Highlights from the posts I don’t have time to write:
• Taishou Yakyuu Musume is the first new show this year to sustain my interest beyond the second episode. In the first eight episodes of the story, the writers have kept the focus primarily on high school girls learning to play baseball in 1925 Japan, and they have not let the themes of feminism and westernization versus traditionalism overburden the story. There’s also been very little teen angst. ((Some of the girls waste time being moody and depressed in early episodes; part of the story is how they find the mental toughness to keep playing despite errors and losses. However, there hasn’t been any romangst — yet. (In the eighth episode, it turns out that one of the girls has an unlikely crush on the central character. If this gets played up in the remaining episodes, it will be seriously annoying.) )) If the last four episodes are on the same level as the first six (the seventh and eight episodes are essentially filler), the series might be worth recommending.
Taking the maxim that “the pitcher and catcher should be as close as husband and wife” too literally.
• Ponyo is in its fifth week in Wichita, the longest any Miyazaki film has ever played here, and it’s at a theatre within reasonable bicycle distance. I watched it last weekend. The dub is tolerable, though “bug off” is not an adequate substitute for “baka.” It made a little more sense than the fansub I watched last year — I suspect that there was some discreet re-writing in the dub script — but the logic of the story still is, um, hard to follow. I’d rank Ponyo as second-tier Miyazaki, not a classic like Spirited Away or Totoro, but far better than Howl’s Moving Castle (skip the movie and read the book instead). It is well worth seeing on a large screen if you have the opportunity, particularly if you have kids.
• For the convenience of any balletomanes visiting here, this is the only section of choreographic interest in Hakucho no Mizumi, the 1981 animated version of Swan Lake.
[flv width=”480″ height=”382″]http://tancos.net/flv/wp-content/uploads/cygnets.flv[/flv]
Sorry — if you want 32 fouettés, you’re out of luck. Swan Lake does have one of the better stories in ballet, but this adaptation trivializes it. Skip it, and find a video of a good dance production instead. Or, better yet, attend a live performance when you have the opportunity.