September 15, 2019

We Have a Date


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September 14, 2019

Woah.

Astra: Lost in Space continues to surprise.



I did NOT see that coming.

Really, really good character development in this show, and things that looked like they were just amazingly lucky coincidences have been explained quite satisfyingly. Moreover, the plot point that seemed like a complete non-sequitur...isn't.

I think they have two more episodes to screw this up, but right now there is no indication that they will. This is a fairly low budget series and seems to not be getting a lot of buzz, but it is well written and excellently paced. It really is a quality piece of work that deserves a wider audience.

Kenta Shinohara, the Mangaka whose web comic(!) this is based on, is mainly known for this and a popular strip called Sket Dance. He seems to be a rising star at Shueisha. The Director and Screenwriter that Studio Lerche got to do this series (Masaomi Andō  and Norimitsu Kaihō respectively) bear watching in the future.


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September 02, 2019

Here's Some Mildly Surprising News

"Reeeeeee!1!" in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, .....



From here. Via.

Rising of the Shield Hero has 2 more seasons confirmed.

This is a good thing. My only real complaint with the series was that it not so much ended as stopped. Now that criticism will be invalid.

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Astra: Lost in Space





It's vanishingly unlikely that any show could really live up to this trailer.



Indeed, after that awesome opening scene, the show reveals mediocre production values, a contrived and bizarre situation involving a cosmic space wedgie and unchaperoned teenagers in outer space. In addition to the aforementioned teenagers, there is a ten year old who talks through a hand puppet.

BUT WAIT!
By the end of the first episode , it is beginning to appear that our adolescent heroes predicament is not nearly as random as they thought  and from that point the show begins to live up to the promise of that trailer...in a completely different way than expected.

This is a throw back to the old Sci-Fi juvies. While only a 2 or 3 on Moh's scale of Sci-Fi hardness, there are a lot of interesting of sci-fi ideas and they are explored intelligently. The characterizations are solid too and the show manages to develop, maintain and ratchet up a surprising amount of tension as our heroes learn more and more disturbing facts about the pickle they are in.  Additionally the series manages to maintain a near perfect balance between being absolutely horrifying and surprisingly upbeat.

I'm really enjoying this show right now.

And boy, howdy that latest episode...

I have no idea where this is going, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the trip.

Recommended!

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August 25, 2019

Riefenstahl WEEPS!

Great movie! But...

WORST. NAZI Film. EVAH!1!

Allow me to explain....

Alita: Battle Angel was something of an underdog in comarison to the Marvel franchise and so had quite an uphill battle in its quest for box-office success. Because it's 2019 and the world is stupid, one of the  complaints that gained traction (after the film had a brief and very atypical surge in interest towards the end of its run), was the idea that ABA was a movie for...wait for it....NAZIS (no really).




Now that I have finally seen this film, I am going quite confidently and happily postulate that Leni Riefenstahl would not approve of it. AT ALL.

Alita: Battle Angel is a surprisingly good movie. The story is solid, the main characters are much better realized than is typical for summer blockbusters and the effects are top of the line.

What is most remarkable is how well this cinematic adaptation of a manga transferred Yukito Kirishito's visuals to live action. Several of the costumes for instance, really ought to just look goofy but they actually work quite well to the point of being utterly badass.  Some of these decisions were braver than others, particularly the decision to give Rosa Salazar extra large anime eyes, but the film pulls it all off with panache. Far beyond showing considerable respect for the source material, this results in a very distinctive, occasionally whimsical art direction that leaves the portrayed world feeling surprisingly real.

Alita is a likeable and idealistic heroine. Because this is based on a shonen/ seinen manga with some superhero tropes, she soon surpasses her peers in ability. However, remarkably for girl power movies in current year, her male peers, mentor and love interest are never flaming incompetents, occasionally saving the day in their own right. Alita is not surrounded by idiots, she's the best OF THE BEST, which makes her a much more compelling heroine.

Despite cramming about 5 tankubon/graphic novels into two hours, the film is reasonably well paced and it captures the escalating threat vibe of the genre quite well. The story is eminently accessible to those who have not read the comic (I've only read an issue or two of the American release). Despite its dystopian setting and often grim story, this film manages to be both idealistic and just a rolicking good time that actually passed the butt test (at no point did I become terribly aware of how long I'd been sitting).

The only complaint I have is both minor and unavoidable: It was pretty much impossible to conclude a 9 volume manga series in a single film, so the ending, while satisfying, definitely anticipates a sequel.  Whether that comes to pass is unclear, but I, for one, am am rooting for it.

Finally, while not in any way a complaint, it should be noted that the film's themes of individual responsibility, a fight for universal dignity, redemption, tolerance and understanding of the designated "other" make this film a very poor vehicle for the transmission of national socialist propaganda.

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August 11, 2019

There Really IS Going to be a RE: Zero Season 2

Out of respect for you, gentle readers, I won't show the trailer as it is all spoilery and fraught. 

Here instead is something less fraught. 



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August 06, 2019

Whut?


