Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy "Noir" Year!

Subject: Noir
Like I said, I'm marathoning Noir to close out 2004 and ring in 2005.

This show had such a huge impact on me, mentally and emotionally, that I can't think of anything more appropriate to do on this occasion.

And, of course, it's proving to me once again that it's far and above any other anime out there, at least to me. Even with it's technical imperfections, the show is still, undeniably, perfect. And I've missed it so much.

Last night I finished rewatching Madlax as well. And like I've said before while it was still airing, it's a "juggernaught of awesomeness". And Noir is still better. While trying to leave these two alone for a while and try and sample other shows, I'd lost a little bit of the perspective I had. Coming back to them only proves that what drew me in was for real, not some novelty or illusion.

2005 will bring me a number of decisions to make. Short-term, they'll be simple things like what color tile for the bathroom and what light fixtures for the kitchen, but more substantially, it will be "what do I want to do when I grow up?" Noir has reawakened the deeply buried "real me" that once studied to be an animator and filmmaker. It has me questioning my values and my motivations of these past few years of corporate money-mongering and politicking.

And it has me yearning for the day that I can feel confident in abandoning the comfort of a steady income and plunge into the uncertainty of the pursuit of a creative calling; the creative calling I abandoned so many years ago.

It's hard to give up the security and steadiness of a stable career though. The purchasing power; the ability to buy whatever shiny technological toy or DVD box set I want, whenever I want, is quite an alluring state to be in. Is it any more than a consumerist trap, though? Is it a total sell-out of my soul? I don't know.

Anyway, enough wallowing in this pool of self-doubt and reflection. I still have many hours of Noir to delight in, and for the moment, that's worth everything to me!

A happy New Year to all of you, and may you have luck and peace throughout.

HD Noir for 2005

Subject: Noir


"Noir [...] to be Released in Windows Media High Definition Video and 5.1 DTS Surround Sound Audio"


The HD will be Windows Media... Which is kind of lame. And the DTS soundtrack is for the accompanying standard-def DVD that will be packaged with it; DTS doesn't work with WMV.

I'd like to find out if the DVDs are going to have the video re-encoded to eliminate all of the bad flags, and maybe clean it up a tad. If so, then it's a no-brainer for me. I have the gear to play the WMV just fine, but I really prefer the sound output from my Denon 3910.

And if it weren't for the way Microsoft has locked the WMV format, I would be able to encode my own "perfect" DVD using the hi-res source. Oh well.

I should really just wait for the real HD format to be decided upon and buy it then. But if not for early adopters like me, would companies like ADV even take a chance again if this "experiment" flops? Dunno.

Well, I'm sure I have time to decide one way or the other!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Subject: Noir
I watched a couple more of my GreenCine rentals last night. First up was disc 1 of "Paranoia Agent". Right from the opening animation, you can tell that it's going to be a quirky one. There are various shots of the assorted characters drawn just standing there, but their heads and mouths moving up & down like they are chuckling -- or at least like some sort of loony set of bobblehead dolls.

The stories intertwine around the characters as they are assaulted by a kid on skates roaming around and smacking folks upside the head with a baseball bat. The character style and the humorous, cartoony tone is just a mask for the sinister edge of it's psychological underpinnings. Lots of detail, and pretty interesting overall, so I'm looking forward to the next disc's release so I can rent that as well.

And speaking of psychological dramas, I also saw the movie "Perfect Blue". This one is the story of young pop star who makes the transistion to becoming an actress, and it tracks her mental state as she slowly sells-out her "pure & innocent" image for something more risque. A well-done story with a very convincing attention to detail and very good performances.

One strike against the disc, though, is that instead of being anamorphic widescreen, it was letterboxed inside a 4:3 image. Which for me means a small window inside the middle 2/3rds of my screen. And because the subtitles were mostly in that letterboxed area, I couldn't just zoom it in. Argh! I hate that! Luckily I was drawn into the story enough to get over it.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Almost back!!

