Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Expandable posts

Just adding something to make the main page more appealing, once new content goes up.

These large-ish expository posts are fine without expansion for the time being only because I don't anticipate them being up on the main page for very long.

The expansion is not, in the strictest sense, but is actually a convenient page re-direct.

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Utada United 2006 PV's

(Originally 24 November 2006)

I was bumming around the other night and realized it was a while since I had paid a visit to my favourite (read: only one I can be bothered to go to) j-pop tracker. That, and I don't frequent the utada-online.net forums very often anymore. Something to do with the site loading really slowly all the time.

Anyway, I saw the latest additions to the tracker, went, "Holy shit!", and was soon blown away by the two clips from Utada Hikaru's 2006 concert DVD, due out December 20. I was blown away more so by Keep Tryin' than This is Love.

It looks she's gained some weight, and my friend had to point out to me that her arms are rather thick now. I knew she had gained weight around the Exodus era, as evidenced from what little footage that made it out of her NYC performance, but thought she lost most of it by the time Ultra Blue was released. At least, I thought I heard from somewhere that she was working out. I maintain a neutral stance, which is to say I don't have any opinion on it. She's not fat, and she doesn't look any worse.

She's all about the flashy costumes it seems. It makes her more colourful, yes, but it just seems out of place. Maybe I'm just a boring person, but from Budokan 2004 DVD where she opened with just a simple long red dress over a black top, I found to be pretty elegant as far as pop concerts go. Ok, I am a boring person.

So, This is Love, wow. She looked to be quite the diva with the frills (looks like fur) lining her shoulders, and black gloves and boots. Another friend complained that the shots change too fast, there were quite a few wide-pan shots and not enough closeups. Given the style of the song, which I fancy to be driving music (probably influenced by first hearing it while watching that Nissin cup noodle commercial), I'm quite comfortable with the quick cuts. They lend a sense of motion.

Another comparison between 2006 and 2004. She cut her hair, and I can't help but think that it adds a lot more energy to her persona.

Vocals-wise, Keep Tryin' was more raw. She was airy in TiL, but it was evident that the control in her voice wasn't all there for Keep Tryin'. I've read some opinions on the U-O.net forums saying that this particular PV was sub-par, and from those who had the opportunity to go to her concert (more than once, in some cases), there were evidently better nights to have recorded. Perhaps they should have recorded all nights and then merged them in like they did for the Budokan DVD.

She might have been tired, Keep Tryin' apparently being 20th on the list, but I think that what she was doing was quite deliberate. Looking at her movements, she was having a blast, and was really rocking out. And as my pop music teacher would say, rocking out is key. Her distorted voice, the pitch slide she used towards the end, her running around, all of it are hallmarks of living in the moment, and communicating that moment's intensity. Vocal control and all those good technical things took a back seat in that performance. If I just ripped the audio track from the PV and listened to it, it's nothing special. You really have to see the video as well in order to appreciate the performance in its entirety.

Keep Tryin' was quite moving. The performer, as tired as she may be, was really into it. The cameras panning around the venue showed that the crowd was clearly into it as well, and audience and performer just fed off each other. It was magic.

Keep Tryin' is one of my favourite Ultra Blue tracks, although that's not saying much since most of the CD consisted of previous singles. But, it felt like her attempt at progressive rock in some ways, particularly in the bridge leading up to the chorus. The somewhat dark twist in harmony, the layering of voices, and change-up in the instrumentals, and her own voice taking on an ethereal kind of timbre, it's probably her tipping her hat to her favourite bands, like Queen and Sting.

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Utada Hikaru: Boku wa Kuma

(Originally 24 November 2006)

So I've come out of the encounter with Utada Hikaru's bear song relatively unscathed. It's a song for children, so it's deliberately simple in lyrics and melody. The backgrounds have a bit of flourish in the middle bridge, but for the most part are just there to give the sleepy atmosphere reminiscent of a lullaby. It's not quite lullaby status, but that's good, because it's good for a children's choir and it wouldn't do to have the lot of them pass out.

It's not a song title that I would want to see on her next album, but it's not for me, or most fans for that matter.

On a side note, I listened to Being, by KOTOKO (OP for Shakugan no Shana), and the opening phrase really struck me. UH's voice was calm, full, and comfortably in her low register, and it magnified KOTOKO's bright, thinner, and higher pitched line. Yikes. Being is not a bad song, but a lot of KOTOKO's tracks aren't bad songs. She's set the bar rather high, and only a few tracks stand out for me.

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Kannazuki no Miko: Link Resource

(Originally 13 November 2006)

I have KOTOKO's Fatally sitting on my desktop, largely forgotten. One day in August after finals, I noticed it and on a whim began looking for Fatally on YouTube. This later brought on Nanoha and Nanoha A's, but at the moment, I stumbled across Re-Sublimity and Agony AMV's. Being the OP and ED for KnM, they led me to uploads of the series. It was a longer and more convoluted path than I've described, most of it through various other AMV's and maybe an episode or two of Nanoha, but the above is the gist of it.

Anyway, that's the unlikely beginning of my interest in the series. I later stumbled across a lot of other discussion, which I've listed below. I really appreciate AMVS.org's KnM tribute and analysis of the best character of the show.

The director was also an animation director/assistant animation director for some episodes of Escaflowne. Although I don't pay attention to mecha designs, I don't think that Escaflowne had much of an influence on KannaMiko's mecha.


With regard to Shoujo-Ai and AnimeSuki, there is well in excess of 1000 posts in each thread. I waded through most of the AnimeSuki thread. There are some real pros at analysing characters, situations, morality, as well as making very accurate predictions. The latter declaration is tempered by the fact that the manga was already in print, but since it would not conclude until after the series, the predictions made about the ending, and the developments leading up to said ending, amount to clairvoyance at times.

Series Material
Fan Fiction

I really want to plug Final Healing, and Blinded by Jen-chan, who uses Shaw! It's a shame that they decided to fall back to the west. Anyway, it's a well written story that imagines the events following the final episode. My respect for Chikane went through the roof after reading this. More commentary later.

