Archive for the 'xenoglossia' Category

Notice of abandonment: Xenoglossia

Friday, June 8th, 2007

Just as with Gurren-Lagann, I have no clear idea why I’m dropping iDOLM@ster Xenoglossia. This show also had everything going for it: a watcheable story, pleasant art and animation, likeable characters, serviceable villains. Haruka is certainly a cutie.

Nonetheless, there it goes after ep.08. Maybe it’s the girlmecha thing after all, although, if anything, it was tastefuly understated (so far).

Once Xenoglossia falls by wayside, only Rocket Girls and Lucky☆Star survive in this season. I would never pick these two beforehand.

Rethinking mecha

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

It is quite plain that a certain level of anti-mecha sentiment festers among the anime fans. In my recent memory, Impz wrote about it, and so did Steven den Beste. The core belief here is mecha series generally tend to suck because the shiny metal takes the focus away from the characters and the story.

I used to subscribe to this notion, but I am starting to wonder if it’s true at all.

Over the years I saw a number of series and movies with mecha in them, and taking stock it becomes clear that quite a number of them did not suck outright. Here is the cream of the crop:

  • Banner of the Stars: I’m going to go on a limb and consider the assault ship a degenerative mecha. It is crewed with 20, but we only ever see 5. The amount of gizmo obsession going around there can put Macross to shame (I am talking about the cutaway views of VF-1 here). Fans of the franchize discuss solemnly the imaginary properties of weapons and ships in the way Gundam fans do. So it really is a mecha series, but it provides excellent story and characters.
  • Dai-Guard: An underappreciated series with the goofiest-looking giant robot. Surprisingly deep characters and an interesting storyline, and there’s more going on than meets the eye at first. I think I watched it first at a convention when nothing else was available. What a serendipitous chance.
  • Stellvia/Vandread: Essentially twin series in my mind. Decent story and characters in both, although the mecha is not goofy like in Dai-Guard, just impossible and/or magical. Stellvia I watched because I liked the OP; SDB’s relentless advocacy made me watch Vandread.
  • Gurren-Lagann: This I dropped after the 3 episodes to ease my fansubbing duty because I knew it was going to be licensed. But it’s a very decent series with manic action. Bloggage was quite positive.
  • IDOLM@STER Xenoglossia: Dropped too, but it’s on my list to watch if I have money when it’s licensed in R1. Cutest animation; characters somewhat shallow, IMHO; plot is driven by a conspiracy and girlmecha.
  • Macross, or whatever the right name is. I place it undeservingly low on the list, I know. More about it below…
  • Martian Successor Nadesico: Parts are good, parts are bad. Referrential, breaks the 4th wall, uses patterns too much, has filler, and the harem lead sucks. But it still has a certain amount of goodness. I haven’t seen the ending yet.

To be sure, quite a number sucked as well. I didn’t like NGE much (although perhaps I didn’t watch it right), GiTS:SAC was a silly derivative, Sakura Wars the Movie was ruined by the whitewashing of the prewar Japan, Dual was not too bad as far as mindless fluff goes, but failed to resolve the harem, Escaflowne the Movie was goth, Voltron‘s mechanical tigers were ludicros, Macron 1 was just old rank-and-file series, Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs ditto, and the less is said about Zoids, the better (except that admitting to watching that should be as embarrassing as to watching Yu-Gi-Oh).

In the end, the final suck ratio is not that bad. Harems produce about the same divide, too, for instance. It may be some kind of Sturgeon law in action. Why single out mecha for punishment then? There’s no rational reason.

But if done right, mecha provides interesting possibilities. My personal favourites would be the ace and power multiplier. They were provided by air forces, especially during the WWII, in the real life, so they are realistic. Anyone with a martial arts experience knows how a stick multiplies power of an adept user, but is dangerous for an inept one. More sophisticated weapons tend to magnify this effect. This is how Galland’s Experten, Bong, Pokryshkin, and Sakai came about. These people were fascinating. All mecha needs to do is take this a bit further (but it has to stop before the progression reaches the absurd if director is any good).

Now that my worldview is adjusted, I’m going to give mecha a fair consideration. In simple words, gotta see me some of dat. But what?

