Archive for April, 2010

The Gap of Four Months, or: What I Have Been Doing

I have not posted in approximately four, maybe five, months. I have good reasons for this, depending on your definition of “good reasons”: the Grad School is a Timesink reason, the I Haven’t Watched Much Anime Lately reason, the I Am Probably Just Being Lazy reason, the Writing a Single Post is Five Hours of Grueling Blood Sweat & Tears and Not of the Musical Variety, &c. &c. &c.

Also, I haven’t actually watched many “fansubs” (and certainly not recent ones) lately, for which I would cite Support the Industry rhetoric like everyone else who did this, except I really can’t (and so therefore I will never win brownie points with this club of cool cats) but rather the fact that I have an ancient computer that can’t handle this newfangled h.264 HD nonsense and I got sick of episodes stuttering and desyncing the video and audio streams, and the fact that watching something in HD required about a half-hour prior to watching to make sure it was going to play decently, and occasionally watching my computer reboot itself in the middle of an episode (this was my favorite). Also I just don’t care about HD in general, although I will admit that I care a great deal more about HD than I care about the silly 3D movie gimmicks.

Of course, I’ve managed to squeeze in some things here and there, and those who have Other Methods of eStalking me no doubt know of some of these, but because I feel I ought to stick SOMETHING here eventually, here, then, is the Recap Episode for the past four to five months.

ANIME I HAVE WATCHED:

HERE IS A PICTURE OF A SUN CRASHING INTO A PLANET

Space Battleship Yamato, which I rather liked, despite it having a great deal of flaws common to 70s space opera-type things (the characters! I liked them but they were plot devices with emotions at times!), but this is also largely because I enjoy space opera-type things, flaws and all. It is not terribly hard to entertain me with space opera: some politics, some scientifically inaccurate explosions in space, some heroism, and I’m good.

Also, the series is incredibly serious and grim and depressing, except for the parts where Analyzer is flipping up Yuki Mori’s skirt, but eventually they made that serious and grim and depressing with an episode about how Analyzer can feel and love like a human, except he’s a robot who finds it amusing to expose the underwear of the alleged love of his life. I was going to write a post about some of the symbolism of it (and may yet, when I get a chance to watch season 2), but I am sure that anything I had to say on that matter has been done by A Professional.

HERE IS A PICTURE OF DUSTY ATTENBOROUGH IN A PIRATE OUTFIT

Part 3 of Legend of the Galactic Heroes, or Legend of the Galactic Prussian Pederasts, or Legend of the Galactic Drunkards for Democracy, take your pick and define your allegiance! Legend of the Galactic Heroes is considered one of the best things ever made in the history of anime, which is no small praise or feat.

I think it proper and pointed to mention here that I’m not entirely sure I believe that Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a 110-episode treatise on the amazingness of autocracy; while I haven’t seen Part 4 and considering that the Free Planets Alliance has been continually and gradually grinded down to nearly nothing, I think that Legend of the Galactic Heroes might be better viewed as a 110-episode treatise on the strengths and flaws of both autocratic and republican forms of government. Even if it is pro-autocracy (and it probably is), it poses some very important questions and quandaries for fans of democracy.

The only problem I really have with Legend of Galactic Heroes thus far is that, despite how likable all the characters are, I still think the majority of them exist simply to wax philosophic a lot, and to also demonstrate philosophy in action. Which is one of the selling points of the series, so I don’t actually mind but I can (and will!) grouse about it.

And speaking of characters: I have determined (hilariously so, if you have seen through Part 3 by now) that Yang Wenli is basically me, except in space, with blue hair, and with more of an alcohol problem. He is constantly in doubt! He does not hold many things to be unwaveringly true, except the idealistic beliefs he holds dearest (i.e. the Power of Democracy)! He is a historian! If I was made of money and awesome I would just go around dressed like Yang Wenli a lot, but I am not, and so I probably won’t. But I want his cravat.

HERE IS A PICTURE OF KATEROSE VON KREUZER BEING SHY

Also: Katerose von Kreuzer is awesome, and I am mad that the first time I started watching Part 3 I just barely made it past the part where she was introduced and did not manage to get to the part where she reveals how awesome she is. Maybe “awesome” is perhaps too early an adjective for her (I hear she is Important in Part 4 much more often), but at this point in time all I want to do is give her a hug, because she needs a hug, and if she and Julian don’t hook up before one of them dies I am going to be Angry on the Internet.

I would ask people not to spoil Part 4 too much for me but I am pretty sure that the narrator will do that anyway.

HERE IS A PICTURE OF THE DIRTY PAIR NOT WEARING A GREAT DEAL OF CLOTHING

Dirty Pair! It is a series about Yuri and Kei, the Lovely Angels a.k.a. the Dirty Pair, who basically do two things the entire series: one, not wear a lot of clothing (and what little clothing they do wear appears to be made of shiny plastic), and two, blow up more things than are strictly necessary to accomplish the objective that they have been assigned.

Other than “it’s a lot of fun” there is not much more to be added to that description, because it is what it is. It is, however, a classic of the girls-running-around-blowing-things-up genre, along with Gunsmith Cats and You’re Under Arrest, and currently has the distinction of being the only one of those three series I mentioned that I have actually seen any of right now! Also Yuri > Kei and you can’t disagree with me.

