Archive for November, 2007

Hard to say

Friday, November 16th, 2007

AD2225 must be kidding:

Started another series. This time, Idolmaster Xenoglassia. One hell of a hard to spell name. Not quite as bad as Utablabla, but close. (I still can’t spell that one, and honestly I’m not sure I got this one right..)

Look, it’s not hard… You know how they say “So-and-so are xeno-phobic”? Say aloud: “Xenophobia”. Now, this is Xeno-glossia. It means that Haruka speaks foreign languages (she does not really, at least not in the first 8 episodes, but there it is; they probably meant that she talks to the Imbel’s core, which is an alien consciousness).

As for Utawarerumono, it’s not hard either. Mono is mono, like in tatemono, bakemono, kudamono. Uta comes from utau, to sing. The -reru is their passive, “was sung”, which applies to negative stem. You take utawanai, delete nai, slap reru on it, and get “sung thing”: utawa-reru-mono. Nee?

Now, say “baku-basu-gasu-hatsu” 50 times.

UPDATE: There was a reply.

ef early discussion

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

It looks that produced some fruitful blog discourse as watchers grapple with the concepts. I was behind on the series, and I regret that I haven’t read it before, because of concern for spoilers. Some of it is spoilerific indeed, but I see now that ef is strong enough to weather them, so it’s all good (as an aside, it’s a mark of all strong shows: we all know that Nia dies, right? but doesn’t hurt watching).

First, apparently, was Anime Diet.

One pleasing thing to me too as a wannabe writer myself is how much of the show is about artists.

Hah. In my book that actually comes very close to meta, like blogging about bloggers, and thus is a black mark. Fortunately, ef is not some kind of abnoxious artistic wankery at its core, like Adaptation, so I can watch it. Chihiro banzai.

Next came Owen with a typically longish piece. He refined my understanding of b/w shots used for Hiro and made a few other useful comments.

Finally, Impz chimed in. He didn’t attempt to manufacture any “insights”, but he probably has done a lot to spread the appreciation of ef.

I saw quite a bit of scattered bloggage floating around as well. IIRC Omo wrote something unusually episodic at some point, and there was a number of screenshot heavy episodic summaries, but of course nobody beats Random Curiosity for this sort of thing. I won’t even try.

Badger on ef 3

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

I had to delay a reply to Concrete Badger’s ef 3 post until I collected some material, but here it is now.

It’s a show that has divided opinion (and dropped off quickly in popularity, judging by the BT download speeds and stats) but the very reasons that have earned it so much derision are part of what make it so intriguing […]

I suppose I wasn’t reading the right blogs, but I didn’t see much derision. Someone mocked the retarded streetlight, but I cannot find who that was: seemingly nobody in my feedlist did, so it must’ve been a visit through Antenna. OK, Lawson dropped it, but I don’t recall derision there either. He just got bored.

Actually, ef looks really cinematic. The reason why it comes across as pretentious I think is because it’s taking an approach normally associated with feature films, but unusually doing it in an episodic TV format.

I am inclined to think that the impression of pretentiousness happens more because some of techniques fall flat. For example, I am pretty tired with off-center camera… where it does not work.

The beach scenes were great, but this is just not it.

It’s not that ef makes no effort to appeal to its otaku audience: there are a number of clichés and plot devices in use which feel a bit out-of-place when placed next to the more quirky aspects but to my mind are an attempt at keeping the otaku viewers on familiar ground; they often have more experience with other anime than arthouse cinema, after all.

We can speculate about the reasons, but yes, I noticed that too. Sometimes it’s more blunt, like NICE BOAT and directly presented characters of Lucky Star, sometimes it’s generics:

Non-otaku symbols range in their intricacy quite a bit. Here’s something very overt:

This one is confused. I think the idea was to present a “dark emotional state”:

And sometimes one can’t help thinking that creators do these tricks for shits and giggles:

I didn’t connect the cinema club meeting with the show itself. That would probably be too arrogant or too self-flaggelating, depending on how you slice it. I suppose they could have thought it. Anyway, on a different topic, new weaboo’s treasures:

“読んでいのは そこまでです。” — I don’t understand what the “ino” is supposed to be. Chihiro does not mumble, but it’s just hmm… I wrote before about her propensity to omit syllables, just to make poor gaijins miserable. Here she probably meant “よんで いるのは〜”.

