Precise language

From a discussion in the comments at TSO’s place:

>Reminds me of my System/360 days when we had to suggest to the programmers that rather than ask the operator at the console to type “1 for Yes, 2 for No”, the program should request “Y for Yes, N for No”.

>And what’s wrong with “1” for Yes and “2” for No exactly? 🙂

>One for yes and two for no is great if you have at least one position to the right of the decimal point.

>”And what’s wrong with ‘1’ for Yes and ‘2’ for No exactly?” 1thing.

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.)

*****

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.

We interrupt the regularly scheduled program for a bit of reality

(I just got an email from a friend checking to see how I am, and I thought I ought to make an announcement here in case anyone else is wondering.)

The remains of Tropical Storm Lowell (an east Pacific storm that nobody paid much attention to) dropped ten inches of rain in the Wichita area yesterday. Several of the rivers in the region are well above flood stage. Fortunately for me, none of the flooding is near my neighborhood, even though the Little Arkansas River loops around it.

My principal, selfish concern with the flooding is to what extent it will interfere with the Walnut Valley Festival next weekend. The spot where I normally camp is currently under at least ten feet of water. (If I do go this year, I’ll be day-tripping. Even if the Walnut River is back within its banks in time, the mud will be deep and gooey in the campgrounds.)

carpcamp.jpg

Carp Camp, September 13, 2008. (Photo from The Winfield Courier.)
Here’s what it looked like a year ago. (Link fixed.)

In other news, the word is that Ubu rode out Ike in good shape. It will probably be some time before he has power again and can resume blogging.
Update: Ubu’s back.

A good idiot is hard to find

My principal viewing the past few days has been the second season of Rocky and Bullwinkle and George of the Jungle. I wonder: has anime produced any magnificent idiots who stand comparison with Bill Scott’s immortal trio: Bullwinkle, George and Dudley Do-Right? We’ll probably never see the equal of the first, who is one of three great comic characters of the 20th century. ((The other two are Groucho Marx and Ignatius Reilly.)) But there have been some estimable nitwits in anime, which brings me to my next list.

Outstanding idiots

1. Tamaki Suou (Ouran High School Host Club)
2. Excel Excel (Excel Saga)
3. Isaac Dian and Miria Harvent (Baccano!) (Yeah, that’s two characters, but I think of them as a single unit.)
4. Bantaro Sanbonmatsu (Jubei-chan: Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch)
5. Kankuro Nishiyama (Ramen Fighter Miki)

Notes:

• While I haven’t found a Japanese counterpart to Bill Scott, who was a writer and producer as well as a voice actor, ((Scott wrote all the “moose and squirrel” scripts, which episodes demonstrate that good writing can redeem crummy animation.)) Kotono Mitsuishi does have two major nitwits in her resumĂ©, Excel and Usagi Tsukino.

• How many people watch Project A-ko for C-ko? How much Tomo Takino can you stand? It is not easy to create a stupid character who is nevertheless consistently entertaining, let alone sympathetic.

• Osaka is not an idiot. She just thinks very different.

• An idiot can be a ditz, but the terms are not synonyms. Yurika Misumaru and the early versions of Mihoshi Kuramitsu are ditzes of the highest order but not idiots.

More lists

Worst anime reviews

Charles Solomon sweeps places one through four with his comments on Divergence Eve, Divergence Eve: Misaki Chronicles, Haibane Renmei and Someday’s Dreamers at amazon.com.

I haven’t found anyone else with Solomon’s combination of arrogance and superficiality, but this review of Noir‘s first disc is lame enough for fifth place.

*****

Favorite final episodes

Presented without comment, to avoid spoilers.

1. Haibane Renmei
2. Jubei-chan: Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch
3. Divergence Eve: Misaki Chronicles
4. Someday’s Dreamers
5. Noir

*****

Favorite first episodes

1. Haibane Renmei
2. Cardcaptor Sakura
3. Denno Coil
4. Angelic Layer
5. Excel Saga

Update: Steven has posted his favorite last and first episodes.
Update II: Civilis posts his.

Making lists

I got a new toy and I wanted to play with it, so I though I’d record a podcast. Hours of babbling and editing later, it became clear that, although my face is made for radio, my voice isn’t. I think I’ll stick to the written (or typed) word for now.

*****

I haven’t watched much anime recently. Let’s see …. the Bakeneko (“Goblin Cat”) arc of Ayakashi — Samurai Horror Tales is a prelude to last year’s Mononoke and of a piece with it. I didn’t see any of the Olympic coverage; instead, I watched the first disc of the Battle Athletes OVA. It was okay, but I don’t know if I’ll watch the rest. I’m not even going to mention Strike Witches. What I most enjoyed watching was not anime at all (though some parts were animated): The Work of Michel Gondry.

