Sunday, January 29, 2006

Spoke a bit too soon!

Subject: Noir
Holy moly, the moment I posted the last bit about "no sign of 'Monster'" for so long, I take a quick look at AnimeSuki, and The Soldats have gone and posted the rest of Monster! As in, all the way to episode 74. At least, I think 74 is the last of it... Anyway, it's a huge chunk of what's been missing for so long.

Kind of cheered me up a bit. Wow. Still, even that's been dragging on for too long now, and I'll be glad to have it wrapped up. But out of all the shows on my plate at the moment, it's probably the one that is most qualified for "great" status.


Subject: Noir
I've noticed my writing's been a bit lame lately. I get the feeling it's because I keep going over the same old ground, over and over again. I mean, sure, it's been a while since I've watched "MADLAX", but really, another late-night bout of "Posting While Intoxicated" doesn't really provide anything insightful. And after the 20th time, probably not anything amusing anymore either.

Still, I'll admit I had a lot of fun with it, so that's not really the problem here.

I'm hitting a bit of a "same-ol', same-old" kind of rut, I think. Not much progress in the new series out of Japan for anything that's been intriguing me very much. Or with the series I've been renting from GreenCine for that matter. I watched the 2nd disc of "Otogi Zoshi" last night, and it was so uninteresting and lifeless that I nearly dozed off on a number of occassions, and actually went to bed early after I finished. I guess that's understandable seeing as "MADLAX" not only kept me up late Friday night, but was a million times more lively and enjoyable. I suppose the story in "Otogi Zoshi" had some redeeming value, as does the concept, but the execution of it was so vanilla and bland that I was really dissappointed.

This evening I got through disc 8 of "Twelve Kingdoms". Which isn't quite as bad at all. In fact, by the end of the disc, the story picked up a few interesting moments of momentum. But after 8 discs of this, it's really still just more of the same thing. And it's almost enough to make me retract my whole worship of "attention to detail" -- sometimes there's just a bit "too much information" about the politics and procedures and weird little rules of that universe. Which I guess is part of the point of it all, but it gets a little tiresome. That all said, the last two discs are on their way to me, and I'll try to finish the damn thing off once and for all by next weekend.

Back to the fansub world for a moment. There's been a dearth of new releases of the few shows that I'm even bothering to follow. An episode of "Musishi" just showed up and I'm downloading it now, but I probably won't get to it for a while. No sign of "Noein". I watched another "Popilocrois Story", which still managed to be clever if a bit over-sweetened, but nothing really stood out about it. No sign of "Monster" for weeks now.

I suppose I could chalk up my current mood as a "Post-MADLAX Syndrome"... (*ahem*) But seeing as I've seen it already, many times, just means that I'm just trying to recapture the magic that I felt when I was first pointed toward it and saw it for the first time. So I suppose in a way, I'm probably reaching the end of my "catching up" period. I've found all the great shows. Now I'm trying to differentiate the "good" shows from the rest of the pack. And that's getting a little tedious. I should probably take a break soon.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Oh. My. God.

Subject: Noir
I'm totally whipped by "MADLAX" disc 6.

I dialed it back to disc 3, but started in the middle at episode 11. And I'm totally wiped right now after all of that.

Even though I've seen everthing that took place in these 3 episodes, I still feel like I've been punched in the gut. Every last moment tore in to me like the first time I watched it, oh so long ago. It was definitely worth shelving it until this disc came out. The emotional impact was dead-on (sorry...), and it's going to be echoing in my head and in my heart for the next few weeks, for certain.

Disc 7, and the final closure to all of this, should be showing up in another 2 months. And that'll be in time for another round of my absolute favorite, "Noir". After that, though, I have the feeling that I'll be totally out of anime...

Well, except for the "Cowboy Bebop" remix discs... but I don't think that really counts seeing as I'm pretty well familiar with how those go... or something...

Anyway, I consider myself properly "manipulated" emotionally right now, and I think it's time for me to sign off and go sob quietly in my room until I fall asleep... Oh Vanessa... *sniff*

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hooray! It's here!

Subject: Noir
After feeling kind of ticked off all week for having my time wasted by the car dealership, I came home from work today and found that it switched to that feeling replaced by that sort of clenched-chest Christmas-Eve little-kid excitment!

