Saturday, October 29, 2005

Weekend update

Subject: Noir
I've got some "Avenger" commentary to work out. I couldn't resist making my way through the whole thing (go figure), but I still need some time to work out any "deeper thoughts" about it. Maybe with a little more caffiene...

I'm sure I mentioned that I had been watching (and had finished) the box-set of the "Irresoponsible Captain Tylor", which was my second time through the series. I finally took the time to finish up the "extras" discs that came in the set. Not an awful lot to say about it, except that most of the extras were pun-filled promo specials from Japan, and were thusly very, very weird, and somewhat incomprehensible. There was one brief on-camera interview with a (very young) Koichi Mashimo, as well as a couple of on-screen-text (translated of course) bits from him, and what was (implied, at least), a sequence of AMVs of the the OST that he supposedly presented. "Tylor", as I've said, is quite a remarkable, understated show, and I think what he accomplished there reverberates through his later Bee Train work. My "Avenger" commentary will likely draw from this experience. When I finally get to it, that is...

This evening, I watched my rented copy of "Otoshi Zoshi" disc 1. Based in classic Japanese history, and with a reputation of being a serious work, I'll at least agree with those two points. The story is rather rich and varied, and holds some promise for drama and intensity in and of itself. Production I.G. also provides some interesting compositing techniques to the animation, which helps it maintain some visual interest. But, overall, the characters are rather lifeless -- there's no spark or hook at all to any of them. When I went on and on about a lack of "soul" in other series, well, that's rather personified in this one. Like I said, the story holds on to enough detail and interest to make this something that I don't regret watching, but I find myself wishing that there was a little more to it to make me care about continuing it beyond this first disc. Because at this point, I'm in no hurry to.

Finally, I reprised my viewing of the short, independently-produced "Voices of a Distant Star", which I picked up during that ADV Labor Day sale. My previous review of it probably stands as the best I could possibly say. And I watched the short about the cat again as well; fine stuff overall. I'm pretty much drawn to the fact that both of these were more-or-less solo works. Because I'm really considering leaping back into that sort of thing myself, I guess.

I've still got his recent feature "Beyond the Clouds" in my rental queue, awaiting the time it becomes available, so I can see where he took it once he had the chance to break-through the usual wall between wannabees and professionals. It's a wall I've been pondering for quite a while now. So obviously I'm attracted to these sorts of efforts.

Friday, October 28, 2005

".hack" movie CONFIRMED! "Legend of the World"

Subject: Noir
[EDIT: Read the updates below. I'm wrong, there is no confirmation.]

Ah, breaking news! Thanks to BTF member Bulmafox posting news about the ".hack//FRAGMENT" MMORPG, I noticed on the Japanese ".hack" site the following little tidbit dated today:

10.28 .hack ポータルサイト「LEGEND」に新ムービーを追加

...which Bablefish interprets as:
Adding the new movie to hack portal sight "LEGEND"

...with further non-bablefishable info in the selector's images:


(anyone able to translate that for me??)

Anyway, combine that with the previous rumors, and it looks like we can expect a Mashimo-directed movie of all things in the not-too-distant future.

Any and all further rumors, please post them here or over on BTF!!

UPDATE: It looks like "Legend of the World" is the name of that section, not the actual title of the movie. *sigh* Maybe it's time for those Japanese lessons after all.

UPDATE (1:45pm): I submitted the "scoop" to ANN, and they've apparently looked in to it a little more. They just sent me a reply email saying: "Unfortunately its not half as cool as you think :-( Check out the site in 20 minutes." Oh well, another update in 20 minutes, I guess.

UPDATE (2:00pm): Okay, they posted it... *sigh* Jumped the gun. All over the place, too.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"Avenger" review at AnimeOnDVD

Subject: Noir
As expected, it's time for the reviews to start rolling in, and I'm sure it will be interesting to see everyone's opinions of this, uh, unusual little space opera.

As for Chris' take on this, he's definitely of mixed mind. Here's his summary:
Avenger has left me with really mixed feelings about it. The first volume took some effort to get into it but ended on a strong high note which carried over into the remainder of the show and kept us engaged and interested to see where it was going to go. The show does fail strongly with a very weak ending that I've seen people say is just open for interpretation but that generally means weak in my eyes. There is an awful lot to like in here but they just couldn't figure out how to start it right or how to end it properly. The journey itself is very engaging however and with it being the entire series in one release at an extremely affordable price, I can't help but recommend checking it out and seeing what it's all about.


