Monthly Archives: October 2011

Anime That Saves Anime

I think it’s a small exaggeration to say that this season is the season where anime saves anime. By that I mean while as an avid viewer like myself might find, at any given season, a good dose of TV anime that are worth the time watching, it’s rarely the case that I can pick up a show and recommend to the average anime-aware nerd who may even be keen on a few titles of their own. When such a show appears, those rare viewer types perk up to listen for it, and goes to fetch it.

I suppose part of this thinking came about because I have friends who may have liked certain thing (like Final Fantasy 7, for example) but would have otherwise find the offering slim pickings out of what anime output OTA to the tube in the last 10 years. It’s without any irony that I can offer Fate Zero or Guilty Crown to these guys. Okay, maybe with a sliver of irony.

The more interesting thing is shows like Hourou Musuko and Madoka Magica were pretty good, to pick something else in 2011, but they are much harder to access by those guys. It’s like the average video game/anime overlapping demographic of over the age of 28 or something tend not to lean in that direction. I am even wondering if Redline falls in that category (or not). But then again, 28 is pretty old for this stuff. The younger crowd would have had a better tolerance for a much more fancier chuunibyou material that didn’t have that backbone Steins;Gate demonstrated, or that sense of lighthearted adventure you can find in anime back in the 90s.

Is this why Kenichi is getting an OAV?

There’s just something, an intangible way that it makes you feel, that shows like Guilty Crown gives off. It’s like sinking your teeth into FF7 and spending your first few hours into that landmark game.

The thing is, despite the mind-blowing fabulousness that is Mawaru Penguindrum, I’m not so sure that even fits. Cute and funny penguins do go a long way to break down that barrier. It’s as if the show just wasn’t written for that oversea audience, though.

Which is to say, while I am much less critical of the new Last Exile than some, that intangible feel is definitely running thin in the pilot episode. Perhaps it’s just a case of nostalgia being less accurate of what it was, but it would be the first time I find Maaya Sakamoto not the most welcomed vocal in a show. I mean, great song, but it just doesn’t fit the show. That’s not to mention the way how the animation turned out.

TL;DR: Having boobs is great, but it’s how you use it that makes all the differences.

Thin Slicing My Mind: NYCC Edition

I was purusing the schedule for NYCC/NYAF and I’m like, dude, besides the awesome JP guests they rope in every year (although this year is a little of a downer for a wota), it doesn’t exist. My words is not as persuasive compared to a visualization of it by looking at the overall con panel scheduling, so take a look at that. I mean I guess SDCC has less of an anime programming track, and way less artist-alley types represent, but who cares about that? Fact or fiction, I’ve resigned to the fate that a large chunk of anime con artist alley tables are hawking the same tired crap I see at every con, and 90% of the tables sell the same character art doohickies that stands on the fringes of trademark infringement, where the primary narrative are the same tried and true online memes you can get on the internet (or purposefully avoid on the internet). I would really rather go look at the non-weeaboo selection; most of them at least try to make something truly original.

I’m glad Shinkai is getting more face time overseas; I think Comix Wave needs to really capitalize on this market. Doubly so to see them bringing over a new work from a new artist, although I’m not sure if it’s worth hauling my butt from an impromptu vacation to visit. Women directors + SF = pretty potent combination though.

Still, I’m going to try to visit the NYAF staple Ryu Moto and his travelmate bkub. I love bkub’s stuff and I don’t even know why. Maybe that is a problem. I’ve hung up the sketch I bought from them last year–this dashing visage of Deadpool–in my bathroom. It seemed right. Hopefully I can pick up something again this year. Being only visiting for a day, though, I’m hoping I can even catch them. Or else I would have to proxy or something. I would probably hang something from Hanamoto too but it would probably brand me as a lolicon child molester for the visitor of my home. That was a joke.

