Darker Than Black

2019-Mar-02, Saturday 01:19
mindstalk: (Default)
I found I can watch it via Amazon Prime. Re-watch time! A lot of plot I don't recall details of, and a lot of stuff that seems strikingly familiar for having seen it once years ago. The real question is whether it'll make more *sense* now.
mindstalk: (riboku)
Lots of anime features high schoolers or middle schoolers. Or the SF or fantasy equivalent thereof. Or has teenagers who save the world. Lots and lots. But not all!

Seirei no Moribito, set in a fantasy past analogue of Japan. Main character is a 30 year old spearswoman.
Mushi-shi: the adventures of an adult guy who deals with magical insects.
Spice and Wolf: a medieval merchant and his Really Seven Hundred Year old companion.
Fate/zero: big magic fight, mostly adults.
Baccano!: crazy train robbery shenanigans.
Bunny Drop: man adopts a six year old girl. D'awwww. (The second half of the manga does get weirdly skeevy, but the anime is fine.)
Darker Than Black: weird things happened to the Earth. This comes later. Adults and occasional kid.
Restaurant to Another World: nothing really happens, with interesting characters and food porn.
Samurai Champloo: Couple samurai plus a young woman have adventures.
Cowboy Bebop: coulple guys with a ship plus a young woman plus a hacker girl have adventures.
Monster: adult doctor and psychopath and others.
Planetes: orbital garbage collection.
Record of Lodoss War: D&D game the anime.
Slayers: very different D&D the anime
Black Lagoon: thugs and a rogue salaryman.
Gankutsuou (Count of Monte Cristo in Spaaaace)
Le Chevalier d'Eon: Pre-Revolution French intrigue.
Michiko and Hatchin: adult woman and a girl she feels she has to take care of.
Ghost in the Shell: special post-cyberpunk police force.
Akatsuki no Yona: the princess is a teen, but the others are at least a bit older, and it's not remotely scholastic.
Akagami no Shirayukihime: I'm not sure how old Shirayuki and Zen are, but it feels more like college-aged fairy tale than high school.
Kino no Tabi: Kino might be high school aged, I have no idea, but the stories aren't remotely like that.

There are also some I didn't particularly enjoy, but in the spirit of completeness:

Samurai 7: seven samurai defend a village.
Sengoku Basara: a bizarre eversion of the unification of Japan.

Or one I never saw much of:

You're Under Arrest: Japanese traffic cops, IIRC.

Some are college environments, which can be like high school, but also not:

Nodame Cantabile: music college students.
Honey and Clover: art students? I forget
Genshiken: college anime/manga club.

Special mentions to:

Shin Sekai Yori, which starts before high school, and skips forward into adulthood.

As a bonus, most of these aren't skeevy, especially in the standard fanservice ways of panty shot or boob jiggle. Some have sexiness, like Horo being naked a lot, or Faye Valentine's choice of clothes, but even those feel more natural in context, and most you could probably show to non-pervy straight women or kids without feeling embarrassed or awkward. Or at least, awkward about violence or body horror instead...

recent movies

2017-Mar-05, Sunday 12:28
mindstalk: (rogue)
As usual when visiting S, I get exposed to movies.

* Moonlight. Emotionally powerful, but kind of unpleasant for me. Would probably not watch again.

* Castle in the Sky: I've seen this at least three times, 2007, 2014, and now. I keep liking the movie, but checking my notes, I keep forgetting what I observe about it, like how its a visual melange of motifs from other Ghibli movies, or the fact that the dubbed cast includes Rogue and Dawson Leery. (That it includes Luke Skywalker I do remember.) Has a good dub... I'm not 100% sure if I've actually watched it in Japanese, though I probably did in 2007.

* The Tale of Princess Kaguya: I've wanted to see this for a while, and finally did! Beautiful and sad. Different visual style from the usual Ghibli. Decent dub.

Castle notes over the years:

It's Gort! Who attacks Gort? Oh, secret heirs... visual melange of
Cagliostro and Nausicaa in one scene.
Behind the Microphone: James van der Beek (Dawson) as Pazu. Mark Hamill
(Luke) as Muska. Anna Paquin as Lucita. Now to compare Laputa and
X-Men directly and see if her voice changes.

movie: Castle in the Sky (re) big hit. scary for M.
I noted it's kind of a theme or motif mashup of Nausicaa, Cagliostro,
and Spirited Away. The princess and evil relative from Cagliostro, the
nature and God Monsters of Nausicaa, the engineer guy from Spirited Away...
her pigtails get shot off, making Sheeta look more like the standard heroine
not just Mark Hamill. Anna Paquin as Sheeta(!), James Van Der Beek as
Pazu, Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya as Louis?). I don't known Cloris
Leachman as Dola, but others do, and long career

M got excited and squirmy a lot.
engineer in Castle reminds me of stoker in Spirited.
Ponzu dad's drawing looked like long haired Mushka.
crystal scene like spirits in Mononoke
pink skull pirates.
pink pants
I wondered if they wear the same clothes, she actually changes a lot. four outfits.
flooded city like Cagliostro
inscription like cuneiform
squirrel things like Nausicaa
Egyptian art style on Laputa
700 years gap
robot like god warrior.
sodom, Indra's arrow.
progress, can't stay hidden
shoots her pigtails off

Memory oddness

2016-Nov-30, Wednesday 18:27
mindstalk: (Mami)
So we have these things called artificial neural networks, that learn in a supposedly neurologically-inspired manner. But AIUI, they typically take many repetitions to really learn something. Many many. And sometimes human learning seems like that, like rote memorization.

But other times, we learn with single-instance burn in. And not always because of some great emotional association, or repeated reflection. I had two instances of that yesterday.

First, I was up in Lowell for a job interview, and took the train. Now, I did that a few years ago, when a bunch of us went together to museums there. So as I emerged from the station this time, and looked across the street, suddenly I remembered exploring the park last time, before I'd gone to meet the others (who biked up). It's not like it's a particularly exciting or distinctive park, and I doubt I've thought of it since... but the impressions were there to be recalled.

