Archive for October, 2007

Myself; Yourself starts

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

This looks like a very determined attempt to recreate 80s using computers. Tons of shades and strokes, and the hair is just… huge. Nice color key. I like this a lot. Apparently, produced by a company which I never heard about, Dogakobo.

Looks good for now, although the beginning feels like a setup for a harem. Wasn’t this supposed to be shoujo?

Miyazaki, condensed

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Thanks to a shoutout, I saw a post a Daijobu (a blog which I really should be reading but never get around to), which looks at Miyazaki’s legacy. I think his creations can be vulgarized further into few basics (e.g. in DS’ terms, all historically developed MODEs can be collapsed further):

  • Miyazaki hates or at best mistrusts all things military.
  • Miyazaki loves old people.
  • Miyazaki moves forward a spunky young heroine.

The relevant critique mostly circles around the above (there’s a good example at Chizumatic) of only because Miyazaki allows main themes to override and displace the rest of the art. So, Spirited Away is my favourite, because it lacks the usual negative elements of hate and preachiness and this allows the rest of Miyazaki’s talent to blossom.

BTW, I noticed the linked article at TNK back when it was published, but didn’t have much to write about it. Indeed, what can be reasonably said to this:

To date, Princess Mononoke stands as his only animated work where the story was not only relevant to the audience (environmental issues are a cornerstone of our modern attitudes), but also presented with a strong focus.

I suppose when lead is legislated out of ammunition with the corresponding jump in costs, it certainly makes the environment relevant, not to mention forming a cornerstone or attitudes.

Tangentially, I never was in a Japanese school, but anime makes it very clear that the obnoxious environmental propaganda is a big part of Japanese education. When J2 poked fun of it, it was only done because the said propaganda existed. But lots of other anime series touch upon the subject in passing. For example, To Heart delivers a beautiful example of what J2 lampooned later.

Miyazaki not only preaches, but also taps into the feelings of indoctrinated.

Anime fans under Impz’s microscope

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

One thing which looks immediately fishy in the in-post summary is the preposterously low 9% attrition rate on top of 338 participation count. I am quite certain that it arises from the self-selection, e.g. Impz first asked blog readers to contact him if they were interested. Only then they were given surveys. That’s where the attrition happened really.

Also, I just can’t stand this sort of thing: “A majority of the respondents (81.2%) were interested to adopt anime VOD if it was reasonably priced.” Frankly, this is useless. Firstly, the vast majority of consumers lie, intentionally or not. For example, I love to brag how I support the industry. I even believe in it. But one rack at Astro’s place contains more DVDs than all of my boxes. Who’s supporting the industry? Perception is very far from reality, and the only thing you really can measure is what they actually pay instead of claiming to pay.

Aside from respondents’ delusions, the question is framed too vaguely. Does that VOD include DRM-free downloads? Or is it streaming only? If the latter, is there a Linux client? Or just crappy Flash applet? Is it a hardware solution in a set-top box? It’s not even mentioned in survey questions, it seems.

Anyway, the paper is just a way for Impz to get his grade, it’s not really an attempt at meaningful research, so the shortcomings of it are moot (as long as Impz knows what they are).

Suguru on Manabi

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Busy as I am, I cannot pass it when someone talks Manabi Straight. Today, it’s Suguru of Dame-dame.

(Exhibit A: Yoakena’s Cabbage of Doom)

My God, people, give it a rest already. The cabbage/cantelope wasn’t that bad. Sure, there was a lot of crap in Crescent Love‘s animation (especially the appalling density of defects), but for the life of me I cannot see why everyone is hung upon the goddamn vegefruit.

I’d say even for my top ten anime series of all time, Manabi would still make the cut.

Indeed. Actually makes top 3 in my list.

The gradient hair was actually pretty cool-looking once I got used to it, and the characters’ expressions were done particularly well, which makes a huge difference both in the funny and dramatic parts. If you don’t believe me, watch episode 3 of the TV broadcast of Yoakena–when the character’s expressions are drawn so badly you can’t tell if someone’s embarrassed, angry, surprised, or constipated it really takes a lot of enjoyment out of watching the show.

I ROFLed. But I think I’m detecting Suguru’s favourite punching bag. Frankly, I was disappointed too, but you know… Anyway, back to Manabi.

But my biggest complaint is–it’s 4:3. Seriously, what other anime is in a 4:3 aspect ratio and not 16:9 widescreen these days?

This surprised me too. And the DVDs are 4:3 as well.

Overall, […] to sum it up, it’s a story of a group of girls who become best friends, work together for a common goal, and get a first taste of the politics and challenges of adulthood. It’s the anime series you’d have students at Otaku business schools watch to learn about leadership.

Tru dat. Although, personally, I hate all things political and I wish there was an anime with Manabi level of storytelling, only about something… else. To make it worse for me, the way “leadership” is promoted in American schools is truly disgusting. Not to detract anything from Manabi, of course, it’s just my personal hangups.

It’s got a winning combination of heart, comedy, and drama. I’m sure there are some that will find Manabi a little overly dramatic, like the scene where Manabi signs the school song surrounded by imaginary sakura, or Mei floats into the student council room in spirit as the team works on the presentation. Maybe it is over-the-top, but for me somehow it really just works.

