Friday, May 27, 2011

Here Comes the Rest of my Life

Dang it has been a while since I blogged here. But, as I mentioned in my last post, I was in the home stretch of school and had a LOT of work to do. The last three weeks of the semester were killer. KILLER.

Thankfully, it's all over - I just have to do Final Project critiques for my Flash class (the project was due yesterday) and I'll be done with school, at least till fall (when I'll probably continue my web design certificate classes, which I hope to have done by this time next year).

My Flash class did not go as well as I would've liked. I was late on a lot of things - including my Final Project, which I spent every spare minute doing prep work for and then was unable to get in by midnight last night - and it was hard to keep up since I had that class plus my three CSUSM classes, for which a lot of reading and writing was required. Mostly I hope I pass. I have a feeling I will probably get a C or something. If so, I may re-take it so that I can do better in it. Watching (or re-watching, in some cases) the tutorial videos for the class showed me the cool things you can do with this program - heck, you can make a whole website in it if you want. I may even take the Flash 2 class so I can learn more about ActionScript, the script that you use to make things happen in Flash.

(Ironically, tonight my parents were watching the episode of The Office where Pam fails art school, and the main class she failed was in Flash. :))

At the moment, I have taken two of my core classes for the certificate - Web Design 1 (which I took back when I was at MiraCosta originally, but which I was told I could still apply to this certificate) and Graphic Design 1. By the end of this semester, I'll have two of my emphasis courses done as well - Flash 1 (if I pass it) and CIS 191, i.e. Internet Presence for the Small and Medium Business (basically an e-commerce course), which I took last spring, at the same time as my Graphic Design class. So here are the classes I still need:

Core Courses

MAT 110/ART 247 - Digital Imaging 1: Adobe Photoshop
MAT 120 - Interactive Media Production

Emphasis Courses:

2 more classes - I've chosen:

MAT 165 - Web Design 2: Tools and Techniques
MAT 235 - Web Design 3: Site Design and Architecture

Advanced courses:

Need 1 class for this. I chose MAT 225, Dynamic Web Development.

All this plus MAT 290, the Portfolio Development class, which is needed to graduate.

It's recommended that you take MAT 290 last. Which I guess makes sense. Since I lost my old school files though (I'd moved them to a USB drive, which I was later forced to format), I don't have any work for my Graphic Design class or my e-commerce class (though my current writing website is a slightly modified version of the version I made of it for my final project for that class). Don't know how that's going to work.

As for the other classes...obviously the Photoshop one is a must in today's web design world. The other core class, MAT 120, is an introduction to developing (according to the catalog) "multimedia presentations and interactive programs" and includes learning "the basics of acquisition and digitizing video, images, and audio; an introduction to 3D modeling and animation; and a fundamental understanding of interactive program design and development." I may know some of the acquisition/digitizing stuff already, but oh well. This may be a good class to take in fall, as it's a nice leadoff from my Flash class, but the only drag is that it's pretty much never offered online, like the others are (having them online means I don't have to work my work schedule around in-person classes).

The two Web Design classes are the ones after the one I took in the summer of 2005 (Web Design 1). Web Design 2 "builds on the skills developed in MAT 125 and introduces the student to the more advanced tools and techniques for designing Web sites using industry standard web design and development tools." Now if that isn't a vague course description, I don't know what is. I suppose I'll find out what that means when I take it. Hopefully, I'll remember what I learned in 125. Most of it was stuff I already knew except for the mouse rollover stuff (which I can do in Flash now anyway) and some stuff with forms. (I still to this day don't know how to script forms in HTML). Web Design 3 focuses on "Site Design and Architecture" and teaches how to make "complex, professional level web sites."

The advanced course, Dynamic Web Development, focuses on making "database driven, dynamically generated Web applications using current database technologies." I don't know quite what that means unless it involves SQL databases, which have been the bane of my existence when attempting to work with PHP scripts like the popular fanlisting management script Enthusiast.

So, that's six classes. I could take 4 in fall and 2 in spring, or 3 in each, or some other combination. Of course, this all depends on course availability. There's always the option of getting ahead by taking a class this summer, but I have decided against that. Since my final CSUSM semester was so intense, I need a break.

Which reminds me, I GRADUATED COLLEGE!! That happened last weekend. I am very relieved that it has come and gone. People have asked me if I am excited, and I am. But at the same time, I'm a little scared. As I've been telling people, "it's like, 'Here comes the rest of my life'." No longer can I delay real life with school (well, I could if I went to grad school, but that's beside the point). I have to grow up and move on with my life. I have to get out on my own, and it would be nice to get married eventually. I mean, I'm almost 27; I only have 20-25 childbearing years left. At any rate, I need to start my career. And I am finally working on my writing career seriously. Plus I'm setting up a fallback plan (web design) just in case things don't work out. So I guess that's progressing.

It always sounds bad to me when I tell people - especially my Christian friends - that I am working on a Plan B in case my writing doesn't work out. Maybe I'm just a paranoid worrywart, but I worry whether it is practicality that is driving me to such a plan, or if I have such little faith that I don't trust that God would provide for me if I went with writing alone. I mean, is it wrong to have a backup plan? It's fine to believe God will provide, but you can't be stupid about it - it's like this joke I read about a guy who won't buy a lottery ticket but keeps asking God to help him win the lottery.


