Brief notes

I shot about 1,500 frames of dance last night, and it’s going to take a few evenings to go through all the pictures, selecting and editing the best. That and some projects for work mean that I will continue to be scarce here. I’ll be back eventually, but don’t hold your breath.

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I watched the first episodes of a few recent shows. Surprisingly, most didn’t stink and might be worth a second look. Let’s see ….

Macademi Wasshoi — It’s energetic and entertaining, but I would enjoy it more if the characters looked older: neotenous faces and fanservice is a distasteful combination. If future episodes emphasize humor over fanservice, I might continue with it. By the way, I’m not convinced that we actually have a dog-girl here. Her tail doesn’t wag properly. ((If you want a true dog-girl, albeit without the tail, see O-Nui in Oh! Edo Rocket.))

Kannagi — There’s an opportunity for easy but effective parody and satire if this divine Galatea continues to learn about the modern world from television. Otherwise, the series looks to be mildly amusing and bland. Update: Hideyuki Kurata is responsible for the script. Expect wildly erratic writing.

To Aru Matjutsu no Index — Promising, and that’s about all I can say at this point.

Detroit Metal City — Cute premise, but romangst and death metal are unlikely to wear well. Pass. (I would like to see the live-action movie, though.)

Yakushiji Ryoko no Kaiki Jikenbo — “Sexy adult women in anime.” ’nuff said.

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A few links:

Pixy recently posted some of his collection of openings and endings. N.B.: Dokuro-chan is not recommended.

Neojaponisme. (Via Eve Tushnet.)

Japanese matchbox art, ca. 1920-1950. (Via Lynn.)

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I didn’t recognize the reference, but a bit of searching did turn up this:

Bewitched: I got four kings.
Bothered: I got five — all hearts.
Bemildred: One a’ you is mus’ be cheatin’, ’cause I never had no kings of hearts in no deck of mine.

Musical curiosities

The “Touhou Project” is a family of shooting games. According to what I’ve read, they are mostly the work of one person, “ZUN,” who, as “Team Shanghai Alice,” writes the code, draws the art and composes the music. They are noteworthy for their complex bullet patterns and large casts of pretty girls. ((if you don’t mind cockeyed mouths)) I don’t have any particular interest in playing the games, but I was curious to note that the very active Touhou doujin community includes many musicians who record their own versions of ZUN’s music in various styles. Most I’ve sampled have been okay but nothing more; I forget them as soon as I’ve heard them. One album did catch my ear, though. It has the perfectly comprehensible title “Cubical Another Perspective Has Violated Systematically” and was recorded by something called “Cytokine.” Here’s a sample:

[mp3]http://tancos.net/audio/cytokine.mp3[/mp3]

It’s no substitute for ELP, but what we have here is good, old-fashioned prog rock.

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No only is Polysics one of the most energetic bands around (they’d be the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band if only Hayashi could carry a tune), but they are also one of the most uncompromisingly intellectual:

Here are the lyrics.

No dogs allowed at the flea circus

Here’s a curiosity: a Japanese dub of a Tex Avery cartoon. You don’t need to understand the dialogue to enjoy it.

(Via the comments at Cartoon Brew.)

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I’ve been feeling less than wonderful recently, and after a day on the computer at work, I don’t really want to spend the evening staring at another computer monitor. I’ll be back eventually with comments on Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne and PetoPeto-san (the latter features music by Masaki Kurihara of Kuricorder fame) and more pointless lists.

Miscellaneous links

Via a friend: Sex and Flirting in Japan. (There are no pictures, so it’s almost safe for work.)

Lost in the anime zone with John Ringo.

They’re not anime, and I recall posting them on my earlier weblogs, but they’re worth revisiting: Scientific Truth in Warning Labels, and Cognitive Hazards and other modern warning signs. (Via TexasBestGrok.)

Definitely time to write some AP/RIAA slashfic.” (Via René’s Apple.)

Bonus link: Gainaxing as a source of energy.

Special bonus link: The Costume Hall of Shame. (Via .clue.)

Miscellany

How Obama can win:

Hey, McCain has been ignoring the catgirl vote throughout the primaries, I say Obama should take advantage of this. As a matter of fact, a strong anti-tentacle monster platform would bring in both the catgirls and the Lolis. He could then show show his strength on defense by committing to a crash course of giant robot development. All he would need at that point would be a promise of combat training for all nubile young schoolgirls and he would have the entire geek vote locked up.

On a related note, here’s the most frightening title I’ve heard in a while: The Melancholy of Hillary Rodham.