Gundam is obvious. I always avoided it because the franchize was too extensive, with a truly bewildering array of series. But after reading about it on the Net, it appears that there’s not all that much that stands out. I saw some of the W in the U.S. broadcast and the story seemed overstretched. The 0083 looked like having good comedic moments (I wanna hear the following classic in the original Japanese: “Yes, sir!” — “Don’t call me “sir”, you idiot! I’m your enemy!”), but it was too little. Brickmuppet linked an article about 0080 at ANN, which seemed interesting but not quite there. So, after careful consideration, I’m going to look at 08th MS Team for starters and then we’ll see.

I’d love to see Macross too. I saw bits and pieces here and here, and it looked intriguing. But I still cannot figure out what the definitive version is. Also, it’s long in all incarnations.

Finally, I am going to watch the new NGE movie. Maybe Asuka is not such a bad bitch in it anymore. One can only hope.

These three items should do mecha justice that it was denied, and I’m going to keep an open mind in the future (Kaminaaaaaaaaa).

UPDATE: Nick Istre writes:

Just to throw out one hypothesis, it might be a reaction to the sometimes rabid fanbase of mecha? I know a few people who are hardcore mecha fans. Heck, a few of them form the core of “Mechacon” that’s held here in Louisiana.

Could be.

Reader Michael Gardner asks what is GiTS:SAC a derivative of. Of the original movie, of course, which was quite good. Coincidently, the movie didn’t have any mecha (unless we consider a tank a mecha). It certanly didn’t have a mechanical insect with an outhouse stuck to its butt.

UPDATE: Oh, snap. Netflix lists 08th MS Team as “3-disc series”, starting with v.2 (ep.4). It’s not just “availability unknown”, but seems like v.1 never existed. Now what? RACS seems to have v.1 on sale for $12.98… I wish I knew it last week when the previous order went in (I gave up on hunting RahXephon and just ordered a thinpack). Still, ordering a standalone v.1 seems retarded, so I suppose the best course of action would be to netflix v.2, check if it’s any good, then get a thinpack. Hey, the out-of-order thing is all the rage these days since it worked for Haruhi.

UPDATE: Owen insists that I watched Code Geass. In my judgement, it is too fresh to rub with the likes of 08th MS Team, so I added it to the common queue. It is #40 now. I might see it in about 18 months from now if nothing bumps it.

UPDATE 2007/09/10: Fledge makes a post about upcoming live-action Robotech (which is an ugly child of Macross, or perhaps vice versa). I am not holding my breath, because of two words: Wing Commander. Hollywood is capable of trampling any great franchize into dirt.

UPDATE 2007/10/14: Watched 08th MS Team. I torrented the gaps in Netflix’s coverage.

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.

Crusader on Xenoglossia

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

The Impz’s right hand man posted a longish review of iDOLM@STER Xenoglossia, which neatly explains just why I was right to drop it after ep.8. I think I got the best part: Haruka’s cuteness, the excitement of iDOL launch, and the pretty animation. Yuri and action/detective do not interest me. It’s a show for which I had high hopes, it even has its own category! But it wasn’t to be.

Evirus on iDOLM@STER

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

It’s a short, sweet, and comprehensive recap of everything fans of Xenoglossia ever needed to know about the franchize.

God, Haruka was cute.

DiGiKerot on Xenoglossia

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Beta-Waffle:

I’m still kind of disappointed that the show never really took off among English fandom – it’s a pretty sound example of a Sunrise show which didn’t spectacularly trainwreck itself towards the end. It did have a lot stacked up against it, though – there was the whole game thing which caused a lot of people not to know what they were getting, and others to be repulsed at the changes, there was a certain degree of animosity from Code Geass fans bitter that Sunrise weren’t producing it rather than going straight into Geass second season, and then there was a certain degree of “J.C. Staff Syndrome” – that is, it seemed a little too derivative of the other shows they’d been making at the time. Omni dropping his blog coverage was pretty much the last nail in it’s coffin, and much of anime fandom fell into disinterest soon afterwards.

