Saturday, July 30, 2005

What's old is new and new is old (or whatever...)

Subject: Noir
Watched a little more than just "Utena" so far this weekend.

I also rented the 2004 theatrical release of "Appleseed". I caught the original old-skool series a little while back, and enjoyed that well enough. This time around it was very much a 3-D animated, 5.1 DTS surround-sound extravaganza...

And, unfortunately, lacking the charm and "spark" of the orginal.

That's not to say there weren't some cool effects and techniques involved. But the bar has been set pretty darned high with 3-D animation, and a lot of the character-animation shortcuts that anime uses -- and can be quite successful using -- fall totally flat when combining them with the attempted-realism of mo-cap movements. When one aspect of a character representation mimics reality pretty closely (as captured motion is wont to do), your mind really needs the whole package to go along with it, or you can't cross over into "suspension of disbelief". And the shortcut facial expressions really kill that effect. Which is too bad, but pretty much expected. Really, only Pixar pulls it off. The other big-name 3-D projects from DreamWorks and whatnot are close. But "Appleseed"; nope.

Still, it was fun enough for a bit of escapism. But not worth buying, eye candy not withstanding.

This morning I watched those "IGPX" mini-episodes I found, and those were pretty neat. Nothing mind-blowing, because there wasn't really any time to establish anything. But it was clearly very Mashimo, and for that, I dug it. Heh.

Finally, episode 3 of "Tide Line Blue". Hrm. Still not too sure about this one. It's got a bit of an "Uninhabited Planet: Survive" vibe to a couple of the characters (I believe there's some staff crossover), but overall, it's really just another "Oh noes, it's the post-apocalyptic future; whatever are we to do?!" typicality to it. Which is okay and all, but I'm only going to give it a couple of more episodes to open up into something either more entertaining or more interesting.

Tonight I've got disc 4 of "Samurai Champloo" on tap, so I'm looking forward to having some fun for once!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Still too much "WTF"

Subject: Noir
So I just finished "Revolutionary Girl: Utena" disc 8. I know I said the last two discs were starting to overcome the previous batch, but this disc started taking a turn for the worse for me again.

I feel like I'm being bludgeoned by my own inability to "get it". And it's doing it on purpose.

Maybe I'm just a bit too sober or something. Or in a bad mood because it's been a busier-than-usual week at work. Or that it was way to Nanami-focused for the majority of it (Nanami, of course, annoys the hell out of me).

Urgh. Oh well, there's not much more left, I think. Disc 9 will be arriving next weekend; maybe it will finally start meaning something more than just throwing a bunch of symbols at me.

But I won't hold my breath...

Monday, July 25, 2005

Mashimo's "IGPX" is available for download?!?!

Subject: Noir
So there's been some buzz about the fact that Production I.G. and the Cartoon Network are bringing back the "Immortal Gran Prix" series. Which was one of those on the ANN Bee Train credits list that I figured I'd never get a chance to see. A handful of very short 5-minute episodes that ran on Toonami once upon a time.

Reading the I.G. forums, though, someone pointed to the "Toonami Arsenal" download site. Wow, they're really there for the taking! English dubs, of course. The credits don't specifically mention Bee Train, but they do have Koichi Mashimo there.

The new I.G. production doesn't have any hint of Bee Train involvment either (not that I've gone through the trouble to cross-reference every name yet... maybe some day). But I guess Bee Train is pretty well occupied otherwise.

So anyway, now I feel like I've found hidden treasure. Yay me!

Making up for lost time...

Subject: Noir
I've been subject to a bit of malaise of late -- that sort of "I-haven't-watched-Noir-or-MADLAX-in-a-long-time" listlessness, an overall laziness and lack of inspiration.

In other words, I think I'm bored. *sigh*

I watched a fair amount of programming over the weekend, and while it was all well and good, I can't say any of it really rose to the occasion to really make an impact on me.

