Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Missing Anita Mui

The irreplaceable diva

Dear Anita Mui,

Time flies, another 2 days and the world welcomes a new year.

Time really flies, it has been 6 years since you left us.

I still remember in 2003 when the day you announced your illness to the world, and then the series of farewell concerts, and then the end. Everything was just too fast. Time is extremely cruel to you, isn't? It didn't even allow you to live through the year. Well, it was a really sad year anyway, your good friend, our beloved "Big Brother" Leslie Cheung passed away in April, during when SARS terrified the world, especially your place, Hong Kong. 2003 didn't offer too much good memories to me, and with you leaving, I don't think I want to remember it too much.

It's so regrettable for me that I don't have enough time to know you well. When I was young, I listened to mostly Mandarin songs through local radio stations, so the world of Cantonese Pop was like a stranger to me. I only listened to your music when I have my own pocket money to buy cassette (not even CD ^^;) during my secondary school days.

I did get to read about you through newspapers and magazines. However, I can't say I liked what I read though, the media's usual news about you was the harping and bashing of your private life, family matters, rumors of rivalries with new singers and even your fashion. It's so sad that mentioning of your musical achievements and contribution to charity only surfaced when you were gone. Very typical of such entertainment section in the media anyway.

While you were well known for your rock-styled Cantonese pop songs, I like your sentimental songs more. "似是故人來" (loosely "Like the Return of a Dead Person") and "一生爱你千百回" ("Loving You Thousands of Times My Whole Life"). There is this sad tone in your deep voice in the performance of these songs, which I always find very amazing. There was a time when I would listen to "似是故人來" every night and fall asleep with it. The humming towards the end of the songs is like lullaby to me. ^^ Also, although you didn't sing many Mandarin songs, "一生爱你千百回", "床前明月光" ("Bright Moon Before the Bed"), "长藤挂铜铃" ("Brass Bell on a Garland") are some of my favorite songs as well.

You know, sometime I wish I could be born earlier so that I may live through and appreciate the golden era of artists like you, Leslie Cheung, Beyond, Teresa Teng, Faye Wong, Celion Dion, Malaysian artist Ella and many more. I listen to their music, and love them very much. No "idol" effect, no flashy marketing gimmick, just pure beautiful music. There were many times when I only know a certain really nice song from them, only in complication album featuring their previous releases. It would be so great if I could listen to them when they first came out.

Maybe if I was older, I could have gone to Hong Kong to watch your concert.

It's also amazing to me that I could listen and forget so many popular pop songs available today, while music from your days can be an instant hit to me, and it's just so heartbreaking for me to discover them so late. None of the artists above sing anymore now. Beyond is gone, and Celion Dion ceased her singing career. Thankfully, "the Queen of Malaysian Rock" Ella still has some new releases in recent years. Like many, I've been hoping that Faye Wong would make a comeback, but so far there are just false alarms and rumors.

Among your movies, I love "The Heroic Trio" (东方三侠) the most. I remember watching it as a kid, and often compared it with "Batman". ^^ I watched it again not long ago when I found the DVD in a local video store, and many of the nostalgic scenes came back to me again. Rubber darts, firing machine gun rounds with Qigong, the "Terminator" who possesses Michelle Yeoh near the end of the movie, and Anthony Wong Chausang as the monster. ^^ I don't suppose with his superstar status right now he would take on another of such roles XD, but the movie was really fun to watch.

Your friends in the movie, Michelle Yeoh doesn't do much fighting movies after "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"; Maggie Cheung is never the same as she was in the movie, and she doesn't make any new movie anymore. As all three of you are of legendary status now, "The Heroic Trio" has got to be a real classic now. ^^

I watched many of your ghost and comedy movies as well, and liked them very much too. ^^

I'm sorry I don't know you well to say much, but stories about you have been great inspiration to me. I don't suppose many young artists nowadays need to go through all the hardship as you did for their talents to be discovered. Talent search competitions and reality programs are abundant, trainings are widely available, and there are a lot of channels to promote oneself as well. Then again, I never doubted their quality, but when everything seems so commercialized today, I just can't find much inspiration in today's music, just "appealing sound and sensation" to me I suppose.