Ok I'm going to move on to less depressing things.

Today I was off so I finally cleaned my room, which had become very messy due to me being busy. It took a while though because I was watching Inuyasha on my Wii while doing it. That's right, WATCHING ANIME ON MY WII. I can do so via the free Netflix "channel" for Wii (that I heard about in a Pandora ad) and the 30-day free trial I signed up for. This grants me unlimited Instant Play of the stuff the Netflix library has, including quite a lot of anime. I already put Inuyasha in my watch queue, as well as Hetalia: Axis Powers, a series that is very popular right now (as evidenced by the number of Hetalia cosplayers at Animé Los Angeles this past January). Hetalia started as a blog comic done by Japanese mangaka Himaruya Hidekazu while he was attending school in America (the Parsons School of Design according to the Hetalia fan wiki, which is the same design school featured on Project Runway) and has now been professionally published as a manga and made into an anime series. Essentially it's a historical and political allegory, primarily of the World War II period (though according to Wikipedia most of the main plot events occur in the so-called "interwar period" between the two World Wars), in which each country is anthromorphized, i.e. represented by a single character. The main character is North Italy/Italy Romano, a.k.a. Hetalia (which means "gutless/pathetic Italy," a portmanteau of the Japanese word hetare and the word Italia, the Italian name for Italy). The other protagonists are Germany, portrayed as a typical tsundere character (a character who's cold at first but becomes nicer as time progresses), and Japan, a reclusive man unused to Western ways. (Italy Romano also has an older brother, South Italy or Italy Veneziano). There are also characters for the Allied side, of course - the main ones being America, England, France, Russia, and (surprisingly) China. There are also many other minor "country" characters, including the often-ignored Canada, whose name nobody can ever remember.

Inuyasha has been very interesting so far. I've been watching it a couple episodes at a time for a while, but today I watched it all through cleaning my room and got through episode 24, which means I'm almost to the end of the first season already! (There are 6 seasons in all, for a total of 167 episodes - and they now have a new sequel series, Inuyasha: Final Act, meant to catch the anime up with the manga). I'm interested mainly to see how this series ends, because it was created by Rumiko Takahashi, and she's infamous for series with no actual ending. The original ending song, "my will" by the band Dream (whose songs we've been doing for LAR Productions) has been replaced by a familiar song for me, "Fukai Mori" by Do as Infinity, one of my favorite j-pop bands. Actually, I got into Do as Infinity through the songs of theirs used for Inuyasha ("Fukai Mori" isn't the only one of their songs that got used for the series). Checking out the opening and ending songs for animes (usually abbreviated as OP and ED in Japan) is a great way to get into j-pop, actually, as j-pop songs are often used for anime openings and endings. Of course, there are many animes which feature openings and/or endings by the series' actors too, some of whom may be popular music idols in their own right. Inuyasha features openings and endings by famous names Do as Infinity, Day After Tomorrow (famously known for "Starry Heavens," the opening theme song to the video game Tales of Symphonia), boyband V6 (who sings my personal favorite Inuyasha opening song, "Change the World"), boyband-esque duo Tackey and Tsubasa, superidols Namie Amuro and Ayumi Hamasaki, the aforesaid Dream, the band Every Little Thing, and the Korean pop star BoA, as well as the not-so-familiar hitomi, Nanase Aikawa, and Hitomi Shimatani (not the same person as "hitomi," despite the name). So it's a good place to start.

Basically, Inuyasha is about this half-dog demon (the Inuyasha of the title) from a dimension roughly equivalent to Japan's Warring States period, but with demons and other fantasy elements, and a girl named Kagome Higurashi who is from our world (modern-day Japan for her). Kagome gets pulled into the secret well on her family's shrine grounds by a multi-limbed demon and thus brought into Inuyasha's dimension, to which the well is connected. It is discovered that within her body is the powerful Shikon no Tama, or Jewel of Four Souls, a jewel that doubles the strength of any demon who possesses even a fragment of it. The Jewel had been entrusted about 50 years prior to a Shinto priestess named Kikyo, whose spiritual powers were extremely strong, so that she could purify it of the evil it had been tainted with. But when she was dying, rather than use the Jewel so that she could live, she had it burned with her body. Kagome is shown to be Kikyo's reincarnation, hence the reason the Jewel was in her body. Inuyasha wants the Jewel so he can become a full demon, and a lot of other people want it too - humans and demons alike - especially since the country/dimension is in a state of war at the time of the series. Unfortunately, when using an arrow to take down a demon who had swallowed the Jewel, Kagome accidentially breaks it into pieces, which go soaring every which way across the world (and even into Kagome's world, as an early episode shows). So Inuyasha and Kagome begin a journey to collect all the pieces of the Jewel so they can complete it once more. Inuyasha is pretty powerful on his own, but he needs Kagome around because she can sense the presence of the Jewel and he can't, a fact he doesn't seem all that happy about. They're later joined by a child fox demon named Shippo, a lecherous monk named Miroku, and a demon slayer named Sango and her fox pet.

