The Battle of Italica
In the last episode of GATE our heroes were sent on a short mission to reconnoiter and hopefully open trading relations with the town of Italica, a heavily fortified crossroads town at the juncture of two caravan routes and a river. Also in the last episode Princess PenÃ£ of "the empire" who has been sent with her order of knights to do a reconnaissance of the invaders (our heroes) offhandedly mentioned that she intended to stop off in the town of Italica.
In this episode, things went to worms just as expected.
But they did so in a way that was rather unexpected.
This remains an exceedingly smart show. We get a little bit of background on the princess, who is, it turns out, is quite interesting.
She's only semi-legitimate at best. (she is the child of a concubine) and as a result, she has gone to great lengths to see that she was worthy of her station. As a child she put together a group of similar aged kids consisting of the children of various noble families, with the goal of forming an elite order of knights. She was given a competent but low-born officer to act as a trainer and pressed him into service as a drill instructor, ordering him to drive them to the limit.
Somewhat surprisingly, the little band of aristocrats held together and trained intensely for seven years at which point, through sheer competence they were inducted as a formal order of knights. However, until this time the order had been used only for ceremonial purposes. This had chafed at her and her unit but not nearly so much as the implication that her knightly order was a mere plaything for her amusement. Now with a real assignment she is determined to prove herself worthy and NOTHING IS GOING TO STAND IN HER WA....Well, dang! Innocents need saving!
Princess PinÃ£ is determined, ethical, and extremely skilled in combat and tactical theory. However, she has had no actual experience in combat and no training for the sort of defensive action she finds herself in...at which point her life gets even more complicated...
Oh..as an aside...In case there was any doubt...
Roary Mercury serves the DARK god Emloy.
There is an interesting scene when Itami takes the three local women with him to parlay, obviously thinking this will help him make a good impression. As each one of them is getting out of the Hummer, Princess PinÃ£ is drawing different conclusions..."Oh my God! They've got a mage! AND an elf! If those two are together then that's as bad as it can ge...AUUGH! ROARY MERCURY!? Are you KIDDING ME!?"
It also seems that the princess, while very much respectful of Mercury's sheer power, is not a fan of Mercuy's eschatological premises in the least.
Mercury, for her part is all about war and killing and blood, but while she doesn't consider killing a sin as such, she is very focused on it being done for the proper reasons.
Itami doesn't know what cards he has in his deck...which is a much better situation than having an empty deck. GATE remains a really intelligent and entertaining show, with this episode in particular maintaining a remarkably high tension level throughout and left me quite upset that I have to wait 167 hours to see more of this.
I just remembered that the first time Itami bonked himself (right before Tokyo got attacked), he had a prophetic vision of his female companions to come. Bonking himself a second time got him improved language skills.
So obviously the god of concussions is on his side... and is knocking some sense into him.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Tue Aug 4 22:47:26 2015 (ZJVQ5)
The latest episode of School Live is mostly a series of flashbacks, apparently to the events that led to Miki joining the School Live Club. It appears that SCL is going on a field trip. The club's first official, school sanctioned field trip is going to be to...a local mall.
One amusing bit was the fact that the other girls (who are not particularly sanguine about the endeavor) have Yuki fill out all the proper paperwork and send her through the slow bureaucratic grind of getting the field trip approved in the hopes of killing the project. To their astonishment and chagrin the "field trip" is approved with unusual alacrity by their club sponsor who expedites the process, having decided, in her somewhat daft way, that there are actually very good reasons for the club members (who are normally forbidden to leave the school) to go on this outing. None of this explains why they did not tie up Yuki and leave her in the school to avoid potential inevitable embarrassment.
After arranging transportation...
"When did you get your license?"
"Are you sure you can do this?"
"The "feel" is a bit different from what I'm used to, but I've got this."
" FEEL!? "
" To be honest, I prefer a keyboard to the wheel control, but I'll manage."
...they are off!
This remains a very interesting show though there are a couple of things that strain credulity. Our erstwhile main character, should probably not be taken on field trips for one thing. They did this in the second episode as well, "Cute Girls Go to Library on First Floor of School".