(or that might have been that burger I had for lunch...)

Anyway, "MADLAX" volume 6 is here in my hands, and I can't wait until tomorrow when I can finally, actually watch it.

AnimeOnDVD has a review up already. And over on Bee Train Fan, I posted a little something about something that review mentions. You'll have to go see it for yourself.


So look forward to all sorts of drunken "OMG teh awesome!!1!" tomorrow! Bet you've been missing those lately, eh?

Monday, January 23, 2006

From X-Type to Xterra

Subject: Musings
Well, after a long week of some of the wierdest email exchanges with a car dealership I've ever had, I finally managed to get a decent deal on a leftover 2005 Nissan Xterra. AND... I managed to get what I wanted for my little baby Jag as a trade-in.

I love my little baby Jag, but after I got stuck in the snow last year, and with a bunch of stuff I need to haul around to finish updating the other rooms in my house, I decided I needed some better ground clearance and better cargo capacity. I'm also not commuting 40 miles each way to work anymore, and frankly, driving a Jag can be a little embarrasing. Since I live on a dirt road, it's usually rather muddy. I keep feeling that I need to "dress up" just to ride in it to the store. And heck, it's kind of a snooty image to be projecting, and I'm not a snooty guy. The Xterra is rather utilitarian, but still pretty cool, so I think it'll be a better fit for what I want to do for the next couple of hundered thousand miles.

Contingent on the final paperwork (and the dealer not trying to pull a fast one with useless fees), I should close the deal tommorow and hopefully drive my new "X" home. Just in time for the snowstorm that's going to hit.

UPDATE: Looks like I might have jinxed it, go figure. The paperwork he faxed me had the original price, not my counteroffer price that I thought he agreed to. And he added one BS $100 "Wax & Polish" fee. *Sigh* So I replied to him that it's either my counteroffer or we're done. I'll see what he comes back with.

FINAL UPDATE: Can you say "bait and switch"? I'm too exhausted to relate the whole story again, and I think I just want to write it off as a waste of time before I get angry about having my intelligence insulted. Anyway, "Experiment....... Failed."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

More from the watchin' files

Subject: Noir
The variety in my anime consumption has been pretty low lately, like I've said. But a couple more rental discs showed up in time for Saturday night, so I didn't need to keep rewatching "Eva". Better for my brain to space those out a little more, I think.

I started off with disc 4 of "Stellvia", and I had to try and remember why on earth I was actually watching this show. As it went on, there were a couple of interesting story bits, but I dunno... I guess after the build-up to the first big event finished, there isn't as much to hang on to. I think I might just drop this one.

Next up was disc 2 of "Yugo the Negotiator". Not too bad, in that I like the details and the overall "grown-up-ness" of it, but the storyline gets a tad simplistic and the characters don't really evolve much beyond their stereotypes.

Finally, I caught episode 13 of "Noein", which wasn't too bad, but it did seem to be a bit awkward after the buildup to the big fight in episode 12. Otherwise, not much to say about it, and I'm probably not going to drop it yet.

That's about it...

"Life on Mars"

Subject: TV
A discussion on Fark about "Dr. Who" coming to the US Sci-Fi network clued me in to a new BBC show out of the UK: "Life on Mars"... Named after the classic David Bowie track, it's a cop show about a modern-day detective who is sent back to 1973 after an accident.

It's a little goofy, and it's definitely an excuse for using a soundtrack based on that particular era, but the writing and the "hook" is pretty darned interesting. Smoke-filled offices, rampant sexism, awful taste in outerwear... it's all there in hilarious detail. Yet the contrast between "those days" and our modern expectations makes for an interesting twist, and the characters are pretty decently portrayed.

Of course, those of us not priveleged to receive the Beeb will have to resort to the "Global VCR" that is bittorrent to obtain this, but I think it's worth a diversion of bandwidth from the usual anime fansubs to try and keep up with it. At least for the time being.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Now I know I've been watching too much of this stuff...

Subject: Noir
I'm kind of out of stuff to watch, of late (this week's GreenCine shipment is a little late), so I figured it's been about a year since I watched the beginning of "Evangelion", and popped in disc 1. I'm in the middle of it right now.

