Thursday, April 30, 2009

Random comments inspired by fan fiction

I've been reading some more Ranma fics and this post is pretty much a continuation of the post entitled: few comments inspired by Ranma fan fiction.

*I recently looked at some of the reviews for fics and find it somewhat interesting what people complained about. For example in a story, that I did enjoy reading, the reviewers complained about Ranma being able to speak English and swearing. Neither of those things go against the manga. Ranma swears both in word and in gestures in the Japanese and online fan scans of the manga (VIZ decided to remove them). There is no information as to how well Ranma can speak English in the manga, both unable to and fluent are equally possible. What we do know is he is in English class (with a teacher he doesn't respect) and is widely traveled, his grades are unknown and we don't know what countries he has been to (he could have even left Asia - since he did make more than one trip out of the country, his first memory is of a foreign land).

What I find even more interesting is; what was not complained about that I thought they would (or at least not as much as I thought they would). I expected more complaints about fanon that directly counters the source material, things that did not make sense to me, and factual inaccuracies.

*I've seen more than one fic have Ranma use Nabiki to distract the others from going after him. That fails in so many ways if you think about it. Biggest most obvious reason being Ranma does not trust her to not betray him, with good cause since she has been shown to be entirely willing to betray an agreement/someone to make a quick buck. The second biggest reason is that if Nabiki did sell/give them false information they are all entirely willing to get disappropriate revenge against her. There are more reason as to why it doesn't make sense but those reasons alone are big enough reasons.

*Is Shampoo Ranma's wife? I've seen her mentioned as his wife in fics. I really don't know if she is or isn't, by Japanese law she's not, the individuals being married have to place their hanko's on the marriage certificate in front of an official with two witness's at a ward or city office for it to be legal. They also can't be married by Chinese law. Chinese marriage law states that a male has to be at least 22 and females have to be at least 20. Ranma, at least, is not old enough (Shampoo might be since her age is never given).

That doesn't mean that they aren't married though. A definition of getting married is: performing whatever ritual is prescribed by your religious sect, Indian tribe, or native group, or, should none of the preceding be relevant, exchanging vows before an authorized public official. Using that definition, they could be married by the laws/customs of Shampoo's village. A license is only needed to get state recognition of the marriage, which Shampoo doesn't need since her laws would already give her that recognition. So Ranma may very well be married to her, though the marriage would not be recognized by China or Japan and would only be legal by the laws of Shampoo's village.

*Ranma using the name Ranko. This is really dependent on the situation and where the source of the story splits from the manga. If the story is set post manga, I do not think Ranma would use Ranko for his female form. The reason I say this is because Ranma has bad memories associated with that name i.e. hiding from his mom. Ranma came up with Ranko quickly after already starting to say his name, given time to think about it he is likely to think of another name. Ranma has and does use other aliases such as Yoiko and Kew in the manga.

*I've mentioned this before on this blog, but feel like doing so again. I don't really like the use of Ranma-chan to indicate Ranma is in female form. There really is not anything wrong with using Ranma-chan, the only complaint I have with it is that the chan honorific does not always mean female, though it does more often than not. For example: Young boys and close friends could use the chan honorific. An example from the manga, Ukyo calls Ranma, Ran-chan - using the chan honorific regardless of Ranma's gender. An example from another source, in Lupin the 3rd sweet lost night, Lupin calls Goemon; Goemon-chan.

Relatedly the use of the kun honorific does not necessarily mean male. Example from the manga, Tatewaki Kuno uses the kun honorific for Akane. Example from another source, the inspector in Detective Conan often calls Ran; Ran-kun.

*Where does Ranma get all the disguises and clothing he wears in the manga. If you look at the manga, Ranma has a lot of different disguises, including accessories like wigs, make up, jewelery, purse, rabbits, doves, hats, shoes, etc. Some like the outfit he wore to battle Mousse with is easily explained, we see him construct it himself. Some of the others are just as easily explained, they were borrowed/given to him by others, for example the shrine maiden outfit or nurses uniform. Others though not so easily explained, where did he get several rabbits and a dozen doves?

