memento mori.

April 22, 2009

Memento mori is a Latin phrase meaning “be mindful of death,” and may be translated as “remember that you are mortal,” “remember you will die,” “remember that you must die,” or “remember your death”.

It can be thought of as either depressing or maybe even disturbing to some, but these days I’ve been thinking about mortality: about death, about life, about the purpose behind living.
I don’t think I’ll be able to understand this post if I re-read it, and I don’t know if anyone else will be able to. Regardless, I think I will right about it, because writing things out — putting my thoughts down in a tangible state — makes me feel secure.
My contemplation about ~The Meaning of Life~ may be due to playing through the Sun Social-Link level of Persona 3 (I still think the Persona series is a work of art, and I swear that I don’t fling that title around meaninglessly. It simply must be made into a novel: I swear, its depth is overlooked).
I’ll summarize it: Basically, you befriended a young guy named Akinari, who’s about 17 or 18 — maybe even 16. He was terminally ill, and wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital on any day except Sunday. He spent his “freedom” at the local shrine, where he read and wrote. He was tall and very thin, with pale skin and long, pale blonde — almost gray — hair.
At first, Akinari suffered from depression, saying that everyone lived a “fairytale” life compared to his. He frequently broke out into random fits of coughing which honestly scared the hell out of me. …He knew that he was on the verge of death, and developed something resembling a phobia of it — he talks about reading books, countless books, but never finishing them because he didn’t ever want their stories to end. Eventually, with your character’s support, he decided that he wanted to write his own novel, for no one but himself, in a small, tattered notebook. The novel focuses on a pink alligator, which represented himself, along with the alligator’s friend — a bird which could not fly. The pink alligator was ridiculed and pitied, and due to its colour, it could not catch prey easily — thus, it usually went hungry. The bird befriended the alligator, staying with it constantly and practicing its flying skills on its back.
Now, here’s where I meet a bit of a blank space, as I haven’t heard the rest of the story from Akinari yet. However, I know how it ends: the alligator got so hungry one day that it ate its bird friend. Distraught, it cried for hours, which turned into days — eventually, it made a river with its tears, which it drowned in. From its body grew a tree, which was nourished by its tears. The tree grew to be magnificent, and all of the animals of the rain forest would go there to relax and have fun. They never knew about the origins of the tree… but they found meaning in its existence.
Akinari words his story waaay more beautifully, of course… but that’s the gist. As he reached the ending, Akinari smiled and said that he was glad he met the main character. He said that his life wasn’t empty — even though it didn’t last as long as he wanted it to, he met a friend — a best friend, who was there for him everyday; who gave him hope. No matter how one tries to avoid it, the end will one day come.
He said that even though death is morbid and sad, it’s not pointless. Once someone, anyone, finds meaning in your life — even if it’s the smallest thing, like meeting every Sunday on a bench, like exchanging a smile or a nod — once someone finds meaning in your existence, your life was not for naught. And thus, your death wasn’t, either. He gives you the tattered notebook which he wrote his story in, then says that he’s sure that you two will meet again someday. He then becomes transparent and disappears.
It turned out that he died during the week, and his spirit had returned to the Shrine to exchange his final words with you. Honestly, that scene was very touching — very touching, and I’ll admit, I cried for at least half an hour after seeing it on YouTube.
I’ll admit: I’m afraid of death. Not because of the pain I might go through, or because it’s the end of me — I’m more afraid of what it’ll do to the people in my life. How will they react? Would they fall into depression? If they were unable to move on, I would grow horribly sad as well. Would they cry for me, but still move on? Would I be okay with that? I think I would be — I want to see those important to me happy. But would they forget about me? …Or would it just be another life which reached its end, another overlooked article in the obituaries?
I don’t want people to become distraught over my death, whenever it happens — hopefully in the very far future. I want them to care, but to move on. I don’t want them to forget me, and I’m sure they won’t. Even if they do, whatever we did together, whatever we experienced… it still happened, regardless of whether or not they remember it. It would survive on the wind’s breath; it will be engraved in time. And I think that itself is what will give both my life and my death meaning.

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“The only people for me are the mad ones — the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ‘Oooh’…”

-Jack Kerouac

More Music?! x3

April 21, 2009

I recently signed up on last.fm, and I have to admit, I like it.
I tried using it a while ago, then dubbed it as “epic fail” and carried on with life. However, this time around, I synced it to my iTunes… thus, everything which I do on iTunes comes up there.
And while it’s a little bit scary, here are the top 10 artists/bands which I listen to…along with how many times I’ve played them.
Mindless Self Indulgence (462 plays)
Paramore (107 plays)
Danny Elfman (95 plays)
The Killers (91 plays)
Atlus Games (88 plays)
Shiny Toy Guns (65 plays)
Hellogoodbye (48 plays)
Coldplay (45 plays)
The Ting Tings (31 plays)
PlayRadioPlay! (29 plays)
I think it’s pretty interesting. xD And sort of weird, since I had no clue I listened to Paramore that much. o.o I think it’s because I had a Paramore-Marathon a few months ago. xD;

Last.fm also lets you compare your music taste with others — from “Very Low” to “Super high.” Through it, I’ve learnt that tons of my friends and I have really similar taste in music. Plus, you can listen to previews and even download some songs for free. It’s pretty awesome — I really reccomend it. ♥

