December 29, 2014

Barkhorn In Dirndl

-Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow pt1

Because I can, that's why.


Because why not?  It's not like I hear you complaining.

Actually, it's more like "it's not like I can hear you complaining."  One advantage of a blog, that.

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December 27, 2014

Visual Novel Review: Sakura Spirit

It's late Christmas night, so late in fact that it's technically the next morning.  I'm browsing through the holiday sale on Steam for ridiculous deals, and I stumble over something that looks... um... interesting.  I notice at the same time that Pixy Misa, our Australian blogboss, owned it and that he was using Steam at the same time.  I shoot him a quick message asking if the game was any good, and wander off my merry way.  When I come back a few minutes later, there's a reply: "I dunno, I haven't played it yet."  Well, that's unsurprising... Pixy seems to have an infinite backlog of games, the way some of us have an infinite backlog of anime to watch (note: Pixy has that, too).  We chat for a minute, and I wandered away again.  Upon returning, I loaded Steam again and found that I had two notifications: I had been gifted both of the games on my wishlish.  By Pixy.  Now, neither of them was expensive but I'm not exactly used to just being given things out of the blue like that.  When I asked him about it, he said "You can tell me if the game is worth playing."  What better way for me to do that than to actually review the thing in the style of one of my writeups?  So without further ado, let's get right to it... let's take a look at Sakura Spirit!

I think it's important for me to point out that this title screen does not, in fact, show up anywhere in the game itself... I stole it from a promotional video.  Right away this inspires nothing but confidence in my heart.


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December 22, 2014

First Episode Writeup #3

As I mentioned earlier, I was working on another First Episode Writeup when I wound up putting it on hold to work on a different one, one that forced its way into my attention.  I received two different e-mails from Robert featuring a show that I knew absolutely nothing about.  Then I bumped into it again somewhere else, and I just gave up and watched it.  And it was perfect writeup fodder!  I benched the half-done writeup and immediately started on this... and now, with no further ado, let's get right the heck to it!

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Skippy.

Skippy is a boy after my own heart, and I suspect most of my readers will identify closely with him as well.  Y'see, he's a bibliophile.  Indeed, that weird pose above is due to Our Hero being in the middle of a truly stupid happydance.  Now don't get me wrong, I love books and bookstores as much as anybody and more than most, but I've never done a happydance upon arrival at one.  That should tell you what sort of individual we're dealing with here.  Yup, he's a Skippy!

A bagful of hardcovers, a points card, and a cute bookstore employee?  It's exactly how Wonderduck first met The Librarian!  Except for the points card, I didn't have one of those yet.  Or the bagful of hardcovers.  I think I bought a paperback and a magazine.  Cute bookstore employee though?  That part meshes.  Except that The Librarian looks nothing like the employee in the picture.  Okay, can we just say I once met The Librarian in a bookstore?  Cool.  By the way, can you guess what Skippy is reacting to here?  Hint: it's not the cute bookstore employee.

Oh.  Hm.  I'm starting to identify less and less with Skippy.  Hopefully most if not all of my readers are feeling the same.  Our Hero's family moved to the hinterlands of Japan due to father's job, but Skippy refused to leave... out there, new release books are often delayed, and that just will not stand.  So they left him behind in the city, as long as his grades stay high.  Yeah, well, duh on that part.  Look at him!  You think he can't get whatever grades he wants?  He's Skippy.  He can do what he wants!  Except for one thing.

He cannot read the final book of the "Seven Sins" series by Akimaya Shinobu.  Because it hasn't been released yet, and while all of Japan is looking forward to it, Skippy really really wants to read it now.  In something of an unhealthy way, if you know what I mean.  Alas, he can move heaven and earth and it won't hasten the arrival of the book one iota.