As were the memories of being daunted and confued by crossing the nigh-freeway streets to get downtown, but that actually was mildly traumatic.

Second, I've been reading someone's Where I Read thread of the Robotech novels, based on the Robotech animated series, much of which I saw as a child. Last night the reader described a late scene where Minmei is seated outside somewhere, and her douchebag cousin-lover-manager Kyle is chugging a liquor bottle, before he finishes it and smashes it in mid air with a dropkick.

And I remember all that! Not well enough to guess who was on which side of the screen, but all of that suddenly seemed vividly familiar, in a way that other described scenes recently haven't. And unlike other remembered scenes -- the firing of the main gun, Roy dying, Max and Miriya fighting/courting, the SDF-1 punching a Zentraedi ship in Operation Daedalus -- I don't think I've thought about or reflected on this scene in the intervening nigh thirty years; it doesn't seem that iconic (though true, raging alcoholics are rare on Saturday morning cartoons, along with many other things distinctive about Robotech.) It's just some scene... that suddenly feels very fresh, after all this time.

I can't prove it's not some false memory constructed in response to the text. But I see no reason it has to be.

Sora explained

2016-Nov-19, Saturday 19:36
mindstalk: (thoughtful)
The OP of the anime Sora no Woto is really really pretty. It's also kind of disturbing: the show is about these girl soldiers, fairly active and all, but the OP has them mostly with closed eyes and often in somewhat sexualized poses. Very passive and objectified.

I just found something about that: apparently the art is heavily inspired by Gustav Klimt's paintings, especially the Beethoven Frieze. Which sounds vaguely thematic. The style is similar and you can match up most of the poses; the Sora girls are at least wearing clothes.

This doesn't explain why this choice was made, nor necessarily excuse it... but it is interesting context.

Link to an image if you don't see one: http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/soranowoto/images/d/d4/OP6.png/revision/latest?cb=20130221213305
mindstalk: Tohsaka Rin (Rin)
I'm no TV historian, but after a bit of research, I find:

I Love Lucy (1951), white woman/Cuban man. This hardly even registers as interracial to me, but the executives then were worried.

The Jeffersons (1975), white man/black woman.

Dynasty (1983), mixed-race woman, daughter of another character and his black mistress; would have mixed romance of her own.

Robotech (1985), white man/black woman.


If you're thinking "you suddenly realized Robotech was odd in that for 1985, and wondered if it was in fact the first mixed couple on US TV", you're right, that's exactly what I did. Someone on rpg.net had pointed out that a certain cosmopolitanism is part of the Macross formula, at least for the original series and Macross Plus. (Mixed race couple, diverse cultural origins, apparently diverse clothing styles in Plus.) And the answer seems to be "no, wasn't first, but was pretty early, and possibly first for children's cartoons. Though who can tell, it's not like the lists I found mentioned Robotech."

This is one thing I'm not sure Macross Frontier propagated, though I guess to Japanese sensibilities Alto/Sheryl might also be mixed-race (Japanese boy, white girl.) (There are also human/Zentraedi pairings and offspring, but "alien who looks just like us" isn't as radical as "actual different-race human".) Robotech did: the second series has the black Bowie Grant running off with the pale skinned Musica. (Macross Frontier does have a diverse cast, including an openly gay male; I just don't recall if it had a white/black couple anywhere.) And of course all Robotech series were based on existing anime, so Japan was a few years ahead of us -- granted, without US racial hangups, but with a lot of racism of their own. Though I suppose they might not care whether whites and blacks hook up, that's just non-Japanese people doing their thing. Japanese/non-Japanese couples in anime might be more interesting to track, there.
mindstalk: (YoukoRaku1)
I have since finished the Akagami anime, and almost all of the manga.

* Kiki and Mitsuhide, Prince Zen's first two guards/attendants, who used -dono on each other until they asked each other to stop, are in fact noble. Shirayuki uses -san with them even in private, contrary to my guess last time. They don't use an honorific with her or Zen, Zen and S don't use honorifics with each other (in private; his attendants qualify as private.)

* Obi, the definitely non-noble ninja, got promoted all the way to "Obi-sama" by a palace servant in Tanbarun. In the same scene, underage royalty call him Obi-san. That's not surprising given the relative ranks, but I note it.

* Those royal kids get "omae-tachi", or "you two" from their older and very annoyed brother. "omae" is a pretty casual/rude way of saying "you", like "hey you" -- Mitsuhide uses it on Obi a lot. One of the kids uses "nii-sama" for that brother, which is like "Exalted Big Brother". The kids also say Shirayuki-san, when their older brother, the first prince of their country, is saying Shirayuki-dono. That's kind of interesting... sort of they're responding to her base status, he's treating her as an honored guest plus all the... complications... Shira and Raji have.

* Between careful listening and the manga, I'm pretty sure Obi says "ojou-san" for Shirayuki much of the time, not my guess of an accented "ojou-sam". But he can switch it up: in one scene he opens with "ojou-san" as basically "Hi" or "Yo", but uses "ojou-sama" when speaking formally to her a moment later. For her part, she just calls him Obi. Then in that scene he loosens up and almost calls her by name, "Shirayu-" before clapping his hand to his mouth in horror.

* ...I just accidentally discovered TV Tropes ojou, which distinguishes 'ojou', lady, from 'oujo', princess. *headdesk* Not a distinction I'd been aware of, obviously, and not sure one my ear would be trained to discern even listening for it. It'll be interesting to try, though, especially where Shirayuki is concerned. Probably it's been 'ojou'.

* Speaking of which, a pirate captain calls Shira "ojou-chan". Given the personality and situation, this was probably mocking, it's like "little lady".

* After being rescued, Shirayuki is "Zen-ouji, Kiki-san, Mitsuhide-san", but once the outsider is dismissed and in the process of leaving, she's back to "Zen!". She'd also used Zen-ouji in talking *about* him to the local prince.

