Brittle Asthma will not stop Josie blowing her own trumpet – or Tenor Horn

 Josie Whale, fourth from left on the front row, with the other tenor horns from the Easter course last year.


Josie Whale, fourth from left on the front row, with the other tenor horns
from the Easter course last year.

TALENTED young musician Josie Whale, of Launceston, has been invited to take part in the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain Easter course again this year.
Josie, aged 15, a student of St Joseph¹s School, Launceston, is attending the course at Taunton School from Sunday, April 13 to Sunday, April 20. This will be the third time Josie has been invited on such a course, last year she was the youngest to take part.
The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britian was founded in 1962 by Dr Denis Wright OBE and exists to give Œexceptionally gifted young brass instrumentalists the opportunity to perform advanced music and received the highest quality teaching’.
Josie has been a member of Launceston and Camborne town bands and Devon County Band. She will be playing tenor horn during the course, but can also play piano, violin, flute and recorder. Josie has suffered from brittle asthma since a very young age, frequently having long stays in hospital; but even as she rests she wants to practice with her instruments.
Parents Tara and David Whale are proud of her: “We are continually amazed by her talent and dedication. Her younger sister Holly has also been accepted into a junior band and we want to keep encouraging and supporting them both as much as we can.”
Currently studying to complete a diploma this summer, Josie has accepted a scholarship to Wells Cathedral School in Somerset, a specialist musical college. Less than one in 10 will be invited back for a second audition to the school; Josie was hospitalised for 10 days prior to her main audition and had only four days to prepare and practice her horn. She wowed the judging panel and was offered the scholarship.
She hopes to learn the French horn, which will enable her to join orchestras and develop her career in the music industry. It will cost around £5,000 for a second hand instrument.
Josie said: “I’m nervous about the course this year; I have worked really hard to improve and I just hope I will be given a higher chair for the concert this year.
“I’m really excited about my scholarship at Wells Cathedral School, I felt I had done well in my audition, and I am happy the panel thought so too.”
The Easter course will conclude with a concert at the Winter Gardens, Weston-Super-Mare, on Friday, April 19 and Cheltenham Town Hall on Saturday, April 20. The conductor will be NYBB¹s artistic director, Mr Bramwell Tovey. Any donations or sponsorship to help Josie on her musical journey are welcome, call Tara on 07756 311554.

Nick Clegg, deputy PM, talks North Cornwall and the lack of magic wands

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, visited Launceston as part of a tour to big up the thousands he has granted for the Cornish Language (you know, that one nobody speaks). I was allowed five minutes to question him about things, which he tactfully edged around and didn’t answer; just like a real politician.

Other than not trusting what he said (as a graduate I am still hurt by the student fees thing); I liked speaking to Clegg, he had really blue eyes.

And he walked into the coffee shop asking for a pot of tea. Of course. Continue reading

Roger Moore to recall Launceston

While working at the Cornish and Devon Post I was able to subedit work done by work experience kids. I set one, Ruth Musson, a creative writing task for a feature on a local man who is publishing director at Son Christian Media Ltd, which publishes magazines Sorted and Liberti. She did well, although it needed changes it was mostly house style. Continue reading

Join the mayhem of Lost Saga!

WANT to brawl in beautiful anime style with characters from every fighting demographic one could dream of? Of course you do…

Nexon Europe is pleased to announce the opening of the new official Lost Saga website (lostsaga.nexoneu.com), ahead of the game’s Open Beta Test, which starts at the end of April. Continue reading

Catch Magmar or Electabuzz on X and Y in April!

The Pokemon Company International is offering a free Easter gift of Magmar on Pokemon X and Electabuzz for Pokemon Y  from April 4 for a limited time — and all you need to do to get them is visit your local Game store!

 

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Get your Magmar on X players!

The redeemable codes for the characters will be printed on cash receipts upon request, and no purchase is necessary. The Pokémon X and Pokémon Y video games have already enjoyed huge success, selling nearly 12 million copies globally in the first four months since the worldwide launch in October 2013.