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Kanon subs

(Originally 12 November 2006)

For episodes 5 and 6, I've found that SS/Eclipse yielded a better viewing experience. I think it's the little details, like the addition of translator's notes, and the seamless integration of english beside or even replacing the characters on signs or books. For episode 6, where Yuuichi is looking at a job advertisement for a position at a manga cafe, SS/Eclipse initially shows the original text, then has it morph into a translation.

For these two episodes afk hasn't put up any translator's notes, and not translating that bit of the job ad causes the viewer to miss out on the irony and the exchanges that take place in the next scene.

In terms of translations, afk's is maybe a bit too literal. The dialogue felt disjointed, more lines seemed out of context, and the translation of some things that probably would have been better left alone, like translating manga to comic book, and pork bun into meat bun (but SS/E could have been wrong), is jarring. Some terms are widely understood, like manga, and others deserve a translator's note instead of being watered down to fit the dialogue timing, or just plain watered down. SS/E tossed in a translator's note in episode 5 to talk about octopus-shaped sausage, and went into more detail about the term's etymology. I wouldn't have noticed or cared, but it was a nice touch that I missed when viewing afk's interpretation.

So it seems that even though afk releases later, usually about a day or two, it's not necessarily better than "speed sub" releases.

I'm not sure which one to keep at the moment, although thus far I've been keeping afk's because I started with afk. Maybe I ought to delete everything, and watch episode by episode, and get a batch download when the subbers wrap things up. The current situation is, watch SS/E first to get the gist of things, then use afk to get a more complete picture, at least when the two don't conflict.

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Kimi ga nozomu eien: The eternity that you desire

(Originally 11 November 2006. Damn, that was a productive day)

I finished the series last week. It was something I was meaning to get around to, since it seems to have touched a raw nerve in many of the people who have written anything about it.

The first episode, I wasn't particularly impressed by. The drama was rather blunt and over the top. I like angst so long as it's even slightly believable. It's not so believable when you're hit over the head with it. Repeatedly. Case in point, when a girl asks the lead character to go out, and he turns her down, she runs away. First, pretty much every anime high school girl runs in the "girly" fashion, wherein they're carrying an imaginary handbag in both hands, for reasons I have yet to determine. That's half a strike, because I've resigned myself to just expecting it. But while this girl, Haruka, is running, she has her hair over her eyes. And her tears flow into the air like magical crystal specks.

This happens not once, but twice. I was disappointed, let's put it that way. This wasn't grounds for me to drop a series, but I haven't ever dropped one yet so w/e, but it did leave me rolling my eyes. There were other moments, like a "You don't understand!" then running away incident, but the above really stuck in my mind, because whoever produced the show put a lot of emphasis on the angsty running away girl.

Sanity returned in episode 2, and Haruka and Takayuki (the lead) begin to get along, if somewhat awkwardly. The love triangle also begins to form during this episode, which is capped off by Haruka getting hit by a car. Everyone should have known it was coming, it's the premise of the series and the first two episodes were just preludes. Just the way it was executed had a big impact, with the sudden cutting in of the ending song, used only for that episode.

Takayuki approaches the police tape, and hears an officer relaying the victim's name. When he says her given name (family name first, given name second), Takayuki's eyes widen, and then there is a cut to the series title against white background. This is followed by the credits, but these are overlaid on a dimly lit hospital corridor outside a surgery room, with Haruka's family in shock, and Takayuki just stricken, for various reasons.

Haruka winds up in a coma, which she wakes up from 3 years later, when everyone else is trying to move on with life as best they can. The series is completely driven by the interactions between characters as they try to come to terms with Haruka's awakening, as well as a host of unfortunate coincidences. The poorly timed walk-ins and run-ins are piled on so much so that it's hard to believe on one hand, and you begin to expect the worse on the other. People have their bad days, but it's troubling to have them conspire to send you to your own personal hell.

Life happens, and that's the series at its core. Characters get drunk, commit adultery at an immediate and also at an arguably metaphorical level, lose their focus, get into ruts, fight each other, etc. What do you do if the person you were going out with, if only for a short while, wakes up from a coma 3 years later when you've begun dating her best friend? If you're that best friend, and your boyfriend acts like he might want to turn back time, do you feel like you've just been a replacement? Was Takayuki indirectly being unfaithful to Haruka? There are tons of questions one might ask, depending on how deep one wants to get into the story and the characters.

I'm going to spoil the end. Just so you know, although how many of you are (if anyone does read this) are going to watch KimiNozo anyway?

In the end, Haruka returns to reality (the doctor initially kept her in the dark about how long she had been out to prevent time-shock), and learns everything, as must inevitably happen. For someone who hasn't had 3 years to increase her awareness of the world and mature, she is rather quick to accept reality and let Takayuki go. Perishthethought, source of analytic commentary on the Animesuki KimiNozo thread, figures that Haruka hasn't actually let Takayuki go, but the reality of the situation is she can't return to the way things were before.

The ending is a somewhat depressing, but ultimately honest look at love. I'm still a big proponent of idealized love, of soul-mates, even though I will likely never find any such thing (a girlfriend would be necessary before I can even talk about such things), but I digress. This series is about one person being in love with two people, and two people falling for the same person. They might have been different types of love, and here a huge argument will erupt over what type connotes true love or which type is more real than the other.

I do agree with Perish's opinion that Takayuki's love is really one of obligation. He's nice to everyone, and those on the receiving end probably misinterpret that as intimate affection when in fact he's just that nice to people in general. He goes to whoever who needs him most. In that sense, he himself probably doesn't feel anything approaching love to either Haruka, or Mitsuki, Haruka's best friend. He agreed to go out with Haruka in the first place partly out of obligation to Mitsuki, and partly because he hurt Haruka by initially rejecting her. I think his willingness to let someone go if he doesn't think they need him is fleshed out rather well in the series. In short, he sticks by someone if he thinks they need his help. One might argue that this is the commitment part of the triangle of love theory, but not only does he commit equally to both girls (well as much as can be demonstrated for a girl who soon ends up in a coma), notice that just having commitment is empty love. At best, his love with Mitsuki is fatuous, and with Haruka, it was mostly empty.

