europa, mimas

Video Thoughts: The Prequels Strike Back

Dropping in to the discount store across the corner on the weekend, I was wandering around its rack of cheap Blu-Rays when I saw two "previously owned" copies of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on display. A moment I'd imagined might arrive back when I hadn't bought the movie on its home video release had indeed come to pass, but I walked out of the store without a disc, remembering how hearing the special features had gone straight back to "isn't it wonderful there were so many animatronics on set?" had squashed what interest I might have had and how the movie's been available on Netflix up here for months but I've kept putting off making the time to watch it.
Instead of that...Collapse )

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apollo 13

Manga Thoughts: Arpeggio of Blue Steel 9

There are problems and problems, and "starting to feel a bit lost getting deep into a manga series" seems pretty far down the list. As I read through the ninth volume of Arpeggio of Blue Steel, though, I did wonder if my thoughts on this matter were becoming articulated enough to solve the different problem of "coming up with one more post," even if that's pretty far down the list too.

I must admit the general idea of "battling strange, superpowerful vessels that just happen to resemble Second World War ships and just happen to be personified by cute anime girls" got my attention. Hearing the anime turned over not just the "mechanical" but all of the "character" animation to computers, though, became an unfortunate sticking point; as much as there seemed some slight disagreement as to whether this series or Knights of Sidonia was mired deeper in the "uncanny valley," I'd gone for the outer space mecha series (and that after beginning to read its manga). Hearing the Arpeggio of Blue Steel manga was being published over here now, however, seemed to give me my easy way out.
Things drew me in well enough to begin with...Collapse )

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apollo 13

Manga Thoughts: Vinland Saga 8

Makoto Yukimura's Viking manga Vinland Saga has been through enough "this volume had better sell" squeezes staying published in English that hoping the story's next instalment will arrive can feel as harrowing as reading through some of its "Dark Ages" action itself. At the end of the seventh double-thick volume, I did react with some extra relief at the story's long-enduring protagonist Thorfinn closing a painful circle that had opened at the tale's very beginning. That relief, though, might have led to the thought that if things did have to leave off there, it would at least not have to face the question of whether Thorfinn's hard-gained resolve to build a new and better world by sailing west would only carry what he was now trying to escape with him.
When I heard there'd be an eighth volume published, though...Collapse )

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mst3k

Completed Collection Thoughts: MST3K XXXVII

Over the course of its two dozen official Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD collections, Shout! Factory has kept finding different ways to add jokes to the back cover copy; this time, there's a "Wikipedian" flavour to it. As for the actual selection of episodes, I was looking forward to them, even if I knew that to watch through it in the usual oldest-to-newest order would mean ending with an episode long stuck with something of a "difficult" reputation...

The sole "Joel episode" in the collection, "The Human Duplicators," did get me remembering over the course of its "cashing in on the dawning James Bond boom meets the miserable tag end of the previous decade's science fiction boom" action some personal thoughts of the close of the fourth season feeling like the show had reached a new level. Although the only extra on the disc was the "Mystery Science Theater Hour" segments, managing to omit the segment where "the host" (played by Mike Nelson) recaps the first hour's worth of the movie, I suppose you could try and see that as not distracting from thoughts of how the mood the show was striking at that point carried forward to the end of the brief seventh season and the second episode in the set, "Escape 2000." The six seventh-season episodes can all feel particular standouts to me (even when they can get hard to watch), but this one's cut-rate urban dystopian action seems to turn out quite well. The DVD's extras include an introduction by Mary Jo Pehl and a little documentary about the movie that points out it was a sequel to a previous "Bronx dystopia" (the bombed-out tenement exteriors might even have been location shooting in the then very run down South Bronx, a contrast of sorts to the cracks about how "Italian" the movie is), complementing an original trailer that includes a good deal more gruesomeness than could get on television.

