Category Archives: Misc. Items

Blog posts on various interests.

The Joys of Editing

As you all know from my About Me section, you know that I help a Malaysian girl, Krystle Kuan, with comics she’s worked on for several years. They include Transformers and her original work, Wolf Brothers. What you may not know is that I’m not paid for the work I do, which is edit her scripts into proper English (and dealing with the fact that Asian countries write in Queen’s English instead of American XD). I do, however, have some form of payment in the fact that I get my name on the finished product as well as the product itself for free. Krys and I are currently working on a sequel, simply titled Wolf Brothers 2. It’s going follow the Wolf Brothers, half-wolves and twins Carlos and Travis, on their next adventure and joining them is their cousin, Fred. I don’t know too much about the story just yet, only that Fred will be trained by his cousins to be a better fighter. He lost his father at a young age and his mother recently passed away so Fred is going to be living with his cousins and their parents.

Wolf Brothers 2 is the second of a planned trilogy. The first Wolf Brothers manga was the twins traveling to another village on a mission to find missing children in place of their father, a wolf beast named Khoval. At the village, the brothers are aided in their mission by a girl named Clara who prayed to Khoval (who has clairvoyance) to come help them. Clara eventually ends up as Travis’s girlfriend. Fred already has a girlfriend, a human girl named Mina who appeared in the offshoot GiD manga, Wolf Rookie: Be My Pet.

Wolf Brothers 3 is a project I can’t wait to work on. Carlos, the elder twin, doesn’t have a girlfriend but Krys and I are going to really pool our talents together and make a story of how he meets my character, a wolf girl named Raine. She’s actually a re-purposed, renamed incarnation of a wolf I roleplay on the Blackblood Alliance wolf forum named Starfire. This whole idea of Carlos meeting Starfire/Raine began with a contest Krys ran on DeviantART and in which I placed third. I started thinking what if we could expand on my entry and make it a main series story like WB and WB2? After all, Carlos is the biggest hit of the three guys with the fangirls and yet, he doesn’t have an in-story girlfriend. Well, that was a year or so back but once work began on WB2, I brought the idea up to Krys again and she’s all for it.

At this point, we’re going to continue work on WB2 but I already am starting to develop Raine’s character and I have a bio started on her character. Like Carlos and Fred, Raine has wolf ears and a tail. However, while Carlos and Fred have normal colored hair (brown and black respectively), Raine’s is white. Everything about her is white, except her belt which is black, and her wolf form has patches of silver. Her eyes are also an unusual color; gold. Unlike Clara and Mina, Raine also wears her hair short.

I was thinking about the guys and their girlfriends (future GF in Carlos’ case) and they’re pretty balanced out in terms of appearance. While Carlos and Travis are identical twins in the face, Travis looks pure human. Carlos has the ears and tail, as written above. Fred has the same traits as him and he’s also half and half. The girls, however are the opposite. Travis and Fred’s GFs are both human while Raine’s a wolf-girl.  It basically boils down to three humans and three wolf-like people. Travis may be part-wolf but he has no obvious wolfish traits like his twin, aside from the ability to transform into one. I like how that all works out, especially in their relationships. You have the human Travis and Clara, the half-wolf Fred and human Mina, and the half-wolves Carlos and Raine. I should suggest to Krys that she draw the guys and their girlfriends in one picture so we can see them all together.

I love working with Krys. I take pride in my half of the work and at least neither of us has to rush. It takes me awhile to get in gear and edit any pages that need it because it takes awhile for them to get to me. Both of us work real jobs, her for an animation company and me subbing in school cafeterias. All in all, the work we do on these projects is worth it all the time. I may not be paid for it but just seeing my name on the cover and holding the book in my hands is worth everything.

Tale of Two Brothers/Character Study (DQ8)

I’m revisiting a game I’ve loved for a number of years now. It’s a Playstation 2 title called Dragon Quest VIII. I have several favorite characters from the game but I would like to talk about one of my favorites and his brother. My absolute favorite is Marcello, Captain of the Templars and one of the major antagonists. His brother is Angelo, one of the party members. Angelo is Marcello’s half-brother, sharing their father but with different mothers. Marcello, the elder, is the illegitimate son of a noble and a household maid while Angelo, the younger, is the noble’s son by his wife. I’m not going to go into huge detail about their role in the game but I’ll touch on it when detail is needed.

Let me give a little more background on Marcello.  His father’s wife was having difficulty bearing a child so his father had an affair with a maid, leading to Marcello’s birth. He was to be the heir but things went downhill quickly when his father’s wife finally gave him a son, Angelo, when Marcello was a boy. He and his mother were thrown from the household with nothing to their names. His mother soon died and Marcello was taken in at Maella Abbey by the Abbot of the time, Francisco. Abbot Francisco helped raise the boy who was a very good student and became a Templar Knight. He lived a good life at the Abbey but his hatred for his father and his half-brother didn’t subside. Abbot Francisco was the only one keeping him in check until his death at the hands of the main antagonist (at the time), Dhoulmagus.

Marcello was an ambitious man and he made it his private mission to stick it to the nobility. Apparently, his common blood makes him somewhat of a black sheep in the game’s religion. I came to the conclusion that the Templars, at least, were mostly nobles in blood, if not the entire church heirarchy. High Priest Rolo mentions at the Holy Isle of Neos that Marcello never would’ve become Abbot at his age without his recommendation. He even made mention of Marcello’s common blood. The Captain wasn’t about stop his rise to the top with merely the title of Abbot. He was soon promoted to the Lord High Priest’s (think the Pope) guards as Commander.

After certain events, Marcello was able to frame High Priest Rolo for a crime he wasn’t responsible for; the death of the Lord High Priest. The whole point was for him to get Rolo out of the way, leaving him the only qualified individual in the church to take over. He immediately took the chance to force change on the world, wanting to do away with the nobility by proving that one could climb the social ladder without money or connections and on the sole virtue of merit. The party stops Marcello at his ascension ceremony which sets into motion the last bit of the game; going after the final boss and true antagonist.