A Pokemon spokesperson said: “Both seasoned Pokémon Trainers and newcomers to the games will enjoy playing with Electabuzz and Magmar, who appeared in the very first Pokémon video games, Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Blue Version. Battling, trading, and collecting have always been at the heart of the Pokémon experience, so fans will appreciate the special bonus items that come with this distribution: Electabuzz is holding an Electirizer, and Magmar is holding a Magmarizer. When traded holding these items, Electabuzz will evolve into Electivire, and Magmar will evolve into Magmortar.”

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Pokémon Trading Card Game fans can also get in on the action with a free Pokémon TCG: XY special sampling pack available in store and while stocks last. All packs will include a special foil Pikachu card, plus one additional card from the Pokémon TCG: XY expansion. No purchase is necessary.

Pokémon TCG: XY launched on February 5 in the UK and includes all-new Mega Evolution Pokémon and new Fairy-type Pokémon. Since its release, the Pokémon Trading Card Game has shipped over 20 billion cards across 74 countries. The new Pokémon TCG: XY expansion is based on the best-selling Pokémon X and Pokémon Y video games for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.

There will also be a TV campaign to showcase the Pokémon universe, demonstrating how Pokémon TCG and video game content is part of the same world. Promotional spots will air from April 7 to April 27 on CiTV, Cartoon Network, Disney XD, and Sky Kids.

Stay up to date with Pokemon.co.uk, by hitting “Like” on the official Pokémon Facebook, and follow @Pokemon on Twitter.

No dodging the talent of Ella Eyre at the fairground

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Photo by Lumia Live team

I was invited along to this year’s Lumia Live session with Ella Eyre last night (details below). It was good fun, the intimate concerts take place in random venues; there is little cooler than antique fairground rides. Dingles, Lifton, did not disappoint, and nor did Ella herself. She was a charming young thing with loads of talent.

The session was only 20 minutes, and the music was similar for each song, but it sounded as though the band only relaxed and got into the concert for the last song (to be fair, they were uncomfortably perched on the edges of bumper cars).

I really enjoyed her encore. If you were expecting song names, then guess again, because I don’t have a clue. But she had a great voice, and her adorable guitarist with the afro synchronised well with her.

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Ameera and I (left) had to get in a fan photo before we left.

(Press release) Nokia and music pioneers, La Blogothèque, have teamed up once again for another year of the Lumia Live Sessions: a series of free music shows taking the hottest emerging talent to unexpected places around the UK.

This year’s Lumia Live sessions kicked off on Saturday night (March 29) at Dingles Fairground Museum, Lifton, Devon, with one of the UK’s most buzzed about artists, Ella Eyre.

The talented 19 year old, whose recent number one collaboration with Rudimental on the smash hit “Waiting All Night” garnered her a BRIT Award for Best British Single, has captivated audiences at home and abroad with her unique style and a voice that commands attention. Tipped as the artist to watch by the nation including the BBC Sound of 2014, and the runner up for the BRITS 2014 Critics Choice Award, the intimate Lumia Live Session with Ella was a truly unique and special event.

Music pioneers La Blogothèque are a visionary team of videographers and bloggers devoted to the unique presentation of new music through intimate videos. They seek to capture and translate the passion and vivacity of live music, bringing musicians and fans closer together. Previous collaborations include: Phoenix, the Kooks, Alt-J, Bon Iver, Foals, Beirut and Theophilus London.

Embracing La Blogothèque’s characteristic vision, artists will perform acoustic sets in non-traditional venues, ensuring the sessions showcase their raw talent and give music fans the opportunity to check out their favourite artists in venues they never dreamed possible.

Christophe Abric, founder of La Blogothèque commented: “The team is thrilled to partner up with Nokia again to explore the UK and discover the best new artists. We’re all set for another exciting year of the Lumia Live Sessions: exciting acts, crazy venues and lots of magic moments!”

The Lumia Live Sessions are a celebration of Nokia’s love of music discovery, bringing to life the essence of its free music streaming service, Nokia MixRadio. Featuring over 30 million tracks and hundreds of playlists created by a team of musicologists based in the UK, Nokia MixRadio caters to the tastes of every music fan. With no registration, subscription or advertisements, the app is designed to encourage people to discover both new music and long lost favorites.

