September 15, 2014

Arpeggio of Blue Steel -- finished

And I'll give them credit: they kept surprising me. I never knew what was going to come next, but I always like what it turned out to be. This was excellent story telling from start to finish.

I think my favorite character was Hyuga; she's a kick. And another way they surprised me:

Now the bad:

So obviously they were hoping to do a sequel, and maybe explore some of that in greater depth. I-401's trip back to Japan will be much less hectic

Another complaint:

I rather like the fact that

UPDATE: Iori didn't get enough screen time.


I ended up with 39 frame grabs, but most of them are ship avatars.

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September 14, 2014

Arpeggio of Blue Steel -- ep 4

This is a surprisingly interesting show, and it's being handled really well. I am not having to stretch my disbelief to the breaking point when I watch the battles, for instance. And I don't find myself thinking that Gunzou is any kind of Marty Stu.

I really like Iona's voice performance, so I looked the seiyuu up. My last encounter with her was as Miho in Girls und Panzer. This voice is sufficiently similar so that I believe it's the same seiyuu but sufficiently different so that I believe she's versatile.

There are obvious mysteries about Iona, and I presume we'll find out what they are before the series ends.

It's a unique concept. And I have to say that the animation looks really good. All of it is CG including the characters, and it works.

UPDATE: Well, episodes 5 and 6 were certainly a change of pace...

UPDATE: Ep 7 was a beach episode.


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NyaaTorrents returns

I noticed that links to it started showing up on TokyoToshokan. There's probably a story behind all this but I doubt we'll ever learn what it was.

On to other things: Is Sherlock Holmes trademarked? The stories are out of copyright now, but trademarks don't expire as long as they're properly defended. Reason I ask is that the next "Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney" game is going to feature Sherlock Holmes.

And Watson: Iris Watson, 8 years old, supergenius with a Ph.D. in medicine and author of a series of books and articles about Holmes. She has pink drill twintails and looks like a refugee from steampunk.

Apparently it is normal for there to be cute underage girls hanging around in this series for no obvious reason.

Perhaps I should say "common" instead of "normal"...

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September 12, 2014

Nudity: Strike the Blood

Actually, there were only two in the entire 24-ep series. All the rest were shots from the rear or side or with artful placement of arms or hair strands. Disappointing, really. Anyway, NSFW below the fold.


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September 11, 2014

Strike the Blood -- ep 24, and done

And it was a pretty good ending. Not awesome, but not bad at all. There were some things I wanted that I didn't get, though.

The series suffers a bit from "sorting algorithm of evil", but they don't climb the power curve all that fast, so it doesn't feel as blatant as, for instance, DBZ. However, it suffers from accumulation of characters, and that does get out of hand. Every plot arc added one or more permanent characters, and it gets to the point where you can't even vacuum around them.

Everyone can still move in the last plot arc, but if there's a sequel series, it's going to get pretty damned crowded in the canon.

I had one big question, about Aiba:

Anyway, it was fun, and I'm glad I watched it. And it turns out that all the BDs are out now, so I'm downloading a complete BD raw. There was some really blatant fogging going on in the broadcast version I watched, and it'll be interesting to see what they did with it.

Recommended? Yes.
Rewatch? I can see myself rewatching parts of it.

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Strike the Blood -- cheesecake


There is a bit of it, anyway.

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Strike the Blood -- ep 12

I assume each plot arc is one light novel, and the third plot arc ended with ep 12. I think it was the most spectacular yet.

This show isn't giving me a lot of fan service, although we've seen two of the girls in their underwear briefly. What it is giving me is great magical battles, with lots of fireworks and lots of destruction -- and a small amount of blood on occasion, enough to make the battles believable without being so much as to be wallowing in gore. (Which I understand is the case in the series Freezing.)

I'm sensing some in-series tropes. One is Yukina saying, "No, sempai, we've won." She's said that in the final battle of each of the three arcs just before she administers the coup de grace. Another is Kojou getting henpecked by his harem afterwards, but that's de rigueur for a harem series.

Another is that every arc includes him drinking the blood of some new girl and awakening another of his familiars. He's got twelve, reportedly, so they can keep that going for quite some time.

Yukina continues to be interesting and powerful. His power is increasing and hers isn't, but she's good enough so that she isn't being left behind. She's also a smart fighter; she doesn't just rely on power and magic. And she hasn't been a damsel-in-distress yet.