Switching gears over to Angelo, this Templar was always getting into trouble. Angelo really stood out in the order. His uniform was red  (all other Templars wore blue), he was a gambler, skirtchaser, all around pretty boy with a rebellious streak a mile long. Angelo’s parents died in a plague that swept through his hometown and he ended up at the abbey at around nine years old. The first person he spoke to was none other than Marcello, his elder brother. Angelo didn’t know it at the time but even after learning the truth, his path went in the opposite direction. He wasn’t nearly as dedicated to the Order as Marcello was but I think the entire reason Angelo acted out so much was because deep down, he wanted his older brother to acknowledge his existence. I think deep down, Angelo just wanted Marcello’s approval but when it became apparent that wasn’t going to happen, Angelo just started rebelling like it was going out of style. That is one way I think the two are similar because I think the reason behind Marcello’s schemes was because he was to trying to legitimize his own existence.

Marcello wasn’t without his good points. He was shown to be capable of great kindness. Like I wrote above, Marcello was the first person Angelo spoke to when he came to the abbey. Marcello didn’t know his name at the time and wanted to give him a hand because their situations were virtually the same. It wasn’t until he asked Angelo’s name that things did a complete 180 and he took on the cold personality we first meet him with.  After Abbot Francisco’s murder, of which Marcello had accused the party of attempting before learning the truth behind Dhoulmagus, the Captain was humble enough to apologize for the misunderstanding and he’s the one who gives you the World Map. Nevertheless, he practically kicks Angelo out of the abbey, under the pretense of Angelo helping the party track down Dhoulmagus for the murder of the Abbot. Angelo saw through that but he welcomed the chance to escape the abbey at last. He never felt at home much there so it was no big deal that Marcello was throwing him out.

I once saw Marcello summarized thus: in a different world at a different time, he would’ve been a hero. His ambition and desire to tear down his world’s social conventions for the good of the common man seem almost democratic. He just went about it all the wrong ways. It was he that ended the Lord High Priest’s life and he tried to take over the church so he  could possibly start an uprising against the nobility. Whatever noble desires he had as a younger man, I think he was twisted when he was blinded by ambition and hate for the noble class because of his misfortune. Another one of Marcello’s strong points is the fact that he resisted, and even subdued, the true antagonist’s influence. Dhoulmagus and two other bearers of a scepter containing the spirit of the main antagonist were mere puppets with no will of their own. The scepter had passed to Marcello after certain events and the main antagonist tried to take over his body. Marcello possesses a strong will which beat back the influence and allowed him to remain in control. That control was only broken when the party defeats him at Neos, turning him into the fourth and final puppet that led to the main antagonist getting his body back.

A major flaw to the Captain’s character is the fact that everything that happened because of him, he tried to pin the blame on someone else.  When his plans fell apart after Neos, he tried to kill himself by falling to his death. Angelo, who I think had a change of heart between the party’s arrest and their victory over Marcello in battle, was able to save him. Angelo told his brother off, saying he would keep living knowing that the brother he hated his entire life took pity on him. Marcello disappeared afterward, giving his Captain’s Ring and a threat to Angelo. He’s never seen again in the game after that.

Marcello joins the ranks of personal favorites, Sephiroth and Sesshomaru. They all have similar flaws that make me fall in love with their characters. All qualify as jerks in some form or another and I seem to like jerky characters like them. Sephiroth, Sesshomaru, and Marcello definitely have shown they had kindness or compassion at some point in their lives. Sephiroth and Marcello showed such kindness or compassion when they were young men, with Sephiroth going nuts after learning half-truths about his origins when he was 25 and Marcello growing ambitious to the point of being just a couple steps short of being truly evil over the course of his life. Sesshomaru is the opposite. He starts off as a major jerk to his own half-brother, Inu-Yasha and slowly learns compassion over the course of the Inu-Yasha series. Sesshomaru’s first act of compassion was bringing a child named Rin back to life after she was killed bu wolves and it culminated to the point where he mastered a sword technique that was meant to be given to Inu-Yasha afterward. Sesshomaru, in his own way, was able to help his brother achieve mastery of his blade. He stopped being an antagonist some time before then, showing up to fight Inu-Yasha once in a while, but I think his desire to kill him died out somewhere along the way.

I love wonderfully flawed characters like Marcello. He was a very engaging character to me the very first time I set foot in Maella Abbey and came face to face with him. Having Dragon Quest VIII localized in and the voice actors from the UK was a bonus. Hope you enjoyed my little character study.

FF7 Love Triangle Debate

Please think about the following post if you’re a fan of FF7 and either of the two ships in the TxCxA Love Triangle. I’ll even bake a cake for you if you do. Let’s get started.

It’s recently come to my attention that other people were duped, as I was, by Lifestream.net’s false claims that Square said that CloudxTifa (known as Cloti) was the canon pairing based on inconsequential events in the game. Such events are ambiguous at best and all scenes between Cloud and Tifa or Cloud and Aerith can be interpreted either romantically or just as friends. There is a trope for this sort of thing. It’s called Shrug of God. Square has neither confirmed nor denied Cloti or Clerith (CloudxAerith) as canon. Their stance has been, since the game’s release nearly fifteen years ago, that it’s up to player interpretation. Therefore both Clotis and Cleriths are neither wrong nor right in their ship.

I personally am a Clerith shipper. There was something about Cloud’s interaction with Aerith that nailed me hard. That said, I’m a Clerith fan who adores Tifa as well. I named my cat after her. The thing I hate most in the shipping war are fans on both sides who have it in their head canons that the two girls hated each other. It proves they weren’t paying attention. I should tell you that FF7 was a test in paying attention to detail. Anyone can play the game and see no evidence of animosity between them where Cloud was concerned. Anyone who plays through the game and is still convinced of that fails the test.