He's got a couple of little mistakes and preconceptions about Bee Train in the overall review (starting off in Volk City instead of Dome City, "other Bee Train productions haven't had a lot of strong prominent male characters as involved as" Speedy, etc.). But, overall, this is a pretty fair review.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My "Avenger" order arrived!

Subject: Noir
...and I just quickly scoped out episode 1 to see how the disc was.

It looks pretty good. No obvious flaws, the picture quality holds up very well, and the sound is excellent. So far I haven't spotted any hidden visual detail that the fansubs were otherwise missing, besides some of the subtler color gradients and whatnot.

Oh, and apparently this is more "un-cut" than the TV version from the fansubs. In that the Layla Ashley "bath" scene (and the flashback therin) was a little more, uh, revealing. A bit of a surprise, but nothing particularly shocking -- the surprise being more along the lines that something that minor was actually cut for TV. It makes me wonder what else might have been trimmed or cropped along the way, though. I can't think of too many other opportunities for that, but still... an interesting difference.

Of course, I wanted to sample the dub as well. All of you probably remember my distaste for the "MADLAX" dub. And the "Kino's Journey" dub before that. Obviously, when I get used to a show's original soundtrack and the way the characters are vocalized when the director is directly involved, I have a hard time accepting the "interpretation" of it in the form of localized English performances.

That said, the "Avenger" dub wasn't too terrible. I think mostly it's because Layla didn't have much to say in this episode. Or most episodes for that matter. I think her English VA put a little too much emotion in it, but it wasn't entirely off-note like I felt Margaret was in "MADLAX". The dialog translations for the dub seem okay as well, though it conflicted in a few spots with my fansub-programmed expectations. I didn't get a chance to watch it with "official" subs yet to see how those fared, but I know I'll be getting to that soon enough.

Especially since I want to figure out just what the heck happened at the end.

Anyway, with another month-and-a-half to fill before the next "MADLAX" disc shows up, this should hopefully provide me enough of a fix for any Bee-Trainy cravings that might overcome me in the meantime.

"Tsubasa Chronicle" episode 26

Subject: Noir
Well, it's done. I was tempted to save it for Sunday morning, but I really didn't want to leave it hanging any more than I had to.

A good episode overall, if a bit predictable. And there really weren't any clarifications to the big mystery that's been lurking behind-the-scenes, except for a closer look at the spoiler that was all-to-evident in the episode preview seen previously. Still, a couple of well-animated moments and confirmation that we're pretty much tuned-in to our main characters by this point. Thus the "predictable" verdict, I guess.

Though the very last closing shot before the credits, that was a bit of a stab in the gut, if I interpret it correctly. I could be wrong; it could be referring to a time before Syaroan's flashback. But with the attention being paid to that particular scene in the various different shots, I get the sense that it wasn't. Which is pretty ominous.

There were a couple of other things about it overall that seemed a bit different than the previous episodes. Some of the closeup animation seemed a bit more, well, intense, I guess. Just a bit. The line-quality was a little different too. Not sure what to make of that besides the possibility that different animators got a crack at those scenes. Or maybe they were experimenting with a different technique. And the "incidental" characters, their style didn't really match the usual look that this show has; they were almost more... serious. Which made our fivesome's cartoony "landing" stick out all the more. Hmmm.

Well, enough about that, for 6 months or so. I'm rewatching them one-by-one for my morning workout. The early episodes are definitely as stiff and inactive as I remember them. But hopefully I'll pick up a new clue or two along the way.

Monday, October 24, 2005

"Mushishi" episode 1 (plus a little more "Noein")

Subject: Noir
"Mushishi" seemed like it might be worth checking out, not that I could tell a lot about what it was about.

So what I'm guessing it is about is a man who is a "spirit collector", who investigates (and can apparently interact with) phenomena related to the spirit world, of the "Mushi". The first episode sets the tone and a few of the rules of the world he inhabits, and does quite a good job of illuminating it without needing to overdo it with excess backstory. It also sets the expectation that the series will be episodic; the characters he interacts with this time will likely not be encountered again. He's "solved" the problem and has moved on.

