Linky Things: 01/13 - Indian Disney Princesses, Ghibli Film Foods, and Food Illustrations

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Alright, this isn't even in the realm of late on Friday Things, so let's have some almost mid-week linky things today. Things have just been hectic - whoops.]

On Books and Comics:

I'm not one way or another about Elizabeth Gilbert but I love this cover reveal video for her next book.

New book coming out by First Second, and it looks great. It's called Dragons Beware! and it's being released in May. This book is part of a series. I've never read any of it, but I want to now.

On Disney:

e.l.f. came out with a Jasmine-themed beauty collection. Get it at Walgreens in stores or online.

A pal of mine brought my attention to this great documentary of four artists who worked on Sleeping Beauty and how different their takes are on a single tree.

AMRIT Photography is working on a Disney Project involving capturing Disney Princesses in Indian style. The series is called Once Upon a Bride, and it's stunning.

On Film:

Charlize Theron found out that her male co-star in an upcoming film is being paid more than she is, and she wasn't having it. Successfully renegotiated for equal pay. LOVE.

This video is super long, but someone went and recreated 47 foods based on Ghibli films and it's super impressive.

Stuff I wrote here and there:

On Panels: 6 Side Characters In Comics Whose Stories Should Be Told.

On Panels: The First Ant-Man Teaser Is Out and I have Questions (also: do read the comments, they're awesome)

On Tomopop: Toy Review: ArtFX+ Arkham City Batman (also, shameless plug/reminder I posted a hi-res, clean gallery of my photos on this site as well.

On Panels: Art Roundup: Character Spotlight on Riddler.


10 Great Adventure Trips That Give Back published on NatGeo is about making your dollars count when you travel. Not in the frugal sense, but in the "support locals" and ecotourism and saving forests and stuff.

Gorgeous illustrations styled with food by Anna Keville Joyce. (h/t BoingBoing)

Sir Ian McKellen is beyond adorable in this George Ezra music video.

[See you soon with more links]

Friday Things: 09/12 - the return!

LinksKristina PinoComment

[I've returned! It took a little adjusting for me to get back into the swing of things after my break, but things should be back to normal, now. Here's this week's digest of things that caught my attention recently.]

On Books and Comics: 

Ginger Alden, who was Elvis Presley's fiancée at the time of his death, is coming out with a book about their relationship during the last year of his life. Consider my interest piqued, though I'll probably wait a while to pick up a copy.

There's a great interview over at Comics Alliance with the creators of Lumberjanes. They have some wonderful responses to the questions that were tossed at them, about their outlook of the comics industry and where it's going, and how they feel about media for children.

On Art:

I'm usually delighted by pretty art done on post-its, and these paper cut-out post-its by Akira Nagaya are no exception.

How-to draw Minnie Mouse - cute and easy-to-follow video tutorial with a Disney Animation Academy artist.

Disney Princess portraits rendered into fine art paintings. Stunning.

I didn't know it was possible to create such beautiful artwork with... a typewriter!



On Tees:

If you're a fan of Studio Ghibli and like cute tees, you might want to check out Hot Topic.

Cool tee that Stephen Amell (from Arrow) is promoting for charity. Buy one if ya like!  




My pal Lauren Orsini has launched a blog with her husband called Gunpla 101. It's already rad, and it's only going to get better as they populate it with content.

(via BoingBoing) This guy covered 99 Red Balloons using red balloons to make all the sounds. Preeeetty neat.

[See ya next time!]



VIZ Media selected press excerpts: Miyazaki memoirs and a dose of Hello Kitty

BooksKristina PinoComment

I couldn't wait to share these once I caught up with my inbox, so here's some good news from VIZ Media.

The first is that Starting Point, which chronicles Hayao Miyazaki's career from 1979-1996 and was originally released by VIZ Media in 2009, is being re-released in paperback.

Turning Point covers 1997-2008 and will be released in hardback on April 8th, the same day Staring Point is released.


"TURNING POINT: 1997-2008 is the companion second volume to the earlier Miyazaki chronicle, STARTING POINT: 1979-1996, which was originally published by VIZ Media in 2009. This volume examined the first part of Miyazaki’s career, during which he rose from humble beginnings to create the seminal animated features Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, Castle In The Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Porco Rosso, as well as his launch of Studio Ghibli. A fitting introduction is offered by John Lasseter, the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and Walt Disney. VIZ Media will release STARTING POINT: 1979-1996 in a new paperback edition on April 8th under the Studio Ghibli Library imprint with an MSRP of $16.99 U.S. / $19.99 CAN.
TURNING POINT: 1997-2008 follows Hayao Miyazaki as his grand vision continued to mature, cinema-lovers worldwide discovered and embraced his creations, and prominent film critics such as Roger Ebert delivered tremendous acclaim for the director’s films. In his legendary career, these crucial years represent the turning point. In the mid-1990s, Miyazaki moved from success to success as his work found a fervent audience outside of Japan. His animated films of the era, including Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo, were internationally lauded, and Miyazaki won an Academy Award® in 2003 for his film, Spirited Away, which was a commercial and critical hit."