Another thing I hate is people claiming either girl is a horrible person. I had to correct someone’s image of Tifa on dA because she associated her with the wrong image, based on clothing and misinterpreting her personality. It was on a journal entry I wrote when I duped into thinking Square torpedoed my ship by declaring Cloti as canon so no one can accuse me of starting a fight on someone’s deviation. When I say correct, I mean my Berserk Button was pushed and I read her the riot act of how wrong she was. Fortunately, we were able to resolve the issue when I explained to her who Tifa really was. I have yet to come across anyone badmouthing Aerith.

Now, the Shrug of God business. As long as Square doesn’t meddle in the fans’ shipping choice in a game where it was always ambiguous, I think we can all agree that neither pairing is canon and that the war is rather pointless. Clotis and Cleriths are neither wrong nor right. But Jana, it’s so obvious Cloud loves Aerith. Is it? Cloud’s actions can be interpreted anyway you want. Shrug of God dictates it is what you personally make of it. But Aerith’s death practically makes Clerith impossible. True from a certain point of view. Aerith’s death torpedoes the ship pretty well but there’s also the fact that just because someone dies doesn’t mean you stop being in love with them. Therefore, I only call it partially sunk. Word of God would be the only the thing that would sink it completely. Aerith being Doomed By Canon means nothing in how a Clerith interprets the interaction between our beloved flower girl and Cloud.

Tifa was a good friend to Cloud and Aerith and I don’t deny she also had feelings for him. But I also know that when they were kids growing up in Nibelheim, Cloud was antisocial and Tifa didn’t really pay attention to him until he left home to join SOLIDER. As the two girls were always interacting with each other whenever the party split up, it’s canon that they were friends, best friends even. In the end, it was Tifa who helped Cloud put his mind back together. It’s easy to influence the outcome of the dating subplot but again, it’s all up to fan interpretation. Even the Dating Scenario is pretty ambiguous and doesn’t prove anything at all. Friends of the opposite gender can do the same thing.

Here’s my humble opinion: if it had ever come down to Cloud canonically choosing the girl he loves without a doubt, I know the girl who lost out would be take the loss gracefully and step back, happy for her best friend. I know both Tifa and Aerith well enough to know that they would be willing to sacrifice their own happiness for each other if it came down to Cloud choosing between them. They both come off as selfless to me and that is something more people in the shipping war need to realize. They both have their strengths and their weaknesses. We should embrace them as they are and embrace the triangle the way it was meant to be portrayed: completely ambiguous and encouraged by its Shrug of God status. Cloud opened up to both of them in different ways and it’s plain that deep down, he cares about them both.

BTW: about the precursor at the top. The cake is a lie. GLaDOS has invaded my head and I wrote this whole thing with her voice in mind. It probably helped with my neutral standpoint on the subject.

The Loss of Pets

Recently, a lady at my church had to have her cat put down because health problems came up that weren’t going to go away. That got me thinking about the pets I’ve had over the course of my life. We’ve had a dog, two rabbits, fish, several gerbils, and birds. Sasha was the family dog. She was one of the most important members of the family, in my eyes at least. My brother and a friend found her as a puppy wandering around East Toledo were we used to live. The friend’s family took her in but after a couple of months, the dad lost his job and Sasha came to live with us. She stayed in our family for about fourteen years until declining health meant it was time to ease her suffering. She had arthritis in her hind leg and a split-level house like mine is no place for a dog with that issue. Nothing but stairs. I don’t remember this part clearly but apparently Sasha’s hips also went. On a medium to large older dog, when the hips go, that’s the first sign that the dog has to be put down to prevent prolonged suffering. I miss Sasha something terrible and it’s been 12 years now.

My sister had two rabbits. One was a mini-lop named Damon. We got him when he was a year old. He developed a neurological disorder when he was five. He wasn’t responding to medication and we had no choice but to put him down on March 22 a couple years ago. That’s a significant date for Sis and I because that’s when our adoption was finalized. I remember crying the day before and the day of. Several months later, Sis got Momo, a black baby rabbit. For reasons we don’t know, she suddenly died not long after. Writing about them is bringing back the pain I felt at both their deaths. It’s hard. I hope everyday that I’ll have many years with my cat, Tifa, before I have to say good-bye. We got a new rabbit, Honey Bunny, just before Christmas and it seems she’s going live a long life.

My boyfriend’s had four dogs in his life. First, there was Spike, a bear of a dog and friendly. He, like Sasha, was put down due to old age. I was just starting to date Eric, my boyfriend, at that time so I didn’t have a close bond with Spike. A week later, Eric’s parents brought home Ace, a black lab pup. He’s hail and healthy. They then got Oscar, a Dachshund puppy, from his grandma, followed shortly by Oscar’s father, Sammy. Last summer, Oscar had a freak accident. He jumped off the arm of a Lazy-Boy and broke his back. If you know Dachshunds, you know that when they turn six months old, they develop degenerative disk disease. Oscar was two years old. Sammy’s still around. I envy Eric because for Spike and Oscar, he arranged to have them cremated and now their ashes are sitting on their mantle. I envy him because, in a way, he got his dogs back. All we have of Sasha is her collar. The rabbits are buried in the backyard.

Just this month, my best friend lost all her animals in one blow. Her kitchen caught fire and all the animals died from smoke inhalation. She had a pit bull, a cat, a ferret, a guinea pig, a rabbit, and a rat or two.I know her pain but not to that scope.

While this whole blog is rather depressing (I started crying at writing about the rabbits), I hold onto one hope and that’s the hope I’ll see my animals again when I get to Heaven. It’s comforting to think that maybe all the pets you’ve had over your lifetime are up there chilling with Jesus and they’re waiting for their humans to join them. The Bible is concerned with man’s salvation and place in this universe. It doesn’t tell us about what awaits our animals when they die. I think that’s a good thing. It allows, at the very least, a sense of peace and closure when a beloved pet passes away to think that they’re chilling with Jesus. I think that while God made humans the pinnacle of His creation and that Heaven is our real home, I think He also meant for animals to enjoy Heaven with us. Everything on this earth was crafted by God for God.

