Friday, September 30, 2005

Marathon commencing...

Subject: Noir
I'm currently listening to the "MADLAX" OST #2 while finishing cooking up an elaborate pasta dinner. I've just popped the cork on a $20 bottle of Chianti, and am ready to pop in Vol. 1 and get this party on the road.

Be prepared for more PWI gushing about "MADLAX" in about 6 hours or so... What will it be about this time? I did color already... lighting too... Hmmm.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"The Cat Returns"

Subject: Noir
A non-Miyazaki Ghibli production, "The Cat Returns" is a clever little story about a girl and her encounter with a secret world of talking cats. It's rather endearing, and quite creative. A bit of light fun. It's not particularly to the same depth and magic as a typical Miyazaki film, but, well, it was...


That's pretty much all my word association could come back with. That, and "cat".

Nice kitty.

More about "Mirror Mask"

Subject: Noir
I posted before about being pleasantly surprised by the "Mirror Mask" trailer I saw on one of the hi-def channels. Wired Magazine is running a short interview with Dave McKean about how he made it.

Hilights: A mere $4 million budget. A crew of "15 fresh-out-of-art-school animators". "Over-the-counter-software"...
I'm not sure if everyone gets just how radical that is -- that some unknown filmmaker can buy a Mac and buy Maya and convert stuff from his imagination onto the screen without spending $100 million.

Hmm, now I've got gears churning in my head. Of course, I'd find it a little easier to "convert stuff from my imagination" if I were the one creating "Sandman" over the past 10 years... but still...

"Avenger" website for USA release!

Subject: Noir
A couple of new wallpaper images, the trailer (which seems to be the same as the one I linked to before), and a teaser entry that says "Message From Koichi Mashimo"...

...with "Coming Soon" for content. Just like how the "MADLAX" site has been teasing with "Director's Diary" for months now. *Sigh*

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"'Rome' if you want to. 'Rome' around the world..."

Subject: TV
I got a chance to catch up with HBO's "Rome" finally.

I guess the overall consensus is correct: This ain't no "'Deadwood' in togas".

The characters are getting a little more familiar and have, in some cases, developed a little more depth. And the attention to detail is still quite sufficient for someone like me who is only somewhat aquainted with that period in history. Supposedly the timelines are totally compressed, and some of the classic quotes of the period have been totally eliminated, but in terms of the look and feel and "place", I think it's doing pretty well.

Still, it's nothing particularly stellar. For those without HBO, I'd recommend renting the discs when it comes out if on DVD you're interested in the historical aspects of it, but unless it really shapes up over the rest of the season, I don't expect there'll be any other reason to bother. At any rate, it fills the time until someday we can have more "Deadwood" episodes. Sans toga.

"And heaven knows I'm miserable now"

Subject: Noir
Well, AnimeOnDVD has confirmed it: "MADLAX" volume #5 will be released on December 13th.

Two-and-a-half months from now.

I'm depressed. I suppose the new "Avenger" set will fill in the gap a little, but honestly, how can it??


"Just another 'MADLAX' Monday"

Subject: Noir
Yay, my copy of "MADLAX" vol. 4 showed up yesterday!


I didn't watch it. *sniff*

Actually, I have a good reason -- I'm taking a long weekend starting Friday, and I'm going to watch all 4 of 'em. Then, of course, I will follow on with Yet Another Rewatch of... you guessed it: "Noir".

After all, it's a "special occasion".

In other watching news, I actually did finish up disc 2 of "Texhnolyze", and though there were a couple of parts that seemed interesting, and even though it pretty much fits the definition of a serious show with a multifaceted storyline, it's really not trying very hard to bring me in to it. In fact, it's like it's trying to actively push me away. I mean, "gritty" is all well and good, but if that's all ya got, well, I'm going to want to seek that kind of "atmosphere" in something a little more fulfilling, or at least a little more sympathetic.

I'll stick with it for one more disc to see if there's a turning point, but otherwise I'll probably leave it half-finished for a while before I get back to it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

"Tsubasa Chronicle" ep 23

Subject: Noir
Well, this week was certainly something on the "WTF-o-meter". Lots of layers being peeled back, only to reveal more puzzle pieces.

