Flying panzer polka

Inside the Finnish tank

I looked around for sheet music to the “Säkkijärven Polkka” featured in Girls und Panzer der Movie. Apparently no two musicians play it quite the same way. Most of the versions I found don’t sound much like the tune in the movie. However, I did find a simple piano arrangement that matches pretty well here. (I suspect that it was transcribed from the OST.)

Bumpy ride

Another old analog camera
Another old analog camera

I finally had a couple of hours to devote to Girls und Panzer der Movie. Quick reaction: If you liked the original series, you’ll like this. If you found the original too implausible to enjoy, this is no different. For those who haven’t seen the original: if the idea of watching high school girls engage in the recreational equivalent of war with real WWII tanks sounds like fun, check out the series here. If you like it, then track down the movie. You can watch the movie first, I suppose, but it will make less sense and you’ll miss the significance of the various characters’ actions. I don’t have time to write a proper review, but there are reviews here and here (beware: the latter has many spoilers that aren’t hidden).

One of my father's favorite books
One of my father’s favorite books
Ooarai expects that every duck will do its duty
Ooarai expects that every duck will do its duty

As Steven guessed, one of the highlights for me was a lively Finnish polka with kantele and accordion in the soundtrack. The movie’s makers didn’t pick the tune at random; “Säkkijärven polkka” has a little history behind it. To make Steven happy, I’m placing the tune below the fold.1

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The real star

So you’re in the mood for a good old-fashioned shounen story about fighting monsters with magic, but every time you watch Twin Star Exorcists you wish someone would slap some common sense and courtesy into the characters? You are in luck: Shounen Onmyouji is available on YouTube, albeit as an old fansub tranlating the dialogue into something similar to, but not quite that same as, English. (It’s intelligible; you just occasionally need to translate the translation. (Update: The second episode and beyond use a much more readable translation.))

Shounen Onmyouji was one of the last series licensed for North America by Geneon, just before it ceased its American operations, and consequently most of it is difficult to impossible to find legally at reasonable prices. Someday someone will rescue the license — it’s too good a show to remain forgotten — but who knows when?

Double feature

Most of Satoshi Kon’s works are long out of print and are generally only available at extortionate prices or through irregular channels. However, Paramount Pictures is currently streaming Millennium Actress, his most approachable movie, for free. That’s it above.

Meanwhile, Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle has been acquired for North America. Will it come to Wichita? We can hope, but I doubt it.

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Somatic perfection

Francis W. Porretto on Ghost in the Shell:

Ghost In The Shell is the absolute pinnacle of its art form. There’s nothing else in the anime oeuvre to compare with it, especially as regards graceful writing and philosophical depth. Masamune Shirow will be remembered for centuries for the story. The makers of the anime can be justly proud of the finished work. That Hollywood should choose to make a live-action version is merely additional praise of the original.

So what is this SJW concerned about? That central character Motoko Kusanagi, a round-eyed, big-bosomed cyborg, will be played by round-eyed, big-bosomed Scarlett Johansson, one of the foremost female action stars of today. “Whitewashing!” “Racial exclusion!” “Cultural appropriation!” “Insert your preferred SJWism here!”

These…persons deserve nothing but contempt. They’re the true bigots and squanderers of cultural treasures – all cultural treasures. That a brilliant piece of anime, known mainly to devotees of the art form, should be picked up by a major Hollywood studio and cast with a terrific, somatically perfect leading lady is an act of high praise…but no! “The character has a Japanese name!” Therefore, by SJW rules, she must be played by a Japanese actress. Failing that, at least one with an epicanthic fold.

Anyone who grants these cretins the smallest sliver of time or shred of respect is doing a disservice to the entire human race.

I wouldn’t say that the first Ghost in the Shell movie is incomparable in its philosophical depth — there’s Serial Experiments Lain, at least — but it is a superior work, and the remake, if competently done, should lead its more adventurous viewers to seek out the animated version.

First impressions, spring 2016

Character study

Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless — So listless, in fact, that his friend Ohta often picks him up and carries him over his shoulder. However lazy Tanaka is physically, though, his mind is active, at least until he falls asleep. It’s a one-joke show, but it has remained entertaining through three episodes with the introductions of Tanaka’s quirky classmates.

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Sakura, sakura

Okame cherry

Here’s a handy schedule of expected cherry blossom bloom times, in case you should be heading to Japan during the next few months. If you can’t go to Japan, you can visit the botanical garden in Wichita, where the Okame cherry, above, has just started flowering.

The Japanese apricot is in full bloom now. Thanks to new construction and landscaping, it is no longer possible to get close to tree, but you don’t need to get close to appreciate its powerful fragrance.

Prunus mume

Mind your head

Potential ouchie

Some aspects of GATE are not well thought-out, e.g., the girls’ armor. What purpose do the pointed projections on the pauldrons serve? If one of the warrior maidens tilts her head to the side, she’s liable to pierce her ear or worse. Also, I don’t recall ever seeing any of the girls with helmets, even in the middle of battles. It may be that on the far side of the gate women’s skulls are so thick and dense that head protection is superfluous, but I am skeptical.

Forgot your helmet?

A tale of 1970 2070

Aside from GATE, none of the current shows that I’ve sampled thus far are worth mentioning. Fortunately, Crunchyroll this week added one I can unreservedly recommend, Shingu. Tatsuo Sato has directed much noteworthy anime, including Martian Successor Nadesico and Mouretsu Pirates (both recommended), and Shingu is his best. It’s long been one of my favorites, and I’ve probably rewatched it more often than any other show, anime or not. If none of the new series catch your interest, spend a little time with Hajime and his family and friends, human and alien, in quiet town of Tenmo.

Here’s Ubu on what didn’t happen when Shingu was made.

Timely note

This year's calendar

Every January I visit the calendar shop at the regional shopping mall and pick up a few at half-price to provide a variety of art on my walls for the coming year. This year, I struck out. Everything of any interest was gone — no medieval or renaissance art, no pre-Raphaelites, no Edward Gorey, not even Ansel Adams. There were plenty of puppies, of course, but I prefer dogs as friends, not as artistic subjects. Fortunately, I earlier ordered this year’s Girls und Panzer calendar, so I do have a way to keep track of passing time.

January and February

Although there are only six pages (seven if you count the cover), they are poster-sized, 24″ tall (including the binding strip at the top) and 16.5″ wide. (Right-click and open the links in new windows to see the images at high resolution.)

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