Archive for July, 2008

July 31, 2008

Code Geass: Spinzaku

For any Code Geass fan, the term Spinzaku should be as familiar as “ALL HAIL BRITTANNIA!!11one1!”. For those who have been living under a rock though, never fear, Neolistic Journal offers the following “Code Geass for Busy People” entry:

Suzaku’s single habit of wtfpwning anything within the 1st minute of his appearance on the battlefield and his signature spin kick move has earned him the title “Spinzaku”. It has been shown that Suzaku does an average of 0.7 Spinzakus per episode, destroying Lelouch in about 50% of those spinz; they also say that 40.7% of all statistics are made on the spot. Lately there’s been a more literal take on the spin part of Spinzaku…

First the appetizer.

read more »

July 27, 2008

Code Geass: Marianne & C.C.

C.C. and Marianne: The Background Mystery

1 of the biggest mysteries surrounding Code Geass is the relationship between C.C. and Marianne, aka Lelouch’s mother. In season 1, C.C. appears to have conversations with spiritual entities. During the duration of the season, it is hinted that the entity she is conversing with is the Queen Marianne, Lelouch’s mother. This revelation has caused much discussion by fans. Is C.C. able to reach through time? Is C.C. a ghost whisperer? Or is C.C. just plain loony?

Code Geass R2, Episode 15

With episode 15, some blanks have been filled in. It is shown that Marianne and C.C. do know each other and have a relationship, though the nature of the relationship is not defined. It is also shown that the vi Brittannia twins, Charles and V.V., also know C.C. and also her history as the Geass cult leader. This accounts for Charles’ research into Geass ruins and reveals the connection between V.V, C.C. and Charles. In a way, it also reveals the inner workings of Geass and the true nature of the Geass contract. The Geass contract fulfills 1 innermost desire, but the manner of fulfillment is twisted. For Charles, it is the power of truth. He thus gains the power to manipulate memory, i.e. he changes the truth as people understand it. For Mao, he wished to understand other humans, thus gaining the power to read minds. That power eventually drove him mad. For Lelouch, it is power that he sought and control freak that he is, he gained a power over people: The power to compel any order, no matter how disagreeable it is. It is not shown within the show what Rolo’s wish was, though some speculations can be made. This manner of wish fulfillment is similar to the old parable of how the Devil(or djinn in ancient times) can fulfill any wish, but in exchange he drives a bargain for the wisher’s soul. The story then goes on to describe how the devil then twists the wisher’s dream about till it becomes a living nightmare. The parallels drawn between the 2 tales are interesting both in the nature of comparison, but also in their implications for the characters involved.

Queen Marianne: Pivotal figure in History

In many ways, Queen Marianne is the central character of the series. Considering she had zero screentime beyond flashbacks (she was killed before the chronology of the show started), she had a profound impact on the parallel world of Code Geass. If one were to plot the chain of events backwards in time, most of them will have their beginnings at Marianne’s death. Queen Marianne’s death was the impetus for the chain of events that led to the present circumstances, and the driving force behind many characters’ actions. Milly’s family went intro disgrace following Marianne’s death, which led them to Nippon and the creation of the Ashford Academy. It is the source of Jeremiah’s fanaticism and loyalty. For Lelouch, it is the pivotal factor for his raison d’etre, besides safeguarding Nunally’s future.

Queen Marianne: The previous Contractor?

It can be seen that everyone involved in C.C.’s past was either a contractor, or another entity involved in Geass. Mao, Charles, V.V, Lelouch, Rolo, Bartley. The only “exception” is Marianne. Or is it? It can be speculated that Marianne is in fact 1 of C.C.’s contractors. It would explain her prodigious rise to power from a mere commoner. Marianne the Flash takes on new meaning once you consider that Rolo’s Geass ability does indeed, make him appear to move in a “flash”.

Marianne’s “role” as Geass contractor would also cast new light on her death/murder. In any story with a tight script, it is often necessary to have a character play multiple roles because introducing a character loosens the focus of the storytelling which makes the narrative appear very unbelievable. It is for this reason that whodunnits are written around a small cast of “suspect” characters who just coincidentally are gathered together during the murder. If a perfect stranger were to be introduced as the murderer at the end, the story fails as a compelling piece of narrative. Similarly in Code Geass, a character that previously had no motive to kill Marianne, now does. And because of his position/power, he also has the means by which to murder Marianne.

