Friday, 13 February 2015

Dragon Age: comparison post

This will be my last one for a while! I promise :P This post should be safe for reading even if you haven't played Inquisition. There are no spoilers to the story in this post.

Having played all three games several times now I can confidentely say that Origins is still the best and 2 is still the worst. As much as I love Inquisition it's missing a lot of the variety that Origin has. Inquisition is so much about mages and there's so much about elves going on, but dwarves have pretty much gotten the boot from the game. Orzammar, Kal-Sharok, Deep Roads and dwarven customs are only briefly mentioned in dialogue and on war table missions, and as much as I hate the Deep Roads they are a given part of a Dragon Age game, and I rather wish they would've kept the Deep Roads and kicked the Fade. The tiny bit in Valammar hardly counts. Even 2 has more dwarven stuff than Inquisition, tbf despite the lack of variety in areas in 2 that game still has more variety of people and customs than Inquisition does. Though I do appreciate the fact that the Avvar are finally in a game in Inquisition.

As much as I got tired of being stuck in Kirkwall in 2, I absolutely adore the time spent in Denerim in Origins and I miss cities so much in Inquisition. Val Royeux and Redcliffe don't count. Redcliffe is bigger in Origins than in Inquisition. In Inquisition Redcliffe is barely bigger than master Dennet's farm. Heck, even Lothering and Honnleath in Origins are bigger than Redcliffe in Inquisition! Val Royeux in Inquisition seemed cool at first but it's basically just a glorified village. There's no city atmosphere there. That said, Inquisition has some amazing areas to explore, my favourites being Hinterlands, Crestwood, Emerald Graves and Emprise du Lion. But just as much as I loved Denerim, Ostagar and Redcliffe in Origins, I hated Orzammar and the Circle Tower. And likewise I was so bored and/or annoyed going through the desert areas (Forbidden Oasis, Western Approach, Hissing Wastes) and Fallow Mire in Inquisition. Fallow Mire mostly because I always want to explore the entire region and to do that I have to enter the water and when I do that I get attacked by hordes of undead. It's so annoying.
Hinterlands, Crestwood, Emerald Graves, Emprise du Lion

I loved the story in Origins, but despite all the choices you can make in there, it doesn't seem to affect the world as much as one pivotal choice in Inquisition - the choice whether you should side with the mages or the templars. I have always felt that the mages were right in their rebellion so out of my four playthroughs of Inquisition I only sided with the templars once, in my latest one, just to see if it would make any difference. And actually it did! I feel like there's suddenly more substance to the storyline, but not only that - there are no red templars (thus far, I haven't completed that playthrough yet) every area that was previously occupied by red templars in my other playthroughs (like their camp in Crestwood) are no occupied solely by Venatori. The presence of Venatori when you side with the mages is never fully explained, it's only assumed that some vints still remain on the Elder One's side. But the fact that red templars just don't show when you've sided with them is strangely satisfying. It feels like you've saved an entire group of people just by taking them in. So which side you choose has an actual and prominent impact on the world. In Origins it doesn't matter. It's just a matter on what sort of army you get in the final onslaught. Side with mages, get mages in army. Side with templars, get templars in army. Side with elves, get elves in army. Side with werewolves, get werewolves in army. But there's no tangible difference in the world. In 2 even if you sided with the mages Orsino still turned into a monster, while it would've made more sense to have had him by my side and help me fight Meredith. There's virtually no difference what happens in 2 either.

It's my theory that 2 was so bad (although I did enjoy playing it) because it mostly worked as a prologue to Inquisition. Everything that happens in 2 leads up to what Inquisition is all about. It's also bad because Hawke has basically nothing to do with anything that happens in the game. Stuff would happen even if Hawke wasn't there, while in Origins the Warden makes things happen, and the Inquisitor is the reason things happen in Inquisition.

Something I missed both in 2 and Inquisition is the ability to just turn around whenever and wherever and have a dialogue with that specific companion. Why can't I do that?! It makes no sense! Also, in Inquisition there's a lot of party banter involving the Inquisitor, but there are no speech options for the Inquisitor. Like why can't I participate in a conversation concerning myself? I also miss gifts. I want gifts for my companions in Inquisition. I also want an approval bar so I can physically see how much someone likes me.
All of them have amazing companions and characters overall, But Origins win because of the quests. Sure, there are a few fetch quests and a few annoying quests that involve running back and forth between places and getting attacked on the way (because I can never travel from one place to another without getting attacked), but the major quests are amazing. As much as it scared me shitless the first time I played the game (and that's an accomplishment) Paragon of her Kind is an amazing quest, and there hasn't been a single one like it since. I hate the Deep Roads but that quest has me scared and excited at the same time. The quest with the Dalish is also amazing, and the whole mission to find the Urn of Sacred Ashes is incredible. There's already so much content in Origins, but when the Landsmeet draws close and thereby the end of the game I always wish for more. 2 doesn't have that and although In Your Heart Shall Burn has some amazing story sequences, and In Hushed Whispers is a really cool quest none of them manage to give me the same feeling Origins' quests do. Except for the scene where the Elder One walks through the fire. That scene along with The Dawn Will Come still give me chills.