Confession: I still like Avril Lavigne.
She’s not the same person she used to be back in Let Go and Under My Skin (Let Go specifically), but c’mon. Ignoring The Best Damn Thing‘s general fan-base, which has the potential to make me lose faith in humanity as a whole, it’s pretty awesome. It has that “chick rock” feel, and it’s oozing with self-confidence (maybe a little too much? xD) and general wildness. I don’t really LOVE it, but I don’t hate it. …Of course, this is blasphemy to many of the people who I associate with. I think listening to Girlfriend is like a guilty pleasure.
Then there’s Decode by Paramore. Ignoring the fact that it was in Twilight — which etiolated it for me, since I can be shallow like that — it’s an amazing song. I listened to it over and over this morning, and I have to say, the lyrics are brilliant. Paramore’s amazing, I don’t think it’s even capable of disappointing me. The fact that they support organizations like To Write Love On Her Arms only sweetens the deal. Their name is rather clever, too — Paramore → “paramour,” which is basically a love affair, or “par l’amour,” for my love. PRETTY COOL.
The band which has been on repeat on my iTunes ever since Spring Break began is… *drumroll*… The Killers. This River Is Wild, Bling (Confessions Of A King), Bones, all of it. Is there even a song by them which I don’t obsessively fawn over? The lead singer’s voice is so unique! It’s something that’s rare in general, not just nowadays. Most of the bands these days have lead singers which sound exactly the same. And the lyrics which they come with are amazing, too.
Flyleaf and I have such a love/hate relationship, it’s not even funny. x_x Sometimes I love them, and at other times I think they’re melodramatic and that the lead singer sounds as if she’s yodeling. What’s This?, which they did in Nightmare Revisited, was pretty epic though — it took a while to grow on me, seeing as it’s so different from the original in The Nightmare Before Christmas… it’s more toned down, more mystified, a bit more depressing. The original was in awe, excited, dance-like. Both work though.

I can’t stand the All-American Rejects. I don’t even want to talk about my hatred for them. They just…fail. Miserably. I don’t like Fall Out Boy that much, either — but that’s only because of Pete Wentz, I think. He thinks he’s hot shit, and that’s pretty much the BIGGEST TURN OFF for me. ): I like some F.O.B songs, but only a little. They’re reeeeally overrated and overplayed, and as much as I’d like to say that I can ignore that aspect of their music, I can’t. Blleeeeh.

Yiruma makes me shed tears. That’s how beautiful his piano sounds. I recommend Do You, it’s simple, soft, and gorgeous.
In contrast to this is Mindless Self Indulgence. They’re crude, they’re vulgar, the lead singer is probably mentally unstable… but agh. Their music just makes me want to DANCE, not in the cutesy way, but in MY way, which is basically jumping around and letting your inner demons loose. They perfectly balance hardcore with electronica, and the results are deliciously evil. …Some of their songs make me feel like vomiting, though… I usually ignore their lyrics and focus on the beat, but sometimes the lyrics get waaaay too prominent. xDD; They’re so not for the faint-hearted. .__.;
The Birthday Massacre’s sorta like MSI, but they’re way less vulgar and more electronic than hardcore. Still, they’re pretty damn awesome.
Hellogoodbye makes me so happy. More electronica. Happy beats, happy lyrics. Plus, they have a song called “Dear Jamie…Sincerely Me,” what’s not to love? xD “All Time Low” is another favourite. Another good electronic band is Freezepop (“I’m Not Your Gameboy” is SUCH a cool name for a song…) …I listen to too much electronic stuff, so I’ll stop rambling about it xDD

The Ting Tings are more mellow, but they have this jazzy sound to them which made me fall in love with them from the first song. Traffic Light, Fruit Machine, and Be The One are my three favourites — I have to look more into them, but still! So much love.
Sticking to the mellow thing — Coldplay. Who doesn’t like Coldplay? ‘Nuff said. Lenka’s pretty brill, too — she’s soft, but not in a sickening way, in a sweet way. Her “Like A Song” is my favourite, along with “The Show,” which STILL MAKES ME THINK OF JUNO. It should so be on the Juno soundtrack! Errgh.
Speaking of soundtracks (segways ftw!), there’s Danny Elfman. I LOVE HIM AND I NEED MORE OF HIS WORK. Then we have Shoji Meguro (who did both of Persona 4’s + Persona 3’s), is incredibly capable of balancing electronica, rock, and classical. I crave his music, even though I cannot understand a word of it, since it’s in Japanese. (Then again, I have tons of jRock. There’s the Gazette, Alice Nine, An Cafe, D’esparis Ray, Girugamesh, LM.C…)
I heard Aqualung’s “Strange & Beautiful” SOMEWHERE, I think it was on a fanmix for one of the anime which I like… so, technically, it’s not considered part of a “soundtrack” (is it?). That aside, it’s so sad. Unrequited love, combined with a sad little piano? Do you want to make my heart melt, Aqualung? Jeez. ;_;

Anyway, it’s time for me to go download more stuff — specifically The Ataris, who I think I am falling in love with. My friend sent me an album of theirs, and god. ♥

It seems as though it’s that time of the year… the time when I get thoroughly obsessed with Sims 2. With Sims 3 just around the corner, I figured it was time to get my Sims Skillz back in gear.
This time, I decided to stick with one solid family and play through its generations. They’re a pretty kooky cast of characters, so I’ve decided to dedicate a post to them.
So, sit back, and meet…
The Godzilla Family.
Please note: I like giving my Sims random names. Yeahh.