Instead, I’ve been compiling little lists. Here’s the first in a series.

Five shows I would particularly like to see licensed for region one

1. Denno Coil: The best series since Haibane Renmei. It’s something like Serial Experiments Lain as retold by Hayao Miyazaki, with affinities to Haibane Renmei, and with an outstanding soundtrack. I expect that it will eventually be licensed, but it might take a while. Those holding the rights undoubtedly realize that they have something special and are probably holding out for more money than any region one company wants to invest at this time.

2. Oh! Edo Rocket: An unclassifiable show — sometimes utterly silly, sometimes dead serious. It straddles many genres: drama, farce, science fiction, horror, parody, action, fantasy, even musical at one point. Whimsical though it is, there is a real story under the arbitrariness. The soundtrack is of interest both to swing aficionados and to intellectual property lawyers. I’ve posted several excerpts emphasizing the series’ silly aspects on my video site: here, here and here. Because the series doesn’t fit neatly in any category, I figure that its chances of being licensed are slim.

3. Dirty Pair TV: Well, duh.

4. Animal Yokocho: A kid’s show that will please adults with a taste for absurdity. Many Japanese are fascinated by Lewis Carroll, and “Wonderland” episodes are common in anime, but usually they don’t catch the essence of Carroll’s insane but logical universe. Although Animal Yokocho never explicitly alludes to the Alice in Wonderland books, it is truer to Carroll’s spirit than anything else I’ve seen in anime. ((If you mention lolicons, I will delete your comment.)) It’s one of the very few shows that I would like to see with a good dub, but I don’t expect that it will ever be licensed.

5. Mind Game: One bizarre movie by Masaaki Yuasa, the man responsible for Kaiba and Kemonozume. A nebbish dies ignominiously, meets God and returns to earth, where he takes charge of his life. Things get strange, and they get stranger. I posted a couple of vividly contrasting excerpts on my video site illustrating just how eccentric Yuasa’a vision is. I figure the movie’s chances of being licensed fall between negligible and non-existent.

Anime makeover

Ever wondered how well Mikuru fills out the styles in her home century? Or what Mizuho would look like in clothing appropriate to his alleged gender? Or how a mahou shoujo would look as a mecha pilot, or vice versa? Here’s an opportunity to speculate, and perhaps to see your notions realized. The Future Fashion Folio for Costume Con 27 is open for submissions. Note the second of the special categories:

2. REDESIGN YOUR FAVORITE ANIME CHARACTER (sponsored by Karen Dick): You know what your favorite characters wear in that anime you love, but what do YOU think they should wear when they’re out of uniform (or when they get drafted into the military), or on that special  date, or going to that themed costume party?

If your design is selected for the folio, a costumer might make the outfit and model it in a fashion show at Costume Con. You don’t need to be a good artist or an expert costume designer; I’m neither, and one of my designs was included in last year’s folio.

If you should happen to be in the Baltimore area next May and you have any interest in costuming, the Con is worth attending. It’s devoted to all kinds of costuming, not just anime cosplay. There are pictures from Costume Con 25 here.

Status report

I don’t have interests or hobbies; I have obsessions. They usually progress like this:

Stage one: What’s this?

Stage two: This is kinda interesting. Let’s investigate it further.

Stage three: This is really interesting. It’s worth a little time and money.

Stage four: This is absolutely magnificent, wonderful stuff. Let’s spend every waking moment on it and annoy all my friends with my enthusiasm. Let’s max out the credit cards, too.

Stage five: This isn’t quite as much fun as it used to be.

Stage six: In fact, it’s starting to feel like work. Let’s do something else tonight.

Stage seven: What a waste of time. The hell with it.

Stage eight/one: Hey, what’s that?

Not every obsession runs through every stage. Photography has oscillated between stages three and five for years and probably will continue to do so as long as I can hold a camera. On the other hand, I spent far too much time in the SCA, and I am very thoroughly burnt-out on that sort of historical re-creation. Don’t even mention Renaissance faires to me.

With respect to anime, I am currently at stage six. I’ve watched very little in the past few weeks, and what I have seen were old favorites, not new shows. I know I should be keeping up with Kaiba, and I would probably enjoy the recent episodes of Soul Eater if I bothered to launch VLC, but right now both look more like duties than pleasures. Rather than force myself to watch them anyway and guarantee reaching stage seven, I’m going to take a break from anime.

Perhaps I’ll spend the summer reading. There’s a whole generation of science fiction and fantasy writers that I haven’t yet seriously investigated, and at least two of them, Tim Powers and Neal Stephenson, are first-rate storytellers if what I’ve read is representative.

