Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Anime Review: ToraDora

It's quite rough going back on the anime boat after not watching anime for a good two years. Seeing mountains and mountains of gigabytes of anime growing in your hard drive is actually quite demotivating, like looking at a mountain of homework. So demotivating, that I was catching up on my already lost childhood watching Disney movies and thanks to that I developed a unhealthy penchant for musicals.

Ever since I've completed my HSCs I was just flicking through the mountains of anime I was collecting, watching a few random episodes of various series here and there aimlessly, just to burn time. Until, a particular anime caught me with it's magic on the very first episode and kept me engaged until the end of the series.

Toradora was unique to me, I especially loved it's eccentric manner, plot development, clever developers and it's tear jerker last arc. I won't spoil it too much, but I would like to say that it's strangely addictive, like watching a gingerbread house being slowly soaked by a light stream of milk, however unlike the later one, it's much more engaging.

The story revolves around, a character named Ryuji Takasu, a male high school student with a natural hostile appearance, however in contrast he's the most nicest, caring and most innocent guy, a guy could ever be, surprisingly this has a moe effect. What does he want more than anything else? Alot of friends and a girlfriend, just like any other male student protagonist want. However due to his appearance, misunderstandings occur, wickedly funny and cruely sad that this conundrum really wrecks his confidence which is noticeable within the anime. Another major character to mention is Tenori Taiga, a small female student within the same class, who is so cute that she's revered to the likeness of a doll and yet has a brutal and violent personality, imagine a loli with a extreme case of tsundere issues. Both of them have a crush on each other's respective best friends, and thus both decides to co-operate with each other to help them score. Sounds alot like lovely complex? Well, it is, I'll let that loose, however! Toradora has it's own set of originality that it's well worth to watch!

I especially like the contrast between appearances and personalities which really accentuates the irony within the anime, and that's what the anime's core is, the irony of two polar opposite characters creating a checker patterned mental imagery whenever their together, developing friendships, breaking barriers, learning new things and ultimately falling in love.

I also enjoy Toradora's insubstantiality, most anime producers would often just stick with one set of atmospheres or one motive and work with it for the rest of the series, usually these motives have been used before by other producers and they are adopted because they work creating popularity, thus creating a genre. However, Toradora's different, I specially appreciate the producers who worked with this masterpiece. They adjusted the jokes, colors and dialogue to compliment Toradora's fast yet smooth and streamline plot development, easing everything into a tight neat package of 25 episodes ensuring that nothing's abrupt or sudden but remained...natural. For example, the beginning was comedic, the dialogue, the jokes, the light bright colors and Ryuji's conundrum was brought out in a whimsical fashion. Yet the end was dramatic and overtoned with romantic seriousness, thinking back on it, it was a real surprise how the anime just seemed to flow so naturally in between two completely different beginning and ending. From laughing to well...um...being moved in a manly way, it was simply amazing.

The artwork was nice and easy on the eyes with high quality and attention (I haven't noticed a single background stock character missing a face part or the edges of the background faded away), you can tell immediately that the anime wasn't budget made, but a proper anime with proper backing, meaning proper artwork. The standard of the artwork was consistent, unlike some other anime artwork where only the first and last episodes are in substantial quality. Despite being a more slice of life anime, there are the occasional action scenes, and I must say, they did the action scenes properly, I'm not talking about the choreographing, though it was impressive, I was more impressed with the frames per second, it wasn't stuttering or skipping a lot of valuable frames, meaning the producers really went all out with this anime in every detail they can get their hands on.

The voices of the characters were noticeable. They were either all main stream voice artists or unique voice talents. For example, the lolicon tsundere voice super power Rie Kugimiya, whom made serious debuts as Shana from Shakugen no Shana, Louise from Zero no Tsukaima and Nagi from Hayate no Gotoku.

Overall, Toradora was great, a unlikely good find within my treasure mountain and most certainly worthy of being watched.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs

Jobs, there's nothing hotter than jobs right now during the recession. unemployment rate here in Australia is roughly 5.2 and the economy hasn't been this bad ever since WWII, old news I know. What do all these facts and figures mean?

Well, let me explain through this post as I've been in the thick of it for a while now and thus I experienced the ups, downs and the loops. and made observations regarding this one hell of a ride. So, not everything here would be relevant to your particular situation, and of course, you may or may not agree with me on this as this is a topic which borderlines on psychology and varying perspectives.

Well firstly and most obviously, it's hard to keep your job and it's even harder to get a job. Business's are down sizing, turning into alternative means such as adopting a different business model or business management infrastructure, this ultimately means firing and very happy human resource department heads.