Well this is life. People fall in love for different reasons, and can fall in love with different people. I still hold on to my hopeless ideals, but I know I'm in a futile battle with reality. Kind of like Haruka.

I can't say much about Haruka, since you know, she doesn't change much. I think she's pretty courageous to make the decision she did. She probably could've kept Takayuki's conscience tormented despite his desire to return to Mitsuki, so props to her for her maturity, and her ability to even take action. Just saying nothing would have kept him under her thumb.

Since everyone seems to talk about Mitsuki…why not? I didn't get wound up nearly as much a lot of others. Maybe because I'm not willing or even incapable of passing judgement on the actions of characters, I let a lot of bad or controversial behaviour slide. I just can't really tolerate the utterance of stupid things because talk is cheap. Anyway, what a character does reflects on the character, or the skill of the story writer to develop a character. From that standpoint, it's hard for me to "hate" a character. I just look at a character and say, that's a well-done character, or, that's a rather boring character (even with annoying habits and such).

So! I thought Mitsuki's character was well done. She gets distracted, gets into a rut, gets kicked off the swim team for all intents and purposes. She might have quit, I can't quite remember if that was ever spelled out, but she had no reason to quit if she was doing so well, and she wasn't doing so well after Haruka's accident. She has bouts of self-doubt, gets excessively drunk, cheats on Takayuki, and goes slightly unstable afterwards. The parade of jaw dropping moments involving Mitsuki doesn't end until, well, the end. Probably the most controversial moment, though, was when she initially hooks up with Takayuki, by throwing herself at him when he's in the deepest state of depression. I think that action, although it might have been another one later on, has been immortalized as the Hayase [Mitsuki] Maneuver.

No matter how you slice it, Mitsuki took advantage of Takayuki. Would he have gone and killed himself if she didn't do what she did? Probably not, so long as Haruka wasn't dead. Did she steal away her best friend's guy? I say no, but this question is pretty divisive. Your girlfriend's in a coma. She might never wake up, or she might wake up in a week, or she might wake up tomorrow. What the hell do you do? At first Takayuki was willing to hold a torch for her, even if it was eating away at him inside. Mitsuki made her decision, she made the first move. Decision gets made, consequences have to be lived with no matter how unpleasant those might be, and in the case of the series, they're pretty unpleasant (but exacerbated by lots of other events). But that's life, and you don't get the eternity you desire by sitting on the sidelines.

Could she have gone about it differently? Sure. Do I hate her for what she did? Like I said, I view her as a character, with flaws, with redeeming qualities (although some think she has no redeeming qualities), and all-round as pretty believable. Ok, so if she were a real person, would I hate her? Well assuming that I knew all of this because she airs her dirty laundry as normal people are wont to do</sarcasm>, probably not. I seriously think that she could still be a good friend. She's not unstable most of the time; she worries a lot but that's par for the course. She drinks but only when she's in a rut and her colleague got her into the booze in the first place.

What else ought I to add? I've no complaints about the animation, character designs didn't annoy me but they weren't stand-out, even after Mitsuki cut her hair. The story carries the series, and does a solid job of it.

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MS Igloo

(Originally 11 November 2006)

Speaking of fight scenes, I actually marathoned all six episodes of MS Igloo 0079 (Hidden One Year War and Apocalypse), then got to talking to the friend who wound up recommending Macross Zero. I suppose it's a bit easier to pay attention to detail when everything is computer generated 3D (the aerial combat in Macross Zero was also CG) , but for me that doesn't detract from the impressiveness of it all.

I'm not one to comment on character design, but the female lead, Monique Cadillac, was excessively pale. None of the other characters were, so it was a bit jarring. She looks much healthier behind the tinted glass of a flight helmet's face shield.

Even though even the most prominent characters didn't see much in the way of screentime, let alone character development, I liked the captain for whatever reason. And the guy who amounts to an XO. Maybe there's something fitting about Russians in command of a ship. At times, the captain's exchanges with the rest of the crew made it seem like they were on a submarine, or destroyer/aircraft carrier, not against the backdrop of space.

Monique has some moments that indicate she embodies the "revolutionary communist fervour" traits. There are tons of communist propaganda posters with women with bullhorns, or weapons, cheering on the construction worker, or the peasant, what have you. I'm talking about that kind of image. Of course, everyone gets jaded by the end, as engineers tend to do even before graduation *cough*.

The "main" character, engineer Oliver May was reduced to talking about weapons, and narrating the technical reports he writes at the end. Maybe that's why engineers shouldn't be main characters. For someone who sits on the sidelines a lot, you'd think he'd have something more insightful to say, but his comments aren't anything we don't already know. Zeon is losing, they're getting desperate, and this engineering unit is given the unenviable task of doing work that will receive no recognition, ever. A lot of people might relate to this situation (and you'd bail out of that sinking ship of a company if you happen to be in one), but ultimately bleak situations make for uneventful stories.

Speaking of which, the plot is fairly contained in the episode, but there's not much there. I don't think it's a spoiler to declare that the episode inevitably goes something like the following: Engineering Unit 603 receives some weapon for "evaluation." The field test inevitably turns into a live-ammo firefight with Federation forces, and one has to wonder if the 603rd is really a suicide squad, except someone forgot to tell them. Anyway, said weapon does impressive amounts of damage, for one weapon, but ultimately the scale of the battle is that of a small skirmish, and the test pilot/gunner is killed. The weapon in question never gets deployed again, at least not in any serious way, because they never appear in any of the other 0079 series.

This is ultimately a series about failure, and it's rather depressing to watch if you focus on what little story there is. In terms of story, 8th MS Team does quite a bit better, with more fleshed out characters to boot. What you should really be watching MS Igloo for is the well done fights.

As a sidenote, someone on the Animesuki forums suggested that the use of Igloo might have been an indirect reference to a personal Siberia of sorts, a place you get assigned to where you have no effect on the direction a company takes, or in this case, have no effect on the outcome of the One Year War.