This is also the second episode in a row that has involved an extensive flashback to the improbable chain of events that led to the club being founded, albeit from a different person's perspective (Miki's). The events happening in the background of both these episodes are particularly effective in setting the mood. I do wonder if we are going to see any further exploration of the events that took place last week in "Cute Girls Deal With Power Failure". Next week seems to be a continuation of this one.
This is a REALLY neat show and If you are not already watching it I strongly urge you to do so. However, I implore you to watch it from episode 1.
If this doesn't look like your cup of tea, then this is probably the show for you!
For a CGDCT series this is full of all SORTS of surprises, so I ask that everyone avail themselves of spoiler tags which can be typed in the comments as follows...
I've gone from wondering if Megune sensei is real to wondering if she is the real main character.
In the last episode, they mentioned that they had lost power. This was inevitable, but the school does have large numbers of solar panels. I assume these are photovoltaics as the teacher mentioned that the power failure would result in no hot water. Note too that the power failed at the mall almost immediately in this episode and this flashback took place a month or more before that episode.
Perhaps they simply need to repair an inverter or something. I'm not sure if they have running water. I noted buckets on the roof, and there may be a cistern if this school is a designated civil defense location, but I wouldn't trust the city water at this point.
Note that they mean the outside of the windows...on the Space Station.
It seems that the organisms are terrestrial marine plankton. though how they got up there is unclear. My initial guess would be cross contamination from 0-G plankton experiments, but the C-Net article suggests air currents or the possibility that the plankton originated from Florida where much of the station was launched from (though that would mean the plankton had survived a rather long time).
Of course all of this is dancing around the fact that there is living greenery on the outside of the space station and we all KNOW what that means.
Were the plankton actually *actively* alive on the exterior windows (implying that somehow they had a liquid medium to operate in), or were they only dormant and able to be reconstituted? Were they trapped in some sort of interstice where water remained liquid, or were they vacuum-dried?
Posted by: EccentricOrbit at Sun Aug 2 14:11:51 2015 (GtPd7)
One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes explains to us this news of researchers independently confirming the viability of the EM Drive, a revolutionary propellant-less drive...
Here is a news article on the discovery which is cause for skepticism as it seems to a few things wrong in the title. For instance this (whatever it is...IF it is) is certainly not a rocket....and the moon in four hours seems HIGHLY unlikely given that the thing is giving thrust like an arc jet or ion thruster.
This is still interesting however, as the engine requires no reaction mass so if it really works it could keep accelerating as long as it has power, which given a nuclear power-plant could be for an awfully long time. A notational 950 day Saturn mission with 180 day stays at both Titan and Enceladus is included to give some idea of what that means.Even tiny acceleration adds up over time and this device is estimated to have seven times the thrust per kilowat of a hall thruster...without the need for propellant.
The problem is that no one seems to have any idea how it works. The inventors claims to but their theories are based on...not physics.
This could be big, It could be a breakthrough. It could be bunk.
Time will tell, but this story is certainly tantalizing.
Shawyer's claims have been repeatedly debunked; he keeps redefining his terms and moving the goalposts. He waits a couple of years for the news cycles to reset, then floats his idea with different words.
Of course, it's also true that until the instrumentation to observe galactic distances reached a minimum level of sophistication, one could prove that the Earth was stationary, as well.
Posted by: Ben at Tue Jul 28 20:54:02 2015 (S4UJw)
2Yep, unfortunately, pure bunk. If it were that easy to violate conservation of momentum, we'd have noticed, what with everything in the universe busily disintegrating.
So from that perspective I guess it's fortunate that this thing can't possibly work.
I simply don't know.
Multiple teams seem to be getting SOMETHING, but of course it cannot possibly be what the various inventors say it is, since as Pixy points out, we still seem to exist.