* The chief court herbalist, the one who calls S Shirayuki-kun, says Mitsuhide-sama and Zen-denka. Why is Mitsuhide -sama to her and -dono originally to Kiki? I have no idea. Maybe because Kiki was noble. You'd think a senior court official would kind of rank... Various random guards say "Kiki-dono". (But in the manga, they use -sama.) S uses Zen-ouji in front of her, keeping up appearances. I feel she's more diligent about that this season than she was last, but could be wrong.

* Mitsuhide says Izana-denka in talking about the first prince, Shira says Izana-ouji in talking to him. Again, I don't know if that has any meaning other than varying things up. Except, I note I'm not sure she's *ever* said denka, she uses ouji whenever she bothers being that formal. (Nope, she has, I just caught her saying "Zen-denka" when asking "you're Prince Zen's older brother, right?" Mostly uses ouji, though.)

* Manga: chief herbalist uses -kun on visiting herbalists who are her juniors but not her direct subordinates. She just calls Ryuu by his name though; he's the 12 year old prodigy who outranks most of the others; I assume she's going by his age. Oh, right, he asked S to call him Ryuu, and she's his junior, though he keeps calling her -san. The Chief also says Obi-kun, which is amusing. What *do* you call the prince's sketchy messenger? Izana honors both the chief and Ryuu with -dono, which given his rank and personality really is high honor.

* Huh, I never noticed what Prince Izana calls or uses for Shirayuki. Assuming he's ever *had* to use her name.

* Huh, Raji was saying "Shirayuki-dono" while talking about her to Zen back in first season, when he didn't respect her, just feared Zen. Uses it in talking to her a bit later, too. I guess he's been properly cowed, or is treating her as Zen's lover, which he thought she was.

* Not an honorific per se, but the second time Izana confronts S, I catch him saying "anata", "you", which is fairly rude in Japanese. Then he uses 'hime', "princess", right after that, which is mocking-rude in context.
mindstalk: (Nanoha)
One thing I've become fascinated by in Japanese in the use of honorifics to convey degrees of intimacy and relationship. I don't think English was ever quite so developed, and modern society has lost much of the nuance we had (e.g. Miss Bennett vs. Miss Elizabeth.) Which may be just as well for social equality, but still, interesting subject. Two examples weigh on my mind.

First is the Nanoha franchise, and the many names of Fate Testarossa (given name, family name), especially in the first two series, where she's a 9 to 10 year old girl.

* 'Fate-chan' to Nanoha and many others. This is the default state of a little girl, almost anyone can -chan them on minimal acquaintance.
* 'Fate' to her mother and her familiar. This is really intimate, but those are the people you'd expect that from. If it has shades of being condescending, too... well, her mother's not very nice.
* 'Fate-kun' while speaking to 'Admiral' Graham, as a probationary member of magical Starfleet. -kun is sort of the -chan for boys, but it's also used for junior employees, including female ones. So this fits.
* 'Fate-san' to Lindy, who also uses it for mundane girls like Arisu and Suzuka. I like my interpretation, wherein Lindy believes in treating everyone with dignity and respect, even 9 year old girls, and even 9 year old girls who can't defeat her in single combat (which Fate quite possibly could). But it's odd seeing a conversation wherein Chrono or Amy refers to Fate-chan and Lindy uses Fate-san, in adjacent lines.
* 'Testarossa' to Signum, an antagonist and old warrior. Seems to fit, standard brusque 'hey, lastname!'
* 'Testarossa-chan' to Shamal, Signum's softer and more motherly colleague. Interesting blend of "little girl that I am not on first name basis with especially as she's an enemy." Logical, but funny.

Even my friend W eventually granted that the diversity in Fate's case was a bit much.

We could get really geeky and consider who's actually Japanese or speaking it. The franchise chickens out of considering any language or translation issues; the simplest explanation seems to be to assume that the non-Earthlings are mostly using translation programs through their Devices. Fate's family isn't Earthling, so it could be that her mother and familiar are simply using her name. Lindy is a Japanophile -- she's got a thing that goes doink in her starship office -- and thus could plausibly be learning Japanese on her own, so maybe she's using -san as many foreigners do, to not mess up. Signum and Shamal are outsiders but must have had Japanese downloaded into them before they booted up this time around.


Then there's a more recent one, Akagami no Shirayukihime ("Snow White with the Red Hair"). The star's given name is Shirayuki, family name unknown. Age also unknown to me, but I'd say somewhere between 15 and 25, probably 18-20. It's set in a Disney-like "fantasy" quasi-European world: no magic or fantastic elements yet, but a weird anachronistic stew of gas or electric lighting, big glass greenhouses, leaf spring carriage wheels, essays on cyanobacteria, and no guns. My subtitles here, unlike the Nanoha ones, try to translate ("Miss Shirayuki") rather than copy honorifics, which I'll grudgingly grant is maybe appropriate for the setting, but I listen for the honorifics in the spoken Japanese anyway. There do seem to be a lot fewer of them, and a lot more use of simple (given name), but they are there.

One particularly interesting one is -dono, which is even more divergent in use than -kun. One use is to address a social superior, but someone not as superior as -sama implies. Another use is for superiors to address each other, sort of granting "you are *someone's* superior and I respect that, though of course you aren't *my* superior."

So, when I was re-watching and paying attention for this stuff, I caught the palace guards of Clarines addressing the heroine as Shirayuki-dono. Who is she to them? At one level, she's a town girl from another kingdom, with no inherent social status whatsoever, definitely not a -sama. At another level, she's the prince's friend (or, they might imagine, mistress) with his personal invitation to visit the palace, and who addresses *him* with his given name, no honorific, which AIUI is kind of more intimate than actually having sex. So more than the default -san. -dono fits perfectly.

Later, another prince visits, and the princes address each other as Raji-dono and Izana-dono, which fits: equal social superiors acknowledging each other's superiority.

More surprising: a recent flashback revealed that Prince Zen's bodyguards initially used -dono with each other. I don't know their background; given their clothing and their job as his permanent companions, it's plausible that they're members of the minor nobility. In the current time they're on unadorned given name basis with each other, Prince Zen, and I think Shirayuki.

