July 25, 2016

Roar!!!

That's what "Bakuon!!" means; it's the onomatopoeia in Japanese for the sound of a motorcycle engine revving.

Pete watched three episodes and gave up on it. Far be it from me to try to convince him to change his mind (I always hate it when people try to do that to me) but I did have some comments.

People have made connections between the four main characters of this series to the "Top Wrench" (was that the name? Probably not...) series about cars and stuff made in the UK, and looked for other things.

But no one seems to have made the connection to Azumanga Daioh which I think is blatantly obvious.

AD didn't have a plot. It was the story of the three years of high school of a small group of girls who were all in the same class, and it simply told the story of all the things that happened to them which they thought were noteworthy. The way I imagine it, Azuma attended their ten year anniversary and got these young ladies together, bought them all beer (including Chiyo, by that point also an adult) and got them to reminisce about their years together in high school, and taped it with a hand-held recorder. Then he went back to his studio and wrote his cartoon.

Of course that isn't true. (Or is it?) But the only overarching story is just three years of high school.

AD is, in a sense, the iconic "cute girls doing cute things" series, but in most of those they set up the situation and then time freezes and things stop changing. What was most distinctive about AD was that time passed and things changed.

And Bakuon!! is in a sense the same way. It's a joke anime telling stories about a group of high school girls who love motorcycles, and if it feels disjointed it's because there isn't any overarching plot. It begins with the formation of the motorcycle club and the 12 episodes we were given cover about the first year and a half of it.

It wouldn't be wrong to call it "cute girls doing cute things on motorcycles".

Pete says he watched three episodes. That's an unfortunately place to give up, because episode 4 is the beginning of the Hokkaido trip, and it also introduces Kamisama. It also has an onsen scene, where we learn about Rin's Suzuki logo scar on her butt.

There isn't any series-level plot but there are long-term background stories going on, most prominent of which is the entire question of what is going on with Lime-sempai. I've written about her several times so I won't go into it again now. Kamisama is another one; he keeps showing up, and when he first met Hane he called her "the chosen one". Did that really mean anything?

In some ways, ep 11 is the most typical episode of the series. It tells three stories, each of which is self-contained, all of which are unrelated to one another, and all of which are hilarious. Only the last one contributes to the series continuity, and only in a small way.

Like AD, the situation does progress. In AD, they advance through the grades, and things change only because time is passing and people are growing up. And in Bakuon!! there are changes to the series continuity, like Chisame joining the club, getting her license, and buying her scooter. But it isn't plot because this series doesn't have a plot.

IMHO it doesn't need one. But that does make it a bit hard to wrap up at the end. AD ended with everyone graduating from high school and heading off to college. Bakuon doesn't run long enough for that, and I thought that the story they chose to wrap up ep 12 was about the best they could do. I liked it; it brought tears to my eyes. But Pete never got that far.

He linked to my first post about the series which I titled "Boobs and Bikes", but I wasn't really totally serious about that. I just liked the alliteration. It isn't really a fan service series. I mean it has some (especially the end of ep 5); but the boobs aren't the point of the show. It's about motorcycles and what it means for high school girls to become bikers. I really liked it, and I hope they give us another cour.

UPDATE: Oh, dear. I forgot how venerated Azumanga Daioh is in some circles and I seem to have commmitted sacrilege.

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July 24, 2016

Is it summer yet?

Everytime I visit the US Weather Bureau web site I see all kinds of warnings about hot weather in the midWest and NE.

It sure hasn't happened here; it's felt like late March for the last month or so: overcast with intermittent rain and highs in the upper 60's. Last couple of days we finally got into April. (It's supposed to hit 85 today.) The problem is the jet stream has been south of us:

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So while all of you are getting your weather blowing north from Mexico and the Caribbean, our weather has been coming down from Alaska.

About a month and a half ago we got 3 days of scorching heat. Well, "scorching" for us anyway; highs in the upper 90's. But then the weather turned cold and it's been cold ever since. I even had to turn on my apartment heat one time.

Oh, well; such is life.

I've become addicted to Haifuri. I've watched it something like 5 times now, and it just keeps getting better. The blatant idiocy of the concept is still evident but the characters are growing on me, and damn it can get exciting during the combat sequences.

A good sign that a series has gotten under my skin is when I start thinking "What comes next?" after the show is over, and so:

Also, it isn't a fan-service show, but they did give us a little.

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When I watch some of the battle scenes which involved larger ships, one thing I noticed is about the ships with 3-gun turrets like Graf Spee and Musashi: when they fire the guns don't all fire at once; they go bababoom.

Is that historically accurate? I've never seen anything like that before. I've seen film of American battleships firing at night and it looked to me like all three barrels fired simultaneously.

