Rule 5

I’ve been blogging for nearly nine years — the anniversary of the launch of my first weblog is a week from Saturday — and I long ago realized that I’ll never get a million hits in a year, or ever. I am not interested in blogwhoring, I’m too contemptuous of politicians to care about their blather and posturing, and I dislike making unnecessary enemies.

One thing I can do, though, is post pictures of pretty girls. Conveniently, Richard’s anime magazines are a rich source of such. Here’s another batch of scans. These are from two editions of a “New Video Magazine,” one from 1986 and the other from 1991. Both are similar in format to Vversion, which I looked at previously, so this time I’m focusing mostly on the cheesecake.

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Call for nominations

Which episodes of anime series do you find most memorable? Which stay with you long after you put the DVDs back in their cases? Please mention them in the comments. If there are enough nominated, they will the subject of the next poll.

Some possibilities: the first episodes of Haibane Renmei and Mushishi; the last episodes of Serial Experiments Lain and Divergence Eve: Misaki Chronicles; the tenth episode of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica; the third episode of Kamichu; the eighth episode of Paranoia Agent.

You can nominate more than one episode from a particular series. The second, third and final installments of Kino’s Journey each pack quite a punch, and are all worth mentioning.

Feel free to explain in general terms why a particular episode sticks in your mind, but beware of spoilers. For instance, I could note that “Happy Family Planning” in Paranoia Agent is a perfect fusion of slapstick and horror, but I would not mention anything about the characters or what they do.

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If you haven’t yet voted in the current poll, please do so. I’m going to let it run a little longer and see how long the leading couples remain tied.

Make your reservations now

The organizers of many smaller anime conventions, such as Anime Fest Wichita, are often slow to update their websites. This is inconvenient for those who prefer to plan ahead, so I’ve compiled information for a typical regional convention. This is by no means complete, but it should give potential attendees an idea of what to expect.

Classes, workshops and panels

Anime Taxonomy
The traditional division of anime and manga into the categories of shounen, shoujo, seinen and josei is of little use to the serious student of anime. We’ll develop an alternate classification scheme using as parameters magnitude of breasts, intensity of angst, quantity of blood, diameter of eyes, presence of kemenomimi, frequency of panchira, and potential violations of child pornography laws.

The State of Anime I
A discussion of the problems facing anime in the West and its chances of survival. The presenters place the blame squarely where it belongs: the insane Japanese system for financing anime, and the greed and paranoia of the license-holders.

Anime and the Significant Other
How to introduce that special person in your life to your obsession; tips on which titles to watch together first, what plushies are suitable gifts, how to suggest cosplay, and when to bring up Evangelion.

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Let’s Artist

The majority of the magazines in Richard’s box are Mangajin, Dragon and Newtype. The former two are perfect-bound, which makes it difficult to scan entire pages without breaking the spine. Consequently, I’ll be focusing on the Newtype issues. (I’m sure Steven is disappointed, since the Dragon Half manga was running in Dragon’s back pages.)

Before I start on Newtype, here’s a look at Vversion ((Or V Version, or Wersion, depending on how you interpret the flag.)), devoted primarily to OVAs. It’s 132 pages, including the covers, and roughly half of it is glossy color.

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Historical documents

My friend Richard has been following anime since the mid-1980s, when he was stationed in Okinawa. This past weekend he brought by a box of a magazines, many 20 years old or older. Most of them are Japanese-only, and I can’t read a word. However, I can look at the pictures, and there are lots of pictures.

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Birthday present

Johann Sebastian Bach was born 327 years ago today (or on March 31, depending on which calendar you use). To celebrate the occasion, Amazon.com is selling nine hours of his music for 99¢ for a few days. I recognized a few of the performers, such as Joseph Szigeti and Andras Schiff, but most I’m not familiar with. I expect that the Amazon offering is mainly good older recordings and recent recordings by lesser-known artists. It’s probably worth gambling a dollar on.

*****

I know what I want for Christmas:

Exceedingly miscellaneous

In the 1970s, Jack Thompson bought a tract of land in the Royal Gardens subdivision on the island of Hawaii and began building a cedar home there. He finished it in 1983. As he installed the second-story windows, he noticed a orange glow on the panes. The light came from the lava fountains that heralded the eruption of Kilauea, which continues to this day. Over the years, lava flows took out all his neighbors’ homes, one by one, until only Thompson’s was left. This month, a vigorous flow found his house, leaving little beyond a satellite dish embedded in six feet of basalt.