Reaching into my bag of special pleading the only thing I can come up with is that the thrust from the microwaves is something akin to a photon rocket but using an unknown mechanism that doesn't require enough microwaves to melt Los Angeles to get the observed effects ( NOTE: magical thinking in red needs work)
It seems vanishingly unlikely, but there is enough unaccounted for thrust that NASA is setting up at least three more separate tests so they seem to think that it warrants some study (though in fairness they might be trying to find out why their perpetual motion debunker is out of calibration)
Conservation of Energy was once one of the rock bottom foundations of physics, but when we looked a lot closer at quantum effects we discovered that it isn't actually absolute. It's possible to violate Conservation of Energy for short durations, and that turns out to be how electric fields work.
Conservation of Momentum is another foundation, but this may be another case where quantum effects have exceptions.
I think it unlikely that this is real, but I'll suspend judgment until someone legitimate actually tests it. That's the Way of Science.
My understanding is that this guy claimed that NASA was endorsing his research, when as it happens, NASA was only providing a vacuum chamber for him to test his device in. A vacuum chamber that he *didn't pump down* before claiming to measure piconewtons (a ridiculously small measure, even for an ion drive) of thrust.
At that thrust level, they could be measuring anything. It could be differential heating of the air around the thruster, it could be some sort of inductive magnetic pressure in his lines. I don't buy it.
Posted by: EccentricOrbit at Sun Aug 2 14:08:43 2015 (GtPd7)
"Have You Ever Seen The Blue Sky?"
This is a disturbing hour and a half that went viral and gained two hundred million views in less than a week before being banned by the Chinese Government.
It even attracted praise from the newly-installed environment minister, Chen Jining, for its contribution to the national debate on public health â€“ but that was before it was abruptly scrubbed from the internet on Friday, ordered offline by the Communist Party's central propaganda department.
The segment that begins around 1:00 is disturbing in an entirely different way..as it highlights just how precarious the Chinese industrial economy actually is.
From episode 4 of GATE!, which, in a completely unexpected development, manages to work in an onsen scene. This, however, is not one of THOSE shows as this remarkably non-gratuitous interlude makes clear. This brief scene moved the plot forward in a number of ways, provided significant character development and remained Comics Code Compliant throughout. The above scene of Leili (left) and Mercury (Right) washing the orphan's hair is as risque as it got.
After the events of last episode, 2nd Lt Itami took his recon force and the refugees back to the main Japanese base much to the dismay of his immediate superiors who are appalled that he has brought all these orphans for them to take care of. The general in charge of the operation however, is impressed both with Itami's initiative and humanity and puts our hero's unit in charge of getting the refugees situated.
...and our hero in charge of filling out the requisite paperwork tsunami.
The aforementioned bathouse scene is actually part of a montage of the refugees (and Mercury who is examining the Japanese of her own volition) reacting to such wonders as backhoes, prefab housing, field kitchens, and canned food....
Along the way, we do learn that Leili has a knack for languages. She can speak Elvish and is picking up Japanese very quickly...rather more quickly than the Japanese are picking up the local tongue. She is exceedingly smart as befits a mage and we learn a little about her past. It seems Leili grew up amongst nomads before she arrived in the imperial village, so this is not her first experience with a huge technological and cultural shock.
Or learning to use new kit.
Chika, the Elf, is still traumatized by the recent loss of her entire town, which, even amongst the elves was a somewhat insular tribe with an obscure dialect. She is in mourning for her father and seems to be taking double rations to make offerings to his memory. Having lost everything she owns she is also concerned that she and the other female refugees will be forced to sell themselves in order to repay the kindness they have received...or, barring that, simply to survive in the world.
Fortunately, Leili's language skills, curiosity and willingness to ask questions results in a huge burden being taken off the female refugees.
All those dead dragons, from episode 2...Well dragon scales are EXTREMELY valuable in this world. So Leili ASKED...and the base CO said "Yeah, sure, take all the dragon scales you want" so the women and children have actually been given a windfall. This unheard of magnanimity is the final straw for Leili, who is now thorougly dedicated to helping Itami's unit.
Meanwhile, Itami is tasked with taking his unit to reconnoiter a nearby town called Italica, but that won't happen 'till next week.
No action to speak of, and our heroes didn't go anywhere, but this episode moved the story forward quite a bit.
