Archive for August, 2012

The Disappearence of Haruhi Suzumiya

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

My views on Disappearance were largely informed by Evirus, starting with the camrip post and following up with the full-res pass. I’m pretty sure that Jonathan and Aziz must’ve blogged it too, but their websites are malfunctioning, so posts are impossible to find. Anyway, I do not remember them posting. Evirus, however, gave me a good taste of my own medicine.

Anime blogging is done with two classes of readers in mind: those who have watched the anime and those who have not. The first class is by definition spoiler-proof. It looks for joint celebration, detail clarification, and/or nostalgic kick. The second class is spoiler-sensitive and looks for advance information. Blogging for the two is generally incompatible, but a blogger cannot know the future class breakdown. One approach is a non-spoiling celebration, such as Visual Retrospective at Ani-nouto. It’s quite effective, but still a compromise. When I read the following as a 2nd Class Reader, I had not the clue about the power of the transmission:

Kyon’s happiness at seeing her again is our happiness. So too seeing the Haruhi we know emerge from the Shoushitsu Haruhi we meet at first.

Yes.

Without revealing too much about the plot or the movie’s secrets, Shoushitsu gives us a privileged look into the mind of a girl we thought we knew — one we’ve perhaps taken for granted because she has been so reliable.

YES (made explicit in voice-over just to pound it to stupid viewers though).

Well, for one thing, it is much more apparent how warm all of the scenes with Disappearance Nagato Yuki are. Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu is very much a winter movie, with a mostly gray palette and bitterly cold scenes. In contrast, Nagato appears to fill the clubroom with warmth.

Wow yes. I didn’t consciously notice it.

Still, 2nd Class people reading about AKB0048 will not understand either.

Anyhow, it was a very good anime movie.

But I did not like its Kyon any more than before. He’s extremely weak-minded and neurotic in the beginning, for one thing. But most importantly, I disagree with his choice. In an ordinary anime, like Honey and Clover, the opposing messaging would destroy all value. In a decent anime, like Railgun, it dealt a heavy damage. In Disappearance it’s the creative freedom that I grant to the author and director.

In addition, a certain logic underpins Kyon in Haruhi, that does not yield well. A regular battered husband has an agency, which Kyon lacks. In the original, it was possible that Kyon was actually created this way by Haruhi. If he were not up to her expectations, the whole would could be unmade in an instant.

Frank Herbert tackled a similar problem in God-Emperor of Dune, with the titular god-emperor and Duncan Idaho. The former went through several iterations of Duncan, trying to get the ideal one, but had to kill him every time and re-clone anew from saved genetic stock. The best and final iteration was the opposite of Kyon, purely by luck, I think.

After all said, it is ironic that I only watched it because it was a present, and so because it was only $20. The obvious question: is it worth the price? Immediately, I thought no. But things are expensive these days, and $20 for about 3 episodes worth of very high quality anime does not sound so bad. Try to find an airplane rental for $90 an hour anymore. Disappearance is almost 3 hours.

The final question is, should someone who’s not seen the TV series buy the movie? It is extremely referrential, but perversely, I think it would be ok. People watch psychodelic movies that make no sense at all, and this is better, so by all means, enjoy. I disclaim all responsibility though.

UPDATE: Omo comments on the meta.

Hero Living in Flonyard Permanently

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Sandra and Woo ran a strip recently that went like this:

Woo: Sandra?
Sandra: Hmm?

Woo: I’ve got the feeling that you aren’t showing me as much affection as you used to.

Sandra: Oh no, why would you believe such a horrible thing?
Woo: You haven’t given me a tummy rub since Monday!

Sandra [rubbing Woo’s tummy]: Sigh
Woo: Mmmm.

Seriously though. Consider how much Heros have to pet and groom their Masters. Flonyard is a great place for a vacation, but living there permanently is a different matter. There are so many ways in which the relationship may take an ugly turn.

Supporting the industry

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Had this delivered today:

Interesting book… No manga, but the interview with the director is there. Karen Iwata is in the center of lower row at the cover, I think — those 3D faces confuse me. Surprisingly young-looking for the voice, if it’s her.

The single is the usual set of OP/ED, including karaoke tracks. Quite nice, I like it.

Why watch Dog Days Dash?

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Steven used a post by EmperorJ that I almost certainly read, but did not pay attention to, in order to consider an important question: why watch DD2?

Steven’s answer is very straightforward:

Deep down, I wish I was there. I wish I could be part of it. That’s why I watch. I like the characters, and I like the situation, and it’s a nice place to visit.