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That other dealer has Geneon merchandise on sale. Haibane Renmei, Someday’s Dreamers and others are going for $5 per disc, and this time there’s no minimum order.

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Via Pixy, sophisticated technology in the service of sheer silliness:

And some Leeky Star:

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Stranger than anime: the operatic guide to dating.

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Yoshitoshi ABe will be in Minnesota in September. It’s a bit out of bicycle range for me, unfortunately.

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Update: No. No. No. No. No. No.

This might work

When I read that BOST is offering DRM-free downloads of their shows, I figured I ought to check it out. So I registered and purchased the minimum quantity of BOST “points” (a disorienting process: the PayPal page was initially specific to Japan, but I live in Kansas, not Kansai). My first download was the iPod-ready version of the The Tower of Druaga‘s initial episode. There were problems. My first attempt to download the file last night stalled at 56 megabytes. I tried again this morning and got the entire 84 megabytes in five minutes. However, the episode wouldn’t play in VLC or QuickTime; according to the former, there was a “moov box” missing from the file. Grrr. I wrote a couple of sarcastic paragraphs about BOST earlier today, but before posting them, I downloaded the PSP version to see if that would play.

I’m relieved to note that it does work in VLC. The image size is 480 by 272 pixels, not generous, but large enough so that subtitles are easily readable. Hitherto, legal downloading schemes involved DRM and were Windows-only, both deal-breakers. $2 for a freely-watchable mp4 I can live with. Now let’s hope BOST offers shows that are worth watching.

Oh, yeah, about The Tower of Druaga. The first episode is apparently a one-off spoof of RPGs. I found it rather tedious, but if you are a gamer with an encyclopedic knowledge of ’70’s and ’80’s anime, and if you find girls and tentacles an amusing combination, you might enjoy it more than I did.

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Shamus (whose Chainmail Bikini and The DM of the Rings satirize RPGs more entertainingly than Druaga #1) recently posted several classic — if that’s the word — annoying videos. Click at your own risk. Shamus did have the decency not to include badgerbadgerbadgerbadg…. Unfortunately, one of his commenters was not so considerate.

Update: Someone had to go and link to the rathergood.com kittens. At least he didn’t bring up their viking cousins. The miscreant also mentioned this old favorite that I hadn’t seen in years, so I might forgive him.

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If The Kawaii Menace were the name of a book, it would have a 69.0% chance of being a bestselling title, according to the the Lulu Titlescorer. I tested a few other names:

Wonderduck’s Pond — 76.9%
The Ego’s Nest — 69.0%
Mahou Meido Meganekko — 26.3%
Haibane Renmei — 35.9%
Martian Successor Nadesico — 10.2%, 26.3% or 41.4%, depending on how you describe the title
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World — 26.3%
Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships — 8.6%

(Via Frëd.)

Grumbling and muttering

So now there are Anime Blog Awards. Too bad I can’t participate. According to the rules, “… you are required to fill in at least 9 nominations in 9 different categories in order for your nomination to be accepted.” Unfortunately, there aren’t nine categories of anime weblogs with which I am familiar enough to make nominations. Thanks a lot, guys. I notice also that there is no category that applies to The Kawaii Menace, no “most eccentric,” “most frivolous” or “most desultory.”

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One more peculiar search term: “maoist anime.” I can’t think of any series offhand that reflects that point of view, and I’m not particularly interested in finding one. However, if you’d like a maoist interpretation of an anime, here’s a review of Serial Experiments Lain:

A further serious flaw in “Lain:” it makes no references to reality outside of imperialist-countries. The decadence of imperialist society is not just a matter of internal ennui, violence, and f******-up gender relations: it’s also predicated on the imperialists’ oppression and exploitation of the colonies and neo-colonies. “Lain” assumes all of humynity can connect to “the wired.” In our world, less than 10% of the world’s population has internet access (619 million of 6.23 billion).(1) For that matter, countries like Afghanistan, Burma, and Liberia have less than one telephone line per 100 population, and only 28% of India’s population has access to improved sanitary facilities.(2)

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Garfield minus Garfield. (Via Eve Tushnet.)

New poll

payatan02.jpg
Paya-tan

It’s time for a fresh poll. Which creature ((Beelzenef, strictly speaking, isn’t a creature but a hand puppet, but it has more presence than Nekozawa does.)) from recent anime would you most like to see as a plushie? Some of the candidates might be unfamiliar to some visitors here. Paya-tan/Dark Paya (two phases of the same character) is the “crazy and cute” mascot from Dai Mahou Touge, an underappreciated series recommended to those who like their humor black. The mojos are Isako’s helpers in Denno Coil.

