Instead, I have been using excuse after excuse in my head, to avoid working on the things I really want to do. The problem is, I don't get paid to do what I want to do. In fact, I get paid very little, and only when I find the work doing freelance jobs. This is not a complaint, only an observation, on which I have full control over the situations. Currently, I have been doing album layouts for a wedding photographer, some image edits as well, and I just finished up a big job with a photographer who is trying to get his work in a museum. He also has a few book deals in the works and he may want my help with that too. I am busy, no doubt about it, but I do not enjoy the work I do, not the way I should. I am good at image editing, I enjoy the artistic side of it, but I am forced to do menial tasks, with little reward, and limited creativity. I don't mind a deadline, in fact I work best when under a deadline, but the work that I do is not enjoyable to me and I am unable to really get behind the work I should be doing. In the end, I avoiding the work I want to be doing as well. I rather spend my days doing house keeping and playing games, but this will get me no where, and I must use all the time I have to work on what needs to be worked on.
I have made too many promises to too many people that I have not fulfilled, due mostly to my lack of discipline and self-motivation. I can not go back on these promises, I will move forward and work on these, as well as all the work I need to do for both income and education. I have a lot of work ahead of me these next 2 days, but I will somehow find the time to prepare some more art to fill this blog by this weekend!
It's time I put my mind and efforts BACK on the right track!
This brings me to the topic of schools, which I am still looking at. The DAVE school was an experience, and it isn't a bad school at all. There are a few downsides, the cost being the biggest for me. Since it is not accredited, it is not eligible for scholarships or grants. The best a student can hope for is a student loan, in the amount of approximately $40,000! Now this is a one year school, and it is not an unheard of price for a specialty private school, such as this, and they are well within their rights to ask for such an amount. However, for me, since I am already in debt to a school that didn't go anywhere for me, I need to consider my options more carefully.
Luck is with me on this topic though. It just so happens that I have been put into contact with a company, College Lift Off!, which specializes in finding the right school, at the right price, for each person. We have been working on finding a school that both excels in the field of animation and visual effects, and is also affordable with ample financing options. There are several candidates right now, one of which is especially interesting, and I am hoping to learn more this week. I have tried to get in touch with them, but my timing has been off. I must concentrate on what I need to do, which is making money, and finding a school. I have long-since given up the job hunt, since my unemployment benefits are no longer active, so I should be spending all my time furthering my career, not just get a job. I am a little hesitant to mention specifics at this time, I feel it is in my best interest to continue my search for now, and report back later when I have something significant to post.
So since I am currently, and reluctantly, without any art or animations for you to gaze upon, I will offer a short review on the latest anime title my wife and I have been viewing on Blu-ray, Samurai 7.
Oh, boy, where to begin. Most of you know I am a big fan of the Japanese pop-art 'sensation' of anime. I have been an avid watcher since the early 90's, before most people knew what anime was, so you can say my interest is not a mere passing fad. I appreciate any good animated feature, although recently I have found little to interest me short of Hayao Miyazaki and Pixar films. Still, I have been interested in the cover art of this particular series when I see it on shelves, and I decided to rent it on Blu-ray to give it a twirl.
Imagine Seven Samurai, now replace all the bandits with (dear God I can't believe I am saying this) Giant Robots. Yes... Giant Robots. Oh, I should have stopped watching there, right in the beginning of the first episode when they first showed up, I should have turned off the disc, returned it, and removed the next 2 discs from the queue. Sadly, I did not.
In an attempt to make the struggle between the samurai, the farmers, and the bandits all the more epic and grandiose, they turned the bandits into 4 story tall robots. It appears someone from the staff of Gundam snuck in to a staff meeting and decided to throw in a few of his poorly sketched mecha designs. Granted, the reasoning behind this is quite complex, although convoluted. They intended to further develop the complexity of the relationship between the samurai, the villagers, and the bandits, as well as the capitol itself, which is run by merchants. By having the bandits steal the rice, they could sell it to the capitol, which would use it for trade, to become wealthy, and keep the villagers under thumb. While this seems simple enough, the mechanical nature of the bandits leads to discrimination and fear for anything mechanical. To this end, they attempted to further complicated the already complicated and well developed character of "Kikuchiyo" (Which the English dub pronounced "Kikucho" or "Kiku" for short), by turning him into a mechanical samurai as well, so not only does he bridge the gap between the farmers and the samurai, but he also brings in an innate understanding of how the bandits work and think, as well as becoming a point of hatred for the leader of the merchants, who fears anything mechanical.
