Monday, February 28, 2005

Tsubasa update

Subject: Noir
There's a new picture up on the official site that shows more of the characters. Not that I know who any of them are as I haven't read (and am not going to read) the manga.

And there's some odd Pokeman-like critter there... *shudder*

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Pre-order Madlax!

Subject: Noir
I did, I did!

(The art-box edition comes with 2 discs... I wonder what the 2nd one is?)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Myazaki = Magic

Subject: Noir
I go on a lot about Koichi Mashimo, after all, "Noir" has had a huge impact on me this last year.

But Miyazaki is even better.

I finally watched "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" after nearly 20 years since I saw the hacked English dub titled "Warriors of the Wind" taped off of cable TV. I think I even still have that tape. I kind of completely forgot about it when talking about the impact various Japanese movies and series had on me, but a lot of what that original hacked-up dub meant to me came flooding back all at once.

It's a superb film in every way. And it's fantastically restored and presented in DVD format; as good as cel-animation-on-DVD gets. So of course I'm enamoured with it. There's so much to like. The strong, smart (and very pretty) Princess Nausicaa; the strange, deeply detailed, mythological world she inhabits -- all of it combines into an experience that only the best films achieve.

I'm not saying this is "better than Noir" yet... After all, I'm really, really biased towards what Mashimo pulled off with Noir. But Miyazaki is a true filmaker without peer and a true master of the art. So let me rephrase that: "Noir" is still my favorite. Miyazaki is a better filmmaker. Kind of like my Fellini vs. Kurosawa opinion -- Fellini has my favorite film, but Kurosawa is the better director. It's not a contradiction. It's really just a view on the complexities of my abstract, eclectic, snobbish taste.

And hey, that works for me! Heh.

Wild Arms. Where's Mashimo?

Subject: Noir
So I finally got the first Wild Arms: Twilight Venom disc in my weekly rental shipment. As you see in that ANN entry, Koichi Mashimo had his hand in it. It even says in the credits for production: "Bee Train"(which, seeing as it's from 1999, means it must be an early one).

But so far, Mashimo isn't in the credits at all, just the guy who worked with him on "Popliocrois Story" and directed the Bee Train B-Team series "Arc the Lad". Maybe he directs later episodes or something.

That said, I lightened up a bit and let myself be entertained by it a bit. It's manga-based and comes with all the obvious manga trappings in it's artwork and composition. But there's a hint of Sergio Leone in there, and it's not just the Mancini-esque spaghetti-western soundtrack elements. And the characters have a bit of a spark to 'em that keeps them from being completely boring. I've accused plenty of series, Mashimo or not, of not being "high art", and this qualifies it's place in the "not" column as well.

But it's fun. I won't be a priority of mine, but I'll keep the rest in my queue in hopes that a Mashimo-directed one will show up and I can test my theory that I can actually tell the difference... Heh.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Dip and bump

Subject: Musings
I haven't done a lot of serious watching at all outside of the weekends lately. And now that the "temporary living arrangments" are just about at the 1-month mark, I've really grown weary of it. Add the fact that two of my computers have decided to flake out on me, and I'm a bit more moody and dour than usual.

Which inevitably means I don't feel much like writing. And I don't have a lot to write about. I tried participating in a thread in the Noir forum and it wore me out to craft all those points I was trying to make. And you know me: I'm not particularly terse.

So, anyway, bear with me a while longer while I work through these mood swings and prepare for the day that I can reclaim my living space as my own and get my life back on track.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

"Weekend watching" again...

Subject: Noir
A quick rundown of my latest round of rotting out my brain with the brightly colored candy of cartoonery...

"Jin Roh - Wolf Brigade": A pretty good movie overall. Serious, a strong attention to detail, rather psychological. Animation is pretty good, but I do suspect that much of it is rotoscoped. Which is fine. If it's not, they probably put too much effort in to it for what the story was. Anyway, it's not something I'd go out of my way to see again, but there wasn't anything bad about it.

"Master Keaton" disc 3: The clever stories continue. Very interesting, though it seemed to be more of the same. But the variety within that "same" is interesting; at one point he's trying to figure out the secret ingredient in someone's Chinese food, and the next he's diffusing an IRA bomb. I think this show's probably best when you watch an episode now and then rather than sitting through the whole disc, because I'm finding my attention span just isn't up to the task. Or at least wasn't this weekend.

Though it was enough to get me through discs 4 (repeat) and 5 (brand new!) of "Neon Genesis: Evangelion". Again, this is my 1st time through the series, and I'm in the habit of rewatching the previous disc to refresh my memory before starting the newest one once it shows up. At any rate, I said before that disc 4 was hinting at something coming up -- and disc 5 really starts you on the road to Twisted-ville. I'm enjoying it quite a bit. I think I'm keeping up with it, but I might not be getting everything. But, admittedly, the decent job that was done with the picture quality and the audio really go a long way toward allowing me to enjoy it all the more.

