Lifestyle

Asics Gel Cumulus 21: Your everyday training sneaker

This lite-show edition is perfect for evening runs

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The Asics Gel Cumulus 21. That 21 isn’t just some random number. We’ve been through 20 previous versions of this everyday trainer sneaker, and if a sneaker line has survived over 20 iterations, they must be pretty good, right?

According to Asics, these are neutral running shoes designed to cushion and support your feet over runs. It’s a neutral every day trainer with a 10mm drop, that competes with other sneakers like the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus.

Unlike the Asics Nimbus which is more premium and made for distance, the Cumulus 21 is intended to be a go-to shoe.

Can they deliver on this promise? Let’s see!

Made for day-to-day comfort

The Asics Gel Cumulus 21 has a similar design to its previous version, the Gel Cumulus 20, which is probably a good thing because it was already a pretty good looking shoe considering how this classic design is in style right now.

It’s a pretty mature, balanced, and the Cumulus series also includes some of the top tech in running shoes from Asics which includes enough cushioning for runs.

The first thing I noticed when I took them out of the box was that the Cumulus 21 is a really well-built pair of training shoes. They’ve got a little bit of weight to them but that’s not a surprise since these aren’t really meant to be racing shoes. I’ll talk more about the weight later on.

At the top of the Cumulus 21, there’s the breathable Jacquard mesh — a welcome choice and will be much appreciated during hot summer runs. Plus its a nice, flexible mesh, so it’s pretty comfortable.

Speaking of flexibility, the toe box has a lot of space, and I’m saying that as someone that has pretty wide feet. The Asics Cumulus 21 fit true-to-size so you won’t have to worry about the sizing.

There’s also a stronger overlay over the mesh in the parts of the upper where you need stronger materials. Places like the front of the shoes, toe caps, and the eyelets for the laces. This is all so that the mesh does not tear because of your toenails.

Undeniably Asics

There’s also prominent Asics branding on the sides but this isn’t just aesthetic. There’s a functional role since it helps you secure and tighten the shoes.

Coming to the collar, its thick but soft, just like the tongue. They’re a bit larger than on most running shoes but the thicker layers do help with comfort.

There’s also an internal heel counter. It keeps the heel area stiff so that your heel doesn’t slip. This definitely helps with the stability of the shoe. Also on the inside of the shoe, is an eva sock liner which offers a nice amount of cushioning.

Overall the design of the Cumulus 21 is pretty nice, and it certainly looks like an Asics sneaker, for sure. They’re available in a variety of colors, so you should be able to find one that’s your style.

This particular sneaker is the new lite-show version of the Cumulus 21 which has reflective elements on the upper and midsole to help with those evening runs.

This was shot with flash on to show how it reflects light

Cushioning great for absorption with a modest return

I wore the Cumulus 21 for quick morning runs, and at the gym for my boxing, crossfit, and dance fitness classes, so that I could really put them in a variety of situations.

The shoes are really comfortable to jog in, and the excellent cushioning on the sole means you can probably wear them for hours.

As you walk in them, you can feel how the gel sole compresses under your foot and absorbs all the pressure. As you start to run, you won’t feel the same kind of soft cushioning, but its still really comfortable, with the forefoot area nicely cushioned off as well.

I should make it clear that there is very low energy return on this sole. The Gel sole just absorbs pressure but unlike Boost from Adidas or React from Nike, there’s not much energy returned to bounce back as you stride. But it’s also what makes the Cumulus 21 really comfortable to wear.

The sole is made of a combination of different cushioning tech — There’s the forefoot which is a bit more stiff but still has a bit of cushioning, there’s the rear gel cushioning, and then there’s the Flytefoam propel technology.

The Flytefoam offers additional cushioning, with some amount of energy return to help push you forward.

Coming to the outsole, there’s a thick layer of Asics High Abrasion Rubber, or AHAR, as they call it. This hopefully means the shoe will last a while and won’t get worn out too fast, which is appreciated since this is meant to be a daily training sneaker.

The outsole is pretty grippy and I never felt like it was slippery, even on wet surfaces.

All in all, the Asics Gel Cumulus 21 is made to last, with good quality materials, and offers about medium-to-high levels of comfort as an everyday training sneaker.

