The Most Important Things – Christmas Thoughts 2009

A Gundam SEED Christmas!

It’s very early on this cold and lazy Boxing Day 2009 morning as I write this blog. Right now I’m having a breakfast of leftover Christmas ham and toast topped with hot coffee. I’m listening to the audio stream of DZMM, as the husband and wife tandem of Julius and Tintin Babao interviews CNN Hero of the Year Efren Peñaflorida about the changes in his life after winning the prestigious award as well as his experiences with the pushcart-education advocacy, the Dynamic Teen Company.

I listen to his anecdotes on how his volunteerism and civic service with the street children he teaches is very hard yet very fulfilling in his life, and that he counts his blessings and willfully shares them with everyone he cares for. He says that even though times are hard, he’ll keep on going with his advocacy because he sincerely loves doing it and finds pleasure in seeing that he makes children happy by giving time to teach them.

Counting our blessings is a very important moral we all have to understand, especially during the Christmas season. While it is humanly normal that we like to expect nice gifts and good fortune during Christmas, recently I realized that we should be happy with what we receive and never envy what other might have. Keeping it simple will give us less pressures and stress, and finding happiness in the little things will make our lives more bright and fruitful. We should always appreciate what we have now, before it’s gone. And if we have a chance, let’s find time to share our blessings to those we know that needs a little more help and cheer.

So on this Boxing Day, when most of us go out to the malls and buy the stuff we want with the blessings we received or saved this Christmas, let’s keep in mind that the most important blessing we have is what God gave us and that we should at least be happy and thankful for that, and that everything we receive, we should consider as a “bonus” to make our lives a little more fruitful. Remember that it’s the simple things – our health, our faith and our families, friends and loved ones – are the most important things.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a fun New Year. =)

Where the “F” is HTVF? … and Gundam Astraea Type F

Woke this morning to a shock…

HERO TV Forums has gone AWOL!

My favorite forum – gone!

Every time I tried going to the site, I always get this error message:

“Notice: This domain name expired on 01/07/08 and is pending renewal or deletion”

So WTF – what the fuck happened to HTVF and where the fuck did it go? Did somebody forget to pay the server? And why weren’t there any notices?

I’ll try contacting my forum friends and Admods to find out more about this catastrophe, and I’m bringing GSR up to speed to take in stragglers.

{Author’s Note: HTVF came back a few hours after I posted this article. Hopefully it was only a minor problem on its server, but it looks like its not back at 100% and still has some glitches.}

In lighter Gundam news, the crazy kids at Dengeki Hobby just released pictures a nice looking Gunpla of the Gundam Astraea Type F from Mobile Suit Gundam 00F. I really liked its red-orange colored armor on a faded-gold frame – thinking Sazabi on a Strike Freedom frame.

Also something I found interesting, Pink Tentacle summarized a Science Portal article about how much it would cost to build a real Gundam. The estimate to build a close-combat Mobile Suit prototype, barring the humongous labor costs, fictional special alloys for construction, and any kind of flight capabilities and weaponry: a whopping SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS ($725,000,000). And the Gundam won’t be able to do those stunts and moves we’re all familiar with it – all it would do is walk.

But still, its a Gundam. I better start saving then.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Episode 01: Celestial Being

Finally watched Episode 01 on the net, and I’m giving mixed reviews.

Gundam 00 started off like the usual way a Gundam show starts – there’s fighting, the new Gundams showing off against other mobile suits, plus a battle in space – so there’s nothing new here. Now for the finer details.

Mobile Suits – the core of any Gundam series is the mecha in the story, but I feel Gundam 00 doesn’t come to par with other series, especially Universal Century, which is the benchmark. While I’m still ranting about why the Excia looks like a malnourished second cousin to the Turn A Gundam of the series of the same name, it was saved by the other three – Dynames looks like a cooler version of the SEED’s Buster (probably so as to avoid Buster’s bad merchandising results), Kyrios looks mean in its Waverider mode, and Virtue is awesome with that particle cannon. Too bad Virtue had very minimal show time – I think I’ll enjoy Tiera’s MS over Setsuna Excia.

We also have to consider the grunt MS. The first one (Patrick’s) looks to be an Acguy wearing something out of a ballet recital – the color and wings made it look bad. Same goes with Junkekuren’s mono-eyes in space. So in the mecha division, Gundam 00 is currently ranking below Turn A Gundam for me – even Gundam SEED Destiny, for all its failures, has cooler, if not cartoonish, mobile suits. Gundam 00 better up the ante in MS design.

Characters – I agree that most of them seemed to have jumped from Loveless and right into the action with Gundam 00. Well we can’t help that – the success generated by SEED with the female demographic of fans indicates that Gundam, once a predominantly male oriented show, is going more mainstream and attract more teenaged girls into its fandom. The Gundam Meisters (they sound like hamburgers) are yaoi-attractive, and I won’t be surprised 00 will go the way Wing did. For the rest of the characters, most of them looks to be rehash of people in SEED (female captains, songstresses, princesses, etc.), and the trends seems to continue there. Thankfully Haro makes a comeback – Haro is integral to a Gundam show as the Mobile Suits.

For me, notable characters that I currently like is Lockon, Dynames’ pilot and Haro’s partner, Tiera of Virtue, the Chinese singer agent Wong Ryumin, and Marine Ismail, who looks to definitely be the main love interest of the story, as well as Lacus Clyne’s successor as a princess of peace. The main protagonist, doesn’t interest me that much, except that he acts eerily like Heero Yuy’s I-am-nothing-but-a-soldier character.

Animation – this is where I could say Gundam 00 stands out a little over its predecessors. I find G00 as the best Gundam show to use CGI to its highest quality. G00 uses SEED’s style of multiangled, panoramic and close-in action sequences for MS battles and character shots (several of Setsuna’s shots remind me of Shinn Asuka’s, and the Excia’s first battle brought back memories of Impulse vs. Gaia Round 01), but the environmental shots and backgrounds are more detailed and fluid in their integration in the fast-paced animation. I really hope G00’s animation quality will decline as the show progress, because the first episode has this clean yet detailed animation feel I last experience with Blood Plus.

Overall, Gundam 00 seems to be good at the start, but there are a lot of things that I feel that it needs to improve to feel more like the revered Gundams of old. I hope G00 maintains its impressive animation, have excellent characterization for its cast, and have a story comparable to Zeta Gundam at least, and never stray from focal point of the Gundam franchise’ success – that Gundam is a story of the realities war, hope, and coming of age for those surrounded by it.