Follow the Lumia Live Sessions to discover the new sounds of 2014 here: http://www.nokia.com/gb-en/lumialive/

Launceston fight Hallam Land Management in appeal for development

A NOBLE effort was given by Launceston residents to voice concerns during the public inquiry into a controversial development in the town.
Hallam Land Management appealed against Cornwall Council’s rejection of a planning application for a mixed use development of up to 100 houses at Upper Chapel, to include up to 40% affordable, as reported last week.
The application met with outstanding public objection, many fearing it would add to regular congestion in the Moorland Road, St Johns and Upper Chapel area of the town. Cornwall Council’s planning committee refused the application on grounds of the development’s impact on traffic congestion in the area, the infrastructure in place not suitable for the increase, and the issues on the amount of affordable and market housing.
The public inquiry into the appeal took place at Launceston Town Hall between Tuesday, March 18 and Friday, March 21; chaired by Chartered Town Planner Geoffrey Hill. Barristers leading the appeal included: Christopher Young for Hallam, Ned Helme for Cornwall Council, and Laurence Osborne for Launceston Town Council. Continue reading

Don’t give her an old bag — give a #TeaPod!

Anyone who knows me, knows I love tea. It’s true. And any true tea lover would want to find out about the latest invention on how to enjoy tea. Such as the remarkable new TeaPod.

The fantastic people at Bistrotea have created a new, easy way to enjoy a cup of organic, fair trade tea. No drips, no spoon, no hassle; just boiling water and your favourite cup needed. The pod itself is completely recyclable, making it for a greener cup of tea – whether you prefer black, red or herb infusions!

To top it off, they have a Mother’s Day offer to save 15%!

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Click on the picture to follow the link

To make a cup of Bistrotea, you simply put the TeaPod in a cup, add boiling water and stir the TeaPod for a few minutes. You then let it stand for a minute to further infuse and then use the TeaPod to stir in your sugar and milk (if required when making English Breakfast Tea).

Each TeaPod is packed at point of origin using premium grade, organic tea leaves, harvested, selected and processed in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) on Fair Trade estates.

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Eleven different blends are available, so there is a blend of tea to suit all tea lovers!
black teas: ~ english breakfast, earl grey and apple cinnamon
red teas: ~ jasmine lotus, strawberry and vanilla peach
green teas: ~ ginger, lemon grass and peppermint
herbal infusions: ~ fruit “goji” berry (caffeine free) and herbs n’ honey (caffeine free)

Bistroteas are available from www.bistro-tea.co.uk and can be bought in nice cartons of 32 pods for £14.60 for the home, or they do some pretty sexy mahogany cases with 48 for £50 and more for hotels, businesses and offices. Either all one flavour, or a wonderful ‘favourites’ selection.

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You might be thinking just under 50p per cup of tea seems crazy what with penny-teabags available out there -  but you are not just buying a delicious cup of tea, you are selling the hassle out of your life. These would be great for campers, caravaners, travellers or to keep in the car for those times of British need; and would look sleek and professional in any bed and breakfast or boardroom.

Also, Bistrotea is running a competition to win a year’s supply of tea! Get on over there and enter!

Frogs, Cats and Pyramids – Could there be a better title?

It is not often that a title alone can sell merchandise, but Tony Cleaver’s Frogs, Cats and Pyramids has probably already got your attention. Why not give into temptation and go buy it from recommended purchases?

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Here is the blurb:

Imagine a group of people in a mountain retreat seeking to understand why we categorise knowledge into various academic disciplines, each with its own way of looking at reality. Mathematics; the Arts, Language; Humanities; Science; Computer Technology, and Religion, Faith and Ethics – that is the way we learn to see the world. Each discipline locks us into a way of seeing that separates us from other ways. Imagine a cynic, a professional thief who seeks only to exploit others. Imagine if a specialist academic wanted to tell a story, relate an adventure that in some way resonates with his or her way of seeing things. How would the mixed company enjoy these various ways of seeing the world?
Assorted characters who take you on travels through maths, science, language and literature like you never imagined in school. Ideal for final year students studying the ‘Theory of Knowledge’ core course in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Also the general reader interested in popular philosophy, introspection and the nature of knowledge.

There, doesn’t it sound great?

It is from John Hunt Publishing and part of Liberalis Books, which goes for the philosophical and classical education genre. It looks set to be a head spinner, but entirely intriguing. An interesting book to read on a train and then analyse all the people around you.