So, there’s not going to be much happening here for a while. I do have a few posts in mind, but I’m in no hurry to write them. I’ll be back when I’m back.

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.

*****

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.

*****

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

And some Leeky Star:

*****

Stranger than anime: the operatic guide to dating.

*****

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

*****

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

Advisory

The good news: Not only can I walk (albeit slowly, and with a cane), but as of today I can ride my bike again.

The bad news: Posting here will continue to be spasmodic. I plan to walk and bike as much as possible for the next several weeks to regain strength and flexibility. Other recreations, including anime, are going to be low priority for a while. Of the current series, I will probably keep up only with Kaiba and perhaps Soul Eater. I’ll catch up with Allison and Lillia and the other shows of interest later this summer. I recently ordered the Fantastic Children boxed set, which I’ll probably marathon the weekend after it arrives, and that’s the only older series I will look at this spring.

Speaking of Soul Eater: a commentor wonders how I can find Toshokan Senkou unwatchable because of Kasahara yet enjoy Soul Eater, in which the male characters are “1000% more stupid and irritating than her.” There are three quick responses:

1. There’s only one nitwit in Soul Eater, Black Star. Soul Eater is a competent enough, and Death the Kid is a mental case, not a moron. If Soul Eater were just the Black Star show, one episode would have been plenty, but that’s not the case.
2. Toshokan Sensou and Soul Eater are different kinds of shows. The latter is much more farcical, and what is annoying in one context can be funny in another.
3. Don’t ever accuse me of consistency.

*****

Recent search strings:

tomo takino feet
kawaii stalin
bishie mussolini
britney spears mushi
kawaii religion

If you can explain any of these, please keep it to yourself. I don’t want to know.

All this, and Houko Kuwashima, too

… not to mention Romi Paku. Now I’m really impatient to see Kaiba.

Update: Really, really impatient.

*****

ppgz01.jpg

Psgels gave Demashitaa! Powerpuff Girls Z the surprisingly high score of 88/100. Last night I was in the mood for something silly and frivolous, so I watched the first few episodes. Well, it’s really silly and frivolous. How silly is it? The girls, Hyper Blssom, Rolling Bubbles and Powered Buttercup, and their arch-enemy, the talking monkey MojoJojo, interrupt their battles for ice cream breaks. Tomboy Buttercup catches a cold from wearing the mahou shoujo short skirt. I posted an excerpt from the first episode on the video weblog that might give you an idea of the show’s flavor. It’s not something I could stand to watch much of at a time, but in small doses it’s agreeably ridiculous.

*****

I also posted a four-minute excerpt from Iblard Jikan, which I mentioned earlier.

*****

I spent the morning at the hospital getting a three-inch screw removed from my ankle. I can now put weight on my left leg, and this afternoon, for the first time this year, I walked. It will take a few weeks to regain full use of the ankle, but at least I can return the wheelchair to the shop now.

366 days ago

Today marks three anniversaries. The Kawaii Menace is one year old. Note that it’s not my first anime weblog. It was preceeded by the defunct Beware the Kawaii, begun on April 19, 2006. The curious can find a selection of the less-embarrassing posts from the earlier weblog in the sidebar listed under “ancient texts.”

It was five years ago today that I began my first weblog, Mixolydian Mode. It focused on music, books, the decline of civilization, and silliness. At that time I hadn’t yet seen any anime beyond Miyazaki, ((I did see Shonen Sarutobi Sasuke a long, long time ago, but I was very young then.)) and it wasn’t until I discovered Serial Experiments Lain a year later that I began writing about anime. Eventually my posts on anime threatened to overwhelm the rest of the blog, so I started Beware the Kawaii, devoted to animation, Japan and women with blue hair. Mixolydian Mode is defunct now, replaced a year ago today by Scuffulans hirsutus.

Odds and ends

Studio 4°C has posted a trailer for Genius Party Beyond. It looks like a mixed bag, but the range of styles should hold my interest. I figure that the chances of either of the Genius Parties being licensed for region 1 are close to nil.

*****

I used to be a busy costumer back when I active in the SCA. I sewed mainly for myself, and I still have a closet full of 14th- and 15th-century clothes, most of which I can’t fit into anymore. When I became interested in anime, I naturally was curious about cosplay.

I discovered that there are significant differences between the historical recreationist and the anime universes. Costumers in the SCA have 1,000 years of fashion to draw upon. No matter what your age or shape is, there is something elegant for you to wear in any period, and there are plenty of options for both men and women. Cosplay, however, is the province of the young and thin, and females have a definite advantage. ((I once saw a picture of an “Ah, My Goddess” group, with girls in pretty robes and a guy in street clothes. It took me a moment to realize that he was in costume, too, as Keiichi.))