Everything moves a lot faster in these engagements. When I look at some of the older animated mobile suit series, like 0083 Stardust Memory, I don't buy into the superior speed and maneuverability of a mobile suit. That, and their seeming invincibility against anything that is not a mobile suit.

In these fights (as well as the 8th MS Team ones), it's a lot easier to suspend disbelief, just because there's more details animated, as opposed to freeze frame "speed lines". Mobile suits are also quite vulnerable, getting taken down by tank shells, cruiser plasma fire, or autocannons.

My favourite scene is from the second episode, which features the tank engagement. Maybe it's because it's the only land-based combat scene, and it makes use of cover, ambush, and team tactics that remind me of pretty much all combat scenes from 8th MS. The use of current (as of 2007) tank ammunition was a nice touch, like Armor Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) kinetic energy penetrators, and HESH rounds.

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Macross Zero

(Originally 11 November 2006)

Another recommendation from a friend. I didn't find the lead characters very likeable, and the others were mainly there to fight each other, and there was plenty of fighting to go around. The choreography for the aerial battles looked fairly complex. Of the combat scenes, hats off to the final, the jet engagement in the first episode, and the first variable fighter engagement in the second episode.

They dress up the island dwellers as ignorant, which they might very well be, but it's not something that I have an easy time watching. Sora, their leader, says the most inane coupled with the most profound things, usually within a few moments of the other. Likewise, the scientist character is stubborn in her naive beliefs, which is marginally more acceptable because it's science, after all. Overt idealism apparently runs in a lot of Shoji Kawamori's work, the environment being a big theme (Arjuna, apparently).

The story itself is fairly straightforward. Find pieces of a large artifact (or creature) and put it together to attain real ultimate power. While hunting around and being cocky to the island dwellers who don't know anything, fend off attacks from the enemy who wants real ultimate power as well. I found the head scientist character to be rather snooty. Like I said, the natives say equally inane and profound things, and she believes none of it, not so much because of scientific skepticism, but because she has her own theory of how things should be, which serves as a convenient ground for dismissal of everything else. I found it fairly frustrating all the same, in no small part because I as a viewer just know that Bad Things (TM) are going to happen, and that they happen due to the black-and-white stances of the characters cheapens the feel.

Animation, background, visuals were all detailed and realistic. I can't really comment or elaborate beyond that.

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Maaya Sakamoto FOR THE WIN

(Originally 29 October 2006)

No doubt about it, she can sing live. Classic song, excellently done. It made my yesterday.

There are 3 other performances from the same show, apparently a June TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting) documentary. I don't identify as much with the newer songs, No Fear and Kazemachi Jet. Maybe it's because I've heard Yubiwa (many times) and Platinum/Purachina (from her Hotchpotch album) way back in the day. Maybe it's because anime songs have a different feel and atmosphere (although this doesn't work for Kazemachi Jet which is an ED for Tsubasa Chronicles), at least the good ones tend to relate at least tenuously to the series they open or close for (or are image songs for the OST). Maybe it's the Yoko Kanno factor for these two older works.

I can't shut up about Yubiwa. One of the greatest credit/ED tracks I've heard. Although that's not saying much. Its atmosphere matches that of the Escaflowne movie, the lyrics are basically from the male lead's viewpoint at the very end, literally, it's got Yoko Kanno execution and Maaya Sakamoto's voice. Basically, nothing can possibly go wrong. Like I was blown away by KOTOKO's Agony for the ending of KnM (and Re-sublimity for the OP, and Suppuration -core- for the image track...), I was blown away by Yubiwa's class and power, all the more enhanced by watching A Girl in Gaea (it wasn't that bad, but I did think it was rushed like most everyone else). I think Yubiwa made the ending, essentially. There wasn't anything spectacular, there wasn't much action or any busy-ness; it was rather peaceful. The effect could have been lost were it not for a solid ED track.

I think I've said my piece for now. Yes, on to hurting myself, i.e. watching Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien.

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Relief for my CPU

(Originally 25 October 2006…but I don't even know why I'm transferring this over. On principle, I guess)

I hope. Arienai now releasing Hataraki Man in both HD and SD. Guess which one I'm getting now?

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(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.

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Saikano complete

(Originally 18 October 2006)

Saikano finale pulls an Evangelion. Or a Gainax. Everyone dies, main character begins hallucinating. It doesn't have much of an effect because the build-up just wasn't there, as noted previously. No one had anything poignant to say that might have salvaged the series (like Kannazuki no Miko!).

Well, on to AIR.


After some consideration, some comments on the main characters.

Chise's non-story is the kind of outcome that occurs everyday, but one that is unpalatable to me precisely because of that reason. Does she ever get over herself? No. Does she become a stronger person? No. The Chise at the beginning of the story is the same as the one at the end. There is nothing positive about her role, nor is there anything tragic.

Shuji is a loser, and this is actually acceptable to me. My problem with his character is that, while it's perfectly fine to speak your mind, it only works if you're not as dumb as bricks. After a few episodes, the instant he opens his mouth I know it's just to put foot in it. Hurting people is his schtick it seems, one that he regrets over and over again. Why he wasn't slapped around more than once for the entire series will be one of those great unsolved mysteries.

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Saikano notes

(Originally 14 October 2006)

Recommended by a friend, I'm currently up to episode 11 (the last two aren't yet on YouTube). It's one of those series where the setting is during a war, but the relationship is supposed to be the focal point. Incidentally, GONZO Digimation is currently producing Pumpkin Scissors, set in a post-war setting.

I have probably zero credibility when it comes to judging a series, since I have completed so few of them, and I've been pretty nice and have yet to derisively pan any of them. Sure I've criticized elements as silly/stupid/dumb, but for the most part I've enjoyed the moments enough and just left it at that.

I can't say I'm really enjoying Saikano. I went into this with the premise that the fighting is not immediately what the series is about. So what I'm saying is, the relationship story sucks. Nagisa, lead character of Strawberry Panic, was a bit of a crybaby, but it didn't get on my nerves for the most part. And she was very apologetic, like a good Canadian. Or something.

