Prelude to a sleepless night

I’d like to meet the man who invented the subwoofer. I don’t want to shake his hand; I want to slug him in the solar plexus. It is hard to think of any other innovation that has done as much to make life in the 21st century needlessly unpleasant. I feel lousy tonight, and I’d like to go to bed early. However, the inhabitants of my neighborhood believe that it is their inalienable right to party all night long on weekends, and that includes playing bad music loudly. I cannot not listen to music, no matter how stupid, and low bass notes can penetrate ten feet of concrete. Sometimes the neighbors will turn the garbage down or off if I ask them, but I have to get out bed and dress first, and when I get back home, it can be an hour before I’m drowsy enough to think about sleep again.

I’ve observed many times that the worse the music, the more loudly it is played. My hypothesis is that the chief pleasure in playing rap, techno ((“Disco for robots”)) and the like lies not in what minimal musical virtues the recordings might have — you’d have to be pretty damned stupid to find such drivel intellectually or aesthetically interesting — but in tormenting those who cannot escape the exaggerated, mindless beat.

Good news, bad news

The good news: There’s more Marie & Gali translated. Wasurenai is up to episode 27. That leaves 13 episodes to go of the first series, plus the 30 of Version 2.0.

Marika, a magenta-haired middle school student who favors EGL fashions and has no interest in science, finds herself marooned in Galihabara, an isolated town populated by famous scientists. They’re a little different there than they are in history books. Galileo is a buffoonish gonk, Newton is a snooty bishounen who only has eyes for his apple, Darwin is a robot, (John Ambrose) Fleming says “Yo!” a lot, etc. Fortunately for Marika, Madame Curie is relatively sane and provides her a place to stay.

Each of the five-minute episodes illustrates, sorta, a scientific principle. In the episode from which the screen captures above come, Archimedes, Hertz and Galileo compete in a fishing tournament. Through various ridiculous strategies, they catch enough fish and other aquatic creatures to capsize their boat, leaving them up lost at sea in a lifeboat with Marika. The episode ends with a brief lecture on bouyancy from Archimedes.

How much of the science kids watching the show will retain, I can’t say. It doesn’t really matter that much, though. Marie & Gali subordinates didacticism to broad, goofy humor, to its benefit.

The bad news: Captain Planet, the live-action movie. Please excuse me while I throw up.

500 errors

I’m tired of seeing this

and this

whenever I want to edit a post or check statistics. I plan to move my websites elsewhere soon. WordPress currently recommends Bluehost, DreamHost, MediaTemple and Laughing Squid. Does anyone have any experience with any of them? Thumbs up or thumbs down?


After seeing the same henshin sequences recycled endlessly in typical mahou shoujo series, I’m not particularly scandalized by this:


So I finally peeled the shrink-wrap off Gurren Lagann and put the first disc in the drive to see if it really is the greatest achievement of mankind since the invention of distilled spirits. The DVD player refused to play it. I took a close look at the disc, above, and I was not happy. One of the other discs in the set also has noticeable delamination, but it doesn’t extend into the data area.

Fortunately, Mac the Ripper was able to read enough of the disc to make a playable copy. Several hours later, I am wondering whether Kamina is the manliest of men, or the greatest of jackasses. Or both.

Not quite a rant

A comment on an earlier post:

There appear to be two underlying assumptions in your post.

1. Everyone or at least the majority of anime fans share your taste and thus would agree that everything in the first list are all very good to excellent while those in the second list range from mediocre to vile.

2. That if you believe that something is very good to excellent for you then you are entitled to it and if you can’t get it legally it is necessary for you to acquire it illegally.

1. No. The items on the first list are good, period. I don’t care what anime fans think. In anime, as in all other popular arts, there is at best a weak correlation between quality and popularity. I do not give a damn about bestseller lists, Nielsen ratings, ((I got a phone call from a Nielsen representative a few months ago. He was audibly startled when I told him that I don’t have a teevee.)) the top forty, box office rankings, Academy Awards, Emmys or the Nobel Peace Prize. They’re all meaningless. And I really don’t care how a show fares in the ANN ratings.

2. No. It would be good if the people and corporations that hold the rights to excellent anime were to make it freely available to all interested for a reasonable price. However, they can do any damned thing they want with it, including burying it forever, and I can claim no legal right to see it. There are also plenty of problems with licensing anime for sale outside Japan, some insoluble. The firms that do license anime choose what they think the typical anime fan will pay for. Disappointingly but understandably, they usually shy away from the eccentric and unclassifiable, preferring conventional series and fanservice. ((Fortunately, there are exceptions, e.g., Oh! Edo Rocket.)) I can only hope and wait, and wait.