Subject: Noir
So I'm physically back in my abode on the shore of Lake Ontario, but I've got a backlog of messages and email to slog through that will take me through Tuesday, I'm sure. But in the meantime, I figured I'd post an update!

Christmas day I had the misfortune of a back spasm. Think of a charlie-horse, but in your middle-lower back. It was probably a combination of driving a car for 6 hours, and the "guest" mattress that I was sleeping on, but irregardless, I was mostly immobile for the day. And on TechTV was a marathon of "Last Exile".

So I watched all of 'em. All 26 episodes.

My brain hurts.

(Okay, that's due to all the damn commercials, not because of the show! Well, not entirely because of the show)

Of course, my parents think I'm nuts (and they're worried that their mattress is at fault for my immobilatization and that I'll be less inclined to visit if all I do is experience pain whenever I'm there. Heh.)

Well, all that said, "Last Exile" was entertaining. Like I mentioned before, while it's aimed at a younger audience, it doesn't fall into a lot of the usual immature trappings that most anime does. And the style is pretty cool; kind of a 19th century Russian/Prussian military sort of thing vs. pasty-white androdgyinous sci-fi jerks. It's not high-art or anything, but it's worth watching.

And for more anime, just now on my return, there were the last 3 episodes of Hellsing waiting for me. Okay, it was a totally inconclusive we-can-easily-make-a-sequel-if-we-want-one kind of ending, but I think overall, the series gets a rating of "cool". Again, not too deep, but there are still a couple of layers to it, and the characters are intersting.

Finally, my brother sure enough returned my Noir discs to me as promised, and I'm itching to see "my girls" again. I'll be marathoning them soon. And probably "Madlax". And I've built up a bunch of "Carnivale" episodes on the DVR (no, "Carnivale" is not an anime you haven't heard of; it's a series on HBO that I'll get into later).

So, I'll have more to report, even if some of it is a bit, uh, repetitive from some of my earlier posts...

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Generic Winter Solstice Festival Greetings!

Subject: Soapbox
There seems to be some sort of flap about coming from Rupert Murdoch's media empire that "Christmas is under attack" from "secularist elements" who want to "wipe religion from our culture".

Great, another f*ing culture war, this soon after the election.

This individual "secularist element" really doesn't care what religion you are, what god or gods you worship, or what holidays you celebrate. I just don't want the government mandating one or the other. I appreciate the day off, sure! And I'll be celebrating low-key with my family, and enjoy the usual traditional trappings that come with the season (and are ironically derived from pagan European pratices).

For all of you who think I'm out to get you or that you're some sort of victim in all this because you want to put the Christ back in Christmas, I have two recommendations: 1) Read a little bit of history, particularly the bits about how the Founders of this country banned any sort of celebration on Christmas and demanded it should be a day of solemn prayer; and 2) Take a look at the consumerist exploitation of the season and particularly the consumerist exploitation done by the very same media outlets that are telling you that you should be outraged by all this!

And on that note, I'm outta here for a few days! You can look forward to my reporting on Yet Another Noir Marathon, and lots of movie watching, while I try to get it all out of the way before construction starts on my house in the New Year.

Merry Christmas, all!!! :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

"Miami Guns" volume 1

Subject: Noir
A quickie that showed up from GreenCine yesterday...

"Miami Guns" has two women cops and their riff-raff squad encountering all sorts of madcap hijinks... blah blah blah... Well, you can tell by the premise that it's probably a comedy. And it turns out it's not just comedy, but outright parody. A parody of just about everything imaginable.

Which I think was a bit of it's weakness -- it's darting around from in-joke to in-joke so fast that an anime newbie like me tends to miss the point. That's not to say it wasn't at all funny; it elicited many a chuckle from me. And there are plenty of bits that parody movies or TV instead of just anime. It's pretty well animated overall.

So overall, a bit of popcorn comedy to lighten things up, and worth keeping in the rental queue for casual viewing, but it's nothing I'll go out of my way for. The closest approximation would be "Gunsmith Cats", but I liked that a whole lot better (and bought it in my last round of purchasing).