While watching, I was mentally working up some ideas about what difference it makes what character a viewer identifies with can have on the overall experience. Right now, I'm pretty much in the Misato camp -- probably due to my age. But that's kind of besides the point...

Listening to Misato, I realized that her voice was really, really, REALLY familiar.

"Oh, you mean you didn't know?" is probably what you're asking.

*Sigh*. No, I didn't. But a quick look at ANN told me everything.

Misato is voiced by Kotono Mitsuishi, who is (and will always be in my heart): Mireille Bouquet.


Well, and Odette Bouquet (*double-sigh*). And Margaret's mother from "MADLAX" (though I didn't make that connection until looking it up just now).

I didn't know that she's 2 months younger than me.

And I have no idea why ANN would have the fact that her blood-type is "A". Kind of creepy if you ask me...

Anyway, I guess I learn something new every day. As trivial as it is...

A psychic moment?

Subject: Noir
From the "Tales of the Weird" department... All day I had the melody of "Lost Command" (track 5 on the "MADLAX" OST #2) running through my head. I haven't even been listening to any of my Yuki Kajiura mix; not for a couple of weeks.

But there it is, repeating itself over and over in my head while I'm making coffee, working, eating lunch... And I'm thinking, "I guess I'm overdue for some 'MADLAX' right about now..."

5 minutes ago, I get this in my email:
Greetings from DVD Pacific.

We thought you'd like to know that we processed your Invoice today.
This invoice contains:
1 | Madlax 6: Sacrifice

I guess it's time to block off a couple of days and start planning for my next pasta dinner!!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A lacking week...

Subject: TV
Absolutely nothing of note happened this week.

I realized I didn't mention that I saw last week's "Battlestar Galactica". My only comment: "WTF???!" I mean really. "WTF?!"

There was a PBS documentary about the French and Indian War that was mildly interesting, but beyond that, the Daily Show, and the Colbert Report, I've just been surfing political blogs and going to bed early. Meh.

I've got a couple of fansubs finally downloading, so maybe there'll be something to finally talk about later.

EDIT: I realized that I forgot to mention "The Boondocks", too! My god, that show is scathing!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Best F*ing ending ever

Subject: Noir
Okay, really, "Noir" had the best ending ever...

But "Samurai Champloo" was really f*ing awesome!

The last disc showed up the other day, and I took this evening to dial it back a few and mini-marathon 'til the end of the series. Holy s*. It's completly amazing.

And the very ending of the ending... Despite everything it built up to and how it resolved, to have the very, very last thing happen was totally, amazingly... fulfilling.

What an excellent f*ing series.

"New to me" roundup

Subject: Noir
(I wanted to post my impressions of these last night while it was fresh in my mind, but I've been rather tired and going to bed early of late, so this'll be a tad short and dry...)

"L/R (Licensed by Royalty)" -- part of my "widening the net" strategy, I plucked this one off of one of the GreenCine lists. When I popped it in and got to the menu, the little ska ditty with blaring horns set me up in a positive mood. It told me it was going to be "fun". Sure enough, it was just that -- "fun". It's kind of a cross between "Miami Guns" and "Kaze No Yojimbo", oddly enough. The humor is rather muted and a tad witty, and totally eschews the dreaded "superdeformation" and most other cliches that run rampant in the former, and favored maintaining the latter's somewhat more "natural" character style. It also had the latter's "cheap" animation, but I think that the characters themselves were more interesting and had more spark, despite lacking any real complexity or nuance. The setting was rich in realistic detail (with plenty of appearances by various Jaguars coloured in British Racing Green), though it was set in a "faux-European" alternate universe.

Anyway, it made for a reasonable bit of light viewing, and while I don't expect it to really go anywhere, I think I'll stick with it for a bit.

"Gankutsuou" disc 2 -- GreenCine pretty much shipped this one out to me the day it was released, so I'm able to get an early crack at it. I kind of slammed disc one a bit hard when I saw it, and I can't say that it did much better with escaping the clutter this time either. Far more attention was paid to overloading the backgrounds and the design than there was to the characters' performances, or to the narrative itself. Most of the characters were animated as a series of rather cliche facial expressions -- this one is "happy", this one is "scared", this one is "greedy", etc., etc. All of which had the problem of distancing me from them rather than helping me get caught up in their world.