I can't really say I'm following all the different angles of this very well, but at least the moments themselves are quite involving. The end of this episode in particular, obviously. There was something behind that sequence that made me think "Someone here is really, really a fan of their relationship" -- it had a strong, almost loving attention to the nuanced details of the moment. Simple that it was; I think it was mostly in the timing and subtle movements. But it communicated that little something extra to me.

And to be left on a bit of a nailbiter cliffhanger, and with a whole week before there's resolution? Well, it's no "MADLAX" in the suspense department, but I'm looking forward to seeing where this is going.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

It's cool, daddy-o...

Subject: Noir
There's really nothing more I can say about "Cowboy Bebop" that I haven't already said at one point or another. I know it took me a little bit to give myself over to it's totally overwhelming coolness, but since I was converted, I can only continue to marvel at it.

The new "Remix" discs still have the same crappy dot-crawly composite video transfer. Which is a royal shame. An "Evangelion"-style remaster would be totally stupendous and have me yammering on like a total idiot.

Well, moreso than usual.

That all said, even though I've already seen 2 of the first disc's episodes in 5.1 surround-sound glory with the "Best Sessions" release last year, I was still very pleased to have decent, clear, subwoofer-thumping cool emenating from my trusty old Polks. The music is such a key ingredient to this series, and it doesn't ever dissappoint. And the dialouge and effects are punchy-keen and completely immersive, which only enhances the fantastic attention-to-detail and pop-art styling of the visuals.

Anyway, I can't wait to finish collecting the rest of this release, and, some day, should an actual video remaster actually make it's way to market, I will be more than happy to double-dip. This is one of a very special few series that would be worth it.

"Galact-o-yeah" 10...

Subject: TV


(That is all...)


Subject: Noir
My copy of "MADLAX" 4 didn't show up today, so I'm a little grumpy.

It didn't quite help that I wasn't entirely inspired by what I watched last night. I started off with "RahXephon" disc 6. Even though everything in that show is building up to the finale, and there's all kinds of crazy stuff going on, it really, really didn't do anything for me at all. My earlier "without soul" proclaimation kept echoing in my head: "Nope, no soul yet." "No soul here either." "Was that some soul? Alas, no." Etcetera.

I can't blame it on being too sober, either. *Ahem*.

And the combination of that and me being a bit over-tired lately set me up such that I fell sound asleep during the first episode on disc 2 of "Texhnolyze". So I really don't have much to comment on there. It did keep me in a bit of a "yeah, whatever" frame of mind before I dozed off, but I'll have to try again later so I can be a little more fair to it. I want to see if I can come to some sort of understanding as to the differences in experience I'm getting from these ABe-based series -- I wasn't too taken with "Lain" (but found parts to appreciate), adored "Haibane Renmei" thoroughly, but I am kind of put-off with what I've managed to sit through with "Texhnolyze" so far.

So figure on more musings about that subject in the next few days. Tonight I'm going to watch the "Cowboy Bebop Remixed" disc 1 that finally showed up this week, so that should hopefully put me in a better mood. But I likely won't follow it up with "Texhnolyze", and instead pick something more fun out of my collection. Dunno what yet.

Friday, September 23, 2005

"He says you Brade Lunner!"

Subject: Cinema
While I didn't get to see "Blade Runner" when it was initially released theatrically, I was a quick convert to fandom shortly afterwards. Between screenings at the college theater, and repeated laserdisc rentals, I saw the original cut many times. When the "Director's Cut" was released, I saw that in the theaters the night it opened, then purchased the laserdisc for myself.

It's one of the few laserdiscs I haven't converted to DVD yet, because the DVD release is really just the letterboxed, non-anamorphic, mediocre resolution master from the laserdisc. A proper release apparently was held up in some sort of licensing battle that I can't remember the details of. And even though I still have my laserdisc player hooked up, I haven't actually watched "Blade Runner" for quite a while.

But, just recently, the hi-def channel HDNet aired a brand new transfer. Which I managed to catch with my DVR. And I finally got to watch it.

