July 18, 2016

Bleak, bleak I tell you

I don't remember a season where I had nothing to watch at all. Even if there wasn't anything else that excited me, I could watch something like Fairy Tail to get me through. But Fairy Tail is on another hiatus, waiting for the manga to get adequately ahead. Dragonball Super is still running, but it has jumped the shark. (Actually, it's been jumping the shark ever since it began, but initially they were OK sharks. But Dark Goku? From the future? Please...)

Ange Vierge looked like it might be OK. AT-X may be running it but AT-X raws haven't been showing up, and I suspect the reason is that they're running the same version as all the terrestrial stations, loaded with fog and obscuring light beams. So no one is posting AT-X raws because there isn't any point. And it'll be months before we see the BDs.

That's a disappointment, but another reason is that the show concept is idiotic. Generally, shows based on games don't tend to go well, especially if they're extended advertisements for the game. But even when not: Hikaru no Go bored me, and the only reason to watch Saki was the fan service. (I could care less about Mahjongg.)

It is theoretically possible for a game-based-show to transcend the game and be worthwhile in its own right, but right off the top I can't think of any. A lot of successes out that, if you measure success by how many episodes are involved, but I think it takes more than that. It takes, you know, a good story and good characters and things like that.

Ange Vierge doesn't seem to be measuring up. I downloaded the second episode but all I did was skip through it. I'll give them points for actually trying to tell a story and to have distinctive characters, but it doesn't seem to be very well done.

So what in hell am I going to blog about this summer? I'm getting tired of going through Gelbooru for cheesecake posts; they long since became repetitive and redundant, and I'm running out of reasonable keywords. (I got a long list of unreasonable keywords, however.) The idea of starting to post about politics again really doesn't feel like anything I want. Every time I even mention politics, just in passing, to be funny, the Earnest and Committed come out of the wood work and infest my comments.

I have occasionally made genuine political posts, and I always turn off comments for them because I know what would happen. (I really don't want to repeat my experience with USS Clueless.)

Ah! Alternative Energy! Just the thing! (Moan, whimper...)

About the only things that come to mind are the occasional posts where I think of something strange, like magical girls, or going back and watching and posting about old shows I skipped the first time, except that I skipped them for a reason and the reason still applies.

I suppose I can come up with something, but it probably won't be every day. I've been trying really hard to post something every day, but I doubt I can keep doing so.

I apologize in advance, folks. Sometimes life sucks.

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You know how it is, you follow a link and then you follow another link and then you find a series you never considered before and decide to download it. So I ended up with a copy of the first Durarara!! series and watched 2.5 episodes of it before dropping it like a hot rock.

ANN categorizes it as "action, comedy, drama, mystery, supernatural, thriller" and it is all of those. They didn't mention "horror" but really should have. Ye Gods.

I got onto Wikipedia for the series, which is my main source for spoilers these days, and it has a separate page for main characters. Where I found out some stuff:

That seems so ridiculously out of character as to make me wonder if there's really any kind of coherency to the story telling at all.

The headless motorcycle rider is obviously the most interesting character in the series. I had seen her in fan art and so on and didn't know where she came from. Her story seems to be the center of this series, but I'm not willing to wade through all the other stuff just to learn the rest of it.

Actually, by the time I gave up, the series was nauseating me. Just not my kind of thing. So I'll be deleting it.

UPDATE: It's always hard to write a really good bad guy. The problem is coming up with a plausible motive for him, a reason why he's doing what he's doing and really wants to do it.

The bad guy this time,

And that's a cop out. It's just too easy to make your antagonist insane and vicious. It's lazy writing.

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July 16, 2016

Where do magical girls come from?

A surprising amount of the time they arise out of other series which are completely unrelated.

Triangle Heart was originally a series of computer games of the "seduction sim" genre. In the third game the main character was Kyouya Takamachi. Shirou, his father, was a ninja (or a bodyguard?) and trained Kyouya in the art. Then Dad was murdered, and Kyouya is thrown into a vicious battle, which includes a lot of amazing girls, which along the way Kyouya has the opportunity to seduce. (Ick.) His adopted sister Miyuki is one of them. (Double ick.)

Shirou's second wife was pregnant when he died, and the resulting kid sister is named Nanoha. (Ahem.) In the series she's 12 years old and doesn't really participate in the story.

Eventually this particular game was turned into a 3-episode OVA, and when it was released on DVD they tossed in an omake, in which Nanoha was presented as a magical girl. The character we know as Chrono Harlaown was the opponent and the character we know as Lindy Harlaown was presented as a pixy who accompanied Nanoha. It was only a couple of minutes long and it's obvious they did it as a lark.

Little did they know. It was released in 2003, and in 2004 they turned it into a 13-episode series which was, to be blunt, vastly more successful than Triangle Heart ever even hoped to be. Since then it has become a franchise, spawning three more TV series (one of which was 2 cours) and two movies, plus mangas and books and lots of collectibles, and so on. It looks like the franchise may have begun to peter out, however; Vivid wasn't released on BD, and that's never a good sign. Also, the third movie has stalled in production.