Occassionaly it breaks free of it, though. There were, in fact, a few "genuine moments", fleeting though they were, where I did get caught up in it a little. Eugenie's character caught me by surprise for a moment early on, for example, with an unspoken reaction that actually said quite a lot about her that had been masked earlier. So, I take those little sparks for what I can, and I think they may be enough to carry me through another disc. Otherwise, the story seems to just be an exercise in filling-in-the-details of what we've already figured out, and possibly waiting for the "clever twist" in case we're just getting set-up for one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fansub roundup

Subject: Noir
I've been a bit busy these past few days, but I've accumulated a bunch of fansub episodes to report on.

First up, "Akagi" (formerly known as "Mahjong Legend Akagi") -- I posted about the raw I snagged early on because I read about the unique style. And "dramatic writing", though I found it incomprehensible overall. Now that I'm able to give the subs a chance, I found it a whole lot more interesting!

Which is really, really weird. Because it pretty much takes place in a claustrophobic little smoke-filled room in 1950's Tokyo, and it's a kid playing mahjong against a bunch of yakuza. With a static, comic-book, low-frame-count kind of style (though the camera is really making up for it in a lot of places). I mean, the characters look totally unlike anything else I've seen out of Japan.

It dives really far into a lot of the details of the finer points of the game, all of which are completely over my head despite the flurry of otherwise helpful translation notes. But really, that's almost beside the point, because now that I can actually follow the dialogue... well... it works! Crazy, but it works!

Anyway, it amuses me to no end that it does, so I'll keep following it as long as I (or the fansubbers) can stand it.

By contrast, I thought I'd give "Fate/Stay Night" a try. It's been getting a bit of hype, but I know nothing of what it's based on or the history behind it. All I know, is the first thing I said was "worst Apocalypse opening ever." After a couple of minutes, I just had to hit "stop". Bleah. Same old crap, no life to it at all. It kind of reminds me of "Blood+", only weaker and far inferior animation/art direction.

Speaking of which, for some reason, I'm still watching "Blood+". And at about episodes 12 and 13, it turns into "Blood++" (<-- ha ha, a JavaScript joke!) and kicks up the gratuitous gore and ick-factor. Only it really didn't have anything particularly shocking behind it; it's just trying to say "oh look at me, aren't I so gory, and aren't you soooo scared by it??". And, to that I say "meh". Predictably, in a pinch, whats-her-name goes all catatonic and useless instead of fighting monsters. Then she turns into a superfreak (which they deemed to be "sooo incredibly gory even we're not going to show it to you"). But then she's "brought back" because her little brother yells out her name. *Sigh*.

No, that's not a spoiler -- I think that's the plot. That's all they ever do in this show.

Now, in contrast once again, "Noein" seems to be building it's plot by improvisation every episode (I'm up to 12). And from what I was reading over on AnimeSuki, the animation direction and creative teams are constantly changing. And they're all being allowed to do their own thing. So it winds up rather uneven.

But you know what? Once you get past it's uneveness and accept that it's one big experiment, it really has it's moments. Like I mentioned when I first saw it, often the animation has a certain naturalism and life to it that is really missing in most anime. Then the next shot it'll be kind of typical. Then the next will mess with perspective, or throw around a lot of 3-D effects. Then there'll be a really rough, raw, but completely vibrant action sequence -- like they just ditched the inkers and the inbetweeners and brute-forced their way through with all the scribbles and squiggles intact. Where it works, it's pretty cool. Where it doesn't, it's no particular transgression, and is generally forgivable.

And Haruka's character is probably the best-portrayed young girl in recent anime, especially with all this over-cute saccharine junk going around. Very determined, hard to phase, but also quite human.

The story threads are okay, nothing special. It's kind of neat seeing how all the characters tie into their "alternate timespace", and the things that haven't been revealed yet about what is supposed to happen have a decent mystery to them with little bits being uncovered at their leisure. Though the quantum physics lesson was a bit much (as amusing as the Schroedinger's Cat sequence was). And Yuu and a couple of the other characters get rather irritating. But overall there's enough there to keep it interesting.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The other extremes of sci-fi...

