Archive for January, 2009

Nanoha ends

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Nanoha is not a bad show by any stretch, but it completely mismatches my sensibilities. I became restless in ep.10, started to resent it actively in ep.11, and I did not take any notes for the last two episodes. I only gathered 35 screencaps, a long unheard low number.

In the end, where I was going to go straight to Nanoha A, I will probably just drop the whole franchize. Maybe I should have not listened to Lawson after all, but it’s water under the bridge.

Liked: Uneven
Rewatch: God, no

UPDATE: Steven’s observation about shounen tropes is quite valid. Does anyone remember how Naruto turns Gaara into a friend by beating him? See Naruto ep.80. In J2, there was even a semi-formal club of “people who Jubei has beaten and made into adoring fans” under the honorable chairmanship of Mikase.

UPDATE: Great, now sagematt rages and raves on #animeblogger how I should’ve listened to him and skipped straight to Nanoha A. Since I mentioned skipping before, Steven considered it and thought it would not have helped. Anyway, whatever. Nanoha, or more precisely, Fate, has ruined anime for me. I wish she jumped in after her mother.

UPDATE: Evirus discloses my reply to an entry with a shoutout, adds an extra comment (he joins SDB in thinking that A’s would not help). Also, a link to significant commentary from the past. BTW, he developed ideas about desirable extensions to Nanoha franchise further, still including pinheads.

Midori no Hibi ends

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

As I mentioned in the opener post, Lawson’s old old blog was my primary reference, but as I think now Brickmuppet prompted me to act. When he says “NO FREAKKING WAI GTFO” in bold underlined italics, it must be good, right? And it was!

I regret to say that I have to break with Lawson on this. He joined with the “cute but forgettable” crowd, which is rational but seems like missing some point. MnH does not deserve more from a film critic, but it feels better than its merits.

Liked: YES
Rewatch: Probably.

Japanese Government initiates an air launch project

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

From the Daily Yomiuri (via), comes the report about JAXA and USEF initiating an air-launched satellite launcher.

A U.S. firm has undertaken commercial midair rocket launches for about 20 years, and the system has been studied by a number of countries.

Indeed, OSC Pegasus was flying for about 25 years now (the latest launch was with IBEX in October 2008). It teeters between marginally profitable and making a small loss, for the reasons of both high fixed and marginal costs. OSC keeps on the books and maintains a dedicated airplane for it, the “Stargazer”. So, although there is no dedicated launch pad (as mentioned by the article), fixed costs are still in the millions. Further, as Elon Musk observed, Pegasus itself is a 3-stage rocket with an optional 4th liquid stage (“HAPS”), and the first stage is no less than an actual hypersonic airplane. It’s not cheap to make (and is not going to be cheap to develop for Japan).

The ministry plans to develop the midair rocket-launching system at a cost of 10 billion yen to 20 billion yen, about 10 percent of that for the H-2A Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite, named Ibuki, which was launched Friday. It also will seek to hold down launch costs to several hundred million yen.

If they attempt to clone Pegasus, the above is way optimistic. But if they are smart, they will use the concept by Air Launch (only solid fueled): a rocket which is thrown out the back of a military transport, launches vertically, and passes behind its carrier. It’s a far superior system in all respects. Firstly, there’s no need to maintain a dedicated airliner. Secondly, the rocket is far simpler — no wings — which means cheaper. And finally, there’s a better growth path. We’ll see if Japanese agree.

John gone mad

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

OK, maybe we just have a difference of opinion here, but look:

Central Park Media deserves praise for bringing a great number of exceptional anime releases to America, including Grave of the Fireflies, Project A-ko, Lodoss War, Now & Then, Here & There, and Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer. But CPM is also responsible for inflicting an inordinate number of terrible titles, including Crystal Triangle, Dog Soldier, Explorer Woman Ray, MD Geist, and Art of Fighting, on American viewers. But Central Park Media isn’t the only American distributor guilty of having foisted awful anime onto American consumers.

AD Vision has pumped out its fair share of stinkers, including the Samurai Shodown (Samurai Spirits) TV special, the Tekken OVA series, Power Dolls, Samurai Gun, Divergence Eve, Panzer Dragoon, and Suikoden Demon Century.

Emphasis mine. Lodoss War was simply a bad way to adopt a tactics campaign to anime. As for Divergence Eve

Sixten the technowizard

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Woa, enclosures! I never had an excuse to learn how to make them.


