So I started playing Hades. I've been avoiding trying it for a while since it was a roguelike game, and I'm not very good at those: only for it to suddenly be everywhere. I guess the game exited beta. Snapped it up once it popped on the Switch, and I've had to play it on Godmode, but the game is gorgeous. Love Athena's character design in particular, and how fluffy Cerberus is. Still not entirely sold on Zagreus' Angry Teen Trying to Run Away from Everything personality, but it's been fun trying to do things like reunite Achilles and Patroclus. The game is fully voiced, the randomised boon system keeps it interesting, and you can add challenges to the game to keep it fresh. Gorgeous art, too. I recommend it.
Also, I saw reddit discussing who the narrator was, and people think maybe it's Homer? Haha! If so, I'm all for that.
Finished Yakuza Kiwami 1 and 2 as well, which took a while: those games are a serious time sink. It's definitely affected the amount of reading I've gotten up to in September. The games are unusual in the sense that I can't seem to predict the plot twists that they sling at you at each turn. Definitely didn't see the end of 2 coming. Funny as it has been to have to keep building up Kiryu at the end of each game, it's been great revisiting Tokyo and Osaka. Also, it made me miss their awesome convenience stores all over again:
Also, Castella cake! I miss that so much. Can't seem to get a good one in Melbourne.
Adjusting to the chaos gremlin version of Majima was strange coming out of Yakuza 0, but he grew on me quickly. The Majima Everywhere system in Yakuza Kiwami and his role in Kiwami 2 are incredible. He's such a larger than life character that he warps the mood and narrative whenever he appears, and I'm here for it.
Also, did they base Sera Masaru's face off Ken Watanabe's? I couldn't concentrate on any of his scenes, it's so good.
Finally, I didn't realise that of all people to make a Yakuza film, they got Takashi Miike. His 2007 film is epic, even if there are some strange design choices. The main weird thing for me was that Majima's eyepatch is on the wrong side. Strange, given how much detail went into everything else in the film, including how the Staminan drink plays a part in beating the final boss. If you can find it online though, I rec it. Even if Miike's style of filmography might need some getting used to.
If you've never watched a Miike film before, I rec starting with Blade of the Immortal (cw: rape, violence), a live action based on the books, about a ronin who cannot die and a girl who employs him to avenge her parents. Watched it during the Melbourne International Film Festival and enjoyed it:
Food, Migration, Colonisation, Diaspora
I'm on this upcoming panel that's part of the Carl Brandon Society series! We'll be talking about food, colonisation, and migration. Tickets via donation to the Carl Brandon Society, available here. Might be a bit of a rough time slot for fellow friends in Melbourne (1am :o!) but I will be awake, I swear. Hope to see all of you there, and if not, the video will be up on the society page in 1-2 weeks for everyone to watch at their leisure. The other amazing people on the panel are Aliette de Bodard, Jaymee Goh, Nibedita Sen, and Michi Trota. All proceeds go to the Carl Brandon Society to support their major programs, which include the Octavia E. Butler Scholarship for writers of color attending the Clarion and Clarion West writing workshops.
For people curious about my food-related writing so far, I'll be discussing some of it during the talk, but here's the list:
Seven Parts Full | Translunar Travelers Lounge | Free to read
Life in Achar | Avatars Inc | Free to read
Garuda | Curiosities 6 | Buy | Not exactly about food, but does involve a long section about one of my favourite things, tao hway
Everything Under Heaven | Uncanny | Free to read
Thanks so much to Michi for inviting me!
Things I've Watched
Speaking of things I've watched, one of my favourite films ever, Kung Fu Hustle, is on Netflix. Check that out. Watch it in Cantonese for preference. It's a comedy and action masterpiece, a deeply stylish, super entertaining film. There are some cringeworthy parts, like how the gay character is played for laughs (but who also has some seriously awesome fight scenes). The film has aged relatively well, though, and is worth watching for the Lion's Roar scene.
Just finished Season 2 of Taco Chronicles. Incredible series of documentaries, made me super hungry to try the huge breadth of this very flexible food. You can get some of it here, especially the popular ones like pescado, but the more obscure ones like goat – likely not.
Things I've Read
Akwaeke Emezi | Freshwater | Akwaeke's debut novel is a surreal book about having a fractured self, caused by spirit possession. Explores coming of age themes, asexuality, dysporia, queerness, and sexual trauma. Difficult and powerful read. I found some parts of it hard going myself, but Akwaeke is an incredible author, with highly compelling prose.
Darcie Little Badger | Elatsoe | A book about a young girl and her ghost dog trying to get to the bottom of her cousin's death, this was one book where the surprise!vampires element was not just great but illustrated an amazing point about colonisation in America. Loved this book so much. Highly readable, very well paced.
A Final Note
This has been such a wild month, even for 2020 standards. Great as it has been to watch the daily case numbers go down to 10+ in Melbourne, seeing what's happening to the rest of the world has been surreal. The trash fire in US politics always feels so hot even all the way here in Australia. So hot that my senior citizen dad has learned how to drop memes and burns on Whatsapp. I can't believe it's already so close to the American elections all over again. Best of luck everyone. Please vote that guy out. I don't know how the world can deal with another four years of his nonsense.