the dark knight of the soul

July 21, 2008

Now that there’s less than a week remaining before I’m unceremoniously shipped out of Australia, air freight-style, the time is right for a blog post. I’ve been avoiding the fact that I haven’t been as dilligent or as timely as promised when it comes to updating this thing, and I guess that’s because I knew I would eventually have to write this very post and I wouldn’t know what to say. Well, here it is.

I’ve been spending the last few weeks getting ready. For those of you who have moved overseas before, you will know that ‘getting ready’ in this context more or less translates to ‘spending heaps and heaps of money.’ Having never been a white-collar employee before now, I had to rush out and buy business attire, including a suit, which prompted more than one American Psycho-style moment of self-evaluation. Since discovering how difficult it really is to find stylish business clothes that I feel comfortable in (I’m trying to keep all pastel colours to a minimum here, which, if you take a look at the graduate job/overpriced race meeting crowd, is a lot harder than it should be), I find myself sneering at every ill-fitting jacket, poorly tied-up tie and tasteless shirt I encounter. Presumably, these people spend their entire waking lives being buttoned-down yes-men; I thought by now most of them would have realised how to dress themselves. Guess not. Anyway, it’s something that I haven’t paid any attention to until now.

I’m still in the process of trying to sell my car. Nobody wants it I guess. Come on people, it’s not like I’ve smashed it up that bad. At least, any damage is emotional, not physical. One thing I’m not going to miss in Japan is driving. To be fair, Melbourne’s traffic is becoming exponentially worse with every passing month, but to be in a place where public transport is as popular and ubiquitous as energy drinks or flannel shirts or Apple products is gonna be great. I’ll be stationed an hour and a half from Tokyo by shinkansen (aka death-defying anti-gravity train). But there are some things about Melbourne I’ll be missing.

A huge range of everything, thanks to our ever-increasing migrant communities, is one of them. Amazing bands and live music events are another, despite their extortionate prices. Cultural landmarks such as the Astor theatre, Flinders Street Station, the botanic gardens, Southbank, the MCG are as distinctive and as well-loved as any in other countries, and our innate sense of style far outclasses anything I’ve encountered in any other city (especially Sydney).

Of course, there are other things besides traffic that I won’t be missing. Like six dollars for a Metcard, fickle weather, being a native speaker and as such being subjected to the drivel that saturates newspapers, magazines, television and radio, disgraceful trendy nightspots and their accompanying clientele (although these aren’t endemic to Melbourne), the complete lack of a decent film/television industry, consistent apathy towards important political issues and, on the other hand, uninformed outspoken finger-pointing regarding uncontrollable ones (e.g. fuel prices), and so on.

Japan, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer from too many of these complaints. They have properly fast internet, perfect etiquette and rituals of generosity and politeness (us Westerners would do well to take note), local cuisine that is more about subtlety than sheer quantity and a zany fashion sense. It also boasts being one of the most consistently romanticised countries on earth (at least, from a Western point of view) and, finally and most importantly, a healthy whaling industry.

While there is something to be said for being organised, I have learned over the last couple of years that to try to control too many of the billions of variables that make up your day-to-day life only guarantees two things: firstly, that you will end up feeling frustrated, and also that you will inevitably miss most of the finer details that make the ordinary into something worth noticing, remembering. I know that my preconceptions about Japan will mostly likely turn out to be well off the mark and I will someday come back to Melbourne with a completely different perspective on the country, its people and its culture, and I’m going into it without too many expectations. The only ones I do have are ones that I want and need to control, for my own good – greater independence, more creative output, that kind of thing. I’ve been completely exhausted for the last couple of weeks and to be honest it will be great just to arrive in Japan so I can finally sit back and just let things run their course.

The time I haven’t spent in a delirious state of hyperanimation has been used to get hideously drunk, sleep in late and play bucketloads of video games. For those of you in any doubt, we’re talking hardcore Nintendo DS gaming here. I’ve picked out a few choice game trailers for the unconvinced.

Nanostray 2. One of the hardest games I have played. Still stuck on level two.

The World Ends With You. Ultra-modern RPG and proof that the DS is the only platform you can find games with real style. Great soundtrack, too.

Jump! Ultimate Stars. Possibly the best handheld fighting game ever, featuring loads of playable anime and manga characters and seriously cool art style.

Sonic Rush. Light-speed Sonic goodness.

Space Invaders Extreme. A fantastic remake of a game that was in desperate need of a shot of adrenaline. As an aside, I more or less need to own this bag. It’s $80 at the only store I’ve seen it in, which is a flat-out joke for a PVC bag. Anyway.

Metal Slug 7. Insane shooter, not as hair-pullingly frustrating as Nanostray either which is a plus. To finish the whole game only takes about half an hour on easy mode but that’s not a problem.

So there you have it, and that is saying nothing of the huge catalogue of great adventure games on DS. It has been said before; I should probably be earning a commission for the promotional work I do on behalf of Nintendo, but I’m just happy to have a portable gaming console this powerfully awesome.

I was gonna do something of a review of The Dark Knight but it’s getting late. Let’s just say, forget the superhero genre. Forget any genre; this is as good a movie as you are likely to see this year. Strong characters across the board, fantastically bleak art direction (and countless expensive Armani suits) and clear-as-mud ethical and moral riddles are in danger of seeming superfluous to the incredible performance by Heath Ledger. Two hundred people collectively gasped after he delivered his first few lines as The Joker. I doubt any other infamous posthumous performance will be looked upon with such reverance; if anyone can think of one, I’m all ears. Let’s be perfectly honest; we have seen the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor awarded for much less. Don’t fail me now, Academy. Everything about this film is first-class and frankly embarrasses all other movie franchises of the last few years. And as I already mentioned, its themes are anything but preachy or obvious. Haunting, stylish, brilliant!

I guess that means the only other film I can’t wait to see this year is Wall-E. Hey Pixar, whatever happened to global release dates? Thanks a million. Now I’ll have to wait until December to see this in Japan. If I don’t download it first. Seriously; you would think a studio with their money and influence would realise that a synchronised global release date for their films would be one of the most obvious and effective ways to prevent piracy – if indeed movie piracy is as much of a big deal as you pretend it is. When studios are paying $250 million to make movies as horrendous as Spiderman 3, I have trouble believing it.

Either way, the movie looks unbelievable. Only Pixar have the balls to make a kids’ movie where the entire opening act is silent, and the plot of the movie opens the door for treating some seriously overdue ethical issues, for example our impending irreversible loneliness and a sense of responsibility for each other and for the environment. Ratatouille was great but didn’t feature any new plot devices or themes that weren’t already commonplace in animated films. I know this time I won’t be let down.

This has gone on long enough; for the rest of this week I’ll be running last-minute errands and tieing up loose ends; hopefully there’s time for a trip to the Art Deco exhibition as well. If all goes according to schedule I’ll also be leaving a parting gift for you, the Internet, and you can be sure I’ll be posting it up here as soon as I can. Until then, stay safe.

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One Response to “the dark knight of the soul”

  1. […] – bookmarked by 2 members originally found by juliarose on 2008-07-22 the dark knight of the soul https://ext23.wordpress.com/?p=54 – bookmarked by 2 members originally found by Silvhouw on […]

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