Secondly, business's aren't looking for anybody who's inexperienced. There's been a considerable down fall on the number of entry level positions and positions which doesn't demand experience and for those that don't mention that, you can say 70% of them prefer someone who's had experience. I've been to interviews for entry level positions which demand fresh inexperienced employees but they honestly want someone with a minimum of 4 years experience but willing to work under trainee wages.... Employers would usually jot down very high standards on the job advert or simply act wicked and tell their true standards once your there. For someone like me who's never had a full-time job before, a fresh high school graduate and could only stay for 6 months full-time due to starting university next year, would ultimately never get. Thus, there's been a whole new division of people and those people are those who doesn't have the experience or qualification for various reasons and thus certain business's tap into this market as hiring cheap temporary immediate man power.

So, can a fresh high school graduate such as myself who's only ever had various part-time/casual positions to find something for the next half year? In certain cases, a temporary position? Well, you can, but it's hard. I suggest you try scoring a job through a contact, family, friends, anybody, rather than cold canvassing. It's harder for a friend or family to refuse you and chances are you'll score a job.

So how do I get a job? If you can't get a job through a contact, then I suggest cold canvassing, cold canvassing is well, quite awkward, you go out there and just simply ask for a job. However, I suggest you try to establish some small talk beforehand though. Calling the place which is offering a position is a great approach too, as their would be a more immediate response. Another thing to mention is that the internet, is a good information source for research but applying for jobs online would be a lengthy and a hard approach, simply cause there would be hundreds of applicants and most of these applicants are cut due to the automatic resume review software (A birth child of word count and word search).

So what kind of hardships are you most likely to face? Well, firstly, discrimination, I've been refused to so many telemarketing and sales positions at job interviews simply cause of my age, which is quite preposterous as age shouldn't be a hindrance to my working performance. Another thing to mention is, if your from a minority background, it'll be harder (I won't go indepth with this), employers now days are so picky due to the rise of numbers in applicants that they'll drop you for unrealistic reasons such as physique when it's for a desk job. If these things happen, don't feel bad, would you honestly want to work for someone who's going to hawk you at every little fault you have?

So how to handle a job interview? Well, make prior mental preparations first, of course you'll be most likely anxious, worried on which strategy you should adopt. But to be honest, just be yourself, relax and think that there's no consequences, if you do well in a job interview you get a job, if you don't, well you haven't exactly lost anything. In fact, you've gained something, a practice run and something to reflect back on (though I've been to so many that job interviews seems some what routine and superficial). Never go on a empty stomach, eat something just before a job interview, being anxious and hungry would really put pressure on you. Also remember that personal questions, which has no relevance to the job isn't allowed to be asked, thus you may refuse them, simply say "I don't think this particular personal detail of mine will affect my work performance".

This may come off as superficial but I did notice a stark difference between male and female employers/human resource managers/interviewers. Men tend to be more factual, they would rely on the details of your resume and use you as a verification, it'll be rather relax in most cases, so try to put up some small talk in between, asking questions is a good approach (but not too many questions), never ever let the interview be silent for long, overall Men only focus on the performance and eagerness you can apply to the position. Women are complex, some women act like men, some women....well act like women, it's abit of a gamble. Overall women are more personal, they'll much rather hear all the details from you and they would look at your resume with sheer minimum. Ultimately, what women look for is something amongst the lines of whether they want to work with you, as a friend, etc. If your a man be careful of the power obsessive woman who's into feminism action, every word must be thought before hand, and she's quick to accuse you for anything, she's angry all the time, in particular to men and she's irrational, she'll see you as a target. You can't do much against this particular kind, she's already made a judgment the second she saw you and everything she hears from you would be accounted for as a hostile threat. Whatever you do, don't get her even more mad, acting like someone with huge iron balls will be your finishing act and could possibly be a law sue for sexual discrimination. Overall, women tend to be more discriminative, age, looks and race is some what important to them in comparison to men interviewers and usually they believe they can use their granted power to their personal discretion. Of course, not all women are like this, some of my best interviews are with fair women interviewers, I've only mentioned this negativity as a educative motive.

Try doing a short term training, RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) and RCG (Responsible Conduct of Gaming) is probably the most popular choice, as they would allow you to work in a bar which has slots or anything, though working in a bar isn't suited for everybody. First Aid, would be another useful qualification as you could be potentially be paid more as a safety officer for OH&S. What you shouldn't do is be a sucker for hospitality skill packages such as barista and such, trust me, those are absolutely useless. If a cafe turns you down cause you don't know the know how to work a coffee machine, don't be tempted, their just putting you down softly.

What to watch out for, well. I would have to say, you don't feel disheartened whenever you go to one of those quota interviews. Quota interviews are mock interviews set up by business's which has a interview quota which they have to fulfill. Another thing to mention is that you should try to remain optimistic, see the whole thing as a game, that way you could get creative, and employers like creative people, but there's a thin line between creative and snobbish so know your limits. Also watch out for triangle schemes, jobs which offers only commission are clear signs of the triangle scheme, so watch out.

