Friday, March 30, 2007

It's alive! ALLLIIIIVVVEEE! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!

Subject: Musings
The last time I got to drive my baby girl (my '06 Mustang convertible, for those that missed it) was back before Christmas; the last couple of sunny days before winter really took hold.

I cleaned her up, and put her away in my garage for the winter. And sometime in the middle of February, when it was really freakin' cold, the battery must have died.

A couple of weeks ago, to be sure, I got in and tried to start her up. It was so sad to have absolutely no response, but I kind of expected it. I was surprised to find that the interior still had that "new car smell", though. And just how much I missed sitting in that seat (even though I rented that similarly-appointed Shelby sister of hers when I visited the southwest).

So today, now that the snow has thawed and the recent rainstorms have washed away the salt on the roads (and the even-more-recent sunshine has dried up the mud on my street), I plugged in the battery charger, and just now, started her back up to life. Hooray!

These newfangled computer-controlled engines need to have proper procedures for re-establishing it's metrics -- the manual was pretty specific about the amount of time to let it idle, then do a few other things. And then, it says to drive it for a while. Which I couldn't quite do tonight, but I will tomorrow. Oh, absolutely tomorrow. I am very much looking forward to it! *grin*

I plan on hitting the "Noir" OST's while I'm doing it. I'll get into why a little later, but if you read the forum, you'll know the reason... Heh.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"El Cazador" commercial w/ voices

Subject: Noir
Forum member Koveras over on the 'Fan found this one, which is a full commercial with a different cut (and a few new shots); but more importantly, with the voices of Nadi and Ellis making the pitch:

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"El Cazador" manga scans

Subject: Noir
Forum member fignae posts links to complete scans of El Cazador vol. 1 from Champion RED, as found on Yamibo. Also her summary of what happened. Spoilers likely, so proceed at your own risk.

I'm avoiding both at the moment, as I want to see at least the first episode before reading anything that will be spoilers. Well, more because I want my impression of Koichi Mashimo's work to influence my impression of the manga, not the other way around. I'm kind of flawed that way, I guess.

The problem with me saying "The problem with Gonzo"

Subject: Noir
So I just finished up "Red Garden". And while I've been making fun of it a little, I've got to say, it was a well-done show. It was a fine construction of simple "moments", the sort of thing I used to go on about in the early days of this blog.

But go figure, Gonzo takes what is essentially a vampire-vs-werewolf gang war story and turns it into a restrained and emotional young woman's drama. And even with all the high-fashion nonsense and high-school awkwardness I dislike, the characters appeared genuine and storyline kept you guessing while still rewarding you by uncovering itself layer by layer.

The animation had it's ups and downs. A few scenes were well-crafted and quite subtle in how effective they were; others, well, were expectedly stiff and a bit cheap. The overall strength of the design carried it through well enough, though. The performances, both vocally and in what the animators did with the characters was quite involving. There were a few sequences where the dialog had a bit of an ad-lib back-and-forth going on that's really rare -- heck, non-existant! -- in anime, since they recorded the dialouge first this time. That led to a few awkwardly-paced spots, but in a way, they were more like slice-of-life scenes, which again, in a "vampire-vs-werewolf gang war story" is kind of remarkable.

It still couldn't resist dipping into a bit of gore towards the end, though it was nothing like the typical horror show. And, of course, it couldn't resist ending on a total "WTF". Though as "WTF"s go, this one was rather nice; sort of sweetening a bittersweet moment.

Another touch of Gonzo in rotation for me has been the DVDs of "Last Exile", which I watched a ways back when it was on TV. This time I'm watching in Japanese and on big-screen, full resolution. Another thing I had noted about Gonzo previously was that they did "epic" pretty well, until it all goes and falls apart in insanity at the end. Well, I'm not at the end yet (still two discs to go), but I remember it wasn't too insane in particular. I think.

But boy, howdy, is it doing the epic thing. It goes for "big", and it gets it. The attention to detail and the rules of the universe hold the vast backdrop together pretty well, and while the foreground stories are a lacking a bit of maturity and depth, they are still varied and intertwine pretty well. The characters are all interesting and watchable, though I find myself drifting off thinking about technique more than I pay attention to what they're saying.