First up is…
Google
Google Godzilla.
Aspiration: Knowledge. From tracking down Aliens to playing chess.
Career Path: Science, of course! His lifetime want is to become a Mad Scientist.
Background Info: Jebus’ father. Google was once married to Wikipedia, but, alas! Tragedy struck, and Wikipedia died at a very young age. At any rate, Google is still a cheerful, jolly old man. He’s playful and kind, and he spoils Jebus rotten. x3 He hopes to one day be a good enough Scientist so that he can resurrect Wikipedia from the dead. (Believe it or not, I think he actually WILL do this… unless he dies first). He’s delightfully pudgy and makes friends easily. Think “grandpa,” and there you go. It’s impossible to beat him in a game of chess. ._.;

Madame Godzilla
Jebus Godzilla.
Aspiration: Fortune. She wants money, and she wants lots of it.
Career Path: Criminal. I HONESTLY CANNOT BE BLAMED FOR THIS. It’s her “Lifetime Want,” and I want her dreams to come true~ Besides, I was pretty curious about this path. xD
Background Info: When she was fresh out of college, Jebus moved in with her best friend, Cupcake, and her fiance, Vamp. (Later on, Google, her father, joined the household.) She’s an outgoing, playful woman who lives her life on the edge — hence her job choice. She’s very friendly — she’s buds with tons of the other residents of Inaba (the town which they live in). Jebus has 3 children — IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE TWO. One older boy and one younger boy — but Jebus had twins the second time much to my horror, so it ended up being one older boy (Mudkip) and two younger boys (Reichu & Harle). Grrah. I’m not sure if Jebus makes a good mother… the children seem to be growing up fine, but Cupcake was the one who took care of them the most when they were babies. (She taught all three of them how to walk AND talk! ALL THREE.) I can actually recall Jebus putting a hungry baby Mudkip on the floor of the kitchen, then proceeding to make herself a grilled cheese sandwich. xDDD I guess it’s what makes her more loveable. ♥

vamp
Vamp Godzilla.
Aspiration: Pleasure. He really just wants a simple life, filled with bubble baths and television-watching.
Career Path: Culinary. His lifetime want — it suits him so well!
Background Info: I have decided that Vamp is Italian. He moved in with Jebus after College. ^^ Vamp’s the easy-going guy which everyone loves. A bit sloppy, but so playful and jolly that you’ll just want to give him a big hug. …And, no, he’s actually not a vampire. I actually got him turned into one, but the entire household SPAZZED, I didn’t know if he could go outside during the day (WAS NOT WILLING TO TAKE THE RISK), he was LURKING instead of walking and kept on hissing at everything (even the bathtub). It was annoying, so I changed him into a human. :’D Everyone was so relieved… except for his eldest son, Mudkip. I think Mudkip thought it was cool? Oh, and yeah… in that picture of him, he was pretending to be a pirate in the bathtub. …Yep.

Mudkip
Mudkip Godzilla.
Aspiration: Family — Mudkip’s perfect daddy material.
University Major: Art
Background Info: Mudkip’s the eldest of Vamp and Jebus’ sons. He’s currently in college with Muff, Cupcake’s son, who he’s actually engaged to. Mudkip’s timid, soft-spoken and sometimes a little bit too nice. I suppose he’s a “happy medium” between Jebus and Vamp — he has Jebus’ wit but not her snark, and he has Vamp’s jolliness but not his laziness. Mudkip doesn’t mess around that much, he’s got a good head on his shoulders. It’s hard getting him to make friends (since he’s so shy), but the friends which he DOES have all love him to bits. I think he’s going to either become a Chief (like his father) or an Artist. I think his fondness for having long hair is because of Vamp, since Vamp has even longer hair. xD;

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Reichu Godzilla.
Aspiration: Fortune, just like his Momma.
University Major: n/a, but he’s going to go into the “Paranormal Investigator” career track.
Background Info: One of Jebus’ twin boys~ Reichu’s an outgoing teenager who idolizes Vic Vector — to the point where he claims to be Vic Vector’s child (parent-teacher conferences… sigh…). Reichu is artistic, always wanting to help out Vamp in the kitchen (the last time he made a meal without supervision, he almost burnt the house down…). He’s a wiz at playing the piano.

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Harle Godzilla.
Aspiration: Knowledge~
University Major: n/a, I still haven’t decided which career I want him to pursue… Maybe Science, since he has a fondness for it.
Background Info: Harle is the second twin. He’s more studious and serious than Reichu, but he’s just as outgoing. He’s pretty much a genius — his skill in chess rivals that of his grandfather — and he always gets straight A’s at school. He spends a lot of time either studying or going on the computer… a very calm guy. Him and his twin brother are not a force to be reckoned with.

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Cupcake Godzilla.
(If you’re confused… In the Sims 2, all roommates adopt the same last name. I think it’s done by household or something.)
Aspiration: Fortune, just like Jebus.
Career Path: Medicine! She’s damn good at it, too. Her Lifetime Want is to make 100,000 bucks, so I really just tossed her in the first job opening they had. ._.;
Background Info: Jebus’ BFF! They moved in together after college (this is getting rather repetitive xDD). During her college days, Cupcake was wild — going to tons of parties, drinking and “woo-hoo”-ing it up. Thus, she got “knocked up.” Cupcake was strong, though, and she decided that with Jebus, Vamp and her future spouse, she had more than enough help. She had baby Muff. (Get it, Muff? Muffin? Cupcake? ISN’T THAT ADORABLE~? ♥)
Despite this incident, Cupcake’s still a party animal. She’s just more careful about it now. She’s also bit of a neat-freak… you can count on her to do all the dishes after a family meal. She’s even maxed out her Cleaning skill! Madness. Cupcake’s very motherly — she raised Muff sooo well, and she also took care of Mudkip and the twins. …Oh, god. Do not get me started with the twins. I couldn’t tear Cupcake away from them. She even skipped work once to stay with them… I guess she didn’t trust the Nanny? (Then again, who would?)

