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It’s been four days and four nights of nearly continuous rain, and there’s no end in sight. Bleah. Some jackass photographer called blue skies “boring.” I would really appreciate some boredom right about now. There are undoubtedly endless variations to play on the junk discs and Photoshop theme, but I’d rather get out on my bike.

Moving pictures

I’ve started yet another weblog. This one is exclusively for posting videos. YouTube is handy, but the quality is lousy. I’d like to show things I find interesting at larger sizes and higher resolution. So far, all that’s there is the opening of Denno Coil, which is one of the better examples from recent series.

For those interested in the technical stuff: The Flash player is WP-FLV, which is based on the JW FLV Player.

Update: Getting the quality I want is going to take some work. (Is it even possible to make a .flv file that isn’t jerky?) In the meantime, you can download a higher-quality Quicktime file here (12 megabyes).

Off-key

Recently Astro counted down his picks for the best anime openings. Yesterday Steven discussed what an opening needs to do and surveys a number of examples, good and bad. Shingu may indeed have the worst opening ever, but I can think of a couple of alternative picks. NieA_7‘s isn’t bad — if you have the sound off. (In compensation, the ending is charming.) Mushishi‘s is nowhere near as obnoxious, but it’s dull, with an annoying song ((This may be excessively harsh, but I’ve heard far too many singer/guitarists with thin voices over the years.)) and abstract, yet bland, imagery, and it tells you nothing about the show.

Go with the flow

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I finished Shingu. The final episodes were spectacular and largely satisfying, but I want to think about them a bit before I declare the show a complete success. I will say that it is a superior series that I can recommend to anyone who likes imaginative, surprising stories.

Show time

As I expected, the story has gotten darker as it nears the climax, but Shingu is still a great deal of fun.

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German cameras. ((There are two different brands alluded to here, Contax, obviously, but also the M-series Leica (though the latter were rangefinder cameras, not SLRs like Futaba’s camera).)) So they still shoot film in 2070?

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Embarrassing music

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Boy or girl?

Bonus link: Ubu on what didn’t happen.

Too damn many words?

Lexicon Lost:

Last spring, Gilles de Robien, France’s Education Minister, declared that schools in suburban Paris would teach more grammar and vocabulary to integrate immigrants and prevent future riots. The British Minister of State for Schools, Jim Knight, immediately called this Frenchie rot. He insisted that grammar and vocabulary are elitist, and therefore are what cause youth riots.

*****

Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivivic
Would I could fathom thy matter specific
Lustily proud in the ether capacious
Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous.

(Via a pretentious windbag.)

Incidental pleasures II

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Baseball as a martial art

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Armed and dangerous little sisters

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Dancing aliens in tuxes

*****

Sometimes I have got to know What Happens Next. This was the case with Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster trilogy, which I read in one (long) sitting, and with Misaki Chronicles, which I watched in one evening. Other times, I want to go slowly and savor every little bit. I spent a week on John Crowley’s Little, Big, and not because it was a thick book. I’ve got two discs left of Shingu left, and I’m not going to rush through them. I’m enjoying the series too much. There are still surprises in every episode, even though I’m past the half-way point and the characters are old friends now.

Earlier this year I wondered if I’ve seen all the first-rate anime that’s available. This month I watched Divergence Eve/Misaki Chronicles and I’m in the middle of Shingu. Denno Coil also has been excellent so far. My interest in anime will eventually diminish, but it won’t happen as soon as I expected.

While there is still first-rate anime to be found, anime criticism remains a scandalously inept guide. Reviews of the Misaki saga range from limp to stupid, and there are virtually no reviews of Shingu at all. If Steven hadn’t written about them, I would never have bothered with either.

Advisory

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Misaki Chronicles and Shingu just arrived. Don’t expect much posting here for a few days.

Update: Just finished Misaki Chronicles. A few quick notes:

1. Wow.

2. I want to let the story settle in my mind a day or two before I watch anything else. Shingu will have to wait.

3. Somebody please shoot the character designer and the jiggle choreographer.

4. Misaki and her colleagues are cute — from the neck up, anyway — but Lyar von Ertiana is the one I want to meet.

5. Much of the anime that I find memorable deals with grief and despair. Few series do so as directly as Misaki Chronicles.

6. Wow, again.

A tale of two Yukos and other stories

I’ve watched each of the first five episodes of Denno Coil at least twice so far. I have a few small reservations, but overall I’m very impressed. Iso and company have yet to stumble. If these five episodes are indicative, this is the best show I’ve seen on fansub yet and one of the best of any kind ever. I was initially concerned that there wouldn’t be enough material to stretch twenty-six episodes; now my concern that twenty-six will barely be enough to elucidate all the mysteries of Daikoku City and the connections between Yasako and Isako. Denno Coil is a pleasure to watch on every level. I don’t often write about quality of animation because I don’t have the background, but even I can tell that the work here is exceptional. Watching the different ways the various characters in the opening climb stairs is an education in the art of animation. Daikoku City may be a virtual world, but it’s one of the most believable I’ve ever visited.

Eleven episodes of Seirei no Moribito have been translated now. The last few have been surprisingly quiet (not that I mind; there are few things duller than non-stop action). It looks like the story might be as much about the education of the prince as about eluding assassins.

I’m watching Sugar, a Tiny Snow Fairy slowly, one episode a day. I watched the ninth today, which is the beginning of the “Bear Pianist” arc, my favorite part of the series. Overall, it’s as good as I remember it, but not all parts have aged equally well. The Elder’s infatuation with Ginger gets old fast, and after the fluid animation of Denno Coil, Sugar looks just a little wooden. The writing and acting generally are very good, though, and the music is better than I remembered. One recurring theme reminds me strongly of Metamora, and I keep expecting to hear Malcolm Dalglish’s dulcimer.

Addendum: Here’s some Denno Coil motivation.