The JitsuWata manga

July 19th, 2015 by Author

After watching an episode of Jitsu wa Watashi wa, I rushed to Batoto and loaded up on spoilers. Hoo, boy. The important fact we ought to know is that the manga is resolved, so the anime ought to be safe.

The character designs differ from the anime and the lead girl strongly reminds me of someone, but I cannot remember who. The mangaka doesn’t have anything else credited to him.

One other random observation is that apparently Japanese use a native word for a “vampire”: 吸血鬼 (kyuu-ketsu-ki). Russians use the borrowed “vampir”. Althoguh they had a native word for it (“upyr'”), it fell into disuse.


Knights of Sidonia begins

July 18th, 2015 by Author

Thanks for effective (if deceptive) advocacy by Mauser, I picked Sidonia no Kishi for a watch on Netflix (dubbed, of course). I have to admit, grudgingly, that it’s not half bad. Grudgingly, because the qustion of Sidonia is the question of 3D: it’s 100% 3D, like the Hollywood flicks. Sadly, its 3D is not at level of Shrek. If I had to level it, I’d place it below Ice Age, although there is a considerable overlap in quality.

When Nova blogged the question, he focused his critique on the kinematics of the 3D models and the bear-mother:

Now, the elephant in the room is the full execution in 3DCG. There’s no sugar-coating the fact that all the people on the show looked uncanny and robotic, and there were some scenes where I really had to look away and not face the machine-generated horror unfold on screen. However, as it was the case with Arpeggio it’s relatively easy to get accustomed to the robo-people to a point that only the Bear caused any serious cringes. This is not how you render a furry thing.

I find that the characters weren’t strut-walking as much as those in Appleseed. After a few early episodes to settle the techniques, the motion is not “uncanny and robotic”. Still, characters do look decidedly low-rent… right until the moment of Izanna’s bath that Mauser used for effect. The jump in quality obviously begs the question just why they did it. Yes, I realize that the answer is “Izanna’s boobies”, but why did they think it was acceptable to demonstrate that they possessed all the necessary technology, just weren’t willing to do right for the viewers until the high-fidelity moment?

In addition to the 3D, the story is fairly dark. People get killed left and right (or worse). It also took me an effort to get used to all the goings-on, and I raged for a couple of episodes until the resignation took over. For example, one ani-nouto was “The shithole cockhead dude is not well realized (Ayaka was better in Stellvia)”. Oh well, at least CKS promised a “triumphant climax“.


BRR (Badass Raw Reader) Evolution

July 8th, 2015 by Author

I had “大阪万博”, conventionally known as “Osaka World Fair”, for about three years, unread. Then, I picked it up a few days ago, and surprise! I can read it well enough to enjoy it {for the curious, it’s a compendum of tributes by famous manga artists, and they are all excellent}. I remember vividly that it was entirely impregnable before, or at least no fun at all. So, what happened?

I think it’s basically the technology or the way I exploited the technology, specifically two key pieces: IMI and Kanon. Both rely heavily on the modern tablet technology in general, and only became available recently.

Kanon is well known; it was around for a while, on desktop. But a tablet edition is portable, so it is available when I’m not sitting in front of a PC. It is unvoiced. Previously, I only played VNs that were fully voiced, because I could not read. Kanon makes you read. However, it is not forceful at that. It is a light enough reading if you don’t know anything, but it has a depth that is fun to exploit. So, at first I only looked up 1 kanji at a page, focusing on verbs. Then, 2 kanji per page. Then, every kanji on a page.

I tried out a few other VNs, but the vast majority are just not any good; the good ones are not available for an easy purchase or downloads. Most of the remainder are ported poorly from PC — they run on an unsufferable emulator. Controls are unusable, fonts are unreadable. Or they are too short like Hime-Hime Booking (which is also voiced). Or they are not amazing enough, like Airs (and light on good kanji). Kanon, in contrast, can be trawled for months, literally (post about it at Ani-nouto is more than a year old, yet I completed another route a month ago). And it’s rendered in the most beautiful fonts that are easy for my aging eyes to read. All these features make a world of difference together.