Conclusions.

There is little proof that Marianne is a contractor. That is because we just know too little about anything related to both C.C. and Marianne. Even though episode 15 answers some questions, it also raises many more questions than it answers. But 1 thing is for certain; episodes 21-26 will delve into the history of Geass and C.C. and will answer, once and for all, the truth behind Marianne’s murder on that fateful day.

July 26, 2008

Anime Psychology 101

Today’s post is inspired entirely by a question on the Hongfire boards. You can read the original thread here.

For those too lazy to read, here’s the quick version.

Q: “Is Kaede a psycho?”

My answer: Ok this is gonna be long because we have to look at the different phases. Kaede suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is an anxiety disorder that develop after exposure to one or more terrifying events that usual psychological defenses are incapable of coping. At the beginning, this is the untimely death of Kaede’s mother. Kaede’s reaction to the death was simply a total and abject depression.

The 2nd traumatic event was the main character’s “confession” that he was the cause of the deaths. The shock from this event caused the manifestation of certain obsessive-compulsive behaviors, with a touch of neurosis. Kaede began to have obsessive, distressing, intrusive thoughts and related compulsions (tasks or “rituals”) which attempt to neutralize the obsessions, i.e. hurting the main character and making his life miserable.

The 3rd traumatic event occurred a few years later in middle school, when Kaede discovered that she was the cause of her mother’s death. The sudden shock pushed Kaede over the edge and into a panic attack, almost getting herself run over by a truck. With the main character saving her in the nick of time and a dramatic apology in the rain. All seems well. But in “reel” life, problems don’t just go away with the wave of a wand.

The apology and acceptance of the death of her mother was a start, but in its place Kaede shifted the focus of her obsession from hurting the main character, to serving him. In her neurosis, Kaede reasoned that in placing herself within a servile position, she could atone for the hurt she has caused him over the years. Her obsessive compulsive disorder was suppressed, but still manifested in a few small ways; her orderly daily habits that she maintained on a fixed schedule, and her care for the main character to the point that she neglected herself.

The situation would have been fine; excess stress from her guilt bled off into her daily routine, enough so that she maintained a normal lifestyle. That is, so long as the balance was maintained. As the main character became more romantically involved with Asa-senpai, the build up of stress from the situation caused Kaede to dissociate her emotions, compartmentalizing her thoughts and feelings. An initially effective defense mechanism that protects the individual psychologically from the impact of overwhelming traumatic events, a habitual tendency to dissociate became a marker of a more pronounced psychopathology. In Kaede’s case, it was borderline personality disorder(BPD). BPD is characterized by pervasive instability in mood; extreme “black and white” thinking, or “splitting”; chaotic and unstable interpersonal relationships, self-image, identity, and behavior; as well as a disturbance in the individual’s sense of self. Kaede basically lost control of her moods and ability to judge rationally, at times forgetting her own personal identity.

Ironically, it took another traumatic event to start her on the road to recovery. In the climatic confrontation where Kaede tried to chase Asa-senpai off her last refuge (her home), she triggered Asa-senpai’s magic-overload condition. The act of causing another (possible) death literally shocked Kaede back into her senses. The road to recovery was completed when Asa-senpai and Kaede had their heart to heart talk by the river, allowing Kaede to leave her emotional baggage behind.

In short, she’s a serious nut case. But at least she’s no longer a nut case… mostly. Watch Shuffle! Memories last episode for an idea why.

July 14, 2008

Living for the Living and the Existing Existence: What is your Choice?

As with many of my posts, this post is inspired by a thread in Hongfire.

I’m gonna copy my post verbatim here, together with attendant quotes and all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6531597 View Post
we are all worthless. No one *deserves* to live. they simply exist.

I find myself mildly offended by this nihilistic life view. The one true freedom you enjoy is personal choice. The Other can influence and coerce, but they can never take your choice. Giving up that choice means giving up the right to live. You have chosen to stop living. To preempt the argument about immobilizing someone in a cage, you can choose to sit quietly, or you can choose to push out against the cage. The end result might not change in our lifetime, but who knows? You might weaken the cage walls enough for the next person to break free.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6531597 View Post
and to put worth on existence is just plain subjective. you are worth what others think about you and what you think about yourself. what you can actually do irl is very limited yet everyone has potential. so this question really have no answers because it is so subjective.