The art style is nice, with creative renderings of the various spirits (and in one part, some drawings that come to life), though overall it's a little bland in spots for what it's trying to portray. I'm guessing that the color subtlety (the greens in particular) would probably have been better on the source material than the over-compressed fansub, as that seemed to be a narrative theme. The animation itself is kind of sedate, and it doesn't really do anything to escape it's manga origination. The dialogue and narrative kind of seem a little stiff in delivery, even without reading the translation, though I'm sure how it's translated may have an impact on that in my head. It's just that, even though I don't understand the dialogue, I can kind of tell it's missing something. But it's not awful by any means.

All told, though, it turns out to be a rather low-key, simple show, but with style of storytelling that interests me, and a subject matter that, not being Japanese, I find kind of unique and imaginative. I'm guessing it has something to do with the usual Shinto earth-spirits and whatnot, but that's exactly the kind of thing I like to see, as it lets me get a look at how a different culture's storytelling tradition can impact the medium. I like the overall tone and moodiness, and I think this will probably be worth sticking with for a while to see how it shapes up.

I also grabbed the raw of episode 2 of "Noein", because I was reading that the style changed. Apparently, there are different animation units working on different parts. And it's pretty obvious over all. A lot of the "spark" from the first episode, the "life" that an experienced animator brings to the characters -- that was mostly missing this time. As was most of the creative camerawork and cinematography. This one came across more like manga. In fact, in a couple of sequences, it was like it was very intentionally made that way due to the art style and the shading.

Which was an interesting effect; it captured a few elements of visual narrative pretty effectively. So even though the movements and motion didn't really achieve the same level as the first episode, the visuals managed to eek out their own niche in this one. There's still some experimenting going on, and the art style is still quite different from most other shows. So that's cool.

But I sure as heck didn't understand a word of it! And there were a lot more words this time, relating to the whole crew of what I'm guessing are trans-dimensional invaders. So unless the commenter from "AssSubs" continues, or some other group picks up the show despite the Media Factory C&D, I'll probably wind up not continuing until such time as it shows up as an R1. Which I hope it will!

UPDATE: I guess he did...

Well it's about time!!

Subject: Noir
Guess what?

"Tsubasa Chronicle" episode 26 is finally available! Hoorah!

Though I suppose I shouldn't be in a hurry. There's still another 6 months before the next one. Still, I'd like it to be over-and-done-with, for now, I suppose.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bunch-o-watchin'

Subject: Noir
First up, I rewatched "Gunsmith Cats". Oddly enough, it'd been almost exactly one year since I watched it. And my opinion really hasn't changed: it's quite a lot of fun, and while I can better discern the "Layla Ashley" vibe than I would have last year, still, this was a very entertaining (if short) show. The "attention to detail" really makes it above and beyond any other plot point.

Next was "Stellvia" disc 3. It's been taking me quite a while to get through these, and it doesn't really disappoint. There's a lot of typical characterization and storyline, but the whole "save the Earth" result is quite fascinating and a bit compelling even. When the Earth is actually saved (this time, I'm sure), it's a great feeling, and the whole storyline really makes you feel it. As silly and overall "here's some more high-school kids" as the narrative might seem.

Then, "Yugo the Negotiator". Kind of a "Master Keaton" meets "Yaze no Yojimbo". I really need to give "Kaze No Yojimbo" a second chance after my early-on attempt at it, but all that said and done, "Yugo" is relatively compelling and "adult" enough that I'll see what the 2nd disc has to offer.

Finally, yet another disc full of "Twelve Kingdoms". It continues along the epic theme of the previous discs full of episodes, without resolving anything in particular, but still illuminating many little aspects of the alternate world these characters live in. It's good stuff.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Another show on the DVR: "The Colbert Report"

Subject: TV
As I've said before, there's very little on "normal" TV that I bother watching. And any of that gets recorded on my DVR for me to watch at my convenience. One of those few shows is Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show", which is a sharp, funny spoof of modern news television, and steeped in the easy-to-reach ironies of modern political discourse.

There have been better, more astute shows in the past, but for now, despite its weak points, "The Daily Show" serves its purpose, and I enjoy watching it.

