April 29, 2012

Random Anime Picture #69: That Was... Odd


-Nazo no Kanojo X Ep01

What a seriously quirky show.  I'm not even going to attempt to summarize it, I'll send you to Mauser's place for that.  If you can get past the drool, there's potentially quite a little gem here. 

(sarcasm)
There's absolutely no symbolism involved in the show at all whatsoever.
(/sarcasm)

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April 28, 2012

High School Of The Dead Ep06

As you may remember, last episode was quite the action-packed lil' thing.  We met the Japanese Police Force's fifth-best sniper, for example.  We saw four teenage delinquents act all delinquently, and get water-cannoned into the river for their troubles, and good riddance to 'em, too.  I know I was never a jerk such as them back when I was a teenager, some 25 years ago.  Now, I was a well-behaved lad, raised right and all that sort of thing, but c'mon... teenagers arguing with police in armored vans armed with high-pressure water cannon deserves to be taught a lesson by Chuck D.  As opposed to Chuck D... that'd be an entirely different type of lesson.  Though, if you think about it, it'd be exactly the same.  Anyway, Shido-sensei formed his little cult of personality, the larger portion of the Fellowship of the Ring Our Heroes bailed out of the bus, but not before Hirano went all Rambo on Shido... is there a word for last-letter-of-a-word-alliteration?  After they left the bus, the smaller group of Our Heroes appeared out of nowhere just in time to clean up a zombie horde... and the Fellowship was rejoined.  They then decamped to an apartment nearby, apparently owned by Boing-chan's friend, the fifth-best sniper in the Japanese Police force.    Which is where we pick up the action, more or less.

Well, actually, we pick up the action on a nearby bridge which looks very much like the Dan Ryan "Expressway" (aka I-90/94) around 5pm on a Friday afternoon... and how a 14-lane highway can have traffic problems is entirely beyond me.  It may have something to do with the dismounted police officers blocking gaps between cars to form a defensive barrier against encroaching Packers fans zombies.  I mean, in the show.  On the Dan Ryan, the cops wouldn't last a minute.  Getting back to the show, while I applaud the efforts of the shield-wielding police, shouldn't they have adopted a better defensive position, tactically?  Using the cars is clever, but please note that the four-man groups are unable to support each other easily.  The cars are in the way!  If the zombies come en masse, the police are screwed.  And I've just dissected a defensive position to determine its effectiveness against zombie attack.  Thank heavens for the internet.

Oh, but they've got a dog with them, never mind.  Lil' Yappy up there is promptly eaten by a zombie.  No, no, sorry, no, Yappy goes running away.  The undead don't seem to care... or do they?  Hmmm... could that have been foreshadowing?  Bwah-hah-ha-hahahahahahahahahaahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Meanwhile, at the safehouseapartment, the girls prepare to take a bath.  Wait, what?

Cue the sirens and put on your civil defense helmets, HSotD has gone to Fanservice Condition Red!  I say again, Fanservice Condition Red!  Oh god help us, it's a bathtub scene.  This business will get out of control... it will get out of control, and we will be lucky to live through it.

It should go without saying that everything beyond this point should be considered Not Safe For Work.


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April 26, 2012

It Was With The Best Of Intentions

Dragging myself home from another long day at the Duck U Bookstore, I had planned to finish my writeup of High School of the Dead Ep06.  That is, after I had dinner of course... that sammitch that rules all other sammitches: the Reuben.  As I munched, I watched what was turning out to be a bad movie.  As a lover of bad movies (see: Wonderduck's collection of 122 MST3K episodes), I stuck with it... and it was a very bad movie indeed.  When Samuel L MF'ing Jackson is overacting so badly that even a Samuel L Jackson fan is astonished by it, you know there's something wrong with the movie.  Anyway, when the movie came to its welcome end, it was almost time for the Bears to make their first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.  When THAT was done, I took a shower, and then it was now.  1030pm, and I've yet to type a single word for the Ep06 writeup all night.