How many different outfits does Ranma have anyway? Female form Ranma has quite a collection of clothing and accessories. Multiple sets of shoes - high heeled boots, high heeled shoes, tai chi shoes, geta, etc. Jewelry - for example two sets of bracelets (worn while teaching mirror clone how to pick up guys), armlet (10 yen battle arc), several wigs, a few different style purses (teaching mirror clone,date with Densuke, on the beach, etc.), mini skirts, sun dress's, kimono's, tennis outfit, cheongsam, bunny outfit, buruma, swim suits, etc. Male form's got quite a bit as well pajamas, yukata, couple tuxedo's (last volume, date with Kodachi different style), gi's, Mao suit, and several different Mandarin pants and shirts (which at least the sites I checked say are unisex though some call them kung fu shirts). What kind of clothing budget does Ranma and Akane have? A lot of their clothing is very expensive.

*Jedi mind tricks. This is debatable but I'm of the opinion that Ranma and some of the other characters can do this in a limited fashion. The force of Jedi fame (Star Wars, incase someone doesn't know) is based on Asian views on ki/chi. Here is some examples as to why I think some characters can do this. Colognes ability to control a shark, the techniques Ranma used while Ryoga had the mark of the gods would only work if there was some type of compulsion in effect (or the enemy was a really big idiot), Ryu Kumen's yell of stop during the Yamasenken arc (yelling stop is not going to work on it's own and Ryu was surprised it didn't work), etc. These types of techniques are not very effective against Ranma, for example Lucky's hypnotism technique didn't work. (Magic and drugs still work though -like the hypnosis mushrooms Shampoo used).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Five Random Things on Japan 5

1. Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a 93 year old Japanese man, has been certified as a survivor of both the atomic bomb blast at Hiroshima and the bomb blast at Nagasaki. He had been on a business trip to Hiroshima, survived with burns to his upper body, and then went to his home in Nagasaki arriving shortly before the atomic bomb did.

2. Researcher Yoshiko Taya, designed clothing that kills bacteria, absorb water, insulate the body and dry quickly -called J-ware. Japanese astronaut Takao Doi gave the clothes a trial run during a shuttle mission last year and even after a workout, his clothing remained dry.

3. Capsule hotel - A product of the 1980's (technically the first one was thought to have opened in 1979 but that's close enough to the eighties) capsule hotels are extremely miniature hotels. Each consists of aisles of small rooms, roughly six feet long, three feet wide, and three feet high, stacked one on top of the other made of heat-resistant molded plastic or fiberglass. Each room is floored with a mattress and includes a TV set, radio, light and clock. A ladder built into the wall is used to climb into rooms that are off the floor. Lockers and shower facilities are provided, most have restaurants or vending machines, and some have pools and/or saunas. The size of these hotels vary widely, some having only fifty or so capsules and others have hundreds. These are mostly used by men, primarily business men who missed the train/bus/working in the area for a few days/overly long commute, etc., though some have rooms reserved for women or only accept women. People also rent these rooms to take small naps. Eating, drinking and smoking are not allowed in the rooms. The primary appeal of these hotel rooms is price, they are much cheaper than regular hotels or even most taxi trips (taxi's are expensive in Japan, particularly in Tokyo)

4. Land is expensive in Japan particularly in Tokyo and Osaka. When I say expensive I mean expensive, those two cities are the most expensive cities on the planet, go anywhere and it is cheaper. Though land is not expensive everywhere in Japan. The most common excuses for the high costs is that Japan is that it is a crowded country, which is true, nearly half the U.S. population in a land space that's a bit smaller than California. That is not the real reason that land is so expensive though. This site: Why are the prices in Japan so damn high??? explains in some detail the real reasons that the prices are so high.

