingly, everything worked without hiccups, although I didn’t use video, just in case.

On the bright side, received the passport request from CIC, so hopefully will get a new visa soon.

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Were at our second-ever baseball game today, the Majors were playing against Welland Jackfish. The Jackfish had been winning without any problems until the bottom of the last inning when our local team finally, I don’t know, believed in themselves? Anyway, they got 4 points in a row, had two bases loaded but still lost 6-8. Anyway, the beer was good and it wasn’t about the winning but about the friends we’re making throughout the way =)

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After having finished the book of short stories “Stories of Your Life” (for posterity, it has one great novelette, “Hell is the Absence of God” and one very good “Story of Your Life”, which was made into a movie, Arrival) I realized that despite enjoying almost every collection of shorts, there have been only two, which I binged and which conjured up all emotions I was capable of. The first one was “The Newford Stories”. Maybe it was just such a period of time but the only think I could think of after reading de Lint’s tales was playing guitar and telling stories in a forest, sitting by a bonfire with others. Magic desu.

Another, hm, inspirational example was “The Books of Blood” by Clive Barker. That was some horrendous shit. A book that I wouldn’t suggest read up on before going to sleep. The movie was pretty bad but Barker’s writing is top notch and there are plenty of stories to choose from.

Tokyo Xanadu

Have you heard of a story where a bunch of high school students having special powers at their disposal are saving the world from a grave danger and who, at the same time, are trying to build their relationships, study and have as much fun as possible? Persona? Well, almost =)

Tokyo Xanadu in many aspects is similar to the famous Atlus’ game series and it’s really tempting to say that it’s a low budget clone. For a clone, though, it has some differences.

First and foremost, the combat system in Tokyo Xanadu is real time. In general, I prefer turn based games but there are so few of them that if I was picky I would get to play only one or two JRPGs on every console generation. Once you get used to the number of available moves, which might be a bit overwhelming at the beginning (I memorized the meaning of the countless gauges and indicators only after a few chapters) battles become quite pleasant and enjoyable. The game is really challenging during the first four or five labyrinths but it gets much easier later on, at least, on the normal difficulty.

The bonds you’re building with your friends don’t affect the gameplay as much as it could be. The same goes to parameters like “Wisdom”. The protagonist gets rewards as your stats grow but I don’t think that any quests or relationships depend on these stats.

Speaking of relationships — I like how female characters in this game are written. Whether it’s composed and strong Asuka (I started playing Tokyo Xanadu because of her) or a more classic tsundere Rion, or the mysterious president of the student council Mitsuki — they weren’t just a bunch of girls surrounding the main hero and patiently waiting when he’ll choose one of them. I mean, the romantic elements can definitely be found here but, after all, this game is more about friendship and support than about going out with one of your comrades.

I must admit, though, that I got a bit tired after 50 hours, partially because Tokyo Xanadu didn’t want to end. “Oh, you’ve finished the story?! Congratulations, now you can watch the epilogue, then if you watch it for the second time you’ll get have a chance to win your way to the good ending! Hahaha, but after that good ending you can also get the true ending if you invest 10 more hours” and so on.

Tokyo Xanadu turned out to be a pleasant surprise and a game that I’d easily recommend to anyone interested in JRPG. An okay story, well written characters and an opportunity to decorate your room with a cactus, I couldn’t even have asked for more =)

Detective Pikachu

I watched Pokemon TV show when I was a kid and even saw one of its countless movies 8-9 years later, when I was at university but I haven’t played any Pokemon games and, in general, I wouldn’t call myself a fan, so I didn’t have any expectations regarding the movie. And after we left the theatre it was “that wasn’t too bad but nothing special”. The visual is very good, pokemons are adorable and Pikachu is great, thanks to his endless jokes and Ryan Reynolds. Human characters are absolutely bland and boring and the plot is meh. So, “good to see in a cinema” maybe?

P.S. Before the movie we went to Neo Tokyo and I broke the promise given to myself and we bought a few volumes of manga =(

Volbeat’s concert in London was one of the calmest shows I’ve even been at. There were a lot of crowd surfers and even a tiny mosh pit but everything looked so innocent comparing to an average metal concert! The setlist was decent (everything you’d expect them to play they played) and the sound was good. The weirdest moment of the concert was when Danko Jones, who played his concert at LMH the same evening (and whom I know only because I accidentally found his interview with Rob Urbinati, the guitarist and vocalist of Sacrifice, where Mr. Jones left the impression of a guy who uses any opportunity to talk about himself instead of actually, you know, interviewing a person he invited) showed up to perform “Black Rose”.

Kaguya-sama: Love is War

Despite its high rating on MAL, despite the enormous amount of GIFs on tumblr, despite being based on a successful manga (I’m not sure about the last one but 14 volumes indicate that it has some success) I heard and read the opinion that this anime is boring multiple times. Maybe people are just tired of romcom shows? To be honest, I myself love complaining how terrible school romantic comedies are but “Kaguya-sama” was an exception. It’s not that this anime is flawless — after all it’s made in the genre where everything has been already said and done. However, I looked forward to every new episode and off top of my head I can’t remember any that disappointed.

The characters? Two tsundere who are in love with each other, an air-headed and super-cute Chika-san and a constantly stressed out maniac, Ishigami — these four make a great cast and they are an endless source of comical situations and jokes. And good jokes is the second most important thing in such shows! The elaborate schemes Kaguya and Shirogane come up with deserve some praise, but what matters more — their non-stoppable fighting emphasizes the scenes when these two can show their true feelings. Yeah, like the one with the fireworks =)

On top of all that, the anime’s visual style and character design are great, the ending is superb (I mean, the main ending, although I liked the dance as well) and the opening is not annoying. Give me the second season!

P.S. I know that we’re getting a live action adaptation but I’m notsure what to think about it. Statistically, this is going to be terrible but who knows, maybe this time everything will be different.