Friday, April 4, 2014

New Zealand builds, plans to decapitate, giant statue of King Joffrey

The people of Auckland, New Zealand were in for a rude awakening this week when a gigantic, smirking statute of George R.R. Martin's most hated character, King Joffrey, appeared in their gentle cityscape.

But there's good news for the confused Kiwis who woke up to this sneering edifice complex - the statue's already slated for an early destruction.  Or, at least its head is...

That's because - like the dragon skulls on the coast of England - the statue was erected as as part of a clever marketing campaign for Game of Thrones.  Unlike the dragon skulls, fans of the show get to help destroy this one.

Y'see, as the statute gets more popular in Auckland and online, it'll be fitted with a large, medieval-looking winch with a rope around Joffrey's neck along with a placard reading #bringdowntheking.

From that point, the rope will allegedly be pulled a bit tighter every time someone uses the hasthtag #brnigdowntheking - and HBO plans to show the progress of the statue's destruction on the appropriately named website where the carnage and violence will be streamed live to the rest of the world via webcam.

Unfortunately, because this is New Zealand we're talking about, the web feed won't exactly be HD since they don't believe in a modern, broadband internet (I shudder to remember how long it took to check my email down there...) - but hey, live statue destruction!

One really has to feel badly for Jack Gleeson - the actor behind Joffrey's smirk - because, from all accounts, he's a really nice guy and doesn't deserve half of the hate that passerbys probably throw his way when they see him on the street.

Still, as an actor, there's no higher praise than eliciting a strong reaction from an audience - and when that audience erects a giant effigy of your character broadcasts its destruction live to fans around the world... well, suffice it to say that you've succeeded in your craft.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

First two Hobbit films get the 8-bit treatment, Tauriel subplot thankfully absent

I'm purposefully ignoring the fact that Final Fantasy VI turned 20 yesterday to focus on things that don't make me feel so old and decrepit. this amazing 8-bit summary of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  Created as a tongue-in-cheek way for fans to keep up familiarize themselves with the previous two films before the December release of the third and final film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

This might look familiar to anyone who can remember playing J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Volume One for the Super Nintendo and... goddammit, now I feel super old again.

Anyway, 8-bit Hobbit.  Go!

It's a bit bittersweet that Peter Jackson's time with and in Middle Earth is likely drawing to a close with this last Hobbit film as it seems increasingly unlikely that he'll ever receive the rights to The Silmarillion.

So while these Hobbit films might not be *great*, they're probably the last time we'll get to step into Jackson's version of Middle Earth* so we should appreciate There and Back Again for all it's worth when it hits box offices this winter.

*- Until, of course, he releases the 3D HD remaster of the original The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The return of canine cosplay - awesome Umbreon edition

There's no dancing around the fact that pets in cosplay are some of the most adorable things on the planet - but the most recent canine cosplay to capture the internet's attention is as awesome as it is unsettling.

As if one couldn't tell from her username, Deviant Artist leafeon-ex loves her some Pokemon.  She also loves her dog, and decided to marry the two with an impressive Umbreon cosplay.

And in case anyone needs a reference to what Umbreon looks like in the world of Pokemon...

As someone who's dabbled in the world of canine cosplay, I can't even begin to find the words for her dog's saintlike patience in both accepting the costume and for posing with it.

Apparently, this is nothing new for Leafeon-Ex, who regularly incorporates her pooch into her costume and cosplay ideas.  The Princess Leia / AT-AT mash-up is particularly awesome - and not just because it features  a candy compartment hidden in the dog's costume.

Unsurprisingly, Leafeon-Ex and her dog Jaguar were rewarded for their hard work (and inexhaustible patience) with best costume awards... although she should probably should have won some sort of prize for the awesome  Umbreon photoshoot that she did out in the tall grass.

I wonder how Momo would take to a Sylveon costume for Halloween this year...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Object of geek desire: overstuffed Snorlax bed

The discontinued Snorlax Beanbag Chair ranks as one of the most popular Object of Geek Desires posted on this humble site - and it's easy to see why.

You take a cute character from a beloved video game / cartoon franchise, stuff them full of soft filling, and invite people to plant their butts on it while they play other games.

It's elegant in its simplicity, really.

Unfortunately, the seller of the Snorlax Beanbag Chair has dropped out of the crafting market - which left a gaping, Snorlax-shaped hole in our hearts - but today, loyal readers, that hole will gape no more.

Adorable Korean toddler not included

While not technically a beanbag, the overstuffed Snorlax Bed is about as close to the original lounge item as you can get on the wide and varied world of Etsy.

Crafted by the Seoul-based artist Catherine Kim (IamKnight), the bed measures an impressive 5'8" x 5' which makes it a bit small for your average adult's slumbertime needs but it's absolutely perfect for kids, pets, or your recreational gaming/slouching needs.

Unfortunately, there are a few caveats about the Snorlax Bed that bear mentioning.  First off, it'll set you back $288.00 (+$68 shipping) and it might take awhile to arrive as it's coming from South Korea.

Secondly, the bed is described as a "DIY" project to keep shipping costs down.  From the broken english in the Snorlax Bed's description I take it to mean that the main bed ships unstuffed and you'll need to buy cotton/foam/etc. to stuff it yourself when it arrives.

All told, it seems like a bit of a risky proposition to drop $350 on... but it's hard to say no to a sales pitch like this:

Buy cotton from marrket (10kg), you can make perfect snorlax

I think I'll order two.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Square Enix sees the light with Bravely Default, intends to focus efforts on 'heavy JRPGs' from now on

Legendary JRPG developer Square Enix has finally gotten the message from its global fanbase.