5. In Tokyo, 2006, the price per foot of land (just the land not the buildings on the land) was $11,710; during the early 1990's the price had reached nearly $33,000 per square foot. Since the price of land is so very high the Japanese have maximized the use of it and built some very tall, thin buildings, which I find to be pretty interesting and would not want to be in. I'm not claustrophobic but some of the buildings would make me. This site: 20 thin buildings in Japan, where I got the two pictures below from, has some pretty interesting looking buildings. For an interior view gizmodo has one.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Local News

I dislike watching the news for a lot of reasons, the biggest being it is pretty depressing. Hearing about a shoot out, that jobs are so scarce that more than 800 people applied for one janitorial position, that the city plans on buying thousands of boarded up houses to tear them down, that many churches are being closed, that even though nationally there might be a shortage of nurses locally there isn't, that the hospitals are having a hiring freeze and are thinking about offering early retirement and lay offs, etc.

I rarely watch local news anymore preferring to get the news from the internet. Here are some reasons I prefer internet news to televised news:

* The televised news spends a considerable amount of time talking about sports and entertainment, which I am not interested in. If I was I would watch programs devoted to them.
* It takes less time to read the news on the internet than to watch it and the advertised news item is usually put near the end of the broadcast.
* The channels have a tendency to copy stories from one another. For example, I saw a news story about how dirty hotel rooms are on four different channels. -For those wondering, they are very dirty with things like using window cleaner to clean drinking cups, only changing large comforters if they are visibly dirty, and a large number of germs everywhere.
* They do not provide enough contextual data (though this is an annoyance I have with internet news as well). The news will give information of the nature, the budget for something was cut by xx amount of dollars, but they do not tell you if that amount is a large percent or if it will make a difference. If they use percents, they'll say something like there was a 50% increase. Is that a large increase, beyond expected? Will that make a difference? Was a 300% increase needed for the business to remain solvent? et cetra
* The local news treat things that are of little danger as if they were massively dangerous to try and scare you/draw you in.
* The news does not provide enough follow through, no where near enough. Occasionally there will be an interesting or important story and then not return to it with updates or even tell where additional information on it could be found (the internet does this as well but more often than televised news will also provide a link to further information).
* The news is biased, particularly local news. They pick and chose what to tell. One example being protests. They recently reported on the protests against taxes. This is protested every year but not usually reported. Protest wise they are not even very big more people protest war, unfair labor practices, and abortion than do taxes and those protests usually do not make the news. Well some interent news sites are also biased, it is easier to weed out the biases on the internet or find a less biased site.
*Many things that I feel should have made the news do not make the news (at least the local news and often don't make the national). One example being in India recently over 1,500 farmers committed suicide because they were getting in deeper and deeper debt because of a lack of water for their crops. For another example, almost everything involving the war/s the United States is currently fighting.
* The internet gives me access to more news outlets, particularly overseas ones. I find out more things happening in my country from foreign news sources like the BBC than I do ones from my country.
* The internet gives me the news much faster. For example, the local news recently aired a story on how some places in England are using high pitched sounds outside the range of most adults to prevent loitering (as people age they can hear less frequencies, though some people past twenty can still hear those ranges, like me - the device makes a high pitched pulsing noise at 17 kilohertz). I read about this well over a year ago, the internet also told about how some teens are using that noise as a ring tone - so as to get messages in places that cell phones are not allowed like classrooms, and that the company that made it to prevent teen loitering is now making one that everyone can hear to keep undesirables out of subways and underpasses.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I am of split opinion on versus, by versus I mean character A versus character B. While I did, and still occasionally, go to a forum in which its reason for existence is versus, I am not sure that I like them. I particularly dislike ones that have polls since they are quite often just popularity contests, the better known more liked character will be given more credit than they necessarily deserve. I like them because sometimes they are damn interesting, the what if, how would they do versus one another part because sometimes those who participate come up with some really cool ideas. I dislike them because most of the time people really have no idea as to how fights work. I don't like versus in which people state that one character would definitely win, I prefer laying of odds and comparing feats (e.g. this character is stronger because of this example). Though I enjoy versus in stories, when properly executed, far more than I do those on forums.

