January 19, 2015

Where are they now?

This is really good. I have no idea where he found it, but it's perfect.

Those people were originally older than I was, and I look like that now. (I particularly like the comb-over. Which I don't have to do because I didn't go bald.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Entertainment at 06:59 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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Nanatsu no Taizai -- ep 14, disguises for Princess Elizabeth

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January 18, 2015

Absolute Duo -- ep 3

I think this series may have potential. This episode wasn't harem hijinks (mostly); instead, it was combat. Usa-sensei (Professor Bun-bun) tells them that today's lesson is called New Blade Battle.

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All the duos spread out all over the campus, and between 5PM and 7PM they fight any other duo they encounter. The goal is to be the last duo standing.

More, including spoilers, below the fold.

more...

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January 17, 2015

Pronunciations

I've heard two examples recently of how the Japanese think English speakers pronounce Japanese names.

In theory every mora in Japanese except ん is what we English speakers would call a consonant followed by a vowel. However, there are three major exceptions to that: す su,tsu, and し shi often drop the vowel sound and get pronounced respectively as s, ts, and sh.

Anyway, in the first episode of season 3 of Dog Days, there's a segment of Nanami and Shinku competing in the Iron Athletics competition in London, and the announcer (I think he's supposed to be English but he sounds Australian to me) pronounces Nanami's surname "takatsuki" as tah-kah-tsoo-kee. The Japanese pronounce it as tah-kats-kee.

The other is in the last episode of Arpeggio of Blue Steel. The US Navy in San Diego transmits a message to Japan informing them that the sub arrived safely. It's addressed to Yokosuka. The Japanese pronounce that yo-ko-ska but the American (and it was an American this time) says yo-ko-soo-ka.

Neither case was played for laughs; there was no feeling of "laughing at the gaijin". But I have a feeling that this kind of error is kind of a brand for English speakers, just like mixing up "L" and "R" is a brand for Japanese trying to speak English.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 09:45 PM | Comments (15) | Add Comment
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Dog Days'' -- ep 2

Season 3 is turning out to be more like season 1, which was something I hoped would happen. Season 2 was a lot of day-in-the-life stories, which was cool because it was the life of Earth Kids on a world full of animal-people who used magic and did all kinds of cool stuff. So it wasn't anything at all like my life.

But season 3 looks to be telling longer term story arcs, and they're back to dealing with demons again. I don't know if the current arc is going to end up occupying the entire series or not; that could go either way. But episodes 1 and 2 are part of a story arc and it's only just beginning.

At the end of ep 1, Nanami and Shinku had found their luggage and reequipped, and were finally able to fight at full power, which they did at the last moment to defeat a demon which was attacking Sharl.

"Sharl" seems to be her name (probably "sharu" in katakana, but the "L" sound is definitely coming through in how everyone pronounces it). She's a horse-girl (which is awesome).

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This one looks like an iPad.

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Things have changed since series 2. The obvious utility of "Brave Connect" has led to a lot of other people creating magical video phones of various forms, and it seems that both Shinku and Nanami had them in their luggage. (Why?) so at the beginning of this episode they both phone home, to Milliefiore and Leo respectively. So the panic is off; everyone knows that Shinku and Nanami are fine, and knows where they are: The Dragon Forest on the Corone Plateau.

Sharl introduces herself as ryuu no miko desu. Which means "I am the dragon priestess". Interestingly everyone knows the title. She's been living alone, so suddenly having dozens of visitors, let alone such important ones, is kind of overwhelming for her.

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She gives Shinku and Nanami a bit of a tour and shows them a couple of the true dragons. The demon attacks started a few months ago, and they are weakening the true dragons. The true dragons seem to be elemental gods, even more important than the tochigami (land gods) like Yuki, and they seem to be weakening. The smaller demons are coming from a large one somewhere and Sharl hasn't found it yet. She's very worried.

She doesn't want help, but she's going to get it anyway. You know that.

There's a demon attack while they're waiting, and Sharl goes out to fight it. She tells Shinku and Nanami to not get involved, but of course they don't listen. Sharl stops the first demon, but the second one, which flies, almost bags her. Shinku saves her. And this is when Couverte shows up. The sky knights then fight the demons.

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D'Arquien is obviously concerned, and asks Valerio and Adelaide to look into it. They're talking and then have an "oh shit" moment when they realize what it is. They stand up and start issuing orders for a full military alert and movement of all forces to the dragon forest. They also order messages sent to the other nations. Seems that the demon in question could eventually threaten the entire continent.

So it looks like the quest I hoped for is going to happen: everyone hunting some titanically powerful demon. The central force looks to be the three heroes, Couverte, Gaul, the Genoise, Rico, and Eclair. Those are the people who are with Sharl now. And I couldn't have hoped for better.

Here's a bet: We've seen that it's possible for two ring-wearers to combine their power in a single attack. Millefiore and Leo did it against that giant rabbit. I bet we see a six-way attack, three monarchs plus three heroes, before this is all done, because I bet the final boss is too strong even for Brioche.

