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.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 10:01 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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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:


Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 12:16 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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July 22, 2016

"Fully Unclear"

We'll probably never know why he did it. It's a complete mystery, totally inexplicable. There isn't any precedent, I tell you; no pattern, nothing even slightly related or indicative. No hints. No clues.

It's a real head-scratcher.

The gunman in Munich killed 9 people, wounded 16 more, and then shot himself. He was 18 and held citizenships in both Germany and Iran.

Hubertus Andrae told reporters the gunman's motive was "fully unclear"...

Of course it was. We all knew that before you told us!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 10:22 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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July 21, 2016

You make this sound like it's a problem

Hugo, Colorado:

The Town of Hugo has been warned not to drink, cook or bathe using the local water supply, due to evidence of THC.

Thursday afternoon, Hugo Public Works told the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office about the issue in the town's water supply and investigators are assessing the situation with state authoritiesincluding the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Colorado State Patrol and federal authorities.

In other news, local motels and hotels report a flood of reservations being made from Berkeley.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 05:30 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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It isn't a grand old Flag

A nation's flag is important. It represents the nation, it leads men into battle. Men have died for flags, not just rhetorically, but literally. The raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi is one of the most iconic news photographs of the last century, and it's especially poignant since some of those men didn't live out the day.

A flag should mean something; it should represent the country. The US flag's meaning is well known: 13 stripes representing the original 13 colonies of the revolution, and a star in the upper left corner for every state. Which means that every time we add states, the flag changes, which last happened in 1959 when Alaska and Hawaii became states.

A flag doesn't have to be complex to be meaningful. The flag of Japan is a simple red circle on a white background, but it represents the rising sun, which has always been Japan's identity as the Land of the Rising Sun. And it's a noble flag.

I like the Union Jack. It is made up of the Flag of St. George representing England and Wales, the flag of St. Andrew representing Scotland, and the flag of St. Patrick representing Ireland. (Which could have become a sick joke in 1921, but isn't because Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom.)

These are flags with meaning, symbols that are symbolic. I've never felt that way about a lot of the flags of Europe; too many of them look like they were stitched out of spare rags from the nearest tailor shop and if they have any kind of symbolic meaning I never figured out what it was. This has bothered me my whole life!

So let's try a quiz, shall we: What countries are these flags?

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/images/Russia.png

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How many millions of men have died for these prosaic rags? And if they do have any kind of meaning, it's probably something like "Habsburgs Forever!"

(I've left the nation names as filenames on those pictures.)

Why is it that so many national flags in Europe are just two or three panels of solid colors, horizontal or vertical? Seems like there's a bunch of "...well, they're doing it!" going on here, and that's a hell of a reason for creating a symbol that men will die for. Pfeh.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Rants at 04:04 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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July 20, 2016

Heck of a good question!

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When I was a kid, I thought there would be some point where a gong would sound, and a switch would throw, and suddenly I'd be an adult and I'd know it.

I'm 62 and I'm still waiting. Somehow nothing like that ever happened. I've come to the conclusion that this old saw was actually the truth:

The only difference,
between men and boys
is the size of their lies
and the price of their toys.

The only real change, and I suppose it was a good one, was when I left home to go to college. After that I could decide to do things without having to ask permission from my mother. (My dad died a week before I entered college.)

All my life, deep down I had this irrational fear that someone was going to walk up to me someday and say, Nope, nope, it was all a mistake. We've decided you don't get to be an adult after all. You have to get back in the cage again and let other people run your life.

And now I'm facing that as a real possibility. I may have to enter a nursing home, and the prospect fills me with abject terror. I got two and a half weeks of that in November 2012 after my stroke when I was in the rehab hospital, and after one week I was ready to go home, at least mentally. (I sure wasn't physically, though.)

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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.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 09:31 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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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.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Site Stuff at 06:13 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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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.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 08:13 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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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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