Now I'm so tempted to start another playthrough of Origins... Maybe I should? I probably shouldn't... But I probably will.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Sailor Moon

It's 15 years ago since I watched this show. But I decided I had to do it again and this time in its original Japanese.

The intro was nothing like the one in Swedish that I'm accustomed to, same with the outro. I can see how the show appealed to me when I was 9 years old, and tbh until the very last two episodes the best part of every single episode is the transformation scene. You know what's funny? Looking through all those 46 episodes of the first season I have learned Usagi's (that's Annie's in the English/Swedish vers.) catch phrases by heart in Japanese, but I don't know them in Swedish. But, to be completely honest - the Japanese intro is better ;)

The story was so slow. Probably due to it being an anime and it thus being full of fillers. Also it was a bitch to watch to begin with because I never liked Usagi. I always thought of her as an incredibly annoying pain in the ass, and I was so grateful when the others started showing up. Ami was nice. I love her persona and her equipment (probably because I can relate to her), Rei is necessary to bring Usagi down to earth, but my favourite Sailor Senshi (that's 'warrior') is Makoto, Sailor Jupiter, she's badass and tough and takes no bullshit. Why couldn't she have been the protagonist? That would've made for such an interesting and cool show!

But generally the show was slow. Too many fillers, too long to gather the rainbow crystals, too much dallying around with Jadeite, too much cluelessness with the princess... It took too long to get going and I thought about dropping the show altogether more than once.

I really liked Naru and Nephrite and I had begun shipping them long before Nephrite's final episode. That was one of the better episodes of the show and it also had me crying my eyes out. But they are so cute together! ^_^

Couldn't find it subbed ^^;

I also liked Zoisite and his relationship with Kunzite. However, I didn't like Kunzite :P

The last two episodes of the season along with Nephrite's last episode were the best ones in the entire show and those three sort of made it all worth it. I will continute watching, because I want to see the other Sailor Senshi too, and I want to see how Sailor Moon Crystal differs from the original :)

Is it a sign that I've studied too much Japanese if I unconciously analyse their way of speaking during every episode?

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

50 questions about books

It's been a while since I did a thing like this. So here we go :) (Still trying to break my streak of Dragon Age related stuff).

1. Which is the last book you read?
I haven't started reading this year yet. Been too caught up with Dragon Age and TV shows to actually start a book. So the last book I've read is the last book I read in 2014: Svavelvinter by Erik Granström. It's a Swedish high fantasy novel written in a sort of old fashioned way.

2. Was it any good?
It was a bit hard to get into, so I struggled a bit to begin with (plus the text is really small and it's almost 600 pages long!), but when I got into it I really liked it.

3. What was it about it that was good?
I've missed reading a fantasy novel with a lot of living legends, political intrigues, cunning plots, and very morally grey characters. Loved it! Got the second book in the series for Christmas.

4. Would you recommend it to others?
When I told my best friend that I was reading it she told me that she had tried and failed. But I think I'm more into high fantasy than she is, it's also based off of an RPG world and that may contribute. But I would recommend anyone interested in high fantasy with complicated plots to at least give it a try.

5. How much do you read?
Last year I read 46 books. But that was including univeristy course literature, and some children's books that didn't take me more than a few hours to read. But I'd say about 30 books a year, which isn't a lot really (I know people who read a lot more than that - my mother for one).

6. Do you like to read?
Yes! It was the first form of escapism that I encountered. I remember learning to read, and as soon as it clicked into place I haven't been able to stop.

7. Which was the last bad book you read?
Probably Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers.

8. What did you dislike about it?
I had such high hopes for it because I love Disney's version and I went to see the musical back in 2008 when I was in Edinburgh - and it was great. But the book was just boring. I know it's old and children's books have evolved a lot just in the past 50 years. But I loved The Wizard of Oz and that's way older. There was no substance to anything in Mary Poppins, which disappointed me.

9. Do you want to become a writer?
Yes! I've actually sent my first manuscript to a bunch of publishers! Fingers crossed :)

10. Is there any book that has influenced you a lot?
Harry Potter. There's no way around that, is it? I've talked about Harry a lot on this blog. Here's the latest one in which I describe what that series means to me.