Beethoven is quoted as saying that he had a hard time with endings in his pieces, because his music built up so much force and momentum that by the end most endings would have seemed anticlimactic. I'm wondering about this one; it's going to take one hell of a finale to make me feel sated and satisfied.

UPDATE: They're also borrowing ideas. The one about doors connecting all over the place, wasn't that in the Magic Users Club series?

UPDATE: And Yuuma is

UPDATE: Ep 19: "No, sempai, this is our fight." I think that was the fifth time Yukina has said that.

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September 10, 2014

Strike the Blood, through ep 4

What a novelty, an anime post on my anime blog.

A complete download of this series just came by on BakaBT so I decided to give it a try. At the very least, the girls look cute and I hoped it might offer some material for the top rotation.

On that count, at least, not so much so far. After four episodes I only got 7 images, so it's probably a washout unless they toss in a beach episode. But I'm really enjoying the show so far. Lots of cool battles, albeit with idiot enemies. But the two main characters, Kojou and Yukina, are really interesting and I like them both. It's also an interesting concept behind the story, and at least so far I'm buying it.

I'm definitely going to keep watching.

UPDATE: End of episode 8. Ep 4 was the end of the first plot arc, and ep 8 ends the second one. For a while I was afraid it was going to suffer from the sophomore curse, because it didn't seem to be as good. But it recovered and had a nice ending.

The big problem was that the second arc introduced a major pile of new characters, most of whom are continuing. But it worked after all.

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Archie McPhee (king of kitsch) has a bacon store.

If you ever visit Seattle, it's worth visiting the place just because it's so mind-blowingly tacky.

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September 09, 2014

Nerd Alert

There are certain signals which indicate that you should back away from someone slowly, and not meet their eye. Used to be that a pocket protecter full of pens in a shirt breast pocket was such a signal. Now Apple has given us a new one.

Ace says:

Apple has two advantages in this regard:

1. The company places a very high value on aesthetics, and there's no avoiding the fact that watches are generally understood to not merely be functional, but a form of jewelry. So maybe Apple can design a fake digital watch that you wouldn't be embarrassed to wear.

2. Apple's customers are slavish idiots and will buy dog feces if Apple puts them in a unibody aluminum casing.

That used to be true when Jobs was still alive, but I'm not sure that Apple as tribe/lifestyle/personal-brand/cult is still as potent a force as it used to be. A lot of glamour died when Jobs died, and these days keynotes are "Tim Who?"

There are still people like that, of course, but I don't think there are enough to let Apple get away with releasing junk and thinking it will sell just because of a fancy case and a logo. They couldn't even when Jobs was still alive, for instance the original iMac was a flop. (Beautiful case design but underpowered electronics. Word got around fairly quickly that as a computer it was second rate.)

So now we have the Apple Watch. (No "i" in there anywhere?) And none of the pictures I've been able to find show it on anyone's arm, so that we can get some idea of how big it is. It isn't available yet, anyway, and I think all the publicity shots that do exist are all renders. I didn't see anything that looked like a real photograph.

The thing is, there's a tradeoff here: if the screen is too small, it's useless. If the device is too large, it's a nerd alert and anyway it's uncomfortable to wear. Is there a sweetspot in the middle? Apple must think there is, but I am not sure. It may be a sour spot where the unit is both too small and too heavy.

There's a women's size and a men's size. They don't call them that, but it's obvious. The women's size is 38 mm tall; the men's is 42 mm. That isn't all that big a difference, and it isn't clear what proportion of that is screen and how much you lose to the bezel.

And no matter how big it is, there is no damned way that it's going to be reasonable as a way of entering text. One shot includes receiving a text message, but how can you answer it? The only answer I can see would be Dymo-mode: you turn the rotary control until the next letter you want is showing, then click the button to move to the next position. Believe me; this is not convenient.

Also, battery life? More battery means more weight. Since it turns on every time you lift your arm (so I read) it's gonna burn a lot of power during periods when the owner isn't actually looking at it. How do you recharge it? And how often?

I confess that Apple's industrial designers have scored again. It really does look nice, at least in the rendered publicity shots. But will it look nice on someone's arm? Or will it become a nerd alert? I know which way I'm betting.

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