Author Cleaver is a journalist, teacher and a bit of an adventurer. He even likes to play cricket. Basically, he is the kind of guy you would gladly trust to follow into a mesmerising, philosophical black hole in which there may never be escape. Once you have thought, you will always think. And who wouldn’t want to keep thinking about cats?

My number is up

Remember the book I found out about a couple weeks ago? Well now I own it, and it is wonderful.

Joey Yap has written Yi Number Oracle with the curious beginner in mind but it is more than accurate for the dabbling divinator, such as myself. You can buy it over on recommended purchases along with everything else I find fabulous.

yi numberAt first, reading the preface and into the introduction through to the how to use this book section, I thought Yap had switched his voice and become repetitive. Then with my lingering student analytic mind, I realised he had the perfect tone for his readers.

Continue reading

@NetflixUK I choose you! Stream type @Pokemon

As of today, March 1 Pokemon fans across the Netflix streaming service will be able to get their dose of the adorable pocket monsters and the ever youthful Ash Ketchum.

Two series and two movies will be available, the black and white and the indigo league (you know, where it all began).

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Continue reading

#Win books with @DarklyDelishYA and @BookNerdTours Good luck to all!

May the Luck of the Irish be with you!

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Just click this link for

a Rafflecopter giveaway

to try for a pot of gold!

Well, Amazon vouchers … but in my opinion books are akin to a pot of gold.

And if that wasn’t enough, someone will also win a Kindle Fire preloaded with YA and NA  books!

Huzzah! click away.

Competition is live from March 1 till March 17.

Organised and run by the wonderful people of Darkly Delicious and Book Nerd Tours.

Word of warning to the ever impatient, the rafflecopter is admittedly ‘long’, but the prize is books people, anything is worth it.


“LUCK MAITH” to you all!

  

 

 

Click on the covers to get to know some of the 30 authors 

that are participating in the giveaway 

and learn more about their books!

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These are all the authors taking part. One person will win all of these books preloaded onto a Kindle Fire!

These are all the authors taking part. One person will win all of these books preloaded onto a Kindle Fire!

Fairy and Rock type pokemon: Automatic yes or an uncuddly no?

All of us Pokemon Masters have our own ideas on what makes the greatest team: Endurance, brute strength, agility, type, or even beauty. My usual suspects revolve around the last two, but beauty will always win.

I know as soon as I get Pokemon X I will not want to do much else, so I have evaded it for the time being. But when I got wind of a new monster which was a rock a fairy type, how could I not look into it?

Meet Diancie.

First of all, she is pretty; but 60% of beauty is cuteness, and 70% of cuteness is cuddly. What is cuddly about a lump of granite? No matter what my old geologist house-mate will try to tell you, there is nothing.

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Mythical Pokemon always get a couple uber moves that shatter all hope when you fight them, but never seem to be all that awesome when you use them. Though it sounds adorable Diancie rubs crystals together to protect and annhialate things, it seems a little longwinded. The Pokemon franchise is a turn based game, but attacks that need powering up can cost you the tournement.

I fear Diancie’s future would be to live in the computer and never gain a permanent place on the team. Time may prove that wrong, and Diancee will be as many kinds of awesome as Mew, but alas, granite in a night dress would still lose out to my Luxray, Mew (taught him surf) and Arcanine.

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What’s your number? Was finding Yi Number Oracle destiny?

I recently came upon this book, Yi Number Oracle by Joey Yap. As a love of the fantastical and avid fortune teller of sorts myself, I couldn’t help but be wholly intrigued.

I must confess, I am still quite the amateur, only having studied Tarot, Angel Cards, crystals and numerology thoroughly, though I have dabbled in runes, I Ching and tea leaves. I can also do personality readings of doodles. There are thousands of divination possibilities, so it was of no surprise that I had not heard of Yi Jing, which Mr Yap’s book simplifies. A Chinese number system, different to Doreen Virtue’s angel numbers and a different kettle of fish to your average birth date and name numerology.

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Continue reading

Coffee shops can’t be dream jobs? Why not employment minister?

This is a piece I wrote for the Cornish and Devon Post Series January 30 edition. It came about after I read the Daily Mail‘s article on an interview with Employment Minister Esther McVey, and also the Guardian‘s comment is free article in response to it.