Kikushiyo isn't the only character butchered by this loose interpretation. While many of the samurai undergo minor character changes, the villagers are downright backwards. Instead of the village elder sending out 4 men into the city to look for samurai, they decide to send 1 man, 1 "water priestess", and 1 little kid. Of course, the water priestess is a combination of Shino and many of the villagers, yet she is not Shino, as her character still shows up. This new character has the ability to dowse for water, or apparently samurai. The little girl seems to have no point but to be an annoyance that dumbs down any complex aspect and retells the story for those who fell asleep. Cute, sure, but pointless and annoying. The rest of the villagers have little importance. The conflict between the youngest samurai, Katsushiro, and Shino is not even existent. Instead, they try to move the love triangle (a triangle??) to Katsushiro, the water priestess, and Kambei. YES... Kambei. Oh, is that a spoiler? Well, trust me, watching this will spoil your appetite, and probably your eyes.
I could go on. They continue to mutilate this story by adding new characters, factions, overly complex politics, overly simplified and lacking character development and relationships, and extremely unrealistic and laughable fight scenes. It is amazing they managed to take a 4 hour long masterpiece and turn it into a 26 episode long travesty. The gigantic explosions at the end of the series signify not only the destruction of the capitol, but also the destruction of any redeemable quality of this anime. There is a reason I don't watch many anime series anymore, so many of them turn out like this. Apparently, they assumed that by sticking direct quotes from the original movie into this series would be enough to justify these mutilations, but they only serve to further bury the enormous sonic sword into the heart of Kurosawa and all cinematography.
I give this a 2 out of 5 stars. It could have sucked even more, but it is so far from the original source, it should be banned in most countries.
Oh. My. God! This has got to be the worst Blu-ray I have ever seen in my life! Nay. The worst disc! I am sure the DVD would look better than this. Allow me to explain. This transfer most assuredly uses a 1080p HD image, capturing all the detail, or lack thereof, that this anime boasts. Unfortunately, like some other animated movies, banding is an issue. That is actually a lie, banding is much more than an "issue", its a serious problem. It is hard to watch ANYTHING with the MASSIVE banding issues this series sports. It is consistent through the entire series, from the first unexplained and confusing flashback, to the final eye-gouging explosion. It is downright hard to see any of the other compression errors this series has thanks to the massive banding. Scenes that should have no banding at all are full of them. It is as bad as trying to watch a movie with an 8-bit color pallet, only worse. The flashbacks, previews, and reviews at the beginning and ending of each episode use a cookie-cutter effect, filled with black dots that start to look like dead pixels or dirt. Granted this is a minor annoyance, but enough to distract me and make me want to clean off my screen.
The real problem is the fact that the Blu-ray producers decided that 50GB meant they can stick 8 or 10 episodes per disc, rather than the standard 4. This means they instead of dedicating the extra space to quality video and audio, they compressed the HELL out of it to fit on more content. The result.... a mess that wreaks as bad as the bog of eternal stench.
I give this a 1 out of 5 stars. It was in HD... I think... but I bet you watching the DVD will prove less painful.
I am not really sure where to go with this. The Japanese had much better sound than the English. The English changed names and such. They used decent voice actors to more or less fit the parts, and the acting is not half bad, but there is really no quality to the audio. It just didn't impress me... sort of blah.
I will give this a 2.5 of 5, since it neither has absolutely awful quality, nor was it really notable. Just meh.
What are those?
This is quite simply the worst anime I have seen in a long time. Not the worst I have ever seen, but it is pretty bad. The original movie is so full of nuances and complex relationships, as well as well developed characters and an epic battle, I was hoping to see some of this in anime form, with more explanation into what was going on. Instead, I am bombarded with a corrupt government stealing rice from farmers through a complexly organized system of giant mechanical bandits who sell rice to "gaurdians" who in turn trade it to the merchants for land (?), who in turn sell the rice for trade. No one eats this stuff except the samurai, who have no real part in society. The ingenious schemes of Kambei are suddenly more convoluted and far less impressive. The crazy antics of Kikuchiyo have turned him into a mechanical samurai equivalent of a 5th grader on crack. The restructuring of the characters is both pointless and annoying, and only serves to further complicate matters in the wrong way. Main characters are given completely different goals, outcomes, and roles. All these things, while occasionally throwing in a random quote from the original film where it best suits them. About the only thing they did right in this series was kill off the right characters in ways similar to the original film... mostly.
What is it they say? You can't judge a Blu-ray by its cover? Something like that...
I give this a 1.5 out of 5. The story is awful, the video quality is unforgivably vomitous, the audio falls short of anything acceptable, and there are no extras in sight. But most importantly, they put Akira Kurosawa's name RIGHT ON THE FRONT of this atrocity! Kurosawa must be spinning in his grave. The abomination called Samurai 7 is an attempt to assassinate quality film, and the Blu-ray format, as well as HD, anime, and human sight. To call this watchable is an overstatement. Most would probably not even rate this as bearable. I will say it is unforgivable. A POX on the Blu-ray Authoring group who made this pile of muck. Even though the story is convoluted, laughable, and an atrocity to the source it names itself after, the very least you can do is spare our eyesight from the banding...
... The Banding...
... THE BANDING!!!