IMHO the second movie is the single best entry in the franchise and if you only watch one thing, that should be it.

So that's one example.

Soultaker is a horror series that came out in 2001. Our Hero was stabbed by his mother and buried alive, but gets dug up by a mysterious girl, and then it gets strange. The mystery girl is named Komugi and I don't really know a lot more than that.

What I do know is that they spun off Komugi into a 5-episode ecchi comedy called "Nurse Witch Komugi", back in 2002. I don't know how successful it was. I watched part of it and the only thing I really remember as being noteworthy was a character with blue hair who had a spectacular figure.

In 2016, for some unfathomable reason, someone decided to turn this into a 1-cour series which ran in the first season of this year. I didn't watch it, but the ANN description makes clear that she becomes a magical girl in it.

That's two.

Fate/Stay Night is a very successful franchise based on a completely ridiculous (IMHO) conceit, but that is true of a lot of shows. I never watched it. But at its core it was about the "Grail War" in which a bunch of random people are each assigned a mysterious familiar and have to fight it out to see who gets the Holy Grail and the right to make a wish. (Our Hero's familiar is a gorgeous blonde named Saber, and it turns out that she is actually the reincarnation of... King Arthur. Ick.)

It's a very successful franchise, with several TV series, various mangas and books, at least one movie, and lots of associated statuettes, posters, and lots of other goodies.

One of the competitors was a loli named Illya (and IIRC her familiar turned out to be Hercules), and someone had the bright idea to spin her off into a completely unrelated series where she was a magic girl. That ran in 2013 and the second sequel is running right now.

So... some magical girls, at least, come from existing series which have nothing at all to do with magical girls. And it occurred to me that it should be possible for us to nominate future candidates for this.

The rules are:

1. The character is a girl, ideally young but not necessarily so, and she doesn't have a spectacular figure (yet).
2. She isn't the main character of the series she's in. Ideally she's a minor character who doesn't make all that much of a difference.
3. The series she is in isn't about magic and she herself doesn't have any extraordinary powers.

So here are some candidates I thought of and rejected:

Vivio -- she's already a magical girl and she's part of a magical girl franchise already. Besides which, she already has her own series.
Haruka (Pokemon) -- She's too main a character and anyway she is also already a magical girl, in a franchise which effectively is about magic.
Mitsuko (Railgun) -- She's already a magical girl. (She's level 4 and her power is called "Aerohand".)
Kurumi (Musaigen no Phantom World) -- would be perfect except that she's already a magical girl in series about magic and she's a main a character.
Kuzuha (Hagure Yuusha) is already a magical girl, and a main character.
Natsuki (Keroro Gunsou) is too much a main character.

I do have a few possibilities but I'm not really happy with any of them.

Ursula Abramov (Mouretsu Pirates). She's the member of the yacht club with green hair that likes to wear monster costumes. My idea is that in the new version she gains monster powers when she does that, but we'd have to place the story somewhere (and somewhen) else. Uminoakehoshi just isn't the right place for it.

Karina Sakaguchi (Girls und Panzer). Karina is the driver for Team Rabbit. She's 16 but she's also scrawny, and I think she's make a great magical girl. But I have no idea what kind of scenario would result.

Rize Tedeza (Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?). This would be great, except that it would be even better if it wasn't "magical girl" and instead was "Girl with gun". Mild-mannered coffee server by day, top bracket glamorous spy by night, Rize serves the forces of light by hunting down and neutralizing bad guys! Or something like that.

Saya (Dagashi Kashi) is another borderline case. I think she might be too old for it to really work. (She's the same age as Karina but a lot more mature physically, so the effect would be different.) The show she's in is a comedy and I think her magical-girl spinoff would have to be a comedy, too, and that's a problem. Generally comedies about magical girls don't really work IMHO.

None of these are really very good nominations, and it's a bit surprising I can't come up with anything better.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 05:41 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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July 15, 2016

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

I've been waiting all this week for the AT-X version of Ange Vierge but it hasn't come along. I'm not sure exactly when it'll happen but I suspect it's going to be late this evening.

In the mean time, someone pushed the "Live in interesting times" button, or more like started pounding on it with a hammer. Monstrous terror attack in France yesterday, and now there's been a military coup in Turkey.

Actually, the coup I've been expecting has been Venezuala but that keeps not happening. (If I was an insurance company I sure wouldn't be willing to offer a life insurance policy to Maduro.)

The whole world is going crazy, and all I want is to see Amane in the bath without fog. Is that too much to ask? (My luck, it'll turn out that the AT-X version isn't decensored.)

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Can the undead breed?

