October 06, 2016

OK...This is a Cute Use of the Format

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October 03, 2016

Just Another Day in the Mojave

A nicely done FALLOUT fan film.

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October 02, 2016

Three Weeks to Go.....UPDATED

Here's the first full length trailer for RWBY Season 4. It first aired at RTX in July and low quality phone cam pirates have been making the rounds since then, so it's a little disappointing that this has no additional footage after all the hype.

Still, it is very impressive in a lot of ways and unlike the fuzzy pirate versions, this gives a very good idea of just how much the production values have improved. Like seasons 2 and three this is a major leap the animation quality of the previous volume.


It's gorgeous, but the choreography is off. Monty Oum went to great lengths to make his fight sequences at least appear to be obeying some laws of physics. Inhumanely dramatic changes in momentum generally had some rationale, either they were the result of recoil, rocket boost, using leverage to redirect momentum or acknowledged wire work as with Blake's kusurigama inspired weapon. In this vid Ruby might as well be supergirl. That sense of movement and mass, and the implication of extreme skill is not present. In any of the "hang-time" movements (though the combat on the ground is pretty satisfactory in that regard). Monty Oum was truly a singular talent, and it is understandable that his sucsessors will go there own way, but this is the thing that stood out from this video...that and the fact that Ruby and Blake's new outfits are REALLY cool.

I also liked the  attention to detail with Nora and Ren's hair, which gives a good sense of the passage of time and the little system status icon "Local Area Only" which is a nice reference to the communications situation in the wake of the events at the end of season 3. 

Of course production values can be bought. The question is whether the story is any good. I'm hopeful. The last season ended rather jarringly and turned off many people but it was quite effective at surprising it's audience.  I found it to be quite pongniant and have been looking forward to the continuation.

With 19 days to go, it is probably time to review the current status of characters that underwent major changes at the end of last season.

UPDATE: OK...spoiler tag is not working, so the overview of major character developments goes below the fold. Note that sentence, which is an indicator of SPOILERS!
more...

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September 28, 2016

"But Ponder THIS..."


"...you can call ME Dear Sweet Oni-Chan without it technically being creepy."

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September 26, 2016

Re-Zero Ends





So...I guess there won't be a sequel, huh?

Oh but there was SO much more to Re: Zero than a very touching love story. This series was one that hooked me early on and I was quite optimistic about it. That optimism was not misplaced. 

This is absolutely one of the most emotionally engaging shows in any medium I've encountered in years. It frequently accomplishes this in a most unusual way (by grabbing ones emotions by the throat, beating them upside the head with some rebar and then staking those concussed and bleeding emotions to a fire ant hill). Yes, this show is quite hard to watch at times, but is extraordinarily well paced and well thought out. Its tone and themes remind me of Ellison's Delusion for a Dragon Slayer, in that the protagonist start's out a person of, at best, mediocre character and quite unfit for what he must face. Unlike that tale however, this is a story about redemption and the fact that we can change. Subaru, the hero, is a really interesting character who learns from his numerous and painful mistakes. He comes to confront his myriad failings and change what he can, and work around those failings he cannot. 

Strong women are not a novelty in this day and age, but the heroines (and villainesses) in this show are some of the best, most realistically portrayed in any fantasy series. They are written and talk like actual. umm, women,  Emillia, for instance, is quite the awesome and noble character.


And it was nice to be reminded that she can righteously kick ass. 

She also comes off as a real woman despite a remarkably limited time onscreen. At one point she saves Subaru's butt for approximately the umpteenth time and he apologizes for thus imposing on her. She replies that an apology is unnecessary...but a "Thank you." would be appreciated. Exchanges like that, actual things that actual humans might actually say, really make this show. 

Re: Zero is heartbreaking and terrifying at times, far more so than one would expect given the show's central conceit, but the fact that they can pull that off is a remarkable achievement.  Any show can be grim and gritty, but this show uses the horror as a way to move the characters forward and contrast to the show's highs. The writers here do so masterfully. 

The show has a bit to say about the nature of love and its complexity including its selfish component, and how pride can toxify anything. The show also deals with the more painful sides of love such as loss.
 

Re:ZERO Starting Life in Another World is a superbly engineered emotional rollercoaster that may cause nausea and night-sweats, but unlike most rollercoasters, which take you back to where you started, this is a terrifyingly thrilling journey to a much better place

 While there are some unresolved plot threads, the ending is perfectly satisfying as is. If they decide to do more I'll definitely be watching it. 