As of Monday, right after its timeslot, a new spin-off started. Starring Stephen Colbert, one of the faux-correspondents on "TDS", it's called, sanctimoniously enough, "The Colbert Report" -- pronounced "Coul-bear Re-pour" ("it's French, bitch!"). Originally a gag from an earlier episode directed squarely at (notorious pompous arse) Bill O'Rielly's Fox News Channel program, the "TDS" team has taken to a full-length spoof of the blowhard, ego-driven, fact-unfriendly star-pundit cable TV programming. Of which Bill O'Rielly's show is the easiest target, of course.

And it is a funny show. Not non-stop funny, unfortunately -- Stephen sometimes lapses out of character and stumbles on occasion, and sometimes the writing doesn't quite hit the "funny spot". But it's a new show, and that's forgivable, because it's worth it when he does connect. I made the near-mistake of drinking a glass of milk during the first show's "gravitas contest" against NBC anchor Stone Phillips. They were both reading snippets off the teleprompter and trying to project the typical "news anchor seriousness". A riot. That, and a few other moments really had me laughing out loud.

I'm not entirely sure how long he'd be able to keep up the gag, though. There's a lot of ripe targets and low-hanging fruit to pluck in the punditry universe, but I can only imagine that the joke is going to get kind of old pretty quickly. Still, I'm glad they're trying. The absurdity that they're deflating is long overdue for the swift kick it so rightly deserves.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sans "Tsubasa"...

Subject: Noir
*Sigh*. Tuesday has gone by, and no "Tsubasa" season finale yet.

But I realized I forgot one thing in my last update: there were a couple of more episodes of "Monster" this past weekend that I caught up with, now up to ep 65. The threads are converging ever-tighter. Little facets of what the "monster" really is are coming ever-so-slightly in to focus. The story is starting to hurtle into the final stretch.

It's a long time in coming, though. I'm finding myself looking more forward to it being finished, than to actually finding out what the end will be. Maybe it's because I trust that end will be pretty good, but it's more likely that after a year and a half, it's time is up.

I wonder what's next for the director?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Quick update...

Subject: Noir
...in absence of the "Tsubasa Chronicle" finale (which, by the way, has been confirmed for a second season by both NHK and CLAMP; but you probably knew that).

I tried to give "Black Cat" a second chance with episode 2, and I tell you, it managed to pack just about everything I hate about anime into the first 10 minutes. I couldn't stand it anymore, so I stopped it. I think I'll consider it "dropped".

Out of curiousity, I grabbed the raw for "Noien", based on a couple of good ratings I saw in the various forums. It's not a bad looking show, though a little bit hard to follow -- and maybe not entirely due to the lack of translation, either. Still, it had a unique look to it, and the non-cg animation, while a tad low in the frame-count department, really managed to do something I find really rare in anime: give the characters "weight". It adds a level of "realness" to the characters that really caught my eye. There's also some variation in the camera angles and the cinematography in a way you don't see very often, and you know how much I like that. *grin*.

Unfortunately, I found out that show is one of the ones that fall under the Media Blasters Factory's "cease & desist" request to keep it from being fansubbed, even though it's not announced as licensed in the US. So I probably won't get to see it until it is, unless I want to be sneaky and go looking for other sources. Which I guess I'm capable of doing if I get totally bored with the anime season these next couple of weeks.

(Oh, right, what do I mean: "if"? *sigh*)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The end of "RahXephon"

Subject: Noir
So I finally wrapped up this one. Earlier, when I was speculating about "soul" in various series, I defined "RahXephon" as "'Evangelion' without soul".

The definition definitely sticks right through the end.

That isn't to say that "RahXephon" sucks. It's got a lot going for it. My favorite "attention to detail" is in there, there's a lot of great sci-fi imagination, and the whole music symbology is quite well done. Oh yeah, the Mayan/Aztec stuff too. But that works back into the whole "details" bit.

Still, though, it doesn't really succeed in making the characters someone I'd connect with on even the smallest level. There's a lot missing as far as the emotional authenticity that is required to make a show "mist" me up. I'm really kept at arm's length with this one, despite the obvious attempts otherwise.

It's really a shame. This show's technical prowess combined with "Evangelion's" raw presence would have made for an outstanding work of science fiction unparalled by most anything else out there.

So to wrap up, I'm very pleased that it's overall a mature show without the "super-deformations" and other silliness. The themes are very serious and quite adequately illustrated as such. It's still a bit "teenager", though -- missing a level of depth that comes with experience. That said, there's nothing wrong with that -- a show aimed at a young (but not immature) audience is quite welcome, and a strength of anime in general. But by aiming at such a small target, it doesn't quite make it to the level I would otherwise be satisfied with.