The "integration" between 3-D objects and 2-D character work doesn't bother me too much; in fact in a few scenes, it works pretty damn well. Others, not so much, but that's okay.

I'm sure when I wrap it up, I'll probably complain about it again, but for now, it's still entertaining. If I actually owned it, it'd probably be the next one I'd loan to friends. Still not sure if I want to own it though; last I saw it was kind of overpriced, and while it's good, it isn't quite there for me yet.

I was trying to work on a post earlier, "The problem with Production I.G.", because I've been watching "Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex" season 2. And a couple of other things I've forgotten by now. Oh well, I'm sure I'll figure that one out some day...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"El Cazador" info & Mashimo interview in NewType USA

Subject: Noir
Forum member Matrim posts an English interview with Koichi Mashimo found over on AnimeSuki, which seems to be the translation of the same interview from before, only with a few additional aspects to it.

It's as short as the previous, but the key quote from Mashimo:
"During an inteview, I accidently blurted out something about [Noir and Madlax being part of] a 'trilogy', which forced me to follow through and actually make a thrid installment!"

And another key bit from the end:
NewType USA In keeping with the Latin American setting, 'El Cazador' has a lighter more positive feel than it's ultra serious sisters, although it still deal with some fairly weighty topics.

KM "Weve tried a lot of new things and took on many new challenges in order to fine-tune the characters and the overall mood of the show. Everyone on the staff wants this one to be a worthy final chapter in the 'trilogy', and we're giving it our all."

I've noted over on the forum that the "lighter" aspects don't seem to go too far into the realm of the ridiculous. As long as it can keep it to a sort of "Cowboy Bebop" level at it's worst, then it should be okay. Though I'd prefer to match the "ultra serious sisters"... *sigh*

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"El Cazador de la Bruja" 2nd trailer and "Champion RED" manga scans

Subject: Noir
First up, I noticed while I was at work that the El Cazador main page had a subtle little link in the banner at the bottom to a new trailer! Of course, being at work (and having bad luck with Windows Media links in general), I posted over on the 'Fan to see if anyone could investigate, and sure enough, they confirmed it, and found a link to the inevitable YouTube addition:

I still need to watch it through again, but it's really pretty good, and chock-full of teasers... *cough*

When I got home, I took a look over at Makoto's blog, and sure enough, he's got scans of the cover and a page of the manga release in the May 2007 issue of Champion RED:

...and then I found a "sample" scan on Champion RED's site:

Well, that's it for breaking news! I've got to go watch this trailer more, and then start joining in and formulating theories. There's only... *goes and looks at the countdown timer on the 'Fan* ...11 days, 19 hours, 52 minutes, and 11 seconds before the show starts!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The patron saint of those clever Guinness Draft bottles

Subject: Musings
So besides "El Cazador" news, my posting has been all but non-existant of late. Here, and over on the 'Fan. I guess between a busy round of work (launching a demo of my site in Japanese, of all things, among other Big Things that are very, very secret) and a rather pervasive bout of cabin fever, I'm lacking a bit of energy when it comes time to type up my usual snark.

Today is St. Patrick's Day, and I nearly forgot all about it, until I went on a beer run yesterday and saw all the discounts on Guinness. So I picked up a chunk o' corned beef, a head of cabbage, some potato... I'm good to go for a typical Americanized version of the traditional meal. That, with the aforementioned discounted Guinness and an MP3 mix with the Pougues, the Waterboys, and U2 (yeah, I know) and I'm well on the way to a fun feast for the evening.

But I don't quite know what to watch later.

In my whole DVD library, I don't have anything remotely thematic. Well, the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy is kind of close, but that's not quite what I'm looking for. For foreign movies, I have a lot of Kurosawa and Fellini and French and Italian and German offerings. Maybe a few that are sort of British, but that isn't exactly appropriate now, is it? Maybe I can round out the Irish half of my heritage with my French half by watching "Ameile" again? Of course, my French half is by way of Canada since the 1600's, so I guess that's just as authentic as my corned-beef-and-cabbage dinner.

I suppose it's quite a luxury to have such a simple and lame dilemma at hand. Will I just give in and pick something from my anime shelf (uh, shelves...)? Oh, I don't know...

