Beam me up…

Starfleet Dance Party
Starfleet Dance Party

Got myself a cameo in “Star Trek — The Webcomic“. Author and artist Mike Farinas offered a chance for an appearance in the comic as some random Trek walk-on part, I liked it and shared it and sent in a head-shot and eventually showed up as a doomed security officer in the current episode. I assume I’m doomed, since I’m a redshirt, but haven’t actually DIED yet, so… there may yet be hope :)

Majel Barrett — who played the first Number One, the eventual Nurse Chapel and voice of the computer, Deanna Troi’s bombastic mother, and in real life, creator Gene Roddenberry’s wife — is the captain of the USS Hood. After the Hood is attacked by fleeing thieves who have gotten hold of a superweapon, it becomes adrift in space… and under some sort of mysterious attack by ghosts who have turned all their antimatter into lead.

Not sure how we’re going to get out of this one.

Space Battleship Yamato (the movie)

Space Battleship Yamato

The movie starts, like all good space operas, in the silence of space. Blaster fire reflects off the eye of a lone pilot; the camera pulls back and we see she is part of a squadron; the camera pulls back more and we see an invasion of alien battleships against an Earth backdrop. Earth ships fire against the invaders, but their weapons are useless. The admiral sends a cruiser to attract enemy fire as he takes his flagship to safety.

The enemy are the Gamilas. They bombard Earth with meteors for reasons unknown, and now the surface of the Earth is radioactive and uninhabitable. The surviving remnants of humanity have retreated to caverns underground, and scientists expect humanity to become entirely extinct within a year. Scavengers roam the surface in pressure suits, looking for scrap metal to help the war effort. One such scavenger finds a mysterious glowing capsule.

The scavenger is Susumu Kodai, brother to the battleship captain sent to die in the opening. The message is from far-off Iscandar, and contains a schematic for a weapon (the wave motion gun), a star drive (the wave motion engine) and a location in the Greater Magellanic Cloud. Humanity’s last hope is to build a ship — the Space Battleship Yamato — that can break the Gamilas blockade and bring help from Iscandar before Earth is lost and humanity entirely destroyed.

WARP!

The original Space Battleship Yamato ran for several years on Japanese TV in the 70s and in the US as Star Blazers in the 80s. Leiji Matumoto’s distinctive characters (tall, willowy women, boylike men with wild hair), themes (anachronistic future tech) and mature plots brought an intensity to animation viewers had rarely seen. Instead of the episodic cartoons until then, Yamato told a continuing story. Each episode counted down the number of days left to Earth. As the series progressed, the crew of the Yamato met the blue-skinned Gamilas and their leader, Desslar, personally or in battle many times, with each earning a grudging respect for the other.

Adapting such a well-known and complex story to the screen is a challenge. When M. Night Shyamalan tried to bring the three seasons of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” to the screen with 2010’s “The Last Airbender”, the heart and humor that informed the Avatar’s similar quest (defeat the Fire Nation before the coming of a comet made the Fire Nation omnipotent) was forgotten, leaving a lifeless mess with a poor, last-minute 3D conversion to darken the already muddy film.

“Space Battleship Yamato” never slows down. Plot and back story are filled in during the film’s few quiet moments, when it catches its breath between crises. Why does Susumu Kodai join the crew of the Yamato at the last moment, knowing its Captain Okita was the one who sent his brother to his death? Why is ace pilot Yuki Mori so angry with Kodai? All the questions eventually get answered.

Fans of the original Yamato will find a few changes. The blue-skinned Gamilas are now a sort of crystalline insectoid hive mind called Desla, and the relationship between Gamilas and Iscandar is closer even than that in the original. The sake-swilling dwarfish doctor in the original is now a woman (but still a sake lover). The sarcastic robot in the original is now an equally sarcastic PDA carried by Kodai — and he gets a bit of fan-service of his own near the end. Yuki Mori is now a pilot instead of bridge crew, but remains Kodai’s love interest. And a lot of people who are alive in the series… are dead, or die, in the movie.