It will always be stuck in my head as "'Evangelion' without soul".

Continuing "Samurai Champloo"

Subject: Noir
I got through disc 5 finally.

There's really not much more I can gush about with this series that I haven't already gushed about before. I'm enjoying it immensely. It's cool, it's sharp, it's a blast. In this disc, we get a few more clues about what the destination is supposed to be, but really, as it's been said before, this show is more about the journey than the destination.

And Fuu said it herself in the 4th episode on this disc: "I want this journey to go on forever" (paraphrased from memory). Great stuff.

On a side note, the first ep on the disc (part 2 of the cliffhanger from disc 4); the ending was one of the more melancholy j-pop tracks on the soundtrack disc, with a sequence of natural, colorful backdrops; wrapped up with an "in memory of" credit. Does anyone know the story there? I'll go searching for it later, but that wound up being such a moving sequence (landscape stills that they were), I really want to know more about this person and what happened. Really, it was quite beautiful in it's simplicity.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

"Haibane Renmei" box set pre-order: $50!

Subject: Noir
So I stumbled on the confirmation that there is, in fact, a "Haibane Renmei" boxset about to be released. And that it's about to be released next week!

Checking my usual sources, it was looking rather pricey; even DVDPlanet, which had what I thought were the best Geneon pre-release prices, still was around $80.

Then I remembered KT commenting earlier about DVDPacific. I had to blink a couple of times to make sure I wasn't suffering from early-onset glaucoma. Wow!

Thanks, KT! I have a new DVD source! Now to see what else I can buy there...

UPDATE: Oh, definitely this! I didn't even know it existed!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"XXXHolic" TV?

Subject: Noir
So someone on AnimeOnDVD found a source announcing a TV version of "XXXHolic" airing next year. Now, like I said, I'm not a CLAMP reader. But supposedly that title and "Tsubasa Chronicle" are related, as evident by the two Production I.G.-produced movies a little while back.

So what I want to know is: who's doing it?? Tell me, tell me!


(Because if it's not Bee Train, then I can go back to not caring about it any more... *smirk*)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

"Sucksus Suck"

Subject: Noir
Okay, maybe I've got too much "MADLAX" on the brain. Because there really is no comparing the new Production I.G. series "Blood+" to my second-favorite show.

I mean, okay, the first couple of quick shots were rather reminiscient of the battlefield & helicopter scenes at the beginning of "MADLAX". Not nearly the same, but that was the first thing that came to mind. Then it devolved in to all kinds of bloody-slasher weirdness, which ended that bit of revierie.

Then it switched to a "normal schoolgirl doing normal Japanese stuff" mode. Which didn't quite bring me back to that state-of-mind quite yet, but it eventually did once the "normal schoolgirl" started having a bit of a flashback.

Then the kicker: at the eyecatch, there was a certain sound effect. The same damned sound effect as the "MADLAX" eyecatch!!

Okay, now it was just getting silly. This show is particularly glaring in how much it's not like "MADLAX" -- it's seriously lacking in a lot of ways with respect to animation, design, character, and, well, personality. Just another dull moving-manga. Okay, it's better than some, and the story itself seems to have some redeeming qualities so far, but there's nothing really there to make it worth my while.

So why the heck did I keep thinking "MADLAX" through the whole thing? Feh.

Oh, and the title for the next episode shown in the preview: "Magic Words". Thus inspiring the title for this post. "Sucksus Suck". *sigh*

Sunday, October 09, 2005

It's almost over...

Subject: Noir
..."Tsubasa Chronicle", of course. Episode 25.

It left me a little underwhelmed, unfortunately. It's still got neat moments and all, and the animation is great... when things are actually moving at least. And like the whole series, there were still these interminable pauses, right when it should have been some sort of huge climactic showdown.

I mean, sure, there was a showdown and all, but it really fell short for me. And the 2-minute explaination of what an "NPC" is... I've seen ".hack", thank you very much. *sigh*

Okay, I'm grumbling a little more than I think it really deserved, I guess. But I can't really put my finger on what's really frustrating me most about this show. So I'm picking at nits. At any rate, the preview looks like it's setting up some decent action, and there's a bit of a spoiler that I think confirms something they've been hinting at all along (but I didn't figure out for myself; someone had to tell me what it probably was).

