Pink Supervisor


In Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, or So Long, Mr. Despair, the pessimistic teacher Nozomu Itoshiki, who begins each episode with a suicide attempt, discovers the implacably optimistic girl Fuura Kafuka (does that name sound familiar?) in his class. Her classmates through the second episode include a hikikomori, an obsessive-compulsive perfectionist, a girl who communicates only through text messaging, and a stalker; undoubtedly there will be many other healthy-minded young people to meet in the remaining ten episodes of this grim farce.

The opening is the cheapest I’ve seen, just text with do-it-yourself music. Overall, I would describe the production as economical, if occasionally elegant in its low-budget way. It suits the one-dimensional characters and absurd stories well. The show is noteworthy for its graffiti: the chalkboard features comments and wisecracks from Koji Kumeta, the artist responsible for the manga on which the anime is based. There are also jokes for otaku, though the show doesn’t depend on them the way Lucky Star and Hayate do.

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is obviously not for everyone. I’ve uploaded the first eight seconds of the first episode to my video weblog. If you find it amusing, you might want to check out the series.


Update: Astro is also watching Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, and he has many more screen captures. (I would guess that the guy whose face turns up in all the odd places is Kumeta.)

Update II: It occurs to me that SZS is anime as Edward Gorey would have done it.


This is likely my last substantive post for a while. I picked up Harry Potter #7 yesterday (I want to see for myself what happens before anyone spoils it for me), which will probably take care of the rest of today. Tomorrow my New Toy is scheduled to arrive, and that will occupy all my free time for a week or two or three. I’ll be back eventually, and perhaps by then there will be fresh episodes of Denno Coil, Oh! Edo Rocket and maybe even Master of Epic waiting for me.

Further evidence of the decline of civilization

I rode out to the gigantic shopping mall on the east side of town for the first time in over a year this afternoon. There used to be two bookstores there. Today I found none. There were plenty of shoe stores, though. One of my ideas of Hell is a huge, crowded, noisy mall without a bookstore, and there it is. I doubt that I’ll ever go there again. (There is a Barnes & Noble nearby, but because of road destruction it is inaccessible to bicycles.)



This is Kansas, so by law I must post a picture of sunflowers. A curious fact: sunflowers are traditionally supposed to follow the sun, but all the ones I saw today were facing north.

Think, thank, thunk


I was flattered yesterday to find that Mark Sullivan named Scuffulans hirsutus as a “thoughtful blog.” I was also a little surprised. I’ve retired from the thinking business, and nowadays I mostly just take pictures, pretty and otherwise. (There may be more music in the future, but thoughts will probably remain rare and fragmentary.)

The rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote…

This particular game started back in February, and probably every weblog that has provoked any thoughts anywhere has already been recognized. Nevertheless, I’ll list five deserving sites just in case any have been overlooked.

Aliens in This World — everything from the motu proprio to Megatokyo.

Dyspeptic Mutterings — the art of the fisk, Byzantium, and science fiction, too.

Eve Tushnet — if there ever was an insightful blogger, it’s Eve.

Total Dick-Head — i.e., Philip K. Dick.

Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor — reflections on literature, life and Catholicism.


If you see a “Tancos” in the comments at Chizumatic or other weblogs, that’s me. There already is a “don” registered at, so I’m using my Martian Hungarian alter-ego. I registered mainly so I can comment on the weblogs that require it, but as a consequence, I now have a site of my own. I probably won’t post there often.

(Incidentally, the post editor doesn’t work in Safari (Macintosh OS 10.3.9). It works fine in Firefox, fortunately.)


Wonderduck recently posted a quiz in which the viewer is challenged to identify Kyoto Animation characters by their eyes. If you find it easy, you might want to try this and this, which draw from all of anime. Good luck.


More reviews of Shingu: Civilis and Jeff Lawson. I watched the first disc of Stellvia some months back and couldn’t decide whether to watch the rest. Maybe I will, after all.

Mundane and marvelous

Michiko Kakutani likes Harry Potter #7:

It is Ms. Rowling’s achievement in this series that she manages to make Harry both a familiar adolescent — coping with the banal frustrations of school and dating — and an epic hero, kin to everyone from the young King Arthur to Spider-Man and Luke Skywalker. This same magpie talent has enabled her to create a narrative that effortlessly mixes up allusions to Homer, Milton, Shakespeare and Kafka, with silly kid jokes about vomit-flavored candies, a narrative that fuses a plethora of genres (from the boarding-school novel to the detective story to the epic quest) into a story that could be Exhibit A in a Joseph Campbell survey of mythic archetypes.

In doing so, J. K. Rowling has created a world as fully detailed as L. Frank Baum’s Oz or J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, a world so minutely imagined in terms of its history and rituals and rules that it qualifies as an alternate universe, which may be one reason the “Potter” books have spawned such a passionate following and such fervent exegesis. With this volume, the reader realizes that small incidents and asides in earlier installments (hidden among a huge number of red herrings) create a breadcrumb trail of clues to the plot, that Ms. Rowling has fitted together the jigsaw-puzzle pieces of this long undertaking with Dickensian ingenuity and ardor.

Postscript: Although Kakutani is careful to avoid spoilers, her comments do imply an answer to one of the major questions in the series: does Harry ultimately survive? If you’re planning to read the book soon anyway, you might want to skip this (and other) reviews.

Cold fuzzies


Reaction to Potemayo: not enough Guchuko (above, left), too much Mikan (below). I could have done without the Brokeback Mountain reference, too. And the boys in skirts. And the incontinent chibi. Never mind.


By the way, Guchuko indeed wields an axe, not a scythe. This is a scythe:


(Goth Hotaru via Ken.)

Post script: I probably am being a little unfair to Potemayo. The central character, Sunao, is quiet and level-headed, something I appreciate in anime as well as in real life. Although there is a definite whiff of shounen-ai, one of the boys involved is a gonk; i.e., the point is not titillation.

Nevertheless, I wonder just who the target audience is. Potemayo and Guchuko — I expect that the plushies are already heading to market — will likely fascinate pre-literate fans of Binchou-tan, but the satirical aspects of the show will go over their heads. Those who can spot the subverted tropes will likely suffer from a kawaii overdose from the title character/thing. I’m mildly curious to see if any explanation is eventually offered for the chibis’ presence in this universe, but there is a limit to how much cute (or Mikan) my system will tolerate.

Relics of a less-sensitive past

At WalMart today I spotted a collection of 150 Cartoon Classics in the $5 DVD bin. It’s, um, educational. Here are two before-and-after pairs of screen captures from “Redskin Blues,” a Tom and Jerry cartoon from 1932:





(Sorry about the quality. The DVD’s menus don’t work in VLC, and the Apple DVD player won’t allow screen grabs (thank you very much, Steve Jobs), so I had to snap the monitor screen with my toy camera.)