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August 04, 2019

One Musical Number and Removing the Whole Casino Bit Would Have Almost Fixed the Movie


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July 28, 2019

Universal Appeal

In addition to the constantly changing Daily Rankings list, Pixiv has links in the sidebar for the most popular images among male and female users respectively. I looked through both of them this morning, and, as expected, there was almost no overlap. There was some however. In the first 300 images, the following pictures were in both lists.  (Below the fold because, some are NSFW.)
more...

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July 26, 2019

The End



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July 23, 2019

Oh Yes Please.




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July 21, 2019

Something is Strange:

Despite being done by the STD people, this doesn't actually look like it must inevitably suck. This looks really interesting.

I want to know more.




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July 14, 2019

A Pretty Decent OP Cover

Original OP here.

As for the show itself, I found Rising of the Shield Hero to be quite good overall. Despite its grimdark opening and recurring cynicism, the show manages (somehow) to be enjoyable. 

It is both amusing and annoying that despite the rage directed at this series for its being "problematic toxic male wish fulfillment ", it is, if looked at rationally, almost the opposite of what it is being criticized for.

That is, the show is a pointed disquisition on the difference between being a bad-ass glory hound and being a gentleman. Nayofumi , despite his PTSD is the adult in the room. He consistently uses his wits to solve his problems and weighs the consequences of his actions. This is in stark contrast tho those whose messes he cleans up and whose fires he puts out. This is a nuanced but firm critique of the sort of thing that might be legitimately termed "toxic masculinity". However, as its being contrasted with virtuous masculinity it apparently doesn't count.

Raphtalia is a genuine heroine and in a sane world would be considered pretty damned empowering. For instance: She's not the shield bearer. He is. Nah, Redoubtable Raccoon Girl eventually becomes the sword wielder, monster ventilator and dispenser of ass-kicking. She has a genuine (and all too rare) 'journey of the heroine' arc where she comes from less than nothing to achieve true and completely earned greatness.
But she doesn't count because she suffered, overcame, learned and grew as opposed to being a Godlike Mary Sue with nothing to learn. 


  My biggest complaint is that the show doesn't so much end as come to a reasonably acceptable pause point (The story is based on a series of light moves and is not close to being finished). However, it still has a satisfying finale and over the course of 25 episodes the two main characters grow, change and develop in realistic and interesting ways. 

The series is not particularly well animated and the plot does suffer from occasional verbal tsunamis of exposition, which, in fairness, is consistent with the fact that our two main protagonists know nothing about the world they're in. Those criticisms, however, pale in comparison to the far above average character development and genuinely interesting story. 

I recommend this one highly and sincerely hope we see more of this show. 

UPDATE: Yes. Trying to bang out a post in 5 minutes at the library does not lend itself to quality. I think all the typozes have been fixed now. 

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June 11, 2019

What?

Umamusume appears to be a sports anime revolving around track and field.
And horse girls(?).
It looks cute. The first episode is exceptionally well animated  and...


That's it. I'm out.

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June 09, 2019

Heehee!


Jet Jaguar by Ueyama Michiro

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June 07, 2019

Yesterday's Future TODAY!

Way back in 1994 KSS released an OAV* series called MIGHTY SPACE MINERS. Because the world is suffering, it was cancelled after 2 episodes. I picked up a VHS** copy when it came out, largely because the character designs were, even in 1994 kind of retro looking. 

However, it impressed me at the time as a remarkably hard sci-fi kids show. Despite a few minor inaccuracies the shows "hardness" rating is arguably higher than even The Expanse. I particularly like that the hardscrabble  asteroid miners don't live in some nightmare man-camp like Outland, but in a very pleasant Stanford Torus built into their asteroid, and the fact that the kids space helmets are the equivalent to a modern day smartphone/personal assistant and pet...because in their culture, a child's earliest lesson is that one must never be without one's helmet. 

Because space will KILL YOU!
Dead.
They don't shy away from that. This show is like a Heinlein juvie. 

A DVD was eventually released but it's long out of print. Used copies can be purchased on Amazon for $103 US. I've been looking for this thing for years and was surprised to find it complete and dubbed on You Tube. The fact that it...ends... is really annoying, but, pig-headed kids show protagonist notwithstanding, it's a damned good 55 minutes until it leaves you hanging. 

 

 

We need to start a write-in campaign to get Jeff Bezos to buy this one and finish it, because this is a really good story. 


* Original Video Animation. Shows of odd length or of lower quality than films but higher quality than TV  were once released on tape or disc and rented or sold from "video stores". 

**Video Home System an audiovisual storage medium reminiscent of an audio cassette...wait...you've never heard of that either... OK, it's similar in principle to a DVD or Blue Ray or a gaming cartridge(?)... Um... Anyway it uses ferromagnetic material coating plastic tape as a data storage medium that is magnetically programmed and/or read as it is mechanically indexed via two spools in a manner similar to Egyptian scrolls....uh..you had to play the tape end to end to access the AV data and you'd get charged a fine if you didn't rewind them when you returned them to the video store...
Forget it. It was a different world.

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May 28, 2019

A Fish Out of Water Has Not so Much Escaped His Problems as Found New and More Challenging Ones

Rising of the Shield Hero is approaching its 21st episode and frankly deserves more than the laconic mentions this blog has given it thus far. It is a show that has generated quite a bit of "talk" because its story tends to go down the less traveled paths of its genre.


