Fireworks

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I could complain about the manifold implausibilites of Rocket Girls, but it would be pointless. How can you expect logic in a universe where a space agency drafts random high school girls to be astronauts merely because they’re lightweight? Instead, it’s better to focus on the incidental pleasures, such as classic calculators

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or cigarette lighters

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or girls wearing skin-tight space suits. (Never mind that the suits are basically three millimeters of silicone rubber, and the story is set in the tropics. Heatstroke doesn’t happen in anime.)

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The story zips right along, and there’s no time for teen angst. Yukari, spending her vacation in the Solomon Islands looking for her father who disappeared seventeen years ago, is variously bewildered, shocked, appalled, outraged, exasperated, disgusted and just plain angry as she learns just what her “part-time job” entails and discovers a few things about her family. If Yukari really had sense, she would run away from all these crazy people as fast as she could, but then there would be no anime. She’s soon joined by Matsuri, a native islander, and one of Yukari’s classmates from Japan should arrive on the island shortly.

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Despite all the nonsense and the bad computer animation, Rocket Girls is enjoyable. It’s partly because it doesn’t take itself terribly seriously, and partly because, although the show gets the details wrong, it gets the story right. The people who made Rocket Girls, I think, really do want to go into space.

Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo

I need to watch it again to make sure that there aren’t any paradoxes left dangling and that the writers didn’t cheat at the end, but one thing is clear: it is every bit as good as it is said to be. I doubt that I’ll see a better movie this year. The story is interesting and the central characters are three-dimensional. The production may not be as glossy as a Studio Ghibli epic, but it’s more than adequate, and the script and the acting are first-rate. I will be astonished (and appalled) if TokiKake isn’t quickly licensed, and I hope that whoever does bring it over makes an effort to market it to all audiences, not just anime fans.

Wabi Sabi comments on some of the motifs here (spoilers).

Here’s a curiosity I noticed. I wonder if it was intentional.

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Now would someone please translate the book.

*****

It turns out that TokiKake is not an adaptation of the novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui but is a “continuation” of it, set twenty years later. The protagonist of the novel appears in the movie as “Aunt Witch.”

Here’s Yasutaka Tsutsui’s site. It includes a profile that I hope is misleadingly pretentious and English translations of some of his short stories.

Time travel and the post office

I discovered last fall that the U.S. Postal Service can send a package into the future. Apparently, they can send objects into the past as well. Here’s the status report on my most recent amazon.com order. Just what exactly did happen on the afternoon of December 31, 1969?

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(Click on the question mark if the graphic isn’t visible.)

Not so obscure

Joseph Bottum today reprinted a July, 2000 article in which he called for a revival of Melville Davisson Post’s Uncle Abner stories:

In the deliberate tone of the stories and the matching of the writing’s pitch to its subject, in the uniting of the religious element with the detective’s action and the sense of good’s battle against evil in the solution of a crime, only G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown belongs beside Melville Davisson Post’s Uncle Abner.

I’ve never read Post; perhaps I will.

Bottum’s article is outdated in one respect: it’s not hard to find Uncle Abner in 2007. Bottum himself includes a link to amazon.com, where Uncle Abner, Master of Mysteries is listed as “in stock.” If you’re broke or impatient, you can read the collection online, courtesy of Project Gutenberg.

Practical details

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Bishoujo Celeb Panchanne is a live-action mahou shoujo spoof in which a former magical girl, now a happily married mother, is persuaded by a rather seedy kami-sama to wear the short skirt again. I’ve only seen the raw for the first episode, so I don’t know what the silly/stupid ratio is, but it looks quite cheesy, as Pixy observed. It’s also very low budget: the alien space ship looks curiously like the device I use to steam peas and corn. It does feature one element of realism missing from every other mahou shoujo show I’ve seen: we get to see Panchanne’s costume designed and constructed. ((Cardcaptor Sakura is a special case, and I don’t think we ever actually see Tomoyo sewing.)) (She still undergoes the usual magical transformation when it’s time to face the monster of the week.)