It’s nice to imagine that perhaps Jesus is playing fetch with Sasha, Spike, Oscar, and Bailey, my friend’s pit bull. Or that he’s sitting on his throne, stroking my friend’s cat, Minnow. Maybe even sitting in a green field caring for Damon and Momo. It’s comforting to know that there’s a possibility of us seeing our animals again when this life is over. Even if it turns out that it’s a meaningless hope in the end, we won’t know until we get there.  A human soul has to be redeemed but an animal’s spirit, even in a fallen world of animals preying on others, is faultless in the scheme of things. All the bad things of this life are all Man’s doing. The animals were given the tools to survive in this fallen world but they aren’t responsible.

I don’t know how many Christians who know me well share my thoughts on what I think happens to animals when they die but if nothing else, it’s a great comfort. The Bible neither confirms nor denies the possibility that animals go to Heaven like saved people do so we’re free to hope that we’ll see our pets again when our time comes. It’s better then to spending the rest of your life worrying about  it. All we can do now, for those of us who lost a pet or will inevitably lose a pet in the future, is keeping moving forward and keep our eyes on the prize: Heaven, and the possibility of seeing our furry/scaly/feathered friends again.

Nice Discussion Part 2: Final Fantasies VII and X

Part two of my on-going discussion with my correspondent.

My correspondent brought up the theory that Final Fantasy VII and X were connected somehow, mainly based on the the fact there’s an Al-Bhed character named Shinra who talked about using Spira’s lifeforce for energy and going to other worlds. The similarities to the Shin-Ra Electric Power Company and mako energy act as Red Herrings. It’s misleading to think that there’s a connection based on that alone.  I don’t buy it. Square also says it was a wild idea they had and shouldn’t be considered canon to either game. I just think it’s all shout-outs to VII which, love or hate it, is one the greatest games of all time. With all the variables and contradictions, I don’t see a connection plotwise that would indicate that that VII is a direct but distant continuation of X’s story. It wouldn’t be the first time Square reused a name. The character-named-Cid tradition’s been going on since VII and pre-VII games, barring at least FF4, had a Cid retroactively added in later re-releases.

I came across this before on FanFiction.net and someone there had wondered at a connection between Jenova (VII) and Sin (X). The answer is obviously no. Any gamer worth his/her researching salt would know that there are more differences between the two monsters than there are similarities. Jenova is a cosmic threat. A veritable virus that consumes the lifeforce of planets she crash lands on and then uses the newly-dead planet as means to travel the cosmos in search of another planet to consume. Sin, on the other hand, was a monster created by Yu Yevon during the Machina War between Old Zanarkand and Bevelle with instructions to protect Dream Zanarkand and destroy any city that grew too large or too reliant on technology. However, Yu Yevon was unable to control the beast. The process of summoning it destroyed his mind. Sin was left to follow its instincts alone and it indiscriminately destroyed anything in its path. I find Sin to be a pitiable creature, not knowing anything else by destruction.  It’s something only Kefka would love. Jenova, I have no such sympathy for.

Nice Discussion Part 1: Ganondorf and Jenova

This post is born from a nice, fun discussion I’ve been having for the past four days with a deviant on DeviantART. We started it all off by talking about Samus Aran’s breakdown, due to PTSD, in Metroid: Other M when Ridley appeared and how we both agree it doesn’t make Samus any less of a badass then she always was. The talk just exploded from there into various topics. We’ve talked in depth about Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy VII as well as possible connections between FF7 and FF10. So, if you’ll excuse the overly long title, let’s begin.

Let’s start off with Ganondorf. My correspondent was under the impression that Ganon’s appearances in all the games he was in weren’t the same guy because he dies a lot. That, however, is not true. Word of God (that’s Nintendo, people) says that after Ganondorf received the Triforce of Power, it granted him near-immortality. Thus, he’s like a cockroach. No matter what you do to kill the guy, he keeps coming back. To fully understand how all this works, it’s best you look up the Hyrule Historia, Nintendo’s official answer the question concerning the time line the games are set in.

The Split Timeline Theory proposed by fans as far back as Ocarina of Time seems to be official. There are three arms in the split timeline. The games prior to the split are Skyward Sword, The Minish Cap, and Four Swords. They lead to Ocarina of Time. That’s where the split occurs. After Link is sent back to his own time after OoT, he came back with knowledge of what the future holds. He told Young Princess Zelda what would happen if he opens the Door of Time, thus creating the Child Era’s arm of the split timeline. Ganondorf was executed and when that failed, was sent straight to the Twilight Realm. The games in the Child Era are Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess, and Four Swords Adventures.

The future Link experienced as an adult didn’t disappear after he was sent back. The actions he did led to Ganon being sealed in the Sacred Realm. He managed to escape in that timeline and since a hero wasn’t there to stop him, the Adult Era led into Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks. The third arm of the timeline occurred in the event the Hero of Time failed in his mission, bringing about Hyrule’s decline. Those games are A Link To The Past,  the Oracle series, Link’s Awakening, the original LoZ game, and Zelda II. The Hero of Time’s battle with Ganon managed to split his existence in two.  Each of his existences differ slightly in personality but it’s still the same man regardless because he still retains the Triforce of Power and doesn’t stay dead in any of his defeats.

The only real hiccup in the Child Timeline is that the Scared Realm wasn’t opened after Link was sent back, so the Triforce of Power logically never came to Ganon. The only way I can reconcile that would be that one doesn’t have to touch the Triforce in order to receive it wholly or in part. Ganon’s desire for power may have been enough to reach the Triforce and split it in three parts, allowing him to obtain the Triforce of Power, avoid his execution, and get banished directly to the Twilight Realm. That sets up Twilight Princess’s story.