vic
Vic Vector Godzilla.
Aspiration: Family! I was so happy when I discovered that. xD; (since he was a random townie who Cupcake just-so-happened to begin dating).
Career Path: Medicine, like Cupcake. It’s sorta funny, because they get promoted at the same pace. xD In the picture, he’s practicing his surgical skillz on a dummy.
Background Info: Vic Vector was a non-playable, residential Sim. Cupcake needed someone to love, and one day, he came home with her from work. I wondered if the two were compatible, and, huzzah, they were! Vic Vector’s real name is Victor, but I refuse to call him by this. Mm, yeah, not much to say about this guy. After he moved in, he just… clicked. A good addition to the family. Awesome with kids — him and Cupcake DOMINATED the twins (Mudkip had moved on to College at that point. I don’t think he’s even met Vic Vector yet. Hell, I don’t even know if he’s met Muff yet! Dang…). At one point, they were hogging the children so much that I had to lock them out of the nursery. xDD;

Muff
Aspiration: Family
University Major: Psychology
Background Info: Muff’s currently Cupcake’s only child. He attends college with Mudkip. Muff is a lot like Vamp — hence why the two are best friends — but Muff is a tad more serious and way less lazy. xD He’s a calm guy who really just wants to live a peaceful life. He’s decided to pursue music when he gets out of college (it’s virtually impossible to get him away from his drum set). And, of course, he must look a little eccentric. That’s what makes him Cupcake’s kid. xDD Him and Mudkip recently got engaged, and they cherish each other. Thus, when the two get married, Jebus and Cupcake will be sister-in-laws~

Ze Godzilla Household
house
o1. Front yard of massive epic-ness, which still needs a swing set, + Back yard of massive epic-ness. The back yard is mainly one huge pool, but it has a decent-sized area to the side of said pool… of which I fill with Rewards, instruments, and other random crap which can’t fit in the house.
o2. 1st floor → Living room of fail (it makes me feel like sneezing and I don’t know why), dining room + kitchen, bathroom, family room (television, piano, couches, computer…), garage/study (yes, I put the bookshelves and the computer in the garage, WHAT OF IT.)
o3. 2nd floor → Jebus & Vamp’s bedroom, Cupcake & Vic Vector’s bedroom, Rei & Harle’s bedroom, Google’s bedroom + one bathroom. When I ship Rei and Harle off to College, I’ll turn their bedroom into a Nursery once again. :’D NURSERIES ARE SO CUTEE ♥♥ There’s also the balcony leading out of Cupcake’s bedroom, which has the staircase leading to the 3rd floor.
o4. 3rd floor → Basically… this is one gigantic room, which I have dubbed as “The Godzilla Floor.” I’m going to display portraits of most of, if not all, the Godzilla family members in this room — but only their Adult selves. In front of each portrait is a small table, which will eventually bare the urn containing the ashes of the Sim (after they’re dead — so ghosts can come, yay~). It’s so cool and dramatic~ ;_; This way, I won’t forget anyone as their family moves on. :’D but I think I’ll cry every time one of them dies

Anyway, I’ll prolly add a graveyard in (after cleaning up the incredibly random backyard…) so that I’ll have space for other… mishaps. >_>; I still dunno if I’ll put portraits of Cupcake and Vic Vector up in the Godzilla Floor… but I probably will. xDD

And here are just some random screenshots which I took of the family~
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Jebus hugging one of the twins~! I love the expressions. Jebus is all motherly, and the baby’s like, “lol, ‘sup?”

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Vamp & the twins as toddlers. :3 They were automatically clothed in little pink and blue tuxedos! Sooo cute.

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Jebus & the twins — as toddlers yet again. She’s in her work clothes. >_>; I love this picture. It’s so suspicious. xDD Oh, and this was one of those rare moments when she decided to try to teach baby Reichu how to talk. She gave up and left 2 seconds afterwards. ._.;

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This is why I love the Culinary career track.

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Alright, he’s not part of the Godzilla household. He’s from another one of my households — the Lunar household. Basically, he’s Gill and he’s a Mad Scientist who’s in love with an alien (who may just be one of the most GORGEOUS Sims which I have ever created). Him and said alien had a kid together. :3 (The kid is eventually going to get married to Harle. Ooh, spoilers!)

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The alien… Zomborg Lunar. SHE’S BEAUTIFUL. She’s also very innocent and somewhat ditzy. She’s still trying to get used to Earth, and she usually has moments where she points to a telescope and is all “wtf is this monstrosity.” She desperately needs more Skill points. Why, you ask? Well…
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Zomborg: “BEGONE, YOU COMBUSTIVE MASS OF MATERIAL!”
Ami (daughter): “jkfdngjf mom what have you DONE”
Meanwhile, Gill was happily playing on the family swing-set. (Don’t worry, fire brigade came really shortly afterwards).

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Ami’s the child of Gill and Zomborg. She’s also an alien, however she’s way more accustomed to Earth than her mother is. She’s going to get married to Harle… someday. x3;

Anyhoo, that’s my Sims family. It’s a little dysfunctional, but I think that’s what makes it so fun. xDD I’m hoping I can play through at least some of its generations. Either way, I’m terribly proud of each of them. :’D

I decided to go to the mall yesterday and get my hair done. (I don’t care if it’s vain, I love messing around with my hair. xD;) A while ago, Mai told me that I’d look good with bangs, so I bit the bullet and went for it.