I felt she was looking down on coffee shops, even though both articles warped her quotes from what she actually said. But as my editor said, as a minister she should have been a lot wiser with her words. If money was no object to me, a coffee shop would actually be my dream business. Coffee shops are wonderful things.

When I took the initiative to write this piece and gain a local angle, I got the compliment equivalent of a high five from the editor. This version differs slightly from what was published as some of it was cut.

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YOUNG people should be prepared to accept lowly jobs at coffee shops, the Minister for Employment Esther McVey has reportedly said in national newspapers.

In the three months prior to November, the rate of unemployment in the UK dropped by 7.1%, unemployment figures for people aged 16 to 24 also fell 1%.

In an interview with a national tabloid, Mrs McVey has reportedly said youth need ‘reminding they have to start at the bottom’, and people who want jobs will have to work hard for it and ‘be realistic with their abilities. They will have to take entry-level jobs as they can’t walk into their dream career’. She has also said young people ‘need to learn the basics, like turning up on time’.

Online, Mrs McVey’s interview has been construed as young people are ‘job snobs’ and coffee shops, as an example, are bottom rung jobs on the career ladder, which they do not wish to take up.

She said an entry level job was working at Costa, but then in “a couple of years’ time you might say, ‘I’d like to manage the area’ or might even want to run a hotel in Dubai.’

However, with the tourism fuelled industry of the Westcountry and the importance of independent town and village coffee shops as sources for work and social hubs, how have local business owners reacted?

Kathleen Robinson, owner of the Four Seasons of Camelford, offended by such comments, said: “All the time we get youth coming in and asking for jobs, especially during schools holidays and summer. We have a barista machine, which is expensive to run with real coffee beans and train people on, so I am offended anyone would think a coffee shop as a lowly job.

“It is okay for these London ministers to be saying such things, but they want to try and live in Cornwall for the winter and find work.”

She continued: “You get a lot of older people coming in, and there is always somebody they know to talk to visiting, you can’t say that for cafés in the city. It is a nice meeting place, and they always say how nice and friendly our staff are, so it doesn’t matter what age they are.”

Holsworthy based Greenfield Engineering Sheet Metal Ltd, currently has 10 young apprentices out of a workforce of 65.

Production manager Simon Walker said: “We have been impressed with all of them, one is up for his second award as an apprentice. They all have great mindsets for work, so I find it hard to agree with the reported comments by the minister. Youngsters are getting tarred with the same brush.”

Alexandra Stacey, owner of Waves coffee shop in Bude, said: “What is wrong with working in a coffee shop?
We have been relatively lucky with young people’s attitude to work and have in fact found over the last three years that it is the younger applicants that are more enthusiastic and willing to work. Obviously there are exceptions but mostly they are the ones who are dropping their CVs in and asking if there is any work and they don’t tend to mind the work or hours they are asked to do.  Not really sure how you can call a job in a coffee shop lowly, it’s hard work!

“How many jobs do coffee shops and food and drink outlets alike create throughout the South West alone? I am sure not everyone grows up and their dream is to work in a coffee shop, but it could be; it certainly helps pave the way for careers of their choosing, especially in our local area. Our young people mostly work in the gaps in between university, school or college, which helps them to fund their future and means they are here during our busy periods, so it works really well. I am regularly told by customers how nice it is to be served by young friendly staff.

“Our younger staff members have gone on to teach, practice law and continue their education. They have even met contacts through working here that have opened doors for them in their future. They are learning how to deal with the general public which isn’t always an easy task, but should help them greatly later on. However, it doesn’t have to just be a stop gap it can also be a career in itself, there are always opportunities to work in the food and drink industry and apprenticeships widely available for those who want to continue.”

Chairman of Launceston Chamber of Commerce Vicky Geach said: “The high street has been suffering since the economic downturn, and in Launceston people have had to cut jobs, for the Minister of Employment to say if you can’t get a proper job get one on the high street, it is not a good statement. The statement has no substance and hasn’t been thought through.

As a coffee shop owner, Ms Geach said: “These comments have made a minefield. If you did a degree, in say, quantum physics, and you can’t get a job, it would be my inclination to get any job, but there are only so many coffee shops. However, if I have vacancies it goes to the person best qualified. It is not always the highly educated that are most suitable for a café role.

