Finally getting an HDTV… in 2021 (also, selling my DBZ Dragon Boxes)

So, funny thing… I actually stuck with CRT televisions for a long time.

There wasn’t really any ideology to it, it was just “it works for my purposes.” I generally never see the need to replace devices that work perfectly fine.

In fact, that’s what happened…. my CRT TV stopped working.

It just suddenly did this thing where it powered on and off rapidly, then would beep constantly when it was plugged in. Google told me this was likely something I could easily repair (a standard capacitor issue)… except that I don’t have the tools, the know-how, or the patience.

To be completely honest, I sense the hand of fate here, because as the years went on I started to feel held back by my retro technology, such as when I needed an adapter to hook my Switch up to the CRT and when I started using my PC as a movie device and had to run it through a computer monitor.

Anyway, good news was my dad had just gotten an HDTV from grandpa, who had replaced it with a bigger one, so I got a free hand-me-down. I’m not gonna be picky… if I can play games and watch movies on it, it works.

And I mean, its convenient that I can hook my laptop up to it and watch movies and HD anime that way. It even had ports for old game consoles.

….. And yet, I’m stubborn.

A part of me looks at this thing and just feels like its so wrong, like I would almost rather have the CRT back somehow.

One issue is that light gun games, like Duck Hunt and Time Crisis, won’t work on HDTVs unless you have a version of the games designed to do so. This is to do with how light guns even work, and people smarter than myself can explain it better. Thankfully though, some folks have been working on solutions for this.

On a personal level, one thing I’m gonna have to get used to is… well, one reason I was never a fan of video game emulators is because of something I call the “emulator look.” basically, an emulated NES game will show way more detail than you could ever see on a CRT, including things like screen borders… its hard to explain but if you’ve seen a real NES running on a CRT, then seen the same game on an emulator, you’ll know what I mean. I also sometimes see things like an effect that makes it look like still pixels are moving (the trees in the first level of Contra give me this a lot).

But I imagine most people won’t know what I mean, because on an HDTV all games have that “emulator look,” even legitimate ones.

Still… its better than not being able to play the games at all.

………

Speaking of things changing, I was thinking of selling a lot of my cartoon and anime DVDs to raise money. And a part of that is that… well, this is kinda shady, but I’ve gotten used to just making a digital backup of the disc and then only ever playing the digital back-up, never the real disc unless I’m just in the mood to do so or something comes up.

Other times, I’ve started to embrace “sailing the high seas” if you know what I mean. I’ve said in the past that sometimes a fan version is better than the official product. Dragon Ball is probably the best example–recently a group called iKaos has been doing their own master version, based on the Dragon Boxes but fixing flaws even those had (most notably the audio) and adding extras on top of that.

Which means I no longer see a reason to hold on to my Region 2 Japanese Dragon Boxes for Dragon Ball Z. Worse, they’re nowhere near as collectable as they once were and now sell for a pittance of what I paid for them.

Of course, after my recent experiences with ebay, I’m not sure I want to use that service for such expensive sets. If anyone sees this and knows a DBZ fan who would love to take them off my hands, have them contact me at edmonddantes224@gmail.com

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Welp, probably not using eBay again…

So recently, I needed some money. As a testing of the waters, I sold a broken Nintendo Switch on ebay.

And yes, the title of the listing and the description said it was broken, the phrase “for parts or repair” was explicitly used.

So it sells (for a decent price) and I get my money… but then yesterday (five days after the item is listed as delivered, by the by) the buyer suddenly files for a refund. His grounds?… basically that he found additional issues not mentioned in the description.

I’m wondering if I should just report the buyer, because it really feels like an attempt to scam me–not only did the guy seem to wait way too long, he’s complaining about damage on an item already listed as broken, and his language in the message was hostile (accusing me of “scamming.”) It reads like he just wants something for free, or else like he got buyer’s remorse.

The problem is, apparently ebay usually sides with the buyer, no matter what.

The problem is I was gonna sell more things and build up more cash, but now I have nowhere to do it as far as I know. Specifically I was gonna get rid of some anime DVDs I’ve learned are high-ticket.

Maybe I should start ebegging. Last time I tried to create a paypal donate button, it wound up bugged, but my gmail address ( edmonddantes224@gmail.com ) should be linked to my paypal account a reader just wants to send money that way.

If you’re curious, the money is to finally move out of the country and into an apartment in the city.

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Lesson Learned: Don’t Talk about Lord of the Rings films on Reddit

Or, more accurately, “don’t talk about those films unless you wanna spend the next day reading the 300+ responses you got overnight.”