There are many, many variables in fights, so while I in general would say that one character would win, it depends on too many things to say with certainty. Even if the one character is overwhelmingly more powerful than the other (chances maybe extremely minute but still a chance). A generic listing of who won the most fights is not of any real use and does not necessarily prove anything, too many things can affect the outcome of a battle for that to come even close to proving who is definitively better.

A probably incomplete list of variables in (small scale one on one) combat:
* Why are they fighting? The reason and goals matter, because depending on what they are they will effect how people fight. For example, is the goal to knock the opponent unconscious, test the person, get revenge, etc.
* Which version of the person is battling? Early version Batman would kill, maim, and use firearms current version would not. Male Ranma is more skilled (more familiar with the form and confident), stronger, tougher, taller, etc., than female form Ranma.
* Physical stats - Speed, Strength, Toughness, etc.
* Foreknowledge - Are the characters familiar with one another and each others abilities?
* Prep-time - Does one or both characters have time to prepare for the encounter, for example in the Ranma manga, Ranma when fighting Happosai would often prepare before hand in many ways; carrying around bras (which was particularly funny since the bystanders had said where did he get all of them), using magic (girl repellent), drugs (chloroform, alcohol) or pictures.
* CIS - Character induced stupidity - refers to any natural mental limitations that characters impose upon themselves and reduce their ability to use their own skills and powers effectively (may not be stupidity per say, moral limitations would count as well) Is this active? For example, Ranma's morals prevent him from hitting Nabiki, his limiting himself to his opponents styles, and his underestimating/playing with his opponents (like Kuno, took the time to write an insult in bruises) are all CIS.
* PIS - Plot induced stupidity - characters not using their abilities or skills to the fullest extent as shown before, even within their personality ranges, for the sake of the story plotline. Things like Ranma not using ki blasts, his full speed, or under handed maneuvers since it would have made some battles less dramatic/too short.
* Bloodlust - Is one or both characters bloodlusted (willing to do whatever it takes including maiming and killing to win)?
* Offensive/ Defensive battle - Is one person just completely attacking the other? It is harder to fight a defensive battle than it is to go for killing techniques and fight offensively (there is a reason the saying the best defense is a good offense exists). For example, Ryoga usually has this advantage in fights since he is usually on the offensive (attacking Ranma) and he (at least at the beginning of the manga) was perfectly willing to seriously hurt/kill Ranma whereas Ranma attempted to not seriously hurt Ryoga.
* Universe rules - If the characters are from different universes, which universes rules apply? This some times would make a difference since somethings might be possible in one universe but not in the other.
* Terrain - What is the terrain? This could matter a lot. One person maybe more used to the terrain or be better at using it to their advantage. For example, Taro using prep time was able to choose a terrain in which to fight Ranma that would give him a decided advantage, particularly since it also forced Ranma to be in his weaker form.
* Are the characters at their peak? Is one of the characters sick, injured, exhausted from staying up all night training, starving, distracted, worried, etc.
* Are weapons available and if so what? Depending on the weapon they could be used to add reach, hitting power, defense, etc. If both have the same weapons is one character more familiar with it than the other? Ranma versus Saffron, Saffron was more familiar with the abilities of the staffs than Ranma was.
* Luck - It matters. A person can win by accident.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Will Eisner's New York - Life in the big city

The top annual award in the comic book industry is called the Eisner Awards, having just read this compilation of some of Will Eisner's works, it is easy to see why they would name it so. The stories in this graphic novel are very good, though they are not, for the most part what I would consider, happy stories. I have been meaning to read some of Will Eisner's graphic novels for awhile but have kept putting it off, which I'm sort of sad I did (only sort of because if I had read them before I probably would have read something else, probably of inferior quality and less memory inducing, instead now).