Subject: Cinema
Well, after a satisfying round of "Galact-oh-yeah", I decided to step back in time for a bit and rewatch "Star Wars". As in, the first one. And I don't mean the so-called "Episode I", I mean the very first one. Which, as loath as I am to say it, is known now by the name of "Episode IV". Bleah.

Not too much to say there except that I did it as a contrast between "Battlestar Galactica" and what I rented for the evening: "Serenity".

Yes, that's right, the "Firefly" movie (which I once called "Blake's 7 with horses").

If anything, "Serenity" joins "Galactica" in the whole postmodern made-for-TV sci-fi diaspora. It continues the whole "cowboy series" dialogue of "Firefly", without any profanity or anything like that, and it even shakes up the camerawork a lot like "Galactica" does. It unfortunately departs from the "no-sound-in-space" purism that the series had, and we're subjected to engine wooshing and weapons fire in the supposdley soundless void of space.

Still, it had many cool aspects about it. And overall, I got the feel that it probably would have made an excellent anime release (reinforced by all the Asian -- Japanese or Chinese, I couldn't tell ya -- characters that everything is written in). Still, I can see why it did jack squat in the theatres. You have to be a part of that universe to feel like you want to experience any more of it. Those that never got into the series in the first place probably wouldn't find anything worth their time in this one. As cool as it is.

So, to sum up, I really don't have any sort of common thread I can use to tie up these three sci-fi series. They're all excellent in their own way. "It's all good" may as well have been my review.

"Galact-oh-yeah" oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah!

Subject: TV
Oh yeah!!!

"Battlestar Galactica" continued it's 2nd season last night, and, by tradition, I usually download a descent digital rip of it and watch it Saturday evenings. From what I've read, though, the current bittorrent download of it has serious issues with picture quality and lipsync. Luckily, I also DVR it from the not-all-that-great cable feed, and I watched that just now.

Oh yeah!!

Anyway, it continues the cliffhanger from a while back. And it rocks! Not to use such a cliche euphamism lightly, but really, that's what it does: it "rocks". On paper, it seems like it would be the most absurd thing ever, but on-screen, performed by that cast, with that attention to detail in the cinematography and effects -- you can't help but be transported into that story, into that situation. And who are the good guys, who are the bad guys? The characters defy the usual logic of those labels. It's all one big complicated mess, and you are clearly set up for who you should root for, and who you hiss at when they say something nasty and cruel. Yet, those roles don't fit the "sides" that you would otherwise think of based on the labels they wear.

Really, though, you can't read too deeply into it. And that's the beauty of it -- you don't feel that you have to. You can just go with the flow and viscerally enjoy it for what it is. And that's really the best part.

Hot Bee Train updates: "Spider Riders" and ".hack//G.U."

Subject: Noir
I've been getting a few search engine hits lately regarding "Spider Riders", so I've summed up my "reporting" to date in a thread over on Bee Train Fan. Including some additional not-on-the-blog info about one of the names that came up associated with the project, and his involvement on another, shall we say, "controversial" project.

Then I noticed some of today's hits were coming from Japan, so I Bablefished over on Moonphase, and found the "official" entry for not only "Spider Riders", but a new entry for an anime based on the game ".hack/G.U.". I've got that info over in this post, with a followup translation clarification from the Dothackers forum.

All of this is as of yesterday, so I expect there'll be some more of you visiting and looking for information. I'd very much appreciate any additional information you might have to share -- rumors, speculation, facts; it's all good! Post it in the comments here or over on Bee Train Fan.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Go figure: from "silliness" to "storytelling"... Again!

Subject: Noir
Wow, two posts in a row where the only thing I can come up with is the exact same theme.

The "silliness" starts with "Nadia: Secret of Blue Water" disc 9. Good golly, the first two episodes were unbearable! But it would seem that it is all now safely in the past, as we've finally, finally started the final arc, and get back in to the thick of the plot. Ahh.

I can't remember off the top of my head how many discs are left; there may just be the one, but it's also a relief that I might just finally get through this one and be done with it. Obviously, I stuck with it this long because it's got some great qualities, but I've been dragging it out with too much of a gap between discs and I think I'm ready for it to be done once and for all.