On the subject of Jenova, my correspondent came up with an explanation for Sephiroth’s madness that ruled out Jenova’s influence, mainly saying she was a corpse. Sephiroth’s insanity was his own doing, obviously, but the bit about Jenova being dead is wrong. Jenova was never dead in the truest sense of the word after the Cetra sealed her. I liken her to a super virus with no cure. It’s basic biology that a dead body’s cells aren’t viable and possibly toxic to living cells. Also, a dead virus breaks down and leaves nothing behind. If Jenova was actually dead, SOLDIER was a bunch of glorified regular men. The Compilation itself wouldn’t have happened because, if it were possible to kill Jenova off for real, the Cetra would’ve done so, not merely seal her away. I do agree with my correspondent that Jenova had no direct influence on Sephiroth merely on the grounds that Sephiroth’s will was far stronger than hers. It was he who forced her body to take on his form while he rebuilt his actual body in the Northern Crater.

Part two is about our discussion about the theory that the Spirans of Final Fantasy X became of Cetra of Final Fantasy VII, based on various similarities to FF7 seen in X-2.

Gaming Nostalgia

So I was listening to the soundtrack for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time when I was bitten by the nostalgia bug. Ocarina of Time is one of my favorite games of all time and not because I played it myself. I was nine years old when it came out on the Nintendo 64 back in 1998 and I remember the fun I had watching my brother, Paul, play it through several times. I loved watching my brothers play games. I remember watching them play the original LoZ, Donkey Kong 64, Star Fox 64, OoT, and Super Metroid on the SNES. It never got old. I think it’s because of them I’m a gamer girl.

I think Star Fox 64 was the first game I played by myself and the first one I beat. Thinking about it now makes me feel proud. I wish I knew what happened to the cartridge because we did own it. It seems to be missing now. I really want to play it again but aside from it missing, our N64 is barely alive now. It’s hard to get it started anymore. There were so many fun games I loved to play on it. Pokemon Snap, Paper Mario, Mario Party, Super Mario 64. Since they re-released Star Fox 64 and Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 3DS, a big wish of mine would be for them to re-release the original 64 Paper Mario on some system. I want to be able to see if I can beat it. I never made it far in the original because we didn’t own it.

Super Metroid is another game I loved watching Paul play. After we sold our SNES, I had trouble recalling what the game was called through the years but I did have vague memories of the final boss, Mother Brain. When I was thinking about Mother Brain one day, I went on YouTube and searched for that fight. It’s funny how a boss that didn’t scare you as a kid ends up creeping you out later on. I think it’s because of the 14 year gap between I saw my brother play the game and when I found the fight on YT. The music probably didn’t help much. Same for Mother’s roar. I’m over now. Doesn’t creep me out as badly.

This brings me to Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. I remember very little of Final Fantasy VII when it came out in 1997. I remember people asking me if I had ever played it and I remember looking up Cloud and Sephiroth through the years but Final Fantasy never piqued my interest until 2007 when I saw Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children for the first time. That got both me and my sister interested in the series. I’ve since played through the original FF7, FF7: Crisis Core, and the DS version of FF4. The only game out of those I’ve beaten was Crisis Core. I’m not strong enough to face Sephiroth on the original VII because it’s so easy to get to that point and not have trained enough to outlast him when he goes One-Winged Angel on you (Safer Sephiroth). There’s also the fact that best Summon Materia in the game, Knights of the Round, is a total pain to get because you have to do the Chocobo breeding sidequest. you have to have a Black Chocobo just to reach the cave where Knights of the Round is. That takes time and I’m rather impatient. Maybe someday, I’ll do what I must to win.

FF4, I was doing well in until I made the mistake of going to the Tower of Babel when I wasn’t leveled up enough. The DS version makes it easy to advance in the game at lower levels than recommended. The Tower of Babel, however, you can’t leave once you enter. The enemies are strong there so I was stuck. Any attempt to fight just makes the party get hit hard and sometimes faint. I have yet to replay and stick with the game past that point. I know I made it to the Moon but that was prior to Babel, I think.

Kingdom Hearts was a game I saw a family friend play way back when. I’ve played through the first game up to the final boss. The only reason I haven’t been able to beat it is because the camera controls for that game is a pain in the rear. You had to use the shoulder buttons, instead of the analog stick. Kingdom Hearts 2 was much easier, thanks the camera being controlled via analog stick and the new Reaction Commands you were encouraged to use on a variety of tasks and enemies. I’ve beaten that game several times. Birth By Sleep was another entry I loved to play. I’ve beaten Terra and Aqua’s scenarios but Ventus’s is another pain. The final boss, Vanitas, is hard to fight because it’s not a typical battle. You have to do things in a certain way in order to beat him and I haven’t gotten the knack for it yet.

Dissidia Final Fantasy is the Super Smash Bros. of the Final Fantasy series. It’s a fighting game with RPG elements in it. The fights are in real time (or there’s an RPG option for those who prefer it). Both that and Crisis Core were the sole reasons I bought a PSP. Dissidia is the coolest thing to me because the first game had the heroes and villains from the original Final Fantasy all the way up to X (10) with secret characters from 11 and 12. The sequel, Duodecim, had six more characters from Final Fantasies 4, 7, 8, 10, 12, and 13, plus more two secret characters from 5 and 11.  To add another level of coolness, they also gave us a playable version of the game’s Big Bad, Chaos, in the form of Feral Chaos. Grand total of playable characters is 31.

Duodecim had a lot more to offer than the first game. It has a lot of new mechanics, like a world map, and the Assist Feature. The biggest thing, though, is that it also includes the entire first game’s story updated for the new mechanics. It’s like you’re getting two games for the price of one. When Duodecim was first announced, I was on fire for  it. When the NA release was announced, I was dancing in the street. Since getting the game, I’ve only played it and never went back to the original Dissidia. No more need to. I was excited when it was announced that my favorite character from FF4, Kain Highwind, was going to be in it. When I learned Liam O’Brien was reprising the role from the DS version, good gravy, it was like Christmas came early.