I like how my system upconverts DVDs; they usually look very good. But this actual hi-def remastering of "Blade Runner" totally knocked my proverbial socks off! It was so crisp, so clear, so vibrant; it was like looking directly at an original 35mm theatrical print! Ridley Scott is famous for a lovingly rich attention to detail in his work, and wow, is it ever so present here! Flawless for a pre-CGI sci-fi film. And with this crisp, clear hi-def transfer, I could see all kinds of detail that I just never really caught before.

So apparently a DVD based on this new transfer is due sometime soon. But I'm not going to buy it. Instead, I think this will be my inaugural purchase for whichever HDTV format finally shakes out as the next defacto standard. And it will be worth waiting for!

Monday, September 19, 2005

The end is Nigh!

Subject: Noir
...for "Meine Liebe", that is...

Episode 13 has passed through my hands, and is winging its way to the next stage.

And as such, I am done with fansubbing. Even though I was doing the one task that came pretty naturally to an old video editor like myself, it was rather tiring and it took a lot of time. I can't imagine trying to keep up with a weekly release, or multiple releases for that matter. The youngsters who are able to keep up the pace and the enthusiasm for this hobby really are contributing quite a lot, and anyone who feels the need to gripe about a group's subs really should try and spend some time in their shoes for a while before shooting your mouth off.

So thanks again to Clem and Shining Fansubs for my chance to contribute at least a little bit, and learn a little something about the process.

500 channels and...

Subject: TV
So another TV season has started up. It must have, because there was a couple of "Simpsons" episodes and a "King of the Hill" on my DVR.

I've always liked "King of the Hill" a lot. Mike Judge really captures a great "slice of life" setting and a funny tone with the whole thing. Though I'm finding as the years go by, the characters are becoming more and more like parodies of themselves. Getting a little more absurd and a little less multifaceted.

"The Simpsons" has unfortunately caught that syndrome in spades. And has for a number of years now. There's still wit to be found, and it beats most any other comedy program out there as far as what makes me laugh, but compared to the classics, it's getting harder and harder for me to make it through an episode without fidgiting a little. My attention starts to wander. Oh well.

The other shows I'm watching are "Battlestar Galactica" (of course!), "Stargate SG-1", and HBO's "Rome". All of which I've mentioned at some point or other. "Galactica" is doing pretty well, though it hasn't been quite as great as that one episode I PWI'ed about a few weeks back. "Stargate" just isn't capturing the magic that they had early on. I think I might be dropping it once and for all.

"Rome" is interesting on a few levels, not the least of which is the historical details they work in to all the scenes and settings. The performances and characters are so-so -- not awful, but not particularly compelling either. There's a lot of gratuitious... well, gratuitiousness. All kinds of nudity, violence, butchering animals; you name it, it's in there. Yeah, the excuse (like in Deadwood) is that it's all part of the gritty realism. But really, it's mostly meant to shock you. But it's not being all that obnoxious about it, and the attention to detail really does carry the show. Anyway, I'll see it through to the end.

Beyond that, there's supposedly some halfway-decent network series starting up, but I really can't bring myself to care. The last one I used to watch regularly was "The West Wing", but when Aaron Sorkin left, it became a hollow farce of itself, and totally missed its own point, so I dropped it. Even though I could start watching it in HDTV, it just wasn't worth it anymore.

A different "Hyuu"... plus: "She's Huuuge!"

Subject: Noir
When episode 22 of "Tsubasa Chronicle" wasn't available first thing Sunday morning, I was a bit disappointed, and dug around my archive to see what I could watch in it's place. Sunday morning breakfast with anime -- I can't break that ritual.

So I realized I hadn't watched "Popolocrois Story" in a while. It's an early Bee Train series that is pretty much "kids' show". Cloying opening & closing music, and cutesy & somewhat simplified overall with respect to the characters and story; still there's a little spark of interest to it. It's got that little bit of cinematic flair, and in places, the animation is rather good.

In particular, a sequence that completely caught me off guard on Saturday morning was in episode 8. "Hyuu" is the name of one of the characters, a young girl of a lost race called "Wind-kind" -- which essentially means she can fly. And in this scene, she was doing an air ballet that, for what would otherwise be a simple children's show, was amazing!