I don’t want to be there, but I still watch (and EmperorJ does too). Why?

The last series that I completed was AKB0048, and I think it took too much. I don’t have any energy left for this pursuit. The current run-list has Nazo no Kanojo X at 08, where Tsubaki is beginning to fantacize about coping a good feel of his mysterious girlfriend. I’m afraid my eyes may get injured from the rolling. Of Tari Tari I watched 1 episode, and it was pretty good, but please. How many 2+3s have I seen recently? A dozen? Feels that way, even if none had a Sawa. Anyway, I absolutely do not want to get too involved, and this is where DD2 comes in.

The sequel is a very nice show for a switch-off watching. I think the only thing that makes me care one little bit is Eclair getting a shaft (a metaphorical one, not Shinku’s). Other than that, whatever. Plot not advancing? Perfect.

Back in the days of caring, I tried to question if Yuki’s grotesque melons for breasts was a good thing. But not now. If someone likes that kind of thing, good for them, that’s why we have harem with such diverse characteristics.

AKB0048 Retrospective One

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Spoilers are minimal in this Retrospective. It is also abridged.

This is how we meet main characters, after the “Teenage Mutant Idols In Sewers” sequence. At the time it was completely unremarkable, but thinking back, is it not amazing how Chieri could laugh and smile in such an innocent manner before the timeskip? She had to re-learn it all. Question: why? What was her domestic life like? Possibly it was nothing more than being surrounded by small people, who evoked disdain and nothing else, plus the alpha personality to begin with.

One of big obstacles between me and AKB48 is their odd choreography. Is this running like a sheep herd from a collie supposed to be a good thing?

Nagisa’s controversial room. Note how large it is in the anime. In reality, most likely it was nothing like it (using the expression under advisement).

This famous Kojiharu screencap made me decide to watch AKB0048. However, the scene is not quite what it seems, and — spoilers — she does not drop the micsaber, as was reported about the manga. Kojiharu is not a dojiko. BTW, she is only one of the two with portmanteau handle, the other being Takamina, the captain of the group.

Meet the 77th Generation understudies: Makoto, Shizuko, Yuuka, Nagisa, Orine, Sonata, and Chieri. Everyone save for Chieri demonstrate their own fashion style. It is nothing unusual in anime, but AKB0048 took it quite far: everyone’s outfits made sense and changed appropriately over a large time period. It was very pleasing to see.

I remember criticizing Ufotable for the close-ups. Satelight had shown us how it’s done (admittedly a few years down the road and on a different kind of budget).

The 3D. Although it was far from the worst animated CG in anime, it really made me grind my teeth by how pointless it was. The 3D scenes were spliced in for small parts of dance numbers, and preceded and followed by fully animated sequences (see the next screencap). So it’s not like Satelight saved any money on 3D! It’s absurd. Why do it?!

Meet the last two surviving 75th Generation understudies: Kanata and Mimori (with Chieri in the background). As mentioned above, this is fully animated.

Yuuko wields 2 micasbers, as an understudy no less.

The historic mentions in AKB0048 have a strange quality of incongruity, which I met in Lain before. Note that Lain was fully explainable, so perhaps this is too, I just don’t want to think hard enough. For example, Yuuko (above) could easily be an understudy in Acchan’s time – we just need to presume that the scene she’s recalling happened a very long time ago. That would let Kojiharu to promote. But — the incongruity — Yuuko was recalling it as it was a recent experience.

Or how about this: Sae performs with Acchan (Sae is 2nd from the left). But she belongs to the 76th! How long ago have Acchan disappeared? No more than one generation ago, it seems. But seeing how much it takes to train an idol, the only explanation is that generation gap must be way more than 1 year. Otherwise, logical possibility is that Sae was a full stand-in, but that’s a bit out there. It’s the same incongruity again. {Update: Sae is not a stand-in, because stand-ins wear a different uniform (see Megumi below). Still, a crazy retcon is possible.}

This is the “Makoto, why are you so wonderful” screencap. Did you think I could forget to include one?

My vacation plans are starting to firm up.

Note how WOTA uniforms list a member’s name (an a pithy slogan); in this case it’s Yuuko. I do not think I saw a WOTA rooting for an understudy. It appears that fans do not get to choose who meets them for the handshake, so Suzuko delivers the honors. Regardless, do you think Suzuko knew his name beforehand? Surely she knew about WOTA; possibly even cracked identity of a few.

