Archive for July, 2007

Blog comments (on Stellvia)

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

The discussion of blog comments just won’t go away. I saw a curious comment at Jeff Lawson’s Stellvia vs. Shingu by Craig Steven Calhoun:

One reason that Stellvia has more teen angst than Shingu is that there are no parents at the academy. In particular, Shipon’s mother’s juvenile prank at her send-off had to have been extremely isolating to Shipon. Nayuta not only lives with her parents (or at least her father), but she has been trained for her destiny since day one; although she clearly falls for Hajime, she never loses her self-control long enough to get herself kissed. It also helps that the female lead in Shingu falls for a normal human, while Shipon falls for her series unknowable god.

Just put it aside, I am not quite sure what juvenile prank Craig refers to. The special message was anything but juvenile and served to help Shipon, IMHO.

Anyway, it’s an excellent comment and it illustrates well what a blog without comments stands to lose. But we always knew that. The issue here is that species of Craig are just too rare to justify the expense of maintaining comments.

Get a goddamn blog, Craig. I’d link.

Omo at Otakon

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

It’s important to note that a lot of people who attend Otakon do not go see the AMV features and the Masquerade, the two events that generally locks in the bulk of the con attenders. I think increasingly so this is the case only because the con attending population is refining. It’s not to trash talk AMV or the Masquerade, but both of these events are facing stiffer competition for the time of all the attendees.

I’m one of those people, although in regards to AX. Never went to the Masquerade, and never liked AMVs. I sit through AMVs in the breaks, but to go see them on purpose does not attract me.

Tatsuo Sato had a finger in Azumanga

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

While away from the anime blogosphere, I looked at acquiring Shingu at RACS, and saw this:

Created by acclaimed director Tatsuo Sato (NADESICO / THIS UGLY YET BEAUTIFUL WORLD / AZUMANGA DAIOH), with planning by Masao Maruyama (GUNGRAVE / DEATH NOTE), production by Masao Morosawa (GUNGRAVE / JUBEI-CHAN) and character designs by Yuuji Ikeda (SAIYUKI / GUNGRAVE / MONSTER)!

Huh? Isn’t Azumanga created by Koyohiko Azuma, and directed by Hiroshi Nishikiori and late Takashi Wada?

As it happens, the ANN entry lists three executive producers: Taro Maki, Tatsuo Sato, Toshimichi Ootsuki. My familiarity with the role of producer is limited to what I saw in “The Producers” on stage and on screen, but the juxtaposition in the blurb at RACS seems a bit of a stretch. Sato-sensei is an acclaimed director, but is he an acclaimed producer? What was his role in the overall success of Azumanga?

I think Robert wanted to mention Stellvia in the blurb, but for some reason Azumanga ended there. Freudian slip or something.

UPDATE: I received the box and it turned out that Robert copied the blurb from the DVD cover. So it’s a RightStuf’s idea of promotion, not Robert‘s.

Old habits die hard

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

I definitely have more fun away from blogging, marathoning Tenchi (OVA, of course!). Manabi is moving slowly though… As always, I find lots of second meanings and it’s even better than before, but I somehow feel compelled take screenshots and write notes when I’m at computer. I am pondering a region-free player for this application.

Meanwhile Sasa has posted her iyashikei paper, Impz threw together the Short History Of AB(s) (bad, bad Author — ed; But there was no Trotsky in the Short History either.), and TJ produces a perfect quote to rip out of context: “Girls can get away with tonnes of bad shit because of this. Many of them are ok with not having boyfriends while most guys are actively seeking one” (I am not seeking a boyfriend, are you?).

Time-out notice

Friday, July 20th, 2007

It looks like I’m spending more time blogging (about other people blogging about anime) than watching anime recently, and this whole blogging deal is becomming a real mill. I’m taking a time-out to rethink the concept.

UPDATE: By an odd coincidence, Joel Spolsky posted something that Astro might want to read. Animebloggers asked me to open comments a few times before. To me it only tells that they do not receive enough traffic to see the problems with comments.

Fine art of trolling

Friday, July 20th, 2007

For some odd reason, I always find something to note about TNK’s bloggage, even though it’s not one of my favourites… It is well known that two most direct ways to engage blog readers are:

  1. Post inflammatory bullshit
  2. Post obvious mistakes

TNK is subtler… Way subtler. It’s more like posting inflammatory opinions and less than obvious mistakes. I have a lot to learn from that man.

The post about seeking mates among anime fans obviously uses the first technique.

The two polls about favourite studios seems to be more of the second technique with a dash of the first. Neither of the polls include my favourte, UFotable. And he wants us to vote for Gonzo? I suspect their only show I have seen was Vandread.

Speaking of Toei, it always associates in my mind with Flying Ghost Ship. For its time (1969) it was rad. Oddly enough, I did not go to see it in theaters; I wasn’t interested in anime back then. I watched it some 30 years later, when I found an old VCR tape in a rental place. It was a pretty good movie.

My Neighbour Totoro

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Totoro certainly was nice, but not anywhere as dramatic as the iconic titles such as Princess Mononoke.

The movie is to be watched for the atmosphere. I’m old enough to remember those 3-wheeled conveyances, but even without that it has a bit of period piece feel. “Look Ana-chan, how they lived before Internet.”

Update: Concrete Badger’s take.