I don’t mind getting such a big turnout, it’s just… wow I didn’t expect people to care so much.

Referring to this, by the way:

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I miss the 1990s

It’s weird to say that. There was a time when I considered the 1990s a crap decade. I guess its similar to how Star Wars fans used to consider Return of the Jedi the worst Star Wars movie before the Prequels existed (and I guess people just wanna forget the Ewoks movies?)

That said, I do stand by that while the 1990s started out good, it started to suck near the end, when good cartoons gave way to garbage “idiot humor” stuff and video games were becoming obsessed with 3D at a time where nobody really had the third dimension figured out.

But what I really miss is parts of the culture, both at large… and on a personal level.

Me and my friends used to role-play, but without realizing that’s what it was–we just called it “telling interactive stories” (at the time, we had never cracked open a rulebook). And it feels like we were more imaginative back then. I tried to do the same thing with my niece but I just keep running dry.

The 1990s was also when all my horizons were expanding. I recall going from RPGs (the console type) to anime to reading real books (Sherlock Holmes and Lord of the Rings were my starters) to looking into TV shows like Battlestar Galactica (the original–the remake didn’t exist yet) and Star Trek. All sorts of spheres of influence were coming to me.

By contrast, nowadays seem kinda dull. It says a lot that the thing about the 201X’s I’m nostalgic for is youtube videos by creators who retired.

Sigh.

So I’ve been indulging some 1990s stuff. Like I’ve been watching The Slayers, Mighty Max, Captain Planet, and Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates again. It’s a crime against humanity that two of those shows can only be experienced via copies made from some guy’s old recordings. I’m not sure what the deal with Mighty Max is, but apparently Peter Pan is in some sort of legal limbo.

And watching 1990s stuff is weird in that it gives me a sense of melancholy, but it also has helped creatively inspire me.

Speaking of Slayers, a company called J-Novel Club is issuing new translations of the main 15 novels in the series (yeah, the Slayers anime was based on a line of novels, if you didn’t know). Back in 2008, Tokyopop managed to translate eight of them (I only ever got to read like four of them). I also found a fan translation of the first book in Hajime Kanzaka’s other series, Lost Universe, although I didn’t like that as much. To be honest I’m not as big a fan of Lost Universe so far… but I think I may just in general prefer fantasy over sci-fi, remembering how I also preferred Warcraft II over Starcraft. Sci-Fi just seems to always be less interesting to me.

Anyway, that’s my ramble.

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Curious About One Thing…

So my Osamu Tezuka addiction continues, and I had actually thought of doing a longer post (and drafted one but its on another PC) but for now…

So…. I saw this one called Marine Express.

It is the best thing ever. Actually though I wonder if people who aren’t familiar with Tezuka’s stable of “animated actors” would like it as much.

Time to find out: https://nyaa.si/view/989846

If you watch it, comment on this entry!

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Osamu Tezuka’s Ayako and TV Tropes

This was originally part of a different blog post, but it ran long and I kinda felt like it deserved to stand on its own.

I’ve recently been reading a lot of manga by god-author Osamu Tezuka, and came across what I must consider his most “must-read” works: Ayako and Message to Adolf. Fair warning though… they are not for the faint of heart, and you might find yourself desperate for an episode of Care Bears when you’re done.

I’m not gonna review those books, because I don’t think I can. When communicating, you have to consider not only what you say but what the other person is gonna hear, and in this case I feel like any description I give of those two works will totally give off the wrong idea.

……………………………….

Speaking of the wrong idea….

Right after reading Ayako, one thing I did was went to see if it had a TV Tropes page. (As of this writing I have not looked at the page for Message to Adolf, if they even have one. Unfortunately they did not have a page for Wonder Three.)

No, this isn’t gonna be a Tropes-bashing entry. I’ve long since mellowed out on my hatred of TV Tropes, although I do still insist it not be taken seriously as analysis, and it was looking at the Ayako page that helped me put a finger on why that is.

Now, to be honest, TV Tropes can sometimes actually be informative. In Ayako’s case, the page explained some of the historical and real-world context of themes brought up in the story, and also informed me that the ending of the graphic novel was actually a Tezuka revision–apparently the original magazine serial had a slightly different ending (just reading about it, I think Tez was right to revise it for the graphic novel).

But for the most part, the Tropes page demonstrates exactly what I said earlier: the damning effects of choosing the wrong word or terminology, and how a description can give entirely the wrong idea.

Let me put it like this: Imagine I write a novel, and my novel is about a dude who takes it upon himself to help the poor and downtrodden against rich oppressor types. Now imagine that when telling people about my novel, I claim the main character is a “social justice warrior.” It doesn’t matter if I sit there and explain that the word can mean things besides Twitter Liberals, the fact is that phrase has a stigma and I’ve just associated my work with that stigma, and now everyone has the wrong idea.