Dissidia was a good game for me because it introduced to me to other stories and characters pre- and post-VII. I feel more connected to characters in the other games in the series, probably more than Kingdom Hearts did. I was introduced to Squall Leonhart from 8 via the first KH game and KH2 introduced me to Vivi (9), Setzer (6), and Seifer, Fuujin, and Raijin (also from 8). The characters from VII, Aerith, Yuffie, Cid, Cloud, and Sephiroth, I’ve known a lot longer. Dissidia gave me the gist of each game’s story.

Right now, I’m trying my hand at LoZ: Twilight Princess. It’ll be the first Zelda game I’ve seriously played. Ocarina of Time I’ve dabbled in but always chickened out of upon reaching the second dungeon, Dodongo’s Cavern. As of this post, I have reached the final boss of the first dungeon in Twilight Princess. I have yet to fight the beast but hopefully, I’ll get up the nerve to fight.

As Time Moves On

Since 2011 is close to passing away and making way for 2012, I thought about writing a little piece. I have love/hate feelings for 2012. I like that it’s a new year and I can’t wait to see what God has for me in my future. I also have The Hobbit part 1 to look forward to on December 14, 2012. On the other hand, I have a year to listen to people saying the world as we know it is ending at the end of the year. I hate (not) to burst their bubble but the problems of this world won’t disappear on December 21, 2012. They’ll still be present and accounted for on December 22 and beyond. I don’t think it’s the end of an era either. The Era of Man’s Stupidity will last quite a while longer. Also, the world isn’t suddenly going to go apocalyptic on that date either. That can happen anytime between now and then. It’s according to GOD’S design. MAN is not meant to know when the world is ending in any way, shape, or form. It’s futile to predict the exact date. World events are starting to look a lot like the predictions of Revelations are starting to come to pass but we don’t know for sure. We Christians must remain vigilant and mindful.

That brings me down to the conspiracy theories and people who buy into them. Regardless of any grain of truth in them (not likely), I just can’t help but feel that people who buy into and promote conspiracy theories are just fear-mongering so they can stir up the masses. It’s like they don’t even care if they’re right or wrong as long as they can instill fear in someone else. This is how chaos starts. You instill fear in someone and it spreads like a virus unless someone who’s actually sane steps in to put those fears to rest. This is why, regardless of any grain of truth, I despise conspiracy theories. They make me question things and I start fearing the possibility of them being true. It’s not fair to people like me if you insist a theory is true. It’s called a theory for a reason: it may or may not be true. That’s the biggest beef I have with the theory of evolution, it being preached as truth when there’s no real truth/proof to support it. But that’s a whole can of worms so I’m not getting into it now. My stories slam it for me.

The thing I’m dreading the most about December 2012 is the possibility of mass suicides. You wouldn’t believe how many people have bought into that doomsday scenario hook, line, and sinker. Some people would be crazy enough to take their own lives. Kind of wasteful of them when the day after The End will be just like any other day. I say a prayer for those people for the future. They haven’t learned a thing since Harold Camping predicted The End at least three times and none of them came to pass. He just did it for the money. How un-Christianlike of him. It’s pitiful and pathetic.

Here’s my own prediction for December 21, 2012. The day will pass as normal. After all, the world was supposed to end five times in the last decade alone. Why should 2012 be different? We’ll wake up to an unchanged (or still existing) world on December 22, the 2012 believers will start feeling stupid at buying into hogwash (or they’ll start making excuses), and I’ll be counting down the days to Christmas and my 25th birthday in 2013. Hopefully, my fears of mass suicide will be wrong because I really think the suicide rate is going to spike a great deal as 2012 moves forward. People can be cowardly that way. They’d rather end it for themselves instead of waiting to see if it’s true or not.

I pray for humanity’s collective sanity because I think this year is going test our race like never before. People feared the Cold War because the possibility of Soviet Russia nuking us was very real. People fearing a date is pretty groundless. The Mayans didn’t even follow the Gregorian  solar calender. They may have gotten to the year 2012 but how the date became settled on December 21st is a mystery to me. It depends on if December as a month even existed back then but even if it did, the Mayans wouldn’t know that.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Personally, I’m just going to take one day at a time as I’ve always done. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Axis Powers Hetalia

Axis Powers Hetalia is a neat anime I’m into. It’s a comedy series based on a webcomic by Hidakaz Himaruya and stars the nations of the world personified as people. At first, the series takes place in World War II and follows the Axis characters, Germany, North Italy (South Italy is a whole other character), and Japan. It also follows the Allies, America, Britain, France, Russia, and China. Since then, the series has expanded into other historical events and introduced a plethora of characters, all countries of the world. As opposed to most mainstream anime, the episodes are five minutes long, likely because it was based on a webcomic. Also, it’s not for kids. Funimation gave the series overall a mature rating for the stereotypical jokes and overall weirdness when they dubbed it. There is some cussing in there from time to time but nothing totally horrendous. Nothing you haven’t heard at least once in a movie.

This series is a double-edged sword because it’s rife with national stereotypes and a lot of (fan-perceived) Ho Yay. I say fan-perceived because, hey, they’re nation-tans. Not real people. I may be a huge fangirl of Germany and America but I abhor Ho Yay and I only ship two couples in the whole series (both hetero). I would suggest you keep an open mind on the stereotypes and remember that it’s not meant to be taken seriously. For instance, America’s a loudmouth braggart who really wants to be the Hero. He likes to eat a lot of junk food and he thinks he’s better than everyone else. Surprisingly, I find that to be accurate. Other Americans may find the portrayal insulting. We as a nation are young compared to many other nations and we’re always poking our noses into other people’s business. America’s portrayed as a young upstart who wants to boss others around. Hilarity Ensues when you remember this is a light-hearted comedy. It’s okay to laugh at your nation.