IMI seems not terribly groundbreaking either, at first. I used the traditional tools previously: The New Nelson dictionary and the Wordtank. However, they weren’t convenient enough to use on the go or in bed. The New Nelson is very nice and easy to use, but it’s absolutely massive. It’s great for a serious student, but I’m not dedicated enough to use it recreationally. Putting all that into the same tablet where Kanon lives makes it significantly easier. In addition, IMI adds its own polish. It’s not the first dictionary app that I picked, but it has few bugs, the UI is useable, and it allows the lookup by component. It was pioneered by the JDict, I believe, and allows for easy and efficient search. I’m all for traditions, radicals, and stroke order, but I’m also lazy.

The main lesson here is the balance of fun and challenge. If you digesting kana, you might want somethiing heavy on kana and okurigana first (like e.g. whatever material Steven is using). Motivation is a tricky thing: even a person of excellent willpower is unable to mobilize for long stretches. Fortunately, we have the technology.


Danna-san wo Nanka Wakaranai

July 3rd, 2015 by Author

As mentioned previously, I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying — on easy streaming at Crunchyroll — ended the only title that we followed in-season, despite the 3-minute format. It was surprisingly gentle despite the otaku humour – a delicate balance that Denki-gai didn’t quite attain.

Sorting belongings

Liked: Yes, but not enough to torrent a reserve copy
Rewatch: Maybe; it is very short

P.S. Did anyone notice that despite living in an appartment and working low-end jobs (web design freelancing and OL), the protagonist couple drive around in a Prius?

P.P.S. It really got me when it was revealed that Kaoru’s blonde hair is actually bleach and not an anime hair color. {Update: Woops, it’s right in the beginning of the first episode, too, but it wasn’t obviously significant.}

P.P.P.S. A comment by Crunchyroll user “ywdgly“:

Those 3 minutes overwhelmed me more than an entire season of One Piece, too much feels.


The 2015 Summer’s Invastion of Shorties

June 27th, 2015 by Author

A cursory look at RandomC season preview (h/t Chizumatic) reveals an unusually great number of short-format series.[1] Seems like the new fad, and I’m not a fan.

It’s not like they have to be bad. The PuPiPo was amazing, for example. The TeeKyuu stands alone. AIURA was an animation tour de force (a very short one). And the series with obnoxiously long name that I refer as “Danna wo Wakaranai” is the only series that I’m following in this season.

Still, the format constrains the possibilities. It’s easiest to see on the example of Yama no Susume, which positively blossomed when expanded into half-size (13-minute) format for Season 2. It’s going to be a big loss if the lower production costs and the smartphone-friendly size destroys the traditional series.

MORE: In case someone is not aware, the TV broadcast slot of an anime series was of paramount importance for years. The Shirobako 12 offers an interesting glimpse into it in its pre-OP sequence. It centers on a “smoke-filled room”, where deals are made. Most noticed that Onoue, a powerful head of a publishing house and rights holder makes an obvious remark that he’d like to find an earlier slot for their project, “3rd Wing”, in order to gain viewers and boost sales of other properties in the franchize. But before that, he also observes that Katsuragi, lead producer and owner of a production company, holds a specific slot. It does not belong to the studio, as represented by the line producer Watanabe, also present in the room. You should watch the episode 12 of Shirobako, if nothing else, but long story short — slot is a Big Deal.

So, what is going on with the slot system in the age of shorts? I have no idea, but I imagine it to be quite an upheaval. The 2-minuters eat ad slots. The 10-minuters need oddly split slots. The 5-minuters run back-to-back. It must be a chaos. I suppose the shorts were encroaching gradually for years, with the Haruhi-chan and the like, so the broadcast industry found ways to deal with them. But it’s curious to think about.

[1] At least 6: Okusama ga Seito Kaichou! (10 min), DanChigai (5 min), Miss Monochrome 2 (likely 5 min), Wakaba*Gal (unknown length), Wakako-zake (3 min), Kaijuu Sakaba Kanpai! (3 min). There could be more, not marked by RandomC. {Update: Steven also mentions Monster Musume (5 min) and Bikini Warrors (5 min).}


Asami Takano

June 20th, 2015 by Author

UPDATE: More informed people identified this as a case of name collision in the ANN database. The other case I was trying to remember could be the same as well.

So, I was perusing seiyuu profiles, when… Wait, I’m not Hashi-hime and this is not my schtick. However, someone observed on Twitter that Cinderella Girls are sweeping through the cast of Shirobako with the announcement of Yumi (Juri Kimura as Aoi!) in addition to Mika (Haruka Yoshimura as Ema) and IIRC others. So, I went to check if ANN was up to date and noticed that Asami Takano (髙野 麻美) is one of animators turned seiyuu.