There is a good discussion of the geopolitical ramifications of having the one entry to a resource rich planet in downtown Tokyo. For one thing, the Chinese Premier is already setting preparations for invasion. Note that the Earth side of the Gate is not unique in its machinations either...
I did not mention this fellow because it appeared that he was killed almost immediately in episode 2. Well, it turns out that King Duran survived his well executed but hopeless night attack on the JSDF artillery unit. Princess Pina, the Emperor's daughter, who has been sent by the Emperor to learn about the invaders (That would be our heroes) finds the good king recuperating in a monastery minus an arm and a leg. He relates to her what little he knows of the overwhelming power the invaders possess. He also confides in her that he knows that the Emperor deliberately sent him and his men to be slaughtered in order to maintain military superiority over the tributary kingdoms.
The Princess takes her team and continues towards the gate. She decides that it will be prudent to rest and re-provision in a town called Italica before pushing on to her goal.
This remains a very entertaining and intelligent show. it is just full of win right now, you should definitely be watching it.
UPDATE: There is an extensive discussion of this episode regarding combat engineering over at Chizumatic.
I'd been wondering why Leili was wandering around in a MOPP suit as it didn't seem to add anything to the story, and your image under the first spoiler tag gave me a clue: the smell on that battlefield after all this time must be... unimaginable. In fact, it somewhat begs the question as to why the JSDF didn't clean it up. Far enough from their perimeter for them to just not care?
The kid with the maroon cap looks just like Jay from the Clerks movies.
This is going to stink on ice.
Posted by: RickC at Fri Jul 24 20:27:18 2015 (FvJAK)
I didn't watch the video, and I don't need to--I could feel myself getting stupider just reading Moe Lane's description.
Studio Ghibli seems to be having somesuccess lately adapting British children's novels into movies. If the Walt Disney Company has run out of ideas to the point that they're making crap like Descendants, maybe they should steal that page from Studio Ghibli's playbook.
Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at Sat Jul 25 20:02:44 2015 (dzzLh)
Gatchaman Crowds :INSIGHTGatchaman Crowds was a strange but enjoyable series from two years ago. Perky quirky and completely unpredictable, it ended up being well above average through sheer charm and cleverness. The show closed with a definite hook for a sequel, and this summer, that much anticipated sequel is here!
Gatchaman Crowds: INSIGHT continues the franchises habit of surprising its audience by producing a perfunctory painting by numbers pastiche of periphrastic prattle.
Actually of all those "P" words the most applicable one is probably likely perfunctory.
We are introduced to two new characters one of which seems to be an audience surrogate (there was nothing like that before as the cast was just so....odd)
It is possible that this jumbled mess is going to coalesce into something entertaining, but this was such a muddled, talky episode that confidence is not high. The pilot just gave the impression of trying to emulate the series by being weird...but to no purpose other than to fill a time slot. There are actually two more episodes available, but I'm going to take a break for now.
One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes reacts to a report about lava loving hammerheads.
"Can we get LASERS for them?"
In order to study the volcano, Phillipsâ€™ team used robots and cameras. While the volcano was not erupting, the images are blurred by orange plumes and bubbles. Carolyn Barnwell, writing for National Geographic, said that in the video "carbon dioxide and methane gas bubblesâ€ can be seen rising from seafloor vents, and that the color of the water was "due to reduced iron and sulfur.â€
Phillips and his team were shocked to find both hammerhead and silky sharks, in addition to stingrays and smaller fish, swimming around inside the volcano
Presumably, the sharks leave when the caldera fills with lava so this is not actually a Sci-Fi channel movie made real. OTOH it is hoped that this might lead to an eruption prediction system.
Of course, if the sharks preternatural predictive ability amounts to "Hmmm...getting a bit hot here...Let's leave." Then the potential implications are less exciting.
On the Russian front....wait...lets not put it that way.
Regarding Russia, there is some relief about the reports that the Russian air-force is having a bad month. This is an understandable sentiment , but it doesn't necessarily mean that their planes are no threat. It could just be a byproduct of training at a high tempo under realistic conditions...which they'd be doing if they were anticipating trouble.