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September 23, 2016

Oh My! Yes Please!


The first remake hit it out of the park. Yamato 2199 was both inspiring an intelligent. It was quite faithful to the original series while being sufficiently different to genuinely surprise the fans. It was one of the best military themed shows of the last several years. Now they are doing what certainly looks to be a similar reimagining of season 2. 

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September 14, 2016

37 Days



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Well, This Is Nicely Done.


I must say that I am much more interested in seeing an Overwatch series of some sort than I am the game. 

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August 28, 2016

Palate Cleanser

Well, that last post was not at all uplifting, so, as atonement, here are three characters from the best show of the season...

...cheerily being highly deceptive about their show. 

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August 14, 2016

Operation Chromite

This may warrant some attention....


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Re: Zero


Unimpressed by the premise and the series poster (which screams harem) I started this show several weeks late. Life's little interventions have seen to it that I'm still 5 episodes behind, but this series warrants some comment before I rectify that transgression.

Re: Zero Starting Life in Another World is yet another story about a directionless young man who is zapped (for reasons unclear) into a Tolkien-esque  land of adventure. 

But wait...don't go yet...

Subaru Natsuki takes a break from his grueling schedule of computer games to zip off to the local convenience store for a bite to eat, upon walking out his vision goes blurry for a moment and as as he refocuses, he notes that he is not in Saitama anymore...


Our intrepid hero, after a moment of astonishment is remarkably calm. Having played MMORPGs and watched anime all his life, his first conclusion is not that he has had a stroke, or suffered head trauma, but that he has been drawn to this world to be a champion. 

Over the course of the day he notes that he is illiterate in this land, has no legal tender, no special powers, and his starting inventory consists of a bag of nabs, a cup of tonkatsu ramen, a manga, a cell phone ( that is of limited utility as he is currently out of area) a jogging suit, a wallet and a plastic bag. Things begin to deteriorate from there until he encounters a young half-elf lady who introduces herself as Satella.

 
She determines, via inspection of his hands and physique that Subaru must (like her) be foreign nobility. They assist each other for approximately 17 minutes at which point the aforementioned situational deterioration resumes...with interest.  

This is an astonishingly well written and thought out show. Subaru is a teenage geek and the story pulls no punches in laying out his delusions and incompetence.  However, while he is realistically portrayed as initially pigheaded and self absorbed, he gets better in a believable (given the conceits of the show) and satisfying way. This is some of the best character development I've seen in a while. Subaru screws up a fair amount, but his errors are often not stupid. He learns from his mistakes and even when he learns the wrong thing he never stops fighting the good fight. Subaru is also terribly alone, not just because he's in a strange land, but because he becomes privy to a secret he cannot share, and what those around him assume to be flashes of insight are earned in the most horrible and painful way possible.  

"Satella" is an astonishingly well realized character. She too is, for different reasons, quite pointedly alone. However, what is remarkable about her is that her responses to events and, in particular, Subaru's antics are all quite realistic (given the caveat that she's a bit of an odd duck). She is very well written and comes across as an actual, complex, believable young woman. She is a magic user of some skill, but she has great strength of character as well.

This is one of those shows that looks like the writers sold it to corporate as a harem show, and included several potential suitors for our hero in the concept art. However, that is a cunning misdirection. While there is, at episode 14 at least the potential for a love triangle or an alternate love interest in another extremely well realized female character, this is not a harem show at all. In fact the poster at the top is quite misleading as it leaves out all of the male characters except the protagonist...some of whom are actually attached to women in the picture

Re: Zero Starting Life in Another World  is (as of episode 14) a first rate fantasy, gut wrenchingly dark at times, but surprisingly intelligent and  beautifully characterized. This is a really good show that has kept me on the edge of my seat. I'm enjoying it immensely. 

Do note that there are two pilot episodes(1A&1B)...you do need to watch them both. 

UPDATE:Also, while this is a wonderful character centered adventure, I may have understated how graphically violent this tonal rollercoaster occasionally is. 



Oh look. They added Frank N. Furter to the parody poster.

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August 07, 2016

Well. This Should Cover All the Bases.....