However the next part is really relevant to me; in my own way I too am facing a crossroad of my life. What form of existence do I wish to attain? I cannot argue against the fact that self worth is influenced by what others think about you, it is for this reason that positive reinforcement of values is preached in pre-school, because the child’s formative years are shaped by the input from the people closest to him. We all live limited lives, but is the life limited by the duration of the life itself or the choices made during that lifetime that limit it?

Why do we live? What is the underlying meaning of our lives? Is the right to life given by Someone, or is it part of a natural process of life-death-rebirth, or some wheel in the sky with a scale that weighs our worth with each passing? I am an agnostic not because I fail to believe, but rather my beliefs do not fit any denomination. Before people accuse me of being a heretical mystic, my beliefs after some soul-searching can be summed up in 1 word: people.

The longer version. I believe that people:

  1. Inherently wish to be connected to others in meaningful relationships.
  2. Are capable of doing great things once they know what they want; And
  3. Wish to be happy and for others to be happy.

Haha I wonder what got over me, it’s lonely being an optimist in a world that seems hellbent on being miserable and being rough with others, as if in showing a skin full of porcupine spines, we are tougher and stronger than others. Here’s a newsflash: It’s lonely being alone. Take it from someone who’s being there.

July 14, 2008

Code Geass: Orange Country

No, it’s not the sequel to Code Geass: Lost Colors.

Over the past week, there’s been much debate over Orange-kun’s defection. To put it another way, is he “faking it”? I can go on with the sexual innuendo, but that would be digressing, not to mention I have this irrational fear that a couple of guys in tight jumpers will jump me if I push on. Anyway…

Brittannia: Diaspora of (personality) cults

Before we can dissect Orange-kun’s sudden defection we should get better acquainted with Brittannia’s culture, particularly its cults of personalities. A personality cult is defined as an environment in which a person becomes the focus of veneration, as compared to an ideal , e.g. Lady Liberty of the French Revolution, or a concept, e.g. nationhood. In Brittannia’s case, Emperor Charles is the physical embodiment of the Empire, which automatically makes him a living symbol of all that is good with the Empire. However it is not just him; his family also enjoys this association with the state. This is a culture in which each royal holds his own personal court containing personal retainers, personal advisors and even personal military units focused on their personal knight. It is also a world in which certain traditions of chivalry are still maintained, in particular noblesse oblige and courtly love. To contrast the differences with our universe, chivalry as a concept declined in the early 15th century, particularly after the battle of Agincourt (1415).

French prisoners killed after English victory at Battle of Agincourt, 1415.

The Orange Quandary: Jeremiah Gottwald the Rat?

We can now examine the issue of Orange-kun’s loyalty. Jeremiah Gottwald, aka Agent la Orange, was a personal bodyguard of Marianne. As a personal retainer, he was extremely loyal, and in fact appears to adore Marianne beyond the limits of duty as a paragon of virtue. He is also unusual among her retainers in that he was the guard captain on that fateful day, which adds guilt on top of loyalty. In such a situation he should have moved on to protect Marianne’s children, but they were exiled to Nippon soon after Marianne’s death and supposedly died during the Brittannian invasion. Unable to discharge his duties in a satisfactory matter probably has been ever on his mind, and with the realization that Zero=Lelouch Lamperouge=Lelouch vi Brittannia must have been a shock to him. Now he has a focus for that He transfers his loyalty to Lelouch who is the successor to Marianne, the woman who he loved.

“Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.”

The quote, by Winston Churchill as he crossed the floor to rejoin the Conservatives, pretty much sums up the thesis: Jeremiah isn’t clever enough to cross Lelouch.

July 7, 2008

Web Finds: Weekend Music

This weekend’s worth of posts was delayed due to… the Great Muse. Yes, that’s it, the Great Muse called me out and bombarded me with inspiration. I was so high, i was on cloud nine…

Ahem. Anyway, a friend of mine is very much into music. And we aren’t into just music, we are into all sorts of music. Opera, progressive rock, reggae, electronica, jazz, metal, you name it, we were playing it. On youtube that is. I have 0 musical talent, besides appreciation. We spent the entire Saturday evening sharing youtube links on great music that will probably never reach the shores of this fair island, or in the case of local bands, will probably never gain air play on radio. Don’t believe me? I’m gonna share those links with you. Hang on Dorothy, ’cause Kansas is going byebye.