But your music, yes, I listen to it and remember the good old days, and I could find the simplest form of happiness through that.

And your bold stage performance and image which earned you the title of "Madonna of Asia" must say a lot about your courage as well. When other female singers were singing bitter love songs (苦情歌), your decision to establish the opposite image in the conservative 80's was not easy I believe, but you did it. They say you revolutionized the Cantonese pop world, and listening to your music from the 80's, I really believed that to be true.

When you left, the lost is felt by not just the Cantonese pop world, but the entire Chinese music - we have lost a great icon. Many singers appear after you, but none of them really made any lasting impact in the industry as you did. Artists like Joey Yung (容祖儿) and Candy Lo (卢巧音) had some bold music trends in the past, but Joey sings mainly commercial pop songs nowadays, and I haven't heard from Candy Lo for quite a while already. Sandy Lam (林忆莲) doesn't sing much now as well. Among the young singers, I like Janice (卫兰) very much, but most of her songs are commercial pop rock as well.

The fact is, we couldn't find another singer like you after 6 years. You are an irreplaceable Diva indeed.

It pained me to read about how your family member disputed your will after you left. Why must there be a fight for it, I have no idea. I don't think I'm in any position to talk about your family matter, but news about it made me really sad. People need to learn more about your struggle and success, your contribution to the music industry and society, and your courage in fighting against your illness, not money issues, even though that seems to be the first prioritized topic when there is any news about you.

Thank you very much for all the good memories from your songs and movies, as well as the inspiration you bring to this world. You will always be one of my most favorite artists. May peace be upon you.

Your fan (one among the millions),
Ngee Khiong

一生爱你千百回 (Mandarin) - Music Video
Video clip is from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.

似是故人來 (Cantonese), from Nanning International Folk Song Arts Festival (南宁国际民歌艺术节) in 1999.
Video clip is from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.

相爱很难 Duet with Jacky Cheung (Cantonese) - Music Video
Video clip is from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.

夕阳之歌 (Cantonese), from Anita Classic Moment Live (梅艷芳經典金曲演唱會) in 2003
Video clip is from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.

Back from Sickness ...

... and laziness

Wasted this blog again, the longest period of absence this time I believe. ^^;

Not sure why, but I had been very unwell at the beginning of this month. I have been quite well this entire year, but this month I had a string of fever/cold/mouth ulcer running on and off for a few weeks. I can't remember which one started first, but bad luck just came one after another. ^^;

The peak period was near the end of the first week, I couldn't breath properly because of a running nose, I couldn't eat or drink without feeling the pain from the ulcer in my mouth, and there was no appetite anyway because I couldn't really taste anything with the nose block.

And the headache >.< I felt like there was a mosquito living inside my ears the whole time. But comparing headache with mouth ulcer, the later was much harder to bear actually. Sometimes I just felt like chewing my lips off to get rid of the pain. >.<

Everything was a drag for me during that unpleasant period. I was demotivated to do many things - including updating my blogs. I was able to kept my main blog running well, but I posted in a very mechanical way. I only started putting in some of my own ideas and a more information into each posting starting days before Christmas. ^^;

But there was no mood to work on Ex at that time though. ^^;

The sickness is one thing, but there was a huge sense of laziness in writing up reviews as well. ^^;

Being well most of the time, it was really hard for me to follow the schedule of the medicines given. Twice a day or thrice a day, before or after meal was hard for me to remember. ^^; So after a while, I didn't bother about them anymore. I started drinking a lot of plain water daily, like four or five big bottles a day to cool down the heat inside the body.