Let's see, what else...? Oh, I've been keeping up with "Air", though I'm really not entirely sure why. It's not really my kind of show, I don't think. A bit too melodramatic, yet there's an edge to it that I can't quite put my finger on. Hmm.

And speaking of "not really my kind of show", on recommendation, I've been sampling "Saber Marionette J" and "Excel Saga". It's still to early for judgement for me with them, though. I don't instantly hate them, at least. Heh. Both are "wacky" in their own way (and in very different ways).

Well, that's about it for this week. Next week I should have my copies of "Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind" and "Porco Rosso", so I might dust off my copies of "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away" (my copy of "Kiki's Delivery Service" is loaned out to friends) and have a Miyazaki mini-festival! Fun!

Meine Liebe rumor (and more)

Subject: Noir
First the "more" -- someone on that LiveJournal Meine Liebe page has been putting together summaries of the unsubbed episodes.

Which may not be so necessary for a while, because the "rumor" is that another sub group is about to start Meine Liebe again. That's all I've heard (on the AnimeSuki forum...).

Old news maybe, but I've been a bit busy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Cowboy Bebop Remix

Subject: Noir

(the server's down right now, so I don't have any details...)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Am I just a big fraud?

Subject: Noir

Okay, another weekend, another provocative-but-facetious headline. Heh. But here's what brought it on.

One of my discs this week was OVA #2 of "Irresponsible Captain Tylor". From the very beginning of the first episode, I noticed right away that it was entirely different from the rest of the series up to that point. This disc is apparently full of "side-story" episodes that focus on various characters. The first one was about the empress. The look, the pacing, the seriousness, all totally different. And I'm saying to myself "just what is Mashimo up to here?" And in the context of that, I was entertained by it. But then by the end of the second episode, I noticed the credits.

Mashimo wasn't directing these.

A bit of a surprise. He wasn't anywhere in the credits as far as I could tell. Looking up the show in the ANN database doesn't show that there are other directors involved.

And at that point on for the rest of the disc, I wasn't quite as entertained. Things that I would have just thought was Mashimo messing around or experimenting were suddenly just some other director trying-but-not-achieving.

If I hadn't noticed the credits, I would probably have written some sort of glowing review. Now, I feel the episodes, while okay, maybe mucked with the tone and meaning of the series too much, and maybe missed the point entirely.

Which makes me think that, as a reviewer, I'm just a big phony. Heh.

At any rate, it's a bit of a revelation about how my biases affect my perception, and how judgemental I can be when something doesn't seem to fit the "rules" as I've constructed them in my own mind. Which is about all you can expect, I suppose.

Anyway, on to something outside my Mashimo bias -- I finished up "Now and Then, Here and There". Excellent series. Very tight writing, very involving characters. If it weren't for the fact that the video quality of the DVDs themselves is rather sub-par, I'd probably buy it in an instant. Instead, I'll be holding out for a remaster or something. But it's definitely worth seeing!

A new Madlax forum

Subject: Noir
Regular commenter Maromi apparently has too much time on his hands; he's gone and started up a forum for all-things "Madlax". I encourage all of my readers to pop in and say "hi".

And for those of you who stop by in search of Madlax OST mp3 links, Madlax torrents, or other Madlax episode-related information (did I cover enough of the search-engine terms I get? *grin*), well, I can't promise you that you'll find them there, but you'll find others interested enough in the show that maybe, just maybe, they can help you out. Or not. *wink*

Friday, February 11, 2005

News! Madlax Release Date, Noir WMV-HD "Cancellation"

Subject: Noir
Thanks to crack-reporter Maromi: good news, everybody!

Madlax Volume 1 has a release date!!

April 12, 2005.

As they say: "Whoooo Hooo!"

Of course, on AnimeOnDVD's front news page, they also listed this:
ADV Films Cancelation (06:04 PM EST): According to an additional update at Right Stuf, it appears that the planned 03/08/2005 release of Noir Vol. #1 (WMV HD Format) has been canceled as it has been removed from their listings and not just had its date changed if it was a delay of any type.

This may have something to do with the recent news that Microsoft's DRM has supposedly been circumvented. (Sorry no source on that, I saw it on AVS Forum). Or it could just be a delay. Dunno. And I'm not entirely sure I'm dissappointed because I'd much rather have the real HD format when it finally comes out. But I pretty much decided that I would have bought it anyway.

Monday, February 07, 2005

What I watched instead, Part 2:

Subject: TV
I split these up so I could actually use a different icon than the ever-dominating Kirika... *grin*

First up: "Carnivale" -- This series premiered right after I first got my HDTV, and I was pretty much glued to the entire first season. Besides the stunning, very high-quality photography and effects, it also had a quirky, dramatic, eclectic sensibility that made for a really good hook.