Also Nozomi Entertainment / TRSI has licensed the TV series, which is what I was watching and which is apparently the best Dirty Pair thing, so maybe you could buy it, sometime, if you feel like it? It’s n-not like they l-licensed it for y-you or anything!

HERE IS THE PICTURE OF SORA NO WOTO YOU HAVE SEEN A BAZILLION TIMES BEFORE

The only thing that was actually produced in this decade that I have seen this year (sadly I am not exaggerating much) is Sora no Woto, which might seem like an odd choice to some but it seemed like a good idea at the time (also I wasn’t sure I wanted to start something like Durarara!! or Aoi Bungaku or whatever series I meant to watch but didn’t, because I was afraid that they would prove too addictive or too HD to be able to watch.

The problem with Sora no Woto, as has likely been discussed elsewhere previous to this, is not that it is a bad series (I liked it alright) but a series that managed to not be good. I felt there were four or five very strong episodes in the series; the problem was that three of these were at the end, and one of them was in the middle. I also felt like it could have used less incontinence jokes (there was only one but did we really need to have it, especially since I have heard that watersports fans will get that in KissxSis most likely?)

MANGA I HAVE READ

I have been reading Please Save My Earth via Interlibrary Loan, and I have been liking it immensely. It’s extremely confusing at the beginning (as Saki Hiwatari wasn’t expecting it to catch on and run for longer than five or so volumes), especially when you’re trying to keep track of which character has been reincarnated into whom, which ones are lying about who they are, who some of the people related to the central seven are, what they do, and all the while trying to figure out what in the name of Hell is wrong with Shion and/or Rin, the latter of which was hilariously cute until he started trying to kill people.

I also read with interest the whole saga of Hiwatari receiving the letters from readers who were convinced that they, too, had been reincarnated from previous lives as aliens, and her shock that her fanbase couldn’t distinguish between fantasy and reality terribly well. It seems sort of prescient for certain trends sweeping an entirely different branch of the manga / anime universe than shoujo, in a way, and certainly illustrates the perceived “reality” of the worlds described in manga.

I felt like mentioning the ILL bit because doing it seems like I am Cheating at the above-mentioned Supporting the Industry bit, even though it seems that only volume one is out of print, and that this is pretty much what ILL is used for: acquiring material unavailable at your library. Note that I feel no qualm when I use ILL to get, say, a fiction novel I really wanted to read but didn’t want to go poke around used bookstores, or even brick and mortar not-used bookstores.

I’ve been reading other manga a bit, too (EDEN: It’s an endless world!, Swan, Black Jack, Kekkaishi) but I’m not terribly far in any of them and don’t have much to say other than Black Jack is awesome, because he performs surgery on a computer. Black Jack is apparently constructed of purest awesome, in much the same way that Pinoko’s The Wife is constructed of a teterogenous cystoma. (This somewhat terrifying fact does not make Pinoko any less hilarious or cute, bizarrely)

OTHER THINGS THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST

I recently (the other day, in fact) finished Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, since in a semester where I have to read thirty-two YA novels, and therefore have the habit of voracious reading imposed on me, it’s much easier for me to switch between different novels than it is to switch between novels and filmed entertainments. (Which is also why I have been doing way more reading this semester, beyond just the required texts: it is kind of hard for me to not read, which drives me nuts for the audiobook requirement). That sentence was mostly about things not relating to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and so this sentence will be more about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: it was really good, and really weird, and really long, and I really liked it, and I really say “really” a lot. I am a Murakami Heretic who likes After Dark, though, which made me point at it and say “This is why I like Japanese narratives!” when I read it last year, but I claim “second Murakami novel” read as my excuse, so take that purists!

Also of note for the approximately zero people who care, these others things I have read this year I have really liked:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (I can’t tell if it’s the translator’s fault for the pluralization of mangas in the translation, or Barbery’s fault in the original French, but it amused and annoyed me; also enjoy your Hikaru no Go reference);
Yellow Blue Tibia and Gradisil by Adam Roberts (the former is hilarious and the latter is like A History of the Zabi Family except not really, although it is about politics relating to new colonies; I do highly recommend both, and Adam Roberts in general);
The Third Policeman by Flann o’Brien (which is just plain-out weird; I mean, bicycle people! flat buildings! eternity down the street and to the left! time leaks!);
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (which I read for class and recently finished, but it has been one of the best books I have read for this class thus far; you do not see books narrated by Death very often, especially not a wryly humored Death, and Zusak does a stellar job with it).

I have still failed to read anything from VIZ’s Haika-Soru line yet (to bring things slightly more On Topic), though I will be reading Usurper of the Sun soon.

That seems to be it! That is a LOT of pointless reading of uninteresting and lack-of-depth comments and I certainly do not blame some of you for skimming! I am planning on getting some more post-writing done soon (if not TERRIBLY soon), especially since this semester is almost over and I can get back in the habit of doing that. I know I have been (mostly) quiet for, like, four months, and probably I am the only person who has been deeply disturbed by this. I would have posted more, had it not been for the fact that every post I sat down to write turned into the same post (which I am working on, slowly, mostly mentally, and sometimes at other people), and also the fact that I just haven’t been watching or reading many cultural products from Japan; I plan to catch up when I have time (i.e. break starts).

Maybe I should learn to turn my brain off sometime! That would be useful!

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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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