“I lieb’ ya, I lieb’ ya, baby, I lieb’ ya. Now lieb’ me alone”

Thank you, I think, Josh and Professor Mondo, for giving me the “Liebster Award.” Twice. It’s a great honor and all that. It’s also a fair amount of work. I’ll try not to groan too loudly as I comply with the terms.

This award has been floating around the internet for several years, and the rules have mutated over time. These are what I’m going by today:

LiebsterThe Quasi-Official Rules of the Liebster Award
If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:
1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

*****

Eleven noteworthy facts about myself that I haven’t mentioned before? This might be difficult.

Continue reading ““I lieb’ ya, I lieb’ ya, baby, I lieb’ ya. Now lieb’ me alone””

A tale of two lists

Here’s a list:

Animal Yokocho
Binchou-tan
Dennou Coil
Hakaba Kitaro
Kaiba
Mind Game
Mononoke

Here’s another list:

Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan
Eiken
Galaxy Angel Rune
Ikki-Tousen
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.

New Year’s Day miscellany

A couple of timely poems by Kobyashi Issa, via another Steven:

New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day–
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.

**

New Year’s Morning

New Year’s morning:
the ducks on the pond
quack and quack.

If you need New Year’s resolutions, Dr. Boli has some for you. (Years ago I resolved to make no more New Year’s resolutions. It’s the only one I ever kept.)

*****

I haven’t watched enough anime this year to warrant a year’s end summary. Instead, I’ll refer you to DiGiKerot’s. (I fully concur with his award for Katanagatari. Learn to use spoiler tags, folks, and don’t describe plot twists in the first few sentences of your posts.)

Grades for the 2010 shows that I watched more than two episodes of:

Asobi ni Iku Yo — C+ (B+ for the story and characters, minus a letter-grade for excessive fanservice.)
Katanagari — A
Kuragehime — Incomplete (A, if the second season that had better be in the works is as good as the first; otherwise, B, for too many dangling threads)
Summer Wars — A
The Tatami Galaxy — A

There’s much else I watched part of an episode of, but I have less and less patience for drivel, no matter how popular.

*****

It’s about time: Steven reports that all of Master of Epic has finally been subtitled, nearly four years after it first aired. I’ve watched the first ten episodes so far (and just downloaded the eleventh). It’s yet another anime adapted from an RPG, but instead of inventing twelve or twenty-six episodes worth of plot and characaters, the makers instead made a sketch comedy out of it, something like a fantasy Saturday Night Live. The skits often fall flat or run on too long, but enough of it works to have sustained my interest over the years.

Update: I finished Master of Epic. It’s not “terrible,” but aside from the “Waragecha Five” segments, too much of it is too lame to recommend. It’s a pity; with better writing, Master of Epic could have been a effective treatment for overexposure to MMORPGs and fantasy worlds.

*****

Here’s a quick little number puzzle for the new year. What is the next number in the sequence? It’s not 71. What does this sequence represent?

23
27
31
39
43
47
55
59
63

I posted a similar puzzle on my other website a year ago. When is the next time this sort of puzzle will be timely?

Pick six

Steven’s challenge:

Six episodes, plus maybe one extra, for your sampler disk to a newbie with the intent of getting him interested in the form.

I would tailor the sampler to the particular recipient. My friend Bill would probably be most interested in series with distinctive art, so for him I would choose such shows as Mononoke and Kaiba. John would be more intrigued by complex stories such as Serial Experiments Lain. Deborah has a taste for grand fantasies, so perhaps the Ah! My Goddess movie would appeal to her. And so on.

For a potential anime fan whom I don’t know, the following might might constitute a decent introduction to the charms and range of the medium.

Angelic Layer, episode one — Cute kids, dolls, fighting, high tech, problem families.

Azumanga Daioh, episode twelve — More cute kids, high school, sentimental comedy. (Better this Chiyo-centric episode for starters than the first, which has too much Tomo.)

Dennou Coil, episode one — Not-so-cute but very three-dimensional kids, affinities with both Miyazaki and Ghost in the Shell, high tech, mystery, humor. It also illustrates the shortcomings of the licensing non-system: it’s one of the best shows of recent years, yet it may never be legally available in region one.

Mushishi, episode one — For sheer strangeness.

Paranoia Agent, episode eight — For the exceedingly dark humor. (Kon’s series is for college-age or older viewers only. If the prospective fan is a youngster, substitute an episode from your favorite comedy.)

Seirei no Moribito, episode one — Fantasy adventure, court intrigue, a strong female lead, outstanding animation.

As an extra, I’d include a CD of music from Cowboy Bebop.

It’s impossible to represent all the salient aspects of anime with just six examples — there are no magical girl or space war shows listed above, for example — but these might give the viewer some vague idea what anime is capable of.

Oh yeah, there’s always the first episode of Haibane Renmei.