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

"La Dolce Vita"

Subject: Cinema
I know it's kind of weird that I traipse about the internet using the moniker "Fellini 8.5" and Mr. Fellini's likeness as my avatar, but the Fellini representation in my video collection is rather meager.

Fellini's "8 1/2" is my favorite film, as I mentioned very early on as one of the first posts on this site. Next would be every Kurosawa film tied for 2nd.

I'm not sure where to rank "La Dolce Vita" yet.

It's one of the great classics of foreign cinema, of course. I had seen it once a long time ago, probably on cable TV. I watched the newly remastered DVD last night, and it was excellent all around.

But it was so very long! It clocks in around 3 hours. And you feel it. Seeing as I've got the last "Lord of the Rings" extended edition on it's way, and that I'll sit for 3 times that for a round of "Noir", you'd think it wouldn't have bothered me so much.

I may have just been feeling a little impatient. There are some outstanding moments in this film where I really connected with Mastroianni's character, and where the situation he was in readily paralleled the crossroads that I'm encountering.

(Of course, I wish I had his "babe-magnet" issues...)

But for every scene that drew me in, there was another scene that pretty much lost me; not so much that it was over my head or totally incomprehensible, but that my mind wandered off to other things and it didn't hold my attention anymore. And by the end, the ebb and flow (and late hour) kind of wore me out.

That all said, I'm obviously going to rewatch this, and probably rewatch it many more times. There's a lot of layers to uncover and explore, and I may just find the right one that will carry me through all 3 hours intact.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

An "Old Skool" moment

Subject: Noir
Way, way back at the beginning of this blog, I wrote a short (*ahem*) post that tried to justify my spiral into obsessiveness, and tracked my overall history of watching Japanese cartoons.

One of the shows that softened me up for any influence the medium eventually had on me was "RoboTech", that edited/dubbed juggernaut derived from a couple of different original Japanese "Macross" series. The first couple of episodes of this have shown up on The Anime Network's On-Demand channel (which I've pretty much not bothered with because all the shows I sampled on there have been either boring or annoying). Anyway, revisiting the whole Rick-Lisa-Minme soap opera, and finding that I still remember the theme music after about 18 years has been quite a trip. I'm not entirely sure I'm going to continue re-watching it much more than for the nostalgia value, but I'll probably enjoy it on that level at least.

The big event that show softened me up for, of course, was that crappy 4th generation videotape of "Akira". Projected on an auditorium wall with a lousy, distorted mono speaker. And that completely floored me. Last night, many years later, I watched the "DTS Edition", which I picked up in the last DDD sale.


Outstanding picture quality, and even better, the soundtrack was phenomenal! And just watching all the various details and how the characters were designed and animated, in comparison to everything I've been watching lately, was really enjoyable. I'd say a lot of the modern stuff has a lot more technical sophistication, but Akira was packed with "life". And that's not to say that for the time it wasn't sophisticated, it sure was, but thanks to that movie, a lot of techniques it used are taken for granted. That's not a bad thing. But imagine them being used to the level that Akira did then...

Oh, wait, you don't have to imagine it for much longer...

F* yeah!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The usual "watching" update

Subject: Noir
A few of the odds 'n ends that have been at the top of my GreenCine queue for a while have shaken loose, so I've gotten to sample few new-to-me shows again.

"RaXephon" -- Okay, is it me, or is this some sort of cheap "Evangelion" rip-off? Heh. Well, "cheap" isn't entirely fair. It definitely reminds me of the animation/art quality of "Kaze no Yojimbo", which I panned for it's mediocre quality earlier. But where I guess it differentiates itself from "Kaze no Yojimbo" is that it was a tad more interesting. It moved along a little better. It also had a really good attention to detail, which made it easier to engage the "suspension of disbelief" state of my brain and get a little more involved in it. That said, it's still a cheap "Evangelion" rip-off. I'll probably hold off on continuing it until I actually finish the real "Evangelion", which at the rate the Platinum discs are coming out, will be a while.