Fortunately, it's about half-completed already.  One last big push, and it'll be done.  My guess?  Friday or Saturday, hopefully Friday.  It should be worth the wait, I think. 

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April 11, 2012

High School Of The Dead Ep05

So, last episode we saw Takashi and Rei get their photo taken by a recon plane, rob two policemen and a gas station, and leave a survivor for the undead.  Oh, and about a third of the episode was taken up by a recap.  Which would be like this paragraph turning out to be seven hundred words long... don't worry, I'm not gonna even try to do that to you.  You want a recap of last episode, or of the show so far?  Read the episode posts!  Advantage: The Pond!  So, High School of the Dead, what wonders bring you me with Episode 05?

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking.  The crew has finished its inspection of everybody on board, and apart from Mrs Snodgrass in First Class, nobody has shown any sign of being either infected or already dead.  So as to not disturb the patrons in First Class, she has been moved to Coach.  We will be experiencing a short delay as the runway seems to have been infested with the undead... or as we up here in the cockpit call them, passengers.  Ha ha, just our little joke, we're kidding of course.  We know you have your choice of airlines, so on behalf of all of us, we thank you for flying with Oceanic Airlines today."

Sucking a destroyed zombie into an engine would be only mildly better than sucking a "live" one into an engine, but you can push dead ones off the runway.  Turning living undead into dead undead is her job, and she's quite good at it.

Her name is Rika, she lives on the second floor.  She's the fifth-best sniper in the Japanese Police Special Assault Team, which seems rather a specific ranking.  Me, I'm the third-best duck-based anime blogger whose name beings with a 'W'.  I move up to second if you only count those of us who are currently blogging HSotD.  Rika and her partner were scrambled to this unnamed "floating airport" which is pretty obviously Kansai International to help with a "terrorism" problem.  Terrorism, undead, eh, whatever.  They've got plenty of ammo, but sooner or later, they're gonna run out.  What then?  Well, she's got a friend in the city that she'll have to go find... a nurse at one of the high schools.

Well, isn't that convenient?  Subtlety, thy abbreviation is HSotD.

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April 10, 2012

The Return Of Humvee-kun!

Over two years ago, during the writeup for Ga-Rei Zero Ep11, we saw the reoccurring character of HMMWV-san killed by one of the Spirit Beasts.  But in Episode 05 of High School of the Dead, we see the return of Humvee-kun.

It's back, and it's better than ever.  Keep your eyes open for the Ep05 writeup... coming soon to a Pond near you.

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April 08, 2012

Ten Years Of Joy

April 8th, 2002 was just another day for many people.  They woke up, went about their daily business, came home, and went to sleep.  But in between waking and sleeping, some of these people were fortunate enough to watch something wonderful occur.  For it was on April 8th, 2002, that Azumanga Daioh premiered on the TV Tokyo network.

I've written about Azumanga Daioh before.  It's my Favorite Anime Series Of All Time, and it was also the subject of my first bit of anime writing, way back in 2005.  In fact, it was shortly after I wrote that 2005 post that Big Papa Pixy offered me a spot in MuNuVia, so I've always thought that this blog owes its existence to the show.  There's no way I'd still be blogging so many years later if I was still stuck in the Blogspot ghetto.

While AzuDai was not the first anime I'd ever seen, it was the first that made me appreciate that the genre could be something more than just mere cartoons.  Pretty impressive, considering that the first time I watched, I didn't like the show.  I only made it two episodes before I said "nah, not for me."  Some months later, I watched the first episode again... and wondered what was wrong with me the first time.  I would watch an episode a night, for this was the dark time when I had only dialup internet; a single episode would take anywhere from 12 to 16 hours to download.  But I did it, and gladly.  Besides, anybody who needed to get a hold of me knew my cellphone number anyway.  Once I had watched the series via fansubs, it became the first one I ever purchased, six DVDs at $24.99 each.  But I paid that $150 gladly.  I wasn't the only one, either. 