So, now…
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Jamie has a thick fringe. xDD
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I actually really like it. Mai and I are also now ~bang buddies~, which is pretty rad.

April decided to whip out the Paint software and do a portrait of me. This was the result:
by april x3
Ahahaha. xDD

My Persona 4 uniform also arrived yesterday. (Girls’ version. x3) The skirt’s insanely short, but I suppose I can just wear leggings with it. xDD Cosplaying is so much fun ♥

…One of those people who finds it absolutely necessary to name all of her technological possessions. Yep, that’s me. This post’s instigation was planted by madame Robin~ ♥

In my eyes, each of these “material objects” have a personality. From my sly, quick-witted pen-drive to my downright intimidating iPod — they all have their own quirks. Am I insane for picking said quirks up?…Let’s just call it fun. xDD

Well then, let’s begin~
Laptop: Licorice. Tall, pale, and pretty scruffy, Licorice (aka “Lico”) had a bad childhood experience and is scarred (by his power button, *sob*). As a result, he’s very self-concious. However, this doesn’t stop him from being a spazzy dork. He gets excited over small things, like paper or new games, and forgets to think before he talks. Sort of a pervert, too. Very lame, but very loveable. Flamingo (Robin’s laptop) is his long-term boyfriend~

(pink)iPod Nano: Bubblegum. Hyperactive, frivolous and cutesy. Bubblegum struts her stuff like crazy; if you go to a rave, there’s a 95% chance that she’ll be there — dressed the most outrageously and decked out in an uncountable number of glow sticks. Has tons of fun teasing Licorice, since he tends to freak out — she means well, though. Has a tiny build; squeaky yet adorable voice. You’ll either love her or hate her.

iPod Touch: Apocalypto. Grungy, vegan, and hardcore. He means business. Scares the living crap out of people, save for Licorice. Him and Licorice go way back: they relate to each other incredibly well, visiting each other often. He’s liberal and gutsy; the one who protects the group. The “big brother.”

Camera: Roosevelt. Total hippie. All about peace, love, and everything above. Sees the world differently from most. She’s a space cadet; very airy, very “out there.” Says random stuff which no one ever understands. She’s mildly infatuated by Apocalypto, but this is only due to his name (she develops strange fixations).

Microwave: Borris. The “uncle” of the group. He’s old, he’s rusty, but he gives damn good advice. Loving, warm, and nurturing. Lives away from the young folk, but they go out and see him from time to time.

Pen-Drive: Junes. Gets irritated when people pronounce her name as “June,” the month. (It’s pronouced Joo-nez, dammit!) Clever little lass. Only a kid, and she uses her youth to her advantage. Total smartypants and far more sly than most children her age, though she tends to skip school a lot. She prefers spending her time reading books out in the park. Hovers around Licorice constantly — she adores him because he gives her candy.

…This is the point where I consider making them a new Sims family. I just LOVE these guys. They’re my babies. xDD

This post is epically long, but I guess it makes up for my lack of posting, right? xDD I’ve been meaning to write a Persona 4 review for a while. Sorry if it’s a bit redundant, and if you don’t want spoilers, you may not wanna read it. xDD

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The sixth in the Persona series by Atlus; Persona 4 can be described in one word: “epic.” If you know me personally, you know that from late January (January 27th) to early March (March 1st), I was inhaling this game as if it were a source of life. (Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration…)

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (ペルソナ4) was released in America in December, 2008. It had incredibly high expectations; since Persona 3 was a massive success. It’s a role-playing game; meaning that you have full control over who your character associates with, who they befriend, and who they generally ARE; i.e: the noble hero? The shy kid? The cynical ass who probably should actually be the antagonist but somehow isn’t? You also have control over who he dates, if anyone at all — where he works, what his name is, everything. You have semi-control over who your group is — 7 other people make up your “team,” (one being support-based, so you don’t battle with her) but you can only choose 3 whenever you take part in the actual gameplay.

But now I’m rambling~ So, I’ll give you a rough outline of Persona 4 — or really, what it’s about. xD

Persona 4 takes place in the fictional, rural Japanese town of Inaba. It has one high school, a lonely shopping district, one MASSIVE department store which you never really enter (save for the store’s foodcourt — it ends up becoming the group’s secret base of sorts xDD), and, of course, various housing areas and an inn. It lies among the floodplains, too. You’re character is a transfer student from the big city — upon arrival, you learn about “The Midnight Channel;” an urban legend which states that when you look at television on a rainy day at midnight, your soulmate will appear.
Naturally, this is all a bunch of crap — the Midnight Channel is actually an insight into “The Television World,” who’s origin I won’t tell because it’s a HUGE spoiler. If any common person looks at it, they can see the events going on inside of the Other World — however, they won’t be able to enter it, and (prior to the events in the game) are usually greeted with a technicolour screen.
Certain individuals, however, have the ability to reach into any television set and enter the Midnight Channel directly. These individuals have Personas — a powerful form of themselves, sort of like a weapon, which is “the facade used to overcome life’s troubles.” However, in order to enter, they must be able to fit through the set’s screen, or else they’ll just reach in and nothing’ll happen.