And to top it off, the story is into this arc of betrayal and a bit of a dramatic edge that, while not at a deep grownup level, is still rather surprisingly involving.

So my advice -- skip the OP & ED, and give this little underrated effort a go. After a few episodes, the cloyingly-sweet aspects are tempered by a rather creative, yet simple story and interesting-to-watch characters.

Eventually, "Tsubasa" 22 made it, so I got to watch it last night. The "She's Huge!" line really cracked me up, though I suppose it would have been more of a joke if I knew what the character was from. Plus there were other great little moments -- I really like how lil' Sakura is animated in the flashbacks; she's so expressive.

Overall it was a little unsatisfying, though. The story was pretty much just setting the stage for what they seem to be billing as a big confrontation, so I was left with the feeling of "that was it?" I guess I thought there'd be a little more revealed at this point. Oh well, maybe next week. But I get a sense that all we're going to get is a big set-up for the next season. I'm just hoping there's at least a ".hack//SIGN" moment of closure; yeah the whole story is left wide open, but on a character level you're satisfied with what happens.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Short and sweet

Subject: Noir
I just finished the last 2 discs of "Haibane Renmei".

What I said before about "soul", I still think that applies pretty well in this case.

I can't say that I've intellectualized the story very far, or that I "get" all the aspects of it, but on a totally experiential level, I'm quite satisfied with it. As simple as the animation, art, and characterization was, the characters had a spark of life to them, and the whole show had a very strong draw into it's world. Rakka in particular is adorable. Rekei, well... I like Rekei a lot. *ahem*

It's sentimental, for sure. "Sweet", even. But not cloyingly so, which would otherwise drive a crusty old badger like myself away from it. You can't help but like the characters; you can't help but root for them, fear for them, maybe even mist up a little for them. It's simple, but well-balanced.

I like very much that nothing was particularly solved or answered. Except, of course, the one strong conclusion about Rakka's & Rekei's past. It's a very strong effect when you realize it at first. I think it goes back to what I was saying about "Gunslinger Girl" and the primal need to have young girls be safe and happy, and how much it affects you when that just might not be the case. But the fact that the overall world and the reasons behind it aren't explained and are left to your own projection and interpretation is, really, part of the whole draw that Japanese fiction has over me in the first place. I don't mind that there's still so many unanswered questions; the fact that an authentic moment was delivered brings the whole thing to a satisfactory conclusion for me.

"Sweet"* was the result of my word-association game for "Haibane Renmei". Before this series, I would have rolled my eyes back and groaned at the thought of subjecting myself to something "sweet". But really, this works. I'm thinking this is even purchase-worthy, and that it will be worth a rewatch in the near future. With's 50%-off sale, it's probably a no-brainer.

*(no, not like how Cartman says it... Not that at all! Just get that out of your head right now. Really, now! This is serious!)

"Mirror Mask" -- wow!

Subject: Cinema
I just saw a trailer last night on one of the hi-def channels for the upcoming movie from Jim Henson Productions, "Mirror Mask".

Oh. My. God.

It looks like a gothic, surreal, fantasy drama. And my jaw dropped at some of the sequences they showed. (It looks a lot better in hi-def big-screen than just the quicktime trailer I linked).

I was a big fan of Jim Henson's. Beyond the awesome nostalgic zaniness of "The Muppet Show", there was "Labyrinth", of course; but the one that totally won me over was a brief-lived show in the late 80's called "Jim Henson's The Storyteller". It was a completely enthralling take on classic and ancient storytelling and mythology.

Then he died shortly after that. R.I.P.

Anyway, Brian Henson and the family business have managed to keep his creative storytelling style going since then, especially in the series "Farscape". "Mirror Mask", though, looks like the most ambitious project of their's in a long, long time.