I started of with disc 7 of "Revolutionary Girl: Utena". It just keeps on going, doesn't it? And to top it off, it starts with yet-another-absured-Nanami episode. Well, this time, I actually got a chuckle out of it (though I don't particularly remember why). But still, overall , I'm appreciative of it's unique qualities. But I've said that before. Practically everything I have to say about the series, I think I've said it before. So, I'll keep trudging onward.

And I hate to say it, but "ditto" for disc 7 of "Master Keaton". Nothing more I can really say about it that I haven't said. Nice little stories, fine characters and writing. And still going. Trudge, trudge, trudge; I'm marching on.

While somewhat less of a "chore" to get through, "Tsubasa Chronicles" might definitely start seeming that way at episode 56 as opposed to the way it is now at 16. I suspect there are some who think it was there by 6... Anyway, it was a good solid episode again, though it confused me at first because I couldn't quite tell if we were looking at a flashback of Syaoran's, or if it was an alternate-universe character that looked like him. I've been having a real hard time making distinctions between some of the walk-on characters -- the subtle differences have been escaping me. That said, I kind of liked how the episode set up the whole "well, we're lucky that we didn't have to make a serious life-or-death choice this time" foreshadowing. Though I suppose I'll be kind of dissappointed if it weren't foreshadowing at all. This show needs a bit of a dramatic-tension booster shot.

The one highlight of the weekend was disc 2 of "Gunslinger Girl". But since I've actually already seen the series, and find it both enthralling and disturbing, there's not much more I can say about it, either. The disc quality is excellent, though, and it really beats the fansubs when it comes to revealing the details of their surroundings.

Episode 2 of "Tide Line Blue" really hasn't done any more to make an impression on me. It's like it's trying too hard or something. I guess I'll give it a couple of more episodes, though.

Finally, on Marta's urging, I tried the first two episodes of "Loveless". While I generally subscribe to the "not that there's anything wrong with that" school of "I've got no problem with it, it's just not my cup of tea", I thought I'd be fair and give it's artwork and style a chance. And the artwork and style is pretty well done. But it's not quite enough to overcome the fact that I'm easily bored and put off by the usual "awkward schoolkid romance" story, be it between a guy-and-girl, a guy-and-guy, or a girl-and-girl.

Well, okay, with that last one, there was one show that I couldn't quite stop watching... But really! I mean it! *Ahem*

Friday, July 22, 2005

"All just little bits of history repeating..."

Subject: Soapbox
"[We] have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. [We] have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiqués are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows... Our unfortunate troops,... under hard conditions of climate and supply, are policing an immense area, paying dearly every day in lives for the willfully wrong policy of the civil administration in Baghdad."

- T.E. Lawrence, Sunday Times of London, August 22, 1920

(Which reminds me, I haven't watched "Lawrence of Arabia" in a while... Hmmm.)

Madman Entertainment's "MADLAX" site

Subject: Noir
Madman Entertainment is the holder of the Aussie license for "MADLAX" (and "Noir" before it), and they've put up a site for the show.

They've got a forum thread (filled with haters, of course), and more importantly, 4 big wallpaper images that look pretty reasonable.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

".hack//MOVIE" rumor revisited

Subject: Noir
So apparently at ComicCon, a rep from Bandai mentioned that there was a new ".hack" anime project in the works, but that he couldn't say any more than that. Speculation may be that they're actually referring to something associated with one of the two upcoming games ("//G.U." and "//FRAGMENT"), but hey, you never know!

If anyone spots any info before I do, please let me know!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Subject: Noir
So normally I don't really bother with "Anime Music Videos" (aka AMV). Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was actually made a living as an editor and, while quaint, it kind of wears thin after a while.

That said, a fellow Rochestarian fan of "MADLAX" & "Noir" sent me a link to an AMV he had just done that was, he hoped, a "humorous crossover video".

So I watched it this morning, and my god, I nearly snorted my morning Cheerios out my nose!

