Grumbling and muttering

Dennou Coil is finally available — if you have an iToy. I don’t.

*****

Watching Fractale is becoming more and more of a chore. Are Enri’s antics supposed to be funny? I’m not laughing.

Yamakan thinks anime today is in bad shape. His solution is to ape Miyazaki. I’m reminded of the Pre-Raphaelites, who sought to revitalize art by returning to their notion of the middle ages. Their paintings make for pretty calendars, but they aren’t exactly great art.

*****

Here’s a bit of computer animation involving quilting and Celtic music:

Now let’s see some quilting using Penrose tiles, ideally with a klezmer soundtrack.

*****

No.

*****

The five best toys of all time.

*****

Bonus link: John C. Wright has discovered the origin of steampunk.

Nothing to do with anime …

… but worth mentioning anyway: Mt. Etna in Sicily is putting on a spectacular show today, which you can watch here. (You’ll need to refresh the page every five minutes or so.) See Eruptions for commentary. (Scroll down to the later comments.)

Update: The show’s over for now. According to Boris Behncke, a vulcanologist in Sicily, “This has been a typical lava fountain from the Southeast Crater (that is, the vent on its east flank which seems to have completely taken over the job from the old vent at its top), with jets rising 300-500 m – maybe a bit more – and lasting for little more than one hour.”

Everything you ever wanted to know about Mt. Etna: here, here and here.

Update II: For those who missed the show, here’s some news and a video.

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?

Fireworks

Recently I’ve been spending more time watching volcanoes than anime. In particular, I’ve been keeping an eye on Java’s Gunung Merapi, which is currently in the middle of a major eruption. (See Eruptions for continuous coverage.) There’s a webcam perilously near the mountain. It’s not always online, and when it is, the lens is likely to be be covered with ash. But when conditions are right, the view is spectacular. (Update: the camera is out of commission again and probably won’t be working again until things cool down. That may be a while, since this is apparently Merapi’s largest eruption in 50 140 years.)

Update: It looks like the view at night is clearer. I’d like to send someone to Java with a bottle of Windex.

Update II: Here are a couple of videos, this one and that one.

Update III: Some very good pictures here. And here.

Update IV: When the camera isn’t working or is covered with ash, you can check the seismographs. Here’s what’s been happening during the past 24 hours:

(For some reason, the preview image looks pale grey or invisible, depending on the browser. Click on it to see it at full size in full color.)

Very miscellaneous

Words versus image. (From episode six of Asobi ni Iku Yo.)

*****

Courtesy of ANN, it is now possible to watch the unclassifiable anime Oh! Edo Rocket online.

*****

Attention designers: Note the third special category for Costume-Con 29‘s Future Fashion Folio:

REDESIGN YOUR FAVORITE ANIME CHARACTER ($100 in cash prizes sponsored by Karen Dick): You know what your favorite characters wear in that anime you love, but what do YOU think they should wear when they’re out of uniform (or when they get drafted into the military), or on that special date, or going to that themed costume party? Extra points for believably recasting anime characters in Broadway musicals to suit the theme of the convention.

You don’t need to be any kind of an expert costumer or an artist to enter designs, nor do you need to be able to sew. You don’t even need to plan to attend Costume-Con (I won’t be there — New Jersey is a bit out of bicycle range).

*****

Sushi and spaghetti; or, to be is not to be: a comparison of Asian spirituality and Christianity. (Via First Things.)

*****

(From Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Magazine.)

This has absolutely nothing to do with the otakusphere, right?

Notes in passing

Here’s a list of “20 Must-See Movies to Share with Your Kids.” There are some significant omissions. (And some questionable inclusions: e.g., the entire Disney 2D animation catalogue? Even in their glory days there were plenty of klunkers. And I’m sorry, Julie Andrews might have sung nicely, but even as a youngster I resented what Walt Disney did to Mary Poppins.)

*****

I see that there is going to be more To Love-Ru anime. Why?

*****

In case I have any readers here in Wichita: next week I plan to spend some time at Anime Festival Wichita. Look for a large, hairy non-cosplayer behind a camera.

*****

Iceland has been in the news a lot recently. It’s worth noting that Japan also has more than its share of entertaining geology. Sakurajima, for instance, has been putting on quite a show for decades.

This is an exciting time for geologists, by the way. African is splitting in two, and there will soon (i.e., in about 10 million years) be a new ocean where the rift zone is now. (Via Darwin.)

*****

I’m pleased that Funimation has rescued the ABe animes. Serial Experiments Lain is essential viewing for anyone with the slightest interest in cyberpunk, and everyone should see Haibane Renmei at least once during his lifetime. (Texhnolyze has been sitting on my shelf unwatched for over a year now. I’ll get around to it eventually.)

I’m also pleased to learn that I will finally be able to see the rest of Revolutionary Girl Utena. I just spent several minutes trying to think of any anime as strange as the first arc of Utena. Let’s see …. There’s Cat Soup, though that kinda, sorta makes sense; maybe Angel’s Egg; Mind Game; perhaps Yuasa’s other works — and that’s about it.

Waving as I pass by

Life is complicated these days, and anime is low priority. I’ve heard good things about Kimi ni Todoke — I gather that the protagonist is Aspie-ish, which could be interesting, handled well — and I plan to download it when I see a batch torrent. Otherwise, though, nothing else recent looks worth the time.

A few random notes:

Via Pete, here’s a look at a deluxe Russian edition of Haibane Renmei.

Many in the otakusphere have been writing about the decade in anime. Uh, guys, you’re jumping the gun. Just as 2000 was the last year of the 20th century, 2010 is the tenth year of the first decade of the no-longer-new century, not the first of the second decade.

Disappointing musical news: Kayo is leaving Polysics. The band apparently will continue to tour and record, but it won’t be the same without her robotic persona and bleepy synths. Who else can possibly shake the pompons in “Peach Pie on the Beach”?

I bought myself a Christmas present, the basic edition of Filter Forge. It’s something like Reaktor for graphic artists: you can download thousands of filters made by other users, or you can roll your own from the tools provided (if you get a fuller version). There are a couple of examples below the fold. Warning: they’re based on a snapshot of myself, and I am not cute. Once you see them, you can’t unsee them.

Continue reading “Waving as I pass by”

Dark silliness

Neil Gaiman and Gahan Wilson:

And Raymond Scott:

Via Cartoon Brew

*****

That other dealer is holding a “bargain bin blowout.” It’s mostly junk, of course, but there are complete sets of some worthy anime available for very reasonable prices, including Bottle Fairy, Divergence Eve and Misaki Chronicles, Haibane Renmei, Serial Experiments Lain, Shingu (including a t-shirt), Someday’s Dreamers and Sugar, a Tiny Snow Fairy. There’s also some Miles Davis.

.*****

So Sailor Moon is girl stuff? Check the results of this poll.

Beyond Tortalia

A bit of good news: Kunio Kato’s recent animated short, “Le Maison en Petits Cubes,” will be shown in theaters across the USA this month — amazingly, even in Wichita, albeit at the library. Kato is the artist who created The Diary of Tortov Roddle, which has my highest recommendation.

Update: It’s on iTunes.

Update II: “Le Maison en Petits Cubes” won the Oscar for best animated short film,

Update III: Here’s a short interview with Kato, with a brief excerpt from “La Maison.”

*****

And now for something completely different: “Peach Pie on the Beach,” with cheerleaders.

Random notes

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.