Obi, a later guard/attendant, who's some lower class ninja scum, got to be "Obi-dono" recently while accompanying the heroine on a semi-state visit. I imagine that was "you're the personal attendant of this girl who isn't a princess but is kind of being treated like one, and you're dressed up, -dono seems safe, won't insult any -samas who overhear and you won't kill me if it turns out you really are a -sama yourself." For his own part he may still use honorifics with the other two guards (I'm not sure, I haven't paid *that* close attention), and definitely refers to Shira with respect; if not an actual honorific, then certainly a lot of "oujo" (lady/princess), especially when talking about her.

As mentioned, Shirayuki normally addresses the star prince as simply Zen, which must be shocking and provocative for those who overhear. Usually he's either Denka or Zen-denka to people. The chief herbalist used "Zen-sama" in talking to him about how he could abuse his position, but I couldn't parse it more than that. When Shira said goodbye to him recently, while surrounded by lots of people, she used Zen-ouji (another suffix for 'prince'), I assume to cater to appearances for once. She also addressed his older brother as Izana-ouji. Why ouji vs. denka? I have no idea. I've seen 'denka' translated as "highness" while 'ouji' is literally "king-boy", but I don't know the relative status.

Shira herself as apprentice court herbalist is Shirayuki-kun to the Chief Herbalist (that employer-employee thing against), Shirayuki-san to Ryu, who is her herbal senior but her junior in age, and Shirayuki-chan way back in the first episode to the old people she'd grown up among.

I'm trying to recall if anyone addressed Prince Raji, who's a sleazy scummy chump, as Raji-kun to be insulting.
mindstalk: Tohsaka Rin (Rin)
So, I finally finished the Lets Play of the Fate/stay night visual novel. That sentence probably made no sense to most of my readers, so let me expand:

Visual novel (VN): a Japanese thing I'm not that knowledgeable about. It could be as simple as a novel with graphics, simple animations, and sound (music and dialog). In practice, they usually have you make choices, so it's like a multimedia Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) novel. They're also thought of as a game -- and usually H (for hentai) or ero games, with some sexual content -- albeit ones with far more reading than playing. They also make use of running on a computer: as they're usually about relationships (as it were), you can accumulate relationship points with different characters, which affects branches later on, so it's a bit more complex than a CYOA book.

Fate/stay night: one particular VN by Kinoko Nasu. No one knows what the title means, if anything. The English translation has been described as 800,000 to a million words, twice as long as the Lord of the Rings. It has spawned an anime of the same name, which I'm told is not that good (though popular); a manga, about which I've heard nothing; a prequel light novel series called Fate/zero by Gen Urobuchi (basically canonized fanfic) which spawned an anime of its own; and most recently an anime Fate/Unlimited Blade Works based on the second 'route' of the VN, which I'll explain later. I've seen Fate/UBW (strong start, pacing lags later) and Fate/zero (just plain strong, though dark.)

I imagine that there might be some way to run the VN/game in a Windows environment on my Linux box, with the fan-made English translation files. But, that's a lot of work, and after playing the American-made Black Closet, I'm not sure "playing" this sort of game is really my thing. Happily, some heroic servant of the people made a walkthrough, aka a Lets Play, of the (fan-English) game, including all the bad endings and extras, but excluding the (allegedly bad) sex scenes. I started reading it over a month ago, on October 11th. Last night, I finished.

In addition to being long, the player had snarky comments about Nasu's "words word words", long (not that long) philosophical ramblings at times that didn't make tons of sense. So my ideas for snarky titles were Unlimited Verbiage (as above) or Unlimited Nasu Words, for a closer play on titles.


In addition to being longer than LotR, Fate/stay night could also be thought of as a trilogy, but in a different way. It's basically three different stories (also called 'routes') about the same characters and general events. Not three different perspectives on the same sequence of events (which could be interesting, and there is a bit of that in the prologue), but three different main sequences, branching based on early choices by the player. (I guess? I'm actually not sure if it branches solely on that; there seem to be aspects of three different related worlds, with differences that wouldn't depend on your choices. But, not sure, don't care enough to hunt it down.) Two of the routes also have two different good-ish endings each, and across all three routes there are 40 Dead Ends (you die) or Bad Ends (you otherwise fail). It's actually pretty channeled: you have to play the Fate route first, then the UBW route, then the Heaven's Feel route. Another reason I figured I might as well just read it.

So, was it good? It was engaging, at the very least: I didn't take a month to finish because I was slacking off in boredom. It does have flaws and confusing bits; never know what to attribute to the original author vs. the translator, I'd guess some of both. By the end of the UBW anime I was joking that the Holy Grail could punch holes in the plot, not just space.

It has more female roles than LotR, and strong ones. You play as Emiya Shirou (Japanese name order), a teenage boy, but interact heavily -- and not just sexually -- with various girls or women. Tohsaka Rin has been called the deuteragonist, as she plays a major role in all three routes, is the heroine (or love interest) of the second, and even gets to be the narrator in the prologue and one of the endings. (She's also an iconic character of tsundere, twintails, and zettai ryouki fashion... one of my early reactions to the UBW anime was "she's obviously tsundere, but I don't mind, because she's tsundere to *everything* and life in general, not just as a love interest.") And there's various other women, strong in combat, magic, and/or surviving a lot of crap. (And some of them do get a lot of crap to survive.)

It does pass the Bechdel test. I'm not sure it passes it often -- if two women are talking there's a good chance it'll be about Shirou, though "what an idiot" is more likely than "what a hunK" -- but it does.

Shirou's infamously sexist in some ways, like "girls shouldn't fight" despite the girls being able to fight on a completely different level than him, though someone on TV Tropes argues it's deeper than that: that he didn't want Saber fighting because she was *injured*, but (a) couldn't say that well (see: idiot) and (b) thought his life wasn't worth protecting. After barreling through the whole thing, I'm agnostic on the question, aka "I don't want to go back and re-read the first route to have an informed opinion."

The nature of the story allows it to plunder myth and legend at will. Sometimes brutally ("X was never like that!" people say, though I'm "eh, I can see it") but sometimes with research ("Y actually was described as a pretty boy").