So he's got it linked at his site (down towards the bottom), and I've gone and mirrored it on my host, so download from there as so not to tap dry his bandwidth. But be sure to read what he says about it, and send him a comment about what you think about it!

("Where do you hide a gun in that outfit?" *Snort!*)

Slashdot finally mentions the ADV "MADLAX" promo experiment

Subject: Noir
...and, of course, Bee-Train-bashing abounds. *Sigh*.

I couldn't help but post my famous "MADLAX" vs. "Noir" comparison. I also tried to alter my signature over there to include Bee Train Fan in hopes of driving some traffic, but I couldn't do that and still link here, so I guess linking here will have to suffice. That site isn't really ready yet, anyhow.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Three seasons of "Tsubasa Chronicle"??

Subject: Noir
I know a LiveJournal blog isn't the most authoritative of sources, but that never stopped me before.

Anyway, according to an interpretation of an ad for trading cards, there are going to be three seasons total for Tsubasa, running through 2007.

However, on the AnimeSuki thread where I first saw the news, there's some debate as to whether or not the ad actually says that or not.

I'll have to admit, I think it's rather out-of-character for Mashimo & Bee Train to make a series go that long. Of course, that isn't to say that Bee Train actually gets to do more than one season... if there is, in fact, going to be more seasons. That said, "Spider Riders" is supposed to go 52 episodes, so maybe that's all changed.

I wish I had access to better sources so I could finally know just what the hell it is I'm talking about for once.

Random cartoonery

Subject: Noir
My anime-watching seems to all lump together during the weekend, it seems...

First up, I gave "Tide Line Blue" a spin. Post-apocolyptic submarine story; hard to go wrong with something like that, eh? I can't say the first episode particularly sucked me in, though. But it didn't bore me either, so I'm going to give it a few more before I decide what I think about it.

Next, disc 3 of "Chrono Crusade" -- I seem to be taking a long time between discs for this one, and it takes me a while to try and figure out who was who and can do what how, etc. etc. -- but it's not in anyway a deep or cryptic story, so it isn't too hard to pick it up. It's still moderately entertaining and imaginative, but it isn't really doing much for me to make me really want to rush and get the next disc to the top of my rental queue.

This morning I started off, as tradition dictates, with the latest "Tsubasa Chronicle", which finished off the arc with the kidnapped children and whatnot; the arc that I thought was over at the end of the last episode, that is. It's pretty much just continuing on it's merry way, giving a couple of clues here and there, and showing the main relationship getting stronger and stronger. But not much more for me to comment on at this point, either good or bad.

Finally, the last two episodes of "Emma". It pretty much ended as I figured it would. It was nice to get the rest of Emma's backstory filled, and everything was rather solidly done, but it didn't provoke a whole lot of emotion in me one way or the other. Still, it was a good series overall.

That's about it. Kind of a mediocre run, I guess. Nothing inspiring me much.

In other news, I got word that episode 11 of Meine Liebe is getting a little further, so sometime this week maybe keep your eyes open for it.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

"No blondes were hurt in the production of this motion picture"

Subject: Cinema
...was the credit at the end of "Stratosphere Girl".

Billed as a European-film-meets-Japanese-anime; it's a German film of a Belgian girl that draws comics quite well who goes to Tokyo and becomes a "hostess" and discovers a coverup about a missing former "hostess", which gets her into a bit of hot water. Or something like that... it gets a little weird and it's hard to tell what this film is really trying to do.

Which is okay. But it was really quite amusing to see anime "camerawork" being used in an actual real-people film. A lot of the anime-cliche-type reaction shots and mise-en-scene and whatnot were plentiful. And the plot was, well, a tad thin. But it sure was stylish. And the girls were... *ahem* hawt.

(and none of them were harmed in the production of that motion picture.... *ahem*)

Anyway, the only substantial thing I've taken away from this is just how alien Tokyo seem to be. At least from this particular perspective. I'm sure if I add up all the various slice-of-life bits of fiction, from various animes to "Lost in Translation", I'd probably come up with a better representation of reality over there, but it'll take a little something to clear out the slant that this picture painted.