From there it was on to the eighth season. This can be where I start thinking the show could become "meaner" not just to its movies but to pop culture in general (which ties in to my unfortunate distance from the "post-MST3K projects" and my continued uneasiness about having paid for the upcoming revival), but "The Horror of Party Beach" does seem ridiculous enough to still feel good-humoured; there's the same triumvirate of extras (the little documentary explaining just how much of an "outsider" project its northeastern seaboard beach horror was, but the trailer looking kind of dark and drab). As I closed out the collection with "Invasion of the Neptune Men," I tried to remember thoughts it was the final extended battle that seemed to really get to the humour. Mary Jo Pehl's introduction didn't dwell too much on this, but the little documentary, featuring the return of the knowledgable person who'd contributed to the extras for the previous Japanese movies Shout! Factory had released, did explain the final battle had been padded out with not just stock but repeated footage to make it long enough for American television. (He also said a bit about "Prince of Space," the sunnier-if-still-skewed sibling of the eighth season which had been released back on a "Rhino" DVD.) The original trailer at least looked sharper, and just perhaps a bit more impressive, than what wound up in Mystery Science Theater.

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apollo 13

Launching Again

I had taken note of the news that SpaceX said it had worked out just why one of its Falcon 9 rockets had exploded on the launch pad (well short of actually trying to launch, not the moment you'd most anticipate unexpected shocks) and was preparing to launch another rocket. Not having worked out the exact moment it would happen, though, I was surprised to see the effort had succeeded through a comment on the day's Peanuts comic strip. Beyond the extra bit of news that another first stage had landed on a seagoing barge, I found an odd sense of heartening interest in knowing the rocket had launched a whole cluster of replacement satellite phone satellites. The "Iridium" network might have found success only after the company that had gone to considerable expense to launch the first satellites had gone out of business, but it's something to know "cell towers spaced across the civilized world" haven't made one use for space altogether obsolete after all.

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anime

Manga Thoughts: Bloom into You volume 1

I've bought a pretty good number of the "girls' love" (or "yuri," to use the more in-the-know term) manga that Seven Seas publishes, and as I began picking up they were about to begin another series I supposed I'd take a chance on "Bloom into You" as well. The reviews I read as part of that process, though, made it of particular yet perhaps peculiar interest to me.

"I just don't seem interested in boys" might might seem obvious enough leading off one of these series. When the viewpoint character Yuu's attempts to find the best way to turn down the confession made to her just before she moves from junior high to high school happens to get her acquainted with the slightly older Nanami, though, whose also turning down a boy's interest makes Yuu think she's found a kindred spirit, Nanami soon tells Yuu "I think I might be falling in love with you," and the younger girl's reaction remains pretty much "shouldn't I have more of a reaction?" Nanami kisses Yuu a few chapters later to show just what she mean by love, and Yuu keeps thinking to herself "I'm not even excited." The Anime News Network review suggested there was something asexual about Yuu, a strangely intriguing interpretation for me. I'm aware of all the times I see other fans willing to play along with the game of "shipping" characters and I just sort of suppose that with no definitive (much less daring) commitment in the story we get I'm content to push thoughts of "this fictional character must get paired off for their own happiness (to say nothing of my own satisfaction)" to outside the story and pretty much outside my mind.

With that said, one of the things that appeals to me about "girls' love" manga is the definitive commitment or even the promise of that, and Yuu in no way tries to turn Nanami down over the course of this first volume, willing at one point to mull over a comment from one of her friends (the supporting characters, although they have minor roles in the story, do manage to stand out a bit at points) that time may be all that's needed even in unusual cases. While I seem to find a subtle, hard-to-define peculiarity about the artwork (the closest I can come is to say the faces look a little "elongated," or "sharp," perhaps), I am interested in seeing where things will go.

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anime

Manga Thoughts: GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class

It's a lot easier to start buying a manga series than to come to its conclusion (save perhaps for "reissues"), and thinking of that has begun to place a certain weight on picking up first volumes at the bookstore these days. However, I did manage to come to one conclusion just lately, and almost by surprise.

