Archive for August, 2008

AFK

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Going to Nevada. See you all Tuesday…

Marimite in Lucky Star

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

The cameo in Lucky Star obviously helped Marimite to grab the eye time. But the funny part is, what Lucky Star represents is essentially absent from Marimite’s action; it forms the unseen background. Konata becomes a fan of the concept commonly associated with the show, but not the show itself!

Moreover, everyone else is on the same wavelength with her. They know at once what is being signified. Thus a curious inversion of occurs: the action forms a background for things fans actually watch (well, Japanese girls do; I do not mean what old dirty weaboos watch).

In interests of compare and contrast, I think the tea in ep.1 was quite representative of both aestetic of action in Marimite, have a look:

I saw a few contrast triptychs recently (do they have a name?), the best of them was probably this:

What I watched: Spice and Wolf
What I expected: Horo’s boobs
What I got: Alan Greenspan

My only gripe with that is, I would have used Milton Friedman (perhaps the creator wanted to send a message of the government regulation, as seen in the anime). Unfortunately, no link. What I do have a link for, is not quite there, because it cheats with text. Still:

What I watched: Manabi Straight
What I expected: Chubbiest Lolis Ever
What I got: Kaiser, Oberstein, et.al.

Marimite is not very easy to do this way (but try it, I’ll link), but here’s a rough pass:

QUICK UPDATE: Mike found spelling errors, but no picture.

UPDATE: J.P. wrote that triptychs are tagged with “what_i_watched_what_i_expected_what_i_got” at Danbooru. There’s no specific name.

UPDATE 2008/12/02: Guncannon pointed out a spelling error in the image. Thanks, fixed now.

Marimite 01-03

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

I ignored Maria Sama ga Miteiru for years, in an apparently mistaken belief that it was a dykefest. But about a year ago, truth began to emerge, and just in time for the R1 release by TRSI (praise the Dark Lord). You can even get it on Netflix now, which is good, because the first volume contains shameful 3 episodes (Gurren-Lagann, also a sub-only release, offers 5).

Marimite is one of those series which seem created to underscore the importance of the correct frame of mind (see also, Jason Miao Teaches the World to enjoy Muteki Kanban Musume). For three quarters of the first episode, I kept thinking: “Why am I watching this shit?”. The art and animation being unusually bad for J.C.Staff did not help any.

Only during the meeting scene I cracked the code: it’s the lulz. “So, as you can see, me and — Yumi-chan, was it? — are quite well acquainted!”. The comedy often comes through to save anime, like the way it recovered the floundering and mediocore Kamichu circa ep.13 (by DVD count). Once I focused on the comedy of the petty intrigue, things started looking up in Marimite.

Another personal thing is that I am familiar with mentorship, and it is often comic too: my last two mentees quit the company while under advisement. I suppose others can relate to something else, like ginko nuts.

From an apersonal standpoint, the show is mostly unremarkable. For example, Yumi’s eyes look like a rejected prototype for Chiyo-chan’s eyes. Suguru being a dickhead is a cringe-inducing, flat and moldy plot move. On the other hand, most of the characters are believable and acceptable. So, it’s not as bad as I expected, good enough to watch more.

UPDATE: TheBigN and DiGiKerot are picking my bones on IRC for reflexive panning the 3-per-disc layout. The show was never sold as singles, only as a set. Therefore, only the price of the whole box matters (minus the small effort required to reload more discs).

UPDATE A 30s LATER: Now Omo too?! I don’t know if this is a case of great minds thinking alike or what.

Hung falls to Geass

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Owen tried to persuade me to watch Code Geass, but I goofed off until he fell off the face of the Net. But just as I started to think that between that and the disastrous TV ratings of Geass S2(R2) I may be able to get away, Hung folds up and watches it, citing as a reason his desire to get Sayoko jokes (no category?!) and other reasons:

I actually wrote about considering watching this more than a year ago but I guess I couldn’t be persuaded. Really, the only reason I finally ended up seeing it was that I loaded it on my iPhone in preparation for a long plane flight.

I’m not sure I like it yet, but Code Geass seems to be so integral to a well rounded knowledge of anime and weeaboo culture that I’m basically being forced to watch it.

Well… I wonder if he (and not is brother-in-law) likes Naruto.

I guess I should say something about what I thought of the first episode. I realize this post is going to resemble some kind of weird time warp. Like if a recently unfrozen caveman started writing about what he thought of automobiles or something.

I know what Hung means. I’m about to write a post about Marimite of all things…

Oh Zombie Rocket

Monday, August 25th, 2008

As I mentioned before, Japanese were trying to build an “economical” rocket (same way French plan to launch Soyuz to supplement their exising big rocket). Now Daily Yomiuri says that the project is essentially dead:

Due to conflicting interests among politicians, bureaucrats and business leaders, the recommendation to scrap the GX rocket development program has been in limbo for three months. The most regrettable aspect of the present circumstances is that those concerned have been daunted by the situation and failed to hold discussions on the matter.

A methane rocket sounds like a great idea. It has the next best performance after hydrogen, without all the horrors of LH2. Korean company C&S and American Armadillo Aerospace, among others, demonstrated methane engines. Armadillo spent a few hundred thousand dollars, and, since it’s an upper stage, Japanese probably could get away with an Armadillo-style pressure-fed engine. So, how did they manage to overspend by billions? It’s a mystery to me.

I’m sure someone is going to e-mail me that an EELV class launcher is nothing like Armadillo’s toys. Very well, but then Elon Musk developed a kerosene engine for $100 million.

What the heck, Japan?