Leading up to the con, I’ve been trying to get a HTPC to work. I sunk about $80 (after rebate) into it, cannabalizing from my previous system. I probably could have gotten away with sinking $0 in it, but SSDs are very nice and none of my old video cards have a HDMI out, which is kind of necessary today. I also finally test drove Crunchyroll’s Boxee app. It turned out there was a huge bug in which plagued the system the past month where you couldn’t watch any premium content even if you are a paying customer. There was some workaround but it didn’t work for me. The day I read the CR forums for a fix, the one dev posted that a fix was coming on this past Monday. And it was fixed.

Boxee on CR is kind of like just having a browser pointed at CR and watching it like that; the only real advantage is that all the screen UI stuff is customized for your television, so you don’t have to press all these extra buttons. I just need to figure out how to get my Dinovo mini’s play/pause/FF buttons to work properly. Like, by installing the drivers first? If I can also do “wake on bluetooth keyboard” with it, that would be a doozy. Anyways, CR on a TV is pretty nice, the playback is hardly flawless but it was acceptable given the level of convenience. Plus part of the problem is probably caused by the aging hardware I was running.

Also, DXVA is wonderful. Kind of like 10bit video but minus the hassle of transcoding it so your portable devices can play them. Would someone just make a 10bit supported version of avisynth so I don’t have to change my workflow pretty please…

So, if you’re coming to the con, maybe we can meet up. No promises, but it could be fun.

NYAF Eats, 2011 Edition

I wrote some up from last year (now lost in the ether). To keep it short and sweet, bullets! NEW for new on this list.

  • Schnipper’s is still gold standard IMO. Skip the line at Shake Shack, if you wish. Their non-burger offering is not the greatest but there are some gems. I particularly am partial to their chicken tender platter. 8th ave and 40th st.
  • Shake Shack has their octoberfest menu up this week. Take advantage of it if you have had their signature burgers before. Take the signature burger stuff if you haven’t. And I’m sure those beers would go well with anything. 8th ave and 44 st.
  • Famous Halal Guys are still great for late night eats. They now offer a wide variety of things. Including t-shirts if I’m not mistaken. 6th ave and 53rd.
  • Kwik Meals is way better than Famous Halal Guys, at least if you want some lamb. 6th ave and 45th. They are all out during weekday lunch hours. NEW to this list, but not really new.
  • Go Go Curry is still SDS’s favorite hunt. Get your weeaboos on; I think they’re having a cosplay contest at NYCC. 38th st between 7th and 8th (towards 8th side). Probably still hands-down best curry place in NYC, for mass market.
  • Five Guys – It’s still there. 34th street and between 8th and 9th ave. Not too far from a Chipotle and a Quiznos.
  • Bon Chon is delicious Korean fried chicken, with more beer offering now hopefully. 38th st. between 7th and 8th (towards 7th side, near Midtown Comics).
  • Peter’s Since 1969 – Soul food off 9th and 42.
  • NEW! Tabata Ramen – cheap, sub $10 range fare. Not as good as the other famous places but not a bad choice if you’re sticking to walking only. 9th ave between 40 and 41st. They also sell some stir-fry stuff, so-so fare.
  • Still superior! Totto Ramen – not as cheap but more delicious. 9th Ave and 51st. Both Tabata and Totto use a chicken-based broth. Totto ramen also gives you way fewer seats and much longer wait time. At least, until Ippudo’s eventual Midtown location opens.
  • Italian pies? Lazzara’s is still solid (38th between 7th and 8th, near Bon Chon above), but Penn Pizza Suprema is a better slice. Right across the intersection from NY Penn Station, on 8th just south of 30th st. I recommend the Grandma. Penn Pizza is not NEW but it is delicious.
  • If you want a nice friday lunch with a bit of a gormet mediterranian flair, try Lezzette. I also dig the Indian place just next door: Tawa Tandoor. I used to eat at both places regularly. 34th between 8th and 9th (near 9th, across the street from B&H). [As an aside, you can’t eat the stuff B&H sells, but gosh, that is one nerd HQ and puts stores like Best Buy to shame. They just observe Jewish operation hours.]
  • For that matter, the Skylight Diner across that intersection (9th and 34th on the west side of the avenue) is a solid choice, not NEW but new to this list. Don’t go to the Tick Tock, although that is a fine option as well. If you line up in the morning, it’s a good breakfast option and great for large groups. By large I mean 6+.
  • NEW! You like food trucks? You like, ZOMG, Kelvin Slush (YOU DO TRUST ME)? Want to try Korilla (as seen on the reality food truck TV show)? All throughout the week and on weekend, check out the line up at the High Line Lot. 30th street and 10th ave. No guarantees that any of them will be there that weekend, and I think you have to buy tickets instead of buying food with money directly? Or at least last time I checked. I haven’t been to the High Line Lot personally but I’ve visited some of the vendors that sell there elsewhere, and mmm good! It’s just a lot where some vendors park, so you can try your luck, or just check beforehand.