 April 8th will also see the release of the art book for The Wind Rises titled The Art of The Wind Rises (MSRP: US$34.99).

Hello Kitty: Surprise!

is finally being released this week. I can't express my love for this series enough, and you'll see my thoughts on it here soon, too. It's being released for US$7.99 in print and US$4.99 digital via the Perfect Square app.

Friday Things: 07/19 - Frommer's, food, and fanart

LinksKristina Pino2 Comments

[Yay, summer time! I'll strive to keep on updating my blog regularly until I'm back from vacation at the end of August, but if things are a little slow, it's because I'm on break and plan on traveling around Japan a bit. You understand, I'm sure!]

On Books:

Lev Grossman over at Time's Entertainment section talks about branding, particularly in relation to the recent news about J.K. Rowling being the real identity of the crime author Robert Galbraith.

You could have Neil Gaiman read you The Graveyard Book. Free.

Frommer's no longer belongs to Google, which is pretty awesome. Even more awesome is that they know in order to move forward, they can't just rely on having travelers jump from place to place and write guides. They've decided to look for freelance writers who actually live in the places that new guides would be written for. I like where this is going.




"Listen, adults: you are welcome and encouraged to enjoy YA all you want to. There are great stories here! But the minute you try to take away the books from the teens who they’re intended to reach, then you’re overstepping your boundaries."



On Photography:

Some great tips on photographing kisses and making them look fun and natural instead of awkward and/or forced.

Food Photography 101!

On Comics:

(via Thomas ScottAnother cool feature about Hawkguy, though this time it's got some input from creators Matt Fraction and David Aja.

Whoa, there might be a female green lantern from Earth!

Lovely Batman stainless steel ring I'd just wear forever and ever.



On Art:

Some cute Disney x super heroes fan art. I like the art style.

(via TheMarySue) Fantastic Studio Ghibli fanart. I'm particularly fond of her Howl.




People got their panties in a twist over a recent Cheerios commercial, but young kids can't figure out what all the hubbub is about. Hint: it's because kids aren't inherently racist, and that sort of bad behavior is taught/learned.

At the time this post is published, there are six days left to pay what you like for some awesome stuff via Humble Weekly. This time around, it's Jim Guthrie albums.

I went to a capsule hotel in Tokyo last weekend and took some video while I was there. See the tour!



[Okay, so this was a smidge longer than usual in terms of # of links. I just need to slowly make up for possibly missing these in August. Enjoy!]

Demo: 'Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch'

Kristina PinoComment
The ultra-hyped Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch finally had a demo released on PSN this week, so of course I had to try it out. The fact that Studio Ghibli handled the art and animation and Joe Hisaishi scored the soundtrack is a huge plus, though. I didn't need much convincing.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
Studio: Level-5
Publisher: Namco Bandai

[My full thoughts are below the cut!]

When you fire up the demo you'll have two story options as well as several language options. Story option: the first is to head over to the zone Deep Dark Wood and run the mission "An Errand For Old Father Oak."

In this section, you're immediately plunged into a boss battle with the forest guardian, which reminded me of FFXI-type Goobbues (just, you know, all green instead of purple), but nonetheless - without any kind of tutorial as to how you're supposed to use the battle system. It only took me one failure to figure the controls out, and that being said I'm not sure how I feel about them.

Rather than a standard menu, you've got rotating bubbles available to select commands, or you could switch between Oliver and his familiar. The standard items on the menu are "Attack," "Defend," "Spells," and "Provisions." If you or your familiar have any special attacks, they'll be their own bubble. Simple enough.

The problems arise when I'm trying to "Defend" twice in a row, and can't because each time I pick an action it resets back to "Attack" again afterward. Another annoyance was that when you initiate a battle with anything, the first option you can hit "X" on is having your familiar fight instead of putting Oliver in the front line.

Those minor flaws are balanced by the merciful pause in the battle whenever you've got an action selected but haven't picked a target for it. Even if you only have one enemy, whenever you hit "X" on an action in battle, everything freezes until you confirm what you want to do. The spells and use of provisions are pretty much instantaneous as well, so fights are fast-paced. There's a cool-down between uses of the same action, but in "Attack" mode for example, Oliver will smack the enemy until the timer is up for the next round. In other words, your character doesn't just stand around. You could also run around freely during battle.