UPDATE: Regarding the commentary at Steven’s, here’s a handy table of specific impulse for modern engines and motors (the material is taken from official data, not Wikipedia):

Motor/Engine Sea level Isp Vacuum Isp Fuel
Shuttle SRB 269 Solid
H-IIA SRB-A ? 281 Solid
Merlin-1C 275 304 Kero/LOX
RD-180 311 338 Kero/LOX
RS-68B 365 420 LH2/LOX
SSME 366 452 LH2/LOX
J-2X 465 LH2/LOX

So, even the Merlin, cobbled together by a company with zero experience, is a more efficient engine than any SRB, although I have to admit: I am thrilled just how good modern solids are. The numbers for Ares SRBs are bound to be better because they use a better fuel (HTPB instead of the old PBAN). Still, there’s no contest when it comes to oxigen-rich kerolox engines, and LH2 engines are just in league of their own.

With this kind of numbers, why would anyone use solids at all? If we ignore strap-ons that are added as an act of desperation onto an exising launcher, the answer is in the so-called “gravity loss”. In order to achieve orbit, a rocket has to attain a certain horizontal velocity component, and nothing else. Thus, any thrust that goes into lifting the rocket up is wasted. Therefore, it may be advantageous to configure a multi-stage rocket which has a rather wimpy, yet efficient core stage, with powerful and inefficient boosters. Such boosters only work a short time to get the vehicle out of the atmosphere, then separate. (It would be even better to have powerful and efficient boosters — if you can).

This scheme is used by Arianne, and exising Japanese rocket H-II (all modifications). It is also used in both of SSA’s rockets in Rocket Girls, although I am not sure anyone did any real trade studies for those. Usually, however, such configuration means that the space agency in question does not have know-how or money to develop powerful enough liquid engine, like F-1 used in Saturn-V. French and Japanese probably lacked both. In case of Shuttle, the excuse is that engines have to be packed into a reusable vehicle, so they cannot be too big.

If Ares was developed from scratch, there would be no reason to use solids. However, at least initially, both Ares-es were supposed to be Shuttle-derived, and so they used the abovemenshioned scheme.

UPDATE MOAR: Steven deleted the post I linked above, because I filled his comments with unacceptable invective. I apologize. Yes, really, I’m sorry.

UPDATE 2008/11/25: For an inexplicable reason, I forgot to look up the planned parameters of GX LNG 2nd stage, although the specifications are publicly available at galaxy-express.co.jp. According to the spec, Isp is 323 s over 118 kN thrust. Surprisingly low, but apparently the engine is driven by an unusual pump (perhaps an XCOR-style piston pump). While it would be quite respectable if XCOR did it for a budget of a few of millions, the question in the context of GX is, why not just use a Soviet kerolox upper stage engine?

BTW, Ed Kyle’s article on GX lists 355 s. I wonder where he got that number. If JAXA suddenly decided to boost the efficiency so much, it would cause enormous overruns, I bet.

Another thing, the JAXA website says that they backed up the work due to one little setback with a burn-back on the 1/5 scale model. Why is this a big deal?

Manabi is still great

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Since Gurren Lagann seems to be surging to the top, despite being a mecha series and all, I reviewed the last series that made it, Manabi Straight.

Truth to be told, Manabi was helped by the long drought for top-drawer series, and how it succeeded in the badly crowded niche of “girls in high school”, without a special hook like Konata’s otaku cred. So, on a level field it was always the weakest among them. But it’s still great. I’m even at peace with Manabi being a bad role model (becoming a freeper after school).

Very Small Post

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

The site is being worked on.

UPDATE: I cannot use fingerprinting together with WP-supercache, which is mandatory on my current server.

Evirus on Asatte no Houkou

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Karmaburn:

I fully agree that Asatte no Houkou is a very good show — presumably doubly so if you like Karada, Tetsumasa, and Hiro more than I did. That I still found Asatte no Houkou so enjoyable despite liking only Shouko is a testament to J.C. Staff’s storytelling abilities. I’m pleased the plot did not dissolve into Freaky Friday antics and misunderstandings. Rather, Asatte no Houkou focused on the trouble with preconceptions. To that end, I encourage you to approach Asatte no Houkou without preconceptions of your own — even ones that I may have germinated.

Duly noted.

I have put Asatte no Houkou into the queue after I saw Owen parsing it at length (although I didn’t link it at once because I was peeved at his disgusting IRC brawl with Xak and Bj0rn on July 16, 2007). Evirus’ post is a timely reminder to bump the show up the order.

Lawson on ef, restart

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Jeff updates and drops this line:

Just last night, I started my second attempt at watching ef – a tale of memories. If you’ve been visiting for awhile, you know that my first attempt ended in failure. I’m still guarded, of course, but I can honestly say that I find the show far more engrossing now that I’m watching the episodes in batches. I still feel that SHAFT’s characteristic style is better suited to lighter fare like Hidamari Sketch and Tsukuyomi Moon Phase, though. Anyway, I’m fairly certain I’ll finish the show this time around, and if I have any thoughts upon its conclusion, I’ll be sure to share them.

Let’s hope we won’t get hit by a bus before then.

Otou the extremist

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Here’s an extreme opinion from someone who enjoys seeing pretty girls torn apart limb by limb:

Strike Witches is full of fan-favorite, sex-on-tape seiyuus and it’s still pure crap.

I would not go that far, considering the strong story in it. IMHO it’s more of a case when creators have crossed the line (for no fault of their own, since the rights holder made them). I reserve the option to buy ep.08 some time down the road.