And speaking of "too much of a gap between discs", I've also continued along with disc 7 of "Twelve Kingdoms". The first episode of the disc was flitting back and forth between too many concurrent storylines, and I was totally lost for a bit while trying to remember why I gave a s* about any of the characters. I suppose I can finally relate to some of the critism I've seen about "MADLAX"... (ooh, what am I saying???!)

But once that settled down, there were some really decent storytelling and character moments that reminded me why I have been sticking with this series. Even though they continually try to throw new vocabulary lessons and tend to be a little bit monotone in terms of character motivations. Still, I'm getting a little weary of this one as well, and from what I hear, it doesn't really "end", per se, so even if I do rush to finish it, I don't know for sure if I'll gain any satisfaction from it. That said, I think I'm going to try to get through the rest of it as well so I can finally put this one to rest, too.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

From "silliness" to "storytelling"...

Subject: Noir
...but ultimately ending the series back in "silliness" -- that would be "NieA Under 7" discs 3 & 4, which I finished up this evening.

Back with disc 2 I was getting a little frustrated with the super-deformed comedy reaction shots, and the cliche bickering that punctuates the story quite often. Tonight I was a little more forgiving of it; the silly moments are kind of integral to the way it turns out. Particularly with regards to how they contrast with some of the more "realistic" moments. Because those "real" moments are really quite well done. Like with "Haibane Renmei", there's an unknown set of rules in a world that surrounds a bunch of interesting characters, and it all plays off of each other. And it really doesn't answer a lot -- and it's okay that it doesn't because the story is in what you feel rather than what you know.

Unlike "Haibane Renmei", it doesn't get particularly deep about any of it. And that's okay, too. Once you get past the silliness and accept it, there's more to latch on to underneath. And when it's done, there's still some things to chew on and think about. Not bad. I'm glad I stuck with it.

"Smellin' of Troy" (plus... Denzel does Sinatra)

Subject: Cinema
I caught a few new-to-me movies on the ol' DVR, and caught up with a couple of them:

"Alexander" -- Oliver Stone's epic Bronze Age answer to the earlier Brad Pitt Bronze Age epic "Troy". Or maybe it was vice-versa; who knows? All I remember is that it makes a pretty weird season when two big-budget ancient-Greek-heros-stomping-around movies make it to theaters at the same time. And that somebody thought that was a good idea!

I can't seem to find when or if I actually blogged about watching "Troy"; I suppose I didn't have much to say about it. Decently photographed, neat details with the sets, props, and costumes, but overall a bit lacking in the scale and "largeness" you would expect from a so-called "epic". "Alexander", on the other hand, did pretty well in the "scale" department.

The first big battle in particular had scope and a great level of detail that I'm sure either thrilled or infuriated amateur strategists with it's sky-high panoramas of the tactics underway. The open spaces felt really wide open, the forbidding mountains seemed quite huge and unscalable, the palaces were large and lush. And then it was able to scale in the opposite direction where needed: the far-eastern kingdoms were smaller and more hardscrabble the further he got from Babylon. And the jungles of India were downright claustrophobic and menacing. All in all, great photography, historical detail, and a strong sense of place.

But it sure was a bit of a whiny, angsty bit of pompousness superimposed on top of it! Replete with ambiguous sexuality, mommy issues, daddy complexes, and a "boldly go where no man has gone before" 'tude, the narrative jumps around from flashback to flash-forward, and tends to tritely try and weave what's known of the history and legend of the people and the time, with a kind of pop-psychiatry explaination of the various motivations involved. Instead of giving the characters depth, it kind of made them seem like cardboard cutout cliches of what dramatic characters probably would be if Stone didn't waste all his time on crafting all the details and symbolism.

But then again, that's kind of how I remember Oliver Stone's films anyhow.

So it's really long, and a few spots feel a bit tedious, and the "yaoi" stuff really isn't particularly intrusive, so it's worth some time if only to put some great pictures in your head about the time and places this was set in.

"The Manchurian Candidate" -- the 2004 remake starring Denzel Washington tries to put a modern, corporate spin on Frank Sinatra's Cold War classic sleeper. (Ooh, "sleeper", I get it! Ha!) I've got the original on laserdisc, and it's a pretty reasonable break from his usual "Rat Pack" flicks. This remake tries to capture a lot of the plot points, as well as impose a few up-to-date rhetorical caricatures to supplant the older commie-hysteria ones.