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The many flavors of cheesecake

To save you the trouble of clicking repeatedly on the lower left corner of Steven’s header, I’ve collected 915 of the images and assembled them into a convenient slide show.

The singer is Mayumi Kojima. She’s probably best-known in the anime world for “Poltergeist,” the memorable opening theme of the otherwise disappointing Ghost Hound.

Yoctometers, yottameters and ponies

Two weeks’ worth of random stuff.

Of all the mysteries in Mouretsu Pirates, the most puzzling, and the least likely to be satisfactorily explained, are the Sailor Moon shout-outs. This Princess Serenity is anything but a ditzy airhead.

By the way, it is impossible to watch just one episode of Shingu.

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A screenful of Madoka

Crunchyroll began streaming Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica today, so I watched the first episode during lunch. I was curious to see how it looked at 1080. I took several screencaps; click on them to see them full-size. They look nice, but they’re not razor-sharp. I would guess that the video was upscaled from 720. (The monitor screen is 1920 x 1200, hence the letterboxing. (The images from Madoka’s dream were letterboxed to begin with.))

More screencaps below the fold.

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Galactic Corridor West-37

Shingu had the Cat’s Eye Nebula; Mouretsu Pirates has V838 Monocerotis.

Real life keeps getting in the way, but I make time every Saturday to watch Mouretsu Pirates. So what if the premise is unlikely and that there numerous minor details to nitpick? As long as the characters are interesting and the story is good, I don’t care that miniskirts aren’t suited to zero gravity. I think the pacing is fine. Tatsuo Sato knows exactly what he is doing. Constant action is boring. I’d rather get to know the characters and situation before the battles start. I enjoy spending time with Marika, and I look forward to 20 more weekends with her and her crew.

I enjoy the soundtrack, too, and I hope it’s licensed. I apparently am in the minority on this point, but I even like the opening theme, despite the singers. It would be much better with a less cluttered arrangement — ideally, just drums, bass and Marty Friedman — and a singer who can properly belt out the tune. Can Bruce Dickinson sing Japanese?

Sato makes anime that is more complex than it at first seems and which ultimately mostly makes sense, e.g., Shingu. There’s already much speculation on the history of piracy and related matters in Marika’s universe at Steven’s place.

Just wondering: One of the spaceships is called the “Odette II.” Will there be an “Odile”?

Update: Here’s the “sailing” theme.

[audio:http://tancos.net/audio/PirateTheme.mp3]

Update II: Steven calls the tune “Odette II.” You can download a clean version from his site.

Sunday morning miscellany

Suppose the translators responsible for The New American Bible took on Shakespeare:

Existence or its opposite? That’s what I am asking myself.
Whether it be more or less dignified to put up with
The barbs and darts of brash Luck, or to use weapons
Against distress’s oceans, to stop them from happening.

More Shakespeare, sorta: What is the connection between Interstella 5555 and the House of Percy?

There supposedly is a genre of iyashikei, or “healing,” anime, such as Aria or Ikoku Meiro no Croisee. I find most such productions irritatingly bland, rather than soothing or refreshing. ((The only example of the genre I find rewatchable is Someday’s Dreamers, which has a serious story underlying all the niceness.)) If you seek therapeutic anime, the works of Tatsuo Sato are much more effective:

A rewatch of Nadesico helped me get through the first few days of living with a broken arm, and Shingu was good for a flu and high fever.

Update: I just watched the second episode of Mouretsu Pirates. It looks like it’s going to be at least as good as Nadesico. Whether it approaches the level of Shingu remains to be seen.

“You don’t have to rely on a healthy body image or self-respect any more”:

Fotoshop by Adobé from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

Hmm. I have Adobé, but I’m as ugly as ever.

You’d think it’s obvious that creativity requires solitude, but evidentally the fact periodically needs to be restated.

Nyamulagira continues to challenge Etna for the title of The Greatest Show on Earth:

Cooking with gas is passé. Let’s cook with lava. ((Hey, Erik.)) Here’s a recipe for pahoehoe game hen. Prefer a steak?

I don’t know if you can “cook a tasty chicken on lava”, but I know you can cook a steak of meat on an Hawaiian lava flow! I did it! You just lay a sheet of aluminium on the lava; you spread some some oil on the steak, possibly with some herbs. Then, you put the steak on the aluminium sheet and let it broil a few tens of seconds on each side. I can assure you it is delicious, all the more with a glass of Californian wine! I’m French; I know what good cooking means!!