It is definitely not the first such case, but for the life of me I cannot remember who was there before. Although, among those I enountered, Mrs. Takano is the first interframer who made this jump. Previously it was genga artists. But I cannot recall any other details.


Calaggie on Momono-san

June 20th, 2015 by Author

Back when "Mahoraba Notebook" page was still updated — obviously before "Anime Notebook" existed — Momo-chan received a special mention, like so:

By all rights, Megumi Momono is not my kind of girl. She is a drunk, free-roller with no compass. I don’t fall for the glasses or piano skillz. However, her affection for her man earns her a few points in my book. We do not know if she would be able to translate it into a strong real-life relationship, and realistically speaking she probably can’t, but we are spared the mess in these series. And it’s hard to resist her risque charm.

For some reason the drinker onee-san type is not commonly realized in anime, or not as adeptly as in Mahoraba. The only good attempt that I recall came in Minna Kawai-sou.

With that in mind, the following question was seen at the reborn Nigorimasen:

I have the first four volumes of the manga but I haven’t read much of it so I don’t know if Megumi and her boyfriend see each other again in person or what kind of send-off/wrap-up she has at the end of the manga.

Indeed… I have the first 6 volumes, but I stopped when I found out that Japanese scalpers bought out the entire run of v.12, and refuse to sell it overseas. A weird case of patriotic xenophobia, don’t you think? Fortunately, the whole manga is on scanlations.

Back to the answer though… It is a “yes”! But a difficult part is to find the proper level of spoiler, to make it exciting enough but not ruin everything. So, how about this:

Who do you think this is? A little girl… who likes children picture books… Come on, take a guess.


The Vivio sandwich

June 19th, 2015 by Author


A public service message from Sensei-chan

June 19th, 2015 by Author

Some parts of the Denki-gai manga are outstanding, like ch.44. Some are so-so, even poor (anime creators had a good sense to maneuver around some of them, in particular Tai). The ch.44 is in v.8, which I just ordered at Amazon.co.jp. It would never occur to me to do, if I did not read the scanlations.

UPDATE FROM AMAZON.CO.JP: The original Sensei-chan says:

あと うみくんはおっぱいをムリに大きく描こうとするフシがある。。。

自分の好きなおっぱいを描けばいい


CKS on Euphonium

June 8th, 2015 by Author

Gushes (emphasis mine):

Sound! Euphonium: This has become the smash hit of the season for me and a strong contender for one of my shows of the year. It continues to be great in many ways; its collection of characters, its excellent directing, how willing it is to tell the story with small things and small gestures, and more. I’m not sure what the show is ‘about’ as such, which is one measure of (good) quality, but in part I’ve come to see it as an observation on what ‘going for Nationals’ really means for the people involved. In your typical sports show the narrative is basically all positive; here, we are seeing the cost spelled out, in strained relationships, crushed people, and so on.

Have I mentioned yet that this show is plain beautiful to look at? Because it is. The animation and visual appearance is lovely and the directing is top notch.

When I mentioned that Euphonium was essentially a sports show with girls, a few folks were sceptical, but that classification seems even more apt now.

UPDATE: Steven points out that Ani-nouto was on an extended break. Not exactly sure what’s going on, but perhaps it’s a rebound from Shirobako. Out here, a truly outstanding series like that often causes a lull, when everything simulcast or queued falls short in comparison. Initial D cast a pall like that previously and it took Yuyushki to restore the palate.

But I have a feeling, Euphonium would not be very welcome in any case. It’s almost a Yamakan or Shinbo show, stylistically and story-wise. Too nasty. I know a lot of people fall for it (see CKS above). They feel that it’s more real that way. Me though… To be sure, Euph is beautiful. But it’s not what I want in my anime.

UPDATE LATER: Chris disagrees with the exact classification:

My view is that while Euphonium certainly has elements that also appear in sports shows, it is not one itself. A sports show like Ping Pong, Haikyuu!!, Yowamushi Pedal, or even Girls und Panzer strongly features the actual sport. Good characters and their stories are important, but in a normal sports show the overall story is in large part driven by the conflict inherent in the sports competition and actual ‘games’ feature prominently.

Sound! Euphonium‘s story is not structured like this. The actual band competition barely appears and there are none of the normal tropes of sports shows, like actual rival bands and rival performers in them; in fact we don’t even see a competition performance from another band […]