In the meantime, I've got a pot of beef simmering that I must attend to. And my beer is empty!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Springing into Spring

Subject: Noir
Well, after a week of near-0F temperatures, this week saw 65F and a whole lot of melting snow. Strange and sudden, but not unwelcome. Well, my septic tank and leech field aren't happy about the excess water, but whatever...

A lot of the blogs are turning their thoughts to the impending Spring '07 anime season, and admittedly, I've been too busy to overcome my general bewilderment over the vast selection. I mean, I'm still trying to catch up with "Red Garden", which is the only show I stuck with for the Winter season. Though I should have stuck with "Kemonozume". And maybe "Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto". But anyway...

Obviously, "El Cazador" is by far and away the one for me to watch. And if I can find it, I'll keep up with "Murder Princess" just 'cause. But still, I don't want to miss out on anything either...

BluWacky has a rather nice rundown for April on Cinnamon Ass, but I had trouble focusing on it for identifying what would actually appeal to me, so I figured I'd revisit it as new series crossed my path and use it for that kind of reference.

Then just the other day, KT posts the pentultimate guide over on his blog. Screencaps, links to trailers, commentary; somehow I latched right on to it. Excellent reference material.

So thanks to that list, I think I'll be keeping my eye on the first couple of eps "Darker Than Black" and "Romeo X Juliet" for sure. And maybe “Seirei no Moribito”, “Bokurano”. Oh, and there's a second season for "Emma".

The "Darker Than Black" trailer had some very interesting realism in the animation style, and it's definitely an adult-cast drama. So it's tops on my list right now.

...Well, besides "El Cazador", of course. *grin*

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"El Cazador" OP & ED snippets!

Subject: Noir
Over on the 'Fan, member fignae posts links to "Hikari no Yukue" from savage genious and "romanesque" from FictionJunction YUUKA

When I get a chance later, I'll post a quick observation over there (along with my long-delayed thoughts on the trailer...)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

...The rest of the "El Cazador" spread from April's NewType

Subject: Noir
More great info from Makoto...:

He's also helped with translations of a couple of key nuggets of info about the characters, which are on his blog, and over on the 'Fan.

We've got creepy stalker-boys, mousey CIA clerk by day with extreme kowai hito potential by night, well-connected schmoozer with a secret lab...

...Weird personal side note about that "Room 339" thing: back when I was an undergrad at RIT, my friends and I shared an apartment that was #343, which we nicknamed "Club 343". No, that's really not the same thing at all, but it was the first thing that popped into my head about.

And my office at work? #342. So you just know I'll be looking for doors marked with those two numbers if and when we see the inside of the CIA. *Sigh*

Saturday, March 10, 2007

April '07 NewType Japan article on "El Cazador"

Subject: Noir
Makoto helps out again and posts a scan of the latest NewType article about El Cazador: a handy-dandy translation of the "relationship diagram":

More information over on Bee Train Fan, of course.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Judge not, lest you be Judge'd

Subject: Cinema
I think the only reason I watched these two movies in a row is because I was thinking of the title I would put on the blog. Go figure...

Mike Judge is one of my inspirations. He worked as an engineer for a while before becoming an independent animator, doing a series of shorts that eventually led to his fame as the creator of "Beavis and Butthead" in the early 90's. I wasn't a particulary big fan of that series, though I had seen his one famous short, "Frog Baseball", on MTV's totally awesome "Liquid Television" shortly beforehand. Crude stuff, but very, very effective in it's storytelling and evocation of the characters. The epitome of "Keep It Simple, Stupid". Or, "Keep It Simple, Dumbass", if that were actually able to make a catchy acronym.

I've mentioned "King of the Hill" before -- it's Judge's long-running animated "slice of life" TV series. So totally underrated in a lot of ways, and almost always brilliant in it's portrayal of the accepted version of "normal" Americana, at least from a Texan point of view. Which, in a lot of ways, was exactly what "Beavis and Butthead" was about, thoug it was a tad over-the-top.