It's inspirational: I imagine a lot of fanfic from it (though checking, not as much as I thought; it does rank higher in crossovers than on its own, which makes some sense), and have had some RPG inspirations of my own already. And I can see plundering some of the characters for future PCs. It definitely has memorable characters, of both sexes.

One cool thing for me is that at least three characters are basically Lawful Good (Saber is *officially* LG, she has a stat sheet in-universe!), with very different personalities, and none Lawful Stupid. (Shirou can be dumb but it's more your standard Shounen Stupid). I have an interest these days in how characters can be morally straight-and-narrow yet different people. (Nanoha is also good for that, and to a lesser degree Order of the Stick. Possibly superhero media in general, but that's less my thing.)

Basically, I had fun, and am glad I read it. Should you read it? I don't know if it's *that* good, objectively speaking. Would it be of interest if you hadn't seen related anime, as I had? I can't say.

I know I haven't described what it's *about*; there's a zillion other sources for that, though, so I was going for some underexploited angles, as well as "this was to my taste, if you like my taste you might too."

(Edit: one thing it's about is heroism and the sacrifices made for it. I'm not sure if it says anything deep or useful about it - -I've been more reading than thinking -- but that's definitely A Theme. Maybe even The Theme.)

The new icon is, of course, Rin, apparently giving one of her "now listen up, idiot" lectures.

A/C and anime

2015-Jul-08, Wednesday 11:48
mindstalk: (Nanoha)
We had some great weather for e.g. July 4th, like 20 C. It finally remember it's summer though, so now we're at 28 C and 71% humidity, or dew point of 22 C, which is oppressive. I've gone from running my bedroom A/C for a few hours to cool the bedroom (and feeling guilty for not using a fan, but privacy) to running it all the time and trying to cool the apartment.

So, one low power unit vs. a whole apartment doesn't do a lot for the temperature; my living room thermometer says 27.5 C. (To be fair, maybe it is doing a lot to fight what the temp might be given the apartment thermal mass. But it's not like getting my bedroom down to 20.) But it seems to make a big difference in humidity, my cheap Ace thermometer also includes a hygrometer, which reports 50% humidity, approximately a dew point of 17, just barely uncomfortable. Since my living room also has a ceiling fan and I'm sitting at the laptop shirtless, I feel pretty good.

To be fair, I've closed off the second bedroom pointless materialism storage room, and my kitchen and bathroom are tiny, so it's not like I'm cooling a large 2BR. Air circulation sucks though, it's basically rooms laid out along a hallway.


Watched two episodes of Wish Upon the Pleiades. People on RPG.net liked the series a lot. "Magical girl crossed with Carl Sagan". I have yet to see why, though I do see some physics intruding -- light years, Immelmann turns, and I saw time dilation in a spoiler. Character-wise, though, it's PreCure-style moeblobs, or something.

I'd seen the original OVA. It was weird.
mindstalk: (Witch)
Just finished re-watching the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, in broadcast order, rather than the chronological order I chose when I first watched it, though I probably saw it in broadcast in club.

I'd forgotten, or now newly appreciate, how obnoxious Haruhi is early on. Sociopathic, even. The contrast is probably increased by having read The Coin, and more recently been watching The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, in which she's still eccentric but a much nicer person. (Also that show got more interesting around episode 9, and even more so in 14 -- Haruhi suddenly gets an internal voice! Weird.)

Awesome band scene is still awesome.

Finale credits have I think two ENOZ members practicing outside, a detail you'd miss in chronological order, but easier to pick up when watching episode 12-12 and 14-6 in the same night.

I'm still agnostic on whether Haruhi is a secondhand god, wielding powers ultimately from Kyon. I don't like that theory, but I can see the ambiguity supporting it.

For a while I was thinking it hadn't aged well, but it does end on a strong note.


In other anime news, Nanoha ViVid never got particularly interesting. And I write Nanoha slice of life fanfic. Fail!

Next: Houkago no Pleiades.

Anime I am watching

2015-Feb-07, Saturday 03:41
mindstalk: (Enki)
Currently watching Mouretsu Pirates and Yona of the Dawn. Pirates is a weird mix of semi-hard SF, outright silliness, and massive femininity. It's light-hearted and fun. Have watched through ep 17 of 26 so far. It's a bit dizzying what things they put effort into justifying, what they handwave. The future society seems pleasant, there's a lot of female characters with diverse talents and even a bit of racial or body type diversity, and I'm not sure it does pass reverse Bechdel -- given the premise, when two men do talk, they're usually talking about the lead girl, though not in a romantic way.

The original novels were titled "Miniskirt Space Pirates" but it's actually shockingly low on fanservice. Schoolgirl skirts in zero gravity simply fail to have the obvious failure modes. One of the adult pirates dresses pretty racily, but the camera doesn't male-gaze her, nor the schoolgirls; there'll just be people talking, one of whom is showing a lot of skin, but it doesn't linger on her, nor does she pose. There's a *bit* of that in the ending, a brief zoom-in on schoolgirl walking thighs, but that's it.


4 of 17 and ongoing for Yona, which is like a blend of Seiunkoku Monagatari, Twelve Kingdoms, and maybe Seirei no Moribito. Fantasy China^WKorea, anyway. Only one female character of note, the eponymous Yona, lead princess in what looks like a possible reverse harem. I haven't looked up where this comes from yet. So far I'm intrigued but not blown away; I'm watching because a friend recommended it.


2015-Jan-12, Monday 13:52
mindstalk: (YoukoYouma)
Economics profession swings left http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-01-07/economics-stars-swing-left

Cracked on prostitution myths. Anecdotal, but consistent with studies I've read and possibly linked to in the past. http://www.cracked.com/article_21862_5-ways-life-as-prostitute-nothing-like-you-expect.html

Pew on the religions of Asian-Americans. Christian 42%, 26% none, 14% Buddhist, 10% Hindu. http://www.pewforum.org/2012/07/19/asian-americans-a-mosaic-of-faiths-overview/
As a group, they range from the least religious unaffiliated to the most evangelical Protestants. Majority of Korean-Americans are Protestant; I think back in South Korea only 25% are Christian, with 50% having no religion.