A,e,i,u,e,o,a,o

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Saw something curious in Figure 17 yesterday.

Tsubasa and Hikaru are told by their teacher to practice by sounding off a line of vovels: “A,e,i,u,e,o,a,o”.

The sequence is not random, it can be found around the net. Google was entirely useless, even with double-quote. It was able to find Chinese blogs only. Yahoo easily found Japanese entries and this posting by member “crabity” on OutpostNine (the old home of Azrael):

I was also wondering if people still practice by saying that rhyme…it’s a good way to practice your mouth shapes.

a e i u e o a o
ka ke ki ku ke ko ka ko
etc….

Yahoo. It’s better.

UPDATE: Someone adds Hitohira to the list. I neglected to mention that Tsubasa and Hikaru were preparing to a stage play as well. The excercise wasn’t a part of class activities. The discussion at forum hints that it could be, but in Figure 17 it’s not.

UPDATE 2007/12/06: Shingu has it too:

TNK and muddying the water

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

TNK suddenly launched a missive which claims, as far as I can discern, that separating “old school” anime from the “new school” anime is fallacious.

Let’s place Urusei Yatsura next to Love Hina. […] Both share humongous similarities on a basic level of formula. They tell different stories, with different goals, but they are cut from the same cloth. Why would one be regarded as newschool and the other oldschool? Probably only because of how they look. If you updated Urusei Yatsura to have modern animation, it’d probably be taken as a new product.

Well, no, they wouldn’t. Here’s an old quote:

Several other themes are present as well. For example, Ranma essentially collects what is known now as harem, although in his/her case it’s a mix of sexes. Also, there’s a lot of fighting, at first simply super-powerful, and later outright magical (due to power inflation).

Overall, it seems as if both Ms. Takahashi and anime creators did not know the basic designs of anime as recognized today [Emphasis mine — Author]. They played chess without knowing standard debutes. So, they touched upon many things which could be interesting, then failed to develop them.

Not only the production technique has changed. Anime storytelling itself has advanced in sophistication tremendously over the recent decades.

Of course, we can find how same things reoccured. Perhaps remaking Urusei Yatsura would make it look more modern. This is why we have remakes at all (Uguu~). To state the point better, Mark really should’ve mentioned Gurren-Lagann as the modern icon of hot-blooded hero. But listing these instances does not prove that new is the same old.

This reminds me how the founder of Solara Genomics delivered a saliva-spitting… er, passionate performance on topic of “there is no race gene”. He did actually say something to the tune of, “from the point of view of genetics, race does not exist.” But of course! There’s no single gene of race, there’s only a collection of them.

The analogy is not very complete, because while “oldschool” and “newschool” are separated by time, races are only separated by distance. Thus, with the improvements in transportation technology, we may all turn uniformly brown eventually, but “oldschool” will never merge with “newschool”. I am just trying to illustrate how it is unproductive to deny the reality and engage into excessive deconstruction.

WordPress leaks drafts

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

I discussed this topic with Astro before, because I saw it happening on his site, but I did not have evidence. But today, my feed reader delivered me a draft of Sasa’s long-awaited essay about Iyashikei.

As it turns out, Sasa started on it immediately after she made the announcement: the page number is 497. It is not written completely even now. I won’t spoil it, but it starts with:

Lately on the #animeblogger channel, I have asserted that Iyashikei is not getting enough attention. It was immediately received as lamenting, but actually I suspect that most people simply do not know about the term at all. Therefore, I will try to give a definition […]

The draft also includes an essay by one MrMayat, who I guess is a German animeblogger translated by Sasa for excerpting.

Very interesting reading. Let’s hope she comes through with it and publishes the essay, so I can critique it to bits. Should I put “*hrr*” in here? Or “^_^” would do?

So there we have it, WordPress leaks drafts. I suppose Sasa and Astro are intelligent enough not to do something monumentally stupid, so it must be a bug in the WordPress, about which bloggers better be aware.

Update: MrMayat turned out to be a Sasa’s guestblogger from Singapore.

UPDATE: Sasa finally posted the essay.

Also, in my opinion, the effects of iyashikei are no escapism at all, because you bring the state of mind of the series into your own life.

This is a keen observation (incidentially, deeply buried), although someone might want to pick a fight with the definition of escapism.

As you probably know, I have only watched one episode of Binchou-tan and quickly got bored. However, the healing effects of the series are quite strong: The girls are very cute, their life on the countryside and the backgrounds are very peaceful. If you’ve taken a liking on iyashikei series and like cute little girls, you might give it a try.

This is not what the strength of Binchou-tan is. Firstly, it’s her attunement to the world. Allow me to quote:

Binchou lives in horrible conditions reminiscent of 18-th century rural Japan. But … she has a very un-povertysh outlook. It’s not just that she’s not sitting in her hut smoking crack and waiting for the next government cheque. It’s more than she goes to work every day. I am not quite sure what “it” is, but probably one of the bigger parts of it is that Binchou has no stigma. One of her best friends, Kunugi, is rich and lives in opulence. The two are completely level. Binchou behaves like a functional member of a society, and is fully adjusted.

Adding to that is a set of story arcs which make the whole show less episodic than, say, YKK OVA. So, Binchou-tan’s healing effects are rather inspirational in nature. If we allow Binchou-tan to count as iyashikei, then Naruto is one too. It certainly changed the frame of mind for a few people.