Archive for February, 2013

Heavy spoilers for Omo: Iketani and Mako-chan

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Omo asked:

Want to see how you react to the Iketani romance stuff.

Your wish is my command: I reacted with delight.

The story of Iketani and Mako-chan is nicely tragic. Not tragic in the same sense the story of Simon and Nia is. That one is tragic epically. This one is tragic taxonomically.

It was staged and played well, starting with the very foreshadowing. I could not guess how the chips were going to fall, and in the very last moment I knew they the creators played the uncertainty on purpose.

Characters did well, too. They probably didn’t conform to any watcher’s wishes. But I don’t think I would’ve done any better. In any case they came out sympathetic, in my opinion.

By the way, it’s a great “young adult” demo thing, for the lack of better word. I am so sick of school romance. I think the last good one in this area for me was Dai Guard. Kiminozo? Eyeroll. H&C? Puke.

In the same time, the romantic duo were plugged into the main story of a highschoolers very well. It was not their anime, but they had a lot of screen time, and it was not wasted. It’s a great balance and purpose, I would say.

P.S. A little secondary in importance, but I think that for all the heartbreak the protagonists came out on the upside. On the one side, Iketani is a great upstanding guy, an excellent boyfriend material, but no more than that. He lives with his parents and works at a gas station. Worse, apparently has no plans for the future, when even a goof like Takumi considers it. On the other side, Mako is a bit underdeveloped, for her age. It’s impossible not to fall in love with her, but knowing what I know now, getting saddled with her is not going to be a picnic for whoever. This knowledge helps to get over it (not helping the characters, but provides a helpful distance for the viewer).

P.P.S. A dog that did not bark: I expected angst on the topic of “my girlfriend is a better driver than I am”, but none followed. Very nice.

Curse of The Gifted in a car

Friday, February 8th, 2013

In the very beginning of Initial D, there is a scene where the three friends ride in the car. Iketani, leader of Akina Speed Stars, is behind the wheel and introduces the two others, Itsuki and Takumi, to the spirited driving. Both scared, and Takumi is scared senseless. But why? Takumi is an innate driving genius. Iketani’s driving should have been nothing for him. I thought about it, but could not figure it out.

CKS offers the following explanation:

What Initial D did really well was show and convince us that Iketani was actually not a good driver and his fast drive was pretty sloppy. Takumi was rightfully scared because he actually understood what was going on and how dangerous it was; Iketani was oblivious.

I think he’s spot on, in anime terms. But it did not work for me, not in that way. Of course, I have a great track record of misconstructing what I see. But in this case, it’s more: the scene directly contradicts my background.

Here’s how I consider it. Since Iketani did not, in fact, crash, we know that he did not “sit into a funnel”, or entered a zone where no control input was sufficient to prevent crash. If Takumi possessed the extreme abilities that we assign to him, he must have known it right there as the situation developed.

Once upon a time I rode shotgun with a certain young lady, grabbed the wheel, and saved us from an imminent death when she attempted to submarine a semi (it merged into us because its lane was ending). In this situation, a way out existed, and I took it. She could’ve have taken it too. And strictly speaking, it was impossible to know if she would.

The situation in Iketani’s car was basically the same, so it came down to trusting him to do it right. Which Takumi did not. Why? Iketani drove that way before. What is the panic about?

The whole scene made no sense to me.

Chris, however, figured it out instantly. And it came naturally to him.

UPDATE: What they were aiming for was portrayed better by an episode of BBC series "Top Gear", where Mika Hakkinen teaches James May how to drive on a rally circuit. Watch the facial expression of Hakkinen playing Takumi while May is missing a tree at 140 km/h:

Initial D S1 01-11

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Initial D is another discovery courtesy of Fabulous Anime Club at UNM. It does not top the amazing discovery of Nodame, but it underscores once again the importance of extending horizons once and again. No, I’m not watching Madoka. But I thought Initial D was some kind of stupid action flick like Fast and Furious, and I was traumatized by the EX-Driver.

Unfortunately for blogging’s usefulness, I come here encumbered. I drove a Neon, you see. Been to street races in Fremont. Visited The Riceboy Page when it was alive. I know what a “hachiroku” is, although I learned about it much later, when Toyota tried to re-create its mistique. Therefore, a lot of enjoyment for me here is the kind of thing engineers get when watching Rocket Girls, only less cerebral. It’s real. In the same time, it’s not: everything is idealized, like in idol anime. This assessment is a very important point: I want it that way.

Still, trying to step back a little, it seems surprisingly well made on merits. The basic 3D is not jarring, somehow. I reacted violently when the reference was made in Lucky Star, but here it feels in place. The old-time animation is adorable. Designs seem like caricatures of Kiminozo‘s. Characters are very likeable, although I harbor doubts about the nature and role of Mogi. This includes the initial antagonists. It is not very common when Sorting Algorithm of Evil can be employed with such fidelity and consistency while training on non-lethal enemies. Training in StrikerS? Bitch, please.

Not sure if I want to proceed from here on, the franchise is fairly long. But then I always rewatch 2 first episodes of Ai yori Aoshi, too. I am ok with loving a part.

Omitted Material:

  • Initial D is a mecha anime, albeit without power multiplier. It does have the concept of an ace though.
  • My Neon was an EX, with a SOHC, just like Itsuki’s AE-85 in the sense of its relationship with DOHC models before the PL2K generation. But it was lighter than ACR. True story. Also, I’m just as talentless and enthusiastic as Itsuki. Whenever I visit a kart track, I lap 110% of the track’s best.
  • About real-unreal: there’s a real-unreal inside the anime itself, with the selection of the downhill as equipment equalizer. The characters select the unreal because they want it.
  • Jeremy Clarkson once said that the speed is the only truly modern sensation. He was paraphrasing James Dickey, who actually said it about the flight. But then, a famous aviator once said that speed is the only reason for flight (I think it as Al Mooney).
  • Among animebloggers, I think the one with a connection would be Adun, but I don’t have a great relationship with him. He’s also gone inactive. He used to drive a Mazda of some kind, possibly an FD. The joy of living in a RHD country. {Update: Omo told me that he drove a 240SX!}
  • BTW, nobody uses the phrase “FR layout”. It’s a Japanism re-implanted.
  • It’s a FUNi’s title (“FUNi only licenses garbage” – precision 90%).