Apparently so! This may be the beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 08:19 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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July 14, 2016

Bastille Day

Bastille Day is often described as being France's equivalent of America's Independence Day (i.e. July 4), but it isn't really true.

Independence Day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which was later delivered to King George by some amazingly brave men. (King George could have ordered them all to be executed for treason, after all.) That began the American Revolutionary War, which is unquestionably one of the most important political events of the last 500 years, one which completely changed the history of the World. So we Americans celebrate the Declaration of Independence because our revolution was successful and established our nation, which continues to this day.

Such as not the case for Bastille Day. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille, a prison in Paris where political prisoners were being kept. This began the French Revolution, which is another major political event, in which the French people deposed the Bourbon monarchy. But it was a fiasco. The French Republic only lasted a few years, and then the French people got so sick of it that they turned everything over to Napoleon, who reigned as Emperor for about 10 years while plunging Europe into the biggest and bloodiest war there before World War I. Once Napoleon had been defeated and imprisoned by foreign countries, the Bourbon's once again took over rule of the nation.

Bastille Day was July 14, 1789. Napoleon took power May 18, 1804 and reigned until April 11, 1814. (Not counting the Hundred Days), which meant that the whole business lasted 25 years yielding nothing except a huge pile of dead bodies.

And since then they have changed governments an appallingly large number of times by their own will. Currently they're on their Fourth Republic (UPDATE: Actually, the Fifth Republic), intermixed with two bouts of monarchy not counting Napoleon.

Anyway, Bastille Day is theirs, and they celebrate it, and today during a fireworks display in Nice a truck driven by a Tunisian deliberately plowed into the crowd. As I write this the death toll is 77 and there are hundreds of injured. The death toll is sure to keep rising. After the truck stopped, the driver popped out and started shooting at such people as were still around, until police showed up and started shooting at him. He's been "neutralized" but whether that means he's dead or captured or seriously wounded we'll find out later.

It's a terrible tragedy. The Guardian says that the biggest concern now is anti-Muslim backlash. Of course. Obama hasn't said anything that stupid yet, but it's only a matter of time.

After the suicide attack last November Hollande invoked a National State of Emergency and there were a lot of raids in Paris and elsewhere to try to root out terrorist cells. Obviously very successful. This morning he announced he was going to lift the State of Emergency. The man's timing is impeccable.

I have a feeling that Hollande's name is going to be "Mud" fairly soon in France, if it isn't already. He's running for reelection, and good luck to him.

In the mean time, the Guardian not withstanding, our main concern should be the wounded in today's attack and the families of all the casualties.

And then maybe the French will consider nuking ISIS.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 06:37 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
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July 13, 2016

Today's best question

I'm a regular on the Metafilter "Ask Mefi" subgroup, and today the best question in a long time came by:

I am fully aware that this is an obnoxious First-World problem, and yet... I've been an ethical vegetarian for over 30 years. I've felt that I want no part in farming or killing animals and I never wanted to eat them. Anyway, yesterday I accidentally ate bacon. I now love bacon and want to eat more bacon. My question SPECIFICALLY for people who didn't eat meat for ethical reasons but then started is how did you make it okay in your heart?

(I didn't post an answer but I've been sitting here chuckling for five minutes. So I thought I'd share.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 10:24 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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July 12, 2016

Hentai x Hentai

Ubu has done a public service by delving deep into HxH, including reading 7 of the light novels. He has two posts about it (one, two) which convince me even more that I want nothing to do with that series.

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Dennou Coil redux

So you thought Dennou Coil was just a TV show, eh?

Pokemon Go is making people do crazy things. An American in Iraq who is fighting against ISIS captured a pokemon on his cell phone. People have been hunting for pokemon in the Holocaust museum in DC, to the point where the museum has publicly asked them all to stop. (Reportedly someone captured a poison-gas pokemon there, but other people are saying they think it's a hoax.)

I wonder who will be the first to capture a pokemon inside the White House? or the Pentagon?

Cell phone use in public places is already obnoxious, and it's about to get worse.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 09:40 AM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
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July 11, 2016

Who's right?

Toys for the new Ghostbusters film are already in clearance, even though the film doesn't open for another four days.

On the other hand, it currently scores 77% (53 to 16) on Rotten Tomatoes. Who's right?

We'll know for certain on Friday, but right now I'm inclined to trust the people who are gambling money on it. The stores have put that stuff in clearance because it isn't selling. So if I was a gambling man, I'd be betting against it.

I won't be seeing it, but that's no distinction. The last movie I watched in a theater was "The Matrix". And I think that newest American movie I watched at home (on optical disk) was "The Incredibles". Hollywood lost me a long time ago. (It didn't help that I don't own a TV. I haven't missed it, either. And when I had a TV, the last show I watched regularly was "Good Eats".)

UPDATE: Anyway, come Friday I'll be too busy watching the AT-X version of "Ange Vierge"...

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Entertainment at 08:26 PM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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