The English dub was very well-done by the talent over at Funimation. They took another step and gave the characters their own accents (presumably stereotyped accents as perceived by Americans). Hetalia is the only anime I’ve seen in both English and the original Japanese. From the start, my favorite characters have been America, Canada, Germany, Austria, and Romano (South Italy). Let me tell you a bit about them.

I’ll do another spot on America later so let’s start off with Canada. Canada is a quiet guy…too quiet, really. He’s practically invisible but he’s a sweetie. He’s constantly getting knocked around by other nations who mistake him for America (which is a lot). Cuba is apparently a good friend of his but even he mistakes Canada for America most of the time. He talks quiet and yells quiet. I honestly don’t think he knows how to yell properly. He’s overshadowed a great deal by his brother, America, and other nations tend to forget who he is. As a matter of fact, so does his talking pet polar bear, Kumajiro. It’s a Running Gag.   In both the Japanese and English versions, the actor doing America does Canada as well. Eric Vale voices them in English and it’s so much fun when he invokes the trope Talking To Himself whenever Canada and America are interacting.

Germany is one of the tougher nations. His appearance brings to mind the kind of “race” his crazy WW2 boss was hoping to bring about, i.e. blond hair and blue eyes. I personally don’t think Germany agreed with his boss (indeed, most Germans didn’t like the Reich either) but he was just following orders and the series avoids the Holocaust like the plague. Germany is often very frustrated by Italy, a total ditz, but came to appreciate the fact that Italy was his first friend. He gets along well with Japan, who’s a well mannered Engrish speaking nation. He loves his beer. Germany’s one of the taller nations. I think he’s as tall as Russia. It’s pretty much agreed on in the fandom that he was the Holy Roman Empire in his childhood (if true, then he’s amnesiac) and he looks up to Italy’s grandpa, the Roman Empire.

Romano is also known as South Italy (named for Rome) and having two Italies references the years the two halves were divided. North Italy is known as Veneciano (named for Venice). Unlike his brother, Romano’s not really a ditz. He’s got something of a bad mouth in English but if you can laugh at that, he’s pretty hilarious. He hates Germany for being close friends with Veneciano. Thanks to the fact that he lived in Mr. Spain’s house when he was younger, Romano has a fondness for tomatos. He’s utterly terrified of France. Romano is thought to have an inferiority complex because he feels Roman Empire paid more attention to Veneciano and because Romano doesn’t have his artistic talents. But the things the Italy brothers have in common is that they’re weak and they both love pasta and women.

Austria (whom I affectionately call Mr. Austria) is a refined, piano-playing man. Like America and Canada, he wears glasses. He was once married to Hungary (a rare female personification) and they both serve as one of two couples I ship (the other being Switzerland x Liechtenstein). Mr. Austria is a beast on the piano, a well earned stereotype since many of the greatest composers of all time were Austrian. He lived in Germany’s house for a time and his marriage to Hungary was representative of an old alliance the real nations made and later dissolved. He used to be friends with Switzerland but things between them are passively hostile at best. In-series, he’s a bit of a cheapskate like Switzerland as both are a bit over the top in frugal-ness. His English voice I had to take time get used to because Chuck Huber didn’t do an Austrian accent that I’m used to (my basis being Arnold Schwarzenegger). But eventually, it grew on me.

America is my all time favorite. I loved my nation before this series but Hetalia made me love it even more. America is everything I stated above. As state in Austria’s spot, America wears glasses. They apparently represent Texas, which makes sense. During the Revolutionary War strips/episodes and other spots where he was a newly-discovered child, he didn’t have glasses.  Since the series started in WW2, it’s pretty much truth that America started wearing glasses after Texas became a state. Being represented by his glasses may even be a nod to the fact that Texas, being the largest state in the continental US, has it’s own power grid. If the power went down everywhere else, Texas would still shine. America also has what is called an idiot hair (it sticks up) that represents Nantucket, since it’s a hot spot for tourists. He hates ghosts but his best friend is an alien named Tony who crashed in Roswell. He’s pushy and egotistical but he has his periods of weakness and insight, like when he was considering Britain after the latter lost the Revolution.

All in all, I love this series. I can laugh at my own nation and generally, it’s a fun way to learn some history. It may not always be accurate but it’s well researched. The anime is currently at four seasons (Axis Powers and World Series) Funimation has done the two Axis Powers seasons already and will be releasing season 3 (which kicks off World Series) January of next year.

Christian Ideals in Kingdom Hearts

In the four or so years of my enduring interest in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, the central conflict between Light and Darkness has stuck out as being an actual reality. In Kingdom Hearts, light and darkness are present in every heart, save for the Princesses of Heart. Sometimes the Darkness is stronger than the Light and vice versa. That is true in the real world, as well. Also like in the game, we see what happens when people yield to their inner darkness. That is where all manner of crime comes from, from thievery to rape. Even little things like fibbing lead into something bigger and it eventually catches up to us. We’ve also seen how the light can shine through all kind of disasters when people respond to cry for help.

Characters in the game are aligned with either light or darkness. The worlds, too, unless they are in the Realm of In-Between, like Twilight Town. However, we of the real world are more like Riku. We are trapped between Light and Dark. We walk the same path he took in Chain of Memories, the Twilight Road. Christians like myself strive to walk on the Road to Dawn while everyone else is either knowingly or unknowingly walks the Road to Dusk. Depending on our day to day choices, we can be pushed onto either road. As a Christian, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only time we will walk the Way of Light is when we die and our souls enter Heaven. We’re not perfect and we also yield to the darkness in our hearts. Heaven is our Realm of Light which we should strive for. Naturally the Realm of Darkness is Hell or eternal separation from the Light. It mirrors how the Realms in the games are separated. The Path of Darkness is walked only by those who rejected Christ as the Light to their dying day. Until then, all of us walk the Road of Twilight to either Dawn or Dusk.

