I got half-way through the sixth episode of Fractale tonight and said the hell with it. Take away the Ghibliesque veneer, and what’s left is a ho-hum dystopia with annoying inhabitants. I’m mildly interested in learning just what exactly Nessa is, but not enough so to endure six more episodes of Clain, Sunda, Phryne and Enri.

Instead, I watched some more of Gurren Lagann. One indication of how busy I’ve been lately is that I started it earlier this month and am currently barely past the midpoint. It’s a completely absurd, over-the-top show with ridiculous mecha, bellowing macho men, macho women and no respect for the laws of physics, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything so exhilarating.


Sometimes it’s not easy to call your attacks:

(From Level E.)


Which of the fansub groups working on Madoka produces the most accurate translations? I watch the first sub available of each episode so I can see it before the otakusphere is rife with spoilers, but for rewatches I want to view the one that best catches the shades of meaning in the dialogue.

Steven has an interesting hypothesis about Madoka:


Madoka was a mahou shoujo before, and a really good one. But she was utterly miserable, having lost her family and nearly everyone she loved to the witches. Homura was her last remaining friend, and decided to become a mahou shoujo so she could use her wish to make Madoka happy.

Homura’s wish was to give Madoka back the life she had lost, the family and friends and places that were gone. And that’s why Madoka’s life is a bit surreal, with the strange house and the school built of glass walls and everything seeming just a bit off. It is real, in a sense, but it was created by Homura’s wish.


At this point it is very clear that Madoka is a horror story involving children, closer to Bokurano than Sailor Moon. It’s an interesting exercise to watch the opening and note the misdirections and outright lies.


Since Funimation is streaming Fractale, I am not downloading the fansubs. This has been frustrating. How many more times will the broadcast be delayed? Will I live long enough to see the final episode? Similarly, I am not downloading Kore wa Zombie desu ka?, Level E or Gosick since they are on Crunchyroll. This has also been frustrating. I get very tired of playback stopping every 45 seconds while the buffer reloads.

This illustrates two reasons why streaming is the least desirable way of making anime available. I really do want the videos on my computer or on DVD so they will always be readily available, regardless of the whims of the licensors or the vagaries of internet traffic.


Just wondering: was there some sort of big sports event this past weekend? The “Stuporbowl,” I think somebody called it.


Gotta catch ’em all.


Humor and horror are closely related, as anyone who has read Saki or followed Akiyuki Shinbo’s career knows. Or who follows politics. Both are responses to the perception that something isn’t quite right. Consequently, abrupt shifts in tone from comic to horrific to WTF? in shows like Kore wa Zombie desu ka? or Level E rarely bother me. Both series remain on my watch list.

Gosick, however, I am dropping. Victorique is too abrasive to be sympathetic, even if she is literally a prisoner of the library, and the perpetually flustered Kujo is not a good foil for her. The mysteries aren’t interesting enough to compensate for the lack of chemistry between the characters. ((It’s a bad sign when I know the solution to a “locked room” mystery before the writer finishes presenting the problem.))


Today’s Sailor Moon crossover:


Perhaps relevant to the neverending fansub debate:

(Via the other Steven.)


Anthony Sacramone, formerly Martin Luther’s assistant, is starting a new religion:

1. We believe that Pantu Baba, the Vile, the Irascible, the Arbitrary, eternal and almighty god of all that is was or ever shall be, has created all things in a fit of pique. Which explains Detroit. And Comcast.

It does make more sense than Scientology.


This post is brought to you by the letter “I.”

(Via Zontar the Enormous.)

Butterflies and chainsaws

Merry's eyes: leftovers from Katanagatari?
Merry's eyes: leftovers from Katanagatari?

I might follow up to five shows this winter, the most in years. In order of interest, they are:

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
Kore wa Zombie desu ka
Yumekui Merry

Random notes:

• Do lepidoptera frighten the Japanese? When I see flocks of butterflies in anime, it’s usually a prelude to danger or horror, e.g., the blue butterflies in Paprika. Butterfly motifs seem to be one of the signals of a witch’s presense in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica.

• Visually, Madoka is the most eccentric show since Trapeze, combining Shaftesque art and animation with architecture from Unhappy Hipsters and monsters from

• The first clue for me that Madoka might be darker than most magical girl shows was the announcement that Yuki Kajiura was doing the soundtrack. I recently put together a two-hour program of music by Yoko Kanno and Kajiura. I was impressed once again by the width of Kanno’s range; she can do anything, from intensely dramatic to cute and silly. However, Kajiura’s music, good though her pieces are taken individually, eventually all sounds pretty much the same: cool, minor-key, introverted, a little exotic, a little strange. ((I was surprised that Kajiura placed first in zzeroparticle’s recent anime composer poll. She’s good, but not that good.)) When a show fits her abilities, the results can be very effective, e.g., Noir. Madoka thus far is another good match for her.

• How dark will Madoka be? Possibly very dark, indeed. The silliness in the opening, I suspect, is a deliberate bait-and-switch. Update: Really, really, really dark.

Would you trust Mami's little smile?
Would you trust Mami's little smile?

• Discussions of Fractale so far have mentioned such works as Dennou Coil, Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix, The Naked Sun, etc. I’ll add one more: the trio looking for Phryne reminded me of the duo in Brazil who wore the caps with very long bills.

• I can understand the Fractale committee’s frustration with fansubs, but their action means that people outside Japan now have the choice of a) hoping that it will soon be licensed and available for a reasonable price; b) breaking the law; or, c) joining twelve-step programs to overcome their anime addictions. I really do want to play by the rules, but the case of Dennou Coil indicates that I can no longer expect that all first-rate anime will licensed during my lifetime.

• A frightening thought: boys will cosplay as Ayumu as he was garbed at the end of the first episode of Kore wa Zombie desu ka, and pink chainsaws will be the most annoying props since Wolfwood’s cross.

Avert your eyes: one of the characters in  Yumekui Merry (shudder) smokes.
Avert your eyes: one of the characters in Yumekui Merry (shudder) smokes.