Archive for August, 2008



Real Drive: It’s Just Intonation, Don’t Worry About It

I still can’t figure out for the life of me why no one else is watching Real Drive. I think it’s a combination of the involvement of Masamune Shirow (whom everyone likes for Appleseed and Casshern and Ghost in the Shell, which are decidedly not like Real Drive at all), the fact that we seemed to be promised hard-core cybernetic diving action with the plot synopsis, and the wicked awesome 9mm Parabellum Bullet OP theme, which goes against the general mood of most of the episodes in amusing fashion. It does take a bit to get started, but now that I’ve seen up to 11 (and I’ve been silent on it, yes, but enjoying it just the same, when I get the chance to watch some, which has been few and far between, unfortunately), I’m more inclined to agree (more) with cuchlann’s initial discussion of the series as a post-singularity tale (which I would also use to classify such works as Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou and Aria). Especially after episode 11.

Episode 11 touched the same nerve my favorite episode, Love Letter, did for books, except this time with music (classical music, even, which I will admit upfront that I have no idea how to understand in the slightest). The message here is fairly simple, and you don’t even need Eiichirou beating you upside the head with the moral of the story for the episode to work. With the books, it was content vs. experience; here, the content vs. experience is applied to the creator of “art” (or culture, if you’re feeling particularly Zentradi today). I actually looked up (and tried to read) the Wikipedia article on , which resulted in two things happening: one, I got a headache in three paragraphs; two, I wanted to throw bricks at mathematicians who think that they can be really cool musicians with the power of science.

Yes, I saw (and loved) Donald Duck in Mathemagicland, both in elementary school and in high school (when the sub decided we needed a retro break from the interim curriculum he was teaching while our actual algebra teacher was off having babies or something), and, yes, it is pretty cool that things sound pleasant to the human ear due to the collusion of incredibly complex mathematical ratios and formulae and such, but I’m also fairly certain that if someone actually held a concert with everyone in perfect mathematical harmony, it wouldn’t really be all that great.

Or, well, it would be, if the people making the music put their heart and soul into making it absolutely mathematically perfect.

Maybe.

As Eiichirou handily pointed out for us, getting the mathematical perfection of just intonation down is skill–a skill which he had, at a very early age, likely due to his scientific mind–but it’s not necessarily a talent. Eiichirou felt he lacked “talent”, defined by him as “love”, so he gave his violin to Kazune, who did have talent, if not necessarily the skill. Eiichirou could have made the most perfect harmonies in the world on his violin, but to him they sounded as soulless and mechanical as Holon’s defintiion of just intonation. This talent, or “love”, is also why Kazune can see his younger self in Nyamo when she plays her recorder. The recorder is a fairly obnoxious instrument, all said and done, and I’m not even sure Nyamo played it the way it was supposed to be played, but both times she busted it out, with its simple, clear notes, that you clearly cannot apply just intonation to, everyone around her smiled and simply enjoyed it. It’s a rosy picture to be sure, but considering the locale, instrumentation, and assumed skill level of the performer, it’s a testament to human feeling over cold calculation. It’s my common complaint and criticism–sometimes, something can be so carefully thought-out and orchestrated that it simply loses all of its humanity and becomes something sterile. Perfection may be beauty, but imperfection has its own peculiar lure. That is, if perfection and imperfection even exist. Which they might not.

If you’ll let me shift gears into reverse abruptly and totally screw up my transmission, I’m almost tempted to say that “content vs. experience”, mentioned above, is a running theme for Real Drive, given the nature of the Metal, cyberrealities, and the general themes of the episodes. I don’t think I can elaborate more on this until after some more episodes (or even the whole run of the series), so more on this later.

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Detroit Metal City: *censored* *censored* *censored*

This is Krauser II, the hottest death metal star in Japan at the moment, the lead guitarist and vocalist for Detroit Metal City. Not ROCK City, METAL City. This is important.

This is Souichi Negishi, the man behind the furious mask of Krauser II. Yes, he is playing an acoustic guitar. Yes, he is singing a love song.

I don’t think I’ve laughed that much in thirteen minutes and forty seconds before. And I hate death metal music. That probably makes it better. Much, much better. Although I could go with an anime that parodies power/folk/symphonic metal, although I think in some instances that just parodies itself and it all starts looping around in a complicated mess and then I give up and go listen to Sound Horizon some more.

