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.

Bleah

Posting will resume when I’m less frazzled by construction, bad weather and bad smells — remodeling and plumbing problems at work, roof destruction and replacement during unstable weather at home. Until then, here’s Yukari and Matsuri from Rocket Girls.

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*****

Today’s word: “Waffo!” (Yes, the Right Stuf order arrived in less than a week.)

47/365

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I’d applaud their industry except that it is Sunday morning and this is the house where I live. (It would have been nice of the landlord to mention ahead of time that the roofers were coming. Grrr.)

Toward more picturesque speech

From Thog’s Masterclass:

`Big boogers of uncertainty were beginning to form.’ (Vernor Vinge, Rainbows End, 2006)

Also from Ansible:

Martin Morse Wooster was deeply thrilled by junk mail from `a company called Hawthorne Village, which has the Official Lord of the Rings Express Diesel Locomotive. This heirloom quality train — richly adorned with scenes and characters from the movie trilogy including Elven text and a working headlight on the diesel locomotive — will have you reliving this epic saga every time the train journeys around the tracks. You know, when I mentally visit the rugged, primeval landscape of Middle Earth, I think to myself, “You know, these trees and rocks are OK. But WHERE are the toy trains?”‘