11. Do you read fan fiction?
Yes. Mostly Harry Potter, and most of it filling the gap between the end of book 7 and the epilogue Nineteen years later. That's a lovely gap which fans can fill with their own version of things.

12. Do you write fan fiction?
I can't say I haven't tried. But no. I don't. Anymore...

13. Do you have a favourite book?
I read fantasy so I tend to have favourite series rather than favourite books :P I can't pick just one. The First Law by Joe Abercrombie. The Wild Hunt by Elspeth Cooper. Burton & Swinburne by Mark Hodder. The Belgariad by David Eddings. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.

14. Which is the worst book you've read?
Fördömd by Johanne Hildebrandt.

15. Do you prefer physical books or do you have some form of e-reader?
I prefer physical books. Mostly because my eyes get really tired from reading on a screen, but also because I love the smell of books and because you can see how much love a book gets - the more tattered the more loved.

16. When did you learn how to read?
I think I knew a little before school started, but I learned properly in first grade, which normally (in Sweden) is the year you turn 7.

17. Which is your favourite book of the ones you were forced to read in school?
I hated reading in school. 1-3 grade we'd have a book that we'd read together in class and I hated it because everyone else read so slowly :P Then in 4-6 grade we'd vote on a book that our teacher would read to us. In 7-9 grade we really didn't do that thing (not that I can remember) In 10th grade we had to choose a book to read and write a review on it for Swedish class. I picked Across the Nightingale Floor by Liam Hearn, because I love Asian things. It wasn't as good as I thought it would be, but at least it was the best one I was forced to read in school.

18. Which is your favourite series?
See question 13.

19. Who is your favourite writer?
Neil Gaiman. Sorry, Jo.

20. Which is your favourite genre?
Fantasy. Since I was 12.

21. Who is your favourite character from a book series?
Sand dan Glokta from The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, whose cynism I absolutely adore,

22. Has a book ever made you feel like you're somewhere completely different?
My answer to question 6 was that reading was the first form of escapism that I encountered. So yes, many times. If a book can't take me from reality to somewhere amazing, then it's usually not a book that I like very much.

23. Which book do you wish had a sequel?
Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie. I loved Monza Murcatto and didn't really want to leave Styria when the book ended.

24. Which book do you wish did not have a sequel?
I rather wish that The Belgariad did not have a sequel quintology :P The ending was perfect in The Belgariad and continuing on in The Malloreon felt quite forced.

25. How long does it take for you to read a book?
That completely depends on the book! I could read a normal-sized 300 page book in less than a day if it's good enough that I can't put it down. Most of the books I read, though, are between 400 and 800 pages long and if I do other things than read it usually takes about 5-7 days for one book. Unless it's a short story anthology, because those can take me forever.

26. Do you like when books become movies?
Generally not. But then again Disney's Mary Poppins was a lot better than the book...

27. Which book was ruined by it's movie adaptation?
I've said it so many times but - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It's one of my favourite books in the series and they completely ruined it. It's supposed to be about finding out Voldemort's past, what he came from and what he's done etc etc. Instead it's some cheesy high school romantic drama thing. Eugh!

28. Which movie was true to its book?
I've been so turned off about book-movies since Half-Blood Prince, but possibly Neverwhere. Then again that was a movie first, then the motives changed and it became a TV show, which became a book. Maybe Coraline...?

29. Do you read the news paper?
Not a physical one, but I do follow the news on news papers online.

30. Do you read magazines?
I have a subscription on Doctor Who Magazine! So yes, I do :)

31. Do you prefer news papers or magazines?
Magazines, definitely. But preferably the geeky ones. I don't do women's magazines.

32. Do you read in bed?
Oh, yes.

33. Do you read in the bathroom?
Nope. I do my business and get out.

34. Do you read in the car?
No. I get motion sick so very easily in cars. Every other sort of vehicle is fine, but I can't with cars. I need my eyes glued to the window.

35. Do you read in the tub?
What if my book gets wet? D:

36. Are you a fast reader?
Fairly so.

37. Are you a slow reader?

38. Where do you prefer to read?
In bed.

39. Do you find it hard to concentrate when you read?
If I read in the sofa and the telly is on, I do. But otherwise, no.

40. Do you need to be in a quiet room to be able to read?
Actually I prefer reading while listening to music.

41. Who gave you your love for books?
I can't imagine a life without books. But my family is big on reading. My grandparents read a lot and my mum reads a lot. My mum has a lot of books and I've had books for as long as I can remember. My parents always read bedtime stories for my sister and me, and I started my own collection as soon as I could read. To me, not having at least one bookshelf full of books is as weird as not having a TV.