And I'll miss it when it's over. But I'll be a bit relieved, too.

I also downloaded the first episode of "Black Cat". Looks like it has a smidgen of potential for being entertaining and all, but it's rife with a lot of the too-silly cliche superdeformed nonesense that makes it way too juvenille for my tastes. But I'll give it a little more time to see how it shapes up. Right now, even though it has some moody assassin action in it, the whole thing is a bit incoherent and difficult to follow. Some good looking shots, but all jumbled.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Lavish

Subject: Cinema
...that's what my word-association game came up with for "Spirited Away".

But I'm not entirely sure that works.

When I first bought my big-screen HDTV and gear, I bought a number of DVDs, and Miyazaki's masterpiece "Spirited Away" was one of them. And I watched it as one of the inaugural screenings of my new home theater. That was just about 2 years ago. And I realized that I haven't taken the time to rewatch it since then. After all the anime-watching I've been doing; after having discovered "Noir" and trying to catch up with everything else, it only made sense that I finally go back to one of the Japanese animated features that brought me to where I am today.

So back to why I'm not so sure my word-association game worked here. "Lavish" evokes a certain luxury, an attention to the frivoulously extravagent. I'm having a hard time beleiving there's anything extravagent about what Miyazaki is doing here.

It's absolutely beautiful; don't get me wrong. The imagination and scope and spark to every moment of this film is a true testament to his talent. But like most excellent Japanese work, there's an economy about it -- a simplicity. Rich with detail, but wonderfully simple nonetheless. Not a minute goes by when there's not something to make you smile, to make you wonder, to bring you into the little universe that he's created.

But the word "lavish" doesn't seem to fit -- it's too greedy, to baroque.

"Luscious" is closer, and maybe that's what I meant. But, that's not what I came up with. So I'm a bit torn. Why does "lavish" stick? Well, let's look it up: maybe I don't actually have the definition right...

Definitions of lavish on the Web:

  • very generous; "distributed gifts with a lavish hand"; "the critics were lavish in their praise"; "a munificent gift"; "his father gave him a half-dollar and his mother a quarter and he thought them munificent"; "prodigal praise"; "unsparing generosity"; "his unstinted devotion"; "called for unstinting aid to Britain"

  • characterized by extravagance and profusion; "a lavish buffet"; "a lucullan feast"

  • expend profusely; also used with abstract nouns; "He was showered with praise"
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Hmm. I dunno. Maybe it works as far as the first definition goes. I think the second is what I had a problem with. All said and done, though, it's an excellent cinematic experience. It's got life to it, and imagination, and attention to detail, and all the wonderful things I like about a movie.

So why is it that I'm hung up on the definition of a word that comes to mind again? Indeed.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Nuns with guns, poses with noses

Subject: Noir
Two short discs tonight... First up was "Escaflowne" disc 5. The saga continues, of course. And like most everything else I've been watching that is still continuing, there's nothing new to remark upon, really. Still a decent story, the characters are still remotely interesting; and, okay, I noticed one more thing: the soundtrack works pretty well in most cases. A lot of sequences that seemed almost scored for it a la an actual move. It worked rather well.

Then on to disc 4 of "Chrono Crusade". This past week, I actually caught wind of a partial spoiler: it's got a really sad and tragic ending. Watching this disc, I'm reminded that although it has the usual goofy manga-cliche comedy reactions/expressions, there's still a certain spark and edge to it that makes it actually watchable for me. So for it to take this crazy madcap madness and inject a darker layer to it isn't entirely surprising. Though I'm not convinced that the "darker layer" won't be a tad contrived. There's definitely some expose of that layer in this disc. But it's not 100% convincing. Neat. But not entirely convincing. I'll keep going with it, though.

Dissappointingly enough, both of these discs were only 3 episodes each. So now I'm done "ahead of schedule", and I'm trying to think of something else to watch. I suppose I still have last Sunday's episode of "Rome" on the DVR; I suppose that will have to do.

From "Master" to "Monster", a.k.a. "In it for the loooong haul"

Subject: Noir
I finally made it to disc 8 of "Master Keaton" this week. And there's really not much more to say that I haven't already said the previous 7 times. Including that the fact that there's not much more to say is kind of wearing me out. How many more discs of this are there again?