Each television set leads to a different area of the Midnight Channel. The weather conditions inside the Midnight Channel are the opposite of what exists in Inaba — a thick, nasty fog naturally exists in the Midnight Channel. Anyone who enters it without proper gear suffers from severe nausea and head pain, which results in a comatose state.
However, after a long period of rain, a thick fog sets in to Inaba — due to the ying-yang aspect which Inaba and The Midnight Channel have, this causes the fog in the Midnight Channel to disappear. Sounds like good news? Well, it isn’t — it’s HORRIBLE NEWS and just THINKING ABOUT IT is annoying me. Once the fog disappears in The Midnight Channel, the “Shadows” (sort of like the “monsters”) that reside in it get all hyper — they get stronger and are deadly. Anyone inside fog-less Midnight Channel has no hope in hell — they get killed by the Shadows. Instead of their corpse deteriorating, it is transported back to Inaba — dangling among telephone wires. CREEPY MUCH? One of the reasons why the game’s rated ~M~, I suppose.

Now, The Midnight Channel is pretty harmless — once no one messes with it. Normal people don’t have the ability to enter televisions — however, one guy gains this ability, and through tons of complex manipulation, he manages get normal people tossed into the Midnight Channel. Thus begins the GRAND MURDER MYSTERY, the base of the game — the ~investigation~.

Once you learn the basics about the Channel, you learn that people thrown into the Channel are killed by their “Shadows” — unlike the normal monsters dwelling the Channel, these “shadows” are the darkness which conceal people’s inner Persona. In other words — it’s like the darkness of your heart; the hidden part of yourself which you don’t want to reveal to anyone, the part which you put a facade over and reject. When saving victims who’re thrown into the Channel, you have to confront their Shadow-self. Afterwards, if the victim clears their head and accepts the Shadow as part of themself, the Shadow will purify and manifest itself as a Persona, thus granting the “vicitim” the ability to enter the T.V. world and kick ass. Oh, and you have to save them before the fog rolls in to Inaba — which is roughly once a month. If it rolls in BEFORE you save them, you’re given the option to either return to the title screen and continue from where you last saved, OR you can go back one week in time. Missing the deadline is BRUTAL, because most of the heavy training is done in the last week. Therefore, if the victim is killed, you’re taken back one week before the fog and must train all over again; this time managing your time more pro-actively.
Furthermore, the game has a total of 3 endings: One “Bad” Ending (the result of accusing the wrong culprit), One “Normal” Ending (people usually get this; it’s if you stick to the default storyline), and the ultimate “True” Ending, which is a bit more complex and features one extra dungeon which is BEAUTIFUL.

As for your character: You’ve just transferred to Inaba during this time of madness. While in Inaba, you stay with your uncle, Ryotaro Dojima, a police detective who’s usually out doing work due to the murder cases (little does he know that his work is for naught, seeing as the crimes are taking place in another world) and Dojima’s six-year old daughter, Nanako, who’s SO adorable and SO sweet, and has managed to take care of the household chores for her father.

Aside from the main storyline, you’re a normal high-school student. You DO have to pay attention to the random facts given out in class (talking to plants really does make them grow faster — also, moustaches excrete toxins), lest you totally bomb the midterm exams. You snag a part-time job and you can join a few clubs, too. You socialize with characters who aren’t directly related to the storyline, and you can “intensify” your relationship with them by talking to them regularly.

The key theme of Persona 4 is “facing yourself”; accepting you for who YOU really are; letting down your facades and revealing your true power. It’s also about “seeking the truth” — where the murder mystery comes in — but it also sort of overlaps with the first theme: seeking your true self. Thus, every character which you interact with in the game has a unique backstory, and if you choose to be close friends with them, you help them… come to terms with it. xD

Anyway, I guess I’ll talk about the characters now. Here’s where you’ll find the actual spoilers.

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Soji Seta ~ You. Your character. The MC (main character). You have total control over him, pretty much. I think I’ve said enough about him already. xDD He’s pretty cool. OH, DID I MENTION THAT HE’S A SILENT GUY? You choose anything and everything which he says. I ♥ Silent Protagonists. The MC doesn’t formally face himself as a Shadow — how he gets a Persona is a key point of the game.

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Yosuke Hanamura ~ Born and raised in the city, he recently moved to Inaba, where his parents manage the MASSIVE department store which puts in peril the local economy. As a result, he’s sort of unpopular and looked down upon by townsfolk. Clumsy, outgoing, and sort of stupid — but passionate and serious about the investigation. He’s a total sweetheart. You cannot hate Yosuke.
Yosuke’s Shadow isn’t that dramatized — it’s basically just said that it doesn’t give a crap about anyone or anything; that it was glad that people were dying because the investigation gives him something to do. Yosuke’s “dungeon” isn’t really a dungeon, either — it’s a thrashed shop in the Shopping District. This is prolly because he’s the first boss you encounter; it eases you into things.

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Chie Satonaka ~ Chie has the most vague background (or, at least, the most normal life) of the group, although we know she is passionate about Kung-Fu and martial arts. She’s Yukiko’s best friend; they’re always there for each other. She’s also a total tomboy. My personal opinion of Chie is sort of non-existent… she’s really just there for me; she doesn’t stand out that much… her voice, however, was REALLY good.
Chie’s shadow takes the form of some form of dominatrix; it’s a woman with a long, pointy hat, covering her face. It sits on a cloaked surface, like a chair, but under the cloak is a bunch of faceless schoolgirls, holding Shadow Chie up. It represents her jealousy of Yukiko’s feminine side and her talents, as well as her wish and need to maintain control over Yukiko. It also says that Chie truly doesn’t give a damn about Yukiko and that the only reason why she associates with her is so that she can stand out more. Chie’s dungeon is a sublevel of Yukiko’s, which further enhances what the Shadow’s saying.