"Chrono Crusade" -- 1920s nuns fighting demons (with a demon sidekick). Chock full of the usual cliche facial expressions and reactions. But it was actually amusing enough to not be irritating. Not completely immature, though still a bit silly. I'm not going to put the rest of the series too high in my rental queue just yet because there's a lot more I want to either try or finish first. But it makes for interesting casual watching, and if it showed up on TV (it may have come and gone for all I know), I'd probably program the DVR for it and keep up with it.

And speaking of what's programmed on the DVR, I've tried a couple of episodes of "Last Exile", airing on G4TechTV. Unfortunately, the way the guide lists their anime block, I can only get the damn thing to record 1 of the 2 episodes each night, so the two that I've seen had a gap. And it's already somewhere in the middle, so I'm a bit lost. It's another one of those "steampunk" type of post-Victorian designs that seem to be pretty common lately, and it's kind of interesting. The dub isn't horrendous, and the animation and action are pretty good. If I can work out the recording difficulties, I might be able to actually follow what's going on.

I mentioned that I've been recording "Wolf's Rain" and "Witch Hunter Robin" as well. "Wolf's Rain" seems to be quite a few episodes along, so I don't have all the backstory -- though it's not too hard to figure out. The dub's kind of so-so, and I'm not really finding it all that compelling, so I'm probably not going to keep up with it. "Witch Hunter Robin" is a little better. I think I lucked out and caught it from the beginning. Though it keeps talking about a big event that happened recently, the way they flash back to it and are exposing the connections to it, I'm pretty sure it's just the usual Japanese style of starting in the middle of the story, and working through the narrative in both directions at the same time. Anyway, it's worth keeping up with.

Finally, a status on "Hellsing". I'm finding myself looking forward to Saturday mornings so I can fire up the previous night's recording of the latest block. It's an interesting show. It's got a "cool" vibe to it, and it's a bit of fun. If it keeps up the momentum in the "interesting" department, it may wind up being a purchase-worthy show.

One last bit to leave on, it looks like another group has started up the 1st season of "Popolocrois Story". For those that don't remember, it is very possibly the first series done by Koichi Mashimo under the "Bee Train" banner. It's a kid's show with all the childish trappings like cutesy music and whatnot, but it really is something rather neat and different.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Who's directing who?

Subject: Noir
I mentioned before that the director of "Master Keaton" is currently directing "Monster". And I'll say it again, even though I'm not anxiously drooling over every release, I really think "Monster" is excellent. I just caught up to episode 33 after letting it slip a little, and he's really kicked the creepiness up a notch.

Not that I'm particularly a fan of creepy-for-creepy's-sake, but it adds a nice edge to what is quite a literary story. Literary in that it revels in the little side-eddies and subcurrents off of the main arc. The different characters that come and go and stay for a while, or dissappear for a while then return, or are just there for a bit never to be seen again; all of them have a little something extra to them. There are some who think it meanders too much with side-stories and "fluff", but they're really missing the point, I think.

Maybe they just haven't been reading enough literature.

And speaking of discovering one director directing something else, I just learned that the director of "Kino's Journey", Ryutaro Nakamura, also directed "Lain". I was quite surprised! Actually, looking at that ANN entry, he individually directed some of those episodes, and was the overall series director. I haven't heard of any of the others before. (Though the word "sakura" keeps showing up in various series; doesn't that mean "demon" or something? I should go find my J-to-E dictionary...)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Meine Liebe Episode 5

Subject: Noir
Is out!! Go, go, go!!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Episode 5 impending...

Subject: Noir
According to Shi-Fa's forum, there is a good chance that it will be released in the next 24 hours, so keep your eyes peeled!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

New Shi-Fa tracker

Subject: Noir
Clem's asking for help seeding; if you've got anything on that list, put it up for a little while if you can.