As opposed to the above path, which they all go down.

This is a isekai show, a genre that generally involves a social outcast getting yanked/summoned/reincarnated/teleported/excreted into another world which just happens to have remarkable similarities to a video game, role playing game, or light novel series that the introverted, maladroit audience insert had obsessed with to the detriment of their standing in polite society. With a few exceptions, these shows generally have the protagonist come to an insight along the lines of , "All those years of playing D&D have prepared me for this very moment!". This epiphany is usually followed by 13 to 26 episodes of geek wish fulfillment as all the important people (and especially the attractive members of the opposite sex) in the new world learn to respect, adore or fear (but NEVER ignore) this now most consequential of human beings who has been groomed by years of geekery and avoidance of obligations to be the hero the world needs and wants to have children with.



Aaaand then there is Iwatani Naofumi,  a reasonably well adjusted graduate student who has some geeky habits among his hobbies. However, he's not a hard core gamer, and most significantly for his well being hasn't played a particular multiplayer game about 4 legendary heroes.  When he notices an anomalous leather-bound parchment-paged antique-looking book among the light novels in the library, he opens it and gets bamfed into a summoning circle with 3 other Japanese men of about his age Each of them has attached to them a weapon, Spear, Sword, Bow....and OK Naofumi has not a weapon but a shield.


"Cool! we're a sentai team!"

They are surrounded by a bunch of wizards and priest types who provide exposition.


I'll bet there is.

They are told that they are the 4 legendary heroes who have been summoned from other worlds to deal with "The Wave", a demonic incursion into this high fantasy D&D type world.
Some years prior, (I think about a decade, its not entirely clear) the four legendary heroes of that age were summoned and successfully kept this monster spewing phenomenon at bay, though over half the population of the world is believed to have died. Once these things start, they come about once a month and each one is exponentially stronger than the last. The first wave, was barely defeated (with heavy losses) by the kingdom's regular forces and some adventurers a few days prior to this summoning.

Now the other three fellows are all expert players in an online video-game that is essentially identical to this world.  Nayofumi has no idea what he's doing, furthermore in a brief cram session with the other three, he learns that while shield characters are marginally harder to kill in the game, they are basically useless as they can't use weapons and can't easily level up. The shield is almost never played except by children.

Still our hero understands the basics of video game RPGs, is reasonably genre savvy, and, after all, has been summoned to a magical realm to do hero stuff, so he's handling this reasonably well.



The four are granted an audience before the king, who asks something along the lines of "Why did you waste spell points on summoning a shield guy?"


Well, that bodes ill.

It's then explained to our heroes that they must go on adventures to level up and hone their skills. They are all basically level 0 and the next wave is arriving in a month. Also, it is noted they need to train separately from one another because...



...reasons. 

They are expected to have retinues and all the local adventurers are allowed to join up with the 'Legendary Herotm' of their choice. This is especially important for the shield hero as he can't wield weapons, and the shield has no offensive capabilities until the wielder is at a much higher level.


The heartbreak of cooties.

No one picks Naofumi, because shield heroes are like the nerds of Middle Earth and well no one wants to be associated with him.



There are a few things that Nayofumi's shield will do that allow him to slowly level up, mostly involving crafting healing potions. However, he is physically unable to even touch a weapon. In order to level up he must quest and gather ingredients, and if attacked, he can only bash things with the shield. Furthermore, crafting and deflecting blows give very little in the way of "experience points". Even slaying a relatively harmless beast like a carnivorous pumpkin (don't ask) grants a vast improvement in the speed he can level up. So he's in the pumpkin bashing business.

No one will help openly help him,  few will even do business with him. The only exceptions to this are people who pose as being interested in joining his party, only to attempt to murder and rob him.

After a series of reversals that would try the sanity of anyone, Nayofumi, on his last legs and desperate, bumps into a very sketchy and incongruously dressed merchant.



And that is the point at which things get problematic.


more...

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May 21, 2019

DANGER! The Levels of "PROBLEMATIC" are Over 9000!

So, this Rising of the Shield Hero show; I've started watching it.



Well, I'm leaning towards "good" but that's going to depend what happens in the next few episodes.


Also: Raccoons are awesome.


So far it is a very hard show to watch, but it has really impressed me.

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March 17, 2019

Because Why Should Pixy Have All the Fun?

Give it about 22 seconds. They have cleaned it up.



The channel with the actual remaster has been taken down, leaving only this comparison vid...

I first saw this in 1989 or 90. I understand it was done with a Commodore and a Betamax and was one of the very first AMVs.

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January 06, 2019

This is Getting Kind of Scary

"Yes Comrades, your IP addresses have been logged and your incorrect opinions have been noted."  




Of course I suppose it's possible that the BBC might have run a private screening for the critics and due, perhaps, to a software glitch, accidentally broadcast a blooper reel instead of the episode the critics saw.

I can't help but think though that a blooper reel would have gotten a higher core.

I haven't seen the episode but that dichotomy is, frankly, disturbing.

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