Well, there’s a reason Ani-nouto has a category for it. I mostly liked what I saw in Xenoglossia and although I tried to pin the problem on the girlmecha when I dropped it, what really spooked me was the turn into the territory of the international, maybe even interplanetary conspiracy and X-files. Same thing as PlanetES, basically. But overall it seems like a deserving show, stronger than many. I wish it had some kind of revival associated with a thinpack release, like how it happened with Shingu. But then, Shingu was an absolutely terrific show, and poor Xenoglossia is not in the same league. But it’s not any worse than Vandread and Stellvia, and Stellvia was even sold in a collector’s tin.

I’ve seen the future

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

It’s positively impossible to stay dead when things like this video are happening (I was just browsing lolcats videos and it was suggested…).

With a long history of giving it a chance, I came to detest the 3D anime and 3D in anime indiscriminately. If 3D is inserted, it invariably mixes poorly, even in the best series by best creators. I grit my teeth even at buildings in ZKC, what to say about LOL GONZO. But if the contrast is removed by going 100% 3D, the motions of characters are terrible, even in theatrical releases.

Thus seeing how Haruka et.al. move in the Idolmaster game was a big surprise. DiGiKerot and Evirus were right and I was blind… blind!

UPDATE: Some are in high quality. And yes, Makoto is oddly feminine.

UPDATE: Although, maybe not so much in her intro.

UPDATE: Steven e-mailed to say that it was only a motion capture. I guess the implication is, I should not be in too much awe over the Idolm@ster’s software and Microsoft’s hardware. Which is probably true… Also, once everything is motion capture, why have animated characters at all? Just go live action with computer touch-up, right? Where does the magic end?

Lyrics

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

IIRC SDB wondered once in comments what Japanese do to make lyrics to fit the rhythm (can’t find the post now, sorry). The answer is, same as Americans do: they cheat. Especially for plain (informal) language, speakers can drop particles a lot… or keep them, if it helps singing. Here’s an example from Koi da mon of Xenoglossia Best:

God Haruka is cute.

Ahem… Getting back on topic, when translated word by word, “無茶な勝負突撃よ” means “crazy battle charge [yo: new information imparted]”. I kinda wish they kept a few particles in.

765 and 961 in Idolm@ster

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

I was wondering what the studio names mean in Idolm@ster, and DiGiKerot said:

<DiGiKerot> The trick is that the character for 6 can be pronounced Mu or Mutsu or similar, so it contracts to NaMuGo, or, rather, Namco, the name of the developer of the iM@S games.
<DiGiKerot> I think 961 is supposed to be Kuroi

I began to pay attention when I noticed the fans’ outrage over the defection of Miki to 961 Studios in the PSP version. BTW, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the “961” moniker in some entirely unrelated anime, but cannot remember which one it was.

UPDATE: Andy writes:

Hm… Keroro maybe? I know they’re constantly doing 723 and 623 for Natsumi and Mutsumi…

Do they make a Keroro game? I don’t know.

DiGiKerot and Idolmaster SP

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

In case anyone thought that I was a fan of the game or anything, here’s what a real fan is like: “three sets of the alternative sleeves for the game” (with pictures!). Sadly, judging from the YouTube videos, the PSP version is animated much worse than 360. DiGiKerot puts a positive spin to it though:

PSP iM@S is actually a pretty good game. Obviously it doesn’t have the visual fidelity of the 360 version – it’s cel-shading is entirely faux, achieved using fixed pre-shaded textures and a lack of lighting, and its frame rate does tend to stutter a little when there’s two characters on display during the dialogue sequences – and the fact that you can only manage one character at once kind of stings, but from what I’ve played so far, everything else seems like a step-up from the 360 version.

Still, even if I wanted to play this, I probably would not bother, what is with all the firmware and region issues. My daughter has an ancient PSP that has gone into a semi-retirement after I got her a DS, and I even inquired about borrowing it. But the uncertainty is too great, and in any case I’m not a gamer.

UPDATE: DiGiKerot e-mailed that I’m just confused and there’s no region coding for games, only for UMD movies.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I lookead a screencaps at Play-Asia and became convinced that with my Japanese, I would be getting way ahead of myself by attempting to play this. Otherwise, the game is eminently affordable (unlike a project of getting a whole Japanese 360).