That said, the last two episodes on this disc involved a "Corsican syndicate". While there were no hawt blonde assassins involved, still, it was amusing to imagine this in that context. They were quite a ruthless bunch.

And then, on to the other "looong-running, what-more-can-I-say-about-it" show by the same director and creative team: "Monster" episode 63. It was another one of those neat side-eddies in the narrative, where we only tangentially hear about any of the main characters, but a lot of threads are all woven together quite tightly. Still, however, it was rather predictable and the outcome didn't provide any surprise or suspense in and of itself, but it does manage to increase the "WTF" tension level for the whole series' motivations that constantly simmer in the background. Still, even I'm getting a little tired of these "side-eddies" and would like to get down to the final conflict. Finally. Please?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"Tsubasa Chronicle" 24

Subject: Noir
Okay, I managed to somewhat break free of my usual round of "marathon hangover" yesterday, though I still wound up with too much "'Noir' on the brain" to feel like blogging about it when I did. So y'all have been stuck with those previous gems of *ahem* insightful brilliance at the top of the page too long, and I'm sorry for that. So very sorry. *cough cough*

Anyway, another reason I wasn't immediately rushing to blog about the latest "Tsubasa" episode was that there really isn't a whole lot to say about it. I mean, in the previous episode, it was pretty obvious that no-one was actually dead; when Mashimo really kills a character off -- oh, you'll know it. I expected it was some sort of transportation somewhere, though. I really didn't expect that we were actually stealing more from ".hack//SIGN" than just the music.

Of course, that said, it doesn't entirely make sense, because even though they're trying to neatly explain away the bleed-over from one world to another, there's a couple of inconsistencies that really make me question it. Sayoran's sword being one obvious one that they're trying to be oh-so-convienient about, but they're calling too much attention to it for me to be entirely sure that there isn't a big bait 'n switch going on.

Another one is more subtle, and I'll have to credit stumbling upon it in a forum more than due to my own observation -- Mokona received some sort of chocolate pastry from the Dimensional Witch back near the beginning of the beginning of the arc; there was still interdimensional communication going on, even while "on the inside".

And then all that calls into question how Sayoran was able to learn how to perceive objects and people (and monsters) around him as part of his training.

I guess I'm overthinking it. Seems to be happening a lot lately.

At any rate, two more episodes until the big cliffhanger where we'll be stuck for months on end afterwards not knowing what's going on!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Huh?

Subject: Musings
No, even I don't know what the hell it was I was trying to say there at the end of last night's post... I was going to edit it, but it doesn't make enough sense to figure out how to fix it. It just completely fell apart there at the end.

Case in point for my thesis at the middle of that post, though. Yikes. I guess I'll leave it as is; evidence of my unravelling.

Stick a fork in her...

Subject: Noir
...she's done.

That's both the most hilarious, and the most absolutely tragic thing to say right now at the end of "Noir". Last year, I probably couldn't even have broached the possiblity that there was anyting humourous to be found in this last disc. Most especially with regards to the fate of one of the doomed characters.

I still cringe a little at the thought. But whenever I see a fork or a knife involved in any sort of context, it's the first thing I think of. If I need to grab a fork for a salad at lunch, I'll turn it around with my fingers a few times and think of that very scene... It's a part of me now and I'll never escape it.

Like I mentioned in my last post, I have to leave this series alone for a while. At the very least, I have to stop trying to think that if I wait until I have a long weekend to spare where I can drink a lot and pummel myself with it's melodramatic ingredients, that I can maintain an approximation of a healthy relationship with the show as a whole. Because I obviously can't. What addictive personality I have is totally owned by "Noir". Better than crack or meth, I suppose, but I'm still rather debilitated by the obsession this show garners in me.

I'm having a bit of a crisis where I think I should be acting my age. Whatever that is. But the problem with having an advanced birthday like I just did, is that sort of intospection is unavoidable. Unfortunately, it's an expensive bit of exploration, and until I can fin dubs tha tI trust, I've still very much stick with this sort of fantasy realm.

Which is why I guess "Mirror Mask" appeals to me so much.

At any rate, I'm through another pass of "Noir", and I've managed to keep the soundtrack simple enough for those whe've joined the game a little late.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

More updating

Subject: Noir
"Noir" definitely puts in sharper, stronger hooks as it gets to the end-game. One more disc to go, and I'm still completely being played by it. What Mashimo wants me to feel... I'm feeling it. As distracted and tired as I was early on, it's still working for me here at the end.