Mickey once said that the world is made of both light and darkness and that you can’t have one without the other. Both coexist in perfect balance in Riku who accepted his darkness. Christians should be like that, too. We should accept that we are not perfect and that there will be darkness in our hearts as well. I don’t think the darkness in our hearts is the true cause of evil since our darkness is only our faults as humans. It’s whether or not we choose to yield to it that it becomes a threat. Riku was able to use his inner darkness for a good cause in the second game. He had to use his darkness in order to defeat Roxas and help Sora wake up. He didn’t yield to it the way he did in the first game but channeled it in a way where he was able to keep Xehanort’s Heartless from taking over.

Riku also proved to me that running from the darkness is useless because of its nature as half of everything. Our imperfect light will not distance us from the darkness either, not on this plane of existence anyway. Heaven, to me, is the ultimate escape from the darkness that plagues the world. Christians should try to be the light of the world. I think by knowing about and accepting our own darkness, we can try to build our light up to be even stronger. Our humanness prevents us from ridding ourselves of darkness all together but if we trust in God, He can help us make the right decisions and keep our darkness in check, unless we stray.

Cloud Strife says a line that has become an enduring mantra for me because of the Christian undertone it can have. “Don’t lose sight of your light.” This is what he said to Sora in the first game after you clear Olympus Coliseum. To the God-fearing Christian, the light we should never lose sight of is God. Once again, we sometimes lose sight of it the way Cloud did and we sometimes have to search for the light in our darkest hours. The two times I had to deal with the OC hijacker from last December were the times I lost sight of my light. I wasn’t depending on God to help me deal with the fact this idiot had decimated Phoenix twice. Phoenix, as a character, is my pride and joy because she embodies some of my negativity concerning my situation as a bastard child to a mother who wasn’t mentally fit to care for me.

I guess when I lost sight of my light, that’s when I yielded to my personal darkness and I paid for it with my happiness. The darkness the idiot drew out of me almost made me abandon my passion for creating whole worlds and characters to live in them. Only by letting go of the conflict did I find peace. I was reminded that Phoenix is mine alone, even if the guy decimated her, mocked her, and openly claimed her as his own. Concerning Phoenix, he never claimed her as herself for his own but he made a facsimile of her in the form of Harpy, the product of an experiment on a wolf by the Russians in the guy’s messed up head. He has claimed fan characters of other people as his own, using the original names in the form of anagrams to get away with it.

This said OC hijacker is a perfect example of one who had yielded to the darkness in his heart time and time again. He gets his kicks watching us get steamed over the abuse of our intellectual property. In a way, he’s just like Xemnas and Xehanort’s Heartless. He’s unrepentant, even when we ask nicely for him to stop. I even degraded myself by begging for answers as to why he was doing this like a dog. I have a feeling, unless he has a sudden realization that what he’s doing is wrong, he’ll remained steeped in darkness. Naturally, those who never gone through this will chalk it up to satire which isn’t against the dA rules. They are often the most unsympathetic because they never had anything precious to them utterly destroyed by someone like him. They, too, reveal the darkness that comes from not caring how people could get hurt for the sake of satire.

I’ve since let the conflict go so I could focus on God again. He’s the one who helped me recover from both the OC hijacker incident and the main cause of my suffering in December. The incident was merely compounding on a family problem that started just days before the hijacker showed up again. As you can see, I was already breaking under my darkness when he started causing trouble again, using his darkness to add onto my own and breaking me in half. Ever since I found my light again, things started getting better for me. The emotional scars I got from my family problem are beginning to heal as long as the one involved stays the way he is, sober. The hijacker had reopened old wounds that only an insensitive person would say I was stupid for having at all. When they have this happen to them, then they will know my pain wasn’t without merit.

Getting back to the game, Sora once said that Kingdom Hearts is light. For me, that represents the world as it was in the beginning before our two common ancestors messed it up, leaving us a world that’s rotten to the core. People can act like the Heartless, trying to get at the heart of the world by attacking those of us who stand for the Light God gives. In a way, we Christians could be like the heart of the world because the life we strive to live is the one we read in the beginning of Genesis. The world was very good then after Creation and darkness didn’t exist then except in Satan. Satan is the master of darkness and therefore also like the Heartless. He’s trying to snuff out the light by imposing his darkness in every aspect of existence. Like Ansem the Wise, if Xemnas is to be believed, Satan is the source of all Heartless, or all the conflicts and problems in this world.

The Nobodies, beings without hearts, I can pretty much say are the equivalent of lost people who try to fill the God-shaped hole in their hearts with things that aren’t God. Human-like Nobodies like Organization XIII depend on their memories to build their personalities around since they lost their hearts, the seat of emotions and personality. Some members, like Xemnas, don’t bother with it while others, like Demyx, only drop the act when they get serious. I read that Saix doesn’t pretend to have emotion unless he’s in a fight because of his berserker rage-filled fighting style. Coming into contact with Sora and Roxas made Axel feel emotion, despite not having a heart. Roxas himself had some emotion because he was different than other Nobodies. Sora had willing lost his heart to save Kairi and retained his memory and feelings as a Heartless. Only Xehanort was able to do that exact thing, explaining why his Heartless retained a human form. Roxas may not have had Sora’s memories but he was something special, like Namine.

I will end on this note. Like Xehanort, whether as Master Xehanort, Xemnas, or Xehanort’s Heartless, the Devil has it in for all of us. Matters not if we’re Christian, atheist, or whatever, he will stop at nothing until the whole world is covered in darkness and those of us who strive for the light of God are all who stand in his way. We are like Sora. The attacks will come at us out of nowhere as long as we continue to wield the light. But as long as we don’t lost sight of our light, God, we can beat the darkness back and not let Satan temper our darkness the way Xehanort’s Heartless did with Riku’s in Castle Oblivion. We will keep fighting.