Addendum
Speaking of Dennou Coil: it’s Halloween weekend, which is a good time to mention Miss Michiko.

20 essential series

Essential: Haibane Renmei
Essential: Haibane Renmei

Joe Carter posted his selection of “20 essential animated television series.” It’s a quirky and eccentric list (Rocky and Bullwinkle is only #20 (and is “completely unwatchable”), while The Flintstones is #2? Nonsense), but its main failing is that it only includes American shows. Naturally, I had to compile my own quirky and eccentric list of 20 essential anime series. Note that “essential” does not mean “historically or culturally significant.” Sailor Moon, for instance, is of great interest as a cultural phenomenon and for its influence on later anime; but, the show itself is not exactly a great work of art, and I don’t recommend it unless you have a serious interest in the history of anime, or in long legs and short skirts.

The following series I can recommend to anyone interested in animation, television, inspiration and craftsmanship.

20. Azumanga Daioh ((Included because of Osaka, Chiyo, Yomi and Sakaki. (I can hear Astro shouting “Yukari!” off in the distance.) In last place because of Kimura.))
19. Animal Yokocho
18. Mononoke ((Or at least the “Bakeneko” arc of Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales.))
17. Princess Tutu
16. Jubei-chan: Secret of the Lovely Eye Patch
15. Divergence Eve ((Including Misaki Chronicles.))
14. Paranoia Agent
13. Petite Princess Yucie
12. Noir
11. Kaiba
10. Kino’s Journey
9. Sugar, a Tiny Snow Fairy
8. Oh! Edo Rocket
7. Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex
6. Crest/Banner of the Stars
5. Shingu
4. Cardcaptor Sakura
3. Dennou Coil
2. Serial Experiments Lain
1. Haibane Renmei

This list is somewhat tentative. I still haven’t seen much of Gurren-Lagann yet, or any of Dragonball, and there are probably some classic series that I’ve missed or don’t properly appreciate. ((The omission of Evangelion is deliberate.)) There are also cases to be made that Moribito, Nadesico, Slayers or Utena are as essential as others on the list, and that there should be something to represent Rumiko Takahashi. Nevertheless, I think my quirky and eccentric list is as at least as solid as Carter’s.

Optional: Sailor Moon
Optional: Sailor Moon

Blame the ducks

Specifically, GreyDuck and Wonderduck.

1. If you’d like to play along, reply to this post and I’ll assign you a letter.
2. You then list (and upload or link to the video, if you feel like it) 5 songs that start with that letter.
3. Then, as I’m doing here, you’ll post the list to your journal with the instructions.

So here are five tunes in the key of H. I’ll skip the obvious ones — you all know “Highway Star” and “Hardware Store,” right? And “Harold the Barrel” and “Happy Jack”? These you might not have heard before.

Ghost Hound was a major disappointment. I expected so much more from the Lain veterans. But the opening did introduce me to singer Mayumi Kojima. ((Some of her recent recordings can be found at amazon.com, but they don’t show her at her best.))
Mayumi Kojima, “Himawari”

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

The Webb Wilder Credo: “Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need ’em.”
Webb Wilder, “Human Cannonball”

[audio:http://tancos.net/audio/Human Cannonball.mp3]

Here are John Jorgenson, Will Ray and Jerry Donohue, and lots of guitar.
The Hellecasters, “Highlander Boogie”

[audio:http://tancos.net/audio/Highlander Boogie.mp3]

To clear your ears, here is some finger-picking from a Winfield veteran.
Pete Huttlinger, “Hortensia”

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

Let’s finish up with a classic anatidian tune.
Raymond Scott, “Huckleberry Duck”

[audio:http://tancos.net/audio/Huckleberry Duck.mp3]

Here’s a more recent recording by David Bagsby and Kurt Rongey, alias “XEN.”

[audio:http://tancos.net/audio/Xen – Huckleberry Duck.mp3]

*****

Bonus H tune: What show does this come from?

[audio:http://tancos.net/audio/mystery H tune.mp3]

Want to play? Leave a note in the comments, and I’ll give you a letter.

Another damned meme

I’ve got plenty of projects to work on, so let’s waste some time with animated movies. Blame Cap’n Flynn (alias “Kashi”) for this one.

X what you’ve seen
O what you saw some but not all of
Bold what you particularly liked
Strike-through what you hated

Update: Joining in are Jonathan Tappan and Cullen M.M. Waters. And Maureen the Suburban Banshee.
Update II: And apparently also someone at deviantart.com, but because of the way links work there, I can’t find out who.