Friday, July 15, 2005

A punch in the gut

Subject: Cinema
It's been around 15 years since I first saw Michael Moore's "Roger & Me" -- a documentary about the harsh abandonment of the manufacturing middle-class as illustrated by GM's abandonment of Flint, Michigan. The style, the methods, the combination of ironic humor with the stark drama of the situation -- it was something rather new and unique to the genre.

I remember leaving the theater feeling like I was punched in the stomach. Confrontation tends to do that with me.

Over the years, I happily watched Michael Moore's follow-on works, like his short-lived series "TV Nation" (totally awesome; I wonder if there's a DVD release?), and another series and a couple of other movies. Very strong wit mixed with a bit of seething outrage. Very smart stuff. But it never elicited the same kind of physical response in me. It never really hit me hard.

Then a couple of years ago, I bought the "Bowling With Columbine" disc. The whole event had sickened me and had me struggling to make sense of it. Then Moore came along and painted the whole hysteria in a different light. And showed some of the gritty details that I hadn't seen before.

And I felt like I was punched in the stomach. Ow. And though it's sitting on my shelf, I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it again.

So last year, when his "Farenheit 9/11" came out, I couldn't bring myself to go see it. I had pretty much read everything and every point that he was making in other alternative outlets. I literally subscribe to his newsletter. When he came out in support of Wes Clark, I was quite thrilled. But I couldn't bring myself to see what he did this time.

Until tonight, a year later.

In a way, now that all the hoopla over this film is over, it's almost kind of quaint. I may have very well read every little bit of back-n-forth about the film as it reverberated around the media, and I knew everything about what would happen ahead of time. But it still hurts to actually see some of that footage for myself. Particularly the shots of the guys and gals over there dealing with the reality of the situation. The sort of stuff that I read about, but never really see in the "normal" US media.

Yeah, Moore goes "over the top" with a lot of the "tin-foil-hat" conspiracy allegations. But you know what? He still has a point. There are still facts behind what he points out that go totally unquestioned. And you can imagine that if ex-President Clinton had these ties instead, that we'd probably have these beaten into our skulls 24x7. It just exposes the frustration and hypocrisy in the system. Which, from my historical reading, really isn't anything new or radical, but just more little bits of history repeating. (Cue the "Propellerheads"...)

So my gut has been punched yet again. And you wonder why I've spent the last year immersing myself in the escapist brain-candy of Japanese cartoons? *sigh*

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"Avenger; Complete Collection" - October 25th

Subject: Noir
I haven't actually been able to find another source on this yet besides that AnimeNation forum post, but here's the skinny from Bandai:

Avenger: Complete Collection - October 25, 2005; SRP: $29.98; 325 min

That's pretty cheap for the whole series, and preordering will probably be even cheaper.

Also, it's also released the same day as disc 2 of the "Bebop" remix, so I'll save even more on shipping! (Like I actually need to pay for shipping... heh.)

UPDATE: Someone posted a picture of the collector's tin, and mentioned that it also comes with "three mini-cels". (Whatever those are...)

ADV "MADLAX" promo bittorrent experiment

Subject: Noir
From Anime On DVD:

ADV Promo Bittorrents (07:34 PM EDT): As posted to our Region 1 forum this evening by David Williams of ADV Films: "As part of my explorations into on various online video options, I've placed a promotional video for Madlax online as a torrent. As this is a small part of a larger project I'm working on I'd be happy hear any comments, feedback, suggestions, etc. from the fans. If you have bittorrent and are interested in official downloads, use your client to download the promo at:

Currently there is just this promo video but I have much larger plans in mind. Let me know what you think and even what you might like to see in the future."
If you try this, please provide some feedback for them here.

I'm all for experimentation!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Subject: Noir
It's been scorching-hot here lately, so I've barely felt like turning on a computer, let alone blog, let alone watch anything...