So while he waits, Skippy reads everything else in sight every waking minute of the day.  This Akimaya person has never been seen in public and writes everything from rom com to sci fi to any other abbreviation you can think of.  Basically he (if he is a he)'s Isaac Asimov, just without the non-fiction.  Like probably everybody that visits The Pond, Our Hero finds a visceral pleasure in reading in restaurants.  Actually, he finds a visceral pleasure in reading anywhere, but roll with it, huh?  So he's reading in a charming little cafe, though he's dismayed when he realizes he's lost his wallet.  At that moment...

...gun crime is so rare in Japan that in 2006 there were only two gun murders nationwide.  Most guns are illegal.  Air rifles are okay.  Strangely enough, so are shotguns, though you need to take a test, register it with the police, store ammo separately in a locked container, retest every few years, and let the police inspect it regularly.  I have a hunch that hoodyguy up there hasn't bothered with any of that.  Oh, and for the record?  I suspect it's a Mossberg, but I can't find an exact match with any of the major companies.  Maybe one of The Pond's guy folk can figure it out... here's the unresized picture if you want to have a go.

Hoodyguy is annoyed that not everybody is terrified of him... indeed, the lass in the corner doesn't even seem to realize he exists as she writes away.  I get the same way when I do these writeups, except I would react if someone holding a shotgun was screaming at me to stand up and pointing it at me.  To be blunt, it'd just be a good thing that I regularly wear black pants and I leave it at that.

Our Hero, however, is just young and stupid enough to be having none of that noise.  The struggle doesn't last very long, and hoodyguy kicks Skippy to the floor.  He pants and wheezes for a second or two, then starts to get up again.  Our boy Skippy, he's got some fight in him.  Not a lot of brains, but fight.

Are we about to find out just how much brains he's got?  Nah, this is anime.  When was the last time you saw someone shot in the face in anime without being a zombie, android/cyborg, or mook in Gunslinger Girl?  Certainly never Our Hero!


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December 20, 2014

Timewaster Delayed!

I've been working on the next First Episode Writeup for the past week after having found a good BD rip of it.  It's been a slog, however, as the episode has a bad ratio of unexplained-action-to-explaining-dialogue.  That makes a coherent writeup difficult to create since I often wind up worldbuilding at the same time.  However, I've made it about a third of the way through, and the second half is flashbacks.  Yay, I guess. 

Have you ever had something force its way into your awareness in such a way that you couldn't ignore it?  Let me give you an example.  Back in 1991, I was driving up to Minnesota to get an apartment and tour the town I'd be going to grad school in.  As I crossed the Mississippi River at La Crosse, a saxophone-led song with a funky backbeat came across the car radio.  Catchy, I thought, but the DJ didn't say the name of either the song or the artist.  Later that night, as I was out driving around the town, seeing the sights (such as they were), same song came on.  Again, no name, no artist.  I woke up the next morning, turned on Good Morning America or one of those shows, and wouldn't you know it?  The live musical guest for the day was a blonde saxophonist named Candy Dulfer, with Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics on guitar, playing a tune called "Lily Was Here."

I bought the cassette before I left Minnesota.  I felt like I couldn't not do so.  What's the point of this story I hear you asking?  Well, it's happened again.  There's an anime series that forced me to watch it, just by showing up everywhere I looked for a couple of days.  Didn't know anything about it, but it kept forcing itself upon me... I felt violated, yes, but it'd be a while since that had happened.   As I rolled through the first episode, I realized it'd be perfect for a writeup.  It was just begging for one.  As a result, I've put the original writeup that I'm a third of the way finished with on hold and will now be doing this mystery show instead.  With luck, it'll be up tonight or Sunday!

Look forward to it.  Or not.  Whichever.