Once the boss fight is over, you gain some items and skills, and then are tasked with heading to a nearby town. This bit is short, but it gives you a grasp of some of the game's mechanics. Oliver will be given the power to take excess happiness, enthusiasm or whatever from people's hearts and transfer them to others who are in need. You gain merit by doing nice things for people, and the spell looks rather cool. The animation is a lot like the magic sparks from Howl's Moving Castle.

The second story option takes you to The Mountain of Fire and you're tasked with the mission "Eruption Interruption." This section takes place a bit later in the game -- you'll be higher level (around 18 instead of 5 like in the Woods story bit), and you'll have a companion called Esther.

Eruption Interruption begins with a timed rush up to the crater of a volcano to stop it from blowing up. On your way, you'll have to battle monsters and once at the top, one of the game's big baddies, Shadar, shows up to sic a monster on Oliver and co. called Moltaan. This is where I learned that if Oliver is KO'd, Esther will take his place so you don't suffer through an instant "Game Over." You could use an item then to revive Oliver and keep going as you were.

The enemies in this game are very aggressive and will come at you from a surprising distance. The good thing here is that you can see them coming, so encounters aren't entirely random. You'll have to pay attention though, because it's possible for them to start a battle with the "upper hand" if they take you by surprise and attack you from behind. You'll know they're coming if you see a red exclamation mark appear on the screen where the monster is on the map or in the zone.

Overall, though short, Ni no Kuni's demo is rather nice. I saw just enough to know that there's plenty of heart in the game, and that Drippy (Oliver's plush-turned-real companion) is one sassy sidekick. His dialogue is pretty funny, and Oliver is sweet and likeable. The only thing I didn't like had to do with those minor battle-related hitches and the backgrounds, though pretty, didn't seem to match with the character animation. Maybe I'm just being too picky? It was more of a problem for me during the forest bit than it was during the volcano section. Maybe it's because so much more was going on, or maybe I'd just gotten used to it.

Either way, I'm definitely inclined to grab and play the game once it's finally released in January 2013. For more information and media, check out the game's official page. All images in this post were taken by myself (can't you tell by the weird lines?) but the content is Copyright Namco Bandai.

Pre-order Ni no Kuni on Amazon:

Book Review: 'Howl's Moving Castle' by Diana Wynne Jones

BooksKristina PinoComment

Despite a few confusing set backs in terms of its plot structure, I've always been charmed by the Ghibli movie Howl's Moving Castle, but never noticed it was based on a book until a friend pointed it out and mentioned it's basically one of her favorite reads. Naturally, it was a given I'd eventually pick the book up, but one of the things that held me back from doing so is I kept hearing about how great it was compared with the movie, this movie that I loved, and they considered the adaptation to be quite poor.

Now that I've read the story, I can agree that the movie really isn't on the mark, and only loosely follows the flow of the book, borrowing events and characters and making a whole different story out of it that I still enjoy very much. One of the best things about the paperback copy I bought of Howl's Moving Castle is it has got a short interview with the author herself, which also briefly addresses the adaption. She said that although it's more of a re-imagination of her story, she was also charmed by it and actually has a few Sophie, Howl, Calcifer and even Ghibli-style Howl's Castle models all around her home.

The story goes:

Howl is known around Sophie's town as a wicked Wizard who eats girls' hearts. One day, while Sophie is alone at the hat shop she was managing, the Witch of the Waste (she's as horrid as her name implies) sidles in mistaking her for her sister and casts a curse. Sophie turns into an old woman as a result, and resolves to take off and find a way to get it lifted or else simply quietly disappear.

On the way, she meets a scarecrow that follows her tirelessly throughout the book, busts her way into Howl's Castle and forces herself into his household as a cleaning lady, learns a whole lot about her sisters, stepmother, and even herself, and finally, falls in love.

Diana Wynne Jones writes her story in a clever and loving way, bringing Sophie to life as one of the most unique characters I've ever read; a force to be reckoned with. While Howl's movie counterpart is a charmer with good demeanor, he was a more complicated and well-developed character that didn't allow himself to be understood until right the very end. You only knew it when Sophie did. Calcifer, the fire demon with which Howl was contracted adds a great third party to the dynamic. He helps Sophie along when she blows into their lives and starts to develop her abilities as a witch. Of course, Calcifer is also a huge driving force behind Howl's magic, and we see a few demonstrations of their awesome ability.

I definitely recommend Howl's Moving Castle to anyone who enjoys reading Childrens or Young Adult Literature; or just anyone who likes magical stories, far-off places, true to life characters and a feel-good ending. Everything wraps up quite nicely leaving little to be desired, even though now I'm set on reading the next related book titled Castle in the Air, and eventually House of Many Ways.

[Buy Howl's Moving Castle: The Book | Ghibli Film]