And sure enough, the mouth ulcer went away soon after that, which was a huge relief for me. I got much better days before Christmas ^^

Oh yes, re-watching "Lucky Star" and "Azumanga Daioh" really helped as well. ^^

Time to restart the blog, but I have to go and check on which review is not done first. ^^;

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Super Cutest Kitten EDITED

EDITED: Cuteness is restored! ^^

Cuteness overload

Watched this over and over again, but it's just as cute as ever. ^^

(In .GIF format now, 1.98MB in size, will need some time to load ^^;)

And another one (1.71MB in size ^^)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

1/60 SV-51γ Nora's Unit Part 2

Extra bonus?

After the introduction on the background of this unit in the first review, we'll look at the figure itself.

Unpacking the plane today. ^^

Love those golden stripe on the wings and body. ^^

The pilot figure of Nora is included - placed outside the cockpit initially.

Another of the same figure is in - hidden beneath one of the wings.

An extra figure of Nora included. ^^

Checked on the official site, only one figure is supposed to be included. ^^ An extra bonus really, not that it has much application actually. ^^;

Made of rubber/soft plastic, the pilot figure can be bent very easily, so fitting her into the cockpit is made much easier.

Comparison with the "half" figure of Ozma Lee from 1/72 Transformable VF-25S Super Messiah Valkyrie, Nora becomes a Meltrandi XD

Clear red part in front of the cockpit and the pattern on top of the cockpit canopy.

Nora's personal insignia (?) printed nicely on what would be the head of this variable fighter in Battroid mode.

Very nice details inside the cockpit, with the dashboard painted as well.

Fitting Nora into the cockpit, her hands will sit nicely on the side panels.

All markings are printed on various parts of the body, and are loyal to the design inside the anime.

Feet can be adjusted in fighter mode, to reflect the output of the thrusters.

Bottom view of the fighter.

Very accurate separation of the area painted in different colors, especially the golden stripes. ^^

More gimmicks of the fighter, as well as attaching all the missile launchers and booster units in the next review.

Friday, November 27, 2009

1/60 SV-51γ Nora's Unit Part 1

The great purple sensation

The first review on my Yamato's 1/60 Complete Transformation SV-51γ Nora's Unit.

This variable fighter appears in "Macross Zero", the 5-episode OVA prequel to the original SDF Macross series. In before there is war against the Zentradi race, human beings fight against each others (as it has always been so), as forces of U.N. clashes against the Anti-U.N. faction in the OVA. SV-51γ belonged to the later.

SV-51γ Nora's Unit debuts right at the start of "Macross Zero". After taking down all of the protagonist Shin's comrades, she displayes the first transformation ability of a variable fighter in the series and easily trashes Shin's F-16, which then brings the story to Mayan Island.

I love this variable fighter for its uniqueness in design and combat abilities. What fascinates me first about the unit is its "crown" in Battroid Mode, which looks like the ceremonial headdress worn by priests or shamans in certain rituals and ceremonies, which I think is pretty cool. Also, as compared to VF-0 and the later VF-1, the body design of SV-51 is more human-like in my opinion. The chest and waist are more obvious, so as compared to the earlier which has to be designed to bear the silhouette of VF-1, SV-51 is a more refreshing design in the anime. Another design feature: in one of the episodes, it was shown flapping the wings in Gerwalk mode to lift itself to a higher attitude and closer to the enemy unit, which made it looks a huge mechanical crane to me. ^^ I'm not sure if the wings really has such function, but it's pretty amazing nonetheless.

And combat ability, my my, ^^; SV-51γ Nora's Unit performed a side kick in Battroid mode and overhead kick in Gerwalk mode. ^^

All this while I didn't expect the Gerwalk mode to be able to fight so excitingly.

One must be wondering what the pilot (Nora) had in mind about its unit's capabilities in combat. XD While the anime is supposed to be the prequel to SDF Macross, SV-51γ's maneuverability doesn't really agree to that in my opinion. ^^

Speaking of which, I watched "Macross Frontier" some time after "Macross Zero", and the similarity between SV-51γ Nora's Unit and VF-27γ Lucifer Brera's Unit struck me immediately.

Images are from Mahq Dotnet: SV-51γ, VF-27γ.

Cut out the "γ", and even the purple color scheme, you can still see similarities in places like the feet, position of the wings in Battroid Mode, and transformation of the entire beak (also applies to VF-25 as well).