Some of it was a bit overdone, I agree, but the wind and Manami’s visions just knocked my socks off.

Takako’s, too. It was worth the price of admission.

Chobits, visuals

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

I spent the last couple of weeks rewatching Chobits again. You know, keeping up with the season is such a bother. It’s much easier to load a DVD. I am not a big fan of the series overall, but its production values sure are something to see.

To begin with, I think Chobits is where I caught the obsession with double-shading. The modern conventional visdom is to reduce the divisions and ramp up gradients. It is not always bad, and raises the average level of anime production, but when compared with top of the line cell series like Chobits, the comparison is not kind to the modernity.

Chobits were made with very slight computer postprocessing, a bit of steam here and there, and very little of per-layer defocusing. I did not see any offensive 3D anywhere. BTW, special shading on the plastic ears.

Backgrounds were not what I would call “lavish”, but most were serviceable. Unfortunately, the best was reserved for character-less stills.

Animation lapses in Chobits are not widespread (hellooo Crescent Love). Most of them are woven into fast motion, or done on purpose for comedic effect. I saved just one lapse across 26 episodes, and no geometry or layering errors. Chobits share the honors of the most error-free series with Azumanga. It is a rather exclusive club!

Not everything in old-style anime is to my liking though. For some reason the “far side hair forward” convention always annoys me (both Yumi and Chi suffer from it in Chobits). I can understand the “mouth on the side” thing, to an extent. The alternative is not too appealing, I saw it attempted. But the hair really is not needed. Just cut the damn thing.

Here’s just a bit more candy for desert.

Aren’t they cute? Also, fake film overload or saturation (not sure what the right term is). BTW, female characters have the classic hair reflex, but male do not. Chii’s one is only missing here because of the light from behind.

Just cute.

And this too.

You’re doing it wrong

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

A fellow animeblogger Josh, who usually takes his enterprise way too seriously, ran a poll on what he should watch next.

When a blogger does this sort of thing, it serves two purposes: to have some material for readers to relate to (and comment upon), and to get some series to watch. A bare poll is a bad way to do either. An article would at least show that the blogger did his homework and thus make it more likely that readers do the work of replying. But even if they reply as-is, the resulting commenting without any knowledge where the individual in question comes from degenerates into a contest of favourites, which is not going to produce any meaningful outcome.

For an example of how to do it right, check the old posting at Kaedrin. Mark certainly put more effort into it.

UPDATE: The reply.

Busy

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

I’m just back from a Japanese midterm; it’s going to be a miracle if I get more than 50%. But it certainly won’t happen: I left half of the questions blank, some for the lack of time, some for missing elements.

Bloggers were completely off the leash this week, I did not even try to keep up.

Some continue to post Begining of New Autumn summaries, namely Hop Step Jump did one and back-from-the-dead Astro added another. I never do these things because I never have time to scan the requisite number of series, and by the time I examine even 4 or 5 top series, everyone else has moved on. One answer might be just to select two or three promising series, like Badger does, but the problem is, I can never predict what is going to be good at the beginning of the season. Who knew what Rocket Girls were going to be? If not for the coverage at Don, I would not even know they existed.

Other continue their own thing… Just two items:

Kabitzin reviewed Seirei no Mobito, which seems like a swashbucker. I made a note of it, for the purposes of expanding horizons. I can’t be just watching seifuku forever.

Sasa bought Timotei. For some reason I thought that the line was discontinued in the 90s, but apparently it still exists in the more obscure corners of the Old Europe.

So, blogging is going to be light here, but there’s no shortage overall.

Haruhi meh

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

So far the only note is, Netflix ships DVDs in Haruhi (broadcast) DVD order. Other than that, nothing to be talking about really.

At least I’ve seen Tsuruya.

UPDATE: Damien wrote to correct my misconceptions about the order. The list is supposed to make it clear, but doesn’t.

Everyone loves Yunocchi

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Seen at The Last Arial (hat tip to Jeff, as I cannot follow Arial because of all the trains):

A simple slice of life story about everyday events and friendship, it was brilliantly executed and featured a cast of instantly lovable characters; from the earnest Yuno and energetic Miyako to the cosplaying hottie Yoshinoya-sensei, easily-embarrassed Sae and weight-obsessed Hiro. I loved every minute of it and it now takes pride of place within my top ten shows.

Well, that’s all true, but… what about the very wide faces? I love Yuno too but you can’t make me love her anime.

BigN on Hidamari Sketch

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

BigN finally posted a report on Hidamari Sketch, which he completed, unlike myself. It’s pretty interesting, although I think he sort of bent Manabi for the purposes of compare-and-contrast.

If I can say that Manabi Straight was about the beginnings and growth of friendships and what happens before, during and after the process of moving of, then Hidamari Sketch is about the fun times being had when those friendships are already in the growing stage and the future is nothing more than a passing glance.

I think it might be said with equal validity that Manabi is about politics, about leadership, or teamwork too. But this will do. Also, RTWT.