42. What book is next on your to-read list?
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie.

43. When did you start reading chapter books?
Don't know. But I think it was before Harry Potter. So possibly around the age of 7-8?

44. Who is your favourite writer in children's literature?
I want to say J.K. Rowling because technically Harry Potter is a children's series, but I've never been so hooked on children's stories as when I read The Wolves in the Walls, Fortunately the Milk, and The Graveyard Book, all by Neil Gaiman.

45. What writer would you love to interview?
Sometimes I really wish that Lovecraft was still alive... I'd really like to know his own thoughts on his stories and what he thought when he wrote them.

46. What writer do you think you could be friends with?
I have no idea. I haven't met that many and the image you get via interviews and media tends to be angled in some way, and I can't help wondering if it's them we're getting or their work persona. But I'd love to at least get together and have a proper none-fan based conversation with Neil Gaiman. Just a cup of tea.

47. Which book have you read many times?
I've read the entire Harry Potter series as well as The Belgariad more than 3 times each.

48. Which books do you think are classics?
Books whose writers or titles people recognise no matter what literature circles they belong to. You don't have to be a fan of Dracula or Frankenstein to know those titles (or their authors). You don't have to be a fan of Jane Austen to know about Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Darcy. You don't have to be a fan of French literature to know of Voltaire and Les Misérables. And you don't need to be Swedish to know about Pippi Longstocking ;)

49. What books do you think should be read in all schools?
Well, I tend to only read fantasy, and that's actually not considered important enough anywhere to be in schools. And I also know from my own experience that students tend to hate on books they're forced to read. But sometimes the school only wants the students to read to practice their reading not to actually pull the story apart and analyse it, and what better way to do that than to have something light and fun to read? And that's where Skulduggery Pleasant comes in. It's easy enough to read for 9-10 year olds to manage it, and it's fun enough that teenagers will enjoy it.

50. What books should be prohibited in all schools?
Books shouldn't be prohibited. The only way to learn and grow and form opinions is through experience. Books can offer that experience as well as understanding.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Manga tag!

No, I wasn't tagged but I do this anyway - and I'm not gonna tag anyone either - so sue me! :D

Dodger did this on her channel and I was inspired!

1. What was your first manga?
I think the first one I read was Chobits. It was in a Swedish manga magazine called Manga Mania and Chii was on the cover and I thought she was so cute! :3 (I still do)

2. What was your most expensive manga?
Hmm. I don't buy much manga anymore. And last time I did prices were as follow: 59 SEK (€6) for Swedish translated manga, 110 SEK (€12) for American English translated imported manga (specifically TokyoPop, Dark Horse was always even more expensive) and about 70 SEK (€7,5) for original Japanese manga. I think the most expensive one I ever bought was the first volume of Azumanga Daioh or it may have been the first volume of School Rumble. Either one. American copies.

3. What was your least expensive manga?
Any Swedish volume. I had over 40 volumes of One Piece once...

4. What is the most boring manga you own?
I don't own it anymore for obvious reasons, but back when I was crazy about everything manga I got my hands on anything the book shop could offer (which in southern Sweden wasn't anything much in the early 00s). So the most boring manga I ever owned, imo, was Tokyo Mew Mew.

5. What is your favourite manga (series)?
Back in the day One Piece would've won. Today the battle stands between Godchild and Death Note. Those are the only complete series that I still own, because it breaks my heart to sell them or throw them away. I love them too much!

6. What is the most relatable manga you own?
Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo! Japanese that Japanese don't know :P

7. What is one manga you own that is based off of an anime?
First volume of Code Geass in Japanese!

8. What is your rarest manga?
Possibly, Watashi no Suki na Hito? I had a period where I collected everything CLAMP had made. This was a chance encounter and a must-buy!

9. One of your reprinted manga?
Revamped Legal Drug? Except that it's now called Drug & Drop. I have the first volume in Japanese.

10. The most popular manga series you own?
Well, I used to collect both Naruto and One Piece :P But as of right now I'd say Death Note.

11. What is the most damaged manga you own?
I don't damage my manga? :P But if I'm to be picky it's Ju-On -video slide-

12. Which manga has the most amazing art?
I love Kaori Yuki! I started a collection of her work before my manga interest went mostly AWOL. Fairy Cube and Godchild are amazing!

13. Oldest published manga you own?
Easy! It's a Japanese comic from the 70s, bought by my grandfather when he was in Tokyo :P

14. Newest published manga you own?
Oh... Probably the first volume of Durarara!! in Japanese

15. A recent manga that you purchased?
I believe it was the first volume of Drug & Drop in Japanese.

There! This was fun :) And a nice change from the constant Dragon Age posts, right? ;)