Chise, female lead of Saikano, cries every single episode, apologies for just not any good (or bad) reason, but for no reason, and it gets on my nerves. A lot. It's really detracting from a character that the viewer is supposed to feel sympathy for. Here is the ultimate weapon torn, with human emotions and all of the questions that raises about war and such, and we should feel badly for her plight. I've stopped feeling badly and just wished she'd shut up. She could slit her wrists at any moment, and I really don't care.

Shuji, the male lead, seems to be as dumb as bricks. I suppose the one thing he's got going for him, as a character, is his "integrity". He's a straight shooter. Unfortunately, telling it like it is doesn't do anyone any good when you're just plain stupid. And when all you do is blab and hurt people in the process.

There are way too many foot-in-mouth moments. I'm a loser and even I don't say things that stupid. On the topic of integrity, I don't mean he's a good-hearted person. I mean, he cheats on Chise. But at least he's honest about it! As if that's a good thing. See what I mean? The king of losers.

His character foil, if you can call him that, is Lieutenant Tetsu. And by foil, he's exactly like Shuji, probably voiced by the same voice actor. Except where Shuji just calls people "dummy," Tetsu calls people "dummy" and kicks some ass in the war. He has zero foot-in-mouth moments, making him infinitely more intelligent. This comparison is so lopsided, and it seems his purpose in the series is just to demonstrate to the viewer how much of a loser Shuji is, as if we didn't know that already.

Episode 9 was the best one, which is to say that the secondary characters get quite a bit of screen time. Episode 9 also has the most poignant scenes of the series thus far, one of which is a broken swing with a declaration of love written underneath one of the seats.

It's a shame when the secondary characters are more competent than the leads, and then they die. That's right, by episode 11 everyone else is pretty much dead or in otherwise sorry shape.

The only other thing I have to note is that most of the characters are blushing. Permanently. The kind of comic/manga illustration where the cheaks have a cluster of vertical lines, and in the series the surrounding area is tinged with red. It was distracting, and it just caricatured those characters more. I thought it was terrible. Like the series.

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Kanon 2006 OP and ED

(Originally 11 October 2006)

Get them. I just like the ED track mostly. I tend to prefer OP tracks that are faster paced. Both tracks produced/arranged by I've Sound, sung by Ayana. These are the original tracks from the source game, something that the 2002 Kanon series couldn't use because of licensing issues.

I haven't played the game, or seen the 2002 series. But I heard that the story is top notch, and I'm always up for a good story. I don't really think much of the character design, but I've never sat down and tried to work out my preferences. I try not to let something like that get in the way of my enjoyment of a good story, anyway.

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Hunter x Hunter: Greed Island, Greed Island Final

(Originally 11 November 2006)

I finished marathoning a total of 24 episodes this afternoon. The plot is entirely driven by the need to complete the Greed Island game, and the only twist comes in the first episode of GI Final, although probably I should've seen it coming if I were thinking a couple moves ahead.

The main characters are designed to pander to kids, I guess — it's shounen after all. They're animated with the suddenly deformed faces, exaggerated beat downs by the trap character (more on that later). The main character is hard to appreciate or remotely feel sorry for, because he's more naive than I am, and he cries a ton (not literally, he just bitches so much). His sidekick is pretty badass, most of the time, and the trap character, a 57 year old "woman" who appears as a girl with excessive eyeliner is the most level headed, but probably age will do that to you.

At the end of the series, you might question whether that girl's true form is really female, though, especially just going on the voice. That's why I think it's a trap, in the cross-dressing sense. But without doing much more inquiry, from what I've read she is a she apparently.

Animation wise it's about par for a late 90's kids' action series, in the style of Sailor Moon or Dragon Ball Z in terms of the line and colour palette. Don't believe a word I say, for I did extremely poorly in the last visual arts course I took, which was in elementary school.

For me, the only reason to watch, besides the initial recommendation, was for all the strategy involved in defeating clearly more powerful and experienced opponents. Although there were only two significant engagements, the rest of the series being spent learning about game mechanics (which were largely irrelevant in those two battles), and training which was sort of interesting but mostly provided a bit of comic relief. To be sure, there were some moments of cleverness sprinkled around, but strokes of genius require at least a couple moves to play out.

The first major battle was a 8 vs 8 dodge ball game. It stretched out for something like 4 episodes, an episode too long probably. While there wasn't copious amounts of trash talking and "charging up" a la DBZ, there was a ton of talk explaining the rules, checking up on people hit by the ball (it packs a punch), and strategizing. It proceeded almost like a 4-episode YuGi-Oh battle, wherein they make up the rules as they go along, or they explain them over and over again. I don't think I've ever played a game of dodge ball that paused for 5+ minutes after the ball gets thrown to hear the rules again, or strategize. Hell, everyone should know what the rules of dodge ball are, or they can go look it up on their own time.

Strategizing, probably necessary, but while they argue over what to do for lengthy stretches, the actual plan is only revealed after it's been carried out. This makes the arguing beforehand a colossal waste of (my) time. I was impressed with the creativity used in attaining victory, but I was displeased that it took 4 episodes to do it.

The second battle towards the end of the series was much better. There was some talk about coming up with a plan, but that was before any fighting started. And while there was training and brainstorming going down, a few scenes were put in that demonstrated one group's plan to buy time through hit and run attacks, which kept the pace up. For the headline fight between the main character and the big bad boss, the plan is revealed piecemeal until it all culminates in victory. But the main character still has to say some dumbass things, which was mostly unnecessary. He did have to goad the boss into doing things, but much of the trash talk was just fluff. He also has this stereotypical trait of laughing to himself whenever he gets up after taking a thrashing.

The guy loses his hand in the fight, but the shock value of this incident is quickly cheapened by the fact that there's a magical wish-granting card, and it gets used to remove all of his injuries. For a brief moment I wondered if he was going to have a Luke Skywalker moment when it is revealed to all that his father also lost his hand. But it wasn't to be. I'm not sure how else they could've gone about it, though. It's impossible to totally reattach a hand, nerve connections and all, without resorting to a cheap plot device, and if they just let him lose the hand, that'd kill off the franchise right there.