Idea on why Charlie Hebdo was attacked:
"France is a country of 66 million, of which about 5 million is of Muslim heritage. But in polling, only a third, less than 2 million, say that they are interested in religion. French Muslims may be the most secular Muslim-heritage population in the world (ex-Soviet ethnic Muslims often also have low rates of belief and observance). Many Muslim immigrants in the post-war period to France came as laborers and were not literate people, and their grandchildren are rather distant from Middle Eastern fundamentalism, pursuing urban cosmopolitan culture such as rap and rai. In Paris, where Muslims tend to be better educated and more religious, the vast majority reject violence and say they are loyal to France.

Al-Qaeda wants to mentally colonize French Muslims, but faces a wall of disinterest. But if it can get non-Muslim French to be beastly to ethnic Muslims on the grounds that they are Muslims, it can start creating a common political identity around grievance against discrimination."

Westeros-world map updated for Worlds of Ice and Fire http://awoiaf.westeros.org/images/1/10/WorldofIceandFire.png
GRRM deconstructing war, dark Daenerys (spoiles for whole series https://meereeneseblot.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/untangling-the-meereenese-knot-part-iv-a-darker-daenerys/ )
Dornish vengeance (ditto) https://meereeneseblot.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/water-gardens-and-blood-oranges-part-iv-it-ends-in-blood/

no to Boston Olympics

experience of black atheists http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/12/black-atheists-representation/

Attack on Titan/Frozen AMV https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXR0WIbubB0

Saudi Arabia and 9/11 http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/new-questions-raised-about-u-s-saudi-relationship-1.2890528

America's poor vs. those in other rich countries http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2015/01/05/america_s_poor_vs_the_rest_of_the_world.html
mindstalk: (Nanoha)
The spark for the post: this article on a 1981 LEGO ad aimed at girls in a not-condescending or gendered way, compared with their new gendered toys ("You can report on cake!")

The substance of the post: talking about an anime series that's slowly grown into one of my biggest fandom obsessions right now, despite its flaws. There should be a word for that, when you know something isn't great but you're really into it anyway.

(After years of occasional vague fanfic ideas for various fandoms, I've actually finally put fanfic ideas to keyboard for this fandom; no I'm not going to show them to anyone yet, it's like my first fiction ever, almost.)

The connection between the two is one of the things I like about it. The article talks about the new LEGO TV van toy, with a female figure reporting on cake and a male figure as camera operator. "Technical stuff is hard!" I thought about toys where the reporter and operator were both female, and then I thought about Nanoha because that's pretty much true there. It's not a series where everyone is female but it's pushing the line. Female roles:

Read more... )


Oh hey, maybe I should say something like what it's about. It starts out looking like a standard magical girl show: girl in Tokyo runs across an animal mentor who teaches her magic which she uses to catch loose Jewel Seeds before they wreck her city. It sounds, and for that matter looks, a lot like Card Captor Sakura.

[girl on our left is Sakura, girl on our right is Nanoha. You may notice some similarities.]

Except there's a blink-and-you-miss-it mention of programs, and the viewers now the animal mentor is actually a boy. Or had a boy form, anyway. That's unusual.

Even more unusually, "transformed boy living with a girl" isn't played up for the sitcom laughs it might be. Yuuno gets a couple embarrassed moments but that's it; even when Nanoha finds out, she quickly recovers and is fine with him still living in her room. They *are* 9, after all.

It may be the only magical girl show where our heroine runs from the cops because of all the property damage she's just been party to.

It's also fun watching her progress from "can't use magic" to "can't fly" to "flies like a chicken" to "okay, that was cool". Particularly stage three; I'm not used to seeing heroes progress methodically through stages of sucking less.

The opening alone spoils us for there being two magical girls, one dark (clothing, not skin; no skin color diversity points here, except for the very brown Zafira but he's not human at all), and they're fighting a lot, and I'm told that's unusual; the show is even the trope codifier for Dark Magical Girl. (Also for many other tropes.) It certainly isn't the Sakura mode, nor I think the Sailor Moon mode.

Still, like I said, the pacing at first isn't great, but then Everything Changes, and I don't want to talk about that because I hope to get to watch someone as the change hits. Kind of like "you should watch Madoka no I can't tell you why just watch it through episode 3, okay?"

There's also summary movie versions of the first two series. I've seen people recommend watching the first movie and then the second series, A's, as pretty much all fans agree the second series is the high point of the series: solid pacing, best characters, fewest problematic elements. A's was actually my entry point, which might be why I'm so attached; I think of the franchise as "this really cool thing, plus that other stuff I can mine for ideas."

Man, I feel like I rambled. I hope someone got osmething interesting out of this.
mindstalk: (Nanoha)
I could talk about some of these in more detail at some point, but figured I'd dump for now. Also, this my first table of text and images, because I thought I'd try more images and wrapping text in HTML seems hard. Images are mostly HTML-scaled (to 150 pixels high) and larger if you 'view' them in your browser.
(Edit: I discovered the Livejournal version of this looks like shit in chromium. If you're reading this there in that, might try Firefox or the Dreamwidth link.)
Table of text and images )
If you want a blind recommendation out of all this, I'd go with RSG, because it's good and pretty short so what do you have to lose? and FMA:B, because it's awesome. Or the original FMA manga, also awesome. I have no opinion on the first FMA anime, I just know the story diverges massively. Oh, and the opening/ending of Mahou Shojoutai, because it's only 4 minutes total, and so pretty and weird. I wish I had someone to share the rest of the series with, but I can't make it a high priority cold recommendation.
mindstalk: (thoughtful)
A video comment summed up the weirdness of this series effectively:

'Cute Japanese and European teenage girls, wearing Wehrmacht uniforms, exploring a Japanese school in a Spanish town full of French people who make Venetian glassware on Switzerland's French border, in a country that has a soldier princess playing Amazing Grace on a trumpet, following a Shinto-Christian religion with a miko-nun, treating tropical diseases only children get, accepting yen as currency while not being able to read kanji, celebrating Spanish traditions mixed with Chinese New Years legends, shooting at African owls (that try to keep them away from schoolgirl ghosts) with German rifles, being led by a traumatized commander who is afraid of lightning, tricking Italian mobsters to keep them from moving in on the girls' bootlegging operation which finance their paycheck and supplies, playing war games with a nun and getting pissed drunk, pissing themselves and becoming baby factories for the Pope, creating biological weapons while still little kids and killing thousands, all while at war with German-speaking brown-skinned Americans with bindis on females' foreheads from a Roman Empire lead by the Pope that follows a monotheistic religion that believes in the Judgment Day, while piloting a finally fixed multi-legged, demon-slaying, weather-reporting, stealth-sniper and simulation training mode capable, AMAZING GRACE SINGING, Engrish-speaking, talking like a SPESS MEHREEN,wall-climbing, 200mm coil gun-firing "son of the god of fire" supertank from the past (aka Tank-kun).´╗┐'

Not mentioned: a beautiful, gorgeous even, yet disconcerting opening. (Why are their eyes almost never open? What's with the butt pan?) I don't think the series itself was particularly fanservicey or objectifying, though it's been some years.

The summary doesn't mention featuring a transformer owl. I'd thought the show was being weird after the owl introduction, until our club leader played that video during break. "It's real? Holy crap!"

And as you might guess, Amazing Grace is the plot song. Some series or movies have one, like "Aimo" in Macross Frontier or "Country Road" in Whispers of the Heart.

Mild series recommendation. But mostly I wanted to share the surreal.

Anime: Bunny Drop

2013-May-28, Tuesday 00:08
mindstalk: (glee)
At Anime Boston this year, it was impossible to get into panels I wanted for most of Saturday afternoon, which I instead spent watching five episodes of Bunny Drop. I've now watched the rest, and I like it. For conflict and tension it's down there with Maria-sama, Aria, YKK, and Chii's Sweet Home; pure slice of life of a 30 year old bachelor who effectively adopts his 6 year old aunt (Granpa got lucky before he died) and raises her. It is basically pure parenting DAWWWW but as with Maria-sama and Aria and YKK that seems to work on me, and this time there isn't even the usual parade of nubile women. (I can't stand Chii.) Daikichi and Rin may remind me of my and my niblings or friends' kids.

There's a bit of bite: a look at how hard it is to be a single parent in Japan, people taking demotions so they can pick their kid on time, a cousin who runs away from her husband and in-laws, then later other good fathers. I'm influenced here by the Totally Subversive Toons panel, which said that Japan's long recession changed what was acceptable to show in terms of family dynamics and tensions. Before, only happy families; after, a Black Lagoon exec who comes home and ignores his wife and troubled kids. So I'm wondering if "parenting is hard, work isn't everything, and in-laws can suck" is part of that.

I don't know if actual parents would think this is sweet and awesome or just banal because they live it. But for what it is, it seems perfect.

Then I went to look it up online, and learned it's based on manga. Specifically, the first half of the manga, which seems just as perfect in its familial realism, but with more details than the anime. The second half starts with a timeskip of ten years, and, well... volumes 5 and 6 are said to be fine, but after that it takes a very weird turn and you might simply want to skip that.

Or descriptions of it. But if you don't: )

http://japaneseliterature.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/bunny-drop/ is an interesting and positive review of the manga... again apart from the ending.

So, I still recommend the show, and the first 4-6 volumes of the manga (on hearsay.) Caveat lector on the rest.
mindstalk: (Default)
Last April was too soon, I guess, but this year Madoka has become as popular here as it is in Japan. Cosplayers everywhere. I have a few cool pics to put up some time. The Madoka panel was given an entire exhibit hall. This was overkill in a sense, we didn't even half fill it, but that's a lot more space than the typical panel room can provide. Good panel too; one point was Madoka deconstructing both Magical Girl and Moe fetishism, but only reconstructing Magical Girl at the end; getting off on suffering and vulnerability is left in uncomfortable pieces.

This year I saw more T-shirts about specific anime, but of course most of them are for stuff like Naruto, not stuff I watch. There was a Haruhi Suzumiya shirt... with her pulling her shirt off and exposing her bra. Who of either sex wants to walk around with that in public? Similarly there was a Spice and Wolf shirt with nice art... of naked Horo. From behind, mostly showing buttcrack and underboob, but still, not the identify statement I want to be making. I got a Firefly Venn diagram instead.

Other cosplayers: Dalek. Tardis. 10th Doctor. Ouran, Bleach, Death Note, Suzumiya, and Avatar are still running around.

Someone thought Japanese curry actually came to them via the British, not directly from Asia. Someone else said it uses turmeric and cumin, but leaves out the red pepper. Makes sense, given that the only hot thing in Japanese cuisine is wasabi, if you call that hot. I'm not sure what it is.

This year I know people! Yay!
mindstalk: (Homura)
Saturday I met up with [livejournal.com profile] thomasyan and after some insufficiently filling Bluefin restaurant sushi, went to his place to marathon Madoka.
1) He and his girlfriend liked it. He and I were both crying at the end; she wasn't, which prompted discussion.
2) If you want to watch people speculate, you probably *shouldn't* marathon it; you need a day or more between episodes, not minutes, to let the creative and pattern-finding juices work.
3) We watched the Chihiro sub, which had some differences with whatever the commonly used streaming site offered, I think to the slight disadvantage of Chihiro.
4) The other subs I downloaded turned out to be Italian. Curse shoddy labeling!
5) Lots of early stuff is either hilarious or poignant the second time around.

Thoughts after a second watching:
Which are totally massive spoilers so if you haven't watched it go away and do so )

Conclusion: still an awesome series. Has minor blemishes from perfection.