Seeing preview listings for a seventh volume of GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class sparked some fresh anticipation for a four-panel manga series that's managed to hang on in my thoughts despite its not seeming to have quite the same general impact as some other four-panel series also published over here by Yen Press; with GA still shelved next to my eight volumes of the series they publish as "Sunshine Sketch" where I've relocated K-ON! to much more out of the way, I could think "it wasn't that far behind," and that its paper quality hadn't changed halfway through the long run the way Sunshine Sketch's did (although the price per volume did climb). Not that long before that seventh volume was to show up, though, I heard it would be the final instalment in the series. That seemed to concentrate and clarify my thoughts that much further.
Some of those thoughtsCollapse )

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anime

Manga Revisited: Planetes

Buying anime faster than I can watch it, in large part through the penny-wise, pound-foolish desire for "free shipping" turning most every casual interest into another title stored away here or there, does seem to have brought me to the point where every so often I just shrug off "getting through it" and go back to watch a series over again. The fair number of manga titles I buy haven't quite amounted to that yet, but that in turn has seemed to mean I never quite want to spare the time to go back and read a series again. When an older title that seemed to have attracted some lasting attention after all is licensed over again and released with promises of an improved edition, though, that can manage to get past my resolution.

Makoto Yukimura's Planetes got my attention near the start of the "cheap and fast manga paperbacks" era, and its science fiction tale of orbital garbagemen, collecting space debris and delving through layers of "resolve to exist beyond normal limits" to simple human connections in the end, left me with a "will anything else measure up to it soon?" sort of feeling. While his following work Vinland Saga has got through some risk-of-being-discontinued spots over here, it did get my attention again when I heard Planetes had been licensed once more, now by Dark Horse Comics. I did my best to buy both of the enlarged new volumes as soon as they were released, but it did take a bit longer to get around to reading them, specifically the Christmas holidays. Once I'd started reading them, though, I got through them with the speed of fresh interest.
A few new things, but one old thing tooCollapse )

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apollo 13

2016: Journal in Review

Getting through this year happened to mean I've accumulated ten years' worth of posts to this journal. Some months short of that early in the year, though, the steady routine of coming up with still more posts seemed to become enough that I started up a "Tumblr" with the thought it just might provide an easy source of post-like substitutes. After a little while of that, however, inspiration seemed readier to hand again; I haven't stopped lining up covers of old computer magazines elsewhere, though, even as I put together another look back at the first line of the first post of each month.
A year in twelve sentencesCollapse )
See you in the new year!

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anime

2016: My Fourth Quarter in Anime

Over my last few "quarterly reviews" of anime watched I did start dwelling on how, for all that these three-month intervals correspond to the way new anime series roll out, I was playing less and less of the modern game of watching those series through online streaming. It wasn't the obvious and oft-proclaimed tragedy of "falling out" with anime itself given the slightly-older to "older" series I was watching, but the whole situation of "this first description didn't grab me the way it did others; this description did seem sort of interesting but I don't have a subscription to the service it's on; the stiff price I know this series will be ultimately be sold for if at all somehow still places a shadow over it; I took a chance on this show but it's not much fun watching it when everyone else winds up complaining a few episodes in" felt far from ideal.

If not in the very nick of time, though, the past three months were different at last, as several descriptions caught my attention. The new alliance between the online streaming service Crunchyroll and the more traditional disc-producing company Funimation could have helped put more options within my casual reach. More than that, I managed to stick with the shows I started, even if there were still problems with "the real jackpot is when your sagacity is shown by everyone else liking what you do," and added ambiguities about how slow the particular message board I've focused on for a long time has become, at least when it comes to week-by-week discussions. It is somehow different to "watch a show by myself at my own pace" (even if that pace may only be twice as fast as "once a week"), anyway.
Streaming, part 1: WWW.Wagnaria and Izetta: The Last WitchCollapse )
Streaming, part 2: Brave Witches and Keijo!!!!!!!!Collapse )
Two different takes: Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans and Turn A GundamCollapse )
Two takes on something else: Animation Runner Kuromi and ShirobakoCollapse )
Catching up to the crowd: One Punch Man and Mob Psycho 100Collapse )
To round things out: Symphogear G and Princess TutuCollapse )

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