Staggered firing would make sense in terms of reducing wear on the turret bearing. Staggered firing would reduce gunnery accuracy by spreading the shells out. Which would be considered more important? In this show we see it from Hiei, Musashi, and Graf Spee, so they're making it both Japanese and German ships doing that.

UPDATE: Another thing that took me a long time to notice:


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July 20, 2016

Fat shaming?

For the love of God, why is this a thing? So-called "Super Pochaco" is a companion to Super Sonico -- or at least she's part of the same canon. Sonico's attractions are obvious, but why, oh why, is anyone interested in this Pochaco? Ye Gods!

Whatever it is, there are a lot of expensive figurines of her, and they wouldn't do that if they didn't sell. What next, a Super Pochaco anime? (Super Sonico got one, and IMHO it's better than it has any right to be. I enjoyed it.)

The way I understand it, Pochaco is Sonico's fan and decided to try to emulate her. But unless she has an amazing singing voice it's apparent that Pochaco is completely unqualified for the role of model and rock musician. (Sonico is also studying oceanography in college, by the way.)

I suppose I should have gotten over being surprised by Japanese fans a long time ago, but this one still massively perplexes me.

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July 18, 2016

Durarara!!

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 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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July 09, 2016

Ange Vierge -- ep 01

I'm going to hold off on a real post about this, so just a quickie for now.

It's about ⅓ Strike Witches, ⅓ Petite Princess Yucie, and ⅓ Pokemon, with lots and lots of nudity. About half the first episode was spent in bath scenes, all heavily censored with fog and rays of light, this being the MX version of the show. But it's also running on AT-X, so I'm going to wait until that shows up, if it does.

It's got a good voice cast, as it turns out. The basic concept: there are five worlds in five universes. One day something happened and opened a portal between the five worlds. At the same time it gave special powers some high school girls on each of the worlds. They've all collected together to fight a mysterious enemy called Neuroi Oroboros. It seems like the Oroboros opened the gateways, and there seems to be a tendency for all the worlds to eventually merge, which will destroy them all.

There are two kinds of girls involved in this fight. First are "Progress", front line girls who actually engage in combat. Then there are "Alpha Drivers", who sit in the rear and bond with the Progress, giving them power boosts.

Which is to say that this is based on a collectible card game and the Progress are cards and the Alpha Driver is the player. In our case our Driver is Amane and she has five Progress working for her, one from each of the worlds.

So more on this after the AT-X version of the show appears.

UPDATE: I might have known that Fapservice would be all over this (NSFW) and they say that it won't show up on AT-X for days, and it will still be censored. So I guess these are all Buy The BD's shots.

The most noteworthy thing for me was that Amane, the player surrogate, is voiced by Tamura Yukari, who does the voice of Nanoha Takamachi. She isn't actively trying to sound like Nanoha but she isn't trying not to, either, and it really does sound a lot like Nanoha.

Anyway, to the extent that there is any kind of story beyond "Hey, cute girls flying around firing energy blasts!" it seems to be about Saya, the magical girl from Earth who is in Amane's team. But it isn't much of a story, I suspect, and this is mainly going to be about eye candy.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 02:23 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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July 08, 2016

25:30?

The web site for Ange Vierge says that it's broadcast time is 25:30 on Saturday July 9. I've seen that before, and it's always confused me. I thought there were only 24 hours in a day. Is that not true in Japan? (If they've got a 25 hour day, maybe that's why they're so productive!)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 05:44 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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July 05, 2016

Naming fads

With fifty or sixty new anime titles each season, and this going on for decades, the studios have a hard time coming up with names for them. Sometimes they don't have to because the name comes from a manga or a light novel so it's someone else's problem.

But as a result when we look back on our history we find there are some trends which appear, get used a few times, and then fade away. Like using incoherent phrases in English (e.g. "Neon Genesis Evangelion").

The latest one seems to be to use WORDxWORD or LETTERxLETTER. I think it may have started with HunterxHunter, and continued with SisxSis (which became known to its fans as "SxS"). Then there was "High School DxD" and now this season we have "Masou Gakuen HxH".

The latter three were all soft core porn, and I think that LETTERxLETTER has become a shorthand for "pandering".

The first episode came out today and I didn't watch it. But Fapservice is right there, doing what they do best, and if you're willing to risk it, here it is.

It's borderline hentai. If this was broadcast on anything except AT-X, it probably got censored up the wazoo. I haven't seen anything so lewd since the Maken Ki OVA.

There's an audience out there for this kind of thing, but I'm not part of it. I can't drop it because I never picked it up, but if I had I would.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 07:58 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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Metanorn's Summer 2016 Picks

They don't call it a "preview" because they got tired of trying to be comprehensive.

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