There’s also a greater degree of freedom in SCA costuming. If you could document the elements and show that the combination was plausible in a particular time and place, you could design a outfit to suit your fancy, and that was fine. In cosplay, however, you try to duplicate a particular outfit as closely as possible. There’s far less room for idiosyncratic variation.

I’m not all that young and skinny anymore, so, rather than turn stomachs, I stick to photographing good costumes. (It’s probably just as well, though I’d be interested in sewing for someone with a better figure if I could find a willing victim (and the time).) I enjoy good cosplay photography, so I was interested to learn today that the cosplay magazine Cosmode has announced a bilingual, sorta, online version. There’s a preview here. The gimmick is that, although the Japanese text remains unchanged, you can read translations by positioning your mouse over a block of text. I don’t know if it’s worth the subscription price, but I’ll probably check out the free first issue.

*****

Today’s quote:

Anime titles are eminently sensible, fairly representing their content. I mean, who can look at titles like these without knowing exactly what they’re about: DearS, Angelic Layer, All-purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku-nuku, Bubblegum Crisis, FLCL, Chobits, Cutie Honey, Green Green, Bleach, Kiddy Grade, Divergence Eve, Dirty Pair, Hyper Police, Happy Lesson, Club-to-Death Angel L’il Skull, Mysterious Hats of Twin Princesses, Excel Saga, G-on Riders, Lime-colored War Stories, Gals!, and of course, Mai Highly-advanced Materializing Equipment. (only four of these are translations, the rest are the original titles…)

*****

A few non-anime links of note:

Blogging is a hazardous occupation.
The patron saints of graphic design.
The fifty most powerful blogs (yeah, right). None of them are about anime.
(Via TSO and MCNS.)

Oddments

Media Blasters has rescued Seirei no Moribito. Further good news: the first novel in the series that Moribito is based on is scheduled to be published in June. The series also will be shown on Cartoon Network. I look forward to apoplectic reactions from the “meat is murder” crowd when the twentieth episode airs.

*****

Quote of the week:

As regards Go Nagai, I’m not sure that the creator of Kekko Kamen and Cutey Honey is really the father [of anime] we want to acknowledge. He’s more like the creepy uncle who goes around wearing the trench coat.

*****

So far, the only upcoming series I plan to watch is Allison to Lillia. The main reason, of course, is that it is based on books by Keiichi Sigsawa, the creator of Kino no Tabi. I recently discovered that the opening and closing themes feature the Kuricorder Quartet, who, as the Kuricorder Pops Orchestra, did the music for Azumanga Daioh.

Update: Astro has posted the opening.

*****

A few notes on the Anime Blog Awards before I drop the subject forever:

1. As I mentioned before, Rule #10 disqualifies me from participating:

10. You do not have to nominate blogs for all the categories. However, you are required to fill in at least 9 nominations in 9 different categories in order for your nomination to be accepted.

Let’s see: I don’t read manga; I don’t obsess over particular seiyuu; I’m not interested in fan art, doujinshi or visual novels; I don’t collect figurines; my main sources of anime news are not blogs; and, for humor, satire and comics, I’m too spoiled by David Burge, Randall Munroe and their peers to have much interest in their otakusphere counterparts. That leaves at most eight categories in which I might be able to make knowledgeable nominations. Owen, in a comment on my earlier post, says

I got clarification: it’s a guideline, not an absolute rule. It was made in order to scare off those who’d vote in like 1-2 categories for 1-2 people or something. Perhaps you have like 5, 6, 7 potential nominations? That’s fine.

That implies that there are two sets of rules, the official ones posted on the site, and the real rules, which are secret. If that’s the case, then I’m really not interested in being part of this.

2. The categories are rather arbitrary. I can think of several not included that I would rather have seen than some listed, and I expect that you can, too. The worst omission: there should have been a category for “best reviews.” The single most useful service an anime blogger can do is to identify what’s worth my time and explain why. Those who are good at it deserve recognition.

3. The list of blogs nominated so far suggests that the inhabitants of this region of the otakusphere are rather parochial. The awards are popularity contests and you’re inevitably going to see the same sites over and over, but I expected a broader range of nominees. Many of the sites I find most interesting were still missing from the lists last time I checked. Surely I’m not the only one who finds the infrequent updates at AniPages Daily worth the wait. There was exactly one nomination for a mee.nu blog. There is one site in particular I have in mind whose absence from four of the listed categories is inexplicable and renders the competition meaningless (not that that particular blogger gives a damn).

*****

Nick has posted a collection of short works by Makoto Shinkai on his site.

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.”

*****

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)

*****

Garfield minus Garfield. (Via Eve Tushnet.)