First up, America’s got Talent got its stars, got its duds, but 2007 had Cas Haley. Stars are good within the limits of their craft. Cas rewrote the limits of his craft. Here’s his first performance.

That settles reggae.

Song title is Flim, by Aphex Twin. It’s not bad, but a bit bland, because of the repetitive chords with little break in the monotony. Here’s another version of Flim.

Improvisational jazz piece arranged for a 3 piece jazz setup. Group is known as The Bad Plus, their wiki is here. The band’s homepage is here.

The great thing about live instruments compared to electronics is that it imparts a greater “live” feel to the piece. The Midas touch, if you will. Electronica is computer based, which makes the rhythm very accurate. It also makes a piece feel dead. It is a great wonder that humans have the most sensitive sense of rhythm, they can subconsciously feel the slightest variances in beat, even if they can’t clap a 1-2 beat. It is said that John Williams’ crowning achievement in scoring for Stars is taking a full string orchestra, and turning it into the precise robotic war machine that is the Imperial March.

The next featured song comes from another singing competition, this time it’s Britain’s got Talent. And it’s a genre most people won’t be caught dead with. And it’s sung by a phone salesman with Carphone Warehouse.

Yes it’s opera. In fact, it’s an opera made famous by 1 of the Three Tenors: Luciano Pavarotti. Nessun Dorma is the piece that starts the final act of Turandot, an opera that depicts a prince as he tries to court the cold Oriental princess Turandot (pronounced without the “t” sound at the end btw). This opera is also famous because it is an incomplete opera, the composer Giacomo Puccini having died before he could finish the last act.

Paul Potts went on to win the competition, unlike Cas Haley, who ended up runner up. On a side note, his biggest competitor was a 6 year old girl, Conney Talbot. This was her preliminary round.

Now this blog is heavily tilted towards anime, so it stands to reason that at least 1 song should be from an anime right? Yes, but it’s not some typical J-pop song sung by some high pitched adolescent female. To clarify, I like J-pop; but i do wish sometimes that they stop trying to hit the upper registers every other stanza. To add value, i have taken a very well done AMV parody of the original OP. Feel free to guess what is the anime, though it will not be much of a challenge for anyone who keeps in touch with anime often. I will reveal the answer below for those who did not watch it before.

The anime is Death Note, which was a wildly successful manga that was serialized from 2003 to 2006. By itself, it sparked a new revival of interest into gothic fashion, particularly gothic lolita styles, in mimicry of Misa, a character in the manga. For those wondering, the parody is from Biohazard Outbreak, the Resident Evil multiplayer game that never took off.

Ok opera, , reggae and metal are cleared, that leaves 1 last one. Here we go.

Toe is a Japanese progressive rock band formed in 2000. 1 thing you notice about them is that they have no lead singer. Vocals, when there are any, are done by guest vocals. “Wait a moment,” I can hear you say, “How can they be a rock band without a rock singer?” Vocals are the single most defining part of any rock song, they break up the monotony of the chords, separates different sections from each other, and they simply give “soul” to the song. Lose vocals and the song falls apart. True, and not so true. Listen to this.

To quote Prog Archives: They released their debut EP, “Songs, Ideas We Forgot” in 2002. The world didn’t saw another release of the band until 2005 when they released their first full-length album, “Book About My Idle Plot on Vague Anxiety”. The band incorporated some new instruments into the mix like acoustic guitars and rhodes piano with this release and in 2006 they released another EP, “New Sentimentality”, which saw the band in the same direction as their full-length album. Toe. has toured with many bands in the past years. They’ve been opening act for post-hardocre acts like Envy and post-rock artists like The Mercury Program, The Album Leaf and Pele.

Toe’s band webpage can be found here.

July 4, 2008

Web Finds: Jackass! aka why you should pick up a copy of Age of Conan

Gah, not spending enough time writing as I should. To soothe the angry gods, let me just offer a couple of vids gleaned from the web. The first vid is about 1 particularly annoying horse trick you can do in Age of Conan. You could call it a one-trick pony….

The next vid is what happens when overworked npcs face their 2035703247957438th quester of the day…

The third, and last vid, is a parody comparison between WoW and AoC (better say that or all the WoW fanboys will pyro my house). It’s pretty cute, but of course they can carve out their niches without stepping on each other’s toes (too much).

That’s all for now, I will do a real post this weekend (hopefully).