The stories in this graphic novel all, as the title would suggest, revolve around New York City. I've never been to New York city but do live near a large city and have been to other large cities. All large cities have quite a bit in common. Of the original graphic novels that comprise this book, I can relate to the first one, the Big City, the most. In the first book Will Eisner makes good use of everyday things.

Here are some of the things mentioned in the book and my own personal stories about the things:
*Grated air shafts - Every single time I have gone anywhere near one of them I feel I will drop something down into them, even though I never have. This feeling persists even when I have nothing on me that I could drop.
*Stoops - While I would rarely sit on the stoop and watch the world go by, when I was younger I spent countless hours playing stoop ball (tossing a rubber ball at the stoop and then catching it).
*Subway - I've been on subways before, though the nearest large city doesn't have much of a subway. It does have a couple rail lines but they are mostly above ground and not in convenient placement for where I want to go. I generally took the buses and walked mostly, didn't have a car and quite often had to walk significant distances because the buses didn't go where I needed them to.
*Trash - There is a maxim: "One person's trash is another's treasure". This is somewhat true. I've seen people take things out of the trash, I've even done it myself (for example I found some video games in the trash and sold them). There are even people called freegans who mostly out of anti-consumerism dumpster dive for items and food. I can agree with them that most of my society is extremely wasteful but it is not a life style I would willingly choose. I have never dug through the trash for food but eating food that's past the sell by date doesn't bother me in the least. I have purchased close dated food, even past dated foods on occasion (things like cereal which will last a long time beyond the sell by date) for a reduced price. I also occasionally shop thrift stores (though the prices at them have been going up).
*Street Performers - I've rarely seen street performers. When I went to Toronto I saw quite a few but the nearest big city does not have very many.
*Decibel - In the snippet it has a loud person in a library, loud people in the library annoy me.
*Hydrant - This story shows a person who has to bring water from a hydrant via bucket to her house. I've done similar, though for me it was from a neighbor and not a fire hydrant.
*Mail box - An annoying thing is most of the mailboxes have disappeared. There used to be a mailbox on the street corner, now if I want to mail something I have to take it to the post office (or hand it to the postal worker).
*Observer - This mini story annoyed me a lot because I dislike people like them. In the mini story a couple see a crime and rather than report it or do something they decide to do nothing because it would inconvenience them to do something.
*The old neighborhood - A person goes to look at the place they grew up and find it to be very different. I can easily relate to this since I've done a similar thing and seen the neighborhood I grew up in much changed, for example an apartment I lived in for a while is now boarded up and condemned.

There are some things about the city I feel the book is missing. For example: drug dealers. A book on a big city should have had them. I can't imagine a big city without them since I've been offered drugs since at least the third grade and even moving did not cause them to disappear, heck when I went to Toronto I was stopped by a stranger who asked me for some drugs.

While the other three graphical novels included in this book are interesting they don't inspire as many memories. The second one in the book is called the Building and follows lives of four ghosts who are connected to the building. It's mainly about how a building has tales to tell. I suppose this is true but I never really had much of an association with a building, probably because I moved several times and never really liked most of the places I lived. The buildings I lived in undoubtedly had stories that could be told about them, one of them for example had several people hang themselves in the basement but I don't know them.

The third graphic novel in the book, called City People Notebook, is about how behavioral changes caused by living in the big city. Major environmental factors that characterize the city are: Time, Smell, Rhythm, and Space. I know I dislike rushing to get to a place on time only to find out that it wasn't necessary like the first mini story in this part of the book. I also remember how daytime was very different from night time. Lots of smells in the city, the smell I most easily remember is that of a plastic plant that stunk the entire neighborhood up.

The last graphic novel that comprises this collection is Invisible people. I can most relate to the first story in this section entitled Sanctum. This story is pretty damn sad. In this story a person has made himself so unnoticed/unnoticeable that people hardly notice him. It gets to the point that he is accidentally listed as dead in the newspaper which causes him all kinds of problems resulting in him actually dying. The most sad thing is that this could actually happen. People have been declared dead when they weren't before; list of premature obituaries.