Subject: Noir
I've watched a lot of stuff this past week and haven't quite cleared the fog in my brain enough to write about it. I guess I've been preoccupied with things like choosing kitchen cabinets and countertops and whatnot. But I'll give it a go!

"Hellsing" -- This has been showing up on the Encore Action network late at night; thanks to the Anime on TV list, I was able to remember to actually set my DVR to catch it from the beginning. I'm up to about episode 7 so far. It's a "fighting-vampires-with-vampires" story set in London (so the dub has a lot of fake British accents, but it's otherwise not too bad). An agency known as the "Hellsing Organization" has a "real" vampire helping it hunt down and "silence" a rash of humans-turned-vampire with some sort of implanted computer chip. A young woman police officer gets caught in the middle of one battle and winds up choosing to become a vampire and joining the organization herself, as the alternative to getting killed.

It's a pretty seriously cheesy premise, sure, but there's a glimmer of interest sustained through it, especially thanks to the characters and the dialog. No silly cliches is a bonus. Stylistically it's very comic-book dark and rather sparse, as is the humor. The soundtrack is pretty good. So while I probably wouldn't have bothered buying this one, it's definitely worth making the effort to DVR it and make time to watch it. Good popcorn entertainment.

"Master Keaton" disc 2 -- This is definitely still a charming show. If the DVD quality weren't so mediocre I'd probably just go ahead and buy it right now. As before, it's a number of individual stories with no real arc connecting them, and each story showcases a new talent of Keaton's -- the guy can do most anything it seems, and he's got a sort of dorky panache as he's doing it. There's nothing particularly outstanding about the design or animation, it's all competent and, well, average-to-cheap, but it's the stories and the characters that drive this one. I will continue renting.

"FLCL 3" -- Yes, I finally finished this batsh*t crazy romp through the media-saturated addled subconcious of Japanese anime & manga subculture. I know I didn't quite know what to make of it at first, but it really grew on me (even though it's only 6 episodes total). There's a lot of references I didn't get, but some of the ones I did surprised me. Yeah, there was an obvious "South Park" bit, but the John Woo stuff really got a laugh out of me (especially with the doves flying out of the TV after it got smashed). Anyway, this stuff comes at you so fast-n-furious that you've really got to just latch onto something and ride it for what it's worth. I think I'll be buying it after all, because I think a re-watching will help a lot.

"Neon Genesis Evangelion" discs 2 & 3 -- Okay, I made it through disc 2 just fine; I guess the last time I watched it I was irritable or something; this time I was way more tolerant of the more juvenile cliche aspects and was able to enjoy the other qualities of it. And there's definitely something deeper brewing in the story. So I'm glad I decided to go ahead and buy the "Platinum" edition. Disc 4 is due out in a couple of weeks and I've got it on order. Disc 5 probably won't show up until the beginning of February. I'm guessing there will be 7? I should look that up, but I think the box holds 7. So it'll be next summer before I finish it. Then there's the movie and all the other variations that I have to read more about to see if I want to bother with them.

Hmm, not much else, I guess (though that was a lot!). I tried "Full Metal Alchemist" for another episode, and while it seemed a little more interesting than the other Cartoon Network showings, I'm not going out of my way for it. Oh, except "Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" -- the English dub is pretty lousy, but it's worth casual watching at least. I'm going to DVR "Wolf's Rain" and "Witch Hunter Robin" to see if they're watchable.

I watched the Saiyaman raw for Meine Liebe 6, but there's no script yet, so I was pretty much lost. It's Issac's episode, though, and I suspect there's quite a bit of exposistion for what the plot may actually be about. And I'm guessing episode 5 hasn't been released yet because a of problem with the tracker Shi-Fa was using, so hold tight for that.

Enough for now!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Beginning of the end for fansubbing?

Subject: Soapbox
My my, I sure wrote an alarmist headline there!

Don't panic yet.

Here's the skinny: Media Factory, Inc., a Japanese anime studio, has requested that AnimeSuki cease and desist linking to fansubs of their series. AnimeSuki is, of course, complying with the request.

