Monthly Archives: November 2007

Touka Gettan Episode 21

Wow, WTB moar Notokawaiiyonoto.


The name of the colors are lovely.

So is the simple b&w trick. Actually all of Touka Gettan has very good color, and it conveys this sense of an exorbitant fantasy to the atmosphere of the show.

Thanks to tenacious fansubbers with a love for the strange, Touka Gettan has been fully subbed for some time. However its backwards (literally) narrative and a fancy towards the silly makes Touka Gettan a difficult watch. It’s especially difficult to take seriously when you have such straightforward characters mixed with an otherworldly sense of humor.

But at the same time, enjoying Touka Gettan is possible if you abandon some of the more traditional limits to viewing anime. There’s no reason why you can’t skip around and just watch the episodes you like. There’s no reason why you can’t fast-forward through the episodes focused on the overall plot, and take your time and refresh yourself with older episodes. There’s also no reason why you can’t just watch episode 21 over and over again. And there’s no reason why you should watch all of it. Its narrative confining the backward story makes it possible to enjoy many of the episodes stand-alone once the viewer obtains some introductory knowledge about Touka Gettan’s world.

And as a novelty, Touka Gettan episode 21 is penned by the voice actress Mamiko Noto. Episodes 13 (lol onsen episode) and 11 are penned by voice actress Maria Yamamoto. Episode 18 (lol beach episode) is penned by also voice actress Ai Shimizu. Plus, some of the episodes in the series are basically Yamibou cameos. What surprised me was when finding out which episode exactly Noto wrote only after watching it. Needless to say the fans who found this gem generally praised it.

I guess it’s episodes like these that makes Touka Gettan so good. And it’s probably why I’ll continue to watch it even now, albeit with a slow and premeditated pace, at a random order. To Touka Gettan’s credit, most of the episodes I watched commanded my attention to some extent, so I think any order is a good order.

Baccano! Is Overrated…

…But You Should Give It a Spin Anyways!

The Main Ladies

Baccano, as said in other places, is an ensemble film-type work. There is a large cast thrown in a bunch of seemingly unrelated stories that intersect by happenstance and causes-effects. It is adapted from a series of light novels, and the novels are like so. A little more read will tell you that the name signifies a seemingly bunch of chaotic nonsense spiraling out into craziness but spinning a coherent tale at the same time.

Well, to be fair as pulp entertainment this is pretty top notch with one caveat–you just have to watch it all at one setting. Being 13 episodes long, it means you can finish the ~5 hour journey in one setting indeed. This is one show that doesn’t benefit any from the wait. You just have to watch it all at once, as the material is fresh in your mind. It also benefits from re-viewing.

But this is a series that is more than what meets the eye. Sort of like this post is actually about photography than the concert last week.

That subtle plug aside, Baccano is overrated. And sadly in the way that Kamichu isn’t (more people ought to watch it!). What I mean by that is both are great shows that deserved to be viewed, but both have some flaws. What’s interesting is that, obviously, there are probably only…one or two works of anime, in a serial format, that is in an ensemble film format. And what’s great about Baccano is that it works.

But there’s a lot that doesn’t.

What meets the eye once you stare at Baccano as a whole for a while is a lot of blanks and emptiness. The work in general is completed, but it’s missing a lot of information. Not every character’s motivation is explained, their purpose revealed. And some of them seems rather … key. We might enjoy watching Miria and Issac fool around, but we can probably use less of them in the spotlight and use the time to flesh out Ladd, the Gandors, the newspaper company, and some of the less notable puppet-master types. Its shotgun approach to characterization is risky especially when you have a very eccentric cast instead of a horde of ordinary strangers.

But that said, there were some pretty amusing, ordinary strangers in Baccano. And the show comes back to that–it’s amusing! You’ll likely find one out of the dozens of characters in the show intriguing, if not more. A lot of likable, hearty Americans in this anime, despite some screw-ups with setting and some well-played moments. It is the kind of show that you can just kick back and enjoy….

Except that it is a ensemble film that requires you to remember events from previous episodes (all the way dated back to episode 1) to piece everything together with clarity. It is the kind of show that gives the viewer a blank in the narrative sentence and the viewer will instinctively try to fill that blank. And for me the answer I put in the blank doesn’t always make sense. Maybe for some folks the answer in the blank makes more sense, or for some they’re not as nit picky about having the perfect fit in that blank, but the ensemble film format is both Baccano’s greatest strength (on uniqueness grounds alone) and its Achille’s heel.

Or, as I often say about TV anime that comes close to “good” – bad (okay, it’s harsh, but the pacing was definitely not consistent and was dragging at parts) pacing ruins the day.

Not to mention the whole “what’s well that ends well” nonsense. I LOL’d at it but it leaves me empty and unfulfilled :(

Well, enough criticism for something so undeserving. It’s a great show and you all should go and enjoy a TV anime that dares to sidestep the common mode for its narrative. That’s what progressive anime are made of.

Feeling Like Aoi – Am Sure Stuffed, Myself.

So I cooked like a madman today. Only problem was I planned out of sync with my fellow family-chefs that my dishes were a scale above the cut. What would’ve been a homely end to a scrumptious and wholesome Asian-American Thanksgiving meal was a dash too Italian and a pot too foreign for the familiar tongue. Recalling new episodes of Iron Chef America (which is by all means inferior than the original, but nonetheless inspirational and educational) I saw last night reminds me the importance of cohesion in a multi-course meal, even if it is a half-potluck between me and 8 other people. I should’ve known what they were bringing anyways…

And I should’ve known that I’m out of my reach when I had to wiki up what the hell is parsnip and stopped there. But hey, I like to try new stuff. And for that matter the dishes were successful as themselves.

