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Grave of the Fireflies Review

Grave of the Fireflies

“Fruit Drops VS Fire Bombs”

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Grave of the Fireflies is a Japanese animated war drama film released in 1988 written and directed by Isao Takahata and animated by Studio Ghibli (pronounced “jiburi”). Any fans of Japanese anime are sure to have heard about the famed Studio Ghibli. Eight of their films are among the fifteen highest grossing anime films made in Japan, with “Spirited Away” being the highest which won a “Golden Bear” in 2002 and an “Academy Award” for “Best Animated Feature Film” in 2003. Roger Ebert of the Chicago-Sun Times considered it to be one of the best and most powerful war films.

Having seen “Spirited Away” and having absolutely fallen in love with it, i was on the hunt to find every piece of work that came out of Studio Ghibli. This is when i happened upon “Grave of the Fireflies”. It is one of those lost and forgotten treasures of cinema that you wont usually find on any of the “Top 10 Anime Movies” lists out there. The best thing about this movie is that if you are not sure what to expect going in, which was certainly the case for me, you will be surprised.

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The Story

The film begins at Sannomiya station on 21st september 1945, shortly after the end of world war II. A boy “Seita” stares right at us and speaks a single sentence without moving his lips “September 21st, 1945 that was the night i died”.

American bombers dropped napalm canisters on japanese cities during world war II. The story follows two children, “Seita” the big brother and man of the house and little sister “Setsuko”, who are made homeless by these fire bombs . With their dad serving in the Japanese navy and mother gravely injured they are forced to fend for themselves, trying to find a place to stay and food to eat, in war-torn Japan.

The story itself is based on a semi-auto biographical short story by the same name written by Akiyuki Nosaka in 1967.

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 “Seita” and “Setsuko” stand between hundreds of fireflies that illuminate the night

The Fireflies

On one occasion seita and setsuko are seen lighting their shelter with fireflies and on another setsuko is seen digging a grave for dead fireflies (one of the more moving scenes in the film).The fireflies are a recurring theme and an incredible use of heartbreaking metaphor, anything more i say about this will potentially spoil key plots of the story so i would leave it at that.

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“Seita” and “Setsuko” witness from a distance hundreds of firebombs raining from the sky that illuminate the night

…..Continued on the next page

L.A. Noire Review

L.A. Noire

“There is no redemption except in death”

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L.A. Noire is a neo-noir, action-adventure detective game initially released on 17th may, 2011.

Developed by the Australian development studio Team Bondi and Rockstar Games the creators of the Grand Theft Auto series and Red Dead Redemption.

If those names alone don’t mean much and you aren’t convinced then let me try and change your mind.

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Los Angeles

“A city on the verge of greatness, the city of opportunists, a city of pioneers, a city of dreams and dreamers, a city of undercurrents” are just a few ways the narrator describes the city of Los Angeles circa.1947 as smooth jazz plays in the background. The camera pans across the city’s various neighborhoods giving you a glimpse in to the lives of its people just before you are introduced to your first case in classic “Noir” film fashion. The screen fades out from black and white in to color as the name of the case is displayed diagonally across the screen. It is evident from these very first minutes of the game that the cinematic flow, the writing and music is simply one of the best of the previous generation of games. L.A. Noire is heavily influenced by the films L.A. confidential, Chinatown and naked city among many others. “Noire” is the feminine form of the french word “Noir” meaning black.

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Cole Phelps

You play as Cole Phelps a war hero who has returned to Los Angeles and climbs the ranks of the LAPD solving one case after another. Each case is paced like an episode out of a television crime drama and it feels like it too as you watch it play out.The game could also be played in Black and white mode for a true classic feel. Over the course of an investigation you will first arrive at the crime scene, investigate the crime scene, gather clues and interrogate suspects and people related to the case. Apart from these core elements some cases will have you chasing down suspects on foot and in vehicles, engage in shootouts and the occasional puzzle all the while noting it down in your trusty handbook which helps you keep track of every piece of information you gather and helps you make an informed decision while interrogating suspects. The more you explore the more information you have leading to new leads and new revelations. Here the game rewards the player not by forcing him to explore the map but to organically nudge him towards various branches of the ongoing case, feeding his/her curiosity every single moment.

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You Liar !

The star of the game is the interrogation system that tests the players ability to judge characters based on their facial expressions something that was made possible by the new (new for the time) impeccably detailed facial motion capture technology developed by Team Bondi. This is where excellent technology coupled with incredible acting creates one of the most captivating narrative experiences.

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This bold attempt by the creators of L.A. Noire also resulted in a revolution in video-games both in technological and narrative terms and also raising the level of engagement for games that followed like Beyond : Two Souls and The Last of Us.

The 26 story cases (incl. DLC) make up for a complete, satisfying and rewarding experience that lets you experience the after effects of the horrors of war on the human mind, witness the seedy side of the movie industry and go head to head with gambling racketeers, mobsters and powerful businessmen as you climb the ranks of LAPD with new friends and old enemies.

Despite of its noticeably repetitive gameplay and an open-world that might feel a bit linear in 2017, L.A. Noire sets itself apart as there has never been such a solid, unique and captivating attempt at crime detective genre in video-games till date. Whether you are a fan of Rockstar Games or noir cinema or detective dramas L.A. Noire is a must play for every gamer and deserves a place in your permanent library.

L.A. Noire is available on PS3 and XBOX 360. If you do not own the previous generation of consoles L.A.Noire : The Complete Edition (incl all DLC’s) is available for PC on Steam as well.

2017 – A change in plan

Moving from digital art into writing and design

2016 has been a year to remember for all of us. The world around us has had a profound and significant change in ideologies and thinking. Never before have we felt more strongly about what we believe in and what we wish for the future of others around us and ourselves.

I had my very first professional game development experience last year. For three months i worked with two of the the most awesome guys i have ever met on a game that is just as awesome as them (maybe more). It was one of the most incredible experiences i have had yet to finally be able to say that i am a professional game developer something that has been a dream of mine since i was 10 and i realized that making video games was a thing.

Most of my work involved modeling and texturing environment, character assets. Here you can find out more

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Asura

During this time i was visited by an old friend who once, a few years ago, stood with me and held my hand firmly as i obtusely dawdled on the precipice of sanity looking over the abyss of insanity below me, the ‘written word’.

In 2013 i started reading philosophy and poetry and composed poetry (a couple, not a lot) while i was away from home. I cant really place the exact time or reason why or how it came back to me now. Maybe i felt similar feelings i felt three years ago, and perhaps that rush of feelings (probably hurtful) bought with them the antidote itself. From summer through to the final quarter of 2016 i took it upon myself to write a book of poetry. I made deadlines and personal assignments, i experienced great works by writers and poets from the west to the far east and through the ages from Li Bai to Tagore to Ginsberg to Akira. By the end of 2016 i already have over twenty original poems composed.

Now 2017 is upon us, its a new day.

Having just bought my first kindle i am spending even more time reading about writing practices in the video-game industry, trans-media, and other fiction, non fiction, and of course the incessantly mentioned poetry (sorry, but i cant help it). The kindle and i have been practically inseparable, that’s not sad is it ? I also completed my final year exams for my Bachelors degree and now all that remains is the long wait for the results.

Meanwhile i have decided to continue writing and honing my craft moving forward and branch out into writings other than poetry whilst actively searching for a job. I am not making any promises, but getting a job and having a poetry compilation published are two goals that i am striving for this year.

Wish me luck.

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