Rocket Girls rework for DVD, bis

Monday, January 26th, 2009

As I mentioned previously, Rocket Girls was changed for DVD. Most of the changes had to do with the Matsuri’s bust size, and concentrated around ep.10, so I suspected that a specific person or team screwed the pooch.

As it turns out, early episodes were touched up too. In broadcast version of ep.05, the LS-5 stack carrying Tanpopo was shown with the capsule access arm still attached at ignition time. This error was corrected for the DVD release.

Exhibit 1: The broadcast (fansub).

Exhibit 2: The R1 DVD.

Although an obvious error, I’m a little surprised they went back and fixed it.

Midori no Hibi 08

Monday, January 26th, 2009

I’ve seen 12 episodes and saved the last one to be savoured later. But no matter what happens, Midori no Hibi has already done a remarkable thing: it made me to like the filler. I’ve seen some pretty strong filler before, in RahXephon 15 and Kamichu 12, for instance. But Midori Days 08 was special.

From certain point of view, neither of the three are pure filter. In RahXephon‘s case, we even learn something of material importance about the background of the characters. And in Midori’s case, she probably learned a thing or two about herself. It’s just that in neither case there was a direct impact on the story and all three are a filler in a sense they can me omitted without damaging the story.

One of the best things about the Midori’s case is the way creators played with the characters without overdoing it. I’ve seen many convoluted dream sequences before. Some were downright delirious, like Hidamari Sketch 05. MnH, however, does not become recursive, or such (even in the final frame, the depth is limited to 2, see the screencap above). And in general, the episode was plain old nice, e.g. the Iwasaki’s anger at dense boys.

Due to Netflix’s idiocy I interleaved Midori no Hibi with Nanoha disc by disc, and the former wins hands down. It’s more entertaining, more sophisticated, more interesting that its highly acclaimed and popular accidential rival. Who knew?!

Chris Fritz on Haibane Renmei 13

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

One quotelet:

Reaching this final episode of Haibane-Renmei, the thing that took me off guard the most was the revelation that Haibane-Renmei is Reki’s story. It took all 13 episodes to realize Rakka is a second-person perspective to Reki’s tale, and a catalyst to Reki’s change, both planned and at the same time unplanned by Reki.

Reading that I feel a certain vindication of my worldview, because this is how I think about Haibane Renmei‘s structure too.

At some point I thought that it’s somewhat common to displace the observer or the narrator. Consider Kyon in Haruhi, or Mikan in Manabi. Rakka is a purer application of this technique. But I appreciate how she’s not just ABe’s exposition tool, and how her own story is very important too. It all was exquisitely designed and implemented.

Macross Frontier 01-02

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

At club meeting yesterday, I had an opportunity to see the beginning of Macross Frontier.

Mac F is very well put together. I watched ep.05 before, and it’s noticeable how the opening episodes are done to a higher standard of excitement in order to grab the viewer. The exposition was unobtrusive, and I’ve seen the canonical introduction of the characters, which helped to know them better. Main characters are likeable, even Sheryl, and that stands with sharp contrast with Mac Plus. It’s an all around superior show.

Unfortunately, I know that the ending left the love triangle unresolved, so that tempers my enthusiasm quite a bit.

Cameron on Allison and Lillia

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Awakened from his eternal slumber by Coburn, he dumped almost a momotatesque summary on us. It included a surprisingly positive bit about Allison and Lillia:

I had a lot of misgivings about this show after the first episode. Hell, I had a lot of misgivings about this show after the first arc. But as the show progressed and the world became developed better and the lies started piling up, it started getting good. Especially after Wil became the soulless super-spy. I really liked how neither Allison nor Wil was perfect and their strengths complimented each other.

I dunno. After I dropped A&L, my impression was that simply was way oversimplified. Anything I read thereafter, for example by Washi and Martin matched my understanding. So I’m not about to go back. Also, Cameron’s mini-review does not explain much anyway. But just for the record… some may like it.

UPDATE THE NEXT DAY: Cameron replied with a reflection essay. Sadly I’m looking at it wrong, probably, because my favourite line is: “Now, I have to admit for being Wil’s kid, Lillia is really dense, but she does have Allison’s charm and hot-headedness, which I found somewhat fun.”

Equally sadly I cannot relate to “Bobsey Twins” and “Hardy Boys”, directly at least. I can see what it is supposed to mean, having read Alfred Szklarski’s “Tomek in the Land of Kangaroo”. Although, A&L is a level below Szklarski, IMHO.