...except dinosaurs. There is a disturbing lack of dinosaurs, and given how wide a net she was casting, I can only take that as a personal slight. 

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July 24, 2016

Wait! They LIED to us!

I'm not complaining...I just didn't expect....this.

Wait for it...

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July 04, 2016

High School Fleet Ends

Pinch me, so I know it's not a dream!



I wasn't the only one pleased to finally reach this last episode...though for different reasons than the Harekaze's torpedo officer.

Actually, the final episode was not terrible and the series as a whole would have been significantly better if episode 11 had not existed. The few good moments of that debacle could have easily been incorporated into this story.

The whole 'Captain has a nervous breakdown' plot point from episode 11 was chucked into the scuppers and the climax revolves around a fairly satisfying battle with Captain Akeno handling her ship with great verve as it is is gradually shot out from under her. Some old friends arrive to provide support at a crucial moment...



...and Akeno uses the opportunity to get her stricken vessel (and the only available stock of the anti-zombie vaccine) alongside Musashi for a desperate boarding action in an attempt to save the day.



Afterwards, the crippled Harekaze is towed into port...



... where she sinks at her moorings as the sun sets.


Note: They are explicitly in Yokusuka, which is surrounded by mountains and cliffs, except to seaward, ie: to the east-southeast. Yes, the sun is setting in the east. 

However, we never do get an explanation for why this senior officer (who, I note, is outside without her combo cover) has cat ears.


"Is it over?...Is it finally over?"

All in all, High School Fleet had some neat moments but required way too much suspension of disbelief  to be taken seriously,  I confess, I liked its tendency towards didactic solutions to the problems the girls faced but the show devolved rapidly into a largely inchoate mess. 


The one sane person on the ship...screaming internally.

I think it was Pixy who hypothesized a process whereby writers put a bunch of current tropes on a dartboard, throw three darts and build a show based upon where those darts landed, in this case 'Cute Girls in HighSchool Doing Club Stuff' 'Naval Otakuism'...'Zombies'.  Sometimes it would probably be a good idea to ponder ones options...and go back to the dartboard.

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June 26, 2016

Oh Look...Miku-Miku Overwatch


Note though, that if you are not utterly appalled by the very existance of Overwatch, then you are probably a terrible terrible person for reasons that I don't quite get due to us terrible people not being self aware. However, some clue to the reason for our awfulness can possibly be gleaned from the following video that lays out the reason some are offended rather better than the people who say they are offended...which isn't saying much. 

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June 21, 2016

The Learning Never Ends

I confess I'd been under the impression that Papi was just a comic book character and wasn't real at all. 



Still looking for source.
Now I know better.
I won't be eating any crow over this though...out of respect.

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June 19, 2016

I Have Concluded That Bikes are Better than Boats


 Art by まりも氏

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June 18, 2016

Pinch Me When This is Over

In the latest episode of High School Fleet, our intrepid Captain Akeno has a complete nervous breakdown.


"SECURE THE STRAWBERRIES!"

What follows is not the XO relieving her and taking command, but some nonsense about everyone coming together to support the CO because she's the CO and that's what you do...and stuff...

OK that was a mess.

On to more important things....

With Sena Ingenoh having left the show, I think that Wonderduck is right, the stoic lookout is the secret star of this story. 


To maintain modesty while doing this in a skirt requires great skill indeed.

She regularly sees ships well before they are noticed on that silly thing called radar, she does her job without drama and a few episodes ago she waltzed in and saved the day when....well...there were zombies and she had a couple of supersoakers filled with Zom-B-Gone.  She certainly is the brightest flame in this dumpster fire of a series.

Meanwhile, Captain Catgirl returns. Actually, we find out that the catgirl is a commodore and is named Hiraga. There is still absolutely no explanation for why she has cat ears.



She leads an abortive attack on Musashi using a scratch force of fast but lightly armed vessels  which she handles with considerable verve, despite being completely outgunned. If one took away the whiny whininess of Akeno's neurosis in this episode, there would be a very solid 7 minute or so episode revolving around Hiraga's hopeless action and the desperate efforts  Alas, we had to sit through the other 23 minutes of Akeno sucking her toes. 

Captain Akeno's funk is abruptly resolved via condiments and the episode ends with the crew gearing up for the climactic battle which will be next week...rather than this week, presumably because they contracted for 12 episodes and had put this weeks utter non-sequiter into the show to pad out the story. 