Again, you have to consider what the audience is gonna hear.

I’m saying this cuz see, a lot of the Tropes listed for Ayako are… they’ve got that exact sort of “its true from a certain interpretation that has to be explained” kind of way.

For example, one character is listed as an “Innocent Fanservice Girl.” The sticking point is that compound word “fan service.” Implying that the more lewd sections were meant to be sexually gratifying for male readers… a notion that, in context, I think even Ayako the book’s own Tenge family would consider a f—ed up interpretation.

But I don’t think the Troper in question really spanked to this. Rather, I think they were limited by the nature of Troping: you have to work with a pre-existing list (there’s a lot of bureaucracy involved with introducing new terminology to the wiki), which often means having to find the word that is the closest fit. In other words, yeah the chosen term is wrong, but nothing else even comes close.

This is why Troping is useless as an analytical tool: it forces you to work from the wrong end of the telescope, and see works as coming from tropes, as opposed to tropes coming from works. It forces you to see the child as giving birth to the parent, when everyone knows that’s wrong.

Now, there was one Trope I saw listed that I felt was just outright wrong, and was clearly the Troper having a strange interpretation of a sequence: that trope was “Black Comedy Rape.”

Full stop: No. Just no. Nothing in Ayako is “comedy”–black or otherwise–and I’m willing to bet Tezuka intended for the scene in question to be horrific, rather than funny.

That one is an outlier though. Like I said, a lot of the tropes listed are “technically correct, depending on how you define it” sorts of deals.

………………………………….

Sigh…

So, I thought about talking a bit about the Tezuka manga I read afterwards, one called Message to Adolf…. but that threatens to make this entry run a little long, so I’ll save it. I need to gather my thoughts anyway.

Once again, definitely read Ayako if you can (and also Message to Adolf)…. but make sure to have some Care Bears episodes handy, because you WILL need a palate cleanser.

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Populous – Levelling Terrain: the Game

So recently, thanks to a multicart, I wound up playing the Sega Genesis version of Populous. This is a game I hadn’t exactly sought out, due to friends telling me it makes no sense without the manual…. though the Ancient DOS Games review helped demystify it enough for me to understand it.

I’m not sure how exact the Genesis port is (tho the original PC is on sale on GOG as of this writing, so I’m gonna find out tonight), but one thing I’m confident about is that the PC probably performed better… I’ve noticed there’s sometimes a bit of lag and missed inputs on Sega’s little black box.

Here’s the thing though….. Populous isn’t that complicated.

Not kidding. Basically, it feels like all you do is make sure the terrain is even so that your dudes (who you can basically not even directly control) build settlements and multiply like rabbits…. get enough of them and you can trigger Armaggeddon, which in my ten hours of play was usually the “win” button. I’m not sure if Populous even has an ending.

I mean yes, there are other things you can do, miracles and ways to mess with enemy followers, but its not exactly direct. It’s a contradiction I notice in games often: Supposedly omniscient figures basically can’t really do anything, and yet we always think of gods as directly controlling our lives.

It’s a weird experience though. Populous is somewhat relaxing to play…. but there’s a fine line between “relaxing” and “boring.” Just enough is going on that I feel involved, but I do wish I could do more.

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When a Bunny Loves a Human Boy (Wonder 3)

So, this morning I checked in on the work of Osamu Tezuka.

Tez is interesting. I feel like more people know his reputation than have ever read his work, and I think actually reading his work would take most people by surprise. In my circle of friends, the Tez work people are most likely to have experienced is Unico…. because I showed it to them.

Part of that tends to be the covers, actually… people tend to see these images of cutesy kids or animals and assume he wrote children’s fare. This is where the deception comes in, because its a rare day when a Tezuka work is 100% happy and whimsical.

I mean, the first chapter of the Unico manga has an indian tribe getting savagely beaten and two lovers dying in each others arms. This being the manga with the cute baby unicorn on the cover.

Or take Astro Boy, the cute little boy robot superhero…. whose origin story involves child abuse and time as basically a slave.

So this morning, I sat down and read the omnibus of Wonder 3, which came up to around 672 pages. Before, I had seen some episodes of the anime, fansubbed by a group called TSHS (The Skaro Hunting Society, which allows me to joke that it was subbed by Daleks).

Both versions have a similar setup: Aliens are aware of Earth and humanity’s reputation for violence, and they want to do something about it. They send three scouts to Earth to evaluate humanity for a year. If humanity is beyond saving, they’re to destroy the planet, but if there’s hope, then they’re to help humanity’s advancement.