Now, in all the forum discussions that have cropped up about this, there are two prevelant themes coming from the fans: "Don't they know that fansubs are what generates an American (if not worldwide) market for their series", and "This must be a conspiracy with ADV to quash the fansubbing community entirely".

Well, frankly, it's a lot simpler and less sinister than all that. Well, less sinister than conspiracy, but I'll get into that in a bit.

In my boring day-job, one of the aspects I deal with are the various legal ramifications of the things we do and display on our website. I am not a lawyer by any means, but we've got some sharp lawyers who were able to concisely explain certain concepts to us. And the gist of what's going on is this: If a company doesn't actively defend it's intellectual property rights, it's exposed to the risk of having that property diluted, and not having any grounds for actively pursing any truly aggrevious transgressors.

(I'm pseudo-lawyering the lingo here to make it sound like I'm an authority on the subject. Is it working?)

So in other words, there's the risk that they will not have as solid a case against the real menace -- pirates who burn and sell DVDs for their own profit -- if they don't actively attempt to defend their intellectual property against even the most harmless offenses.

Now that we've established the rationale, let's take a quick look at the reality. After all, why doesn't every company go after fansubbers and fansub sites then? Well, for one, the volumes hadn't really been all that significant compared to legitimate DVD sales.

Well, historically. If you look at the download statistics for the latest episode of Naruto, you'll see there's over 20,000 active users sharing it! That adds up! It puts us 1000 or so Meine Liebe downloaders to shame.

And does this fansub activity really promote or detract from DVD sales? Dunno. I don't have the numbers. In my case, fansubs have me lined up to make 3 purchases once they come out: Madlax (which in fact I've bought some R2 as well!), Avenger, and Gunslinger Girls.

But, also in my case, it could be said that I will not be buying Samurai 7, Beck, Mai HiME, etc. that I sampled and dropped. And I probably won't even rent them. Which is what I do now and would continue doing in the absence of fansubs. I might watch them if they were on TV and I had nothing better to do. And I'm certainly not doing the companies that want to license these titles any favors by saying this on the internet where anyone can Google it at will, because it might sway another potential customer to not bother either. The "word-of-mouth" kills the buzz before they even have a chance to generate it with their marketing machines.

But is that really statistically valid? In some ways, you'd think these companies find this sort of word-of-mouth extremely beneficial; it's a free market-test to find out what the audience will gravitate to and what is worth investing in. Granted, it's a rather fixed-niche audience who's tastes don't necessarily indicate mass appeal, but it's still a lucrative and growing audience.

And to get back to the main point, honestly, I think this is the core rationale, historically, for having allowed the practice to continue. The exposure to risk regarding intellectual property was weighed against the potential benefits of exposure to a wider market via word-of-mouth. But, as those Naruto statistics indicate, the balance is tipping. There's a lot more broadband availability out there. There's a lot more tech-savvy users out there. And there's now one-stop shopping like AnimeSuki where you don't have to be a rocket-scientist to figure out how to get a hold of this stuff. I went from "total n00b" to addicted downloader in the matter of days. It's about to become totally ubiquitous.

So as far as Media Blasters was concerned, they felt they had to do something. It was low-hanging fruit to ask what is essentially an ethical site to stop, because they obviously would. Was it a warning shot from the entire industry? Are other companies watching carefully to see what happens next? Do other companies have similar challenges lined up already and Media Blasters were just the first ones done? Was there some article in "Anime CEO Magazine"* that made everyone over there panic? I couldn't tell you.

(*"Anime CEO Magazine" copyright 2004 Kineska Publishing Enterprises, Ltd. *wink*)

So what's my opinion? Personally, I believe that there are aspects of copyright and tradmark law that are totally out-of-tune with how they were historically intended to function (at least from a USA perspective). At it's simplist, copyright was a way to ensure that a creator of a work had a fair chance to profit from it and be recognized as it's actual creator. And after that period was over, and it's origins firmly established in history and society, the works would become part of the public domain for the benefit of everyone.