Continue reading “Another damned meme”

Wednesday miscellany

Over at Steven’s place, people are listing their five favorite animes and speculating on what their choices say about them. Here’s mine:

1. Haibane Renmei
2. Serial Experiments Lain
3. Denno Coil
4. Cardcaptor Sakura
5. Shingu

Let’s see: I like science-fiction and fantasy, complicated stories that ultimately do make sense, well-developed and engaging characters, and background music that’s interesting in its own right. (Update: And also stuff that’s out of print or unlicensed. Of these five series, only the last is currently available in the USA.)

*****

Another list I recently came across: The Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time. Yeah, right.

*****

I’ve watched the first two episodes of Kuuchuu Buranko, or Trapeze. It’s worth seeing for the visual novelties, but the stories themselves aren’t as interesting as the art.

I may also continue watching Aoi Bungaku, of which I’ve seen the first episode, part one of “No Longer Human.” Cheery stuff, this. I am curious to see how well the crew handles “Hell Screen.”

Jonathan gave Kobato a tentative thumbs-up, and it is CLAMP, so I’ll take a look. Otherwise, the rest of the current season doesn’t interest me.

Mao-chan, Miku, etc.

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.

Continue reading “Mao-chan, Miku, etc.”

Goodbye, 2008

… and good riddance. It was a crummy year, and I generally had other things than anime on my mind. Consequently, there won’t be any Kawaii Menace awards for 2008; I haven’t watched enough to choose the year’s best idiot or worst computer rendering. Instead, I’ll borrow a meme from Mark and Amy to review the year at The Kawaii Menace:

The gist…Retrieve and share the first sentence [or two, or three] of the first blog post of each of the twelve months of (r.i.p.) 2008.

January: In the recent Kino no Tabi movie, The Land of Sickness — For You, Kino visits a country that seems mostly deserted.

February: I’ve been studying yet another treatise on father-daughter dynamics, Petite Princess Yucie.

March: Yeah, it’s been quiet around here. I haven’t seen much anime lately, and what I have watched have been mostly old favorites, such as the first disc of Haibane Renmei last night.

April: When I read that BOST is offering DRM-free downloads of their shows, I figured I ought to check it out. So I registered and purchased the minimum quantity of BOST “points” (a disorienting process: the PayPal page was initially specific to Japan, but I live in Kansas, not Kansai).

May: The good news: Not only can I walk (albeit slowly, and with a cane), but as of today I can ride my bike again.

June: How Obama can win:

Hey, McCain has been ignoring the catgirl vote throughout the primaries, I say Obama should take advantage of this. As a matter of fact, a strong anti-tentacle monster platform would bring in both the catgirls and the Lolis.

July: I’ve been doing my bit to support legal anime downloads by keeping up with Strike Witches at BOST.

August: I just watched the first five minutes of Strike Witches #5, and the hell with it.

September: Sailor fuku … American style.

October: The “Touhou Project” is a family of shooting games. According to what I’ve read, they are mostly the work of one person, “ZUN,” who, as “Team Shanghai Alice,” writes the code, draws the art and composes the music. They are noteworthy for their complex bullet patterns and large casts of pretty girls.

November: Sailor Moon has her own orchid, a distinction she shares with Dracula and Kim Il Sung.

December: If you were planning to tour Venice this week, you might want to cancel your trip and visit Neo Venezia instead.

Finally

What I saw of Hare & Guu left me indifferent, but this ending is an outstanding production number. It’s my pick for the best anime ending, at least for today.

[flv width=”640″ height=”480″]http://tancos.net/flv/wp-content/uploads/GuuDlxEd.flv[/flv]
Jungle wa itsumo Hale nochi Guu Deluxe, “Fun Fun and Shout” by Sister Mayo.

You can see the videos in full size at my video weblog, and you can compare my list with Astro’s.

Almost there

Number two. Astro and I have very different tastes, but we agree on this one:

[flv width=”720″ height=”480″]http://tancos.net/flv/wp-content/uploads/Maromi.flv[/flv]
Paranoia Agent, “Shiroi Oka – Maromi no Theme” by Susumu Hirasawa.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and I hope you didn’t get Maromi plushies among your presents.

Now see if you can guess what number one is. Go on, I dare you. I will be astonished if anyone comes close.

At the midpoint

Number three:

[flv width=”640″ height=”480″]http://tancos.net/flv/wp-content/uploads/ExcelEnd.flv[/flv]
Excel Saga, “Menchi Aishou no Bolero” by Excel Girls. I’m not posting the clean version because the words matter, and because some who frequent this corner of the otakusphere might recognize one of the names in the credits.

Counting them down

Number five on my list of best endings:

[flv width=”704″ height=”400″]http://tancos.net/flv/wp-content/uploads/oedo-ending2.flv[/flv]
Oh! Edo Rocket, second ending, “I Got Rhythm” by Natural High.

[flv width=”704″ height=”400″]http://tancos.net/flv/wp-content/uploads/oedo-ending1.flv[/flv]
I like both endings, so here’s the first as well: “100 miles~Niji o Oikakete” by Santara.