Mao-chan goes on too long. It’s based on a clever notion and is executed with considerable charm, but the writers weren’t inventive enough to keep it consistently interesting through 26 half-length episodes. The story meanders through many standard anime situations: the sports festival, the beach episode, the hot springs episode, the bunny suit, the maid uniform. They’re not complete wastes of time — the beach episode is one of the better ones, in fact, though not because of the beach — but they mainly serve to let us spend time with the girls rather than advance the story, and Mao and Misora aren’t particularly interesting characters. The series would have been better overall had it been shorter and more focused.
When the Fnools invaded Earth, they disguised themselves as two-foot-tall real estate salemen, figuring that no one would take them seriously until too late. ((See Philip K. Dick’s “The War with the Fnools.”)) The aliens in Mao-chan adopt a similar strategy: by assuming mercilessly kawaii forms, the invaders make the Japanese defense forces reluctant to engage them in combat, lest the human soldiers be seen as bullies. The Japanese fight cuteness with cuteness: the head of the land forces enlists his eight-year-old granddaughter, Mao, to battle the invaders, arming her with a baton, a full-size model of a tank, and a clover-shaped pin that transforms her into a not-terribly-competent but very cute mahou shoujo. Mao soon is joined by a couple of other eight-year-old girls: Misora, representing the air force, and Sylvie, representing the navy, both recruited by their doting grandfathers. Mao and Misora are ordinary grade-school girls, as kids in anime go, but Sylvie is distinctly Osaka-ish.
Vicipaedia needs otaku who can write decent Latin. The anime and manga pages are pathetic. (I had several years of Latin, but that was a long time ago in a different century, and it would take more time than I can spare to regain competence.)
Another entry for the “ducks in anime” file:
From Negima Ala Alba OAD #2 (not recommended).
I discovered that the software used to animate Hatsune Miku is freeware, available here. It’s surprisingly capable. Here’s Miku dancing Maurice Bejart’s choreography; compare it to the final minutes of this. ((I recommend skpping the first six minutes unless you are a Bejart fanatic.)) Unfortunately, like Miku herself, it’s not for Macs.
More random nonsense:
“Not only does it save time, but it’s really stupid, too.” More poem generators here.
Can’t find anything you like on the radio? Set a few parameters and generate your own music.
I did not need to see this:
[flv width=”440″ height=”330″]http://tancos.net/flv/wp-content/uploads/480pix.flv[/flv]
As threatened, here is the new, improved slide show featuring pictures from Steven’s header. The music is “Honga,” performed by Itzhak Perlman with the Klezmatics.
Here are pictures of the round one candidates, a week late.
[flv width=”320″ height=”240″]http://tancos.net/flv/wp-content/uploads/sdb01.flv[/flv]
I’ve been saving the picture in the banner each time I visit Steven’s place. Here’s what I’ve collected so far. The music is Raymond Scott’s “Celebration on the Planet Mars,” performed by the Metropole Orchestra with the Beau Hunks.
(This is probably not the final version. The software I intended to use decided that it doesn’t like my machine after all, so I had to struggle with a less-capable application with limited output options. I’m not entirely happy with the results.)
I uploaded a couple of jigsaw puzzles of screen captures from Genji Monogatari Sennenki, here and here. Assembling the pieces is easy; the challenge is to determine whether the individual pictured is a boy or a girl.
The first episode of Genji is the prettiest thing I’ve seen since Saiunkoku Monogatari, but I think I’d rather read the book, a translation of which is sitting on a shelf in the next room.
One more example why I have no respect whatsoever for American television: Moribito, which had been broadcast at an impossible hour, has apparently been cancelled. It’s a pity, because it is a good show for all ages and one of the best of recent years. Fortunately, the DVDs are being released by Media Blasters, and the book (recommended) is easily available.
So there is a live action Cowboy Bebop with Keanu Reeves in the works. I’ve never seen Reeves, so I don’t know how much of joke that is, but if the music is not by Yoko Kanno, then I don’t give a damn about the movie.
Update (1-21-09): I’m going to be away from the computer for a week. Things will continue to be quiet here for a while.
I found an application that makes jigsaw puzzles from files on my computer and exports them as java applets. Eventually I’ll figure out how to embed them in my web pages. Until then, here are a couple made from screen captures that you can download and play with:
Update: I think I have the embedding working. I’m putting the picture from Rocket Girls that I filched from Steven below the fold because it is so large that it screws up the layout.
Update II: It works in Camino, but not in Safari or Firefox — you can see the puzzle, but you can’t manipulate the pieces. Grrr. I’ll have to find another solution. Until then, here’s the .jar file: Rocket girls.
Update III: My video site is now a a video and jigsaw puzzle site.
Actually, we do see Kirika smile — rarely — during Noir. This screen capture is from episode six, “Lost Kitten.”
Some time back Wabi Sabi mentioned The Diary of Tortov Roddle. I recently came across a torrent. It’s an odd little series, consisting of nine short episodes. Seven concern Tortov Roddle, an etiolated traveler with a stovepipe hat exploring the northern plains. These are brief, surrealistic stores told without dialogue. In the first episode, for instance, Roddle sees a town on a hill and hopes to find an inn there. However, it turns out that the town is on the back of a gigantic frog, which leaves the hill for a lake populated by other frogs with towns on their backs. The penultimate episode, “Fantasy,” is a collection of brief vignettes too slight to summarize. The last is “The Apple Incident,” in which giant apples fall from the sky.
Rather than try to explicate the imagery, I’ll just post some screen captures below the fold.