いじわる — “mean”, the dictionary form is “意地の悪い” (いじのわるい). Grrrr Chihiro.

だっこする — “(to) hug”. I know “だきしめる”, but this is new (although it can be the same stem, who knows).

AX tackles queues

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Seen at Anime Diet with a reference to ANN:

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the parent company of Anime Expo (AX), has announced that it has hired a third-party company to oversee registration starting in 2008. Experient’s services will include a dedicated pre-registration site with group and hotel reservation options, a scannable confirmation form for quicker on-site processing of pre-registered attendees, 60 manned and 40 self-registration stations, and on-site and on-call support from Experient’s personnel.

I always worked around this by registering on Friday. At worst it took 40 minutes. However, in 2004 my car sustained a lower ball joint separation while I was about to depart for AX. Getting it towed took a while and I checked in the hotel around 23:00, when registration was closed. The next day I stood in line for six hours. No, I’m not exaggerating. I went to register at 8 in the morning and received my badge by 2 in the afternoon. Needless to say, I missed the opening ceremonies, which I really wanted to see.

Moreover, I think that organizers screwed me ower. Instead of creating a single line, they separated the crowd into individual segments. I’m quite certain that other segments overtook the one where I ended.

Not paying attention

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I am on my own tonight and I was just going to have a supper of frozen taiyaki… Or what I thought were frozen taiyakis. By an accident, I recognized my error before I tried to thaw them, when I saw a cross-section on the side which displayed something white. A closer examination revealed a label “バニラアイス”.

In theory, reading food labels in katakana is well within my capabilities, but I suppose I just grabbed the box and went on. Oh well, ravioli time.

Impz on BambooB

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Seen at THAT:

Tamaki is slowly stealing the show away from the magnificent Miya Miya (a very freaking strong version of a vicious tsundere) with her sudden strange face making. I am definitely having a very huge dilemma whether Tamaki is better or Miya Miya is better. Both have their merits, and it gives me a terrible headache just to choose between the two. Can I really have them both?

Quite so, and it was obvious after the ep.3.

Still, I’d go with Tama, if only because Miya-miya’s real identity is unclear and ultimately Impz may be wrong. A tsundere is fundamentally nice, just badly mannered. But Miya-miya is truly half and half, in and yan. She cannot decypher who she is herself. Yandere, perhaps? Or a psychopath who defies classification?

UPDATE: Impz’s commenter Warpshadow agrees:

I hate to sound like a know it all but Miya Miya isn’t a Tsundere. She is actually one of the new group of moe girls known as Yandere which is a reverse tsundere. An analogy would be a Tsundere would be like a piece of candy that is sour on the outside but sweet on the inside were a Yandere is a piece of candy that is sweet on the outside and has a razor blade on the inside. [Emphasis mine — Author]

Now you see why I avoid using “moe” on the blog. If we start including yandere into moe, moe loses all meaning, except “a sexual fetish” (in this case, fetish of mazochists (on second thought, Miya-miya always dotes over Dai (which may be not very realistic (is this a blog or a LISP program?)))).

Dennou Coil begins

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Dennou Coil was recommended by many people, starting with my friend Joe (not an animeblogger, a catblogger). It was a while ago and I remember how unimpressive screenshots were: very basic art, bleak color key, computerized inserts. Now that I’ve seen it, I can say that the vicarious impression was true. The main thing I did not appreciate back then was how ghiblified characters were.

Still, it’s not bad at all. Maybe I should replace “basic” with “laconic”. The animation is artistic without undue exhuberance, inserts are kept to a minimum.

Overall Dennou Coil reminds me of Windy Tales, which sported beautiful yet rather sketchy art. Windy Tales also had an outstanding story in the first couple of episodes, which was abrubtly replaced with episodic shit. The analogy makes me apprehensive, but we’ll see.

UPDATE: In end of ep.04, Ureshii failed to identify and translate the name “michiko” that [main] Yuko saw in the corrupted data.