I should note that Earth is just like it was in the 1960s, and NOT implied to have space travel or any contact with aliens or anything like that. So basically, these jerk aliens are coming in and passing judgment on a foreign culture that isn’t even capable of bothering them unless they choose to see us. What is this, Planet America?

The three scouts sent are called the Wonder 3, and they arrive, and choose to blend in by taking the form of Earth animals: Bokko becomes a bunny, Pukko becomes a duck, and Nokko becomes a horse. I often get confused as to who is who so I tend to just call them “the bunny” or “the duck.”

They befriend a boy named Shinichi Kudo… err, Shinichi Hoshi (who is definitely NOT a detective), who has an older brother who is actually a spy for a peace-keeping organization called Phoenix.

This is where the two versions diverge heavily. For one thing, Shinichi seems to have a completely different personality in the anime–a more typical, positive role-model type, whereas he’s a kid with issues and a quick temper in the manga… not quite a “jerk with a heart of gold,” but more that he’s aware of the blatant immorality in the world and can’t think of any other way to fight it except with his fist. In true Tezuka fashion he often beats up people who should be way stronger than him.

For another, in the anime I found the “older brother Secret Agent Not-Dick Tracy” thing felt kind of shoehorned in. It’s literally like it becomes a completely different show. Now, at first the manga gives me a similar feeling–the Wonder Three basically disappear from the plot for long stretches–but in this case, the two plotlines end up converging near the end, so it definitely feels more justified in the manga.

One thing about the anime though… Most Competent Duck in the Universe. In the anime, the duck is definitely my favorite. He’s basically the Rocket Raccoon of the story, the one who is always the naysayer but winds up coming through when it counts…. and also, from what I saw, basically the one who solves every problem. The manga is different here though as there’s more equal weight-pulling.

It’s storming right now and I keep wondering what to type next, so I’ll end on this:

The volume I read had an afterword by Osamu Tezuka where he talked about what went into the making of Wonder 3, which apparently the anime and manga were in production at the same time (and Tezuka seems to think, in his words, “the anime was half-assed.”) Apparently they had problems with industrial espionage, as after doing preliminary design work they suddenly got word that a different anime studio was going to do a suspiciously similar anime about a boy and a squirrel who was actually an alien (this wound up being Space Boy Soran).

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Switching it Up

So I did something I never thought I’d do.

I decided to try out the Switch Online Account thingy… the one that lets you play the classic NES and SNES games.

See, right now my life kinda sucks. My water sprung a leak and had to be shut off. People are working on it, but there’ve been innumerable delays and honestly, at this point I think I’m more likely to just move out than to ever get the place fixed. I’m leaving out a lot of details, because honestly I don’t like foisting my issues on the internet.

In the meantime, since I absolutely can not live without water, I’ve been staying with my parents, but I hate it. Their house is small, with only one bedroom and one bathroom. For awhile I was boarding with my sister, but she’s stressed because of her kids going back to school…

The big problem though is just, I hate being uprooted like this. It’s like my life and interests and artistic inclinations were just starting to work out, and then wham, this goes and happens.

BUT BACK TO THE FUN STUFF.

So the Switch has continued to be the most worthwhile modern console, although ironically I’ve used it more as an officially-endorsed emulation box more than anything. Lately I got into Puyo Puyo Tetris, but that (and even Puyo or Tetris games by themselves) are reaching that point where they make me nauseous just looking at them, no matter how much fun I’m having.

I’ve actually had the desire to go back to my classic consoles for a bit, but well… they’re at my regular house. So yeah.

Now as it happens, while I was at my Sister’s I tried out a seven-day trial of the Switch Online service in order to enable a three-player round of Minecraft with her kids… which admittedly wasn’t much better than when I play solo, made a bit worse by that her youngest is one of those who likes to just set things on fire, while I more like to actually build stuff.

Since I had this trial I figured I’d also try out that Tetris 99 thing, as well as online Puyo (I went and bought Puyo Champions in addition to Puyo Tetris).

By the way, apparently there’s a Puyo Tetris 2 coming out later this year or sometime next year in Japan. I hope it gets an English release, because I love these anorexic nutballs. Seriously the cast of Puyo is almost as insane as the cast of Ranma, I love it!

I’m also actually liking Tetris 99, and honestly its made me want to learn modern Tetris and get better at things like T-Spins. My big problem is I have an issue of tunnel-visioning on certain plays and strategies and can’t handle it well whenever something goes wrong… sort of like how I’m not handling this whole water situation well in real life.