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Yukiko Amagi ~ Yukiko is the daughter of an innkeeper — the Amagi Inn is the most popular area of Inaba. She’s quiet, calm, and apparently beautiful (I don’t see what’s so gorgeous about her, but I guess she has that ~special charm~), but she has insane laughing fits which tend to go on for hours. She’s a pretty alright character, though~
Yukiko’s Shadow takes the form of a massive, gaudy, pink bird, held in a cage. Before going into that mode, her shadow is dressed as if it were a Princess — with a pink and white dress and crown. Her dungeon is a pink castle. Yukiko’s Shadow is obsessed with “finding her prince” who’ll take her away from Inaba and her “destiny” — i.e: inheriting the Inn. Her shadow’s one of my favourites — its dialogue is AWESOME.

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Kanji Tatsumi ~ Son of the owners of Tatsumi Textiles, he harbors the street-punk style… although in truth, he only hurts those who deserve it (i.e: Biker Gangs who wake his mom up at night with their noisy engines and crude behaviour).
Kanji’s character is the most complex of all the group. Kanji’s actually gay; one of the very first uber-popular game characters to be out so openly. Despite his rough outer appearance, Kanji actually loves sewing, animal crackers, and cooking.
He grows “interested” in another one of the characters — Naoto Shirogane. However, this was before it was revealed that Naoto’s actually a girl cross-dressing as a boy — which results in Kanji questioning himself even more than before. Later on, though, Kanji comes to terms with the side of himself that was attracted to Naoto, snapping out of it and being able to act normally around her. If you choose to develop your character’s bond with him, Kanji later on admits that “his shadow really does resides in him,” which implies that he accepted his sexuality.
So, it’s kinda obvious that Kanji’s Shadow is a stereotypically gay man. His shadow’s true form is a huge, muscular creature, which looks like a massive body-builder. Out of it is Shadow Kanji’s normal self, which is surrounded by a heavy layer of pink flowers — thus representing Kanji’s struggle to “be a man” yet still true to himself. It also represents his resentment of having his softer side and his artistic abilities ridiculed, as well as his fears of being rejected by society. Kanji’s Midnight Channel dungeon is a men’s bathhouse (teeheehee).
FFFF KANJI’S MY FAVOURITE CHARACTER. I love him. As soon as I got him, he was in my party permanently. He’s kickass in battle, too. 8D

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Rise Kujikawa ~ Rise (aka “Risette”) is a former idol, who recently retired from the show business world due to stress and personal conflict. She moves to Inaba, where her grandmother owns a Tofu Shop; Marukyu Tofu. Rise’s cheerful and giggly — IMPOSSIBLE TO HATE. D8
Rise’s Shadow is a colorful pole dancer which looks like Rise; i.e. it has her brown pigtails. Her Midnight Channel dungeon resembles a strip club, including stages with poles, curtains, and sexual-looking Shadows. Rise’s shadow represents her anger with being stereotyped as an indecent, airheaded popstar, represented as a sex symbol . However, her true motive was a desire to find her real self-identity — which is pretty much the reason why she left show biz and moved into Inaba.

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Naoto Shirogane ~ Nao-chan is young, serious, and has an androgynous appearance; almost always wearing an officer’s cap, conveying an appearance not unlike the classical gakuran school uniforms of the late 19th century. A well-known detective and somewhat of a child prodigy, Naoto was dubbed the “Detective Prince” by the media, though still attending Yasogami High.
Naoto’s Shadow is a robotic doppelganger, equipped with large, toy-like laser guns, rocket feet and a jet pack. This form represents Naoto’s resentment towards being treated as a child by the police (since she’s a renowned detective). It reveals that Naoto is, in fact, a girl who’s pretending to be a boy in order to gain whatever scraps of respect she can from the police force.
Naoto’s Midnight Channel dungeon is a scientific military complex based on Japanese superhero shows for children, filled with mechanical shadows and falcon symbols.

and finally…
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Teddie ~ Teddie is a weird, yet ADORABLE, stuffed-bear-like creature with blue fur and a red/white jumpsuit. He lives in the Midnight Channel. He makes tons of horrible puns on the words “bear” and “teddy;” mostly on bear, though. (BEAR-SONA!, what a TEDious fight!, I’m the M.V.B!, I can’t BEAR this anymore! etc). He is often used as comic relief, and he really lightens up the entire party’s mood. Teddie’s human form later in the game is a young blond guy. He’s very innocent, and he usually makes a lot of “suggestive” comments without realizing that he really shouldn’t. xDD
Teddie’s Shadow is a larger form of his bear costume coming out of a hole in the ground, with portions of its face missing, revealing a void underneath, + it also has REALLY FREAKY EYES. It represents Teddie’s fear that his existence is superficial and “hollow”. The Shadow also hints at his forgotten true identity – that is, the fact that he is a shadow. He learned to speak human language and became friendly with humans, taking his bear-like form so that people would like him upon meeting him. Teddie eventually takes a human form upon acquiring a persona so that he can be with others in the real world~

AND THAT’S IT FOR THE (playable)CHARACTERS.