I am very much looking forward to it!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

AnimeOnDVD reviews "MADLAX" disc 4

Subject: Noir
A good review; you can tell that Chris Beveridge is really starting to get into it after not particularly liking the beginning:
"When I first saw Madlax it was something I wasn't interested in seeing any more of. But as I've gotten further into the show it's becoming more and more engaging and it reminds me more and more of the kind of anime I like. Series that don't have the majority of revelations in the first few episodes but rather something that builds up over time and plays out at its own pace without trying to be the next big thing. This is definitely a show I'm glad I didn't give up on because of the first episode or even the first volume. Every volume now has me on the edge of my seat as it delves more into the truths behind the story."

To quote an old friend of mine:
"If you're not on the edge of your seat, your chair is too long!"

(And guess who gets the honor of "worst-named character ever"? C'mon, just guess!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Finish what I start, start what I can't finish...

Subject: Noir
Okay, I managed to get through "Escaflowne" last night. While I'm not exactly excited or enthralled with it, I'm still finding it interesting overall. It's got a few surprisingly "alive" moments here and there that really carry it through.

I also remembered that "Hitomi" was the name of the Japanese exchange student back in high school that I had a bit of a crush on, once upon a time. Ah, nostalgia.

I went from there to episode 62 of "Monster", which, of course, continues to steamroll it's way to a climax. More threads are created, some others are tied together. I just wish I was able to keep these coming on a regular basis; the amount of time between releases unfortunately has a bit of a dulling effect on my anticipation, which I think would have been half the fun, if my experience with "MADLAX" last year would be any indication.

On Marta's urging, I also gave "Fantastic Children" episode 1 a quick spin. This is licensed now and awaiting release, so I promised myself I would only sample it to see if it was worth waiting for. And I've got to admit, it seemed very interesting. A different character style than typical anime, almost reminiscent of "Now and Then, Here and There" (though there doesn't seem to be any connection whatsover). The story definitely had a unique hook. So, I'm definitely going to look forward to renting it once it hits the shelves, and then determine if it's purchase-worthy shortly thereafter.

Finally, I'm in the middle of rewatching both "The Irresponsible Captain Tylor" box set whenever I get a chance, and ".hack//SIGN" for my morning workout. No new relevations about them that I haven't already posted about, but I figured I'd at least mention that I was in the middle of 'em. Again.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sort of a "Spider Riders" update

Subject: Noir
From that link for the most recent book in the series, it says the following:
The Spider Riders book series is the basis of a children's action-adventure anime TV series currently in production and scheduled to launch in Fall 2006.

So earlier it was "first episode to air at the beginning of 2006", but "52 episodes delivered in 2007" (which may have meant the syndication package), but the latest news I can squeeze out of the internet is what is posted in that (and other booksellers') description.

FYI, I guess. That's the best I can get out of Google, at least. I wish I had a Japanese source for these kinds of things.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Weekend watch

Subject: Noir
A quiet weekend for me this time, as I tried to enjoy what may be the last sunny, warm stretch of the season. I probably should have been doing more yardwork to take advantage of that, but, hey, that's no fun.

For rentals, I had volumes 4 of both "Twelve Kingdoms" and "Vision of Escaflowne". "Twelve Kingdoms" seems to have started a new arc. And it's all well and good, and intersting storytelling and all that. Like I've said before, not having much grounding on Japanese or other Asian mythologies makes a lot of this "new to me", so I'm not sure how closely this tracks to it. But I did finally make the connection between the "kirin" and Kirin Beer. *Ahem*

With "Escaflowne", I unfortunately fell asleep halfway through, so I'll probably try to finish it tonight or tomorrow. But I was all ready to make a witty blog post afterwards about how I'm surprised they haven't all poked each other's eyes out with those noses of theirs and whatnot. Heh. Anyway, my falling asleep wasn't so much the fault of the show as much as it was that I was rather beat.

This morning, sure enough, I was able to have my usual Sunday morning back to normal with episode 21 of "Tsubasa Chronicle". Another good episode, of course. Though I'm still not as caught up in it as I wish I could be, it's still fun to watch, and I know I'll miss it when it's done for the season.