Will this story arc fill the entire series? I think it's possible it might run like 10 episodes, leaving two at the end for wrapups and character moments. If so that will be just fine with me.

UPDATE: I'm not at all surprised by this. The second series does feel like "day in the life" stories, but if you look closely they're laying a lot of groundwork. They introduced two new heroes, one entire new country, set up the relationships between them all, introduced Adelaide and Valerio and Itsuka, and gave us a lot of back story. Since they didn't intend to use any of it in the second series, they took their time and did it in small pieces, spread out over all 12 episodes. But look at how much different the situation is at the end of the second series compared to the first!

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Rokujouma no Shinryakusha -- the rewatch

I'm rewatching Rokujouma no Shinryakusha and it's not terrible. It's far from being the worst harem show out there.

I know that's damning with faint praise, but it's true. If I have any complaint it's that like so many shows based on light novels, it doesn't actually complete the story. Sometimes that's because they're trying to leave themselves open for sequels, and sometimes it's because the books don't finish the story either. I have no idea which is the case this time, but the biggest questions are about the character, who might be or at least possessed by one.

Since there have been 20 books so far in the series, either the author has resolved this or doesn't intend to ever do so.

My other main complaint is that I wish that Yurika wasn't a "butt monkey". The show is really cruel to her, and she doesn't deserve it. I never understood why she didn't just do some spectacular magic in front of all the others to prove to them that she's really a magical girl, and not a cosplayer.

That said, it's nice to watch the relationships between the characters develop, and watch the characters themselves develop. I call this a harem show because it's one guy and a swarm of attractive (albeit rather odd) girls, but in fact there isn't really a lot of romance going on.

I think episode 5 is my favorite in the series.

It's a major turning point in all the character relationships. And it's awesome watching Theia using her shoulder-mounted blasters to zorch a whole swarm of enemy ghosts.

UPDATE: Wikipedia says there are 16 light novels, but the web site for the series lists 20.

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January 16, 2015

Awesome movies no one has ever heard of

Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda starring Robert Carradine.

UPDATE: Here's the trailer. The CGI is surprisingly good for a Roger Corman movie.

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January 14, 2015

Shinmai Maou no Testament -- eps 1 and 2

When I first heard about this show I assumed that it would be like High School DxD, an excuse for major league fan service. It even features a busty redhead demon, just like HSDxD did.

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I wanted to see just how bad the pandering was, so I downloaded raws of the first two episodes, thinking, "I don't even want to know what they're saying."

But I got halfway through the first episode and I got intrigued. It looked like it might well be better than I had assumed. So I went back and downloaded subs of both episodes, and then watched them again.

Well, now I'm back to thinking it's mainly about pandering. I'm not going to recap the episodes, exactly, but I will spoil the story and provide a few typical screen caps below the fold.

more...

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January 13, 2015

Nanatsu no Taizai -- ep 13

We're into the second half of the series now, and things are beginning to get serious, and complex.

more...

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January 12, 2015

Absolute Duo -- ep 2

So this episode is mainly about completing the establishment of the series foundation.

First is to introduce the rest of the harem:

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On the left is Tachibana, who is from a family that runs a famous group of dojos. Her fighting skill is excellent. On the right is Hotaka, whom the teacher calls "oppai-chan", Miss Boobs. And indeed it seems her special power is gainaxing, and probably her main job in the series. She can't seem to move without doing a lot of jiggling and bouncing. I'm waiting for the teacher to call her "boin-chan".

And this guy (no, not part of the harem) is rather odd:

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All he seems to do is flex and grunt. The teacher calls him "Barbarian-san". He reminds me of Papoi-kun:

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So it's gym class now, and everyone is supposed to spend it fighting in pairs. Initially Julie takes on Tachibana, and does very well.

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Which impresses, and quite frankly terrifies, everyone else:

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Which means no one else is willing to take her on, not even the guys. Eventually Our Hero does because he feels sorry for her. (We don't get to see the resulting fight, so no indication of whether he was able to keep up with her.)

At the end of this episode everyone is supposed to pick their permanent partners, or have partners assigned if they don't choose their own. Initially Our Hero wants to go with his friend with the glasses, but it won't surprise you too much to learn that he eventually partners with Julie.

If I were to characterize the story telling in this series, it would be pedestrian. There isn't any spark here; it's all by the numbers. This is pretty much a classic "magical girlfriend" story, with enough fighting and weapons to overlap into shounen territory. And Oppai-chan's presence (and all the closeups of her boobs) makes clear that they're pandering. Oh, and we get to see Julie take a shower at the beginning. IIRC there was a shower scene of her in the first episode, too. I think I didn't mention that Our Hero keeps waking up to find that Julie has crawled into bed with him. There's enough stuff like that going on to make it Pandering with a capital P. Keep going like this, and we'll have to put it in bold face and italics, too.

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I'll keep watching, I suppose, but this series is not going to be one I remember as top drawer. It will, however, make a substantial contribution to the top rotation, come the day.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 02:17 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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