There's something about AzuDai that hits many people right in the happy place.  It's not a masterpiece of writing.  The animation, while very good, wasn't the best, even in 2002.  There's practically no plot to speak of.  And yet, an episode of the show is usually enough to bring a smile to anybody's face.  It may be a wistful smile, but it's there nevertheless.  In fact, it may be that wistful smile that gets to the heart of AzuDai's success.  It reminds us of what the good parts of high school were like, the day-to-day interactions with our friends, obnoxious and annoying as they have been,  the little triumphs that made things worthwhile.  The series brings us those rose-colored memories with a skill and aplomb I've not seen since, though some have come close (the Hidamari Sketch franchise and Sketchbook are two that come to mind).  Sure, the characters are a little more out-there than your circle of friends, probably, but still entirely believable.  In the end, the six girls that make up the main cast of AzuDai are more than just moving pictures on the television screen... they're people.  For the trick of pulling that off alone, the show deserves praise.  There are people out there who don't like AzuDai, or are critical of its weaknesses.  To be sure, it has faults... but they do not (or should not) detract from the whole. 

It's been ten years since Azumanga Daioh was first broadcast.  Ten years of joy.

"Thank you very much."

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April 04, 2012

High School Of The Dead Ep04

If my memory is correct, last episode Our Heroes escaped from Zombie High in a mini-bus.  Along the way, they picked up Mr Shiro (a devious teacher) and what survivors from his class that remained (lickspittle whining toadies).  At the end, Rei and Takashi leave the mini-bus, then are separated from the rest of the cast by an exploding busload of flaming zombies.  They go on to find a motorcycle and head for the city.  Then they find a F-4 Phantom II and take to the skies!

...or the JASDF has made an appearance, one of the two.  Interestingly enough, a small amount of research indicates that the plane, probably a RF-4EJ, didn't take off in Japan proper.  Instead, it almost certainly flew from Okinawa, home of the Southwestern Composite Air Division, which is the only unit of the JASDF to fly the recon variant of the standard F-4.  So one could posit that, while the rest of the world is being affected, there are still some places that aren't.  Okinawa, for example.  The Falklands, certainly.  One could continue to speculate, but that's not the point here.  The point is, the authorities are trying to figure out what's going on

The picture isn't good, at least in this city.  I don't know that I would have expected fires to have broken out like this so quickly, but maybe it's the result of all those incendiary undead from last episode.  Are there armor-piercing zombies, too?  However, all hope is not lost.

For where there is life, there is hope.  Even if said life is a pair of teenage kids riding a motorcycle without helmets or even a license between them.  While I commend the pilot for his exciting flying, does the show really expect us to believe that the Japanese don't make a camera that's got a halfway decent zoom lens on it for their recon aircraft?  I mean, really?  Do the names "Nikon", "Minolta," "Konika", "Pentax" or "Canon" ring any bells?

Whatever they've got, it's got one heckuva fast shutter speed to be able to take blurless photos with the combination of the aircraft's velocity and the distance to the aiming point being so ridiculous.  At least the backseater's got decent taste in where he's got the camera focused.

But then again, this IS High School Of The Dead... what else would we expect?

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April 01, 2012

High School Of The Dead Ep03

Yes, really.  If I can, I want to get a few more episodic recaps done before the next F1 race, too. 

As you may remember from just a couple of days ago, the three pairs of survivors had made contact with each other and were making plans to rescue their family members when Rei turned on the TV...

...just in time to see a remote news team turned into hors d'oeuvres by a wave of reanimated corpses.  The reaction of the television channel to the death of their newswoman and cameraman... on camera, no less... is just about what you'd expect from the world of TV.