After bringing the world such amazing franchises as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and The Secret of Mana, Square Enix has struggled a bit on how to recapture that JRPG magic for a new generation of gamers, consoles, and handhelds.

Now, it seems, it's figured out the answer: make more games like Bravely Default.

Speaking to Nikkei Trendy, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda said that he's thinking of switching the focus of SE's games back to classic JRPGs to appeal to the core audience that they command around the world.

" the past, when we developed console games with a worldwide premise, we lost our focus, and not only did they end up being games that weren’t for the Japanese, but they ended up being incomplete titles that weren’t even fit for a global audience.

On the other hand, there are games like the JRPG we made for the Japanese audience with the proper elements, Bravely Default, which ended up selling well all around the world.” 

And then, there's the money shot.

"Due to having split [the development mindset] according to regions around the world, we weren’t able to see this clearly up until now, but fans of JRPGs are really spread around the world...

With that in mind, and all of the collective fans, there’s a sense of mass, which loses the image of a niche market... For the new games we’ll be developing from this point on, while this may sound a bit extreme, we’ve been talking about making them as heavy JRPGs."
With that in mind, and all of the collective fans, there’s a sense of mass, which loses the image of a niche market,” continues Matsuda. “For the new games we’ll be developing from this point on, while this may sound a bit extreme, we’ve been talking about making them as heavy JRPGs. I believe that way, we can better focus on our target, which will also bring better results.”
(translation via Siliconera)

W-what bizarro world did we wake up into this Monday?

Square Enix outright admits that there's an audience for JRPGs outside of Japan and it's shifting its focus back to making heavy JRPGs and - at the end of the day - it's in no small part due to Bravely Default's strong global sales.

Well, that and the fact that it's an incredible game to begin with.

Hardcore JRPG fans were excited about Bravely Default from its announcement for exactly the reasons Matsuda mentioend.  Its music and excellent artwork made it a standout title from day one, but its core story and battle mechanics convinced many that it was the second coming of Final Fantasy.

In short, it was the JRPG that fans of the genre have been waiting years for - and it came out for a dedicated gaming handheld that many dismissed as a distant second to the booming tablet and smartphone gaming market.

Let's hope that Square Enix really got the message with Bravely Default... and that we won't have to wait another two years after the Japanese release for the sequel's western localization.

Friday, March 28, 2014

This wheelchair-bound Game of Thrones fan takes cosplay to a whole new level

One of the greatest challenges a cosplayer faces is how to work with the hand that fate (and genetics...) has dealt them.

But one of the most difficult challenges that one can face in life - and these circumstances - is being handicapped.  While wheelchairs do make one's life easier and grant a degree of freedom, they severely limit one's cosplay choices (unless you happen to look like Patrick Stewart).

Or, that's what I thought - until I saw the amazing cosplay of Mica Bethea.

Snapped by none other than Wil Wheaton at Orlando's WonderCon, Bethea's cosplay is nothing short of inspired.

Being a Game of Thrones fan, he decided to tun his wheelchair into the Iron Throne and, because no one in their right mind would ever want to cosplay as Joffrey, Bethea then put together an impressive Tyrion Lannister cosplay complete with Hand of the King pin.

What really makes Bethea's cosplay shine (other than it's sheer awesomeness!) is the fact the even went the extra mile to make himself look shorter.

His actual legs are hidden behind the front of the Iron Throne, and he strapped a pair of calvary boots to his knees to make himself appear shorter.  As for the Tyrion Lannister smirk, well, that's just the icing on the cake.

Well played, sir.  Well played.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Surprisingly kawaii Crimean attorney general is thrilled to be an anime character

In case you missed it, things in Crimea haven't been going particularly well lately.

Shortly after the world got over its infatuation with Sochi, the Ukrainian people revolted, its pro-Russian president fled, and Crimea's new hastily-elected government decided it wanted to leave the Ukraine behind and go back to Mother Russia.

As you can imagine, people in the region have been a bit on edge lately - but all that changed briefly when Crimea's new Attorney General, 33 year-old divorcee and surprisingly kawaii government official, Natalia Poklonskaya appeared in the following press conference.

With her big doe eyes, bewildered expression, and snappy military uniform, it's small wonder that Japanese netizens went completely gaga over the Poklonskaya and made her a fan fart favorite for the month of march.

Source: Rocket News

Although she's on the far side of the world from Japan, Poklonskaya's internet popularity recently caught up with her during an interview when - in the midst of a massive international crisis - a journalist asked if she watches anime.

Poklonskaya is understandably impatient with the interviewers at first - again, what with that whole international crisis churning - but she softens noticeably when she sees her chibi-fied likeness staring out at her from the pages of a Crimean newspaper.

After flipping through the paper, Poklonskaya is generally a good sport about the question and responds that while she doesn't watch anime, her 9-year-old daughter does and she seems happy about seeing herself in the style of an anime character.

Shortly after the cuteness of the question subsides, Poklonskaya adopts rather bellicose language as she calls out the Ukrainians who disagree with Crimea's "decision" to go back to Russia.

Her demeanor is understandable as the Ukraine's national security service recently put Poklonskaya's name on the top of its wanted list for a 'takeover of government power' - and many view her as something of a despot in the area.

Given the rhetoric that follows as Poklonskaya lays out her reasons for accepting her government post, it's amazing that she not only entertained the journalists who asked her the anime question - but she smiled and took it all in stride.

...but then, how could you possibly be upset when you see that you've become a homegrown hero to artists that you'll likely never meet?

Speaking only for myself, I can say that I'd happily check out any anime inspired by Poklonskaya's surprising pulchritude - and anti-rebel rhetoric.