V.odd. Unfortunately, Dennou Coil is far too complex for me to take raw.

ef more

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

If I drop a series, I use it as an excuse to rip the unfortunate show to shreds. Jeff Lawson is not one to make a big production from dropping; he just quits one day (it’s an utter mystery why his Mahoraba reporting stopped at ep.19). Yesterday he made the abandonment of ef official (in comments, scroll down). It was a matter of time after this:

All in all, ef – a tale of memories is a fascinating show.

And it bores me to tears.

I’m exaggerating, yes, but I have to admit that, after four episodes, I don’t find the show the slightest bit engaging. While watching, I feel completely detached from what’s going on, a little voice in the back of my head whispering, “you could be watching something else right now, you know.”


But “fascinating” is spot on. I’m only done with two episodes, but so far, ef is a treasure trove for weaboos, more so than Lucky Star was (which only had Miyuki for such purposes, and we know how little screen time she received).

There’s no complex grammar, it’s all だ and です with a smattering of ありません. One can enjoy it after a cursory reading of a textbook for a month. I thought I’d melt when Chihiro said “あそうさんのこと 試してました” together with a missing particle “wo” and “i” out of “iru”. In the same time, a few of one-word oddities to delight the non-fluent:

いらそう — Translated as “arrogant” (the mangaka guy on the roof with the crazy girl). Not in any dictionary.

ごしょう — Translated as “an incorrect form of addressing someone”.

Now, if you do not fall for this sort of thing, I think it’s still an ok anime. We have a somewhat convoluted story, but not excessively. Surrealism is kept in check. A comfortable viewing, in other words.

UPDATE: Jeff says the blogging about Mahoraba fell victim to real life and its end coincided with the end of Nowhere. He did not actually abandon the series.

Singapore speaks English

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

Tsubaki posted an article about a cross-promotion between Yakitake Japan! and a bakery chain, with a few pictures. What do you know, all signs are in English, and none are in Chinese (except the price stickers). But according to the CIA, most of Singapore is Chinese. Anime is an entertainment of the… foreign workers?

I knew Russians who lived in Singapore, so I’m aware that one can get by with English there (which is the language of all educated Russians, see). The same is true in Moscow, Helsinki, or Tokyo (and even Los Angeles). But in neither of those places bread shops have signage in English in preference (ok, perhaps in downtown LA they do, but you know what I’m saying).

And since we’re on topic, why do Singaporeans even need that awful ODEX? If anyone who buys bread is fluent in English, just import DVDs from Australia, America, or England. Do they execute vendors of region-free players on sight or something?

UPDATE: TJ e-mails:

You do realise that the primary language for all Singaporeans is English? Just that most of us can speak two or three languages, which may not be conducive for correct grammar in the less-linguistically inclined. Chinese is an ethnicity, just like how Russian is yours but you are American.

I do realize it now. This realization was the point of the post, but I guess it wasn’t expressed clearly enough. Before I thought Singapore was more like India or HK.

ef begins

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

I am unable to give ef justice with one screenshot, so here’s a little stack.

Kulons worth of electrons were expended on critiquing ef’s frame composition, with complaints about the streetlamp taking up space here and odd split-screen techniques there. I found these innovations only a little annoying, and most of their kin working for what they were (like Miya’s clones talking). And the bulk of the show is done normally, so I don’t see a case for fuss. It’s pretty and “anime-ish” looking, like a major upgrade to Pokemon.

What peeved me were the references (I suppose everyone have seen the “NICE BOAT” screenshot by now, so the one below is something else). I can see why Lucky Star is full of them: it’s a successor of Excel Saga in that regard. But in both ef and Sketchbook the references were singularly inappropriate, as if the decisions to insert them were done without the consent of directors. What is this clowning at a funeral? Wrong type of anime, people!

The stories of insanity is not something I enjoy as a rule, moreso because creators in America seem to exhibit unusual tropism to them. Sometimes they come out ok, like Forrest Gump or Brilliant Mind, but most of the time it’s clearly the unhealthy fascination with the deviancy moving the script. In anime these trends are mostly under control, but only mostly. Chihiro seems not too bad by comparison, I think I can take her.

I suppose what keeps me watching is the suspense. At one point it seemed as if the rest of the characters existed in Asou’s fiction. So, I want to know what is going on and what is going to happen. Sort of like with Murukami’s books. And it’s a comfortable watching, so we shall see.

BTW, Nice non-pop OP and ED (ED was a hybrid).