But now that principle has been skewed in favor of mega-corporations who are looking to milk every penny from their "properties" in-perpetuity. And so smaller companies and individual creators are pretty much forced to go along with it regardless of their feelings on the subject, because those very same mega-corporations who are so adamant about protecting their property are more than capable of undermining another's if the profit potential outweighs the risks.

But what about my personal activities that run counter to that? Is it because I want to subvert the "System", that I'm some sort of rebel? Do I just want to leech freebies and never have to pay for anything? Obviously, the answer to both is "uh, noooo." Here's how I see it: My fansub watching is essentially the same as if I were able to tune in to Japanese TV and actually understand the language. My MP3 "collection" is essentially for me to be able to listen to a radio station that doesn't actually exist in my market.

In this "connected" world, the old geographical boundaries are breaking down. It's now possible for a person who's physically planted here in Western New York to watch Japanese TV, read UK newspapers, and hear French chill music -- all practically on-demand. I'm finding it exciting and invigorating, because I'm woefully underserved by what's available by "traditional" channels. I am the proverbial "niche market". And I don't give a damn about legal constructs built soley to protect profits, so if you want to make money off of me, you'd better figure out how to get me what I'm looking for. Because, in all honesty, you can make a ton of money off of me! Heh.

Funny how I didn't actually answer my original question, and turned this into a rant about how the corporate world doesn't revolve around my every whim. Hey, it's a blog! What did you expect?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Meine Liebe ep 5

Subject: Noir
I just finished timing ep 5. Without spoiling anything, Sir Issac has a line towards the end:

"The action has finally started."

Heh. We can only hope...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Finished Bebop, restarted Eva

Subject: Noir

I mean, like, wow.

"Cowboy Bebop" just kept getting better with every episode. I've mentioned before how much I liked the attention to detail, the overall atmosphere. The characters' performances, though; that really makes the whole thing come alive. And I don't just mean the voices -- I mean how the animators make the movements, gestures, and expressions of each character work. It's very tight. And the timing is dead-on.

A really good example (without spoilers) is the change in Faye in the last disc. The change in her expression, her walk, the pacing of her scenes... Excellent.

Any drawbacks to the show? Not particularly. Narratively there were some weak points, but nothing glaring or distracting. My only real beef is with the picture quality -- it's a bit crummy in the brighter colors, and it has the usual deinterlacing problems that most anime discs have. The stereo soundtrack is pretty darned good, but comparing it to the 5.1 remaster done for the Best Sessions (and upcoming R2 boxset), well, it can get even better. Which is why I'm holding out on buying it just yet.

Speaking of which, part of my latest haul included discs 1-3 of the "Platinum Edition" of "Neon Genesis Evangelion". I mentioned earlier that disc 2 was about to lose me for being so god-awfully immature, but I thought about it and figured I may have just been cranky. And while I haven't rewatched 2 (or seen 3 at all) yet, I did rewatch 1 and I remembered that I actually did like it.

And the "Platinum Edition" means cleaned-up video and, most excellently, 5.1 audio.

(Me and that "5.1, 5.1, 5.1" -- like a broken record, I swear!)

Anyway, having a pleasing audio/visual experience (and, admittedly, a couple of drinks) really helps smooth over some of the irritating parts. So I'm looking forward to grabbing the rest of the Platinums as they're released.

Well, I'm half way through timing Meine Liebe episode 5. I can't seem to find any torrent links for the raw yet, and it hasn't shown up on Saiyaman. There are Chinese-subbed versions floating around, but I figure you should be patient and keep your eye on Saiyaman. It'll likely be there soon enough!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Windy Tales

Subject: Noir
What a nifty little story! Young girl takes pictures of clouds; but she's really taking pictures of the wind. Meets a flying cat.

Oh, heck, go watch it; I can't quite summarize it. (I recommend the A-Faith/Shi-Fa version, as the other version has a bad reputation.)