Conclusion! Watch the series for the dodge ball game, and maybe a bit of the events leading up to it (the good guys deliberately lose on the first sporting games contest to gather info as well as the concluding battle.

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Kanon 2006: Episode 2

(Originally 14 October 2006)

I actually chuckled at some of the moments in episode 2. I just don't find a lot of attempts at humour to be all that humourous, with a good chunk of anime humour being of the slapstick variety, with a compromsing position thrown in before or after the beating. I tend to just feel sorry for the victim(s), because they tend to be deliberately stupid. Kanon's humour is very much in the dialog, and the script has a very natural flow to it.

Yuuichi is right: Kaori Misaka is a damn cool girl. Voiced by Chikane's voice actress to boot, although I can't tell any resemblance.

I tried viewing ep 2 using Static-Subs/Eclipse's joint venture, as well a.f.k's interpretation. While SS-Eclipse comes out in 24 hours or less of the show airing, meaning I could grab it probably Friday morning or late Thursday night where I am, I can't actually do so because I've got to go work. a.f.k's sub has been out late Friday night the past two episodes, and I'm finding the sentence flow and structure to be a bit better. I've heard that SS tends to be more literal, and I perceived a bit of that from their subbing of KnM. For Kanon, sometimes SS has a line that seems more appropriate given the context and situation, but on balance I'm finding a.f.k to be more enjoyable.

I've also started to watch AIR, because it's Kyoto Animation, and another Key story. Might eventually get around to watching The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Traveling on Faraway Trains (Passing By)

If you understood the second reference, I guess we have something more in common other than an interest in anime and Japanese music.

Anyway, I'm leaving for a graduation trip tomorrow. I'm concerned about falling deeply behind in terms of releases and the postings of other sites, but I guess there's always that post-trip down time to catch up. I don't think anyone knows for sure when we're coming home, but it has to be no longer than three weeks, and probably closer to two and a half. Hopefully this break doesn't put a dent in my plans to get listed on AnimeNano.

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Strawberry Panic

(Originally 11 October 2006)

I'm a sucker for getting caught up in the moment, brief instances in time that make me pause to reread a line, or even rewind and rewatch.

Strawberry Panic has tons of those moments, little scenes that stood out because they mixed the rights elements together, but when you step back, appear pretty isolated, or don't make much sense in context. They're good for making AMV's, but little much else. It's difficult to put forth the case that they make an episode, let alone arcs.

The series has been panned by plenty of people, plot (what plot?) and premise (how does losing an umbrella form the basis for an entire episode?) being the main gripe, and characters (too emo, too often, without any compelling reason) a fairly close secondary complaint.

The soundtrack was good, just way over used. I felt like I was being beaten over the head every time they broke out the same choral track, sometimes for no good reason (premise plz!). It's a good track, but Spica's choir must have a repertoire of all of...3 pieces and change. Not exactly ace private academy calibre.

I'm also a sucker for history and mysterious pasts. And tragic characters. Combined, they made for lots of good moments. Good, isolated, moments. The last 13 episodes were better than the first 13 in that regard, and things got really good towards the end but whoever animated the thing couldn't really execute well. Episode 18 could have been decent, but it was hard to buy in when there was so much blinding rain and deafening thunder, and waves crashing against the rock face. Leave it to episode 19 to actually get a decent backstory.

From episode 19 to the finale was the closing arc, and it started off well, but petered out. The end was good, with good choice of music leading into the final credits. The ending episode, though, was average (other commentators are not so nice).

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Zero no Tsukaima

Alafista's (de)motivational entrySource NSFW, but oh so funny

(Originally 11 Oct 2006)

Zero no Tsukaima started off favourably. It may horrify you to learn that I find groin kicks hilarious. I might think differently if I were on the receiving end of one, but it's one of the best forms of slapstick humour.

The series could have been a commentary on challenging nobility and authority figures, since here was a character who didn't really possess any magical ability yet could hold his own in a fight with a magical noble.

Towards the end, it just kind of fell apart. There wasn't much of a plot linking episodes together, other than Saito getting his ass (or other) handed to him. But it had an intriguing backstory, with the mysterious interactions between the magical world and the real world, and how it seems that the real world totally beats the stuffing out of magic. The scene in which the Staff of Destruction is deployed, primitive as it is, was really well done, which is to say, it was as badass as Shiro Amada using the same weapon against Zaku MS' in 08th MS Team.

Likewise, the Dragon's Raiment use was satisfying despite being an incredibly lopsided battle.

Towards the end, the secondary characters were reduced to some bail-out squad for whenever the leads got into otherwise inextricable situations. And the villains were meh. The final story arc was half-hearted, standard let's take over the world, lose the war in the very first battle fare. I was struck by the lack of any real premise, but I suppose people do wake up one day, get together, and declare that they want to take over the world for the hell of it.

Apparently the light novels are really good, from which the material for the anime was derived. The series needed more than 13 episodes — the light novels haven't even concluded, currently weighing in at 9 volumes.

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Utada Hikaru to release teddy bear song

(Originally 17 September 2006)

Stunned silence ensues.

Maybe it's because she's burned out after touring. Or burned out from producing Ultra Blue. Or maybe it's a mockery of her rabid fan base, knowing that they'll buy it just because they'll buy anything with her name on it. That's really cynical, and I don't actually believe that.

Until I actually take a listen, my assertion is that she doesn't need the money, so she can do anything she wants, even though it is a bizarre way of going about things. Usually when you don't need the money and want to explore the artistic side of things, you go and produce something like Ultra Blue. If you're Utada Hikaru, you go pen some singles that will eventually go into an album that will beat the pants off of Ultra Blue. Somehow, I doubt that a kid's song is going to contribute to Ultra Blue.

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Hikki is Love

(Originally 26 April 2006)

A Nissin commercial (C/M) and the audio track have been uploaded to Rapidshare, among other services. The audio is a snippet of the first track of Ultra Blue, Utada Hikaru's upcoming album set to drop on June 14. If you couldn't guess, it's titled This is Love.