I got a little confused about the big build-up to unveiling the "bad guy" in the cloak -- I was trying to remember if he was one of the characters they already ran into or not, because they really made it seem like I was supposed to know who he was. Kind of bugged me. It's probably more of that "Yet Another CLAMP Cameo" inside-joke sort of thing. But at least it promises to reveal some more backstory, because really, that's really the meaty part of this show that keeps it from being more than just an artful mood piece, like some sort of "Meine Liebe" for 12-year-olds.

At any rate, the reports of continuing seasons must be true, because there's no way they're going to wrap this show up in another 5 episodes.

But besides more of this, and "Spider Riders" -- which I'm still not 100% sure is going to start to air in 2006 or 2007, I wonder what else is brewing for Bee Train? I don't see anything on the Fall '05 lists. And lacking a Bee Train show, what on earth am I going to watch? Oh no!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The girls who sling guns

Subject: Noir
I got the last disc of "Gunslinger Girl" this week, and finished my 2nd trip through the series this evening.

After being in such a mood all week after finishing another trip through "Noir", I'm kind of surprised I wanted to put myself through that grinder. Maybe I was fooling myself; maybe I was thinking "it couldn't have been that heart-rending."

Well, maybe it wasn't all that heart-rending, but there's certainly some heart-wrenching going on. Like I said before in my first review: It's evil. It's a blatant attempt to manipulate you with an appeal-to-emotion in hopes that you'd turn out a blubbering wreck by the end. Skillfully, artfully done, but manipulative all-the-less.

Earlier this evening, I was invited to visit friends of mine who just had their first child, a three-week-old daughter. I've known them for nearly 20 years now, they were housemates of mine for quite a while, and watching them as inexperienced new parents was, well, amusing. They were marvelling at all the strange little changes in themselves as it related to how they now react and identify with their new, tiny creation. How millions of years of biological evolution all come focused to what they're experiencing right now.

In a way, though, all of us guys are primally wired to want to protect little girls. I'd like to say it was "little kids", but really, little girls tend to really invoke the "father" instinct in even the most stalwart, crusty bachelors like myself. The Japanese seem to know this, and are pretty damned successful at manipulating you with it. With "Gunslinger Girl", the empathy and protective instinct are brought to an obvious focal point with the fact that the girls are a "fratello" with their older (and stalwart, crusty bachelor) handlers. Who you find yourself either identifying with, or absolutely loathing. Or both.

Like I've said: manipulative. That's really the only major flaw to the show -- that it's that obvious about it. Otherwise, there's some fantastic use of detail, mood, music and texture, with some excellent writing and characterization, that really make this a worthwhile series.

Oh, and I happened to notice this time around that there were certain background-music moments that were very, very much a rip-off of "Noir". I mean, practically chord-for-chord, it seemed. Well, at least, it was really, really similar.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A bit of a funk

Subject: Musings
"Post-Noir Syndrome" has been in full effect these past couple of days, go figure. Topped off with some things at work going around in circles instead of making the progress I thought I made, and I've been left with little to no positive energy to watch, comment, or post about anything. Or work on Bee Train Fan either.


Still, leaving that incoherent "Posting-While-Intoxicated" rant as my top post on the page isn't exactly visitor friendly...

Then I saw this job posting, and now I'm not sure if I'm really intrigued at a possibility to break into something that I've been thinking about a lot, or really depressed that I'm not particularly qualified as far as my experience and career to this point are concerned. Oh, and that "fluent in Japanese" part. Didn't notice that the first time... Well, there are Berlitz courses for that. *Ahem*

I'll go sulk some more now.

Monday, September 05, 2005

I've lost count...

Subject: Noir
...of the number of times I've been through "Noir".

It's the single-most important series I've ever seen. It has the largest impact of any show on me that there ever was. And I can't help but feel every shot, every moment, every time I watch it.

It's no wonder I can't bring myself to watch it anymore unless I make a big commitment to seeing it all the way through. I couldn't watch it all at once last night, and had to continue it this evening. Which I wanted to do, but it made all of the day entirely useless to me. I was restless, un-inspired, until I could guarantee myself the opportunity to keep going with the task at hand: rewatching my most favorite show ever.