I remember that Omo was sceptical when he saw Haruka Amami’s #1 Fan. Well, how about this one? Egged on by her mother, no less? What is the message here?

Meet the 76th Generation understudies, including The Girl With Lemon On Her Head. Megumi is the focus of attention; Hazuki is first on the left. Nothing else is known about anyone.

This is another famous screencap. Remember about Chieri’s smile? Still, being as good as she is, she mastered appearances extremely quickly, as could be seen duing the gravure shoot later.

Megumi. You know, it’s difficult not to root for her, considering what she’s up against. I mean… Chieri is mega capability, Nagisa is mega aura. Who are you to go level with them? I skipped a screencap of 75th and 77th united in a social setting, but that’s just as important. A pat on the head from Kanata is not going to compensate the handicap, and Sae is no help at all.

In parts AKB0048 turns to pure magic. Sensei-sensei and Special Kirara is an important part, but they are nothing compared to the magic of idols. When Takamina is psyched up, she can just summon two Kirara out of thin air, and they are not octopii! She can also change her outfit with her thought. Nobody bats the eye at that (dismayed Kanata in the background is… something different). Note that it’s easy to explain why Takamina has to wear a textile uniform: if your get-up depends on your mood and mana level, you risk ending on the stage naked without a corporeal outfit as a base. Still, impressive.

What is a gravure? Yuuka has a good idea it seems, as she explains the sample picture of Kojiharu hugging her bare chest. The question is, however, how does she know? All three come from the planet under the entertainment ban. Oh, never mind, I know.

Acchan always looks stoned in her screencaps, corroborated by her speech patterns and random thoughts. Think it’s unintentional?

Finally, Tsubasa on the bridge. The very same bridge bunnies work with her as those back when Acchan was still around. Ep.1 includes a shot of Tsubasa in command while being a member. I kid you not: it’s the canon. Interesting though, who are the crew? Their composure under stress is amazing. Are they relatives of Mayuyu Mk.3?

Guide to katakana ri, so, n

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

When Kate of Sketchbook mentioned being unable to distinguish ri, so, and n, I thought she was playing to stereotype. Today, however, Steven admitted to mixing them in Ken’s comments. But it’s simple, in the same way distinguishing Sumire and Ami was simple.

The process takes up to two steps. First, determine if this is “ri”.

If the short stroke is vertical, or parallel to (part of) the long stroke, it is “ri”.

Second, in case the short stroke is crooked, is to split “so” from “n”.

If the short stroke is aligned with the top of the long stroke, it’s “so”. If it is aligned with the left end, it’s “n”.

No, I don’t know what “stone” is about. Probably the name of the store.

Mike interviews Tatsuo Sato

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Transcript is up, at last.

Q: Where do you see the anime industry going in the next 5 to 10 years? Do you see any upcoming trends? What do you see for the future?

A: In the press conference, I said I wanted to focus on TV. I think there will be more movies. The 13 episode cour is so weak as a series, so hard to sell and market [as a whole]. If so, then it’s better to make films to keep the TV series longer, and approach to sales or marketing is what a lot of people are thinking is the better way.

Oh noes. I happen to like the cour format. Statistically[1], the 1-cour series are better than 2-cour, and 2-cour class wins over the longer formats. It’s his choice, of course, but I would not like it.

[1] The phenomena was blogged at Ani-nouto rigorously, but is kind of difficult ot find now. When ordering by factual R-factor, the 1-courers bubble right to the top. Predicted R>1 is marked in ending brackets, BTW.

Did someone say meta

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Canne did! Just a couple of things:

  1. Never was good with the idea of “carnival”, and much prefer organic linking for the incremental discovery. For the bulk discovery – blogroll. Keep it updated. Carnivals “push” the discovery: it happens when the carnival occurs, and not when I want it.
  2. Going on hiatus unannounced is a problem? Why don’t you learn to use a feedreader. Here, click to Google Reader for example. It wasn’t so difficult now, was it? If you do not want to give your privacy to Google, install a standalone reader app.

UPDATE: John Sato joins in with love of blogroll. So far so good, but there’s a little flaw in his methodology:

I am on twelve other blogger’s blogrolls (that I know of) […] And yet, the most any of these blogs has gotten me in terms of traffic is about sixty-three pageviews. All-time.

I’m wondering if John realizes that people who peruse blogrolls look for blogs to subscribe. If one of these 63 does, that act delivers way more pageviews than John accounts.