He broke out into the live-action cinema realm, however, with the late-90's cult classic "Office Space", which the recent remastered DVD release started this evening's watchin'. "Office Space" is an infinite source of hipster quotations and a fantastic source of my most sacred "Keep It Simple Stupid" philosophy regarding work and relationships.

As fucked up as it is.

Still, there's so much simple truth to derive from this simple corporate-work-a-day farce.

"What would you do with $1 million dollars?"
"Dude, 2 chicks at the same time!"
"You know what I would do -- besides 2 chicks at the same time that is... Absolutely nothing."
"Shit, my cousin don't do shit! And he's flat broke."

That little nugget of wisdom, and the various other bits, are fodder to my ongoing "mid-life crisis" that I have otherwise blamed on my recent anime habit.

But besides that, I got a chance to rent his latest, and least-distributed follow-on, "Idiocracy". This one he made a little while back, but it only got released in a tiny, tiny handful of theaters. It's a statement about sociology to the extent that that "Office Space" was a statement about corporate culture. Quite scathing, and very much on-target.

However, Fox pretty much buried it. It's cinematic release was about as tiny as it could be in this day and age. One of the Alamo Drafthouse locations was one of the only venues it managed to get regular play in (oooh, lordy, I love the notion of the Alamo Drafthouse, and it's almost enough to get me to move to Texas to experience it for myself!!)

The DVD release happened recently, and I snagged it via Netflix. It's rather chopped-up, definitely not a "director's cut", because Fox found a lot of it unsuitable to it's image. Seeing as they have Fox "News", and are part of the Rupert Murdoch NewsCorp empire, it's not much of a surprse that the most subversive elements of the film got sanded down to a mere stub of a satire.

Which is really sad. I don't actually think Mike Judge is a particular auteur in the medium, but I really do believe that he's capable of making a stinging bit of satirical entertainment. "Idiocracy" falls a tad short, despite it's imagination, because apparently he didn't quite manage to get final cut, so the studio got to dumb it down a bit. Damn, if that isn't totally ironic.

That said, it was quite a target to try to hit, this futuristic-dystopian-satire thing, so maybe he didn't actually hit it. That said, there's still a number of moments to take away from the experience that should still serve as a hilarious warning to all of humanity. "Ow My Balls". Is that really a only 500 years in our future? Or will Murdoch's Fox network bring that to us in the next 5 years?

(They kept the one bit of Fox News being hosted by a muscle-bound greased up torso dude and a typical blonde bimbo... maybe they didn't realize they were being spoofed there...)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New "El Cazador" trailer and episode info!! (Includes YouTube link)

Subject: Noir

First, links to the trailer... The official version is here.
...but it streams quite awfully for me. You'll have better luck on the new YouTube link here. (for as long as it lasts...)

On the "Story" page, there's synopsi about episodes 1 and 2; something about a diner or something. I'll look around for translations, but in the mean time, you can go over to the Forum and see what's up. Koveras posted what he's been able to dechipher.

Friday, March 02, 2007

An uninspiring week

Subject: TV
Actually, more like 2 weeks, I guess.

"Heroes" gets all darksided and cliffhangerly, but then ignores that and spends a week digging into the backstory a little, and it's amusing (and George Takei is back because of it), but it feels a little more claustrophobic than menacing. All sorts of wackiness promised for next Monday, though.

"Studio 60" has been preempted by a new show that I'm not bothering with.

"Galact-oh-yeah" has been on a soapbox-of-the-week sort of thing, which is fine, but it's not particularly epic. I figure that'll change soon.

I've been sampling a recent BBC show called "The State Within", which is kind of like "24: British Embassy Edition", but seems to be more of a button-pusher kind of drama about the subject matter as opposed to anything particularly nuanced. Might grow into it, might now. 3 episodes in and I'm losing momentum.

I've dropped "Stargate: Atlantis". I'm still working my way through old "Deep Space Nine" episodes when they bubble up on my Netflix queue. That'll probably last me a couple of years at this rate...

No "Rome" this week, but last week was an actual epic battle, and a few very interesting character-acting moments, particularly with the death of Cicero.

I've gotten a hold of a couple of seasons of the BBC archeology show "Time Team", which is really quite interesting, albiet a little dry. Still, it makes for an interesting distraction.