If you save old calendars, those from 2017, 2006, 1995, 1989 and 1978 all will work for 2023. Calendars from 2000 will also work from March on.
… from Salvador Dali. (Via Amy Welborn.)
When I check the daily rankings at Pixiv, I’m usually content to enjoy the pretty, albeit anime-style pictures. Once in a while, though, I wish I could read Japanese, such as on the manga page above which caught my eye this morning.
(If you visit Pixiv, be aware that many of the artists are males stuck in randy adolescence, and not all the pictures are tasteful.)
While I have little interest in most anime-related products, there are a couple of categories that I have found worth looking for. I’ve occasionally mentioned my annual searches for Japanese calendars. I also have a small collection of anime playing cards, which are much cheaper than figurines and more useful.
Unsurprisingly, the cards from Studio Ghibli are the best, both for the art and for the substance of the cards. Each card has a different picture, all printed at high resolution, and the cards are durable and easy to shuffle and deal. I have decks for Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, and I’ll add others when circumstances permit. Right-click the images and open in a new window to see at full resolution.
Crunchyroll has changed its policy on watching shows for free. Hitherto, those without accounts could see episodes of current shows after a week’s embargo, albeit with six minutes of dumb, loud commercials inserted at awkward moments. Since there are too few good new shows to justify spending $95.88 plus tax for a year’s membership — in all of 2021, I found only two worth watching all the way through — that was acceptable. However, Crunchyroll recently changed its policy. From the spring season on, people without paid memberships can watch only the first three episodes of
any new show some new shows. The hell with it.
Since I no longer download fansubs1, this means I won’t keep up with what’s current. Yeah, there are plenty of older series on Crunchyroll and elsewhere I can still view (with commercials), but while the online collections may be more extensive than mine, they’re mostly junk. My own library is better. I will keep an eye out for further work by Masaaki Yuasa, Hiroyuki Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima, Kenji Nakamura and a few others, and purchase hard copies when they are available for reasonable prices2, but at this point I’m pretty much done with Japanese animation.
My streaming history does end on a fairly high note. Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department is the funniest show since at least Endro. There are screencaps below the fold to suggest why I found this study of tokusatsu and corporate cultures from the point of view of the bad guys so entertaining, despite its limited animation budget.
(I can’t quite give the show an unreserved recommendation. One of the characters is a wolf boy who is stuck in a girl’s body because of executive meddling. The writers spend too much time finding ways to make him blush.)
I also watched the rest of Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated as a Total Fantasy Knockout. It never quite fell through the thin ice it skated on, and some of it was clever, but despite better animation, it was not in the same class as Kuroitsu. It’s a tolerable waste of time, and that’s it.
I’m down to two shows, which is still twice as many as I was following at this time last year. The best remains Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department. However, despite its squicky premise, Life with an Ordinary Guy… hasn’t made me throw up yet. It helps to know your isekai clichés.
The oldest item in Richard’s box of Japanese magazines is a copy of MyAnime. Here are some scans illustrating the state of anime thirty-six years ago. These are large scans; right-click and open in a new window to see them at full resolution.
I recently unearthed Richard’s box of Japanese magazines and scanned a few more. This batch is from the February 1991 Newtype. It provides a snapshot of what anime was during the age of the laser disc. (The magazine pages are a little larger than my scanner can handle and there are missing edges.) These are big scans, so right-click and open in a new window to see every detail.
Screenshots from recent viewing.
I recently hooked my old turntable up to the computer and have been industriously digitizing ancient vinyl, from Rare Air to P.D.Q. Bach to Allan Holdsworth. The most recent batch included a collection of medieval dance tunes, the cover of which deserves to be in any collection of classic album art.
Right-click on the image below and open the link in a new window to see all the little details in the drawing.
Wondering what it sounds like? Here is “Nota,” a thirteenth-century “danse anglaise.”
In a Heath Robinson device, everything has a clear purpose, no matter how strange it appears. For example, there is a clearly discernable logic to the profusion of cables, pulleys and bellows in his “Spare Room,” above, from this year’s HR calendar. It may not be realistic — I wouldn’t want to sleep in that bed — but everything makes sense. (The same is true of the inventions of Heath Robinson’s American counterpart, Rube Goldberg.) Comparing Neil Ferguson’s incomprehensible mathematical model to a Heath Robinson device slanders Robinson.
Bonus calendar picture: Uncle Lubin in color.
Many years ago, Daniel Pinkwater and Tony Auth colloborated on a newspaper cartoon, Norb. It did not catch on and disappeared without a trace. I recently stumbled over a collection of its Sunday strips, which you can view here (start with page one). It’s an absurd serial, somewhere between Terry and the Pirates and Firesign Theatre, but sillier.
Gahan Wilson, whose macabre cartoons were the best feature of many editions of National Lampoon, passed away last month. There’s a memorial here with a selection of his work. You can find much more online.
Robert Samuels’ analysis of a still life including a chessboard, carnations and a lute leads him to observe that
… both fields [chess and music] have become so professionalised that their function as social activities is easily lost or forgotten. In an age when my performance of a Bach Prelude and Fugue can be immediately compared by anyone with a mobile phone to that of András Schiff, and when my playing of a complex chess endgame can be immediately shown to be full of errors by chess software on that same mobile phone, we need (or at least I need) reminders that music and chess alike are ways of interacting with other people. They are, properly, the pursuits of friends. Our play is part of our human flourishing.
I came across a tribute to dancer Herman Cornejo, who amazed me as Puck in The Dream, Frederick Ashton’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This particular video is useful in that it slows the action down to show the viewer exactly what impossible things Cornejo is doing. It demonstrates that a good dancer is among the very best athletes of any kind.
(It also demonstrates how bizarre ballet can be. Many years ago my aunt was mortified at a performance of Le Spectre de la Rose when her then-boyfriend bellowed with laughter at the appearance of the “Rose.” I can’t say that I blame him.)