AKB0048 S1 ends

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Unfortunately, any attempt to give AKB0048 a conclusive review is going to be undermined by the fact that the major story was not concluded or resolved in the 13 episodes. The creators wrapped up the season, but not done much beyond that. So, imagine that you were a fly-on-the-wall character in all this, and then had to move across the Galaxy. Good times. Cherish those memories.

Hawthorne wrote that any kind of extension is possible:

That last shot could mean a lot of things: a new season, an OVA, a movie … we’ll just have to wait it out together.

In story terms, however, nothing short of a TV cour is acceptable. Anything else is just squeezing the fanbase, the way original Hanayukyou Maid Tai did.

This is all made worse by leaving a million of threads dangling. For example, in Kampher only 2 questions were left: who wins and what’s up with moderators. Here we have (not counting the global conflict and Center Nova):

  • What is going to happen to Kanata now?
  • Can Suzuko succeed Tsubasa? I am going to rage soooo hard if she does; little bitch is nowhere suitable for the role without a major growth.
  • Kirara and the Delirium: is there a connection? Or is it like how a railgun and a cannon both accelerate projectiles to a similar effect through entirely unrelated mechanisms?
  • Is Chieri going to succeed Mayuyu?
  • And Nagisa? BTW, is there a definitive list of active and inactive members? Most importantly if Iwata the 3rd can be arranged.
  • What about Megumi? Anyone else? Like Yukka? These may be considered parts of the same story, but perhaps not.
  • Sae and Naota: the fanfic writes itself, but it’s virtually guaranteed to conflict with the canon in the extension.
  • What is the deal with bridge bunnies? What is their story?

A movie cannot possibly give consideration to each of these.

Getting back to the memories, the most important one is how romping and scintillating the anime was. Usually any decent anime has its moments, but this was a festival end to end (sure, there was angst and the like, but it never was permitted to drag the show). Check these notes:

  • 01 Opens with Teenage Mutant Ninja Idols in sewers.
  • 02 Sonata. What next, Camry? Accord? Fusion? It’s a redhead.
  • 04 Nagisa narrages with a voiceover. GO IWATA-SAN. SHOW SEIYUUFAGS THAT YOU’VE GOT IT
  • 04 This history moment was superb, except for Suzuko’s lisp. Suitably introspective, and just a little creepy, with Nagisa there to verify.
  • 05 Suddenly, the situation is getting CREEPY AS FUCK as clones appear
  • 05 Holy mother, Yuuko welds two mikesabers, like Starkiller.
  • 06 Can’t stop saying “this is the best anime ever”. And I don’t even like AKB48.
  • 07 KAZAKHSTAR, ruled by Nursultan Nazarbayev The 9th no doubt
  • 07 [kinda makes me wonder what was Kojiharu’s civilian name, where she comes from, etc.]
  • 07 WHAT IS THE LEMON ON HER HEAD [In Upotte, everyone asks why Ichiroku wears an orange slice in her hair; here we have a whole lemon and nobody bats an eye.]
  • 08 So, there’s Youko, too. Too many! And she looks like Sae. Oh, wait, hehe.
  • 09 WTF Takamina summoned 2 odd Kiraras, while being sick. And transformed.
  • 10 Oh Makoto, you are so wonderful. Even if you never succeed anyone.
  • 11 “They ask if Yukirin goes to the bathroom”
  • 13 Oh. Pieces of Acchan awoke. George Lucas, have at you! [Meaning how Obi-wan became more powerful than you can ever imagine.]

There is more, way more where this comes from, which I’m going to save for a retrospective post.

Liked: Yes
Rewatch: Yes

Yawara fails

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

It’s quite good. The art is attractive and looks a bit like Patlabor OVA (on reporters, in particular), as opposed to, say, Ranma. And yet…


Oh well. It was worth a try.

P.S. It should be noted that my gag reflex is tuned wrongly too often. I never was able to finish one episode of Full Moon o Sagashite either (love the OP though). Not to put these two series at the same level at all, of course. J.P. called it “the best anime, ever, period”, Evirus pretty much agreed with him, and nobody else gave it less than “the best throat cancer anime”. Just saying that if I recoil from Yawara, it says nothing about its qualities. It’s just that the setup is not just shoujo-like, but shoujo-before-NoitaminA-redefined-it and perhaps even worse.

P.P.S. The R1 release is incomplete anyway.

P.P.P.S. On second thought, I’m bullshitting about shoujo above. Let’s just write down a generically poor hook without labeling it.

UPDATE: J.P. twittered: “i think you mixed up full moon o sagashite with mizuiro jidai for me. i thought full moon was nothing particularly special”. Duly noted!