Actually, I think I laughed more at Detroit Metal City episode 1 than I did for the entire run of This Is Spinal Tap (“It goes to 11” and Stonehenge notwithstanding, of course; not that I didn’t like This Is Spinal Tap, because I did like it immensely), despite the fact that Spinal Tap is actually good horrible awesome music, and Detroit Metal City is, admittedly, not, although I will say that the lyrics themselves are hilarity. I’m not entirely sure about its status next to Metalocalpyse, as I haven’t bothered to visit the esoteric ranges of Dethklok yet (because I don’t have Cartoon Network and am lazy, that’s why), but I’m pretty sure even Metalocalpyse can’t hold a candle to this. It helped that I saw this image beforehand, though.

The basic premise is even more ludicrous given Studio 4c’s reputation for visual flair (very, very few scenes in the first episode ever occupied the whole screen) and an enjoyably fast-paced and snappy dialogue. When coupled with some of the more ridiculous situations one can get into (for instance, a group of DMC fans trash-talking Negishi because he plays “crappy music”, since when he’s off-stage and out of makeup no one can really tell that Krauser II is actually Negishi, making for hilarious situations), and a running theme of mocking the debauchery of the age and how humans have forgone love and flowers in favor of really loud music that involves lots of screaming and also the complex theme deaing with the on-stage and off-stage personalities of famous people (I am, by the way, making all of these up, because the real purpose here is simply to make you laugh until you cry, and then laugh some more). The best part is Negishi trying to make it with the girl he’s always loved, who shares the same music taste with him–including his distaste for DMC’s music, which, of course, he wrote himself–and failing, because the shadow of DMC hangs over him like an ominous pendulum in an Edgar Allen Poe story.

I’m not actually sure I can say much more about Detroit Metal City that hasn’t already been said before, but I implore, nay, abjure, anyone who found Spinal Tap or Metalocalypse even slightly amusing–if one was really bored on a Saturday night and didn’t have the usual supply of sexy, easy, and above all naked women to make sweet, passionate, and enjoyable (for at least one party) rape to–to watch (and probably immediately locate the manga of) Detroit Metal City.

It’s that awesome.

Itazura na Kiss: Guess Who’s Jealous Now!

That’s right–Irie!

This has been a hilarious rollercoaster of an evening–first I wrestle with my sound card drivers for entirely too long only to discover that the problem that was bugging me was that my headphones were plugged in, and then, to chill out and relax and forget that computers are made of pure Satan, I enacted my original plan to catch up on the woefully negelected Itazura na Kiss. Needless to say, I am not very relaxed and calm now, because Keita is a bastard. Yes, I am calling the “nice guy” a bastard, and the actual bastard (who I have also called a bastard at certain points in time because he’s so wonderfully bastardly) is the one I am rooting for.

Not necessarily because I hate “nice guys”–I like to fancy that I am a “nice guy,” even though I probably am not–or that I think bastards are cool–becasue they aren’t–but because it all seems to be the Next Step in the evolution of Irie. Up till now, the series has been about Kotoko pursuing Irie (or I guess I should really start calling him Naoki now, since Kokoto now has the same last name and things might get Confusing, but it’s ingrained in my head), but now, of course, that she has him in the dreaded bond of wedlock, the previously complacent Irie (who has stated that he accepts Kotoko’s love as a given) now finds himself with a potential rival–the same situation that Kotoko was in for, oh, the first half of the series. He is handling it in an extremely Irie way, of course, in that he hasn’t really had these sorts of feelings before either and, therefore, makes it worse by trying to sort things out before he sits and rationally thinks things out.

It’s also amusing, and this is why it’s a good thing I watched 15-18 in one evening, how this plot twist mirrors the couple on the honeymoon in Hawaii that Kotoko and Irie met–in that relationship, the girl (Mari?) was simply a boy-crazed girl who chased after anything that looked vaguely manly, and her husband (whose name I have totally forgotten) was dutiful and faithful to her, even though he knew of her manizing ways (I am totally making words up here). He wasn the classical nice-guy husband, who had to take the chance that Irie set up for him (and I’m pretty sure he set it up for the two of them on purpose, or, at least, that was part of his motive) to set things straight with his wife. He catered to her every need, and she simply took him for granted–a situation somewhat similar in nature to the current one between Kotoko and Irie.

Relationships–romantic or not–are about two people, and Irie is geting a painful lesson in this right now. Complete with a full-fledged marital battle in the school cafeteria. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t really a guilty party, here–it’s a case of circumstances spiraling out of control and having adverse effects on everyone involved. I’m pretty sure that Keita is acting in part becasue he’s simply trying to spite (or is jealous of, himself) Irie, which probably leads to me calling him a bastard and rooting for Irie–because, deep down, in the little dokidoki fangirl heart of mine, I know he truly cares for Kotoko (there’s no way he would get that jealous and upset if he didn’t), even if he’s just really awkward about expressing it unless given cause to. It seems like this whole Keita thing is just a setup to making Irie much more active in Kotoko’s life.