It's okay, I guess. It feels kind of forced, overall. The premise doesn't seem to translate quite as well; while the paranoia is portrayed more accurately (if stereotypically), it doesn't capture the descent into that madness and the absurdity of it all as well as the original did. The performances were all-in-all reasonable, but nothing particularly leapt out at me.

All in all, if you've missed this version, don't go out of your way to see it. If you haven't seen the original, check it out first if you get a chance.

"MADLAX" disc 7...

Subject: Noir

...on March 28th!

(according to AnimeOnDVD)

Won't actually have to wait 'til April! Wow.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Subject: Cinema
A few years back, the Sci-Fi channel had their interpretation of Frank Herbert's "Dune". Which, in a lot of ways, was very faithful to Frank Herbert's novel. But it really lacked a lot, and got a few things totally wrong; at least in the eyes of a fan of the series of novel is concerned.

Still, it was way more accurate than David Lynch's interpretation from 1984. (Which I've just watched the HiDef transfer of on HDNET).

But in a lot of ways, David Lynch's version had a whole lot of soul going for it.

When I watched the Sci-Fi version, I found myself missing the voiceovers. And I especially missed the atmosphere, costuming, and sense of place that Lynch's original had.

When I first saw Lynch's version, I despised it, in spite of everything I thought it did right. It gave me the biggest headache I ever had -- and I've had quite a number of hangovers since. In particular, there were liberties he took in the story that entirely missed the point of the novel that I found unforgivable:

-- "Ha" guns. The so-called "weirding way"; a strong and sensible martial arts, are usurped by a technology that turns emotional sounds into ray-guns. WTF??! Stupidest f*ing plot device ever!

-- The "all-moisture-escapes-through-your-head" stillsuits turns into a costume from a Madonna concert, replete with minuature microphone (albiet sticking in the nose). Holy crap; the whole point of the stillsuit was to reclaim every tiny bit of moisture from the body, but to have it such that your hairsprayed coiff could be admired by all movie-goers was quite a conciet -- to the point of complete absurdity.

-- Raining at the end. Sorry to spoil it, but it's totally stupid. Arrakis doesn't rain. Even a number of novels in, a rainstorm is a rare and crazy event based on a number of years of planetary change. The whole notion of how moisture and the planet and the ecology works on Arrakis is totally undermined from what Frank Herbert tried to accomplish.

Those are really only the most heinous transgressions; there's a few other details that bug me (orinothopters should have bird-flapping wings, for one). And the Sci-Fi version got a lot more of that right. But, oddly enough, it was still inferior as a cinematic experience goes. If David Lynch can do anything, he's able to completely and utterly bring an experience to the screen. Scope, scale, sense-of-place; Lynch had it all.

I'd love to be able to do something in between; something that gets into the nitty-gritty like Lynch, but doesn't totally disrespect Herbert's original story like the Sci-Fi version. Of course, I think an animated version would do the trick. But, that's going to be the solution to everything for me after watching "Noir" again, isn't it?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Hitting every note...

Subject: Noir
Go figure. I was rather anxious in the time leading up to this marathon; I thought maybe I might wind up bored or otherwise disenchanted because I tried to watch "Noir" one too many times.

Not a chance. Thankfully.

As imperfect a show that it is, every moment, every note, hit it's mark, and kept me going. I needed a quick break and a little bit of caffeine to make it, but that did the trick, and now, exactly 11 1/2 hours later, I've made another trip through my absolutely most favorite show ever. And I'm so happy.

And sad. The next time I'll watch this probably won't be until my "Noir-iversary" in May. I miss it already, and it's only been 20 minutes.

Last year, I posted the Kirei na Kanjou lyrics from the English subtitles. This year, I'll leave you with the Romanji:

Sotto furerarete
Kono hoho no tsumetasa ni yatto kizuita
Asa me ga samete
Tori no koe ni hajimete kizuku you ni
Mada shiranai nani mo
Kokoro ga motometeru mono
Shiranai no
Sora bakari mite ita
Itsu kara kou shite
Ano kumo no mashita e omoi o tobashite