“But if people don’t want to work in coffee shops, should we be paying tax to pay for their benefits?”
Local members of parliament are glad to see the drop in unemployment in the area, but disagree with the comments towards youth attitude to finding work.

MP for Torridge and West Devon Geoffrey Cox said: “The reduction in youth unemployment is an extremely welcome sign, with more and more jobs being created due to the recovering economy. I am particularly pleased to see the reduction in figures in Torridge and West Devon from 7.2% in December 2012 to 4.8% in December 2013, as it can be more difficult in rural areas such as ours as there are fewer options available.

“I certainly don’t buy into the idea that young people don’t want to work and aren’t prepared to work hard to achieve success, and I think that the continuing reduction clearly demonstrates this. It is also reflective of the recovering economy which is a result of the strong hold the current Government has on public finances.”

Nicky Luke, Head of Talent Development at Unlocking Cornish Potential, a graduate recruitment site, deals with the issues of graduate unemployment every day: “Very occasionally we see graduates who are absolutely set on pursuing a career in a particular industry sector or job type; having invested both finances and time in their degree studies- this is understandable. However, very rarely do we see a graduate who will pursue that career at the cost of all other options.  It is important to appreciate that careers are like a series of stepping stones and very few young people will succeed in landing their dream job the first time.  In our experience, graduates are very open to exploring their potential in any job they undertake.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “The Minister was very clear that anyone, no matter what their background, should be able to achieve their potential and fulfill their career goals. Climbing the career ladder can take hard work and determination and gaining skills and experience is an important part of that journey.

“Creating jobs and getting people into employment are central to the Government’s economic plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy, so it is very encouraging news that there has been a record-breaking rise in employment over the last three months.”

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For Cornish and Devon news, written by my colleagues and myself, visit www.launceston-today.co.uk

Which princess will the princess lover pick?

You never need look very far to find an anime or manga centralised on a revenge plot, often becoming an orphan or as good as, or a harem, or the poor being thrust into the society of the rich (usually by way an elite academy). Princess Lover upholds all of these values, along with a healthy dose of fanservice.

Which princess will Teppei choose?

Which princess will Teppei choose?

Arima Teppei, the main male lead, starts the series with a punch to gut with his oh so casual ‘that was the last day I saw mom and dad’. You knew something was going to happen from the off with the news showing ‘the third only rich people attack car accidents’ story, but still, so soon and sudden.

But don’t worry my little hentai fans, this serious is not recurring, when the cover of the DVD has the unmistakeable feminine form and the first shot is of shiny muscles. Oh anime.

Teppei takes to it well, though it seemed as though he cared not for tic people, I think his character is less bothered by material possessions than proactive in his apathy.

But who makes up the his harem you ask?

The vulgar princess, Charlotte, is amusing. Though obviously the bimbo of the group, there is a sense she will be most switched on when it counts. Pretty important when she is an heir to a country. Favourite quote: ‘But it’s so much fun playing horse’ as she is straddling Teppei at school. Teppei saves her, a few times, but also is the only man to treat her as a girl before a princess.

Sylvia, the cool, sword-fighting type. Her lonesome but strong attitude is prevailant in many anime. It is obvious she will fall in love the hardest as her character shows a need to connect, good thing she is Teppei’s fiancé. She

Seika, who is made out to be the villain at the beginning. At first she is embarrassed to admitting her instant attraction, but what is a harem without a bully right? The visual aids in the anime (no hentai, not those kind of visuals) really develop her character most. She doesn’t speak unnecessarily, so her situation and mind is expressed though her environment.

Yuu, the maid. All of the girls have a deep sadness about them, she does not have the high status as the other girls, but as Teppei’s exclusive maid she has the privilege of intimacy with him. She gets gratification by just seeing him happy and him being kind to her, because such selfless people really do exist… liars.

The art of the anime is sometimes a little… square? Especially the vehicles, but the people are good and sword fights (always a reason to sword fight) is impressive in animation, it shows some real research has gone into the different styles used.

So this anime is great to while away a couple hours in the evening, it is lighthearted, funny, and has a dramatic finale. Which lady of the harem do you think Teppei will choose?

There is also an amusing scene of a motorbike with legs wearing fishnets. That’s all I will say.

