Monthly Archives: June 2007

Today: AnnouncementTorrent

This year is not too bad as far as US con news goes so far. Definitely an improvement from the last. I’m just going to highlight some of the ones I care about:

Emma being licensed is actually my biggest ZOMG. It’s a great little gem but it’s so far off the well-treaded path for anime, let alone anime in the US, that RightStuf might have some trouble finding good homes for their DVDs. But somehow it’s the sort of show that makes you think “hey, there must be some people out there who’d buy Victorian romance imported from Japan.” Especially in the US. Especially after you scrub-a-dub-dub and remove traces of “Maide In Japan” from it.

Gurren Lagann being licensed is a nice treat. I like the show enough to watch it, but it suffers from the Eureka 7 problem in some ways. I wish it was shorter so at least I have no excuses about being able to afford it. Then again, technically I can still wait for a thin-pack from E7, and ADV is much better about releasing collections than most other studios. What’s wrong with Eureka 7? It’s too long, it’s not the sort of thing that you want to watch the whole thing twice (although some episodes definitely many many times over).

DMP is going to release Flamboyant. We know they’re bringing over a Megami compilation later this year, so this is more of the same, I guess (I hate Megami stuff with a passion, but it’s good to know). It’s interesting because I bought Flamboyant back when it was hot enough for a second run… Well, at least it’ll be cheap (and with more artwork!). Flamboyant, for the noob, is the first (and so far only?) art book by Hakua Ugetsu. Sure, it’s got the name Bakuhatsu Tenshi to taint, but the stuff inside is awesome.

Along with the re-announcement of Nanoha and Nanoha A’s, I think I might even buy the SRW OAVs when they come out. Probably pass on SRW TV though. These are all “maybe” but I think I like A’s enough to not pass.

Cosmode USA. Uuugh. In other words, a US cosplay magazine.

Last one for the day: Wings of Honneamise on DVD and HD-DVD is actually a big deal. The US is ahead over Japan on the HD home video effort. At this point in the game I don’t care if it’s Blu-Ray or HDDVD. I just want my anime on 1080! And this is a classic to own for this purpose.

Contemplations: Of William Jones and Matsuri Shihou, Resolutions, and Our ゆずれない願い

Character: Matsuri Shihou. Time: when she kissed Yorito on the roof of the high school. Why: Because she loved him ever since she met him through Aono. But unlike Yorito, Matsuri is the one who has a burden to carry.

Character: William Jones (I’m sure he has some kind of middle name/suffix to his name…but then again he is gentry). Time: when he accepted Eleanor’s kindness and started to court her. Why: Because he was trying to move on, and Eleanor was more than willing to help him do the “right thing.”

The question: what is the “right thing”? Where did Will and Matsuri learned it from? Why, in those two instances, are the right things so different?

The revelation, for me, came when I linked the two shows together. The Victorian romance had all so much to do with our postmodern nightwalker once you removed the social stigma of being a Yaka. And we should, as it didn’t matter to Yorito, Mana, or even Koyori (I think). But why did it matter to Emma (or rather, William’s perception of Emma’s feeling on the matter) that William was trying to do the right thing by marrying her and not “having her on the side,” as the servants would call it? Was being true to Matsuri’s feeling something impossible, made by her circumstances much like how William being true to his?

Apologies to our Emma fans reading what I’m writing for I am being willfully ignorant and have yet taken the manga plunge, but I think in my limitations I can stop worrying about the “what” and think about the “why” a little more.

It’s not unusual at all that in a story to see the core struggle being one of doing not the easy thing, but the right thing. However in both Sola and Emma, it’s not clear at first what is the right thing. To our modern humanist perspective obviously William is trying to do the right thing, even if it is a sort of selfish sacrifice to please Emma’s sense of William’s worth. Even if we project ourselves in the time and place of Mr. Jones, the morality of it is clear. But there’s no clear way out. The socially acceptable practice was actually not the moral position to take. Social life directly impacted his financial responsibilities, and it’s not just William who suffers, but also the people he loves–including Emma. And how can we forget poor Eleanor!

Basically Sola maps onto the same conflict in the same way, with addition to plot holes–namely, the fourth option forged by Matsuri’s iron determination, her unyielding wish. And aptly, symbolized by a magical sword made of metal.

Where will William find his plot hack?

Perhaps the difference between an interesting historical fiction pandering to reality and an anime that seems like an adaptation of a bishoujo dating game lies right here. Matsuri is someone who has already made the mistake William could have made, and is trying to turn it back around. William is someone, well, who half-way made the mistake and is probably going to go for option 3.

Or in Yorito’s case, 1 or 2 is fine too.

This rant is brought to you by, again, Haruko Momoi’s godsend cover CD. Buy it today!

Sola Matsuri

Sola means a lot of things.

