Saturday, February 25, 2006


Subject: TV
Now that was more like it!!

After a rather sluggish few episodes, this most recent "Battlestar Galactica" turns a few things upside-down and on their heads. It's simple, but executed quite satisfyingly.

Cylons, when they "die", download their "selves" into new bodies. So what happens to the Cylons that feel empathy or a connection to their human enemies?

Well, I didn't spend a lot of time pondering such philosophy, so this episode caught me by surprise. In retrospect, it's kind of obvious, and like I said, "simple", but I think the way they pulled it off was rather cool. It sets up a great set of possibilities, and the parallels between the conflicting storylines makes the tension all the more delectable. (Hint: the hawt #6 Cylon who haunts Balthar's memories? Her new "self" is haunted by Balthar. Simple twist, but awesome!)

In other TV news, this week's "Life on Mars" was the last one before next week's finale, yet I still find it hard to figure out where it's all heading. Great performances, and the setting is still pretty convincing, but I'm not really on the edge of my seat, nor have I found any suspense or clues built up enough to warrant being on the verge of a conclusion. Oh well. It's still better than most every other TV program out there.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A little more "Eva"

Subject: Noir
My GreenCine rental queue cadence is totally off, so I don't have anything new to watch. Well, I've got a few real-people foreign flicks I bought but haven't seen yet, but I'm not in an experiemental mood. So I fired up discs 3&4 of "Neon Genesis: Evangelion" to fill the gap.

Not much more to say about it except for an observation: Hideki Anno seems to have tapped into a primal level of both the 15-year-old and the 30-year-old in this one. It's a bit of a shame that I've outgrown both, but I can still recognize the attractive power they possess. It's definitely something "Rahxephon" is missing.

And despite some of the silliness, it's still a top-notch piece of work. A lot of the "spark of life" to the characters. Something that's missing with most manga-derived series, unfortunately.

That's about it.

A washout of a month.

Subject: Musings
Well, that was a crummy week.

A couple of key layoffs and a major budget cut at work leaves the future of my new project cloudy at best, and there's the distinct possiblity that I'll be assigned to some tedious filler projects. It looks like the only career path open right now is towards being an "outsourcing manager". Better start learning Chinese, I guess.

Plus, after finally recovering from being ill from one thing, I get sick with a cold this week. So it looks like February wasn't exactly "wellness month" either.

I think what I really need is a vacation. I wonder if there are any film festivals coming up? Somewhere warm...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Guys with guns

Subject: Noir
I generally prefer "girls with guns" shows, obviously. But this weekend seemed to be themed the other way this time.

On Friday, I finally spun up disc 4 of the "Cowboy Bebop" Remix that I received just before I was ill. I almost stayed up late to make one of my usual gushing posts about it, but I was actually really sleepy by that point. Needless to say, in addition to the top-notch animation, interesting characters, and an extreme attention to detail, the show is filled with excellent emotive "moments". And Wantanabe nails them. Consistently.

The next batch of discs are going to be delayed until at least May, because the company that was doing the duplication went out of business. That's too bad, but I suppose I don't mind waiting all that much.

On Saturday, I got the next couple of discs in my rental queue. "L/R - Licenced by Royalty" disc 2 continued the light-hearted, but slightly bland faux-English spy duo. Mildly interesting, still, but short of a mild hint at a story arc and some minor exposition, there's nothing much that's compelling about it. I'll probably rent it a little longer, though, to see what happens.

And finally, I cast my net a little wider in sampling titles, and wound up with disc one of "Trigun". Amusing, interesting character designs, and reasonably well animated, but by the third episode, the joke had pretty much worn out. I might rent one more for the heck of it, but I really think I've seen enough.

Well, that's all that covers the theme, at least. As a transistion to the fansubs
I caught, there was the 2nd episode of "Meine Liebe Weider", which has the appearance of a guy who used to have a gun. Ooh scary! It definitely jumps into "plot" mode right away, and the cadence overall seems a little halting. But I'll stick with it.

Then there was another episode of "Mushihi" that I missed. No guns there at all, but a really neat "origins" episode where we learn a bit about Ginko, the wandering protagonist. But beyond that, it continues onward in just the same style and tone as always. Which, for this series, I'm cool with.

Finally finally, earlier in the week, I actually finished "Nadia: Secret of Blue Water". A very well done finish that, as promised, makes up for those damed "Island" and "Africa" episodes. Like I said early on, if I had seen this back when it was originally being produced, I would have been all over it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A brief bit o' anime for the week

Subject: Noir
There were a number of fansub episodes released of late for the series I'm watching, and I mostly caught up with them.

