Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Noir Year's Eve

Well, after some time away, I'm returning to my "tradition" and watching the rest of Noir for New Year's Eve. I've even got some pasta-related program activities queued up for a MADLAX followup on New Year's Day. If I can make it... Don't know yet.

Past 'Eves have been marked by my inevetible "Posting While Intoxicated". And it may be that this evening is no exception. Though it really shouldn't be, considering that I'm supposed to give all that up. But the reality is, I don't know if any real change in lifestyle will avert my fate. And I remember my father's last words to me; the summary being that he wouldn't have given up all of his little pleasures if he knew it was going to end as quickly and badly as it did.

Poor justification, and not exactly a postive method for continuing down this path. But a little bit of Pinot Noir, a little bit of Samuel Smith's -- how can I not enjoy these things on special occasions while I'm still able to enjoy them? With Noir of all things??
I haven't been feeling well for a long time now, and now that I'm a bit better, I'm damn well not going to miss out on celebrating!

I've continued where I left off when I last thought I'd do this, and I've just finished our little journey to Taiwan. It's early, yet, and I'll probably finish up before the calendar rolls over. There have been a few very high quality animations released of late, and Noir is having a hard time living up to those. Yet, there's still the whole notion that it's greater than the sum of it's parts, that what it's doing is quite well constructed in its own right, that I'm not at all disappointed. After all these years of thinking and worry about that, I'm happy to say that I'm still enjoying it a great deal.

Let's hope that I feel the same in all of the "Noir" Year's to come!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Travelling...

Driving 6 hours east for a few days. No grand excursion planned, just a bit of simplicity.

I've still got writer's block, go figure. I don't think this break will change that too much, even though I've got a couple of little things I actually want to write about for once. We'll see.

Enjoy your Generalized Solstice Observances!

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Phantom" character designs

AnimeNation's blog links to a Dengeki Online article with character designs for Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~...




...and a few more. But gee, do they look familiar?

Phantom speculation over on the forum, as always.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Broken images

One of my older webhosts has gone and changed everything around, and now all the little icons and banners I've been using are hosed. Go figure.

Blogger doesn't make it easy to batch-edit, so I'm evaluating now if I just want to move this entire thing to my kineska.com holding place, or just fix up the images. Not that I really have time to deal with either.

Oh well, "pardon our dust" as they say...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

New Bee Train in 2009: "Phantom 〜Requiem for the Phantom〜"

Subject: Noir

I had been halfheartedly scanning my usual news sources for any hint of any kind of Bee Train news, and it turns out I completely missed it when it finally showed up. D'oh!

Forum member AlexShadow spotted this on ANN loooong before I did:

The January issue (on sale on December 10) of Kadokawa Shoten's Newtype magazine will announce that the multimedia studio Nitroplus and writer Gen Urobuchi are adapting their Phantom of Inferno visual novel software as a television anime series. Phantom 〜Requiem for the Phantom〜 will feature the director Koichi Mashimo and series script supervisor Yousuke Kuroda.

Yoshimitsu Yamashita, Mutsumi Sasakir, Yoko Kikuchi and other artists will adapt the game characters for anime. The anime studio Bee Train will be in charge of production. The original game was previously adapted in 2004 as a three-volume video anime series, Phantom - The Animation.


Yousuke Kuroda! Ah, that's excellent news! Hang on for more info as to whether or not we can expect a Yuki Kajiura soundtrack or not. Fingers crossed!

The official site isn't up just yet.

More Phantom anime news and speculation in the Forum...

UPDATE: Scan of the announcement; guess there's not much news there:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Accidental Retourist

Subject: Noir
Well, I can't say that I'm actually going to manage a full Noir marathon, but I'm through disc 2 already and I'm up for a little bit more, at least.

It all started when I decided to see if my new BluRay player would upconvert DVDs any better than my very 'spensive Denon would. The verdict is that it's very close. The audio is definitely lamer, but that's because it's depending on my cheaper amp to decode it, I figure. The picture isn't bad -- it doesn't comb at all, though it seems to lose a little bit of cohesion in the details. I think my 'spensive Denon is probably still the winner (until I get the super-'spensive Denon BluRay player... someday...)

Tech-weenie stuff aside, all I did was sample a couple of scenes from Noir that I knew were troublesome, and here I am about to get 3 discs into the thing. It must mean that it's been waaay too long since I watched it. Go figure.

And go figure that I have some pasta and pasta-related-program-activities on deck for a little more "Le Grande Retour" -ing... not that I'm committing to that course of action, but y'know, a little bit of MADLAX wouldn't hurt right about now either.

UPDATE: Well, go figure, but I started falling asleep right in the middle of Chloe's Big Hello (damn this no-caffiene regimin!), so a full-blown "Le Grande Rewatch" is currently non-operative. I might randomly pick through a few different episodes for old times' sake, but right now, I guess I'm just not up for it. Oh well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ashes on Mars

Subject: TV
I've been watching the American remake of Life On Mars this season, and I guess it's okay. It does a great job with the whole "period detail" like it's BBC predecessor, though it doesn't quite come across as believable. Mainly because the performances, though okay, feel a little to "earnest", like they're smirking at the in-joke themselves instead of letting the material do the smirking for itself.

It's still entertaining enough, and it has it's moments, but I had been feeling a little nostalgic about the original. And coincidentally, I somehow stumbled on a little bit of news I had totally missed: back in March, the BBC aired a sequel to Life On Mars called Ashes to Ashes! No wai!

Thanks to the power of the internets, I've just taken a peek at the first of the 8 episode season. And sure enough, it's 100% sequel. The police psychologist who interviewed Sam at the end of season 2 gets shot and sent back to 1981, with, you guessed it, Gene Hunt and the gang. In full 80's fashion and atmosphere. And music! (I have a crazy soft spot for that, go figure)

I'm travelling again this week (a little business, a little family), so I won't get a chance to watch more just yet, but I'm looking forward to the time that I can. Plus season 2 will be out sometime in 2009, so it won't be too long a wait to keep it going.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ch-ch-ch-changes...

Subject: Soapbox
Well, now that the hoopla is over with, and no matter how vague (or symbolic) you feel the campaign sloganeering central tenet of the victor actually is, you can pretty much guarantee that there will be "change" afoot. Maybe it will be good, maybe it will be imperceptible, maybe it will be totally mismatched with any expectations you've projected on to the outcome.

Just understand this: if there's any particular "change" that you want, just sitting back and hoping for it now that the election is done won't actually change anything. Being a lone voice sternly tapping keyboard keys on blogs and messageboards won't actually change anything. To get anything done, you'll have to join coalitions, form movements, inspire and lead others. You know, work at it.

