Johann Sebastian Bach was born 327 years ago today (or on March 31, depending on which calendar you use). To celebrate the occasion, Amazon.com is selling nine hours of his music for 99¢ for a few days. I recognized a few of the performers, such as Joseph Szigeti and Andras Schiff, but most I’m not familiar with. I expect that the Amazon offering is mainly good older recordings and recent recordings by lesser-known artists. It’s probably worth gambling a dollar on.
Here is a mainstream Japanese animated film with a trailer that has an evocative, haunting power that eludes virtually the whole of American animation—and that’s just the trailer. And it’s not just American animation either, but pretty much the whole Hollywood machine. What was the last Hollywood box-office blockbuster that made you think of beauty, loss, longing and mystery? (Yes, other than The Lord of the Rings.)
Whether this particular film turns out to be good or not, it’s part of a cinematic culture that aims at, and sometimes achieves, something that isn’t even on the radar in Hollywood. This trailer reminds me of how I felt during the first five minutes of Howl’s Moving Castle, even though the film ultimately turned out to be a disappointment: Just the promise of the first five minutes, even a promise unfulfilled, was worth more than some American animation studios have delivered in whole films if not their entire outputs.
When the Fnools invaded Earth, they disguised themselves as two-foot-tall real estate salemen, figuring that no one would take them seriously until too late. ((See Philip K. Dick’s “The War with the Fnools.”)) The aliens in Mao-chan adopt a similar strategy: by assuming mercilessly kawaii forms, the invaders make the Japanese defense forces reluctant to engage them in combat, lest the human soldiers be seen as bullies. The Japanese fight cuteness with cuteness: the head of the land forces enlists his eight-year-old granddaughter, Mao, to battle the invaders, arming her with a baton, a full-size model of a tank, and a clover-shaped pin that transforms her into a not-terribly-competent but very cute mahou shoujo. Mao soon is joined by a couple of other eight-year-old girls: Misora, representing the air force, and Sylvie, representing the navy, both recruited by their doting grandfathers. Mao and Misora are ordinary grade-school girls, as kids in anime go, but Sylvie is distinctly Osaka-ish.
Vicipaedia needs otaku who can write decent Latin. The anime and manga pages are pathetic. (I had several years of Latin, but that was a long time ago in a different century, and it would take more time than I can spare to regain competence.)
Another entry for the “ducks in anime” file:
From Negima Ala Alba OAD #2 (not recommended).
I discovered that the software used to animate Hatsune Miku is freeware, available here. It’s surprisingly capable. Here’s Miku dancing Maurice Bejart’s choreography; compare it to the final minutes of this. ((I recommend skpping the first six minutes unless you are a Bejart fanatic.)) Unfortunately, like Miku herself, it’s not for Macs.