Anime Boston

2011-Apr-28, Thursday 14:51
mindstalk: (thoughtful)
Friday: Anime Boston. Only Friday, because I was feeling tired and sick Saturday, and Sunday had competition. Cosplay census impressions: fewer Bleach and Suzumiya than before, about the same Toph and Sokka, one L so less Death Note, about the same Chobits (Chii, and Freya), 3 Hatsune Mikus, a couple of Yu-Gi-Ohs I only know because I asked. Two Maes Hughes from FMA, one of them having both wings (for being dead) and "photos" of his wife and daughter. Some Ouran Host Club, incuding a Honey by an actual kid. Fewer Bleach is still a fair amount of Bleach: some captains, and a Rukia, and another Rukia in school uniform. A couple of people with chainsaws, which might be a character I've heard of (i.e. that club-Cat did.) And of course many other cosplays I don't recognize. Oh! An Alphonse Elric, helmet only. A stormtrooper.

So, Death Note and Suzumiya are dying off, Bleach and Ouran, might be slacking a bit, FMA is still strong if stronger, Hatsune Miku is a new thing, and of course all of this is prone to high sampling error.


Nobunaga: Evil sorceror or space alien? Nothing deep here, just a sampling of how Nobunaga, the first of the three unifiers of Japan, has been portrayed in anime and games. Usually as a bad guy. "Black Lion" had him as an alien parasite from space. Sengoku Otome Momoiro Paradox has him as a woman, with time-traveling schoolgirl Hideyoshi -- history-aware audience members laughed when she introduced herself. "Flame of Recca" had a horrible dub but was notable for some "spacetime drift" spell that must never ever be used. So why do you keep teaching it?

Non-existent Youth Bill: Panel on a new Tokyo law that relegated to 18+ anime and manga "unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate" certain sexual or pseudo sexual acts. Live action images and video are exempted. The law is backed by Governor Shintar┼Ź Ishiharawho has complained about gays on TV and said that they don't know real love, denied the Rape of Nanking, and called the tsunami divine punishment for Japan's greed. Among other things. Like "old women who live after they have lost their reproductive function are useless and are committing a sin". Possible targets of the law include Utena, for both incest and school-age sex, and Evangelion.

"Who is Hatsune Miku": surface premise of this panel was ridiculous, pretending to infer things about her personality from stuff with her, and ending on a moralizing note of "go out and create". But the content was interesting, showing a bit of the cultural influences going into her, and what's been made with her. There's even an anime, Black Rock Shooter, based on an AMV made with her. One of the first animations ever was Gertie the Dinosaur, which ended with a live human and the animated dinosaur being shown "together"; panelist of course then went to "Who Framed Roget Rabbit" and the 'live' Miku concert. I also got introduced to the Daicon IV film.

Miyazaki panel. Huge attendance. I came in late, to avoid lines; panelist was talking about the evolution through his movies. Lupin III and Porco Rosso as the only historical ones, i.e. in an unusual set period; Nausicaa starting with a strong anti-human pro-nature feeling but Miyazaki feeling more humanist by the end of it and in Laputa, Totoro and Kiki as not having antagonists. Porco Rosso supposedly as the big turnaround movie, Porco being a standin for Miyazaki coming to terms with himself. Then Monooke, human/nature again, but without any clear badguy, just conflicts of interests. Spirited Away, subverting his own theme of idealized childhood, as Chichiro starts out a spoiled whiny brat who pouts for half the movie. Howl's Moving Castle, as his first non-Japanese based work, and with Sophie being all of Maid/Mother/Crone. Ponyo, as the anti-Disney, *super* idealized childhood movie. Toy Story 3, as "the best movie Miyazaki never made", made by a bunch of his fans at Pixar. Supposedly Miyazki children are mature, indepndent, big smiles, lots of energy, curious (sounds right) vs. Disney helpless kids who need adult rescue (I wouldn't know.) Lots of hot moms, and crones dispensing magic or wisdom.

FMA. Whither fandom? Nothing much here, main thing was a casting thread that amused even me, and the appearance of the two Hughes cosplays.

Opening themes

Astro Boy had a minimalist and instrumental opening. The English version had a children's choir singing some song, and Tezuka thought that was awesome enough to imitate. Still minimalist. Jungle Emperor or Kimba the White Lion was far more elaborate, and started the pattern of "hey, even if our main animation budget sucks, we can really make the heavily reused 90 seconds look good." Gundam supported itself by selling model kits, Yamato was the first to make buck by selling its theme song. Full songs are often too long for an OP, which can be changed to progress through the lyrics, e.g. 'seasons' 1 and 2 of TTGL. US version of Escaflowne cut most of the scenes of the girl, and had lyrics of just repeated "Escaflowne" a lot, like many giant robot shows in Japan, drilling in the name of the merchandise for the kid to beg for.

He also showed the AMV Every Anime Opening Ever which is pretty funny.

There was a manga library, and I managed to read 8 volumes of Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden. I've read one volume of Fushigi Yugi. Don't ask.

Back Bay Trader Joe's is just outside the convention center, and they had a blackboard outside saying "Welcome Anime-niacs!"

I managed to sweep through part of the Dealer's Room and all of the late night Artists' Alley. Purchases were 3 cheap Red String "manga" (actually Western webcomic); two Vampire Hunter D novels, which so far have very purple prose and not very good writing but the SF worldbuilding is me-bait; some DVDs, mostly 'going legal': Suzumiya ($25 box set, much more reasonable price than $40 for a few eps), Baccano!, and Karin, also Aria 2 (haven't seen) and Full Metal Panic Fumoffu (liked enough to be tempted by.) Also five portraits by cutemew, one Suiseiseki pin, and one Kyuubei pin, mostly because those were the only pins I had any interest in. Rozen Maiden was "sort of interesting" but Suiseiseki opposes being made to fight for her creator's alleged love, so good on her. There seemed to be an amazing lack of anime-themed T-shirts.

Yes, all that was one day. About 12 hours. No wonder I felt like crap Saturday.

After registering for the con Thursday I explored the attached mall, found a Godiva, found a slightly cheaper truffle store I actually bought from, and a huge Barnes and Noble, where I bought Finder: Voice. Oddly, it had the smallest manga section I've ever seen that could be called a manga section. The magazine section had all three standard SF magazines, and "Girls in Gaming", which looked to be softcore porn with videogame girls. Not hentai, just overly sexed up game characters out of the box.

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