See this for the Icelandic version.

Downright bodacious

I watched the first episode of Mouretsu Pirates twice in two days. The last series I did that for was Madoka a year ago. Pirates has a lot in its favor, including:

Space pirates.

Tatsuo Sato.

A meganekko with a hime haircut and a sailor suit.

A bunny, a ducky and a pink bobblehead pig.

An absence of in-your-face fanservice. ((No surprise, given that Sato’s Shingu featured an outstanding example of anti-fanservice.))

There are a few negatives, e.g., green lipstick, skinny ties and really bad haircuts.

The positives greatly outweigh the negatives, and Mouretsu Pirates looks like, at the very least, a fun show. With Sato at the helm, there’s a good chance that the series will be a satisfyingly complex story and not just an excuse to put pirate hats on pretty girls.

*****

A bit of music:

It’s not just for humans.

If French is the language of love, what is German the language of?

(The latter via John C. Wright.)

*****

2011 is over. Good riddance. It was a thoroughly crummy year for me, ((2011 was a good year for volcanoes.)) and I am not going to compile any retrospective posts. If you want to know about the year in anime, see Ubu’s recaps here and here.

Parachutes and bumbershoots

Here’s some music that caught my ear recently.

Kinoco Hotel has the ’60’s psychedelic sound down cold, straight from the garage.

If Chabrier and Satie formed a string band, they might sound a little like Shugo Tokumaru.

Here’s a piano arrangement of the above tune.

Pop music with a high-gloss finish: Tokyo Incidents, featuring Shiina Ringo.

I’ve also been listening to some “Tokyo virginity pop,” as Urbangarde labels their music. Imagine Hatsune Miku as a real singer in an avante garde-ish band. I don’t like any of their videos — the visuals range from pretentious and silly to pretentious and distasteful (I wonder what percentage of their operating budget goes toward fake blood) — so I’ll just refer you to their website. There are links to videos there; the music sounds better if don’t actually watch the videos but only listen.

I’ll close with another Tokumaru tune.

Cardcaptor Derpy

(Here’s a side-by-side comparison with the CCS opening.)

Is the Brony universe the American counterpart of Touhou doujin culture? Perhaps. However, the main attraction of Touhou for me is the music, and I have yet to hear the MLP equivalent of “Lunatic Princess” or “U.N. Owen Was Her.”

I found time to watch the first two episodes of Mawaru Penguindrum, and, well, I’m not at all surprised that its mastermind was earlier responsible for Utena. It starts off as a shameless tearjerker. By the end of the second episode it’s deep in WTF territory. It’s currently getting high praise around the otakusphere, but I’m skeptical that it’s better than Madoka, as some claim. I suppose I’ll have to watch the rest of it and see.

For no good reason, I downloaded a curiosity called “Ravex in Tezuka World.” I should have bailed out when I saw this

but I foolishly watched the whole thing. The planet of Reearth, whose denizens are escapees from Osamu Tezuka’s various works, is threatened by Dark Silence. However, the cheesy dance music of the Ravex trio saves the day, with some assistance from an altered Astroboy.

Not even Prince Princess Queen Sapphire can save this mess.

Heroines and heroes, and a new poll

Balsa (Seirei no Moribito) is the most heroic character in anime according to visitors to this site, followed by Simon (Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann), Homura Akemi (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica), Kenshin Himura (Samurai X; Rurouni Kenshin) and Vash the Stampede (Trigun). Others receiving votes are Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist), Nanoha Takamachi (Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha), Nausicäa (Nausicäa), Rem Saverem (Trigun), Togusa (Ghost in the Shell), Allen Schezar (Vision of Escaflowne), Yoshika Miyafuji (Strike Witches), Yoko (Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann), Alphonse Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist), Ashitaka (Princess Mononoke), Spike Spiegel (Cowboy Bebop) and Eboshi Gozen (Princess Mononoke).

There is a now poll up: which is the outstanding romantic couple in anime? I’m doing this one in two stages. Vote for up to three in the first round. The top ten will advance to the final round.

I regret that I had to disqualify a few of the nominees for not being old enough. In a few years Syaoran and Sakura, Hayama and Sana, and Haraken and Yasako will be good candidates, but ten and eleven is a little young for serious romance, no matter what CLAMP thinks.