Perfect for short runs at any time of the day

The Asics Gel Cumulus 21 is pitched as a pair of running shoes but also everyday training shoes, and the exceptional cushioning and support definitely does help.

That being said, I do feel like they’re too heavy to be used for a race or long distance running. I found them a little too heavy and maybe a little stiff after a while on a long distance run. Don’t get me wrong, this sneaker is great for short distance runs and that cushioning is good, but it has a sweet spot in terms of distance before it does start to feel a little bottom heavy.

So yes, short distances, there’s no problem. However, these are just not built for long distances where you’ll really start to feel that weight. For that, the Asics Gel Nimbus might be a better option.

But for your morning jogs, or as everyday training sneakers, these are pretty great. They perform as expected, and you never really feel like you want any more from them.

If you’re just starting out with a fitness routine and you’re looking for an all-around fitness sneaker, the Gel Cumulus might be the best choice around because they offer good cushioning, great build quality, and solid stability.

Is this your Sneaker Match? 

The Asics Gel-Cumulus 21 is a slightly tweaked update to a very successful line of neutral everyday workhorse shoes. It is priced well for the amount of tech packed into this shoe, and they’re nice enough that you could wear them around casually, at the gym every day, and even for your morning and evening runs.

It’s a great pair of all-around shoes. If you could only own one pair of running shoes, the Asics Gel Cumulus 21 is worth considering.

 

Hands-On

Make moments tangible with Instax Square Link

Time to print those core memories!

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instax square link

Life looks pretty in squares — that’s how Instagram shaped our favorite moments in the past decade.

With every core memory uploaded in our social media feed for the world to see, there’s still something poignant about keeping a hard copy of your favorite moments. It feels nostalgic to be reminded of the good things in your life.

That’s what the Instax Square Link delivers. The newest instant printer comes in square, as compared to its previous siblings in the instax link lineup.

The sweet spot

The previous instant printers come in the usual mini film prints, and a wide, rectangular one. Having a square format provides a sweet spot for instant prints since it’s neither too big nor small.

Even the design of the device itself looks almost square, albeit taller. It sports the usual big button in its center that powers up the device, while there’s a smaller circle on its top-left part for linking the device to your smartphone.

It’s still as straightforward as it gets, whether you’re already familiar with previous instax printers or not. You simply click the big button until it lights up, link it to your smartphone and confirm the serial number found on the bottom side of the device, and do all the magic inside the app — which you can download via App Store or Play Store.

instax square link

New device, new features

The instax Square Link carries all the good things from the previous instax printers through its dedicated app.

You can still make personalized stickers, continuously print your best moments with just a press of a button, and collage and edit your photos in frames. They’re pretty much the same features you can find on the instax Link WIDE and instax mini Link 2.

instax square link

However, instax introduced new features that make printing more exciting. Now, instax takes AR to a new level by allowing users to print with personalized AR effects, accessible using a QR code.

It also included a feature where you can chat with a friend or loved one and have the conversation printed as text bubbles to add a more personal touch for those who are in long-distance relationships.

Printing your favorite moments

instax square link

While the new features are a much-welcome addition, I still stick to what Instax is good about. At its core, it’s still printing your favorite moments and of course, sharing them with the people you love.

Back then, I would print my photos and keep them to myself — inside photobooks and boxes that would never see the light of day unless I’m feeling nostalgic.

Being surrounded by new people encouraged me to be more giving, rather than just being selfish with my memories. And instead of constantly seeking validation and sharing my favorite moments with the world, I now love the idea of being intimate and sharing my core memories with only a handful of people.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

instax square link

The Instax Square Link is still an instant printer like its siblings. If square formats are your thing, this is easily your GadgetMatch. For wide, rectangular prints, there’s the instax Link WIDE.

And if the original, mini-sized film prints are what you’re after, you can never go wrong with the instax mini Link 2. Whatever formats you want, there’s an instax for you.

The instax Square Link comes in Ash White and Midnight Green. It’s available in all authorized Fujifilm instax dealers nationwide and Fujifilm’s online flagship stores.

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Entertainment

IN PHOTOS: Dubbing with Netflix, HIT Productions

Plus a quick glimpse of the Netflix PH office

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Netflix HIT

Have you ever been curious about how the whole dubbing process works? Netflix, along with HIT Productions, was kind enough to give us a quick tour showing how our favorite Netflix shows are dubbed in Filipino. 

HIT Productions prides itself as “The Philippines’ top audio post production house and recording studio for advertising.” And they have the clientele to back up the claim. Other than Netflix, they’ve also worked with plenty of notable brands. These include but are not limited to Jollibee, Mitsubishi, Coca Cola, and many more. 

They’ve partnered with Netflix on many shows and movies. For this particular tour, they showed us how they dubbed Season 4 of Stranger Things.

Different rooms for the talents and director

Dubbing Director Cheska Aguiluz

Heading in, I was fully expecting a Sound Booth like setup – you know, the ones we normally see in TV shows and movies. HIT has a different setup. They have the director in one room and the voice talents in another. The rooms are situated right across each other with sound engineers manning both rooms. 

The communication between the director and talents still happens real time, and they see each other through an iPad.

Each room has a monitor that displays the scene that’s being dubbed. The talents’ audio goes straight into a computer that’s in the same room as the director. 

Netflix HIT

Multiple talents will be in the same room at one time. This depends entirely on the scene that needs to be dubbed. They take turns dubbing with sound engineers adjusting the height of the mic each time to make sure it’s optimized for each talent. 

Although, they did mention this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, there will be scheduling challenges, but they’re able to work through it.

Netflix HIT

The actual dubbing back and forth is fascinating. They go through each line meticulously, making sure the cadence, the breaths, the tone, and the emotion matches that of the original actors. 

Recording a single episode will take days. And that’s just the recording. The next part is just as tedious.

Painstaking editing

Netflix HIT

The level of precision applied in the voice acting and directing extends to the cutting floor when the recordings go through post production. 

Here, sound engineers go through each scene, switching between the original scene and the dubbed recordings to make sure they match. This includes how loud or soft the voice is as well as adding effects to mimic the room environment sound of each sound. 

What makes the whole process tricky is a lot of it is guess work. I asked if they are given a cheat sheet of the effects used by the original production. They said that rarely happens. That means they rely both on their sharp ears and years of experience to make sure everything matches.

After post production, an entire episode goes through a quality check. If anything sounds off, it’s back to post processing again. 

HIT says in a month, they’re able to finish roughly around three to four episodes. Of course, that depends also on the length of the episode. Stranger Things Season 4, for instance, typically lasts over an hour. With some episodes even running as long as feature length films.

Trying out dubbing

Netflix HIT

Head of Localization Rudolf Baldonado

After a look at the voice acting and post production process, HIT took us to a room where some members of the media got to try dubbing. Here, Head of Localization Rudolf Baldonado, led the way. 

Baldonado explained that the most important part of the whole process is the script. Localization, as you may have surmised, is no easy task. There are so many things to consider: What words to use to match the movement of the lips, the general direction for each line, and making sure all the lines make sense when delivered together.

A couple of voice talents showed us the ropes first, recording a scene from the Don’t Look Up film. Baldonado, who also helmed localization for Trese, noted that mimicking the original actor’s voice is less important than delivering the right tone and emotion for the line and the scene. 

Netflix HIT

During the recording, he also noted that dubbing is more about voice acting than actual voice quality. How well you convey the right emotion is more important than whether or not you sound pleasant or not. 

Sit down with the voice talents

Netflix HIT

To wrap up the tour of the HIT Productions office, we sat down with the voice talents and the rest of the team that worked on the Stranger Things Season 4 dub. Here’s everyone who joined us: 

  • Christian Velarde (MIKE)
  • Albert Silos (WILL)
  • Steve Bontogon (DUSTIN)
  • JM Canlas (LUCAS)
  • Steffi Bontogon (MAX)
  • JM Torres (VECNA)
  • Nelieza Magauay (ROBIN)
  • Ericka Peralejo (SUZIE)
  • Cheska Aguiluze (Dubbing Director)
  • Rudolf Baldonado (Head of Localization)

Many of them shared their experiences and lessons learned while working as voice actors. 

A lot of the echo the same thing that Baldonado mentioned earlier. That the ability to understand the character’s emotion and act it out through your voice is the most important skill in the craft.

Netflix HIT

What stood out to me the most though, is how each of them seemed like colorful characters on their own. And they deserve just as much recognition as TV and movie actors. 

Quick Netflix PH HQ Tour

After the session at HIT Productions, we were taken to the headquarters of Netflix Philippines. Some interesting things to note: 

  • The meeting rooms are named after Netflix’s shows and films
  • There are areas designated for quiet time 
  • The place is spacious with many areas for quick, breakout meeting sessions
  • It’s filled with books and other ornaments that have to do with Netflix shows
  • Free-flowing drinks! 
  • This writer would like to spend a work day or two in the area (Thanks in advance, Netflix!) 

Here’s a photo dump:

Netflix

Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Netflix

Squid Game meeting room | Photo c/o Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Beverages | Photo c/o Netflix

Pantry | Photo c/o Netflix

Netflix

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Tao Tsuchiya spills deets about Alice in Borderland S2

Coming This December

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Tao Tsuchiya

It’s been almost two years since the first season premiere of popular Netflix series Alice in Borderland. Based on a manga of the same name, the story revolves around two people who found themselves in a dystopian version of Tokyo, and with a twist — they play real-life “games” in order to survive.

Season 1 ended with a very intriguing cliffhanger, and fans are left with more puzzle pieces to solve. 

Good news: the waiting game won’t be much longer because season 2 is finally coming this month! As special treat to fans, we got the chance to interview Tao Tsuchiya who plays Usagi in the series.

I personally love her badass, athletic physique in this live action adaptation. But compared to her character, she is actually kawaii in real life. It was a short but fun chat with her.

Without major spoilers, here’s what Tsuchiya revealed for the next season:

A more emotional and (possibly) romantic Usagi

In season 1, Usagi was introduced as an athletic, competent girl with a sad past. She competed in the games independently until she meets Arisu, played by actor Kento Yamazaki, who eventually becomes her ally.

During our interview, Tao Tsuchiya briefly mentioned about her character development, even experiencing the feeling of first love.

“Usagi, basically, has this feeling of disappointment towards society [in season 1], so she’s pretty much aloof. But in season 2 and by meeting Arisu, she cares about other people and then she has this feeling of first love. Usagi was in solitude, or she was alone, [but now], her scars starts to open up and she shows her vulnerability and anxiety and her doubts.”

Is the Arisu x Usagi ship finally sailing this time?

Big visual upgrade

Season 1 was a visual treat for the viewers. The overall effects were well thought of and brilliantly presented. As someone who’s been to Tokyo, I found it fascinating how they made the big city really look and feel like a true-to-life gaming arena.

Tsuchiya promises Season 2 will be more enjoyable because “the scales, technology and CGI are bigger. We created a world that we can’t imagine before, so the whole thing is a whole upgrade.”  Sounds exciting!

New games will be a balance between mind and physical

When asked about the nature of games in the upcoming season, Tsuchiya teases that half of the games will be about the mind, and half will be physical. According to her, there will be different portrayals in the mind games. The cast and crew enjoyed the back-and-forth participation to both kinds of games. 

She also teased about a game that will make her character understand the value of life. We wonder what it is about.

They try to be faithful to the manga version

Tao Tsuchiya and Kento Yamazaki

Tao Tsuchiya and Kento Yamazaki

For new fans, Alice in Borderland is based on a shōnen manga series written by Haro Aso, and the first season covered around the first 31 chapters. 

According to Tsuchiya, they try to be as faithful as possible to the manga. However, some elements have to be tweaked for better live action experience, most especially the facial expressions. 

With the manga having 64 chapters in total, season 2 is expected to cover the remaining 33.

They filmed season 2 will a calmer perspective

Alice and Borderland Season 1 was filmed during the onset of the pandemic, and Tsuchiya described it as quite stressful because of the uncertainties.

While season 2 is also filmed during the pandemic, protocols are eased up and the cast are more chill when filming this new season.

She also shared a few filming moments that had us smiling during the interview:

“There was a time where we were on the tallest building in Shibuya at five o’clock in the morning and the crew were obviously very sleepy at that time. But we actors were dressed in rags and were basically in a situation, or we looked like we were about to die any minute. But then at that moment, for whatever reason we burst out laughing and I’m sure the crew members didn’t understand why we were laughing that hard. There was a moment because you know it’s such a tough world that we are trying to portray. Maybe because of that, we just kind of thought it was inexplicable but that was the moment that we remember.”

Well, how fun was that!

Alice in Borderland Season 2 will be out on Netflix this December 22.

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