Four free to try: Braving the demos

Nintendo eShop on the 3DS is generous with demos for games. I have had the pleasure of sampling four games this week:

Bravely Default, also known as Bravely Default: Flying Fairy

PS_3DS_BravelyDefault_enGB Bravely Default a conventional RPG with monsters to rival the adorableness of Final Fantasy and global community storyline which reminds me of a Tales Of.

I think your main character is Tiz, I say main, he is the default lead in the party so you run around as him. I know you can change but he’s adorable and the other party members respect him, so let’s stick to tradition.

As per most hand held RPG, you have a little town or city you can walk around platform style, but when you enter shops etc, you don’t go in and have a snoop (so no drawers or pots to steal things from like usual), just a menu comes up. Once you leave said city, it becomes a free-style world where you look like a giant against the backdrop of the city’s defining attraction or building.

With potions in your bag, you prepare for adventure in a party of 4. You get the low down from the tutorial about using streetpass to build a village in the ether of your 3DS which I still don’t understand, but I think it’s a ploy to walk around with your DS on waste the battery and increase replacement battery sales… might be wrong. Battery conspiracy aside, a sweet natured person in a purple toga tells you the forest and castle to the east and south is way out of your league, so better stick to the cave to the west.

After losing one character in the forest and getting obliterated by an owl wizard in the castle, I have established people in purple togas do not lie.

Bravely Default use that most frustrating of style where you are happily running in an empty field before your screen becomes a kaleidoscope singing siren and confronted by two or ten enemies. This style can make a girl hate a game – the only game I forgive it for is Pokemon, because let’s face it, you would basically be wading through a sea of Rattata to see if that grey splodge is a Geodude or the Rhydon you have been searching for since Cerulean to trade for a Gengar (nobody would actually want rhydon). Pokemon needs the invisible structure. Other RPG should follow the brilliant examples of Zelda and Monster Hunter, where your prey is in front of you and is what you see. If it really must give you a surprise, at least copy Star Ocean or some of the more recent Final Fantasy where you have an enemy in view, but when you run into it (or it into you) it takes you to a battle screen which could have a number of different enemies along with the one you saw.

It is also a damn turn taking game! Why did people think turn taking was a good idea? Pokemon, again, can be forgiven, because I love it but also because it just seems right and fair, you know? Star Ocean again shows the true way forward for RPGs, it takes you to a separate battle screen where you control it entirely, like Zelda and Monster Hunter, in a flurry of button mashing… I mean perfectly formed strategies for the weapons you have chosen.

However, Bravely Default has a reason for its turn taking. To be brave, and to default. This is an interesting concept where default means to miss a turn to store an extra move next round, and to brave is to miss subsequent turns in favour of multiple attacks (max four) on this turn.

Within 20 minutes I understood how to use it, but there is a need to be wise about it, while weak, it is dangerous to let your character be without a turn or two while an enemy attacks, because you may need a move to use a potion. Think strategy, so far I have gone with one person use four potions, and three people attack continuously for four turns, or used  a potion and attack, sacrificing one turn and receiving two attacks (or more as enemies can brave too). Overall, I quite like Bravely Default.

The opening cut scene promised a monster infested land which the party had to save, the menu shows options to learn magic and ‘summon friend’. This may be the spotpass friends you make, but most RPGs create gods to summon, and I hope Bravely Default will not disappoint. I was a little sad that when I bought Tiz an expensive three-pointed hat it didn’t actually shop up on his avatar. But he has better evasion at least.

This will probably add to my collection in the next 12 months… but I have yet to buy Pokemon X. I really want that stag thing, it would make for a cool cutscene to teach him rockclimb. Also there is a fairy that waves at the stylus when you touch the screen on the menu. Of course this game will be great.  Continue reading

Crepuscule doesn’t last long enough

Crepuscule is a Korean webtoon by Mirchi and Yamchi about a paradise outside of the human realm where vampires live. The dictionary meaning of crepuscule is twilight, but don’t worry – there is nothing glittery about these vampires.

But don’t get your hopes up just yet either. In this world of vampires there are also werewolf vampires (that can also turn into adorable foxes), vampire zombies (they just have blue skin is all, and don’t feel pain) and succubus vampires (so far… nothing in particular other than almost extinct).