For instant noodles, this anime styled commercial is totally over the top. I found it hilarious given the context (or lack thereof). At least it's worth a chuckle. I don't know if this is also partly an ad for an actual anime series. So far everyone has referred to this as the Nissin C/M. It's hard to believe that they'd call in the director of Akira, and devote an entire website, just to do a single commercial for Nissin. Translations of that site so far seem to imply a new series, since it gives the characters names, and has some background. The main character likes Nissin, a sign of the increased use of product placement in place of ads, because ads seem to be declining in effectiveness.

6 of 13 tracks are from previously released singles. I know that over in Japan they do things differently — release a lot of singles in between albums, and then include all of them in the next release. This is pretty disappointing to me — essentially half of the tracks are old material. Her singles don't have much other than the title track, a B-side, and a karaoke (instrumental) version. Wings itself was a B-side on the Keep Tryin' single, and one that I wasn't particularly impressed with.

This is Love is a departure of sorts from her older work. Some would say it brings her more in line with her Exodus work, which is orthogonal to her Deep River era. After looping it for the past hour, I have to agree: it's more like Exodus, in that it's not like Deep River, like saying that a banana is more like an orange in that it's not like an apple. This track has a higher probability of sitting on Deep River than Exodus, though. It's eminently mainstream, very accessible J-Dance, and when I think J-Dance, I think Tamaki Nami and Ayumi Hamasaki (shudder). Others will beat me over the head and rattle off a huge list of J-Dance artists.

After more thought, the open atmosphere of the track, the tone of the melody, and background choral-like vocals, make me think of Yuki Kajiura, like Akatsuki no Kuruma. It's about the same tempo. Her work has more of a classical slant with related instrumentation, but the impression is in the right place.

The closest track from her previous work would be Traveling, but when I think of Traveling, I think of scenarios very much grounded in reality. That didn't make any sense at all, and that PV was pretty psychedelic which is business as usual in Kiriya Kazuaki land. I mean to say that when I listen to Traveling, I think it's more or less dance music done straight up.

When I listen to this snippet, at least, my impression is distinctly anime-ish. Seeing the commercial didn't help matters. But now in addtion to NRG dance and awesome night driving music, I think of Gundams. The commercial's added sound effects are really messing with my head, but it'd be freaking awesome if they were left in, and it became an opener for a new Gundam series.


Hilariously, I'm actually following Freedom, the OVA series that This is Love opens for. I was out to lunch on this one; this cup noodle commercial was a trailer of sorts for Freedom, not some series of short commercials built around promoting Nissin products.

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Boulevard of Broken Dreams Addendum

(Originally 1 January 2006)

After taking another listen to the original, I think the edge is a step in the right direction, and thus on balance I like UH's version more. Being a shell isn't so bad, when you can get angry every once in a while.


One classmate was weirded out by such a hard line taken in place of a softer voice. To each their own. Looking back, I think that vocal distortion was her way of demonstrating passion in her singing.

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Utada Hikaru's Tetris puh-Ownage on Google Video

(Originally 30 December 2005)

I'm pretty impressed that people are uploading UH appearances and PV's to Google Video. And the appearances are decently clipped to the relevant bits for indexing by whoever submitted the video, which is a good idea.

Not much to say about the Tetris clip, except that she's blazing fast compared to the competition. In these kinds of game shows they invite celebrities to compete against the show hosts in three (I think) challenges. They range from video games, to ping-pong, to parallel parking. Typically the celebrities win, otherwise it sort of looks bad. But there's no doubt that Hikaru is just better at Tetris than Matsumoto, who looks to be the sore loser.

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Utada Hikaru covers Green Day

(Originally 23 December 2005)

As part of her Holiday Live Special, UH performed two songs. First up was a cover of Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams - pretty catchy tune - the second being an even sparser arrangement of Passion. For a limited time, you can download the 300 kbps stream from the above link, although you'll need Windows Media Player to unlock the DRM. I don't quite understand myself, but I digress.

I wasn't too sure what to expect. I suppose a repeat of her textbook performance of Deep River for the Golden Disc Awards in 2002. She's in a studio, it's basically pre-recorded, what can possibly go wrong? In short, Passion went over really well, but it was no Deep River awards performance (she had some trouble pitching). I think that even her Simple and Clean performance was better a better studio performance.

I don't claim to know anything about Green Day, but from what I heard from the radio (me, listen to radio? I'm surprised, too), the style is somewhat tense but the voice is not edgy. It could just be UH's own interpretation, but her voice had an edge all the way through. Her dynamic range was pretty narrow between verse and chorus. It was like she was shouting during what I felt should have been quieter passages, and had no more room to grow when she should have been louder. The contrast would have been a lot more apparent when crescendo-ing to the chorus.

Other than that, there was nothing wrong. She didn't make mistakes. And if the perpetual hard line was her intention, then she did it well. I thought the lack of variety took away the intensity after a while.

What can I say, I'm the eternal critic.

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Utada Hikaru: Passion

(Originally 23 December 2005)

Opening for Kingdom Hearts II, Passion is the most unique song that UH has written for the Japanese market. Passion takes a lot of the Exodus aesthetic: exotic percussion, foreign scales, drawing out the notes to give a detached ethereal feel to the music. Despite the near constant percussion in the background, the overall accompaniment still feels sparse. Bursts of colour quickly fade away.

I found myself paying more attention to the arrangement than her vocals, which contribute to the overall effect. She sings at a relaxed pace and dynamic level, and keeps her voice a bit on the thin side. Even in the middle, when she switches to a new melodic line, she doesn't push her voice. In the background, she interjects reversed English, and far-off wails.

Passion is so different that it's potentially fan alienating. It's not mainstream; it doesn't have the instant mass appeal of a ballad or peppy dance number, precisely because it's detached. It's kind of ironic. I think it's caught in the grey area between pop and indie. Maybe it's an indie song with pop production values.