Technology And Consumption

Consume smarter:

Myanimelist, Myfigurecollection, feeds, Twitter and FB for sales info

Consume faster:

Streaming and simulcast anime, mobile apps to watch things on the go or when away from home, day-date international releases and Japanese releases with subs

Consume better:

High def digital distribution, anime on Blu-ray disc

Consume harder:

Mo anime, mo problems

Being able to watch the latest episode of Fate Zero every Saturday morning: priceless.

Big Bang Opening

I’m not a huge fan of the typical fanfare pilot episode where you gotta make things interesting to hook people in. I’m more a fan of “make every episode interesting.”

Take the Fate Zero tl;dr mess of 47 minutes of episode 1. Gia points out a long moment where we’re just looking at a relic. Sure, we could be looking at something slightly more interesting (like Iri’s knockoff/hand-me-down gown she got from the Lunar Princess) while the notion of a conceptual weapon is explained to us. Instead we were just looking at the conceptual weapon itself.

But if you are a so-called fan of the franchise, that’s exactly what you want to see in episode 1. It’s like watching for the old crew from Patlabor in the second Patlabor movie. Or Saito in Tsuiokuhen. Or Akito in Prince of Darkenss. Or any One Piece character in Strong World. You get the idea. The scabbard of Excalibur is such an important icon in the Fate story that you can probably spin off a series just on the quest for it. It’s like one of those D&D RPG thing where the weapon has got its own epic tale across the time and space, because its soul still burns, or something.

Back on topic; a big bang opening is nice to see, but I can’t get the distaste of it out of my mouth–the 2000s were full of them from Hollywood. I think that is why I also think this is not as good of an idea as it claims it is. When you get 50% or more saturation, the same rhythm and pacing really can get on your nerves. It’s like, okay, when I go to a club I expect UNCE UNCE UNCE but when I put on some classical music I hear the same UNCE UNCE UNCE it’s going to be more annoying than Pachelbel’s Canon and its prevalence in music. When every action movie has the same structure and pacing and there’s nothing that surprises me (except for things that are surprising bad), it’s like having too much candy.

That’s not even the worse of it.

I remember Dogs Days. (Grats on S2 btw.) It’s a nice show, and some people really like the animated “American Ninja” sequences sort of thing. Great. Those game shows are fun to watch and have been around for decades in Asia. In the anime format it’s also pretty fun. So that’s why when we turn on to Majikoi and Horizon this week we see a similar schtik playing out. It somehow doesn’t surprise me at all that I find Horizon’s take a little easier to like, hypnotic swaying of large mammaries not withstanding, because it’s the anime equivalent of a car chase. And we know how there’s no real good car chases these days except in car films, let alone in anime where they are as rare as they come already. I guess all I’m saying is that even in doing the same thing, there are some stuff one can do to significantly distinguish itself from the rest. It’s like a good hook; it doesn’t have to be big, it just has to catch on. So rather than going big, it’s better to just, you know, go.

Which, compared to the subdued dialog torrent that is Fate Zero episode 1, it’s no wonder people found it dull. How do people survive high school these days? It’s way more dull and that’s compulsory and much longer.