I’m finding it rather difficult to frame into words what, exactly, is going on in this whole complicated mess of a love triangle. But it’s the kind of difficult that makes me respect Tada Kaoru (although I don’t know how much of this arc is coming from the manga) and the anime staff even more–because life itself can be difficult to frame into words (but hell if people don’t try).

I think I just fell into Bewitched or something by tripping over an ottoman. And I have a nagging feeling that the last scene of the 26th episode will be Irie, in his best Desi Arnaz voice, saying “KOOOOOOTOOOOOKOOOOOOOO, YOU GOT SOME ‘SPLAININ’ TO DO!”, to which Kotoko instructs Irie to “stifle!”, to which Irie’s response is “One of these days, Kotoko, one of these days…POW! RIght in the kisser!”

I blame this camera shot for this feeling.

(I watched waaaaaaaay too much Nick at Nite and TV Land as a child. I don’t know what that says about me, but I don’t care)

In Light Of Recent Revelations of the Beijing Olympics…Or, Should I Say, Moelympics?

As some of you may or may not be aware, the performance of China’s national anthem at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics were actually lip-synched.

Now, of course, this is an entirely logical thing for China to do, since they’re so obsessed with presenting a positive image to the world as the whole world watches the Olympics (to the point that they might actually be stabbing themselves in the back, given this and several other cases I’ve heard [see below–ed.]) that presenting an extremely photogenic girl instead of a much more down-home girl for the grand national anthem singing backed by choir, but that’s not the point here.

The point is the moenetic analysis of the two girls in question.

Let us consider the on-stage “singer”, Lin Miaoke:

Twintails. Hair clips. Making a weird and seemingly nonsensical yet still terribly cute and adorable hand gesture. “Low” moe.

Now consider Yang Peiyi, the actual singer:

Down-home appeal. Barely visible hairclip, or possibly flower. Damn good voice. “High” moe.

I don’t know about you, but the concept of a cute, twintailed girl actually being voiced by a much more down-home kind of girl seems pretty anime to me. And there was that Olympic promo art that bore an eerie resemblance to Haruhi

Now, of course, we here at Anime wa Bakuhatu da! (by “we” I mean “me” but the “about” page fails to mention that I am actually bizarro zombie Queen Victoria, since I am amused, unlike actual Queen Victoria, who was not) can’t really have a post about Chinese girls, now can we?

Yes. Yes we can. But here’s something to make up for it:

Klan Klan wants to sing, too. She fits all the criteria posed by Lin Miaoke! GIVE HER A CHANCE~

[DISCLAIMER: My apologies to the families of both Lin Miaoke and Yang Pinyi, and probably to Chinese people in general. The Beijing Olympics are probably going much smoother than the Western media outlets seems to tell us. You know, because they’re the media and all. Remember the Yellow Scare of the early 1900s (that was in reaction to Japan’s growing military, I know, but just bear with me here)? Yeah. Yellow journalism’s a great thing, isn’t it? How DARE someone not be like us. I hate you, Joseph Pulitzer. Hate hate hate.]

Macross Frontier: So Where Are My Chiba Song Units?

Like, seriously, Kawamori. You’re spending all this time talking about the ability of Ranka’s song to transcend spacetime and traverse through foldspace and resonate with the Vajira and you haven’t even talked about Chiba Song Units at all. At least you have Ozma and his love for Fire Bomber.

I’m actually going to try to keep this shorter than usual, since I’m trying to get to bed at a decent hour and have a decent amount of sleep tonight, but here goes:

The opening for episode 17 was amazing. The opening for episode 18 was even more amazing and I think it simply reinforces what I think is going to wind up happening in the end of Macross Frontier: Ranka and Sheryl, rather than being rivals and one always overshadowing the other (or one being discarded when the other is more valuable), will simply have to work together (much more so than Misa and Minmei had to work together in SDF, and more so than Basara and Gamlin had to in 7). The glue that binds the two together is, of course, Alto, who genuinely cares for both of them. I don’t think that the “triangler” of the series is actually a love triangle–at least, in Alto’s eyes. Alto cares for both Ranka and Sheryl almost equally, and he’s demonstrated this time and again. I’m not even sure if he’s going to actually resolve the arbitrary love triangle of the series in any way at all, really. This triangle seems to be less about a dividing wedge between people so much as a a cooperative effort: the “Triangler”, therefore, isn’t about “who gets whom”, but how the three can work together to form a geometric shape that obeys the Pythagorean Theorem and will give headaches to geometry students the world over.