But when Renji Asou’s mother noted about the fastest way to a man’s heart, it just occurred to me: Just how many western anime viewers can relate to that culinary aspect to modern Japanese life? Sure, we have stuff like actual anime involving the various culinary arts–East Asian societies love to cook and eat so it’s no surprise that it makes a good topic–but what does that mean to you when it isn’t prominently the subject of the show?

What does it mean for Aoi, the dressing character and your neighborhood squeak toy from Myself;Yourself? Or Renji Asou himself? Or those lunches made by each of them? In my own estimate cooking and eating is a tight knit to the Japanese soul–if it’s anything like your typical Korean or Chinese souls–and it has a pretty big role in life generally unlike what we’d imagine in the west. In fact, I don’t even know if we can properly imagine it.

But on the flip side, eating and fellowship over food is just another cultural thing like family dinners and starving as a poor artist. People take it for granted, but when it’s written into a show like ef, you know it’s anything but.

Just what kind of cuisine paves the road to an otaku’s heart? Choco coronets? Canned stew? Akiko’s jam? I don’t know and I would hope we’re a more sophisticated lot than that. But in anime, manga and game, just how does it work together? Do you even care?

But I do know anime goes well after a good, hearty meal that you cooked yourself and am proud of, partook with friends and family. That’s feeling like Aoi, I hope.

Living Vicariously Through Others Rocks in the 21st Century

LOL Eminence Symphony Orchestra is tender loving melodic euphoria? Even when recorded?

With stuff like youtube life is so easy to share with others. Weddings, birthdays, trips and vacations, anime cons… and there’s orgasmic orchestrations of some of the best anime music out there, live!

And blogs, too. So you can connect with the you that wasn’t there, but someone else who’s fortunate enough to enjoy it first hand. Uh, who was there? Negativezero? I dunno. Where’s all the Aussies at?

So it came and pass, a night in fantasia 2007 anime edition. And to the point, there are some cool stuff to check out:

Porco Rosso Medley. Seriously, they need to do more of Ghibli stuff that I like. Or just bring back their one old show >_>

Le Portrait de Petit Cossette.

The overplayed musicbox Melody from Noir.

Lullaby. Oddly enough I’m more familiar of this from Kajiura’s Fiction CD. It’s very nice to have an instrumental version though.

A Bunch Of Stuff From Tsubasa That I Don’t Care so much.

Some Xenosaga and .hack stuff that I’ve heard from their earlier show, but different instruments. And there’s two more from Xenosaga: main theme and Lamentation, which wasn’t in their earlier shows.

And out of nowhere came Lilium! This version is sooooo different. Same song and all but, wow. Yes, this is the Elfen Lied opening song.

Along the same lines, what the? Fly Me to the Moon? Makes me want to dance.

There was the usual autograph session afterwards. And Q&A at some point. She speaks English…sort of!

Pics here.

Liking Eminence for most people means a long-distance affair. It’s just not possible to go to their shows on a regular basis without serious dedication, time and funds. It’s hard to say if seeing and hearing them over the internet just makes me want more or what, or makes me sad that I can’t really go to their shows sans extraordinary circumstances. Ah well.

Anyone going to the Ko Ootani show in December with a camera? :)

Why Am I Still Watching Ninomiya-kun?

I don’t know.

Wrestling for Ninomiya's affection...?

Well, fanservice was never really my forte. I think over the years I’ve learned to enjoy it, and at the very least the fanservice in Ninomiya-kun is not terrible… To be precise it’s not really very serious fanservice–it gives you all the frills but it doesn’t give you much thrills. For some that’s a serious problem, but for me it’s just the right amount.

But even so, I think I’ve always stood firm on the line regarding the value of fanservice. Regardless if I can appreciate the sort of fanservice in a show or not, it has to serve a greater purpose. There has to be meaning behind the fanservice. It is not not in the sense that fanservice has to be a part of the plot–no, that is nonsense for a requirement–but fanservice has to serve some overall purpose in terms of the writing and direction.

For example, a recent episode of Blue Drop showed off some of the protagonists (notably, an all-girls bunch) but it was in line of the direction of the series–a balance of slice of life and strange alien mecha…crap. But it was clearly fanservice in some of the way things worked out, such as Miichi’s contemplation in the bath, and Hagino’s response to our spontaneous heroine as she jumped into the ocean. It was up to the viewer to find those things distracting or not.

Switch to Ninomiya. He is constantly tortured by his classmates and his sister and put in compromising situations. The international super agents that he and his sister are, the show has plenty of “reasons” to have the Ninomiya entourage dressed in skimpy wears suited for the tropics. And they do. But what was much more powerful was, say, episode 7’s prelude segment with Rika’s strange 4th wall fantasy about propaganda. It’s both satire and a joke rolled up into a fanservice package! That’s the stuff I like.

Needless to say I was less amused later on in the same episode when Mayu went bonkers and changed clothes. It was a silly joke, I suppose, but it didn’t really serve much beyond what it is–suddenly you have this girl dressed up like a cheerleader crossed with a nurse and crossed with a dominatrix, trying to stab you with a syringe full of unknown chemicals. I guess for some that’s amusing enough in itself, but it doesn’t cut it for me.

I laughed harder when Reika’s meeting with some unknown Arab-looking man was interrupted. So, yeah. I know Ninomiya-kun is one of those low budget crap shows on the menu right now, but it had some substance going into the series at first. The chemistry is right. But it looks like the show’s going nowhere right now, and that’s just too bad.