As far as I know, none in the poll are yet available in soft and fuzzy form, though there is a President Aria “money box.”

darkpaya.jpg
Dark Paya

mojos.jpg
Mojos

beelzenef03.jpg
Beelzenef

*****

I lost interest in the anime Spice and Wolf, but I do like the neo-Renaissance soundtrack. Here’s “Mada Minu Machi he.”

[mp3]http://tancos.net/audio/29 – Mada Minu Machi he.mp3[/mp3]

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The most impressive magical gift of the sailor senshi is their ability to sprint while wearing high heels. It turns out that some ordinary humans also run in stiletto heels. Why, I don’t know. See also the Ukrainian army.

Contraptions

ps02.jpg

Pythagoras Switch is a Japanese science show for small children. It’s very elementary and most of it is of little interest, but there are a couple of redeeming features. One is the “algorithm march,” a sequence of simple movements performed in canon, popular with inmates in the Philippines. The other are the many “Pythagoras Switches” that give the show its name. These are Rube Goldberg contraptions, designed to display the show’s logo in complicated ways. Some are fantastically elaborate; others are elegantly simple. All are imaginative constructions made with everyday objects: marbles, paper cups, books, clothes pins, tape measures, springs, scraps of wood, etc. I posted a brief excerpt featuring two of the devices on my video weblog. You can find more on YouTube.

There are a couple of “DVD books” out for region 2 that feature nothing but these devices. I’d be interested to see translations of the books, should they ever be made (not likely). The contents of the DVDs, however, don’t need translation, and the torrents are out there if you know where to look.

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Now for something completely different: Sally Cruikshank‘s “Face Like a Frog.”

(Via AniPages Daily.)

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The swelling in my leg is diminishing, finally, and the nerves and muscles are waking up. The immediate consequence is that I get cramps in both legs now. It’s going to be a long ten weeks until I get rid of the splint. Bleah.

Awards time

I’m not in the mood for deep thought and critical analysis, so here are the annual Kawaii Menace Anime Awards.

idiots04.jpg

Best idiot, male: Isaac Dian, Baccano!
Best idiot, female: Miria Harvent, Baccano!
Least enviable magical (or quasi-magical) ability: Sawaki’s in Moyashimon
Most noble dog: Densuke, Denno Coil

rgs01.jpg

Best spacesuits: Rocket Girls
Best resident deus ex machina: Oh! Edo Rocket
Most accurate botany: Mokke
Worst animated vehicle: Rocket Girls

dcbattle02.jpg

Best battle: episode four, Denno Coil (Runner-up: episode three, Seirei no Moribito)
Most shameless almost-but-not-quite plagiarism: Oh! Edo Rocket OST
Best opening song: Mayumi Kojima, “Poltergeist,” Ghost Hound
Best ending song: Polysics, “Rocket,” Moyashimon
Best completely extraneous musical number: episode ten, Oh! Edo Rocket
Ugliest musician: episode four, Mononoke
Most popular current series I haven’t the slightest interest in: Clannad
Best fusion of kawaii and kowai: Guchuko, Potemayo
Worst behavior from good kids: Manabi Straight opening

… and others as I think of them. Later. Right now I’m heading back to bed.

Addendum:
“Kids Say the Darndest Things” award: Czeslaw’s request of Ladd, Baccano!
Best show for children and adults: Mokke
Best choreography: Lucky Star opening

Random notes

Some good news for Steven: it looks like there are plans for a Strike Witches TV series. I’m ambivalent, myself. The eight-minute OVA was perfect in its way (and perfectly absurd); a regular series, even if done well, is going to seem diffuse in comparison.

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I’ve got the week off. I’ve been reading Diana Wynne Jones rather than than watching anime, though, so I don’t have much to report. I have noticed that many recent visitors find this weblog through searches involving the terms “gothic,” “lolita,”, “Kei” and “Moyashimon,” which makes me apprehensive about the second half of the series. I suppose Kei does look a bit girlish, but I doubt that he’ll be as charming as Aspergillus. (If I were to tell a young woman that she’s as cute as a fungus, would she understand that I mean it as a compliment? Probably not.)

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We have an uncommon event here in Wichita: a white Christmas. That happens maybe once in ten years.

I considered posting a tune from the Sailor Moon Christmas albums today, but I’m not sure that punishing your readership is a good idea. If you would like to hear some less-familiar Christmas carols, there are some MIDIs on my other weblog.

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Not anime, but geeky: mathematical needlework; crocheting a Sierpinski triangle; a how-to book, with projects and papers. (The first link may be slow to load.)