By turning the Gamilas into a mainly off-screen presence and shortening the trip to Iscandar (what took eleven months in the anime apparently takes about a month in the movie), the movie keeps the urgency up and the focus on the main characters. The significantly different ending to the movie makes sequels based on the further adventures of the Yamato in the original series unlikely.

Kodai and Mori on the Yamato bridge

I’ve never seen anything quite like this. It’s not easy to bring animation to live action without seeming a parody of the original, but Yamato lifts some scenes shot-for-shot from the original, including the costumes in many cases, without irony. Well, except for Captain Okita’s beard. I never did buy that.

It’s an epic adventure set in the post-Battlestar Galactica reboot age. There is loss. There is no certain outcome. Victory could still lead to defeat. Life might not go on. There are epic space battles, cool special effects, a meaningful romance, guilt, pain, respect and friendship.

It’s space opera. But, I like space opera, and I liked Space Battleship Yamato: The Movie.

The Yamato says goodbye to Earth

Wizard 101: Arena Season 1 and Automagic

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Well, given the state of PvP as aptly described by The Friendly Necromancer, where endless reshuffles and easy access by everyone to the most powerful healing spell in the entire game combine to make duels extremely lengthy affairs, I’m not sure how Wizard 101’s Season 1 Arena will work out, but they’re going to be having a go at it.

Without the superior gear available as rewards from World of Warcraft’s arena battles, I’m not sure how many people will really want to do hours long duels (even the 2v2 I was doing with my balance wizard + random partners tended to last ages), but for good or ill, the promised arena battles and pvp ladders are coming today. The standings are by level and by overall success, and come with badges and rewards you can’t get any other way, so if you think you have a meaner killer instinct than your everyday, common, pig-zapping wizard, why not visit Diego in Unicorn Way and sign up?

Sean Emeraldweaver, a Wizard101 blogger from Alaska, wanted me to show his video advertisement for his blog, Automagic. Hey, I’m proud to write for Sean’s second favorite blog ;) It’s wonderful to see so many new W101 bloggers. The game definitely deserves more press!

Wizard 101: Housing slump? What housing slump?

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I scurried my way to visit a housing turtle as soon as I finished patching Wizard 101. I wanted to get started decorating my house as soon as I could, but which?

I’d been thinking about buying one of the Wizard City castles, but when I tried to decorate it one last time on the Test server, I found the outside difficult to work with. I talked it over with Kasul, and he convinced me to go with a Marleybone home.

He was right, of course. After all, the builder turtle for Marleybone was named by the people who read this blog! The very least I could do was give him my business!

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Thomas came by to offer some decorating tips, and some friends of his popped in, and one of them had this fantastic idea to go do some 4v4 dueling. Off we went, and we were soon matched up against four identical wizards in Krokotopia garb. But though they were lower level, they were professional duelers and more than held their own in the battle, especially once Thomas’ friends took off leaving us, a Death and a Life wizard, hardly powerhouse damage casters by any means, holding the bag.

The other team had more than enough Rebirth treasure cards to slow the fight down, and of course I could match them Rebirth for Rebirth, so the fight couldn’t end until all of them ran out of mana eventually. After about half an hour of a pointless fight we never asked for, we excused ourselves and took off. Dueling? Nah, not any more. Rebirth has made 4v4 duels last forever.

There ARE some unique housing items available for duelists… so maybe someday.

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I traveled the worlds of the Spiral looking for found or bought items. This is only the bare beginnings, I have a lot more stuff to find, but — here is my parlor. There’s a settee under the bay window that you can’t see, two overstuffed chairs in front of a roaring, candlelit fire, a piano and bench with the Life symbol above, and a bed upstairs.

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This is my park. A maple tree dreams over a still pool, and a found jade column sits decoratively in the back.

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My sorcery room. If I ever get the urge to return to Dragonspyre, I can sit and wait here until the feeling passes. I didn’t even know I HAD this little underground room until I found it, entirely by accident, while exploring. It’s my favorite room so far :)

Next time, I’ll be going from boss to boss seeing if they have anything for me, and I’ll probably bring Allison to double my chances.

I hope Kraysys drops something nice….