What I absolutely adore about P4 is the realism of things, the rawness of it. Chats teenagers would really have, playful bantering, situations that could really happen (even though there probably isn’t a Midnight Channel…this game will so make you believe that there is.), and realistic reactions to pretty much everything. It’s amazing. The voice-acting enhances this, of course. Perfect voice casting, I swear, PERFECT — save for MAYBE Yukiko, but eh, it works. xD Rise’s voice is my favourite, along with Kanji’s.
With great v.a comes awesome music, and Persona 4 also has this… thanks to Atlus’ Shoji Meguro~! The game comes with a free soundtrack, so you have access to all the songs without having to hunt the Internet. They follow a constant theme; electronica with classical undertones. Makes a horribly addictive combo. xDD (I’m actually listening to it now on my iPod, haha)

The gameplay in battles (LOL WOW I didn’t even mention this before xDD) is really awesome. It’s simple; turn-based tactics. Om nom nom. If you’re close enough to your party members, they’ll even take a mortal blow for you by jumping in the way of an enemy’s fatal attack. IT’S PRETTY AMAZING. + If you’re even closer, you get “bonus turns” where your bud will perform a special “critical hit” attack with a fancy name, like “Atomic Smash” or something. Really useful~

And that’s it for my “review”! I could really talk about it for ages, eh heh heh. P4 is a seriously dazzling game. It’ll catch you; hook, line and sinker. It restored my faith in good gaming, seriously. One of the best storylines which I’ve ever played. EVERRR. I highly recommend it! xD

Ah, youth.

March 12, 2009

When I was a kid, I loved toy trucks, sand boxes, swing sets, and mud puddles. I hung out with “the boys” and got into trouble constantly — I was unable to grasp the form of “authority,” and so I ran around rampant for my first 3 years in school.
I’ll never forget that day — about 10 years ago — when the cafeteria was selling those hot dogs. I loved them, but I couldn’t afford one. My friend, Alexa — one of my few female friends — couldn’t get one, either. Therefore, we devised a brilliant plan underneath the teacher’s desk. Some people left their food, unattended, on their desks. To “teach them a lesson”, the two of us nabbed the sausages from the hot dogs — since we really didn’t care for the smooshy, cheap bread — and crammed them in our mouths before anyone could take notice of our little devious deed.
Afterwards, we grabbed our rulers (they were our swords) and ran off to the school’s field, to play “Samurai X” with another one of my classmates — Joshua.
When the two girls returned to their desk to see the sausage-less hot dogs, they freaked out… but they never told a teacher (or if they did, the teacher brushed them off), so Alexa and I got away with it.

…Is it bad that, 10 years later, I still feel victorious?

10 Random Questions.

March 9, 2009

  • The gum which is wedged under tables.  Who the hell sticks gum under a table? I’d be worried about saliva dripping on my knee, or me touching it accidentally, or something. I think if I ever did this, I would be either a) disgusted with myself or b) feel horribly mischievous. Either option would result in c),  which would be me feeling guilty and removing it with great disdain.  How people can stick their gum under a table is BEYOND me. I’ve never seen anyone do it. Ever. It’s pretty mysterious.
  • How Chemistry can be so different from the rest of the world. When the teacher flicks off the lights and starts up a power-point, everything just gets so…sleepy. His voice changes tones so much, it’s almost as if he’s singing you a lullaby. This “lullaby” consists of tons of scientific terminology, like “ions” and “polarity” and “partial pressure,” which aid in the whole “I’m-making-you-fall-asleep” thing. Whenever I interact with someone from the “outside world” during/right after Chemistry, I feel as if I’m seeing the sun after a week in a cramped cave.
  • Career choice. To the disappointment of my extended family, I do NOT want to be a doctor; I don’t think I have the tolerance/general work ethnic for that job. (I like to get boring things over and done with so I have time to have fun later. That’s the only reason why I “stay on top of things.” Same goes for studying, most of the time.) I would rather have fun with my job than stress out over it. Being a lawyer would be alright, but I don’t know. A graphic designer or a photographer would be pretty sweet; I’ve also been thinking about becoming a game designer. I want to write on the side of whatever I do. Since Art is “unsteady” (please note the quotations) I’m not sure if I want to pursue it.
  • That transcript thing. It seems like such a waste when I see some of my friends (…more like acquaintances) who take part in school activities and join school clubs just to beef up their college apps. Seriously, what’s the point? I think I’d rather take part in something for the fun/convenience of it; not for the sake of it being recorded on a piece of paper.
  • Aliens and supernatural stuff. I can’t prove them, but I can’t deny them, either. For some reason, I like to believe that they do exist. It comforts me to know that we’re not alone here. It sort of scares me, too because the more I think about them, the more real they seem.
  • Why people can’t think for themselves. Photocopies are never better than the original. Unless the original itself is a photocopy. Then what?
  • March’s ability to always, always, ALWAYS suck. Maybe it’s because it begins right after Carnival, aka right after a 4-day holiday. It leaves me feeling as if Spring is right around the corner, when it’s really a whole month away. I’m totally having an ‘end-of-March’ celebration when it’s over.
  • How hard it is to write a book. Even the smallest of scenes has to be crafted delicately; every line of dialogue, every sentence, everything, lest it turns out to be disgustingly trite. It’s amazing, frustrating, and a bit intimidating.
  • Why all good things have to end. Not to quote the proverb, or little Nelly Furtado. People say, “that’s what makes them good!”, but I can’t help but feel horribly empty. Whether it’s a good game (Persona 4…!) a good conversation (I can name tons), a good evening, a good series, a good relationship — it all just ends before you can acknowledge and/or deepen it. Life is so bittersweet.
  • If Daniel really makes those brownies. I still think that either his mother or father does.