Or maybe I’m making all that up. At any rate, I thought 17 was amazing in and of itself, simply because they drug out Fire Bomber songs and used them as background music–My Soul For You and Try Again (twice! The second time they added in a more modern twist with a heavier guitar riff that I’m not sure I wholly like yet, but I’d have to hear the remixed version in full to decide that, but it certainly was impressive). It was like a Fire Bomber tribute episode, so, naturally, I was happy. Although I’m still wondering if Ozma is going to bite it–I expected him to die in 17, but, alas, he did not, although he seems to have been made even more useless than he already was.

And, seriously, what’s up with this? Does Ranka realize that she’s riding around in a ship that has a giant image of her, clad in a bikini, albeit a bikini that doesn’t seem to have a bottom to match the top? I mean, it’s like–she’s in the ship. Surely she’s seen it. Isn’t she embarrassed to be the bottomless Call Up Monster Girl? Does she secretly enjoy it?

Or is Kawamori just baiting all the otaku with official Ranka psuedo-erotica? Whatever it is, it’s pretty Macross to do this, considering that Mylene had the stalker photographers who sold lewd photos of her, and I’m pretty sure Minmei wound up in a similar situation, and at any rate I’m pretty sure half the appeal of Sharon Apple was that she was smokin’ hot.

KLAN KLAN WATCH!

Michael and Klan Klan need to go on dates more often. She totally wants him bad. Also, she acted like classic girl–sit around at the cafe for an hour or so before your date is scheduled to arrive and preen and primp your hair and then when your date arrives slightly late and apologizes simply act like you hadn’t been waiting desperately for him to show up and just say “Oh, I just got here two minutes ago, it’s okay” and then seethe inwardly with anger at him until his true objective is revealed in which case you get the above.

Labcoats are within the scope of my interests. We need more labcoats. And I think Klan Klan needs to borrow Alto’s trenchcoat for an episode or so.

Or, hell, just give her her own spin-off series. The Klan Klan and Michael Happy Fun Time Awkward Relationship Hour or something. I would watch it, buy the DVDs, and any related merch.

I am aware that Klan Klan has done nothing terribly useful except be (amazingly and mind-destroyingly) cute for the entire series, but that’s okay–she’s a side character, she can exist for that purpose, just like Straight Cougar existed for the sole reason of being amazingly and mind-destroyingly awesome. Just please don’t die like he did, okay?

Watch Out, Duke Togo!

Miyako has you figured out.

And I don’t know if your Golgo guile will save you from her wily clutches. After all, nothing is more dangerous than an airheaded girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing.

Code Geass R2: It’s Safe to Say That We are Most Certainly in a Handbasket Now

I don’t know if it’s just because it’s been a month since I last touched a Code Geass episode (no, I was not skipping it on purpose due to the loss of my beloved Shirley [although when I saw that coffin I was saddened all over again]), or if it’s because of the “give Sunrise series more than 13 episodes to set themselves up and get awesome” rule, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that watching episodes 14-17 was a feeling that I will simply, at the risk of making crude sexual humor, call a “Geassm”, all the more intensified by watching them all at the same time. Some short observations:

  • Apparently Britannia, when they capture a high-profile female prisoner of war, instead of throwing them in dank dungeons and letting them rot, they give them amazingly hot dresses that overemphasize their cleavage and let people come and talk to them just to chat. I like this approach to prisoners.
  • Neo-C.C. (Retro-C.C.?) is amazing. I wasn’t ever really a huge fan of C.C. in the first place (at least from the viewpoint of “favorite girl” in the cute/hot department; she is, of course, pretty awesome, as 15 proved), but even my cold icy heart was warmed (or made more cold and icy) by her own brand of cold and icy. And then Neo-C.C. comes in and it’s like “where have you been all series, honey?” But, then again, Neo-C.C.’s personality is the type that makes me want to sit down and give them a hug. Completely platonic. And not in the Platonic sense.
  • There is blood on the black king on the chessboard. This is SYMBOLISM.
  • Charles took some lessons from his own son. It was hilarious seeing Diethard react to the hacking of their transmission like everyone else reacted to his hacking of theirs. Two can play at that game, apparently.
  • For a brief moment, Code Geass turned into bizarro Legend of Galactic Heroes, except with more lolis. More girls, in fact, period. Code Geass has girls like Legend of Galactic Heroes had men. They just don’t put their names on-screen to helpfully remind us who they are.