One curious Russian trend that's not well known outside is how they are dealing with the demographic catastrophy. Russian and Japanese natality were tracking closely during the Soviet and post-Soviet years, but a few years into Putin's reign they suddently diverged. Apparently, the Putin's propaganda apparatus managed to make having children a signifier of patriotism. It came to this: my wife told me about a guy who was unable to talk his wife into having 3rd child. However, when Putin annexed Crimea, she was so happy that she agreed to that. I'm sort of wondering about a couple of things in relation. #1 - is this going to last past Putin. #2 - is there an import upon the government policies in Japan and U.S..
Occassionally, There is a Reward for Clean Living
For example...in the latest episode of GATE, our heroes do not die at this point.
"Wait...did you say GOOD?"
You see, the Elegant Gothic Lolita (Catgirl?) is" Roary Mercury, Apostle to the Dark god Emloy" which apparently means that she is some sort of priestess. What is certain is that she is a person with considerable ability that is at this point indistinguishable from magic.
Not pictured: Just HOW ridiculously large her elegant gothic choppy thing is.
When we first meet her she confronts several dozen brigands who she proceeds to slice, dice and circumcise. It is quite obvious by the end of the episode that she could have killed Itami and his entire command without breaking a sweat. Indeed, that was probably her initial intent, but to her surprise, she discovers that this small detachment of the interlopers who have curb-stomped every army sent to destroy them have not been raping, looting and pillaging, but rather have been rendering aid to commoners without regard to ethnicity and that they are in possession of carts that move without horses.
Nor is Mercury the only character possessed of unusual ability. Leili, the blue haired young lady is an apprentice to the fellow in the wizard hat, who is named Kato, and is, shockingly enough, a Wizard.
The Force is STRONG with her.
The JGSDF unit has taken a detour from reconnoitering to help evacuate a village that is being menaced by the dragon that they saw razing the town in the last episode. In this episode we learn that there was but one survivor of that unfortunate town, an elven woman who speaks elvish. While this is not, upon reflection, surprising, it should be noted that the extemporized phrase books they are using don't contain any elvish.
This is unfortunate as the young lady has very useful information to share.
This is an intelligent, well thought out show, and despite the abattoir aspect of the last episode, it is proving to be both suspenseful and upbeat.
Lt. Itami is is a genuinely likable hero. Having been a brevet commission he has a greater hurdle than most to earn his troops confidence, especially since his hobbies are known and held in low regard by his medic and senior NCO. Nevertheless he proves quite capable as a leader and demonstrates considerable decency complimenting his tactical verve.
This episode was fast paced, introducing several new intriguing characters and was quite thoroughly satisfying
This is in contrast to the previous encounters with dragons were not really satisfying from a dramatic perspective, but they were realistically handled and set the stage for this...
Our heroes when finally confronted with the pesky dragon engage it without protest...after all there are traditions to uphold....
Alas, the cinematic tradition is not a glorious one and this is rather in keeping with that because this dragon is not like the others, it is...
OH MY GOD IT IS SMAUG!
This beast is hundreds of feet across, It is bullet proof, cannon proof and highly resistant to bazookas. It also breathes fire like the proper dragon that it is.
In short, it is a fricking kaiju and nowhere in our heroes inventory are any Markalites or oxygen destroyers, so the battle does not go well...until they get some tactical advice from the elf via pantomime and have their attacks augmented by the aforementioned goth-loli blood knight who they had fortuitously succeeded in amusing rather than pissing off.
Nevertheless, it is a near run thing and they only barely succeed in driving off (but not killing) the dragon which manages to kill several civilians in the convoy they were escorting. The result is that they end up gaining an excellent reputation but are saddled with a bunch of old people and orphans to care for... .
Certainly not the darkest and grittiest of entourages.
The cast members introduced in this episode add a nice bit of wackiness and whimsy. Despite much potential for stupidity and squalor the show remains quite smart and engaging. This is a very impressive show thus far, my biggest complaint at the moment is that the next episode is a week away.
I don't normally do this, but I've hidden the previous comment for now, because I suspect the involvement of alcohol in its composition and fear that, despite the low traffic of this blog, it might go viral...in which case, someone's basement could become their tomb.