Google Cardboard & Immersive 360° Videos

It's a given that a lot of new ways to enjoy video have been popping out, and one in particular has caught us all in the net: 360° videos. It started with Google's Cardboard, which is a basic strap-on device that allows you to move your head around and see everything that that virtual world had to offer.

I bought mine online around a year ago for an incredibly low price, and I still use it to this day. After the fun of putting the whole thing together (the version (1?) I got wasn't ready-to-wear), the actual experience began. Back then (August 2015 or so), there weren't a lot of great apps and videos to try the Cardboard on, and some just made me straight-up nauseous. I lost interest a few weeks later and stored it on one of the shelves home. 

I got my kit looking exactly like this one. They came folded with the lenses packed into two separate plastics, along with instructions on putting them together. It was an easy process.

It was only within this year that Virtual Reality (VR) and 360° videos started to go uphill. It became the talk of the tech industry, and for the first time, more people began exposing themselves to this form of art. 

Realizing I had given my Cardboard enough time to rest, I picked it up a month ago and got back into the game - literally. There were now more videos, more apps, and more games to immerse yourself into, and my excitement came back. Some still sucked, some made me dizzy, but there were select few that, when paired with some great headphones, made for an incredible experience. Here are a few Youtube 360° videos that I found entertaining.

Note: The 360 experience can only be activated on mobile via the Youtube App. This won't work on your browser (and it will take the experience away).

Shadows Lurking From Within

The best VR experience is one that induces horror, and this one is best played in a dark room with headphones on. It'll help if you're alone at home too, haha. 

Open Blue 360 Experience (Teaser)

For someone who grew up knowing how to swim and being at the beach most of the time, the ocean terrifies me. It's my Xenophobia kicking in, and thanks to VR, I can swim with the sharks, whales, and eels however often I want, without endangering myself.

Clash of Clans 360: Experience A Virtual Reality Raid

If you've played Clash of Clans, I'm sure you'll find this one fun (and even if you haven't, you sure would, too). A First-Person perspective from the Archer's Tower, you'll see all the action.

There are heaps more 360° videos out on Youtube to be explored, so gear up (either buy the Google Cardboard to experience VR at a reasonably cheap price or invest on a higher-end model) and be ready for an incredible ride.

I'm honestly just waiting for VR to get into the 'online classes' area. Now that would be interactive, first-person learning.

Anime of the Week - Himouto! Umaru-chan

It's been a while since I got into animé at a safe distance (you do NOT want to see me addicted to it, for sure), and when I did, I decided to keep it on a light, comedic genre at the time (now, I've moved on to the likes of Shimoneta and Assassination Classroom, among many others). 

One of the two incredibly awesome, cute, funny, and relatable animé I've come across is this one. I introduce you to Himouto! Umaru-chan

Here's a bit of the story to catch your attention. 

The whole series (which started as a Manga - this animé was created to promote it I think) revolves around Umaru Doma, the perfect high school girl - straight A's, beautiful, and graceful. When she gets home though and puts on her hamster hoodie, she transforms into a crazy, lazy, junk food-addict otaku who leaves the housework to her incredibly patient and responsible brother Taihei (I'm the elder of two kids, and even I don't know how he does it). 

She's usually with her friends Nana Ebina and Kirie Motoba, and sometimes, her self-proclaimed "rival" Sylphinford Tachibana (self-proclaimed because as their rivalry is one-sided and Umaru sees her as a friend anyway). 

Umaru throws tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants (at home, anyway), obsesses over "cola" and video games, and stays up until morning playing or surfing the internet - honestly, a typical teenager these days with the exception of the cola addiction. On good days however, she can be a complete angel (also, me, hahaha).

I came across this animé while surfing Hulu, and since it had high ratings plus a relatively cutesy art style, I reckoned I'd give it a try. I expected nothing special, but no matter how bland some reviews on some sites were, I was hooked. After finishing the series, I kept replaying everything over and over again.

I guess the reason why I love this animé is the fact that I relate to almost all of these characters, even the side ones. There's a bit of me in every single one. In Umaru, I see my gamer, addictive, academic oriented side (on her good days). In Ebina, I see my introvert personality and my awkwardness at being complimented by anyone. In Kirie, I see my "-dere" sides (Can't decide between Tsundere or Dandere). In Taihei, I see my responsible, elder-sister personality, and in Sylphynford, my need to reach the top but always being obstructed by someone better.

It bothers me how much I can actually relate to Umaru. It really does. 

Especially with this one. Man, I stay up late for some of the dumbest games and videos.

So there.

If you're not an animé person, it's fine. Himouto! Umaru-chan is a series that you don't need to be a fan to enjoy. Just watch the first episode and see if you want to watch more. You can watch Umaru via Hulu (or Crunchyroll if you prefer their service).

Next week, there's another animé I'll introduce you to, and that one has more feels than this one. If you feel like this one has no lesson to teach you, that one will.