For me right now, I'm a bit focused on personal changes. I'm considering dropping my long-held psuedonym and working future projects under my real name. My "branding" (as much as I loathe the term and it's ramifications) needs an overhaul and a focus. The "Kineska" brand in particular needs to find it's way back to something beyond drunken anime ranting.

Which will probably be easier to achieve, because health changes pretty much dictate that my PWI days are over. Besides this run-in with acid reflux, I've found out that I have likely inherited my father's liver condition. It's sitting there, dormant, like a bomb waiting to go off once I turn 50. Because this disease is so rare, there's no real solid proof that lifestyle and diet changes have any real effect. The damage may already be done. But knowing what I know about what it will be like after that bomb goes off, it seems like a no-brainer to me.

It's also going to focus me on something that has previously been an abstraction for me up to this year: health care. Now I join the legions of people with a "pre-existing condition", and that pretty much ties me to my job and my existing (and deteriorating) health insurance benefits. If I try to go indie, or switch careers, or lose my job otherwise (did I mention my company announced 3000 layoffs the other week?), then the likelihood of finding any kind of affordable coverage is substantially poorer. There are a lot of advantages my current coverage and access probably have over socialized and single-payer systems, but at the rate that's being eroded due to my company cutting it's expenses and commitments, that's not saying much. I'll have to do a lot of work evaluating the comparative risks.

Nothing's going to change overnight. But change must happen, because the alternatives are rather dire.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Home again home again

I took lots more pics yesterday until my camera battery ran dry. Walked up to Coit Tower (not by those dreadful steps, but it was still an excruciating climb nonetheless) then down to Fisherman's Wharf, then drove over to the Presido under the bridge.

I've got huge blisters on my feet. Made being stuck in an airplane for hours oh so much fun.

More later after I wind down and upload some more.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A few SF pics

Just a few pics for immediate sharing; I haven't had a chance to process any of 'em yet (plus I have a lot of panoramas to stitch together...). They all pop to the big originals.



There must be a Spider Rider around here somewhere...


The SF MOMA


One of the views from my hotel, at sunrise.


Sunset last night.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The streets of San Francisco

Subject: Musings
Well, I'm halfway through my trip, with my "work" part in San Jose all finished. With all the free food and booze, I think I may have overdone it a little -- though it doesn't take much for me to "overdo" it right these last couple of months thanks to the acid reflux.

Anyway, I get to switch from "free" to "'spensive", because I've just arrived in San Francisco. I'm checked into a clever Japanese-themed hotel in Japantown, which I'll have to post pictures of. It's amusing though stylish. And I didn't really pick it out of any Japanophile leanings, really! When I booked it, there was a special "free parking package" that will save me $40 a night. Plus, the location is pretty convienient. And it's surrounded by sushi places, yum!

I haven't solidified any plans for the next two days, but the SFMOMA is definitely on the list. And it's absolutely gorgeous out; warm, sunny, perfect. I'd probably be happy just hanging out in a park or two (which I did for sunset as I arrived; those pics soon as well).

Enough of that, off to find a little bit of dinner...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Michiko to Hatchin ep 1 first impression!

Subject: Noir
In between packing (and loading games on my laptop) for my trip, I managed to catch the Michiko to Hatchin raw. It's kind of low-res and a weak audio mix, but it was more than enough for a good preview.

There was a lot going on, though it was all very much over-the-top and easy enough to follow. I'm sure there's a lot of detail in the dialogue that went totally over my head, which left a couple of sequences confused to me, but on the whole, I think I'm really going to enjoy this one!

Especially if a hi-def version becomes available... because the art direction is probably the most outstanding aspect of the show. The raw was really crunchy, but you could tell that there's a lot of detail and color and care that will totally enrich the Brasil-based world onscreen.

The music was pretty much awesome throughout, with a melange of styles that went from the sort of latin-style that was expected, to some funky 70's exploitation beats that totally accentuate some of the over-the-top bits.

Voices, I'll have to give it another listen to judge. So far the common "complaint" is Hatchin sounds too mature. She sounds like Kino's VA to me (too lazy to check right now...). But I'm not distracted by that.

Story, I'll have to get the dialogue to get a better feel for it, but I'm pretty sure that it's pretty much working at the "fun romp" level, and is self-depricatingly using over-the-top tropes to move things along. It's working up a frothy stew of homage in every sequence, I'm sure. I expect it's going to be all about experiencing the individual moments -- journey-not-the-destination -- and I'm down with that. Oh yeah.

Animation, well, I'm a bit torn. I simultaneously love it and find it annoying. I love that they're overloading the motion and using lots of very expressive, lively poses. Somewhat more subdued sequences contrast nicely with the over-the-top exaggerated action. Very humorous. And did I mention expressive? Yes, yes I did.

But ugh, in a lot of scenes, their motion timing is really clunky. It's not particularly smooth motion to begin with, but like with Bounen no Xamdou, I don't mind that when there's actually a proper sense of weight and gravity to compensate for the lack of tweens. It's no Champloo in this department, that's for sure. Which is a bit dissappointing.

That said, supposedly there are other studios and animators who are involved in various episodes. The ED looks like it's a multi-animator "exquisite-corpse" sort of affair (which Masaaki Yuasa does a very Kaiba-looking segment for, I believe). And over time, I'm hoping it will improve. But for now, it's not a show-stopper.

If it were better, though, I'd be a raving obsessive lunatic over this show. It would do no wrong by me. Heh.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Michiko to Hatchin has aired, OP on the 'Tube

Subject: Noir
A non-low-res raw recently showed up, but looks like it'll take forever to download. Not sure when I'll get to see it.


But here's the OP, at least!

It's all just little bits of history repeating...

Subject: Soapbox
Looks like we're partying like it's 1873.

There were many such "panics" throughout our industrialized history, culminating in the Great Depression, after which a system of regulations and standards kept us relatively stable and growing for an unprecidented period of time -- as lousy as some of our recessions had been, they weren't anything like a full scall "panic" like the old days.

And go figure, attempting to dismantle and circumvent the regulatory legacy of the Depression just brings us back to the kind of damaging cycles that cause normal people the most problems. With luck, we're not that far gone yet, but the similarity to 1873 is really, really eerie, isn't it?


(Next week I'll be in California... I hear there's fruit pickin' jobs there, so I have that going for me, which is nice...)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Never going to get to retire...

Subject: Musings
Gotta remember that markets are cyclical and having a cushion of savings should get me through a rough patch, but I'm starting to wonder if I could have ever saved enough for what might be coming...

...even if what's coming is an awesome buying opportunity... Oh well.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Status Check

Subject: Musings
Yeah, yeah, I'm still around. Not much going on blogworthy.