The major plot elements, as well as the main characters, seem to be in place just in the episodes I've seen. The main traveling party - Inuyasha, Kagome, Shippo, Miroku, and Sango - have all been introduced, as well as the antagonists, the mysterious Naraku (primary antagonist) and Inuyasha's full-demon half-brother Sesshomaru (secondary antagonist). The main plot element of searching for the jewel shards has been set up, as well as the involvement of Naraku in not only the present but in Kikyo's death and the love triangle of Inuyasha, Kikyo, and Kagome that starts when Kikyo gets revived by an ogress in the middle of Season 1. Yet there are 143 episodes to go (169 if I count Final Act). So what else is going to happen? Just development of the characters and the major plot elements, I guess. There are also subplots, of course, like Inuyasha's rivalry with Sesshomaru, personal character backgrounds, and how all this is affecting Kagome's life back in her world (which provides some humor due to the strange diseases Kagome's grandfather claims she has to cover for her absences, including many elderly-people diseases like rheumatism and gout).

Overall, I find the series very deep story-wise but also with a lot of humor, which I guess I should expect from Rumiko Takahashi. The only other series of hers that I'm super familiar with is the 1970's/'80s series Urusei Yatsura, which produced the lovely tiger's striped-bikini-clad alien oni Lum Invader, who has become something of an anime icon that most anime fans know of:

I also started to read her series Maison Ikkoku, which is about a guy studying to take his college entrance exams who lives in an apartment building with a lot of crazy characters, but got bothered by the lechery of one of the neighbors. Pity, because Maison Ikkoku is the one series Takahashi did give a proper ending to.

Each Inuyasha character so far is well-developed. The interaction between Inuyasha and Kagome is interesting to watch - though they bicker most of the time, they do have moments where they seem to genuinely care for one another. Also, in episode 2 Kikyo's sister, Kaede, put a controlling bead necklace (sort of like a rosary) on Inuyasha that lets Kagome control him with a word. The word she chooses is Osuwari (Sit!), probably chosen - I think - because Inuyasha is part dog. This power gets used as a gag in pretty much every episode.

Then there are the other characters. Sesshomaru is very much the opposite of his half-brother - he's very proper and polite-speaking (unlike the brash and rude Inuyasha), much more powerful (due to being a full demon), and pretty much emotionless ("not caring for allies or enemies in fights," as his servant Jaken - who now that I think about it, plays a rather similar role humor-wise to Iago, Jafar's pet parrot in the Aladdin movies - puts it). I've read that he becomes more caring later though, which may mean he is a tsundere character. Naraku, introduced mid-season 1 (he's first mentioned in Miroku's debut episode), is the main villain, and while we don't know everything about him yet, we do know that he is a shapeshifter and that he was born from a fully paralyzed thief who invited demons to eat him so that he could gain a movable body and possess Kikyo and the Shikon no Tama. He's also a very crafty being and doesn't truly trust anyone (not even Sesshomaru, who he "helps" in one episode). He was also involved in the tragic incident that resulted in Kikyo and Inuyasha hating each other and Kikyo's death, as well as, to a lesser extent, in Miroku and Sango's stories.

Shippo is a kid kitsune, or fox spirit, whose father was killed by the Thunder Brothers, dangerous thunder demons. He knows some minor fox magic, including fox fire, some illusion tricks, and shapeshifting. After the Thunder Brothers are destroyed, he's so enamored with Kagome that he tags along with her and Inuyasha. Miroku is a Buddhist monk, but he's not exactly holy. He's a womanizer, for one, and he sometimes lies about spiritual beings appearing in order to get into a house to perform an exorcism or some other rite so he can get a rich reward (or close to a beautiful girl). He's very polite, though (he calls Kagome "Kagome-sama") and at times Kagome prefers him to Inuyasha. He has a curse laid on his family by Naraku, whereby he has a black hole-like "Wind Tunnel" in his hand that can suck in pretty much anything but which will eventually devour Miroku. (He controls the wind tunnel with prayer beads wound around his arm). This is why he joins Inuyasha and Kagome, so that he can kill Naraku and stop the curse. Sango is a demon slayer whose father and brother were killed by demons (something with which Naraku was also involved). I don't know much about her yet though.

One thing that slightly bothers me is that a lot of people and demons got possession of shards of the Jewel in seemingly no time at all. This seems rather unrealistic. But I guess this operates under a similar concept to CLAMP's Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, where Princess Sakura's memory feathers got scattered across multiple worlds all at different points in time.

I also don't understand how Kagome fit a bicycle down the well with her, or how she thinks that will help her in Inuyasha's dimension (though it does help them travel faster, I guess).


Well, not much else to say, and it's late, so I'm going to go. Not sure what I'll do tomorrow before work. I got to work till midnight again cause they gave me the same schedule as last week. I hope that won't happen now that they know I can work whenever they need me to, since I'm on summer break. *sigh*

No comments: