Tuesday, May 29, 2007


(Originally 22 October 2006)

Work is kind of owning me. I've been on work terms before but typically any obstacles to progress lay solely with me. Perhaps I put on a braver face back then and pinned my inability to get things done on just me not knowing enough, not putting in the effort. Maybe now, I just point fingers.

I've given a few perhaps unwilling friends quite an earful about problems probably most jaded digital hardware designers deal with on an all too frequent basis. I hoped it might have been vaguely educational. I'm learning quite a bit despite being more or less stone-walled on multiple occasions by design tools, integration problems, implementation issues, testing and prototyping. It sounds a lot like fighting through a good chunk of a digital design flow, actually.

Anyway, I was kind of bummed out Friday after running into a quirk created by some fool of a designer, and picked up by a design tool, that essentially led me to think, "I'm screwed," as well as wasting a day or two banging my against the wall. Unfortunately, afk's release of Kanon ep 3 had not come out (and wouldn't until Saturday afternoon), and for no particular reason I've become somewhat loyal to afk and didn't feel like going for the Static-Subs/Eclipse release, nor The Waffle House/Sprocket Hole release. In the end, with midnight approaching I decided to TWH/Sprocket Hole and let the download run overnight.

The number "significant" events per episode seems kind of low, typically because there is quite a bit of dialogue. However, I am nevertheless fairly entertained and don't mind the length of each event/incident, maybe because the dialogue flows well and is informative, and the little animation details that get injected, like switching scene shots, stuff happening in the background, keep me busy.

I finished semi-marathoning AIR over the working week, after work of course (you all know I don't get out at all), and my impression was excellent scene direction and it was visually appealing all around, but there wasn't much of a story. The various character stories resolved themselves fairly quickly (although the series is only really 12 episodes), and the ending left me kind of disappointed with all of the time-shifting that went on. The intended effect was to make the viewer have some kind of epiphany as they saw the cyclical pattern invoked, but I didn't feel any relevation, much less an "Ah ha!" moment once things clicked together. I think for the most part there wasn't enough development to justify a solid connection of seemingly disparate elements, so I just accepted things with indifference and that was that.

Nevertheless, I was still entertained, and the same goes for Kanon. Not much development in the story thus far since more mysteries are introduced than steps taken to resolve them, but I continue to remain entertained because of the little things. One might say that the studio (Kyoto Animation) is great at inserting filler while not being too obvious about it.

Ditto for Asatte no Houkou. Not much is happening there either, but I wasn't bored despite the paucity of development and dialogue.

I also checked out Hataraki Man. Arienai is the only group that I know of that is currently subbing the series. My rather sad laptop apparently has a hard time running H.264 compressed video, but no dropped frames (except at the beginning as VLC buffers the data) so far even at 100% utilization. The same can't be said for ZnT in H.264.

Only one episode of Hataraki Man is out, but I rather like it thus far. Its premise seems fairly grounded in reality. There are no lesbian school girls, or giant fighting robots, or any kind of large scale destruction really. The first episode takes a stab at things like office politics, government politics, scandals, whistleblowers and repercussions, ethics and journalistic integrity, and work versus having a social life. Pretty heavy stuff and all of it crammed into one episode. It would be awesome if the stories only gets better from here on in. I get the feeling that the main storyline is going to be contained in a single episode, or in fairly short 2 or 3 episode arcs, and then a new one will manifest itself.

The lead character is female, workaholic, overachiever, and reminds me of a certain someone in my class. I don't know why that's a draw for me. I suppose I can relate to the character if I've seen someone like her in action. Then in marked contrast there's the slacker who just gets the necessary stuff done and can't be bothered to spend any more of this time playing the climb the corporate ladder game.

Sometimes I stare at those kinds of people in disbelief. Other times, I want to be like them, secure in my belief that I don't have to play by other people's rules, not caring for the marks game, or the promotion game, or the publishing papers game (which I don't play, but I might in the future — still thinking about grad school).

Just by random I decided reading a KnM fan-novel. I had been meaning to, actually, as there was some clamoring a long time ago on the Shoujo-Ai forums that if KnM were to be remade, it should use the plot of the aforementioned work. I never did get around to it, as work started and such. I started Saturday afternoon, read till about 4 in the morning, started after lunch today, and finished about 9 pm. Apparently the entire thing was about 300 pages equivalent (probably letter size paper) at 10-point font. I'm not sure if that qualifies as fast — that works out to about 10 pages every hour. I thought I used to read much faster, but use it or lose it seems to apply here.

The story is good. The writing itself is decently polished, something that lends most stories credibility. It's probably unfair to quickly judge a story just be the style of writing, but it tends to be a good barometer of the amount of effort the author wishes to put in. Like a good performance, it's all about exceution, execution, execution. I don't purport to have any credibility when it comes to judging execution, but sometimes the difference is night and day.

Anyway, excellent expansion of the KnM universe, creating a backstory behind the somewhat bland or ridiculous premise of the series. Grammar errors abound, but usually not to the point where it was impossible to decipher the intention of the statement, sometimes characters disappeared for a while (I felt), and the epilogue was kind of odd in that a new character was introduced who only played a bit role, barely stirring the pot.

There was talk of the author doing a sequel, and maybe that character would play a major role. I look forward to it.