Back in ancient times, I read about a band called Gryphon. They were a progressive rock band influenced by Renaissance music, and they played recorders, krummhorns and bassoon as well as guitar, keyboards and drums. The description was interesting, and I wanted to hear them. ((They opened for Yes on an American tour. According to legend, at some concerts the audience booed when Yes took the stage because they wanted to hear more of Gryphon.)) Frustratingly, no record shop in town had any of their recordings, and of course no radio station played them. A few years later I found one album in a used record shop. Their other four records were not released in the USA. However, I could find plenty of records by such incomparable performers as The Rolling Stones, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and The Osmonds. ((Younger readers might not realize how difficult it was to find particular books and records in the dark ages before the internet. I made trips to every used book store and record shop within bicycle distance at least once a month, hoping to find the out-of-print books I wanted to read and the interesting music that radio stations couldn’t be bothered to play. It was possible to special-order some books and records through shops, but it often took months for your order to arrive, and the recording of “The Magic Flute” you requested was apt to mutate into a Mahler symphony by the time it finally arrived.))

There’s a happy ending to the story. Many years later, I got a 14,400 baud modem for my work computer. I found a dealer online specializing in old prog rock, and he had the CD reissues of four Gryphon albums. I found the fifth at So, just a quarter-century after first learning about them — a mere instant in geological time — I finally had a complete set of Gryphon’s original recordings.

There might eventually be a happy ending to the anime story. Perhaps, like Gryphon, Dennou Coil will be available in North America after twenty-five years. Or it might take half a century, as did Tezuka’s Tales of a Streetcorner. I’ll be dead by then. And I have little hope that the animation of Masaaki Yuasa and Kenji Nakamura will ever be available in North America. ((It will be interesting to see if The Tatami Galaxy, currently being streamed by Funimation, will be licensed soon for download-to-own or disc in North America. I doubt that it will be, despite its excellences.)) I want to play by the rules, but I am tired of waiting.

Pedantic footnote

The sorta-official alternative title for Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is “Puella Magi Madoka Magica.” Grrr. “Puella” (“girl,” nominative singular) is a feminine noun in Latin, so the proper form of the adjective “magus” (“magic”) is “maga,” not “magi.” I suppose whoever is responsible was trying to avoid calling the show “Magical Girl Magical Madoka.” I’d suggest either sticking with “Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica” or just calling the series “Magical Madoka.”

Update: Maureen interprets the title differently in the comments below. She may well be right, but I’m not convinced that it’s what the SHAFT staff had in mind.


Irresponsible speculation: between whom will the final battle be?

A tale of two lists

Here’s a list:

Animal Yokocho
Dennou Coil
Hakaba Kitaro
Mind Game

Here’s another list:

Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan
Galaxy Angel Rune
Otoboku: Maidens Are Falling For Me
Peach Girl
Princess Princess

The anime in the first list are all very good to excellent; those in the second list range from mediocre to vile. Guess which are commercially available in region one? Until the situation is reversed, fansubs will remain necessary.

The purpose of digital rights management …

… is to punish the legitimate user.

Please excuse me while I bang my head against the wall some more.

I installed more capacious hard drives in my computer this weekend. To my immense relief, Photoshop didn’t have to be reauthorized (dealing with Adobe is no fun whatsoever). However, most of my Native Instruments synths don’t work now or are back in demo mode, and the NI registration processes are not merely perversely complex, they don’t even work. Idiots.

I don’t smoke …

… but sometimes I’m tempted to light up to spite Those Who Know What’s Best For Us. The New York Times‘ brief rave review of Summer Wars ends with this note:

Summer Wars” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). It has action violence, some suggestive content, mild thematic material and incidental smoking.

By the way, what the hell is “mild thematic material” ?

Memo to Funimation

I had been planning to purchase at the the first few discs of Soul Eater when my budget permits. However, if you force me to endure the preview of the SE dub every time I watch an episode of Baccano!, I might change my mind. ((Yes, I know ways around this, but it’s still inexcusable. Also, every time I see the unskippable antipiracy notice, I feel a sudden strange urge to make illegal copies of every DVD I own.))


I don’t know which is more depressing: the number I don’t recognize, or the number that I do.

(Via Anime Raku.)

Update: Raiga in the comments links to a spreadsheet with explanations.


Naming your kids after anime characters is a dumb idea, but it’s no worse than calling them “Jimi Hendrix” and “Janis Joplin,” as did one erstwhile neighbor.

