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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Photon. The Light Shines!

NEW YORK, July 31 — Since the school year is about to start, I am getting teary eyed and nostalgic about my childhood. Wah ha ha. I remember a laser tag game called Photon in the 1980s. Photon was basically the "Cowboys and Indians" game with plastic electronic equipment. It consisted of receivers (chest module and helmet) and pistol shaped emitters. The emitters were fired at the receivers, and an alarm would be trigger by the receiver system. This indicated a hit, and eliminate the player from the game. It was the coolest thing since the Pet Rock.

There were Photon game centers everywhere. At its height, there were 45 photon arenas across the United States (not including the rival, Worlds Of Wonder's Lazer Tag).

Due to the lack of interest, Photon declined in popularity and died a slow painful death. However, there is still hope! A single functioning Photon arena still exists in Laurel, Maryland (near Washington, D.C.). It's called XP Laser Sport. It's only open to groups through reserved appointments.

Another Photon group is building a new Photon arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They are still constructing the arena, and they are soliciting donations through Paypal. Their official website:

The Photon craze also spawned a television tokusatsu show, which had a short run. On Saturday mornings, I remember getting up at 6:00 AM to watch this show. They always showed it with the Saturday morning cartoons. It consisted of an international cast and a uniquely Japanese production. The production quality was consistent with 80s tokusatsu shows like Kamen Rider Black. The bad costumes, bad make-up and awful special effects really bring me back to the 80s.

More Information on Photon:

Ohh... Did I forget to mention Photon chicks?
James Leung Man-Fai

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sleepy Hunger.

NEW YORK, July 23 — I'm not sure if I'm sleepy or hungry. Maybe, I'm both. I found the perfect remedy to these vile primitive cravings. The Sushi Pillow. It's sushi. It's a pillow. It's a sushi pillow. The Original Sushi Pillow.

"Salmon Nigiri" by the original sushi pillow

They have different styles of sushi pillows like rolls, nigiri, and appetizers. The prices range from roughly $40-$70 per pillow. There is also a Summer Special on the Original Sushi Pillow website. It's FREE SHIPPING within the United States. Now, there's is no excuse not to have a sushi pillow.

The "Salmon Nigiri" is my favorite sushi pillow. I like the fat lines that ran through the salmon piece. It is down right cool, jack.

"The Edamame Body Pillow" by the original sushi pillow

A close second is the "edamame body pillow". I need to get the "edamame body pillow" to complete my entire bedroom set. Don't ask me, "Why a full grown man needs a body pillow?" I just do, okay!

James Leung Man-Fai

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bring out your dead! Manga and Anime.

NEW YORK, July 15 — First annual MetroAnime manga swap meet at Maui Taco, 330 Fifth Avenue. There was a good assortment of Manga and Anime DVDs. I managed to pick up the first two volumes of "Crying Freeman", which I consider Koike gold. Rock!

More Pictures of the event.

More Information on the MetroAnime club.

James Leung Man-Fai

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

REVIEW: Transformers Movie, 2007

4 JULY 2007 -- This is my quick and dirty review of the Transformers movie. Don't worry... no plot spoilers.  However, read at your own risk.  You've been warned.

The Good.  I went to the movie with the intension of seeing a decent tokusatsu (special-effects) movie, and it does deliver.  The audience was really involved in the film, and they cheered at the end.  It had lots of action and some good variations on the transformation.  The story is utter crap, but that is not the main reason someone watches a tokusatsu film.  They did bring back Peter Cullen to voice Optimus and other voice over actors from the original cartoon series.  If you want to see giant robots smashing everything in sight, the movie does not disappoint.  I did enjoy it on that level.

The Bad.  The main problem I had with the movie is marketing it as a "Transformers" movie.  It's not a Transformers movie.  I compare it to the Dean Devlin Godzilla movie because it is a good tokusatsu movie that is divorced from the original source material.  If they marketed the movie as a unique property, I would probably be more accepting of the movie as a whole.  Furthermore, the character design was too radically different from the original show (gen 1), and some of the character personalities were changed.  Their behaviors seem out of character for some of the Transformers.

Another problem I had with the movie was the slow pacing through the first hour (of a 144 min. film).  The first hour was a light "Dawson's Creek" episode focused on the human characters.  A lot of it could have been edited out for pacing and brevity.  Also, the movie introduced a lot of human characters that did nothing.  They didn't have a role or function in the movie.  They just appeared and faded into the background without any real contribution.  They definitely could have been edited out.  It would have made the plot more coherent.  

It also bothered me that the story is told from the point of view of the human characters.  In the cartoon series, the story is told from the perspective of the Transformers.  I found that element of the cartoon series made it very unique and different.  Since Astro Boy, anime has frequently allowed the audience to relate and sympathize on some level with the villains and nonhuman entities.  In Japanese story telling, the villain is not just evil.  There are usually circumstances that drive essentially good characters to perform evil acts (see Akira Kurosawa's "Stray Dogs").  However, Michael Bay probably wanted characters that the American audience could sympathize.  Therefore, the Transformers seem a little distant and cold.

The Ugly.  Although the CGI looks acceptable, there are some problems.  In some of the combat scenes, the fighting is frenetic and all over the place.  I had a hard time distinguishing between the different transformers.  Where does one end and the other begin?  This is the real problem with using extremely intricate mech designs.  Many of the fights become large sloppy blurs of twisted metal on the movie screen.  Some scenes remind me of Dragon Ball Z fights, which result in quick blurry motion lines on the television screen.  Too confusing...

Optimus Prime, Original Cartoon

Optimus Prime, 2007 Movie

The other problem is the relationship between the robot forms and the vehicle forms.  In the original cartoon, the vehicle designs relate highly to the robot designs.  For example, Optimus Prime is a semi-truck in vehicle form.  In robot form, Prime's torso still looks a lot like the cab of a semi-truck.  You can clearly see the balance of form and function.  This is the real genius of transformers.  The mechanics of the transformation were believable to a certain extent.  This translated well to the action figures.  They transformed the same way the cartoon did.  However, the movie disregards all sense of function for the sake of form.  The movie displays intricate mech designs and cool vehicles, but it's difficult to believe that the robot forms can mechanically change into the vehicles.

The conclusion. Well, I recommend everyone see the movie at least once as a good tokusatsu film.  It's fun, and big robots kicking ass is always cool.  However, it sucks as a Transformers movie, and they should stop marketing it as such...

For more information on Tranformers Movie, 2007:

James Leung Man-Fai


Monday, July 2, 2007

Transformers Movie, 2007

2 JULY 2007 -- I'll be there.  I'm bringing all my childhood Transformers action figures to the movie theater.  You know the original diecast metal action figures with dangerous levels of lead.  Everytime Michael Bay provokes my wrath, I will launch one of these figures at the screen.  I will purge myself from the horror of the Transformers franchise.

Now, if hollywood only made a major Gundam theatrical release, I can really free up some space in my hobbit hole.  We can't all live like Bilbo in a nice two-story pad.  OK, it's time to inflict this mental trauma on this blog:

What does Bilbo have to do with Tranformers?  You have to watch the videos.  I leave the answers to you...

PS: "You Got the Touch!" the music video!

For more information on Tranformers:

James Leung Man-Fai