So yeah, since the seven-day trial is up and I’m still not back home, I decided four bucks for an additional month (I have auto-renew turned off) wasn’t a bad bargain, and since I have it for a month, I might as well check out the classic NES and SNES games.

For what its worth, I understand people who hate the “rental” nature of those services and would rather just own the games permanently. In fact, to a large extent I even agree with them. I mean, not everyone is a nutball like me who actually keeps an old SNES or NES around and could simply buy the actual games (although as Jim Sterling once pointed out, you could get the same basic thing from just downloading an emulator and some roms).

That said, right now I’m actually kinda thankful for how Nintendo is working this. Mostly because Switch Online was a service I tried out for unrelated reasons and I’m seeing the NES and SNES games as basically a bonus, not the main feature. Also, none of these games are exclusive to the service–they all exist in physical form, so I can always hunt down a cartridge if I wind up really liking Operation Logic Bomb. In fact a lot of these are actually games I own already, though not always in this exact form (I have the Genesis version of The Immortal rather than the NES version).

But honestly, what I like about this “rental” system is it doesn’t force the games to compete against each other. Like, as it is, if I wanna jump from Super Mario Kart to Mighty Bomb Jack, I can do it, free of charge (beyond the Service’s monthly fee). If I had to choose one or the other, I would very likely have chosen neither, and just went on having little beyond Tetris and a bunch of fifty-cent shovelware games that I’ve already forgotten about.

But all that said, this is just “how the service has worked out for me, right at this moment.” It’s not a defense and honestly, I do think some sort of permanent ownership of games should’ve been an option (beyond what Nintendo probably wants you to do, IE just buy used copies on ebay).

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Because Card Games Are the Best Way to Fix the Future

So I haven’t blogged in awhile. Truth is, lately I just don’t care. The older I get, the more I feel like nothing really matters. I’m on a planet full of stupid monkeys who are increasingly driven to stupidity because they want to pretend they actually matter, when in fact they’ll be forgotten in less than ten years. You know who I mean.

But in the meantime, I figured I should at least say something while I’ve got nothing better to do. I know, how about talking about a silly anime film I just watched?

While I’m kind of an on-again off-again Yu-Gi-Oh fan (predominantly of a “I enjoy the show but refuse to touch the card game” mindset) for some reason it wasn’t until last night I decided to watch the 10th Anniversary Movie “Super Fusion! Bonds Beyond Time.”

The big thing about this movie is its a crossover: Yusei Fudo from Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds travels back in time to meet both Judai Yuki (Yu-Gi-Oh GX) AND Yugi Mutou from the original series…. still apparently with split personality, I guess. I thought that got cured?

Anyway, the reason for the time travel is Paradox. No, not a time paradox–this isn’t Naked Snake–but a bad guy NAMED Paradox, who apparently comes from a bad future and, instead of just finding the seven time stones, instead feels he needs to murder classic series character Pegasus J. Crawford, which will somehow kill the Duel Monsters card game and save the future.

Which makes me wonder if Paradox’s future still happened in the manga, because spoilers for those not in the know… in the manga version of Duelist Kingdom, Pegasus dies. Yami Bakura kills him. And yet the card game continues, so I have to ask…

Actually, its amazing I can even come up with something to say here, because my initial impression of the movie was it was a bit disappointing, because basically not much happens. Yu-Gi-Oh movies seem to always have this issue that they’re ultimately all about a card game… a fact I’m sure surprises nobody and yet I keep getting blindsided by it. Seriously, the Toei movie came down to Yugi dueling Kaiba, the Pyramid of Light movie was basically Yugi playing cards against some spirit while other stuff happened in his brain….

Also, I would recommend going in as a fan of Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds, because Judai and Yugi are more or less just cameos… the story is unambiguously Yusei’s, with him having a bit of an arc and the most personal motive, and a lot of his supporting cast is featured while everyone else’s is kinda glanced over.

But yeah, ultimately the three heroes unite and decide to play a 3-vs-1 game against Paradox, and its fun, though it falls into the “I have bullshit overpowered cards!” trap a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh duels do, which I think is one reason that franchise’s appeal is limited compared to other anime and manga–standard martial arts actually have a logical flow, but card battles are just “the writer makes crap up.”

But that’s kinda also always been the fun of this franchise, hasn’t it? How incredibly silly it is? And as a nerd I kinda appreciate the gimmick of a world where everyone plays by game rules and they literally matter, sorta similar to the Andre Norton novel Quag Keep. I’m surprised more nerds don’t appreciate the philosophy at play here.

Anyway, I’d recommend the movie, but only if you can see it for cheap.

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