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December 08, 2014

First Episode Writeup #2

Well!  The writeup for Black Lagoon's first episode certainly seemed to go well.  I'm encouraged... maybe this can be a thing.  Or maybe it was because Black Lagoon is such a good show and people are just reacting to that quality, as opposed to my digital scribblings. Well, there's only one way to find out, isn't there?  Actually, no, there's many more ways than one to find out... I could just ask my readers, the so-called Pond Scum, their opinion!  Or I could do another writeup and judge the response from that!.  See?  Two ways right there!.  In this case, I decided to go with Option #2, because asking after just one writeup seems... um... needy?  "Please, love me, love me," said the blogger, desperately clinging onto your pants leg.  "Tell me I'm a good blogger!"  Yeah, exactly like that.  Man, that flowed so naturally from my fingertips... nah, I haven't thought of that before, never ever!  So I went through my anime collection looking for the next series to write up.  There's some good candidates in there for sure, but one almost literally jumped off the shelf at me (it actually just fell off, but that was enough to convince me).  Let's just get right to it, shall we?  This should be surprising, I think.

A train races across a cold, snowy land.  Except there's no way in the world it should be able to do this because the pantographs on the motor units aren't actually contacting the catenary wires.  That means no electrical power, and that means our train goes nowhere.  The end.  Well.  That's anticlimactic.  Okay, let's pretend this could actually work and the train races across a cold, snowy land.  Shortly thereafter...

...a young man named Skippy sits on a bench in a cold, snowy land.  He hardly seems dressed well enough for the weather, what with no hat or scarf.  His internal monologue suggests he's been there a while.  The snow on his shoulders suggests the same.  The snow piled on his head suggests that the body heat radiating out of his uncovered pate has cooled substantially.  So apparently this young man is actually dying of exposure and his internal monologue are the final firings of tortured neurons  Terminal burrowing will soon occur, perhaps under the bench itself, bringing this show to a grim and sad end and turning this writeup into the shortest ever

As Skippy drifts off into the next world, his brain spasms one last time and imagines a young lady, showing care and concern.  She is someone that he knows, someone named Nayuki that he's not seen in seven years.  Surely she's only a hallucination, dressed as poorly for the weather as she is.  They smile at each other as she guides him towards the afterlife.

They walk off into a cold, snowy land.  Neither notices, as neither can feel the elements any longer.  She because she doesn't exist, and Skippy because he's actually huddled pathetically under a bench, the bonechilling cold freezing his body into a sad parody of life.


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December 03, 2014

First Episode Writeup #1

While we're waiting for the Kantai Collection anime to finally come down the pike, I'm going to try something different for a while.  Since there's only a month or so until the Winter season begins, I probably don't have enough time to do a writeup for an entire series worth of episodes... but I can do single episodes with no problem!  Take the first episode of a show, inflict upon it my own special kind of love and kindness, leave it broken and bleeding in the dirt, and move on, laughing at my own callousness.  Unless, of course, there's an outpouring of feeling demanding I do the rest of the series, in which case I'll consider it.  Then leave it, too, broken and bleeding in the dirt whilst I do the evil laugh and twirl my mustache like Snidley Whiplash (kids, ask your parents).  I dunno how it'll work, but I think it has the potential of being kinda fun!  Heck, why not, let's give it the ol' college try.

Say hello to Skippy.  That's probably not his name, but as we've yet to be told what it is, Skippy will do for now.  Skippy is pretty much your average to slightly-below-average salaryman cliche.  He works long hours for a huge multinational corporation in an unrewarding job, has no time for a life outside of work, and tends to wear a lot of gray.

His direct superior treats him like whale snot on the bottom of your shoe, and why not?  That's how his boss treated him when he was just starting out in the company, and if it was good enough for him, it's good enough for Skippy, only doubly-so.  After all, now HE'S the boss and he's got to make sure the underlings know it.  Skippy meekly bends over and takes it, because that's how it's done in Stereotypical Salaryman's Life, and hopes to someday move up in the world, into a position where he might be able to make someone else as miserable as he is today.

His appears to be a crapsack world indeed.  Nowhere in it is there room for things like zombies, bento fights, technomagical girls with kickarse scarves or happy gambling paradises.  All is gray, and that's the way it's always been, and that's the way it'll always be. 

So how the hell did it come to this?


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