It can refer to the sky in the Engrish-‘sora’ sort of way. And obviously the connection between Sola and sky is quite clear, symbolic of what Matsuri has forgotten in her eternal journey of selflessness. The flashback to “LOL I remembered that it’s nice to have friends” bit is…well, very much about the sky that she has forgotten, and it’s a replay of when she recalls what it was like when she step into Yorito’s room. The sky is also a symbol of Yorito’s promise, which is fulfilled (in the lovingly SHOCKING TWIST fashion that makes AIR so good) when the broken-down film projector kicks in, and all that shizzat.

And speaking of AIR, the sky is full of air. Seeing that the scenarist behind Sola is the one behind Key’s successful hit games, the connection is, if anything, blatant. Sola is of AIR. Sola is also full of something else, especially episode 12…..anyways.

But I think Sola means being alone (Latin?). If you pay attention to the OP, in a way, it confirms that being alone is the best definition for the term as the show’s title. The series revolves around Matsuri’s loneliness issue and how it affects both her and the people connected to her. The lonely stroll under a rainy sky is a cute play-on-word.

And a cute play is so far what has transpired in the past 12 episodes. It was fun, it oozed with a good feeling; sort of like how Aria or Texhnolyze ooze with mood. I don’t think Sola can really disappoint with its final curtain draw now. A job well done so far, although not with its flaws.

Eminent Apathy All Around

This CD kicks so much ass!

Otakon announces AAA – a teen pop/r&b group that actually kicks a lot of ass for the type of pop entertainment. They’re the headliner musical guest for the con this year.

Too bad nobody cares about them except a tiny group of neophyte weeaboo chasers and the teenage nation of Japan. Hopefully we get a lot of the former and latter (esp. girls) to … make up the people who will be at Otakon and don’t really give up their attention and time to attend their show. This group can dance, and they should put on a good show…

Well. that’s the pan part of the rant. But as much as I’m overwhelmed by apathy I want to just point out a few things. First of all, they’re still a pretty cool group. Even if the group is more marketing than substance, we’re in for a nice show if there’s enough of us who show up! I plan to go see them. Second, we should be nice to our guests. I know con time is somewhat precious, but hopefully we can get some quality entertainment without all the fanfare and long lines (lol I’m jinxing myself).

Then there is Eminence. I guess Otakon took a tip from last year’s coinciding gamer concert? Nonetheless I’m a little more than interested about them. Granted I never really caught on the orchestra-making-the-geek-buck wave of stuff the past few years, but hey, I played FF7 and a handful of fan games that other people like music from….. Well, definitely worth seeing if just for Free Bird.

And while I like his works, I’m not fan enough to own any of Hiroshi Sakimoto‘s CDs. Shame on me. But that’s one less line to worry about. He’ll be performing with Eminence, though, and that should rock the house in its own way.

(Heh, yea, it doesn’t hold a candle to AX’s guest list this year, but oh well.)

Jokes On A Curve

Hypothesis: the jokes in Lucky Star are curved.

curved, not straight (or sideways)

Okay, no one is fooling anyone by saying that Lucky Star is a popular show on the air right now. But given its panel-comic format with a dash of slice-of-life, why do people like to look for reasons beyond the show itself to explain its popularity? I’m not sure, but is that a sign of the lackluster nature of this skirt-wriggling mess?

I guess that’s how it started. Lucky Star’s shotgun approach to entertainment may be the real cause of it all. The show aims to please a large segment of viewers in two ways, even when it’s in the guise of otaku entertainment.

First, it gives us a wide variety of things to talk about. No matter if you’re a chat-brain otaku or someone more sensible, you can find something to admire within its confines. Well, as much as a slice-of-life high-school comedy could. It is sort of like a second-rate but popular webcomic, but much more intelligent in its planning.

Second, it presents its jokes on a curve. What do I mean by this? Let’s say there’s 20 minutes per episode of Lucky Star. For about 10 minutes of the show, spread across the episode, we have fairly standard situational comedy jokes where the girls explain a simple, everyday things, and we get our lukewarm punchlines. For about 6-7 minutes each episode, LS presents jokes that refers to culture more, such as the Christmas Cake one, or the one about moe. Those are probably not as accessible to people as the ones talking about which side of a choco coronet is the head, although you might find the latter less funny. For about 3-4 minutes we get the more otaku-like jokes, like ones talking about events or Action Hero Animate or what have you.

The point here is even if Lucky Star is a very otaku-minded show most people can enjoy the bulk of it. There are about an equal number of jokes for both the initiated and the initiated’s friend. It may take a real 2ch goon to get all of it, but it doesn’t take a 2ch goon to laugh at it and enjoy it.

(Yeah, Lucky Star’s power to pander to the lowest common denominator wins. The OP has preordained this.)

Perhaps a second question worth exploring is: just how much of anime a typical viewer understands? It’s not exactly rocket science. And it seems to not matter.