Quote of the week

I had to drive over 20 miles to reach a theater that was showing Ponyo. Meanwhile, every single theater in the area is showing another Disney movie about violent, flatulent guinea pigs. Now of course, Disney knows a lot about marketing animated films, and I’m sure that they will say that most Americans want to see the guinea pigs and don’t want to see a classic film by the greatest living master of animation. But this is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Most Americans don’t know that Ponyo is available and couldn’t find a theater showing it even if they wanted to see it.

Bonus quote:

“Who needs experience? I have theory!”

John C Wright, Titans of Chaos

Memo to cosplayers

1. Underwear goes under your other clothing. ((And a bath towel cape looks really stupid.))

2. Heath Ledger’s Joker might be a great character, but the makeup is ugly.

3. Please don’t shriek when you’re standing next to me.

4. An all-ages anime convention is not an appropriate place to lead your pet about on a leash.

5. Please don’t stage large group photos in the middle of congested hallways.


Anime Expo has come and gone. What got licensed?

Denno Coil?
Mind Game?

Uh-uh. There was no mention of anything I’ve been waiting for. The titles that were announced all look like drivel. ((Well, maybe the remainder of Aria isn’t drivel, but I’m one of the few who didn’t find Aria the Animation a life-changing experience.)) Steven has a different list, but he, too, was disappointed.

I’m particularly annoyed that Denno Coil still hasn’t been picked up for region one. Number three of my top five, ((The other four are Haibane Renmei, Serial Experiments Lain, Cardcaptor Sakura and Shingu.)) it is the outstanding first-rate series I’ve seen that remains unlicensed. There are a number of older series on my to-buy list, but there seems to be less and less to look forward to nowadays. Oh, well; I finally got a new pair of glasses and can read all evening long again. Running out of anime won’t be a disaster.

There is a bit of good news regarding licensing: Kino International will release a compilation of Osamu Tezuka’s short films later this month. These date from 1962 to 1988 and are obviously essential for anyone interested in the history of animation. I wrote a little bit about some of them here.


It looks like upgrading to WordPress 2.8 broke the poll widget. Nevertheless, I think there were enough votes to pick the first round winners:

Cowboy Bebop (42%)
FLCL (23%)
Haibane Renmei (23%)
.hack//SIGN (17%)
Aria (15%)
Last Exile (13%)
ef: a tale of memories (11%)
Death Note (11%)
Azumanga Daioh (11%)
Code Geass/R2 (11%)

These ten will advance to the final round of the best anime OST poll. I’ll post the second round once I figure out how to get the poll working again.

Today’s idiotism

And besides, I don’t really see how there could be such a thing as a “surge” in popularity for Light Novels; they’re basically just romance novels written for men, which is, uh, not a terribly large demographic here in America.

This is too imbecilic to let pass. “Romance novels” for men — absolute nonsense. A “light novel” is essentially the Japanese equivalent of an occidental “young adult” book. Fuyumi Ono and Nahoko Uehashi are counterparts of such writers as Diana Wynne Jones, ((One of my favorite writers. Her book Howl’s Moving Castle is far better than Miyazaki’s botch of a movie and is strongly recommended.)) not Harlequin romance hacks.


I spent most of the weekend installing and tweaking a new theme. It looks fine in my main browser, but I just discovered that in Safari, there are suddenly ads on my site.

Let's get recursive

I’ll see if I can root out the offending code this evening, but the chances are that I’m going to be looking for a different theme. Don’t worry; Pyun and Potaru will remain.

Update: It turned out to be an easy fix. I just needed to delete a few lines in three of the .php files.

Memo to the staff at ANN

When you’re burned out, do something else. You’re not doing anyone a favor by going through the motions. By the time Zac Bertschy quit his “Answerman” job, my sympathies were with the Flakes of the Week. Justin Sevakis’ review of The Sky Crawlers tells me more about Sevakis’ life than about Oshii’s movie. (Sevakis might want to look up the word “obtuse.”)

About reviews: that someone paid for a review doesn’t mean that it’s insightful, and length does not imply profundity. If you want to find what’s worth your time, you can do just as well surfing at random through the otakusphere as at ANN.


Yesterday’s post has mysteriously disappeared. This is not the only anomalous incident involving my websites this week. My guess is that the web host’s server migration is not going as smoothly as it should. Until I’m reasonably sure that what I write won’t vanish, this weblog will be even quieter than usual.

(The missing post itself was of no consequence. It was just a few amusing links: this, this and this.)