(This post is from the air-conditioned comfort of my office...)

Anyway, I just wanted to mention that I did get a chance to see "Tsubasa Chronicle" ep 14 on Sunday, and all I really have to report is that it continued to be in the "good" column. The only "flaw" was that I was a little puzzled about how the end of it dragged a bit -- kind of like: "She has the feather so it's over, isn't it?". But I guess it needs another episode to actually resolve what the heck is going on, which the next-episode preview helped indicate. But the episode itself didn't really leave me with that "need to continue" suspense, despite all the unanswered questions.

In other minor news, Anime On DVD reports that Geneon has licensed OST 2 from "Noir".

Kind of late to the party, don't you think?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

"Tsubasa" 14 is finally out

Subject: Noir
...though it hasn't hit 'Suki's front page yet. Downloading now; hopefully I'll get a chance to watch this evening.

EDIT: Ugh, 1 seed... maybe not.

Another weekend's watching

Subject: Noir
Somehow the fact that I didn't have the time to do my usual "Sunday Breakfast w/ 'Tsubasa Chronicles'" this morning must have spread through the karmic multiverse, because there hasn't been a release of episode 14 yet. Sorry to make the rest of you wait on my account, though... *ahem*

Anyway, last night was the first time I've watched much of anything in the anime department for a while.

First up, "Escaflowne" disc 3. Not much to say there, besides the fact that even as it comes close to losing me by being way too much of a "girly" show, the characters and story still keep me hanging on. Anyway, I was a little disappointed that there were only 3 episodes on this disc, but otherwise, I'll keep trudging along.

And I'm still trudging along with "RahXephon" with disc 4. A bit more background gets explored, and various character tensions and whatnot ebb and flow, and little twists and clues get introduced. Same ol', same ol'. No problem, it's not completely putting me off yet, but I'm not particularly sucked in to it. The quality is okay overall, so there's nothing really driving me away from it.

Can I be any more non-commital about it? Sheesh.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Gave in to the Dark Side

Subject: Cinema
Quite a ways back I had mentioned that I saw the snazzy new DVD re-release of "The Empire Strikes Back", and that while I thought it was one of the best looking DVDs I'd ever seen, I wasn't quite interested in buying the whole set because I wasn't interested in the changes Lucas made to the other two.

Well, during the DDD sale, I "gave into my hate", so to speak. Well, actually, the opposite -- I "got over" my hate. (Serves me right for trying to extend the pun past it's breaking point).

Anyway, I watched all three (no, not all at once; spread out over a couple of days). And they were pretty freakin' good. I mean, yeah, "IV" (which I'll always still call #1) was the same hokey classic I remember standing in line for twice. And "Jedi" had all the damn cross-merchandising teddybears and stupid music replacements. But I guess there was a reason I liked them way back when, and a reason that they're such mega-blockbusters. They're still entertaining.

I wish I could say the same for the latest trilogy. Well, the first two installments of it, at least. I'll be waiting for the DVD of the "Noooooooo!" installment before I totally condemn the whole thing I suppose.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Mo' "Monster"

Subject: Noir
Caught up with episode 57, and there's not much more to say except that it continues to unfold, and unfold quite well at that. If you haven't started yet, all I can say is that you've got a loooong way to catch up, but it's worth it!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

"Howl's Moving Castle"

Subject: Cinema
I did a rare thing on Saturday: I actually went to a movie theater to see a film. The one release that was able to get me out of the house was Miyazaki's latest.

If you haven't seen anything about it yet, it's adapted from an English novel of the same name, about a young woman who suddenly becomes cursed to be an old woman because of her encounter with a young playboy of a wizard named Howl. Who apparently lives in a big castle-like contraption on legs, which wanders the countryside. Looking for a way to break the curse, she sets out to find Howl.