Still watching Chiko: Daughter of Twenty Faces, though it's in a semi-lame lull. New eps were just subbed and I'll see if I'm at the end this weekend. Blade of the Immortal isn't doing a lot for me, and the amount of time between available episodes is killing any tiny bit of enthusiasm. Oh well. Bounen no Xamdou is hanging in there, but the subbed releases seem to show up at weird times, so I can't keep a regular pace with it. Still enjoying it though.

My Netflix rentals have been continuing the old-skool Gundam, Patlabor and soon Bubblegum series. Nothing much to say about those yet, though I'm thinking through some ideas. They do go on and on, though...

Looking forward to Michiko no Hatchin, of course. And on regular TV, the return of Heroes and Pushing Daisies pretty much round that out. Maybe I'll see what ABC does with Life On Mars, but that's about all that's caught my attention for the upcoming season.

The Middleman ended a little while back on an amusing "alternate universe" episode (complete with goatees), and it's a worthy show for passing the time, if you don't try to get too deep with it. The sheer amount of geek references flying by make me realize that I'm probably missing half the jokes, but I'm certainly getting some of the good ones. I haven't heard if it's getting another season, or a real network airing, or what. I'll keep my ears open.

Part of my lack of "internet presence" lately has been just general work stress and a bit of physical distress (likely related). I was thinking that I was prematurely developing warning signs for heart trouble, but as I've found out this week, it's more likely acid freakin' reflux. *relief*. I've had plenty of heartburn in the past, but this wasn't anything like it. Sure enough, though, I think the doctor might be right. Even if (I swear) he's as young as my little brother! Since when are doctors younger than you?? I'm getting old. *frown* That said, I haven't had caffeine or alcohol in nearly two weeks and I'm getting really, really grumpy. Bleh.

In another month, I'm going to a conference in San Jose, and following that up with 3 nights vacation in San Francisco. Anybody got any recommendations (brewpubs, local specialties, attractions)? The Cartoon Art Museum sounds neat, though I'm going to miss their "Pixar" day. Oh well. MOMA and the Anchor Steam Brewery are high on my list as well.

Friday, August 29, 2008

5 Dissappointments per Second

Subject: Noir
That's a bit of an unfair title, because I was looking forward to Makoto Shinkai's 5 Centimeters Per Second. Like I said then, his "simple and elegant" approach is definitely something I like quite a bit.

At the very begining of it, I started to get a bit concerned, because there were these interminably long still sequences with only the littlest, tiniest bit of animation. You'd think that as a Bee Train Fan, I'd be more understanding, but in the context of a Shinkai theatrical, I was expecting a tad more. That said, when there was character animation, it was quite compently done, so I didn't really have a problem when all was said and done.

Well, except in the ending.

Everything else was meticuoulously rendered and quite beautifully drawn. There's a level of mundane=fascinating detail in Shinkai's work that's totally signature for him. And for the bulk of the movie(s), the languid pace and the deliberate character exposision was quite nice and very emotional.

But the very end, where it suddenly decides to close on some kind of hack-edited AMV of the movie thus far, where the cuts were to the rhythm and there were little to no new shots to see; that really stuck in my craw. Especially when the whole thing suddenly ended right there without any hint of resolution.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Deep Thought™

Subject: Noir
Bee Train produced Blade of the Immortal so I would nostagically miss El Cazador...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Michiko to Hatchin" plot translation

Subject: Noir
The "Iwa ni Hana" blog has a bit of translation from the Michiko to Hatchin official site. Worth a read.

Monday, August 18, 2008

New trailer for "Michiko to Hatchin" kicks ass!

Subject: Noir
It's a tiny little movie that is dwarfed on my big-screen TV, so I had to move over to my desktop to get a good look at it... and it's awesome! Here, I'll blow it up a little for ya:




Get the Flash Player to see this player.





The first trailer was more of a stylish tone-setter; this one actually has quite a lot of footage. Well, rapidly-cut snippets of footage, but there's enough there to see that the character animation and cinematics are going to be everything I could have hoped for. The art & design that's hinted at on the official site is definitely carried through in the footage as well, and some of the moments of action and reaction that are teasingly flashed in tiny bites are promising of real, engaging character portrayals.

October? Can't wait!

Monday, August 11, 2008

"El Cazador" licensed by FUNimation?

Subject: Noir
ANN reports:
"Last week, Funimation exercised a power-of-attorney agreement to remove online fansubbed videos of Monochrome Factor, Nabari no Ou, and Katekyo Hitman Reborn! (pictured at right) on behalf of d-rights, the Japanese production company of these anime titles. Funimation and d-rights' agreement also covers Bamboo Blade and El Cazador de la Bruja."

...but:
"The power-of-attorney agreement does not necessarily mean that these titles have a North American video distributor, but the agreement does enforce d-rights' existing worldwide copyrights for these series."


So it doesn't quite mean it's licensed, just that the Japanese license owner is looking to reassert control.

But the likelyhood is a lot higher. FUNi, though?

Friday, August 08, 2008

"Kaiba"-thon

Subject: Noir
That was f*ing brilliant.

I was holding out until the last sub of Kaiba was done before finishing it, and now that I've seen it, I can't even begin to figure out how to comment on it.

For tonight, I dialed back to the episode with Patch, which I adore for it's raw energy and wonderfully simple little story. Kaiba as a whole gets a little more convoluted and a tad more involved after that point as well, because we start to get a glimpse into the reality of that nutty little universe the show is based in.

And "nutty" it remains, in that if you were to attempt to describe this show's purpose in rational terms, you'd fail, and fail hard. It's all in the wonderful expressions and reactions of the characters toward each other, and it culminates in an unparalleled love story... at least in anime terms.

The beauty and purity of the expression of the characters, the simplicity and the universality of the themes therin, totally make the otherwise surreal (or "dada"??) universe a mere setting for feeling the emotion that ensues. Who cares about the technical details? This is a love story, and the purity of heart that is expressed feels as genuine as anything I've seen drawn at 24fps (give or take).

This is an impressive (and probably unlicensable) work, and I stand in awe of it's execution. Hopefully Ben over on his Anipages will fill in the gaps that I'm incapable of, and round out the credit to the talent that's involved.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Xam'd" if you do, "Xam'd" if you don't

Subject: Noir
That show that Studio Bones was hyping back in the spring as "better than Star Wars", Bounen no Xamdou, is finally out. In fact, from what I can gather, it's been released in North America first under the title "Xam'd Lost Memories". And via a "Playstation exclusive", at that.

So while it's not legit for me to be taking a peek at the 720p fansubs that magically appear on my harddrive, I figured I'd see if it was, in fact, "all that". And, y'know, it's pretty neat!

At first glance, it's kind of a mashup of Eureka 7 and Laputa, Castle in the Sky (at first I was thinking Last Exile...), but with a little sprinkling of something like Rahxephon, for a little bit of that big organic monster flavor. The designs are very strong and detailed, and the world they are in promises to have a number of well-envisioned nooks and crannies to uncover.

The characters are, to the most part, very well animated. I say "for the most part", because they're really skimping on the 'tweens in this one. There's great key poses and motion followthrough on different levels, and an excellent grasp of gravity and weight in the motion, as well as a sufficient bit of that great "spark of life" I like so much. But the skimping-out really shows a lot of the time, and it amplifies the mediocre cuts where maybe a less-skilled animator is taking a turn.

But when there's a good animator, like in the action scenes (of course), it's got a great natural feel and flow, and dead-on timing.

The characters and performances in general are still a little thin, but I like the potential. There's going to be a number of mild annoyances in many of them, but on the whole, considering it's going to be Yet Another Schoolkid Saves The World show, it's not off to a bad start. I guess I should actually make an effort to find out how to get ahold of this legitimately; I think it'll be worth the money.

(...not the "buy a Playstation 3 just to watch it money", of course...)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

"Michiko to Hatchin" official site updated

Subject: Noir
...alas, no release date yet. On the "News" page there's a link to Manglobe's job listings, so they probably need more help over there to get it out the door. Heh.

Now if I only knew what it said on there...

I loved the style of the earlier trailer, and there's a lot of detail in the various designs (the Flash splashpage shows different combinations of costumes and backgrounds if you reload the page, though I was only able to see 3 of them after many tries *cough*)

These little tidbits still have me encouraged. I hoping it'll be fun and stylish and competently-crafted; and if there happens to be a little quality storytelling with it, all the better!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Gatchaman-Batman"

Subject: Noir
An update: I got a hold of the BluRay for Gotham Knight and sure enough, the "Field Test" episode was produced by Koichi Mashimo at Bee Train.

I haven't watched the whole thing yet, and only quickly watched that segment (and the credits) with the commentary track on.

A couple of things to look for:

- Bruce Wayne as a young man who looks like a cross between Carroseur Doon from MADLAX and Orpheus from Meine Liebe... no, really...

- The special Bat-armor he's testing looks like something straight out of some sort of post-modern Gatchaman. No, really!

Anyway, I'll probably have the chance to watch more closely this weekend. Discussion in the Gotham Knight thread in the Bee Train Fan forum, of course.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Batman: Gotham Knight" anime short done by Bee Train?

Subject: Noir
I came across a couple of reviews when scanning Google News for any "Bee Train" alerts. Details of what I found are on the thread in Bee Train Fan forum, but to sum up:

- Hiroshi Morioka (.hack, Tsubasa) directed the "Field Test" segment (which ANN says has a "bishonen Bruce Wayne"... *chortle*)
- Only two reviews actually say it's Bee Train; there's nothing on their official site or ANN (ANN says Production I.G. was one of the production companies)

Anyway, looks like I'll have to rent it sooner than later so I can confirm for myself.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"Blade of the Immortal" debuts

Subject: Noir
...and I forgot all about it! *sigh*

Anyway, I'm back to work today and won't have a chance to watch it for a little while. In the meantime, the OP was posted to the 'Tube:



So far on Animesuki, it's mostly complaints, go figure. Watching the blood-spatters and angst in this blurry little OP doesn't exactly inspire me just yet, either, but I'll comment more when I get to give it a go. Bee Train Fan discussions in the forum, of course.

Update: On first impression, nothing changes too much in my opinion. Dark, bleak, and rather bloody. Though not all-out gut-splattering gore, still a lot of spatter.

Seeing that this is a co-production with Production I.G., I kept trying to refrain from prejudging any particular shot as having the same kind of soulless look that Otoshi Zoshi had. I'd bet that if I were to go shot-by-shot and say "Bee Train", "IG", I'd probably get every single one wrong.

One thing it's got going for it is that it's far, far from "generic". It's very graphically strong, composed of a near-infinite blend of dreary grays and sepia shading, but punctuated by strong, saturated colors. Mostly reds so far, though interestingly, not so much the blood, which is rather dark. More the flowers, the kimono, the Avenger-esque red moon.

Effects are quite slick, as well, with a myriad of blade glows and light patterns and action montages. Camerawork is almost restrained in a Mashimo piece, though there's some experimentation around some of the "off-camera" slicing 'n dicing that kind of flew by too fast to make much impact on me just yet.

Dialouge animation is kind of stiff and some of the framing is a bit flat in those sequences. And there's a lot of dialouge. In fact, I suspect that once I see a translation, there may be a few "lighter", more humorous moments to help break up the overall dreariness. The one reaction shot where the lead jumps up and hits his head makes me suspect that some of his lines beforehand may have been wisecracks of some sort. We'll see.

I'm hoping there's a true HDTV release for this, as the muddiness would benefit from more detail and less compression. I'm also going to need to pay close attention to details in the background and settings, as there has reportedly been a lot of research and focus on those elements such that my lack of exposure to Japanese history and culture would put me at a symbollic disadvantage.

At any rate, I'm in for the long haul with this one, no matter what.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Watch now: Persepolis

Subject: Cinema
I pre-ordered the Blu-Ray release of Persepolis sight unseen, because I figured it would be good. I was wrong.

It was out. fucking. standing.

If all you've really watched in animation is anime, be prepared to be shocked by a true sense of depth, expression, and storytelling that you've probably rarely seen. As a long-time conneseur of animation, I was rapt with joy.

And yet, that was only the smallest part of just how wonderful this film was.

Ben @ Anipages reviewed Persepolis way back when it was released to theaters a while back, and I purposely tried to avoid reading what he had to say at the time, though I caught the following tidbits:

Persepolis is the best film I've seen in animation in a while.


Aside from Kaiba, this is dead-on! But then there's this bit:

Watching the film, I was appalled by how anime in contrast seems utterly devoid of sincere expression of the sort I felt in every simple composition in each shot of this film. They weren't simply running frantically in a hamster wheel to catch up with a card-deck of pre-chewed expressive symbols and predictable dramatic cliches. They had a very interesting story to tell that created its own arc, and a very unusual but appealing and original design ethos to do so with that was throughout visually compelling and helped the story speak what it needed to say, without being bogged down in pointless photorealism or allowing things to get distracted by stylistic handstands. On a technical note, perhaps it was just my imagination, but I wondered why the characters seemed to suddenly move with much more richness and nuance during the scenes in which they where in silhouette.

If there was ever a distinct, concise and accurate description of why mass-produced anime has generally been dismissed by Western enthusiasts and critics, this is likely why. It's not Ben's imagination; not by a long shot. The visuals, though simple, are graphically strong, emotionally crafted, and very personal. And above all, the truth from the point-of-view of the author.

For a yankee like me, it's a little-seen perspective. And that admittedly adds a layer of fascination to the story. But it's still so human and honest and universal that you can't help but being drawn to these series of drawings. "Compelling" is the most accurate thing about it.

It's simple and beautiful and real and amazing.

It's all the more serious and poignant and relevant right now because of the heated US rhetoric about Iran and the possibility of immediate war and destruction. The story details the perspective of "the other side" during the Iranian revolution of the late 70's that gripped us in a stupid, nationalistic fervor (I am, and have been, embarressed by my pre-teen ignorance back in those days), and the fact that it's all coming back with a vengance, without any perspective or just-cause, is all the more alarming. Persepolis, if anything, shows the human side of history over there. It's easy to apply some sort of un-informed simplistic rhetoric on the situation we face today, but without an accurate undersanding of the past, the history, and the people, there's only bad news in our future if we ignore the reality of the situation.

And, for some reason, I'm drawn to be political about the subject. The film isn't political in a contemporary sense, outside of the whole perspective of the time it took place -- where it's quite simply political, totally in it's own context. How could it not be? The whole period from the revolution onward is an extremely political act, with conflicting and passionate philosophies in play. Watching them as they play out on a very young, naive girl; and how they affect every step of her development (from aquiring black-market Iron Maiden tapes to living homeless in Vienna) is a personal and important reflection on just how much we don't understand the reality "on-the-ground" over there, and just how much the real human lives over there are like us, and always have been. When the film is done, the politics aren't the important part, and yet the awfulness of the repressive regime hangs heavy over everything. That's not the key -- the key is that there are humans with lives and dreams and they party and "life finds a channel to fill" despite everything.

All in a rapid sequence of simple drawings. That's the miracle of animation, that's the miracle of cinema that keeps me searching, and brings me bliss.

If you're going to go over-the-top, might as well have fun!

Subject: TV
The last ep of Doctor Who finally aired on the BBC last week. And it will probably be the last regular airing for a while, as next year it's being taken over by the writer of some of the better episodes, and they're only going to have a handful of "specials".

The cliffhanger for the next-to-last episode was the usual fun jaw-dropper, but the finale itself was a bit silly (to be kind). But fer crying out loud, it's Doctor Who, not some sort of high-drama! The silliness and scenery-chewing and triumph is all part of the entertainment package. A little eye-rolling now and then doesn't hurt it overall.

Especially when it's obvious that everyone involved is having a blast doing it. It's infectious. It's a blast to watch. If it were a live show at the theatre, it would bring the house down.

There's another little silly bit of potential-fun that just started on one of the lesser corners of cable TV. It's called The Middleman, and it's kind of a cross between Get Smart (the classic Mel Brooks TV show, of course), Pushing Daisies, and Torchwood (but in a good way. No really!).

I'm not convinced that they're having the same kind of "fun", but it's definitely a bit over the top. Slightly-geeky hipster gal gets a job as a sidekick to a goody-two-shoes "fixer" of comic-book-worthy problems. Lots of straightforward cliche-slinging and attempt obscure-reference-dropping. "Frank Herbert Middle School" was amusing, but "J.R. 'Bob Dobs' Memorial Airport" was quite a snarky coup, I thought. A rival gang of Mexican wrestlers, replete with masks. Funny.

It's dumb fun, but it's been tottering closer to the "dumb" side on occasion. The writing is that same kind of self-aware patter that Pushing Daisies was pushing, and for all I know (and I'm too lazy to check), there's some crossover there (it's airing on "ABC Family", so it's all from the Disney Corp.)

It's probably, ultimately, a waste of time, but I'm not figuring on watching it religiously. The barrier-to-entry for downloading shows like that is really low, and sometimes wasting a little time is just what the neurons ordered. And if it's fun, well, bonus!

Chiko - The Daughter of Twenty Anime Titles

Subject: Noir
So the summer anime season is just getting underway, and I have a tiny bit to say about that; which I'll do a bit later. The spring season didn't yield all too much for me, despite a few interesting titles back at the start.

That said, I've stuck with one other show besides the incredibly awesome Kaiba -- but it goes by a few names and I'm not entirely sure what I should refer to it as besides "Chiko", the lead character. "Daughter of Twenty Faces"? "Heiress of the Phantom Thief"? Depending on the translation, it's one of those.

Anyway, I wound up giving it a go based on Bee Train Fan member Section_8's quick review in the forum:
the above series features a young Japanese girl in the lead role who is, in many respects, what Kirika would have become if Altena had taken Prozac: a brilliant, charming young woman who can flip out like a ninja and has one heck of a traumatic upbringing. Best part of it is you actually get to see her BECOME this woman, because the show starts when she's 10 and ends (by the looks of it) when she's 18. I'd almost go so far as to say that this is an alternate universe Noir where instead of being raised by the Soldats Kirika's adopted by Lupin crossed with Roger from the Big O.


...and it turns out that Chicko is a lot like a young, 1940's alternate-universe Kirika from Noir. And watching certain shots, certain expressions -- there's a case to be made that if the animators & designers didn't watch Noir specifically, they probably watched it a lot. There's a few shots here and there that seem like a direct like-for-like lift -- well, homage for certain. They're fleeting, quick moments, but they're convincing evidence (watch Chiko jump over a wall in the episode after she returns to "normal" life).

Of course, the design and the expressions and whatnot aren't exactly unique to anime, and Chiko and Kirika could rather be descended from a common ancestor, is all.

The animation in general is kind of generic, though. The details are rather flat and simplistic. The ancillary characters are often cliche and annoying. But because this draws on a classic series of fictional novels, the stories themselves aren't bad, and there aren't too many punches pulled with respect to violence and death. Not that it's some sort of gore-fest, mind you; but people die and the enemies are actually dangerous - ingredients that rather betray the apparent youthful demographic it's aimed at.

I guess overall, there's nothing all that special about it beyond those two hooks. And it won't take too much to make me drop it, though it's managed to skirt the edge and keep up reasonable episodic stories. It makes a good replacement "Sunday breakfast" show for me, which I've been missing for a while now. Fansub releases aren't all that predictable, though, so it hasn't quite worked out as a regular thing for me yet. No biggie.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Galact-oh-Who-boy-howdy!

Subject: TV
For some reason, the definition of a "season" in television has become a warped and unpredictable thing. I think it was The Sopranos that proved to the suits that you can take a show, make it dissappear after a handfull of episodes for many many months (a year and a frackin' half in some cases), and still get an audience to return.

Battlestar Galactica just aired their "midseason finale", whatever the frack that's supposed to mean. In that they've basically dropped a huge cliffhanger on us and won't be back with the rest of the "season" until 2009.

They keep doing this! It's frustrating.

Okay, seriously, I don't really feel any outrage over it, because it's just one of those things. I got over it with The Sopran [delibrate dead air] and with the last time Glalact-oh-yeah pulled this. But what's going to happen is that months will go by and I'll have forgotten what happened and will have a tiny, tiny bit of "don't care" starting to take over.

...And if by some miricale the resumption occurs during a point in time that I actually manage to find a life, that "don't care" will likely mean that I won't be tuning in. Ah well. Like that's gonna happen...

I've got to admit though, that last bit of buildup to the bombshell they dropped was mighty entertaining. Heh.

Also mighty-entertaining is, of course, the only other live-action show I'm watching, Doctor Who. Here in the 'States, it looks like most everybody is only a couple of weeks behind via the SciFi Network for a change. But I still can't resist grabbing it from the 'nets the moment it's done airing over there.

This season is probably "more of the same" and all, but "the same" is a lot of fun. A little bit of cheese, a little bit of horror, and the riveting presence of David Tennant makes this both endearing and watchable despite the contrivances. It's silly stuff, but it's got these little hints of darkness and mystery that only Tennant's over-the-top expressions can truly engage you with.

As a comparison, thanks to Netflix, I've been occasionally watching some classic Tom Baker episodes from a long, long time ago. His presence was, at the time, considered quite engaging and riveting as well, and to an extent, it still is. But the whole thing is very, very dated and a little difficult to watch these days. Still quality work, but low-budget cheese is deep and thick, and the supporting cast's over-the-top BBC-Shakespearian stageplay-with-rubber-suits seems even more quaint when compared to this post-modern remix. Much the way the original Battlestar pales to the new.

Of course, even the BBC isn't immune to the extended inter-season delay syndrome -- after this season is done, there's going to be a changing of the guard (the writer of some of the best episodes is taking over) and there won't be any new episodes for quite a long time. A shame, but probably a well-deserved break.

Anyway, when it's done, I'll likely be done with live TV for quite a while. I suppose there's new Heroes episodes arriving someday, but I think I don't care anymore. Maybe, just maybe, I'll try and see if I missed anything when I skipped Lost. But beyond that, nothing's on the horizon for me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"El Cazador" licensed... in Germany?

Subject: Noir
According to this month's German anime fan magazine Animania, El Cazador de la Bruja has been licensed by a company called Anime-Virtual in Germany.

(h/t ligbi and Koveras for spotting and translating the info)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer Blogging Test Drive

Subject: Musings
I've got this spiffy new Lenovo X61T tablet PC that's small, lightweight, and has great battery life. But I hardly use it.

Today's the first warm day I can sit with it out on my deck and give it a try. I'm writing this by hand, directly on the screen. The handwriting recognition isn't too bad, but it's got its quirks. The entry widget helps a lot with a quick interface for correcting some of my sloppier scribblings, but on the whole, it's surprising what it does recognize.

That said, it's taking far too long to scribble this, and my hand is starting to hurt. *Sigh* I think I'll save the pen for sketching and flip over to the keyboard for blogging. I blog infrequently enough lately, it shouldn't cause me pain as well!

(Fun fact: The handwriting recognition keeps thinking "blogging" is "flogging" . Or "dogging'. And "flogging" is "flossing". Grrr.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Four years, huh?

Subject: Musings
Blogiversary time again. Hard to believe it's been four years since my first post.

And hard to believe that the Animestuff-R "The Music of Noir" page is still there. I wonder if they're still playing that stream?

I wish I could promise that I'm going to turn a corner and try to get back into the observational groove and write more often. I've actually been watching quite a few different things lately. But aside from Kaiba, they're more or less the same ol' same old. I think I'm just about out of anime. I'm dipping into the old-skool right now with Gundam,Patlabor, and Macross, which I enjoy, but don't have anything insightful to say about them. Galact-oh-yeah is kicking arse, but it'll be short-lived and "to-be-continued" sometime in another year; hardly worth the emotional investment.

I'm trepidatiously* standing at the edge of a cliff, looking to dive into a new realm and take my efforts to a new level. First I've got to overcome my fear of "sucking at something". Which is ironic, seeing as I suck at this already.




(*Yes, that really is a word!)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Two weeks, huh?

Subject: Musings
I totally suck.


(If I actually did go off and spend the last two weeks playing GTA4, I'd at least have an excuse. *sigh*)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Is it wrong...

Subject: TV
...that I'm tempted to run out and buy a PS3 so I can play GTA4?

I've got "Vice City" for the PC, but I had given up on it after about an hour of frustration because I couldn't drive the stupid cars effectively. It seemed like kind of a waste to not be able to do that. And I'm not all that much a gamer -- when the controls or the gameplay mechanisms interfere with the playability and the escapism, I just lose interest too quickly.

Seeing as I just spent a tidy sum on a TabletPC (amusingly enough, something that's mocked on the GTA4 in-game internet), I should probably just concentrate on saving up my remaining pennies for the upcoming food shortages and economic meltdown or something...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Power was out...



...frighteningly accurate. *sigh*

Actually, I was getting ready to leave the house, when the power, which had been out for a couple of hours, suddenly came back on. I was literally about to put my shoes on.

Now back to my regularly scheduled programming. Yay for that.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Kaiba" episode 3: Words fail me...

Subject: Noir
...and not because of my chronic writer's block!

I'm watching these raw the moment I get them, because there's so much going on visually and audibly that, though there's a lot more exposition in the dialogue, and I have no freakin' idea what the dialouge is saying, there's plenty to experience and revel in.

And in the sense that episode 2 went and flipped any notion of "kiddie show" on it's ear by going a bit extra-suggestive, episode 3 goes and does it and flips that one on it's ear as well, by becoming a very touching, personal little bit of drama. The key scenes hardly have any dialouge at all, and you can follow them quite clearly. And if you're not misting up even just a tiny bit by the (perfectly-executed) closing scene... well...

Anyway, wow! I adore this show. I'm exceedingly impressed. This isn't just some "anime series", this is international film-festival quality animation and story. And I don't know what more to say.



UPDATE: Words don't fail Ben at Anipages of course... (The best part is how he's able to ID the animators themselves -- so many names to learn!)

UPDATE 2: Ben's comments on episode 3 as well; not to be missed!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Blade of the Immortal" -- official trailer on the site

Subject: Noir
Blade of the Immortal hasn't been getting a lot of buzz just yet as everyone's preoccupied with the new season's premieres, but on a whim I took a peek at the official site...

The official trailer from TAF is up!

Quite a bloody, moody, murky bit. Some really strong animation, though.

The usual character design profiles are there as well, not to mention the airdate of July 13th @ 24:00 (That means July 14th at midnight, right? I can never remember...)

More commentary when I get some time to pay attention to it.



UPDATE: Sure enough, it's on YouTube, too:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Kaib-huh??

Subject: Noir
Just as I was about figuring to turn in last night, I saw that the raw for episode 2 of Kaiba was available, and that it was downloading pretty fast. "Why not?" I thought. "I've only got 100 things to do for work first thing in the morning, what's a little indulgence?"

That's really the only thing that kept me from posting about it right away; it was getting too late. That, and... this show is quite a brainful.

This episode relies a little more on expositionary dialouge than the first, though the strong and surreal visuals tell stories unto themselves. But most striking about this episode is that, if you had any notions that this was a "kid's show", those are totally undermined. Holy cow!

I mean, it's not like it got all tentacles-and-hentai or anything; aside from some occasional bummery and overdeveloped mammary-ery, it was the actions and expressions that were more adult-oriented than anything gratuitious. Maybe the dialogue, but who knows? Still, wow. It leads to a bit of mental dissonance to try and put together the cutesy style with the subject matter, even though it hints at it in episode 1.

And it makes it hilarious that way.

And a little baffling at first. The visuals lead you to realize that our little hole-in-the-chest amnesiac is actually in another body -- his own body having been taken over for, um, a little action. A blurb of exposition before the OP describes how it happens in this world, but it's a little odd and out of character at first to see him apparently eager for duty, as it were.

There's a progression of weird and fantasical things that happen, and I'm sure even with translations, some of it will retain an amount of surreal bafflement. But there are sequences, subtle and otherwise, that are absolutely a joy to watch. Keep your eyes on one scene where the outspoken girl that our alternate-bodied hero ("Warp", he's been called, apparently) has met is at one of the ship's portals, toying with these little golden organic thingies (they're explained in the dialogue) clinging to the outside of the glass -- when they slip off and whoosh away, her hand hesitates and retracts with such a fluid, subtle but overpoweringly expressive gesture. It makes the animator in me all tingly to see how much attention was paid to such a simple little scene. *grin*

Ben over on AniPages is predictably all over this show:

I've just watched the first episode of Masaaki Yuasa's new series, and I'm still coming off from the blissful high of a new dose of Yuasa's unstoppable, mad genius. I had little doubt that I would be in for something quite unexpected, perfectly warped, strangely beautiful, and very imaginative, and this first episode doesn't disappoint on any of those counts. It renews my faith in animation, and in anime in particular, at a time when I was finding myself growing impatient with the form.

Emphasis mine on that last bit, because that rings true to my heart as well. Part of why I'm sure I've been so irritable and unable to find the muse to post is that there just hasn't been anything interesting left to watch. Denno Coil was the last to do it for me.

I'm looking forward to seeing some translations finally. But I don't think I'm going to hold my breath for any eventual domestic licensing of this one -- it's totally out there to the point it would have to attract the attention of some other patron who'd bring it over for the love of it -- there's probably nothing marketable or even remotely accessable about this one. But wow, is it good!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The best animated show in 2008, no contest: "Kaiba"

Subject: Noir
So far only the raw has made it out since yesterday's airtime, but the first episode of Kaiba, even without being able to understand the dialogue, is all I could have hoped for and more.

Here's the OP:


The style and design is definitely retro-inspired. The expressions, the little hints in the animation, are all straight out of the 60's. But they're all executed with modern technology and modern capabilities with high definition and high fidelity in mind. And my eyes were wide and my jaw in the dropped position through the whole thing.

Okay, it's definitely quirky. There's some bits of stilted pacing and storyline that, if I weren't drooling over the retro-awesomeness and wonderful, whimsical liveliness and imagination, I'd be wincing a bit. Primarily because there was some narrative behind it that I wasn't able to hear. It's all got to be just as surreal and baffling as the visuals, but with it missing, it didn't hold up on it's own as well as all the other scenes.

That raw, soulful energy and authenticity in every line and brushstroke are still delightful, even when you could plainly see some "digital" shortcuts and convieniences. And the long list of Korean 'tweeners in the credits does little to dissuade the impression that this is a deeply intimate, personal execution; a lovingly-keyed classical homage to the legendary craftsmen that founded what we now know as "anime".

Confession time: I still haven't made it very far through Kemonozume, and only halfway through Mind Game. And it's not because I don't think they're well done; to the contrary, I think they're brilliantly well done. But, well... they're ugly! The art is raw and alive and full of energy, but there's a lot of gross and shocking and, well, the other raw, that I really have to be in the mood for, and can't really do to much of in one sitting. Yuasa definitely "gets it", though. I just need a little more time to work through his other works.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"Red Garden" meets "Kamichu", and the first Roundup of the spring season

Subject: Noir
One show that wasn't on my radar, but got there when I saw a couple of quick reviews, was Kure-nai. Turns out, it's the director and designer from Red Garden behind the scenes at the studio (Brains Base) that did Kamichu. The artwork for the promotionals and the somewhat quirky plot description about a teenage boy becoming the bodyguard of an 8 year old girl really didn't say "watch me" to me. Go figure. But reading that Red Garden tidbit was enough to make me curious.

And sure enough, it would seem to be a cross between the two shows -- The dark horror edge and extreme character designs are absent, but there's still a harder, serious grownup edge and a natural, unique character style and animation to what is otherwise a show centered around a couple of kids. It's also got a bit of that improvisational edge to the dialogue, with the overlapping and whatnot, which leads me to believe that they're doing it western-style like they did with RG. The first episode is a bit of a narrative mess, though, as they really rush through the backstory and character introductions in a way that barely leaves time to set a hook; relying solely on the unconventionally dark and/or cynical confrontations to imprint impressions on you. Then it levels out a little at the end, almost anticlimatically, but not really in a bad way. It looks like it's worth giving it a few more to see where it's going.

That one was subbed already, but I picked out a couple of raws as well to see if they stood a chance of being watchable.

To continue the theme, Himetsu Top Secret seems to be Meine Liebe meets The Bourne Identity, but pretty much in the "bad way" (as if there could be a "good way"). The production quality seems adequate, but it's pretty much like I figured: yaoi-y borefest. I suppose the only thing it had going for it would be that there weren't any damn schoolkids in it, and I suppose if I stuck with it, there might be a decent spy story behind it or something, but otherwise, not my style.

If Tim Burton watched Gurren Lagaan and decided to make an anime, it would probably be Soul Eater. Though it wasn't on my radar either, I saw the trailer, and that was enough of a hook to get me to take a look. Sure enough, the visuals are quite striking and rather imaginative, and the overall art direction is tight and well-crafted. The characters have a decent spark to them, and some of them might be rather enjoyable to watch. The animation in the action sequences is quite excellent, and the pacing is well executed.