There will probably be an English lyrics version of Passion when KH2 is released in North America come March 2006 (I think). If that made it on to Exodus, instead of something like Easy Breezy, my opinion of Exodus would have been much higher.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Kannazuki no Miko: Shipped (pun intended)

Source: www.kannaduki.net

One afternoon last year, September 10 to be exact, 3 DVDs from Amazon entered into the shipping system. At least, the shipping information was entered into system, but the DVDs arrived shortly, either the next day or the following day. I draw attention to this to highlight the fact that I bought anime. To make matters more interesting, or worse, I bought Kannazuki no Miko.

There are better series along the same lines as Kannazuki no Miko, hereafter referred to KnM or KannaMiko. Escaflowne comes to mind as having a much more cohesive story, incorporating mecha, mysticism, relationship elements into a compelling experience. Where Escaflowne consistently does well in all three areas, KnM excels at none of them for the duration of the series.

Let's talk giant fighting robots for a moment. The concept requires some buy-in to begin with on both ends. If a team is going to go to the trouble of sketching out some mecha designs, even if they're bland, it's reasonable to expect that they'd be used, and by use, I mean fighting. But no, the mecha in KnM are placed arbitrarily like sex, because it seems that both sell. The mitigating factor is that KnM is is based on a manga of the same name by Kaishaku, so it's hard to fault the animation studio exclusively. If anything, they salvaged a mostly watchable anime from a mostly unreadable manga.

Although uninspired, the mecha is eye candy. Nothing important to the story happens for the duration of these battles, and there is little in the way of actual combat. I think all of the battles save for the final, extended showdown, are token in their brevity, and short battles are usually so lopsided that suspension of belief gives way to eye-rolling.

Combat takes place according to the following formula. Opponent(s) open fire on the Good Guy. Good Guy falters under the attack for the briefest of moments, meant to engender some kind of tension. Not to worry, though, as God Mode is quickly switched back on, the Good Guy utilizes his secret attack, which is the same attack used repeatedly so it's not really secret, which has a name, and which requires said name to be screamed like IT'S OVER NINE THOUSAND. Opponent(s) bail out, and the Good Guy gets the girl. Or not.

From trawling around a few dominant discussion threads on the series, mecha criticism is the most immediate and dominant. If one watched it in part because it technically fell into the mecha genre, they were more than disappointed, they were embittered. To others, the combat was a skippable irritant.

There's not much to comment concerning mysticism. It's used as an ability and serves to turn the plot in some series, but here it's used solely to form a premise. The outcome is very weak, because there is no plausible ability seen in KnM since it goes out the window with the mecha battles. As a premise, it manifests itself in a significant way only in a few key scenes, not nearly enough to be pervasive. Mysticism merely takes a back scene to the only element that was executed with non-catastrophic results.

That's not to say that the relationship element was spectacular. It, too, is not pervasive. It has the dubious honour of being the most controversial, though. This is yuri, after all, with fighting robots. Some might argue that the wrong crowds were drawn together, who were waiting around for the obvious (in their minds) pairing to come out of the wash. When the straight crowd lost, so to speak, denial is a great trolling tactic.

The intention, if there was any serious one, was to set up a love triangle. It wound up being cut and dry instead. At no point in the series except the end (of course) was their two contenders. There was the straight pairing, and the token third wheel. Worse, the third wheel character knew it and accepted it. Without any additional information concerning the manga or spoilers, one might have been convinced that the guy does get the girl. I don't know if the creators were trying to be deliberately clever or inadvertently disingenuous, because the guy doesn't get the girl, but you should know that already.

I have Escaflowne on DVD by the way, so why would I want what I've made out to be a much weaker (and shorter) incarnation? It seems like a naive answer, especially one that put me out some seventy-odd dollars, but I wanted a certain moment and a certain character immortalized (barring disaster and disc rot before I die) on a piece of plastic and glass.

KnM is an extreme example of cost-benefit, risk-reward undertaking. The bits of story, the sparsely used premise, the characterization, are only present for the purpose of build up to a single defining moment. No, it's not that one from the eighth episode; it's at the end. Characters have to be viewed in a certain way, or else the moment loses its power. Opinion is forged, literally manufactured through black and white actions and characterization, and premise creates this epic sense of tragedy.

Prior to watching KnM, I've never cried for a character. I've come close a few times, usually in situations where the journey's over, and they're finally going home. I've never gotten that attached to a character, but it's also because bittersweet moment are just that. What struck me with Himeko's redemption of Chikane, and Chikane's acceptance, was the immense solemnity of it all. Much of the potential joy is tempered by weighing all that has happened to create this moment. From a technical standpoint, so much was sacrificed that the resulting epiphany is enough to make me sit back and take notice.

At the same time, that much more was sacrificed by Chikane, rationally or otherwise, that I am moved to tears every time I watch the final episode. Her tragic journey's conclusion begins not with pretty flowers but in war, drenched her own blood. It was stark, poignant and very human. For that, Kannazuki no Miko, and Chikane, sit in a well-earned slot on my bookshelf.

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Failed Protector: A Kannazuki no Miko wallpaper

Want a kick ass wallpaper concerning something you probably have no idea about? No? Well too bad, you're never going to get back the 10 seconds it took to read this (well stop reading already).

The artist has done more. Much, much more.

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After a while, I realized that I was making more anime and j-pop themed posts, deviating from the original site's intended purpose. Certainly the content is similar in terms of style, but it seemed a good idea to compartmentalize. As such, I am going to slowly move those posts to this site, and polish them along the way. On newer posts, or some older ones that I feel strongly about, I may also add some frame captures, something that I've never done before.

Right off the bat I've observed the possibility of some temporal disconnect. I'll revise as necessary, but it will be refreshing to add a more current perspective in correlation to the more recent stamps.

I only came across the term wabi-sabi recently while reading a translation of one of Utada Hikaru's entries. I am, for the time being, enamoured by the discovery of the term, which encapsulates much that I identify with.

I initially tried to register wabi-sabi in Blogger, which was taken. Instead, I chose a related word from wabi-sabi, transcience, and used its Latin root. It has a soft ring, as Latin words are wont to have. I hope it pervades most of my entries, which implies I have my work cut out for me.

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