If your someone who's young and able and have no future plans whatsoever, then I recommend trainee positions. These trainee positions usually last for at least a year, and you get paid a trainee wage of roughly 400 a week, not much, but you get a qualification, training and a safer potential job approach to earning a average of 1500-2000 a week. These trainee positions are alot easier to get into compared to what I'm going after and ultimately if your being supported, it's worth your while.

Largely, job hunting is a stressful cocktail of trial and error, experimentation, failures, false leads and so forth. Best advice, try to remain optimistic, change your strategy every so often and learn from previous experiences and analyze the situation your in, as job hunting isn't cookie cutted, this way at least it doesn't implode in your mouth and leave a bad after taste....I could really go for a cowboy.

Anyhows, a few links:

government job search
career one

Job outlook's a great site, it tells you details regarding the position, the growth market of it, where it's being offered, training and the average pay. So it's a job encyclopedia.

Awkward, warning: tipsy rambling

For the sake that, this blog is a personal journal of mine, which is publicly accessible. Plus, I wasn't fulfilling my responsibilities as a blogger, I felt entitled to write something about my day.

I have just arrived from a friend's birthday party at a club, so I'm a little tipsy, not drunk, but tipsy, firstly cause I only had one cocktail, and half of it was stolen. Plus, due to a previous life error regarding alcohol, I made a promise to myself or to another that I won’t be drunk in front of these particular friends of mine ever again, or was it a promise to not drink alcohol in front of them ever again….I was drunk and had a hang over, so I can’t remember it in full detail, hopefully it was the first one, I hate breaking promises.

Overall it was a great night, beautiful ladies, good atmosphere, good friends, good drinks, but something wasn’t functioning within me, no it wasn't a penis erection problem, I'm very healthy down there.

I have come to a notice that, it was an awkward moment for me to see friends after god knows how long, immediately after the party started. I'm pretty sure everyone has experienced this some point in their life. Mine just happened recently. I had a pretty lonesome life until now, maintaining minimum communication and only developed professional relationships and I adapted to that life style quite nicely. To be brief, I was really rusty.

So I haven’t met or even spoken to a few old friends for nearly half a year. From previous experiences at life, to me half a year is a sign that I’m no longer affiliated, I’ve never grown accustomed to a long term friendship with a group of people, thus confusion arose. It was a simple matter of come and go for me. However, this night was interesting to me never the less and well, a good personal experience.

Firstly, I found it rather hard to mingle in well, my conversation skills were shallow, not engaging, overall I was boring. Maybe I was thinking too much, maybe a portion of my brain stopped functioning after being blasted to tiny little bits by dance music, ultimately the result was that I was a complete buffoon who simply stood there like paper weight, confused and lost for no apparent reason, and that was no good, cause I don't look good physically speaking so I couldn't pull the whole dumb male model act. I’ve lost the muse, I’ve lost the groove, I just felt as if I was wearing a horrible yellow shirt with a purple tie (not my favorite color combination mind you). Not to mention the music made it hard for me to listen to, well pretty much anything, I’m actually hard at hearing, it’s from my father’s side, this means conversations were well…going one way really.

Secondly, I’ve broken a glass (I karate chopped a friend’s wrist as to stop him from drinking, but he was so drunk he couldn’t produce a proper grip and I was so tipsy that I lost my control of physical exertion), sure it was just a glass, but my attempt to cover it was horrible. Not only that, it was a real blow to my already bruised ego at the time. I felt horrible, I felt as if I wanted to run away, my mind was irrational, etc etc. I went outside to escape, under the pretense of wanting fresh air and escorting a friend to the nearest train station….lol at my loserness.

Then…….well…I came back. Not too sure why, maybe I wanted to save face, maybe I found it dishonorable, never knew, I just went back. At least the pretense of wanting fresh air was a reality.

At least the cool air had cooled my head, I was rational again. Still, I took the defensive measure, coming back to the group silently, sitting on the edge. It was awkward, I felt awkward, ashamed, and well…horrible. Not meeting friends in a long time, yet I couldn’t speak a single proper sentence to them and I acted like a total jack ass…yea brilliant.

Well, it was a good night overall. Not too bad and I wasn’t a total trash….someone already took that role, though I did want to take that role for myself. Anyhows, it was quite fun escorting a drunk friend bickering at me for taking him away from his potential lady, who happened to be happily married and he was flirting on her next to her husband. But I must say, he was probably the smoothest talker and the most romantic Casanova when he was drunk than I would ever be, and that my friend is something to instigate any man's endless envy.

Thinking back on it, I was just panicking over nothing, I was in the vice like grips of confusion losing my precious calm composure and I hope it never happens again. I just hope I would look back to this memory and cherish it.

Thinking back on it again, this is one hell of a very embarrassing post. Good thing, I don't have any followers. I better hit the publish post button before I'm fully sober.