But then it goes and devolves into that same ol' cliche manga-toony slapstick that really gets on my nerves when there isn't anything else to balance it out for me. And unlike the zaniness in Gurren, the rest of this one was kind of flat for me. It may partly be because of the lack of translation, but I think mostly because it's not really trying to be anything more than a generic fighting show, albeit with a high budget. That said, there's some characters in the previews that I want to see, and maybe, just maybe, I can overcome my irritation. I kind of doubt it, but since it's decently crafted otherwise, there's the slightest chance it might.

Allison to Lillia is supposedly Kino's Journey meets... oh, I dunno, Porco Rosso or something, but really, it's not much of either. I dont' understand Japanese, but I can swear that for the first half of it, I have seen the exact same annoying scenes over and over again. With one difference: the character animation, while mostly a bit stiff and under-tweened, had some rather subtley-natural poses and gestures during key sequences. Kind of like with Emma And from about the middle or so, it seemed like there might actually be an interesting story buried in there somewhere. Or at least the potential for one. So, I guess it's worth keeping my eye on just a little longer.

Finally, the Ghost in the Shell series meets, uhh... Jacques Cousteau or something -- that is to say, Production IG's big-budget production of Shirow's cyberscubapunk* latest: Real Drive (aka "RD Sennou Chousashitsu"). And sure enough, it's got all of the strong production values of GiTS:SAC -- if anything, kicked up a couple of impressive notches. Aaand, it's brought along a lot of it's endless, endless talking. Blah blah technobabble blah. From what I've been reading about the dialogue, the fansubbers are going to have a heck of a time trying to plow through all of that for translation. Still, it's really quite good looking, and if the story holds up to all the narrative burden Shirow is putting on it, and the characters wind up interesting, then it should be a decent successor to GiTS.

One other thing that I read was comments about how the girls at that "facility" all seemed to have rather "chubby" thighs. The first thing I thought of when I saw it was that they were animated a lot like the girls in Windy Tales. There's not enough staff data over at ANN yet, so I don't know if there's a direct connection, but I'd wager a little bit that there is...





(* Yes, I am going to keep using this joke. It's mine! All mine!)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Galact-oh-frackin'-yeah!

Subject: TV
Galactica's back! Galactica's back! Galactica's back! Galactica's back!

Woo hoo!

A few months back, there was the release of that "Razor" side-story, but that really didn't quite do enough to alleviate the void between the last "season" (are there really any TV "seasons" anymore?) and this long-awaited jump into the finale. Heck, I almost forgot that it was supposed to be back by now, if it weren't for a few well-placed banner ads. Even my DVR forgot about the show.

Still, I wound up actually watching it live, instead of waiting for the DVR to accumulate enough to let me skip the commercials. I never do that anymore!

Gladly, they dive right back into the insane awesome. Without most of the "Emostar Crylactica" that it indulged in for a bit. We're back on the rollercoaster, and about to barrel on down to the grand finale that will either be awesome, meh, or piss everyone off (especially me). We'll see, but frankly, it's better to just turn my brain off and have a blast.

When I finally get to watch all of this again in full HDTV glory, then I'll turn my brain back on and see what I missed...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Kaiba" TAF Trailer

...by way of AnimeSuki, another shakycam for the Kaiba trailer, with new footage I haven't seen yet:



There's some very good bits of animation in there. Definitely looking forward to it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Blade of the Immortal" TAF trailer

Subject: Noir
Shaky-cam cellphone snap off the monitor at TAF, making the rounds with all the others:





Discussion over on Bee Train Fan as usual.

...plus, me trying to stir up a little trouble and start a rumor: Is Mirai Nikki actually still in production? (to be announced in April??)

UPDATE: The TAF shakycam trailer is long gone, but the official version is live!

"Night of the Galactic Railroad" re-release coming?

Subject: Noir
I missed if there was any actual news, but ANN has pictures from the Tokyo Animation Fair and there was this one that leapt out at me:





I reviewed Night of the Galactic Railroad a while back. Since then, I found out that Mashimo was a storyboarder on it, which made it all the cooler. I'm hoping this is just a re-release (like, say, a Blu-Ray remaster) instead of some sort of remake or series... I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.

UPDATE: Sure 'nuff, ANN has more information... It's a follow-on movie from fables by the same author, called The Life of Guskou Budori. This time, it's Japanese cats instead of Italian. The production art in the photos posted look quite intricate. Could be quite good.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

2008 spring/summer anime preview... From me?

Subject: Noir
So it turns out that there might be a couple of interesting shows between this and the summer season. Well, only a couple. But they've caught my eye as potential stand-outs, and I'm hoping my instincts are right.

For the spring, Kaiba (April 10). I know, at first glance, it looks like a cutesy, retro for-kids show. And it may very well be. But it's another one from Kemonozume's Masaaki Yuasa, which means it's probably going to be a total sakuga-fest. Hooray for that!

The first trailer is rather minimalist:


But I really think this will be one of those "underrated gems" that I adore so much.

There's a few others on the "maybe" list if I'm bored: Golgo 13 (which has started I think), Alison to Lillia (from the same author as Kino's Journey), Crystal Blaze (film noir potential?), Himitsu Top Secret (old-skool spies ...or just a yaoi-y pile of boredom?), RD Sennou Chousashitsu (cyberscubapunk?)

...a longer list than I thought. What's up with that?

For the summer, I'm really looking forward to Michiko and Hatchin. From Manglobe, with a most of Samurai Champloo's staff -- Shinchiro Wantanabe is only directing the music, but this is the debut effort for Sayo Yamamoto. Who is actually a woman anime director, which is rare, and hopefully awesome.

The title's Michiko is a free-willed "sexy diva" who destroys a supposedly inescapable prison fortress, while Hatchin is a girl fleeing her strict foster parents. The two join forces on an improbable escape to freedom.

The trailer is full of win.


...and, of course, Blade of the Immortal -- I know I haven't seemed all that enthused by this next Bee Train release, but as I learn a little more about it (like, that it's not all violent and depressing, and the manga story is supposed to be quite good), I'm warming up to it. I mean, I do dig samurai drama; I just rarely find any anime versions that live up to my technical standards. Plus, there's another Samurai Champloo connection here as well, with Yoshimitsu Yamashita on Mashimo's team.

Makoto has posted more about it as well, including a couple of scans from the magazine announcement:




There was some buzz about a big-budget "secret project" that was going to be "better than Star Wars" (probably a tounge-in-cheek claim) from Bones. Supposedly, it's called Xamdou and it now has a homepage. Supposedly the big unvieling will happen on April 10th. I guess that'll mean it's a summer show, but it might be autumn.

...Looking waaaay ahead into the future, from some tidbits going around from TAf 2008, Satoshi Kon's next film is in production, and it's called Yume miru Kikai -- which he's said will be "family friendly". Also from Madhouse will be a movie from the director of Black Lagoon titled (maybe) Maimai atarashi to sennen no mahou -- possibly set in France?