"Mushishi" ep 11 -- Continues along its deliberate, calm pace with another fable, and it exposes another neat layer to the whole mythology. I think it's going to be wrapping up soon, though.

"Meine Liebe, Weider" ep 1 -- It was posted while I was feeling ill, so I didn't announce it like I did with the first series. I'm probably going to follow this one for a while at least, since I'm curious to see where Mashimo's B-team takes this one. It hasn't varied from the designs or voices at all. The fansub was a bit washed-out, but I'm guessing the art is pretty similar. The animation seems a bit cheaper, and I definitely didn't get the sense of all that flying-around that I like from Mashimo's usual stuff. Though there was definitely a lot of jumping around as we go from location to location to "catch up" with what da boyz are up to. And, from the get-go, it seems that a nefarious plot is afoot. Oh, and there was talking. Lots of talking. Kind of shoveling in the backstory with the narrative. Anyway, we'll see where this one goes.

"Kamichu" is back with 3 more episodes, of which I only got through up to 7. Though the little charming bits are still charming, I'm kind of losing interest. It's a bit too sweet for me. I dunno, maybe it can be my casual Sunday breakfast show again for a while.

I tried and dropped "REC" rather quickly. It was kind of amusing that the movie they went to see was "Roman Holiday" (what's with that?!), but beyond that there's no redeeming value to it for me.

One of the groups dusted off an old-skool series, "Queen Millennia". Absolutely interesting to see the animation and character styles, and how much that reminds me of what few shows I actually saw way back then. I'll stick with it a bit and see where it takes me. I noticed they had a bunch of other old-skool stuff on their tracker, so I might take some time browsing some more.

Finally, I just got around to episode 14 of "Noein" -- I swear, that show still refuses to be any one particular thing. And that's growing on me. This particular episode had some neat little moments to it, as well. So I guess it hasn't lost me yet.

Not much to say about tee-vee, I guess...

Subject: TV
...except to say that, after a rather head-spinning turn-of-events on the resumption of "Battlestar Galactica's" 2nd season, the series has hit a flat spot. The whole thing with hunting "Scar" was cool, but the other two episodes surrounding it were kind of so-so. There's a lot of worrying out here on the internets about the possibility that the writers are now "just making s* up", as opposed to hanging everything off a decent framework.

In other words, they fear "Galactica" will fall victim to "X-Files" syndrome. A worthy thing to be afraid of.

I don't think it's all that bad. It's just a tad bit dissappointing to slow down so much after having a bunch of consistently jaw-dropping events thrown at you, one after the other.

"Life on Mars" is a bit slow at the moment, too, which is wierd for such a short series. It's like they're side-tracking to explore more of that "it was really different back then, won't it luv?" atmosphere. And yeah, exploring some of Sam's past as well. But again, it's supposed to be a short series, so it's a bit puzzling that it seems to be detouring so blatantly. Maybe it will all tie together at the end...

I'm going to file this next one under "TV" as well instead of "Cinema", even though it will never, ever make it to a normal TV channel in a million years: "The Aristocrats". It's a documentary that interviews dozens of professional comedians and entertainers about an old, shaggy burlesque-era joke that's turned into one of the raunchiest, foul, dirty, disgusting, and totally ad-libbed routines that hardly anyone in the general public had ever heard before. It was pretty much an "inside joke" that comedians would tell other comedians, with their own twisted embellishments. The idea is to make it as sick and perverted as possible, yet make it "one of yours" in the telling.

It's amusing. I'm not a big fan of excessive raunchy jokes, and there's nothing particularly shocking about what happens with this one -- though there's some particularly icky parts. Bleah. But it is more fascinating to watch the dozens of different interpretations and thought-processes that go into it. There's an editing technique used where they quickly intercut between two different cameras during each interview that I found incredibly annoying and distracting, but it's not like this is high-art. An interesting expose, but definitely a one-trick pony.

And no, I'm not going to tell a version of the joke. What, are you kidding?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Catching up...

Subject: Musings
Okay, that took entirely too long to recover from. In fact, it's not really over at all, but I don't need the same level of painkillers anymore, and have switched to some milder ones. With the old stuff, every time I thought I was feeling better, I wound up relapsing into dizzy nausea the next day. Didn't feel any pain, but I couldn't do anything.

Better living through chemistry, as they say! (Bleah.)

Anyway, I've got some TV and anime watching to summarize, but I've also got a backlog of email and computer stuff to finish up. All that on top of the fact that I've fallen a bit behind at work. So I'll squeeze it in when I can.

