Advisory

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Misaki Chronicles and Shingu just arrived. Don’t expect much posting here for a few days.

Update: Just finished Misaki Chronicles. A few quick notes:

1. Wow.

2. I want to let the story settle in my mind a day or two before I watch anything else. Shingu will have to wait.

3. Somebody please shoot the character designer and the jiggle choreographer.

4. Misaki and her colleagues are cute — from the neck up, anyway — but Lyar von Ertiana is the one I want to meet.

5. Much of the anime that I find memorable deals with grief and despair. Few series do so as directly as Misaki Chronicles.

6. Wow, again.

A tale of two Yukos and other stories

I’ve watched each of the first five episodes of Denno Coil at least twice so far. I have a few small reservations, but overall I’m very impressed. Iso and company have yet to stumble. If these five episodes are indicative, this is the best show I’ve seen on fansub yet and one of the best of any kind ever. I was initially concerned that there wouldn’t be enough material to stretch twenty-six episodes; now my concern that twenty-six will barely be enough to elucidate all the mysteries of Daikoku City and the connections between Yasako and Isako. Denno Coil is a pleasure to watch on every level. I don’t often write about quality of animation because I don’t have the background, but even I can tell that the work here is exceptional. Watching the different ways the various characters in the opening climb stairs is an education in the art of animation. Daikoku City may be a virtual world, but it’s one of the most believable I’ve ever visited.

Eleven episodes of Seirei no Moribito have been translated now. The last few have been surprisingly quiet (not that I mind; there are few things duller than non-stop action). It looks like the story might be as much about the education of the prince as about eluding assassins.

I’m watching Sugar, a Tiny Snow Fairy slowly, one episode a day. I watched the ninth today, which is the beginning of the “Bear Pianist” arc, my favorite part of the series. Overall, it’s as good as I remember it, but not all parts have aged equally well. The Elder’s infatuation with Ginger gets old fast, and after the fluid animation of Denno Coil, Sugar looks just a little wooden. The writing and acting generally are very good, though, and the music is better than I remembered. One recurring theme reminds me strongly of Metamora, and I keep expecting to hear Malcolm Dalglish’s dulcimer.

Addendum: Here’s some Denno Coil motivation.

In the key of aarrrrrr

Kashi, alias the invisible CapnFlynn, artist and animator, formerly the proprietress of Synonyms and Sugar (one of the ten best-named weblogs ever), has illustrated a book, The Voyage to Ruin, by H.L. Trombley. According to the website,

For the sinking of her ship and the death of her lover, pirate Captain Franceline Drake seeks revenge on Captain Acheron Zeal of Her Majesty’s Navy. For her most terrible crimes against the ships of Camembert, Zeal pursues Drake across the seas and skies of the Quadra Terrarum. And in the midst of the intrigue and mystery, the fate of a man named Flynn Freeborn will follow in their wake.

If you think you’d might enjoy a “pirate adventure fantasy,” check it out.

Here’s some more information on the book.

(Cross-posted on my other weblog.)

In the key of aarrrrrr

Kashi, alias the invisible CapnFlynn, artist and animator, formerly the proprietress of Synonyms and Sugar (one of the ten best-named weblogs ever), has illustrated a book, The Voyage to Ruin, by H.L. Trombley. According to the website,

For the sinking of her ship and the death of her lover, pirate Captain Franceline Drake seeks revenge on Captain Acheron Zeal of Her Majesty’s Navy. For her most terrible crimes against the ships of Camembert, Zeal pursues Drake across the seas and skies of the Quadra Terrarum. And in the midst of the intrigue and mystery, the fate of a man named Flynn Freeborn will follow in their wake.

If you think you’d might enjoy a “pirate adventure fantasy,” check it out. There’s further information here.

54/365

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Greg Golding, baritone horn. Photographing the chamber music concert this afternoon with my toy camera was frustrating. Pictures with the flash were harsh and unflattering, but without the flash the images were blurred and noisy. (I hope by the end of summer to have a proper DLSR and a fast lens.)

Continue reading “54/365”

53/365

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One of two buildings in Wichita designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I lived about two minutes’ walk from here many years ago. I never met the people who lived there then, and I didn’t really want to. They had a pair of toy poodles, sometimes dyed orange, sometimes blue.

Miscellaneous notes

I had planned to wait until after The Major Purchase before ordering any more DVDs, but I really want to know how the Divergence Eve saga ends. Then Steven has to go and find another damned four-star series, grrr. So I’ve got an order off for Misaki Chronicles and Shingu now.