It's very much over a year since I realized what an obsession I have with "Noir", and I'm still sobbing over the end like I first saw it. I'm still stuck with the various subtlties that drag me in so deeply every time I subject myself to this show.

And really, though... It's not all that special in the big-picture view of it.

It is to me, but overall, it really isn't that big a deal. But it's everything to me, and I can't help but be totally overwhelmed by it despite the fact that this is probably my 15th time through it.

I'm trying to establish a better objective distance to it, but I'm not there yet. Maybe next year. But not right now.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Subject: Noir
Well, no release of "Tsubasa" 20 yet this morning, which is kind of sad, seeing as I really liked my relaxed-Sunday-morning routine. There's a raw on the Saiyaman site, but it launched a rather malicious pop-under that got past my blockers, so I don't recommend it if you don't really want it. It's not on l33t yet, which means a decent raw probably hasn't been released yet, which would explain why there's not sub yet.

Oh well. Tomorrow's a holiday, so maybe I can postpone my "ritual" until then.

Last night I was up late watching discs 2 & 3 of "MADLAX". I really needed a pick-me-up, and even though I've seen this dang show over and over again, it delivered!

Tonight I'm hoping to only watch half of "Noir", and watch the other half tomorrow (I'm extending my holiday through Tuesday as well), and see if I can't try and put some sanity back into my relationship with that show.

And if I stash that bottle of tequila I've got somewhere inconvenient, I might just have a chance. Heh.

UPDATE: Spoke too soon!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"Meine Liebe" episode 12

Subject: Noir finally out! Go, get it!

One more left.

ADV Labor Day sale

Just a head's-up, ADV is having what appears to be a blow-out sale of what just might be their entire back catalog. Noir discs for $6 ($9 for the first w/ box & t-shirt!), and lots like that. Not all series seem to be complete, though.

There's a couple that I'm finding a bit tempting but would not have considered owning otherwise, like "Sorcerer Hunters" and "Najica Blitz Tactics". Hmm.

EDIT: "Noir" lunchbox for $6?? Playing cards $2? Why am I considering buying a lunchbox??

UPDATE: 2 "Noir" Tshirts, "Noir" playing cards, the 3 "Sorcerer Hunters" so-called "Essentials" discs, The "Original Dirty Pair #3" OAV that Mashimo directed, "Voices of a Distant Star", and an ADV Tshirt. $50 for everything.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Short ones

Subject: Noir
Tonight I decided to go with this week's GreenCine rentals. Both were pretty short, though, so I'll probably watch one more thing before I go to bed. In the mean time:

"Dead Leaves" -- Whilst casting my net a little further to try and find new stuff, I happened on the Production I.G. forum and a discussion about "experimental" anime. Now, that caught my interest big-time, because, after all, experimental animation is where I come from. And boy, howdy, was this an experiment!

Well, nothing like some of the strange oddities I cut my teeth on way back when, but it really was a whole lot different than any other show I've seen out of Japan. If anything, it seems like it could be, well, Canadian. No, really! There was some brilliant stuff coming out of the National Film Board back in the late 80's that I think this would have fit in with. Well, it would have stuck out like a sore thumb, but compared to the usual mainstream, it's more in the NFB universe than the mainstream.

"Dead Leaves" is totally zany. In a really violent, gross, raunchy, action-packed sort of way. It's way more western than Japanese in it's style, though more like the crazy underground indie animator "western" -- thus the NFB vibe. But that's not to say that it's void of Japanese-ness; plenty of that too. But it's way different. And short -- only about 45 minutes or so. But a lot is packed in there. It's quite a ride.

My word-association game came up with "uninhibited". Yeah. That's about right.

I took a bit of a break before watching the exact polar opposite of it: "Haibane Renmei" disc 2. Not an awful lot I can say about this that expands on my first review, except to say that I really like it. A few more layers are being revealed, and the puzzle gains more of a complexity. Yet it's still couched in a classic "slice-of-life" atmosphere. And the characters still have a great spark to them.