It's so simple, yet, I can't quite define what it is that has hooked me so thouroughly. I only hope that I can learn enough from this that I can use this technique to my own advantage should I someday be able to attempt such a feat on my own.

"Daiske Mireille". "Daiske" indeed. *sniff*

EDIT: I guess I'm repeating myself... go figure... Anyway -- time to finish it!

Mid phase-3

Subject: Noir
I'm in the middle of "phase 3"; actually, even more towards the end. Mireille & Kirika have just returned from Austria, and we're about to have a dose of "the final guidance".

I might not quite be drunk enough to deal with it. Better work on that.

I think it's becoming a problem that I know this series by heart. I mean, if I were any good with a pencil, I could probably re-create it shot-by-shot from memory at this point. Every cue, every turn; I'm ready for it. I'm ready to act and feel appropriately. I know when to keep the tissues nearby. I know when I can have a chuckle in relief.

After this, no more "Noir" 'til New Year's. That's the way it has to be. The only thing that could make me break this goal is if it shows up again on one of the hi-def channnels.

(Obviously, I'm secretly hoping that my vow is what it will take to bring it back to one of the hi-def channels... *ahem*)

Anyway, back to the rest of the series. Tomorrow I'll get a chance to watch the latest "Tsubasa Chronicle", since it didn't show up in time for this morning's breakfast. And I've got another disc of "Master Keaton" to watch. Hopefully, my usual case of "Post-Noir Syndrome" won't be so bad this time that I won't be able to deal with either of them...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Phase 2, commencing...

Subject: Noir
Now I start rewatching "Noir". I'm not sure, but this might be trip 14 or 15... I'll have to go back in my archives some time to figure that out.

Anyway, I'm figuring on only watching half tonight, and the other half tomorrow (I've got Monday off!), so hopefully no tales of the Thompson-esque this time. Might prove to make a less-interesting blog post, but I think in the long run, my liver will thank me. *Ahem*


UPDATE: It looks like I can only make it through the first 2 discs tonight. I'm really bushed. Hopefully, I'll get a good night's sleep tonight, and will finish it all off Sunday. I wanted to at least make it through disc 3, but there's just no chance; I'm too tired after being up so late last night. *sigh*

*Sigh*

Subject: Noir
Wow, that was great. Totally.

Okay, so I really disliked the "Conversations with SSS" this time. Except for the "Star Wars" gag -- that one was LOL funny; but the rest... even the "yuri.com" jokes... Sucked. Big time. It's time to give it up. Save the disc space on the rest of it for interviews or something. Bleh.

There's a couple of things that struck me this time through it. First, waaaaay back in episode 4, with the detective. I think I need to work this through further, but I think he's Chris Krana's real father. There's a quick shot of a picture of the detective's family; and in the crazy montage with all the soundbites, there's the one phrase "I lost my wife in the civil war 12 years ago" (or something close to that). And he kind of looks like the "doesn't exist in the information" "Ming Dulc". But I think this theory needs some work. Still, seeing it this time around made it seem really obvious. Real evidence notwithstanding.

Finally, the one scene where Madlax and Vanessa are... *ahem*... snuggling on the couch... going back to the contradictions in the fansub translations I was complaining about last year... it turns out that Ayu pegged it. At least as far as the "official" version is concerned. That's a huge surprise, seeing as ANBU/Lunar and Sugarcube had a different interpretation, which I was more inclined to believe. But the ADV translators went with Ayu's version of that particular line.

I'm not 100% convinced that the subtitle translations are that great, though. There's a few places that seem like they should have been different. Part of that is due to the fact that I've watched the fansubs too many times, but another part of it is that I think the translation I have in my head really would work better, knowing what I know. That said, there's things about this "official" translation that really bring out a lot about the show that I've missed with the fansubs. I guess it's a big trade-off overall.

I'm still dissappointed that the next disc won't show up until December. That's a long time from now. And it means that I won't get to the end of the matter until next spring. *Sigh*. I suppose I could keep rewatching what I have ("Noir" included), but I'd rather have this over and done with so I could move on. Without a proper resolution, I'll be drifting aimlessly, wondering just what the heck those last turn of events really meant.

*Sigh*