These episodes summed up what I think is great about Taniguchi Goro–he’s capable of amazing and “honestly good” work like Planetes and Infinite Ryvius (which I have not had a chance to see, yet, sadly) and maybe Gasaraki if you count assistant directorship on that, but he’s equally good at just being plain entertaining. I know people who complained about the early episodes of Planetes, probably because they weren’t the later episodes of Planetes, but part of what I think made Planetes such a good series was that it was willing to kick back and relax sometimes and just be plain silly (the NEET moon ninjas were great, and, sad as it was, the fact that they all died when the plot kicked into full gear was astounding), but even when Planetes was silly, it never really lost its focus. And Code Geass, despite all the “pandering” (which, honestly, helps the series far more than it hurts), and despite sometimes ridicukous smoke-and-mirrors “logic”, manages to be serious and hard-hitting in its emotional weight at the same time that it’s willing to be light and fluffy. Code Geass wouldn’t be popular if it only did one or the other–but, since it does both, it’s got multi-level appeal, which, of course, is Goro’s specialty.

Of course, what is really going on here is the fact that everything Lelouch planned is falling apart around him, and even when he tries to make amends to Suzaku and honestly seems to want to change himself for the good, zing goes the bullet and any hope of a moderately happy ending is cast off into the dark bowels of Sunrise’s script recyclers. This is, of course, what Code Geass has always been about–the bait-and-switch, both of the viewer and of the characters, and, more frequently, both at the same time. It’s obvious that Lelouch planned for this contingency before he set off to meet Suzaku, but, given his reaction at the time, I don’t think he really expected his friend to betray him. We kept seeing his thoughts via internal monologue for the whole scene, and Suzaku clearly had no idea he was being followed either.


Television is scary, Neo-C.C. It invades our homes with mindless rot broadcast over the airwaves! Enough television, and we will all become tasty vegetable toppings on the pizza you so dearly love! So, remember, kids: take a lesson from Neo-C.C. and cower in fear when the television is on. Most important, however, is to cower in fear cutely.

Lelouch was almost painfully honest of his own feelings, doubts, misgivings, and sins of his own. Rather than tell Suzaku that Geassing Euphemia was a freak accident (who wouldn’t have believed him anyway) he instead states that he did it on purpose, that he did everything on purpose to acheive his own end. Suzaku points out that, by creating Zero and leading the rebellion, Lelouch began to go against what Zero stood for. Zero, of course, stands for fighting justice and tyranny, but it’s clear that somewhere in the middle of the first season (and for the whole of R2 for certain) the whole idea and concept of Zero began spiraling out of control–rather than doing what he claimed he was doing, he simply started reacting to events as he saw fit in manners that would give him the best tactical advantage, rather than manners that would actually let him live up to what he claimed he stood for. Either the whole conceit of Zero consumed him such that he actually believed that what he was doing was for “justice”, or else the situation simply spiraled too much out of control for him to remain focused on the path of “justice” without making terrible sacrifices along the way. I’m inclined to believe the former, honestly–Lelouch got quite full of himself recently, but effectively losing C.C.–who, up till that point, had been the closest thing he had approximating a “friend”–obviously set him on edge, hence breaking the plate of pizza in Neo-C.C.’s hands for probably the best scene in the series thus far: Lelouch’s own realization that he can’t fight his fight alone and needs support.

Which, of course, makes the Brittanian army’s betrayal of both Suzaku and Lelouch soul-crushingly depressing–and, of course, excellent (melo)drama. Lelouch admits to himself all the terrible things he’s done, in the name of his own, personal, sense of justice, while Suzaku fights against these efforts with his own, personal, sense of justice. The difference between the two isn’t so much their sense of justice–since both, effectively, want the same outcome–but rather in how they apply their sense of justice. Lelouch is bitter over the death of his mother, and turns his own personal vendetta into what is essentially a sham of a revolution; Suzaku calmly accepted the death of his father and joined the Britannian military in order to effectively carry on his father’s last wishes (I might be wrong about this; memory’s fuzzy at this point). Lelouch acts for himself, Suzaku for the good of all. I don’t think either is really wrong, as there’s a clear, definite, and justifiable reason for Lelouch to be Lelouch, and Suzaku is, well, Suzaku.

The downward spiral of the world’s situation (a bad situation made even worse through Lelouch’s interventions for his personal reasons), of course, continues, and, to make a bad thing worse, Lelouch now can’t trust anyone if he can’t trust Suzaku, and, of course, whatever fate awaits Britannia (and Lelouch) will be one they brought upon themselves. Everything starts to converge, and there are eight episodes left.

Lelouch’s eye twitches involuntarily.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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