The story mostly follows Setz, a vampire whose status is almost that of a prince, and Lark, a human with ‘red eyes’. Setz found Lark in the human world, brought him over to the ‘paradise’, leaves him with a friend, this and that happens and then 10 years later they meet at high school, both with serious issues. You know, as you do.

Lark obviously has to hide the fact he is human, which seems ridiculously easy.

You may have noticed I have no love for this series. It seemed good, and the shoujo style art is really nice. What I love most about Korean webtoons is the constant colour panels. As much as I love manga, you can’t beat brilliant technicoulor, and there is no fault to the art. But the storyline just moves too fast.

It flows seamlessly, you don’t feel as though you have left out a chapter, but the story just sprints along. It has enough depth for you to connect with characters… but like Game of Thrones don’t feel too attached, because if they don’t die their personalities get switched and those that remain just can’t deal.

The ‘mutant’ vampire zombie Sia Kul is a great character I want to see more of, but he just isn’t mentioned half the time, but when he is he steals the scene. I particularly like that he gets two speech bubbles, one for what he actually says, usually one word, and a translation to what the whole sentence would be. He just ‘can’t be bothered to speak’. However I fear if his character is developed he will be ripped away, so I hope he gets forgotten and carries on his happy bullied mutant vampire zombie existence…

Sia Kul, the mutant vampire zombie.

Sia Kul, the mutant vampire zombie.

My addictive personality for stories had me devour Crepuscule in half a day, but I just felt angry and cheated. It’s a beautiful comic, it is just underwhelming and introverted.. It will happily make an issue, but when it comes to the climax of an arc, the emotion becomes numb rather than explosive.  I guess I just prefer my vampires extroverted.

The complicated love life of the rose princess

Barajou no kiss, or Kiss of the Rose Princess, is a harem manga centralised around a high school girl, Anis.

The four main boy groups – shoto, vampire/emo, prince-like and martial artist.

The four main boy groups – shoto, vampire/emo, prince-like and martial artist.

When she was a young girl, Anis was given a choker from her father and told to never take it off, or a great punishment will befall her. Well it comes off and thus starts the story.

Anis is the ‘rose princess’, known as the dominion to the four rose knights. She can summon these knights by kissing their respective coloured cards, but as they use their knightly powers, it uses her blood. The choker, it turns out, had kept her powers hidden so the knights couldn’t find her. Why wouldn’t you want four good looking men as your slaves you ask? Well its complicated.

Once entered into contracts the knights can grow in power and use less of Anis’ blood if their relationship is taken up a notch, called awakenings. She eventually needs to awaken one of them a fourth time (basically marriage), this would give them great power, and the other three would return to human. But Anis doesn’t feel that way for any of her knights and only wants the contracts so that they can seal the ‘devil’s door’ (keeps a great evil power out of the world) and set free her knights, who she does care for, just ‘not like that’.

Add in some fake knights, some twisted societies, more sexual innuendos that you could count and daily high school shenanigans and you have the storyline.

Though there is not much enthusiasm for the overall series here, I really did enjoy reading it. The art, shoujo style, is as good as the next, and the mini adventures of each chapter has good depth, with the characters each coming into their own. Even Anis grows from a silly girl to a serious girl (she’s still an annoying high school girl that doesn’t understand big issues, no matter how much she is hit on).

I can’t really say anything bad about the series; it has balance, fights, magic, and covers the four main boy groups – shoto, vampire/emo, prince-like and martial artist.

 

@InnocentDrinks warming our hearts, bottle tops and elders #BigKnit

innocent hat

So I have been busy with a myriad of life challenges, and my blog has suffered (and my health, but darn it this cold shall not win!). I have a few delightful posts on paper prepared, but to keep you going until I get around to typing it all up (on my decrepit laptop) here is the most wonderful digitally-knitted hat that could ever have been digitally knitted. Ever.

Oh, and it encouraged the delightful chaps and ladies of Innocent drinks to give 10p to Age UK. Why don’t you encourage them some more? Here.

Also, get the knit-addiction and start on next year’s #BigKnit batch. I hope enough people send them sheep that the entire population of Fruit Towers fall asleep while counting them. They can’t accept any more this year, so we all have plenty of time to perfect the crochet.