I had already added Shingu to the “maybe” list, but I never saw much information about it. As Steven notes, the series received virtually no attention. I did a little browsing last night to see if anyone besides the not-utterly-reliable Chris Beveridge has reviewed it. There was a “B+” review of the first disc at Anime News Network, and that’s all I found at a half-dozen review sites. If Shingu is as good as Steven says it is (and he’s never been wrong on a four-star series), then The Right Stuf did a lousy job of marketing their edition, and reviewers did not do their job at all.

*****

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Fledgling Otaku is moving house, from Texas to Wisconsin. The Google maps route passes near Wichita. I doubt that he’ll have time to stop, but if he takes that route, he can imagine me waving as he drives by.

*****

Discovered while looking at my site statistics:

Avatar, a frequent commenter in this corner of the otakusphere, has his own weblog now, The Ego’s Nest. There’s also a nikonian’s blog, featuring photography and anime as well as current events in Bangladesh. Finally, there’s StarShipSofa, with podcasts on science fiction writers. Search string of the week: “pachelbel dog the bounty hunter.”

*****

A couple of occidental movies might be worth trips to the cinema: Ratatouille and Surf’s Up.

Update: Here’s another review of Surf’s Up.

The eighth life

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I’m down to three fansubs: two substantial stories, Denno Coil and Seirei no Moribito, and a cheesy entertainment, Murder Princess. ((I might add Oh! Edo Rocket to the list, depending on how good the second episode is. I hope to see more of the Waragetcha 5, but the translation of Master of Epic proceeds very slowly. I may resume watching Darker Than Black, Claymore and El Cazador, depending on what I read about further episodes.)) At this point, I think that DC and SnM are the two best shows of the year and better than anything from last year. ((I count Mushishi as a 2005 series.)) (I reserve the right to change my mind if either turns stupid, but I doubt that will happen.) I hesitate to write any more about the former lest I oversell it, ((Here’s the Denno Coil opening and trailer combined, which hints at the quality of the production and the tone.)) but latter deserves some comment.

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Seirei no Moribito, or Guardian of the Sacred Spirit, is set in a mythical Asian land. Balsa, an expert spearwoman, rescues the prince Chagum from drowning when the oxcart he is traveling in falls off a bridge. His mother subsequently asks Balsa to be his bodyguard. Chagum needs one; he contains within himself the egg of a water spirit, and for reasons connected with that, his father the emperor wants him dead. Thus far, Balsa and Chagum have evaded the assassins, and eleven-year-old Chagum is learning about life outside the palace.

Production values are high, but the appeal of Seirei no Moribito is in the characters and story. Balsa and Chagum are fully-realized three-dimensional, sympathetic characters. Chagum in particular is appealing, combining a deep sense of responsibiility with childish naiveté. It is easy to imagine him growing up to be emperor someday.

Seirei no Moribito is based on a series of novels by Nahoko Uehashi. The makers of the anime have enough confidence in the story that they don’t feel any need to make every episode action-packed. When there is fighting, it’s spectacular (here are excerpts from the third episode ((This is mildly spoilerish, but you don’t really expect the central characters to be killed off that early, do you?)) ), but it’s sparse. The eighth episode is particularly suspenseful, and it’s mostly just characters talking and telling stories.

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One element worth noting is that, although Balsa and Chagum don’t lack enemies, none of the characters thus far are evil, not even the emperor who orders his son’s death. The imperial diviners have discovered ominous signs that may be connected with the water spirit, or demon, within the prince, and the emperor’s decision, tragically wrong though it may be, is understandable. (My hunch is that there is indeed a connection, but it’s not what they think, and Chagum’s death would be disastrous.)

I’m violating my usual policy in watching Seirei no Moribito. Hitherto, I have never downloaded a fansub of a show once a license was announced (it’s going to be a long time before I know how Death Note ends). My feeble excuse is that this is one of the best series I’ve seen in a long time, I’m impatient to see the rest, and there is as yet no mention of it under either title on the Geneon website. If you have the self-control, the ideal course of action is to emulate Wabi Sabi: wait until the entire series is available, and then marathon the show. Here in region 1, that could quite possibly involve a two-year wait.

How to enjoy Rocket Girls

A: Pay close attention to every detail. Note the impossibilities, e.g., the helicopter flight in the first episode, and the implausibilities, e.g., damn near everything else. Chuckle at the absurdities.

B: Turn off your critical faculties and enjoy the series for what is: a bit of unpretentious low-budget science-fantasy fluff.

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Ultimately, it comes down to whether the engineering fanservice and skintight spacesuits compensate for the ugly computer animation. I enjoyed the show. YMMV.

Update: See also the anonymous Author’s commentary.