Monthly Archives: April 2007

Of Choco Coronet and Porche 911 – New York International Auto Show 2007

Growing up in the United States means that what’s native and comfortable for me is, well, what’s around me and not what’s not around me. But my slightly more complicated life circumstances as a Chinese-born American (still nothing compared to Manabi’s travels) may make me more accustomed to yakitori and some strange Asian pastries as well.

But nothing about my middle-class upbringing will dim the shine off a showroom Porche 911 Targa 4.

Some breed of Porche 911

Well, that’s not quite the car Misaka Kirihara drives (is it?), but you get the idea. (By the way I :wub: the Cayman, it’s probably the dream car in my overly practical imagination).

When the Taiyaki Thief made her rounds, some people were cheated this staple snack for young people (I’ve never seen an old person eat a taiyaki, now come to think of it). It’s a pure coincidence that after doing my annual visit at the New York International Auto Show that I went into a bakery and see, for sale, choco coronets. What’s odd is that the store is more than half way across town from the Javits Center, and yet, fate would have it that I stepped into it, unplanned.

The auto show is a fun fare. It’s definitely something you take your kids to, and for people looking to buy a car, it’s the sort of research opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up. I mean, you really could compare side by side something like an Audi S6 next to a Caddy CTS V, then plant your butt inside a Ford Fusion because the line for the Shelby 500 is a bit long. All for fun and not for any kind of chance of buying those cars (well, this year’s Ford Fusion is a nice pick if you’re looking for a new car I suppose).

Highlights (no pics because, well, didn’t really take many):

  • The new Sienna is like the old one, but with a lot more juice; too bad you can’t tell sitting there. The new-new Town and Country, though, wow. Dang. That is pimp.
  • The prices for those overly expensive Ford pickups are going down, which is good. Honda’s Ridgeline is still the top pick for mid/full size “refined” ride, although I can understand why you’d buy an Avalanche.
  • The new Acura RL channels a lot from Mercedes, and for the price it’s quite the luxury.
  • But for some more, the Infiniti M45 is still tops. The new G37 is, well, rewarding for those who are patient; it really blows the G35 away as far as interior and, most importantly, body styling. If you think the G35 coupe is sexy, well the G37 is way sexy. Too bad I dunno if I could say the same for its new 3.7L engine.
  • The two Nissan/Infiniti concepts, Rogue and the EX, respectively, is going to cater to your Murano-buying crowd without the excessive price tags. Look for them probably late this year.
  • Surprisingly, BMW manages to wow me with the 3-series convertible. It is very sweet if you are looking for that kind of experience. If you like the VW Eos and wanted something more luxurious, this is worth looking into. Speaking of which, the Eos and the GTI (I like the pimped out one on the floor…forgot what special name it had) were nice, but Rabbit totally disappointing.
  • Which is a lot more than I could say for Mercedes this year. You go, woah, S67 AMG. And like, move on to cars they actually let you sit in? If I wanted to stare I’d go stare at the very sexy Lexus LF-A concept or the Ford Interceptor concept; or the Audi R8 which was out a year ago but didn’t make the show last year.
  • The new Audi S5 gets me excited. Being a minor fan of Audi’s designs and looks for some time now, seeing the RS4 repackaged in a more reasonable (but probably still overpriced for its lower-than-expectation performance) S5 is something to hope for, as more data roll out for the new car slated for later this model year.
  • Miscellaneous things…well, the new Accord 2-door reminds me a lot of a much better looking Altima for some reason (with a dash of Toyota’s FT-HS prototype mixed in). Hopefully this is the new “break” they need. Funnily enough the Altima 2-door concept is going the same places. The new Saturn Astra looks less ridiculous than the prototyped(?) Scion xD, for what it is worth. Subaru, this year, really toned it down; the Tribeca and WRX for 2008 both looked much more “normal” and less oddball. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing but I don’t hate it. I did really like the Demon concept. Very sweet.

The day ended for me with some powerwalking to both catch restaurants that closes too soon and trains that didn’t leave too early (thankfully). I went into a Nathan’s by the train station and had a chili dog with a corn dog (no pictures necessary I hope). Cheers to some Coney Island memories.

…..Right. Back to the choco coronet: it is what you think it is; a bread outer structure that is then filled with some kind of chocolate filling. As with most Asian pastry, the filling isn’t very sweet, so the chocolate-ness isn’t overwhelming with the fairly light bread. I was surprised that I wasn’t totally disgusted with it. Maybe because the place I got it from was Korean, but there was a lot of filling which made eating it the “smart” (by Lucky Star’s standards) way not very practical, as soon you will be licking both sides. In the end, I’m with Konata; head first.

Sort of like this post.

Enemy of Women

Hei is awesome. Bastardly so.


Finishing the pilot episodes of Darker than Black was hard only because I had to wait a week, and the first episode didn’t leave a lot to my mind to chew on except to anticipate. Thankfully the second half delivered without any problems.

But why am I getting Jigoku Shoujo vibes? I can see that episode 3, from previews, is likely to be a bit of repeat, in a “girl of the day” sort of way where Hei runs in with his Chinese charms and gets away with his mission on the graces of his target/client. If BONES can deliver up these girls of the same or higher caliber regularly… well, I’m not complaining.

The problem is dealing with those Jigoku Shoujo vibes. There’s a perpetual mystery the show revolves around, and it’s not likely going to tackle them throughout the course as an ongoing matter, but revelation will come in pieces. At least, I’m guessing. Hei’s teammates and the other persistent characters only makes the Jigoku Shoujo thing worse (What’s up with the stoic girl sitting in a river?), along with the subterfuge crap that’s going on.