One thing that caught me about it though -- I got a very strong "Gunslinger Girl" vibe all of a sudden. I suppose if I watched it the other way around, I'd say "Gunslinger Girl" gave me a strong "Haibane Renmei" vibe. I mean, the two really aren't the same, but the young girls all coping with the situation they're in, well... it really is the same! At least, that's the vibe I'm getting. I wonder if there's a connection? Off to ANN to research it a little!

Just one bit of ridiculousness

Subject: Soapbox
On Tuesday, I filled up my tank with the usual premium-grade gas, and the price was what it had been more or less for the last few weeks: $2.75/gallon. I drove by the gas station today, and the sign said it was now $3.70.

As harsh as it is on the Gulf Coast, there really is no legitimate excuse for that kind of jump. I know in other regions it's even worse.

In general, I support having higher overall gas prices by way of a tax structure similar to what most of the rest of the civilized world has. We've had it pretty good for a long time now, and it's time to make incentives for improving conservation. But higher prices that are purely speculative and profit-taking measures by those that control distribution and production, using the excuse of a tragedy as cover, is infuriating.

I'm hoping this is just a blip and it will level out in a week or so. I've got a full tank, so I can ride it out (so to speak) for a bit. But I can't help but be annoyed.

To the subject of the tragedy, I've been following some of the threads over on Fark where they're reporting the official scanner traffic, and otherwise compiling a lot of the events as they're happening. But one side-effect of having something discussed on Fark is that a bunch of assholes come out of the woodwork and spout off some really ignorant, ill-informed and unempathetic crap about the population stuck in that situation right now. But then I find out a lot of that crap is originating from the usual suspects in the puditry circles. And I'm steamed about it. It's enough to drive me back into full escapism mode for the next few days. All the hypocracy and cognitive dissonance is threatening to make my head pop, so maybe closing the damn browser and watching the next "Haibine Renmei" disc or a few discs of "Noir" is just the ticket for this holiday weekend.

Status report

Subject: Musings
I didn't really get a chance to watch anything last night; I spent the whole evening rebuilding my HTPC with spiffy new components. I can be such a geek when it comes to this stuff.

But related to some old posts of mine, the new Nvidia codec combined with a GeForce 6600 vid card actually does a decent job of adaptive deinterlacing on anime discs. So for once, you can actually get a computer to stop with the damn combing already. It still has other minor playback issues such that it will never supplant the mighty Denon 3910, but it's pleasing enough. And it is definitely a fansub-playing powerhouse in and of itself.

Not that I'm watching a lot of fansubs. Hrm.

I've also broken into the world of QAM digital cable tuning with a Dvico Fusion 5 card. It's a bit buggy, but I'm actually able to tune an HD CBS feed out of Syracuse (saw a bit Letterman in hi-def), which is a bit of a big deal seeing as the Rochester CBS station has won't have HDTV over cable for quite a while, if ever.

Not that I'm watching much if any CBS. Ahem.

If you don't know what anything I posted here means, trust me, you don't want to. Lame geeky obscure tech jargon. But if you happen to be exploring the same technology and have some questions, let me know.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

"West Side Story" meets "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"

Subject: Cinema
...meets all kinds of other stuff, including "The Shining" and Roadrunner cartoons...

I'm talking about "Kung Foo Hustle", of course. A totally heaping spoonful of fun and entertainment. A great take on the usual fly-by-wire kung-foo stageplay with all the campy cliches present and accounted for, and taken to a crazy new level.

I'll admit that I wish it had just a little more depth, but frankly, I really didn't expect any more than a good time, and I got that in spades. Because when it comes down to it, the only ground broken was the crazy context of some of the scenarios. Otherwise, it really was just another staged kung-foo action-fest. Like I said, "stageplay". A couple of fixed sets, massive choreography, and a presentation that lets you know you're part of the audience, and not part of the story.

Which is absolutely fine, and a big part of the kung-foo film tradition.

At any rate, I still haven't seen "Shaolin Soccer", by the same director, but I think now I'm going to go out of my way to seek it out.

(For those of you wondering what the heck I'm doing watching movies late into a Wednesday night: I'm taking a looong Labor Day weekend as of now, so I hope to watch all kinds of stuff. Including, if I can take it, a "Noir" marathon! I'm long overdue.)