Friday, February 10, 2006

An even bigger missed scoop: "Spider Riders" announcement

Subject: Noir
Well, I used to be the one who was able to break any and all stories around "Spider Riders", but as I scan the past couple of days of ANN after being sick, I notice that I missed a doozy: Teletoons, a Canadian cable channel, is airing a 90-minute special presentation/sneak-peek of "Spider Riders" on March 25th.

At the bottom of the Teletoons page ANN links to, it says the series is 52 episodes, and is "coming this summer".

You know, I don't even show up on the first batch of pages of a Google search for "Spider Riders" anymore. So I guess it's not such a big deal that I missed out on it. It's kind of dissappointing, though.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

News scoop that I missed: ".hack//ROOTS"

Subject: Noir
After all the hoopla I made when I first thought I broke the "next .hack" story, now it figures that I missed the real announcement about it by an entire day. And if it weren't for the fact that I'm feeling a bit better, I probably would have missed it entirely. Oh well. Details over on Bee Train Fan.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A dizzy weekend

Subject: Noir
Well, I haven't posted much for a bit. On Friday night, an old recurring condition crept up (I'll spare you the details), and while in-and-of-itself, it wasn't fun, the appropriate medication only serves to make me dizzy and very nasueous. I'm only just now starting to get over the side-effects, even though the original problem itself cleared up Saturday night. At least I'm well enough to be able to stare at a computer screen for a little bit at a time.

I managed to watch a couple of things between spells. Mainly, the last two discs of "Twelve Kingdoms". And I guess it's kind of unfortunate that I watched them while unwell, because, holy crap, all the talking! Dry strategic detail ruled the end of the main arc, and was even a bigger ingredient of the mini after-arc that finished it up. Ugh. I could only do a couple of episodes at a time. I suppose if I watched it in more optimal conditions, I'd have probably appreciated it a little more, but as it stands, I think it was a weak "ending".

"Ending" in quotes because it was supposedly intended to be a continuing series of stories based on the books. Which, I suppose, would have been fine to keep following along, because it's a rather rich world. I may be conflating my feelings of being done with my unpleasantness with being done with the series itself, but I guess that's the way it's going to be.

The only other anime I managed to watch was episode 3 of "Agaki". You know, that mahjong one. It was kind of cool, and it kind of worked, but now, after 3 episodes of it, with only more of the same about to commence, I think I've had enough. Again, being sick probably impacts that mood a bit, but I still think I'm making the right call.

Beyond that, I watched "Life on Mars" and "Battlestar Galactica" -- at least, in small doses. "Galacta" in particular, with the camera moving all over the place, really was difficult to sit through whilst nasueous. And overall, I don't have much to comment about either of them. They just passed the time, and I wasn't really into them.

One thing that's been delayed was my plan to watch my latest DVD arrival: "Cowboy Bebop" disc 4. If it were "MADLAX" I'd probably be completely depressed about it, but with "Bebop" I don't mind waiting a little longer.

I'm guessing posting will continue to be light and sporadic for a while now that I'm even further removed from my routine -- not to mention the fact that I've got a lot of work I have to catch up with.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

"Monster? I only just met 'er!"

Subject: Noir
Woo hoo! The end of "Monster"! That was excellent!

I watched the whole batch the other night. I meant to only watch a couple at a time over the course of the week, but holy cow, that final arc puts the hooks in you pretty deep. There's no way anyone can break away once you start on that ride. So kudos to The Soldats for giving them to us all at once. If it were to trickle out one-every-couple-of-weeks, it would have driven me crazy.

While the final climatic arc was really outstanding, I've got a bit of a love-hate relationship with the last episode. The whole thing is denouement, showing the "after" story of what happens to the surviving characters. And it's got the usually sappy trappings, though it's a little bittersweet at times. And, of course, the very, very end leaves on a bit of a twist that is either symbolic, or tries to leave the door open for various interpretation. Which is typical in Japanese stories, but also a bit cliche for every other "twist" story, too. But part of that twist leaves you with one last harsh question that gives you a bit of a mild shock.

Still, as a whole, the series had a lot going for it. The storytelling arcs and the characters were outstanding. The realism in the details of the surroundings and the objects and everything else made the experience richer. My only real nit to pick is with the animation. It's a bit ham-handed at times. The walk-cycles are usually stiff and halting, which is the sure sign of someone who comes from a manga background instead of animation. And after all, it is from a popular manga series. Still, there's some clumsy 3-D, and a few timing issues as well, but all-in-all, it's nothing that isn't done worse in a lot of other anime. And there are many sequences that more than make up for it.

And now it's over. But it's definitely on my "buy" list, if and when it's ever picked up and the DVDs come out. I still think it would make a great Sunday Night program on something like HBO or Showtime or some other network looking to break into the "niche wars" in that timeslot. *hint* *hint*