Is there nothing that can't be fixed by a brightly colored scene, hand-drawn by kids?  End of the world?  Zombie apocalypse?  Eh, just get more crayons!  Saeko, apparently repulsed by the color magenta, changes the channel, perhaps looking for Ninja Warrior but instead stumbling across...

...uh... CMN?  Whatever.  The Cable Mews Network anchor reports that things are going zombietime all across the planet.  Beijing is in flames.  Contact has been lost with Moscow.  London has managed to maintain control, undoubtedly because they've had experience lately, what with 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead and all.  There's looting in Paris and Rome, which means it's basically just like every other day in Paris and Rome.  Here in the US, the President is allegedly being evacuated to an aircraft carrier-based command post.  Meanwhile, A-10 Warthogs are bombing the streets of New York City.

I'm okay with this.  Really.  Do we need to have a reason to do that?  Aim for the New York Times building while you're at it... the place is full of mindless undead.  Oooh, snap! from the apolitical anime blogger!  While I'm feeling all sorts of triumphant for sticking it to Da MAN, the Pink Haired Harpy Saya is harshing everybody's groove by pointing out that they've got a pandemic on their hands... one that seems to be following a similar pattern to the 1918 Spanish Flu... or the Black Death in the 1300s.  Y'know, two pandemics that ended only because they killed people too quick for them to pass the disease on?  Except with this one, the vectors are human-sized and they walk...

With that thought ringing in your ears, sleep well tonight!

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Ga-Rei Zero Live Action A Go? Maybe!

Potentially exciting news from Japan, where it was revealed that a live action version of Ga-Rei Zero is in the works.  Brickmuppet will have more details, since he's the one who did most of the legwork on tracking it down; I just heard little rumors.  Considering the lack of information in English, I defer to his knowledge of Japanese on this one.  If it's true, I'm going to be one happy Wonderduck. 

Actually, GRZ would make a fine movie... plenty of action, drama, even a romance if they want to try and work it in.  Even if they didn't, there's plenty there to work with.  Just the main "Schoolgirl in Black vs Everybody Else" storyline would make for a fun action flick.  I'd think they'd do away with the twins, Nabuu and Nabuu, Isayama (the guy with the drills), Kazuki (the one who dies... well, one of 'em.  The guy with the multi-barrelled briefcases), Motive Power Kiri-chan and The Boss with her Rocket-powered Wheelchair of Awesome, even Kagura's friends on the swim team, all of 'em gone.  Which would be a shame, because c'mon, they're what makes GRZ so much fun.

But the Monochrome Schoolgirls and Mr Laser Weasel would surely be in there.  I wonder if they'd even bother to do the "Spiritual Beasts", and just stick with the sword-fighting.  THAT would be a huge mistake, but it would save them money on special effects.  It would also be like doing Death Note without Ryuk.  Or Evangelion without EVAs.  Or NOIR on American TV.  Oh, wait... 

I don't know that there's another franchise I'd be more willing to see Live Action-wise, come to think of it.  It's not like Kanon would be a good candidate, or HidaSketch.  You could do a Live Action version of ARIA, but it'd fail so hard I can hear the producers jumping out of windows right now.  Maybe LA Fate Stay/Night?  I'm willing to bet that Glico is more than willing to work with the production, though... particularly if there's a chance it'd get a US release.  Pocky from sea to shining sea!

UPDATE: Brickmuppet is still working on his post, but he sent me a pic of Yomi (aka "Schoolgirl In Black") that he found... click on the "more" link.

ANOTHER UPDATE: 'Muppet's post is here.  I must have misunderstood him, because he's saying it's gonna be a TV series, not a movie.  He also says that it'll start with GRZ, then go on to cover the manga, Ga-Rei.  While I'd rather see the manga turned into an anime, Live Action is perfectly okay too!  I'm sure the producers right now are saying "*whew* Wonderduck approves!  We were scared." 

THIRD UPDATE: Muppet spills the beans.  It was his idea, though, and I've got the e-mails to prove it.

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