Pure confusion

Oopsie

Flip Flappers is the most interesting series I’ve seen since Kill la Kill and Shin Sekai Yori, conceptually and artistically. Each episode is different from every other episode. Much of it is pure fun, with frequent shout-outs and parodies, but there are depths and eccentricities and mysteries enough to inspire reams of speculation and analysis in the otakusphere. If there are twelve episodes, there are only three left to explain just what is going on. While the writers seem to know exactly what they are doing, I’m still concerned that it could fall apart at the end, or end with nothing resolved. We’ll see.

I reviewed the first episode, looking for Mimi. Do you see her in any of these screencaps?

Who?

Who?

Who?

Who?

Unexpected?

Wrong question?

Something else I wonder about: Is Cocona asking the right question above? Consider these names: Cocona, Mimi, Papika, Toto, Yayaka, Yuyu. One doesn’t fit the pattern. Throughout the show, Papika’s behaviour has reminded me of a playful Labrador retriever, sniff sniff. What is she? What would happen if the band around her ankle were removed? She and Cocona may be a complementary pair, but a pair of what?

Today’s weirdo

Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann "Jean" (Bulb. longissimum x Bulb. rothschildianum)
Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann “Jean” (Bulb. longissimum x Bulb. rothschildianum)

Many orchids have attractive flowers. Others are bizarre, such as the bulbophyllum sticking its tongues out at you that I saw at the annual orchid show today.

Update: more pictures below the fold. Click to embiggen.

Update II: Welcome, visitors from AoSHQ. Orchids are here. You can find other botanical pictures here and here. Ballet and modern dance are here; contra dancing is with the other Walnut Valley Festival pictures. Stereo pictures, stacked focus and other photographic stunts are here. There are interactive panoramas here.

Continue reading “Today’s weirdo”

Cigarettes and spiders

The first episode of Miss Bernard Said. mentioned Yasutaka Tsutsui, and I checked to see if any more of his books have been translated into English. A quick search showed nothing new. However, I did find translations of a few of his stories online:

Rumors about Me

The Last of the Smokers

Descent into Yoppa Valley

The first two are satirical; the third is strange.

I also looked for Henry Kuttner’s “The Twonky.” I couldn’t find the text online, but I did find a podcast. (Scroll down to the bottom.)

Steven

Steven Den Beste, drawn by Beckoning Chasm.
Steven Den Beste, by Beckoning Chasm.

I discovered Chizumatic 1.0 when I looked for commentary on Serial Experiments Lain. What Steven Den Beste wrote made more sense than anything else I’d read, so I made Chizumatic a regular stop on my internet rounds. When he praised Haibane Renmei, I watched it and was impressed, and duly mentioned him on my weblog. To my surprise, he linked back to me, complaining that I had misspelled his name. Thereafter we occasionally posted links to each other’s sites, and during the past ten years he left many, many comments at my various websites, far more than anyone else. He wrote his last comment here the day before his last post.

It may be presumptuous of me to think so, but I came to regard him as a friend, albeit one whom I was unlikely ever to meet. I was glad whenever I could do him a favor, such as download an unlicensed series he was interested in. Through him I found such eccentric characters as Ubu, the Brickmuppet, Wonderduck, J Greely, Aziz, Pete, and many others. Steven was notoriously prickly and seemingly unsociable, but I think he enjoyed being part of an online community, as demonstrated by his enthusiastic particpation in our comment boxes.

I knew Steven was in failing health and near the end of his life, but losing him hurts. Still, I’m grateful for ten years of engineer’s disease, perceptive discussions of anime, music, history, technology and whatever was on his mind, accounts of beaver engineering and waterfowl behavior, and everything else, all expressed in clear, logical, readable prose.

Various tributes to and memories of Steven can be found aggregated here and here.

Memorial cheesecake

Wonderduck made a suggestion:

Those of us with blogs, we need to post cheesecake in [Steven Den Beste’s] memory. I think he’d like that.

Steven did indeed like pictures of pretty girls. However, I don’t share his taste for cheesecake. Instead, I grabbed several thousand of the pictures from the header at Chizumatic and assembled them into a slide show with music from Girls und Panzer. The pictures flash by at a rate of five per second; epileptics beware.

Biosemiotic footnote

Uexküll

Cocona’s green rabbit in Flip Flappers is named “Uexküll” in both the Crunchyroll and Viewster subtitles. That doesn’t seem like a traditional Japanese name, so I did a little searching and discovered theoretical biologist Jakob von Uexküll. According to Wikipedia,

Uexküll was interested in how living beings perceive their environment(s). Uexküll argued that organisms perceived the experience of living in terms of species-specific, spatio-temporal, ‘self-in-world’ subjective reference frames that he called Umwelt (translated as milieu, situation, embedding-lit. German for environment). These Umwelten (plural of Umwelt) are distinctive from what Uexküll termed the “Umgebung” which would be the living being’s surroundings as seen from the likewise peculiar perspective or Umwelt of the observer. The umwelt is composed of two parts, the innenwelt or self-oriented features, and the Umgebung, or world-oriented features. Together, they describe the individual’s subjective viewpoint, or embedding, which has the property of being ubiquitous, as compared to the observer’s objective viewpoint, which has the property of being universal.