Distance great grandaunt of VF-27γ maybe? XD

Most people who watched "Macross Zero" prefer VF-0 Phoenix, as it's the predecessor to VF-1 Valkyrie in the original Macross series, or SV-51γ in D.D.'s color - "black is cooler than purple" is the perception of many I believe. ^^ But personally, this purple Nora's unit remains my favorite unit from the OVA, and definitely one of my favorite of all Macross fighters as well. ^^

The pilot is another huge factor for my preference over this unit as well. Nora Polyansky is a very strong character in the anime, and plays the protagonist Shin's arch-rival from the start (as mentioned above) till the very end. Her rivalry with Shin is more developed than that between D.D. and the then younger Roy Focker. She is shown in almost every fight involving Shin, from the first sortie when he is yet the pilot of VF-0, the clash on the island when Shin fights in a damaged VF-0, the interrogation on the island, the struggle over the possession of the Birdman's head, and the final "unfinished" duel. And Nora's is shown to have the upper hand in most of those fights.

Nora's character is more developed than D.D.'s in the story as well. From a skillful but merciless fighter at the start, we are later being introduced to the sad story of her background, which explained her fight against the U.N. forces. She has her stance in the entire conflict, and while it's based on vengeance, it isn't too far away from Shin's background.

Nora is the kind of character whom you would hate at first, and then sympathize. "Yes, I would like to see her fight, but no, I don't want her to die." That was my wish before the final combat, but of course, those who watched the anime would know that she didn't survive. And her death was really anticlimactic. It's as if the writers didn't really know how to end her duel with Shin, so they had to ax her like that as ending time of the anime was coming up. ^^;

A very pitiful character all the way.

At this point, I remember another female character I like who is quite similar to Nora: Cima Garahau from "Gundam UC0083: Stardust Memory". A pirate-like Zeon commander at first to a betrayer nearing the end, she did explained her own stance in the whole conflict between Delaz Fleet and the Earth Federation, and I have the same sympathy for her as well.

Image is from this previous posting on my main blog.

Cima's suicidal attack on Dendrobium which saw her being axed is just as equally anticlimactic as Nora's exit as well. ^^;

And, yes, both of them are very gorgeous women. ^o^

Anyway, Nora's rivalry with Shin is definitely more intriguing than D.D. and Roy Focker's ex-mentor-pupil rivalry. Also, fighting against the great captain of the Skull Squadron whom I support very much? No way am I supporting you anymore, Mr. D.D. ^^;

And that hairdo of yours doesn't help either. XD

And now, onto this actual action figure of SV-51γ Nora's Unit after the long introduction above. ^^;

This is my first Yamato's 1/60 Complete Transformation Macross action figure, and she will stay as the only one for quite a while I believe, since I have no other item from this series on my mind right now.

Got this in May at a hefty price of RM600 plus, but the price is well worth it in my opinion. It's brand new, and it was pretty hard to find anyone who sell this anymore since then.

Saw on a forum recently that someone's trying to sell this off in BIB state at about the same price as I paid for her in brand new state, and I thought that's quite amazing. ^^;

Anyway, the box and the figure are mighty huge ^^

Comparison with the box of 1/72 Transformable VF-25S Super Messiah Valkyrie Ozma Lee's Unit.

Front panel of the box can be lifted to show the content of the fighter.
Pretty good design for display. I'm guessing all releases in the series come with such box design.

That's my hand there for a rough size comparison with the fighter.

Opening the box reveals a paper container contenting the plastic trays enclosing all the parts.

Two trays for the fighter jet, other parts and the display base. There are tabs around the tray to help you to uncover the seal.

The manual and stickers are taped to the back of the paper container.

Extra clear stickers you can apply to the fighter.

Black and white manual explaining the transformation sequence.
Looks a bit like the manual of my mom's oven XD

Top and bottom view of the tray container the fighter.

We'll look at the fighter when it's straight out of the tray in the second review. ^^