It's truly a fabulous gem of a film, which, really, you kind of expect from Miyazaki. The characters are alive and interesting, the atmosphere is lush and exquisitely detailed, and the neat little bits of imagination transposed on to "real" world add his signature touch. In fact, with most all of it, you can kind of see bits of his previous works scattered about. So while not a particularly bold departure for him, it was still very enjoyable.

Even though this was the American cut with dubbed voices (including Billy Crystal), it did a very good job. I suppose I'm really only a subtitle-snob when I've seen the Japanese version first, and I'm greatly looking forward to the DVD release so I can finally see it and have it open up for me a little more.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Long-weekend watching update

Subject: Noir
"Tsubasa Chronicle" episode 13 -- Another decent episode, at least as far as an "episode to establish the next arc" goes. While I didn't eek any deep insights out of this one this time, I liked the overall flow and mood, and the look is really solid. I'm kind of surprised it wasn't licensed this weekend, considering some of the junk that was. Maybe negotiations are still going on...

"Emma" eps 9 & 10 -- a double-shot this weekend! I can't say that this one is unpredictable or anything, but like I've said, the characters and the attention-to-detail are still holding me to it. And I believe there isn't an awful lot left in this season anyhow.

"Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water" disc 4 -- Again, another show where the characters are keeping me with it. Still kind of a kid's show, but I like how the universe is unfolding. I tell you what, if I actually had access to this show 15 years ago, it probably would have been one of my favorite things on earth, seeing as I hadn't seen a lot of anime at that point, and it has a great combination of sci-fi-in-the-past with submarine-adventure. Now it's just interesting.

"Samurai Champloo" disc 3 -- I also rewatched disc 2 to refresh my memory. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: this show is huge fun! A little silly around the edges, but otherwise dripping with "cool". The characters have a great spark, the details have both a realistic (if minimalistic and not historically-accurate) grounding and a couple of witty, funny touches. If it were a stock, I'd rate it "Strong Buy". The next one is due in a couple of weeks, and I'm looking forward to it.

I've got one more that I want to give it's own post, and attempt a slightly longer review. Or at least a more thoughtful one... A little later.

"" -- open for business!

Subject: Noir
Well, okay, sort of...

Like with my home-improvement project earlier this year, all the plumbing and wiring is exposed for the world to see, and I've got a lot of work to do on the interface and styles and images and modifications and whatnot to make the site feel more integrated. Oh, and write some content! That's always helpful.

For now, you can sign up on the forum and reserve your extra-special "low userid number"! You know, so you can auction it off on eBay in a couple of years...

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Subject: Noir
So there's actually going to be a ".hack" MMORPG. Interesting.

I'll admit that "World of Warcraft" was kind of, sort of tempting, but the more I read the message boards, the more I saw that there's really already a pre-existing culture and vocabulary and methodology to those things that seem to be more, well, lame, than just playing the dang game. I'm not entirely sure I'd find that fun. And I certainly don't have that kind of time to waste.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Lucifer drives a Ferrari?

Subject: Noir
Or something like that... My ability to ID exotic cars is a little lacking.

Of course, I'm talking about "Revolutionary Girl: Utena" disc 6. Which may, finally, have been the disc to keep me from complaining so much about the series overall!

I had hope when I saw that the title of the disc was "The Beginning of the End". Hooray! That hope was nearly dashed in the first episode, which was kind of a recap episode, including my two least favorite and most absurd episodes. *sigh*. But for the 2nd episode, there was a subtle, but welcomingly refreshing, change. Even the same-ol'-same-ol' repetitive sequences were altered a bit.

It could be that after 6 discs worth, my familiarity with the characters and the setting is finally wearing me down enough that I be a little more receptive to some of the clues that were being flung about. Or after all the other anime I'm watching, I'm able to appreciate it's more unique qualities a little better. But I really think that once it shook loose the tedious trappings of that last arc, it probably opened up a bit for me.

I still can't say that I'm able to explain what's going on or anything like that, but at least hanging on for the ride isn't so mind-numbingly dense anymore. I actually want to know what happens next! Wow.