Friday, December 03, 2004

The "Not Too Distant Future" of the "Not Too Distant Past"

Subject: TV
Back at the turn of the '90s, there was this late-evening gem of a show on what was, at the time, called "The Comedy Channel". A poor schlub named "Joel" trapped on an orbital space station, forced to watch really awful B-movies by a pair of evil scientists, who can only make it through them by making wisecracks with the help of two robots he built.

Okay, a rather uninspiring description for those of you who've never heard of this show, but for those of us in the US, "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" was a staple of college-student-weekend-TV-and-drinking fun.

And it lasted for a number of years. However, at one point, the key central character, Joel, left the show, to be replaced by the head writer (and annoying occasional screen presence), Mike. Well, the show was definitely different after that. As in, the humor just wasn't quite the same. Compound that over a short period of time with other changes in characters and staff -- and a move to the Sci-Fi network (where it's still endlessly re-run to this day), and I eventually drifted away from it.

One particular negative about the show's move to a different network is that all the older classic "Joel" episodes were not getting re-run along with the newer ones. So, it's been a number of years since I've seen any of them.

Until this week!

Part of my huge DDD order included a handful of box sets and individual episodes of MST3K releases. And I only bought the ones that had mostly (or all!) "Joel" episodes.

I've had the chance to watch two of them (plus a bunch of shorts) so far. My first reaction was -- wow, the pacing was really a lot slower back then! I mean, it was really laid back, slow-paced, and very simplistic. But, all in a good way! It's just an adjustment to make after being bombarded with so much (comparitively) rapid-fire media of late. Kind of like watching one of those classic 70's crime dramas. You find yourself fidgiting a bit while you wonder when things are going to pick up a little.

That said, it's still as funny as all get-go. And surprisingly, though I can't muster any particular memories of any given episode when I start it, all the great lines come flooding back, as does that feeling of "OMG, I actually did see this crappy movie before!"

"It's got nothing to do with 'pods'. It's got nothing to do with 'people'. But it's got everything to do with hurting." Heh.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Meine Liebe episode 4 is out!

Subject: Noir
Go get it!

It's much better written than episode 3, I think. A good episode with funny moments and touching moments. And a few more clues about the characters and the world they're in.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The next one from Bee Train?

Subject: Noir
Ooh, two posts in a row!!

Anyway, news I found in the AnimeSuki forum: Bee Train's next one is going to be a series based on some manga called "Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles".

Which I know absolutely nothing about. Something to do with "CLAMP". Which I know nothing about.

And supposedly it will be Koichi Mashimo directing.

Which, hey, if the fact that he's directing something has me watching foofy-haired guys posing angstily and running around in capes, it'd probably get me to watch freakin' Pokeman episodes for all it would matter.

(Though please tell me it won't be like Pokeman! Pleeeeaaaasssseee!)

Tylor continued

Subject: Noir
As I mentioned before, "The Irresponsible Captain Tylor" is a "fun" show. It's amusing and lighthearted, but there's this sort of campy seriousness to it. Now that I've seen disc 3 (which means up through episode 20 *!* -- they really pack 'em in on these discs!), I can say with confidence that it has entirely grown on me. I think I'll be looking forward to that new box-set that's supposed to be coming out in the spring.

The characters, settings, and narrative elements all set themselves up as being some cliche, or spoof of a cliche, at first. The whole thing is a sort of satire. And if that were all, that would be all well and good. But as a whole, for light fare, it weaves a compellingly involving tale (helped by the fact that in disc 3 the episodic nature of the earlier episodes gives way to a more obvious story arc). It's interesting.

Often times I overlook the value of simplicity in entertainment. Mostly because the common mass-consumption-oriented entertainment industry's notion of "simplicity" is "simplistic" -- not the same thing. "Tylor" keeps it pretty simple, and it's good.

Anyway, there's still one more disc in the first series, then a 3 or 4 disc OVA to follow on, and I'm looking forward to finding out just what Mashimo does with this next.