It’s not a good vibe, but I trust Okamura to deliver.

Hataraki’d Out

What sort of irony is it that I relax to episodes of Hataraki Man after work?

That said, this is one show that is full of ironies. And in a way a very much a show after my own personal experience (and all too common of one). If Matsutaka’s episode-ending statement in episode one didn’t grip you, you probably would have given Hataraki Man a pass?

Well, regardless if you do or do not, be wary that at the end of this TV series there’s a very down-to-earth reality check. Coated with somewhat unreal circumstances, as anime often do, but one that brings this series some street cred. In some ways the Dilbert-esqe experience check is required for full enjoyment of this office interpersonal drama, it probably will appeal not to just those who are dealing with it or have dealt with it, but more so to those who struggles with these fundamental issues in a more honest manner. How do you live your life?

That said I’m not even sure the typical blog-reader would care for titles like this; it’s designed to give realism and express through a cartoon-like exaggeration that makes this all the more charming (instead of the slapstick delivery real actors would have to do for the same) than a live action show. It’s not that it couldn’t be done, of course… But these characters aren’t drawn to be fap targets, so right off the bat there’s a lot less to distract the viewer.

Slogging through the episodes, now that I’m done with watching all the fansubs (a probable requirement for full enjoyment of the show), that exact question bothered me repeatedly: just why is this show animated? Perhaps the answer I drew up didn’t satisfy me, but somewhere between my 2D complex and being distracted by people and not drawings of people lies the key. It smells a bit like loneliness, but even that is ironically appropriate for a blog entry about Hataraki Man.

Just that, if I were you, I wouldn’t take any of the advices it gives seriously, as true as they may seem…

Candid Advice

In the Stillness, There Is Big Hair

While I am no less vulnerable against the sensual, frilly designs sported by Touka Gettan and Carnelian’s usual fare, I am very sensitive about hair.

Witches of the West

In brief, most anime character designs rely on hair as the primary distinguishable trait. If you’re a Touhou fan, you might notice this is a very visible trend for the mass number of Touhou characters. It just sort of bothers and intrigues me that the same works for Carnelian’s characters. I guess that is why I’m still watching the darn show. (Well, I suppose all the fanservice does help.)

The similarity doesn’t stop there. The frilly tresses and flowing bangs and the curious headgear on top of the mystical, miko-ish motifs. In fact, aside from the fan-injected nature of the characters themselves, I can see how even the feel of Touka Gettan can translate into a Touhou anime.

So… yea. This is what I’d like to see if there’s ever a Touhou anime. Somehow I get the feeling it might not be such the case for the various Touhou anime projects.

Seasonal Impression Mashup (Take 2)


Instead of posting my first impressions (who cares about first impressions anyways? LOL an exercise at judging books by covers), I’d just like to reflect how this time of the year was this year and last year, and hopefully those things will chime with you and give you some idea what the hell I’m talking about. For one, I’m tired of being judgmental about anime. It’s not healthy to do it all the time, y’know?

But like last year and every year before that, some anime are more interesting than others. I remember last year I was reading a few blogs about Canvas 2, and heard about some long ass dumb debate on Animesuki forums regarding Canvas 2’s controversial ending. “Well, isn’t that interesting?” So I embarked to marathon it, finding it fairly compelling to watch. Or maybe those things happened out of sequence? I recall waiting for the last fansubs to come out in order to hold back from the full impact of the first impression of the ending would have on me.

I imagine some time this past year a lot of anime viewers took the same trip with many other shows. Simoun, Suzumiya Haruhi, and many others? But in the larger scheme of things anime companies are looking to expand their territories in the minds of its viewers: to grow more fans, to grow more people who’d give their shows a try, to grow more marketing opportunities and foreign interests, and of course, clamoring and accolades and $$$.

It’s no surprise that the big guns get out this time of the year. Shows like Saiunkoku Monogatari is wrapping up its year-run (3 cheers for Shuurei~) but what will take its place? It’s probably licensed, so a job well done. Gainax’s Gurren Lagann looks to capture a similar sort of thing, in a totally different way, on a different TV channel. Will it run a similar path? Or even a more lucrative one because of Gainax’s leverage and the genre itself? I don’t know. But that’s hardly the only player in the field. If there’s grass, you can play ball–even if that grass is made of dead people. Gonzo earns its name by resurrecting William Shakespeare himself in their adaptation of Romeo And Juliet, so … all is fair in an anime about love and war?

But no, it’s not fair. I have less time than ever to watch all these new shows (yet I do it anyways?) and that’s not counting a couple other shows that I’m dying to catch up from last season (Nodame most notably). Time is a cruel mistress indeed. On top of my obligations as a somewhat responsible human being, do I have to stress through plowing through countless raws, one show trying to outdo the other, appealing from one genre to the next and across and all over? It really pays to be an elitist asshole right about now.

We even have a space conquest anime about various alien races … at the same time with a doomsday anime with Shoji Kawamori mecha designs. Grah. Plus a new Bones anime. It’s like being a bee buzzing over a lovely meadow during springtime [insert Bee Train joke here]. The serial nature of anime means you’re really making an investment now to follow a show, which sort of locks you in for some time. Maybe that’s why first impressions are so important?

But blah, having a compelling pilot episode, as important as it may be, is not of what good shows are made of. Darker than Black, for example, calls on you to wait for episode 2, and I get the feeling of what makes that stuff good is all there.

It’s a frantic time of the year, but also a good time of the year. It’s just that I’m way too busy to celebrate?