trains rights

Thought I’d break things up a bit, and post about something that wasn’t about video games for once. I’ve been watching a lot more TV lately. Lots of shows about trains in Japan. Something I’ve discovered recently is that I really fucking like trains. Not so much the internal specs; what engines they run on or fast they go or whatever, but simply watching them cruise along the gorgeous countryside, or even in a bustling, well-lit city. Don’t really know why it tickles that feel-good part of my brain, but it’s incredibly relaxing to watch a train go by. Of course, I know about the magic of television editing, and that trains and their stations and their passengers have problems. Well aware of that last one. But the core of locomotion is appealing to me. Spending 20-40 minutes at a time watching them ride the rails is a no-brainer.

There are two shows in particular I’ve been binge-watching, the way normies do with Netflix Originals: Japan Railway Journal, and Train Cruise. Japan Railway Journal is more of a “news” type program, focusing on new lines and the economic side of things, with the occasional “let’s have fun actually riding these things.” And now that Russell Totten is no longer the host, the show lost its personality; everything just feels so fake and put-on now. With the older episodes, it felt more casual, with the cast cracking jokes and at least looking like they wouldn’t rather be anywhere else. Like, for fucks’ sake, episode 2 was filmed in a bar, not some stuffy news room. That’s pretty cool, actually.

These days, there’s not much of a reason to watch this one, unless you’re really into the business side of things (and don’t mind some episodes being blatant advertisements for private train companies), and not like me, where my whole thought process is “train go vroom.” Or maybe you want to get really angry at the fact that some company thought it was a good idea to charge seventy-five fucking dollars for this:

it’s a fucking slice of bread with some tomatoes on it!

pictured: a man enjoying his meal

Train Cruise, on the other hand, is the show to watch. It’s far more casual. A revolving door of hosts, each an actor or a musician, traveling down an entire line, all while showing off various sights/restaurants/museums/etc along the way.

It’s very clear that the hosts are having a good time on these trips, which in turn, is fun to watch.

There’s been at least one episode that was pretty serious. It covered how people and local businesses have recovered (or attempted to recover) from the devastating Tohoku tsunami of 2011. But for the most part, these are just some fun shows to watch and relax to. If you took a Benadryl for Summer allergies before watching, you will pass out mid-way through, thanks to all the lingering shots of scenery, and that ambient music in the background.

At risk of being one of those IN THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES dickheads, it is kind of a bittersweet thing watching all of these during quarantine time. Because with the way things are, travel is going to be a no-go for some time, if ever. I mean traveling between states, forget about international travel. Even though these shows are obviously edited for TV; riding a train is not nearly as magical in real life, it still looks like a lot of fun being able to go out into the world and see all the cool sights and eat at some hole-in-the-wall restaurant. I haven’t been able to do that in a number of years, and I might not be able to do that ever again. But at least I’ll be able watch these and live vicariously through the hosts, as sad as that honestly kind of sounds.

Tetsudo English is the YouTube channel where I’ve watching these. I’m sure there are plenty of other channel out there that can be found with a simple search.

sailor and the 7 ballz: hyper fighting

I’ve been continuing my quest of finally being able to chill the fuck out. Keeping my head down and trying to relax. So naturally, this means I’ve been spending a lot of time playing competitive fighting games.

giving alisa bosconovich the “k dash” look

Normally, that just means playing a bit of Tekken 7. I’ve said numerous times that it’s the only fighting game I’m even remotely skilled at. Me trying other games has resulted in disaster. Playing Street Fighter 4, for example, and getting destroyed by teleporting Seth players and Dee-Jay cross-ups, not knowing how to react. Then searching Google turned up fuck all, instead telling me how to do a Hadouken, something I’ve known how to do since I was 8 years old. So I would give up, uninstall the game, and then repeat the next year. This would happen in other games, like Guilty Gear or Dragon Ball or Marvel or whatever. So to have any skill in Tekken was nothing short of a miracle.

But, in playing other games with friends who know what they’re doing, I’ve actually been able to sit down and learn their mechanics. I’ve even been able to win a few times! Convincingly, even! Which is, you know, great.

But what I’ve really been digging on is Dragon Ball Fighter Z. Or Dragon Ball FighterZ? Whatever. The one with Goku in it.

What I’ve liked about it (aside from being, you know, good), is the feelings of nostalgia it brings. I have not watched an episode of Dragon Ball in over fifteen years. But when I did, it was a big deal. I don’t talk about it much these days, mostly because I don’t watch a whole lot of it anymore, but anime was the thing for me as a teenager. Especially on Saturday night. By that point, my home life had gotten a lot rougher, so going out was not really something I could do without there being problems afterward. As such, I spent a lot of time staying in. And I stayed in during the big anime push in the US. Anime on TV. Manga in bookstores. The internet was getting bigger and better, and fansites and fan communities were thriving. For a lonely kid in a broken home, watching anime on Cartoon Network and downloading Japanese Mega Drive ROMs was the most fun you could have.

And of course, Dragon Ball Z was at the forefront of that big push. Not that I had never seen the series before; parts of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z had aired on Fox a few years earlier (6 AM Saturday mornings). But now it was a different, much more impressionable time. Sure, I liked stuff like Sailor Moon, Gundam, and Cowboy Bebop. But this was a show about big dudes screaming at each other for 30 minutes. Every five episodes, they would actually hit each other! It was very compelling at the time.

Anyways. My Saturday nights would see me watching long blocks of anime on TV (with reruns of Forensic Files and WWE Velocity in-between), while looking at anime fansites/forums, and playing ROMs on my shitty eMachines. Now, I definitely spent a lot of time with the Mega Drive Sailor Moon (a really awesome side-scrolling brawler), and Treasure’s 4-player YuYu Hakusho, but I also spent an inordinate amount of time with DBZ: Bu Yu Retsuden. I say “inordinate” because the game fucking sucks. It looks like shit, sounds like shit, plays like shit; a cynically made shitshow designed to take money from naive Japanese children.

but hey, at least you could play as cell

Actually, Dragon Ball games of that time were all fucking garbage. That shitty NES game. The Super Butoden series on Super Famicom. The bad RPGs. Except for one, one very good standout. That was Hyper Dimension. That game was sick.

i like cell

So getting into DBFZ is giving me all these warm and fuzzies from a different, maybe not better, but still formative time in my life. All the big screaming dudes are here, shooting huge fireballs at each other and obliterating mountains in the middle of an empty field somewhere. Makes me want to reinstall WinAmp, put on some skins that make it hard as fuck to see any of the text, and listen to some Malice Mizer while playing it. It’s great. Fighting games are great. Dragon Ball Z is great, at least in theory. Original Dragon Ball is actually great, and you should watch that.