One more episode and then I'm free. 

.WEBMs via danbooru

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May 30, 2016

My Credulity is Being Pinched



Sadly, I think they are talking ABOUT the plot, rather than anything occurring IN the plot.

High School Fleet is an absolutely amazing mess. 

Something has been nagging me about this for several episodes and I couldn't put my finger on it until now: This series has very good animation, an overarching plot and some very Japanese moments...but the generally PC feel of the world, the didactic resolutions to the various pinches the girls find themselves in, and spectacular catastrophes with body counts of zero all result in an overarching tone that actually reminds me of a Hanna Barberra adventure cartoon from the '70s or perhaps a Rankin Bass show from the '80s. 

There are some neat bits, the tactical use of tide-tables being a particularly good moment, and the overarching threat is a global one that the girls thus far have been able to stave off via their wits (and the Deus Ex Machina of having their corpsman in training be a prodigy). However High School Fleet continues to steer erratically through the strait separating naval otakuism from the great derp reef. So far the show has run aground on both shores multiple times. 

But enough forced metaphors, I cannot in good conscience recommend this show to my readers, though I will continue watching this train wreck because it amuses me for some reason (most likely a deep-seated character flaw on my part).

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May 22, 2016

Though it Pinches my Patience, I Persevere



In my review of episode one of this show I mentioned that, while I was unsure about it, I thought it had considerable potential. Now, 5 episodes in...I find my position unchanged.

You see, High School Fleet, is one of the most bi-polar shows I've seen in years.

Watching this can be rough, since like the waves upon which it is set, it alternates between crests of utter win and troughs that bottom out and threaten to break the very keel of the plot. 
Part of this is due to the fact that Crunchyroll's subtitle job on this looks to be a bit off, at least in the early episodes. The background regarding the world setting and even the year (is it set in the future or an alternate present /past?) is sufficiently self-contradicted that I think the confusion is actually a translation issue. Furthermore, the translator seems simply not aware of many nautical terms and of course there are (presumably) many (understandably) unfamiliar Japanese nautical terms adding to the general perplexity. 

The show starts out as "Cute girls doing cute things...on warships" an obvious attempt to cash in on the Girls und Panzer phenomenon from a few years ago. However whereas that was essentially a sports anime with tank fighting being the sport, the tension in this series comes from rather higher stakes than loosing a sporting event. There is something quite sinister afoot and the girls unexpectedly find themselves fighting...for their lives. The show, however retains, most of the time the feel of an ensemble 'cute girls in high school' show with the training destroyer's departments serving the same function as school clubs or the individual tank crews in Girls und Panzer

This leads to a highly schizophrenic alternation between "cute" and "thriller" that was beginning to give me a headache.

Just when I was about to pick up the towel and throw it in however....



Sena from Haganai showed up!

OK, canonically her name is Wilhelmina Braunschweig Ingenoh, but come ON! It's Sena without the butterfly pin. Sena Miss. Ingenoh was the student XO of a German school ship, the Graff Spee, which was built to look exactly like it's World War 2 antecedent right down to the plaque on the bridge.  



Our heroine's encounter with the German school ship is not as congenial as they might have hoped, but through an unlikely set of circumstances Ingenoh ends up stuck on the Harekaze. This is fortuitous, as their newfound Teutonic shipmate apparently has a genetic affinity for submarines and talks the crew through a nicely portrayed ASW evolution using World War ONE techniques (all they have is a set of paravanes and a single depth charge). 



Thanks to Frau Ingenoh's timely intervention our heroines survive long enough to learn a valuable lesson about conserving toilet paper...and  to develop a mouse problem. 

This show seems almost to be a satire of several different genres. It's a bizarre mess at times but is making me smile in spite of myself. 

In any event,  Sena's in it, so sacred honor dictates I should watch a few more episodes at least, if only to figure out what the HELL this completely gratuitous catgirl is doing here. 



Admit it. You did not expect that sentence to end that way. The individual appears to not even a main character. All the students seem to be baseline human, but during an interrogation of one of our heroines, a naval investigative officer with all of three lines of dialog just happens to have unremarked upon cat ears poking out the top of her head. This comes out of the blue and if one blinked it would have been missed. 

I think this show may just be trolling us...but I'm curious enough that I've got to watch more. 

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