Um, okay. Possibly Uexküll’s Umwelt and Umgebung lurk in Pure Illusion as Faust does in Madoka Magica, though it will take someone with more patience with modern philosophy than I have to explain it all.

Incidentally, Flip Flappers is the only current series I’m still watching, unless you count the shorts Miss Bernard Said and Ninja Girl & Samurai Master.

More than enough about me

So lovely

Medieval Otaku thinks I have one lovely blog and has tasked me with the following:

You must thank person who nominated you and include a link to their blog
You must list the rules and display the award
You must add 7 facts about yourself
You must nominate 15 other bloggers

Um, gee, thanks, I think, M.O.

Over the years, I’ve written about myself perhaps more often than is healthy, and it is difficult to find seven fresh facts worth mentioning. I’ll start with a little recycling. In the past, I’ve written

1. this

and

2. that.

There’s more about me

3. here.

What else? Let’s see….

Continue reading “More than enough about me”

Cultural quiz

1. Who of the following were awarded the Nobel prize for literature?

W.H. Auden
Jorge Luis Borges
Anton Chekhov
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Robert Frost
Henrik Ibsen
Henry James
Leo Tolstoy
James Joyce
Ursula K. Le Guin
Stanislaw Lem
Vladimir Nabokov
Flannery O’Connor
George Orwell
Terry Pratchett
Mark Twain
John Updike
Gene Wolfe
Virgina Woolf
Robert Allen Zimmerman (a.k.a. “Elston Gunn”)

2. What does the Nobel prize for literature signify?

Continue reading “Cultural quiz”

Flippity flappity

Flip Flapping

I checked out a few more first episodes.

In Flip Flappers, serious-minded student Cocona sees a red-haired girl flying on a powered surfboard. Later the girl pops up behind Cocona, sniffs her, and introduces herself as “Papika” before they fall down the rabbit hole concrete pipe into Wonderland “Pure Illusion,” accompanied by a small yellow robot/cyborg. There they find themselves in a winter landscape, but it’s apparently not very cold, and the snow is sweet. More odd things happen for no obvious reason. Cocona loses her glasses, which Papika retrieves with considerable difficulty. Cocona’s eye change color, her short black hair becomes long and purple, and she finds a glowing blue object in her hand. A variety of other characters are introduced, including some who observe Papika remotely through laboratory equipment.

Flip Flapping

Flip Flappers reminds me of Kyousougiga in its anything-can-happen eccentricity, but whether it’s as well thought-out as the earlier series remains to be seen. Masumi Itou is part of the music crew; her presence is clearly discernable in the ending theme. I’ll probably keep watching Flip Flappers unless it turns stupid.

Update: You can also watch Flip Flappers here. The translation is different from Crunchyroll’s and makes a little more sense in some places.

Tsutsui

Three of the students in Miss Bernard Said read a lot; the fourth one would rather talk about books than read them. It’s a flimsy framework even for a short, but it is about books, which compensates for a lot.

I know I watched Kiitaro’s Yokai Picture Diary, but I don’t remember anything about it — which might be all you need to know.

Against my better judgement, I tried ClassicaLoid but didn’t last long. It was a dumb as I had feared.

I watched three minutes of Drifters, which was a bloody mess, and I mean that literally. Ick. It seems that the gore might not be its greatest failing. Other shows that I quit in five minutes or less include Soul Buster and Occultic;Nine.

In Matoi the Sacred Slayer, men get silly when they see a little cleavage, and women take advantage of it. Meh. There might be a good mahou shoujo story beyond the fanservice, but I don’t have the patience to find out. (Steven has a more positive take.)

After I

The protagonist of Nazotokine is a flat-chested secretary at an advertising agency who finds herself trapped in a strange place until she solves some riddles. She’s no longer a kid, but she nevertheless undergoes a mahou shoujo-style transformation into a decidedly non-secretarial outfit. Suddenly she is no longer flat. Even though it’s another short, it felt stretched out. I might watch another episode to see if the riddles are of any interest.

Oda's new toy

Sengoku Chōjū Giga is yet another short. This one uses the style of the proto-manga Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to tell silly tales of Odo Nobunaga. Here Nobunaga is a cuckoo, and is cuckoo. The art is distinctive, but otherwise this is an ordinary gag anime.

Many more screencaps below the fold. Click to embiggenate.

Continue reading “Flippity flappity”

Burnable or non-burnable?

Indeed

I watched an episode of Ninja Nonsense, which turned out to be oddly topical.

Orange magic

Throw them all out

(Ninja Nonsense is often funny, but it is too off-color to generally recommend. Not even Norio Wakamoto can make Onsokumaru tolerable for long.)

Update: Here’s a list of write-in candidates for president. Those running include

• Raff, Riff, of Notre Dame, Indiana
• Bunny, Soul, of Williams Bay, Wisconsin
• Vader, Darth, of Spokane, Washington
• Mouse, Mickey, of Anaheim, California
• The Elf, Buddy, of North Pole, Alaska
• Hydrox, Cookie, of Newport Coast, California

These and the others on the list are all better choices than any of those offered by the political parties.