The 2nd season recently got underway. And it's changed a bit. There were reports that it was "too obscure", too "heavy", and I can sense some rather un-subtle tinkering. Ben's character, for instance, is suddenly a lot more talkative, a lot more proactive, a little more empathetic. I don't think it suits him very well. There's also a lot more "side" characters. Some of them feel a bit tacked-on or otherwise forced into place. And there are various other motivations (or lack thereof) of the regular characters that seem off.

But overall it's not too bad, and definitely beats any of the rest of the programming out there. It'll just take a bit to see where these little changes are taking it.

Lastly, my friends lent me their DVD set of "Firefly". This show aired briefly on the Fox network some number of years ago, and the tribulations involved are someone legendary, at least among the cult following that's sprung up around it. The DVD set restores all of the season to it's original order and never-aired episodes.

And I had forgetten just what a charming show this is. Yeah, it's "cowboys in space". Some say it's "Blake's 7 with horses". But there's neat elements of "purist sci-fi" (no noise in space) combined with some rich character treatment and well-thought narrative.

I'm just over half-way through the set, and I think it's nice to finally be watching some escapist programming that isn't animated. You know, for a change of pace. No, seriously! Stop looking at me like that!!

What I watched instead: Part 1

Subject: Noir
My anime-watching adventures continued unabated, of course. Something new that was old, and something old that was continued.

First, "Nadia of the Blue Water" -- from what I understand, this is a classic many-episode series from the mid/late 80's based on Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". Not too bad with it's usual old-skool charm and all. But it doesn't entirely hook me right off the bat. It's okay, don't get me wrong, but I think it's aimed a little young for me. I'll still give it my customary 2-disc try and see if it draws me in any deeper. So to speak.

As for "continuing", "Sorcerer Hunters" disc 3 -- pretty more of the same that I've described all along. It didn't seem to make as much of a breakthrough for me as the last disc did, though it had some neat moments. And of course, it drops a minor, albiet surprising, bombshell at the very end of the disc. But that, along with the other little bits and pieces, don't really seem to advance the story arc all that much. This show could probably stand for me to space out the episode viewings a little, instead of trying to watch it all at once.

Speaking of spacing out the episodes, "Big O" has been rolling along on the Cartoon Network, and I'm enjoying it to some extent. Interesting, quirky stories, even though it's really just the usual "giant-robot-of-the-week" fodder. The characters are enough to latch on to though, and seeing what happens next with them more than makes up for the cheesier plot devices.

Other miscellaneous watching:

I'm still DVRing ".hack//Legend of the Twighlight Thingy", which, while not nearly as deep as SIGN, is still not too bad; it has it's moments. I probably wouldn't bother buying it, though.

I've tried and pretty much dropped "Jinki:Extend" and "Gallery Fake" (which I might revisit because I think the premise has potential, it just seemed a tad cheap to me), but I'm still following "Air". That's got a pretty decent overall quality to it, and the characters are interesting, but they're sort of walking the thin line between "interesting" and "annoying". And I think after episode 5, they're leaning toward "annoying".

Didn't watch the Superbowl.

Subject: Soapbox
No, I didn't boycott the Superbowl or anything like that, but besides my distaste for Rupert Murdoch's Fox empire, and loathing of local-affiliate owner Sinclair's shady & greedy political and anti-consumer practices, I couldn't actually pick up a hi-def signal (due to said greedy practices, they wouldn't agree to a deal with the cable co. without big payola, so it was only available over-the-air).

And I had already left Patriots fandom behind when they lost in '86 (much like my aforementioned Red Sox fandom). And my usual "watch it for the commercials" is no longer something I'm interested in -- the commercials have gotten lamer in the last 10 years, and the whole marketing industry has gotten freaky-scary.

So overall, I really didn't care.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Meine Liebe: Auf Wiedersehen.

Subject: Noir
Here's what I posted over on AnimeSuki:

"There was a bit of a tension build-up, then a standoff and a showdown, but then they just kept talking and talking. And then it ended. I'm sure the dialogue gets into the intracacies of the motivations and the final resolution and whatnot, but it's not readily apparent from just the visuals.

Well, overall, I'm left pretty unsatisfied with this series, though only mostly due to a lack of translation. Admittedly I had a harder time latching on to these characters than I do when there's pretty gals involved (heh), and overall there wasn't anything in the story that really made it compelling. That said, the animation, camerawork, art & design (great use of color!) -- they were all excellent (aside from the usual shortcuts of course), and the whole thing as a package is still quite unique compared to the other series out there.

If this ever gets licensed, I will probably wind up buying it for completeness' sake (Mashimo fanboy that I am)."

And that's about it. On to the next thang.

Friday, February 04, 2005

If the last episode of Meine Liebe airs, and no one is there to watch it...

Subject: Noir
...did the series exist?

(it's downloading slowly, but I have a bunch of DVDs to go watch anyhow. I guess I'll catch it and comment on it tomorrow)