November 12, 2015

Please Consider This A Teaser


Uh... huh

Just a little something I picked up via Steam a few weeks ago... well, actually, it's the new extended version of something I picked up on Steam back when I booted from the bookstore.  Since it was selling for less than the cost of a couple of Chicago Style hot dogs (hold the peppers and cucumber slices, please!) and fries, I figured what the hell. 

In a lot of ways, that's still my reaction, though it's more like "what the hell?!?" now.  We'll see when I'm done and get it written up. 

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November 08, 2015

The Four Faces Of Kei 'n' Yuri

In the comments of the last post, friend Ben asks what anime series I'd like to see get remade due to age or quality.  While I didn't type my answer immediately, the second I saw the question I knew how I'd be replying: The Dirty Pair.  If not the actual first "girls with guns" series, Dirty Pair was certainly the first to be hugely popular.  The adventures of Kei and Yuri have been around for nearly 40 years, and I've been a fan since sometime in the '90s.  Light novels, one 26 episode TV series, three movies, two completely different OVA series, and even US comic books cover most of the source material of these great characters.  Along the way, only two things have stayed more or less constant with the visual designs: Kei has red hair and Yuri dark hair, and the two are female.  Obviously one of the most important aspects of a remake of such a legendary franchise would be the updated character design.  With any luck, the production company involved would pay attention to what had come before.  With that in mind, let's take a look at the evolution of the best known 3WA Trouble Consultants, shall we?

Mughi changed, too!

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August 30, 2015

Photoshoot, Ga-Rei Zero Style!

Some time ago, I was talking about a "creative project" I was working on... y'know, the one that needed 60 sets of chopsticks, a trilobite, something donated from Texas, two different styles of gift tissue, four thumbtacks and a big binder clip?  It's fairly clear to me now that I'll never actually finish the damn thing, simply because the effort involved is somewhat beyond me at the moment... i.e. I can't be arsed.  However!  That doesn't mean that I can't reveal that which has been completed, and J Greely was right... the stuff WAS being used as a photo studio though not a tabletop one.  More of a bookcase, really.  You'll see, later.  But what was I shooting?

Almost 18 months ago, I sugested that there were two more figmae waiting to be photographed... but what I didn't say is that they were a matched set: Kagura and Yomi from Ga-Rei Zero!  Though they're fairly old Figma (Kagura is #066, Yomi #067 in a collection that's announced number #269 recently), I was able to pick the pair of them up for a song... in new condition, to boot.  I just checked online, and nowadays they cost individually what I got both for in 2014.  Anime figures: investment material!

Of course, the best part of Ga-Rei Zero is the relationship between these two.  It's no spoiler anymore to say that they go from best friends to a duel to the death, and if nothing else, that gives a LOT of picture-taking opportunities.  Let's continue, shall we?

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August 26, 2015

Her Eyes

Back in 2008 or so, I was flooping around after finishing up my first AMV, "...Angel", feeling like I needed to make another one but not having any inspiration.  Oh, there were a couple of aborted attempts, but nothing that got any farther than a couple of clips on a timeline and call it a day.  Then there was a Formula 1 video I thought about doing (F1MV?) and never got around to... and then my copy of Adobe Premiere went away in a virus-induced format-and-install, never to be seen again.  Of course, it was then that inspiration sneaked up behind me and whupped me upside de haid but good.  And like with the first AMV, it happened at the Duck U Bookstore.  Since it's been nigh on seven years since then, I don't remember what I was doing at the time... probably folding t-shirts because t-shirts always need to be folded, that's what they're for... when a song came on the instore music system.

As with the first time, it had less to do with how much I liked the song as how the entire AMV sprang to life in my head as the song went on.  That I did (and still do) like the tune is an added bonus, something I can't particularly say about "Lips of an Angel", the song I used for "...Angel".  Certainly by the time I was done, I hated that drippy piece of musical treacle.  There was one huge difference between the two ideas, though: I had Premiere the first time lighting struck, and I didn't the second time.  The constant badgering of my brain trying to get me to make "Her Eyes" into the AMV in my head drove me to make some... unwise... decisions on the downloading front, not that my antivirus programs did anything to help matters.  Antivirus matadors, more like it: "oh look, a virus?  Ole!"  Anyway, after being unsuccessful on many fronts, I decided to make an effort at tabling my brain's nagging for a while.  And then The Dark Years occurred.  2008 and 2009 were particularly horrible experiences, and while 2010 and 2011 were remarkable for blog output (all those writeups!), the AMV faded, stored away in a closet somewhere in my brain.

Jumpcut to a few days ago.  I've put the entirety of my "loose tunes" music collection into one mega-playlist (iTunes suggests that I can now go 47 hours straight without hearing a repeat, and that's without any of the hundreds of albums included), and I've hit the shuffle setting.  I'm sitting at the computer doing... something and the music is playing, playing, playing and... a song comes on.  And the lightning bolt strikes again.

Indeed, by the time he hits the first chorus, there were tears rolling down my face.  Not because it's a sad song, but because of how intense my brain's reaction was.  If you've never had a serious "eureka moment" like that, I literally can't explain it to you.  If you have experienced it, you know exactly what I mean and I don't need to explain it.  It certainly doesn't have to be AMV-related... authors and woodworkers, papershufflers and athletes, bloggers and... uh... people who do real things can all get hit by such inspiration.  I've been truly honored to have it happen a few times (not all AMV-related), and I hope it'll happen again in the future.  "But", I hear you screaming, "what's the damn concept, Wonderduck?"

Some years ago, there was a fairly popular anime, spawned a damn religion, come to think of it... maybe you've heard of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya?  I can hear you groaning to yourself, but remember this: the concept for this AMV came to me in 2008, well before the second series, well before Endless 8, well before the movie and all that jazz.  It was still fresh then.  Of course, people hyped the new series to Pluto and beyond, then were disappointed when it only reached the Moon, but that's beside the point.  One thing that really drove people loony in a good way was the first series' ED, what with the dancing and the choreography and the glavin and...  ...but y'know, I was always struck by an image from the OP.  To whit, this one:

The universe in her eye, as we find out when we zoom in closer and discover stars and galaxies.  It's a great image, and the song fits so perfectly with it I'd almost think that Pat Monahan had seen the series.  And the intervening years, quite honestly, have done nothing but made it easier to make the AMV... after all, it's more than doubled the available source material, and in the process solved the one blank space I had in my mental storyboard (how the hell was I going to do "tells me that she's lived about a hundred lives..."?  Well, now I know!).

The one, nearly trivial, aspect of the creation of the AMV is that I still don't have a video editing program worthy of the name.  Or any idea how to extract video from mkvs.  Or time.  But those are all minor details. 

The lightning has struck again.

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July 10, 2015

Gakkou Gurashi!

One of the few shows I was honestly looking forward to this season was a little something called Gakkou Gurashi!, which more or less translates out to "Living at School!".  It follows the hijinks of four students as they make their way through their highschool years in a slice-of-life manner.  It had cute artwork, reportedly an outstanding story, and... well, heck, you know me: slice-of-life is right up my street.  And so are spoilers, but you probably realized that already.

This is Yuki, our main character, and yes, she's supposed to look like that.  She's specifically designed to take most of the best (worst?) characteristics of the super-cute uber-moe school girl and package them all in one person.  Throw in "genki" and "bonkuras" and you've got Yuki.  You expect her to bonk herself upside the head while winking at any moment, and god help you, you'll enjoy it... you might hate yourself every second, but you'll enjoy it anyway.  Yep, she's like that.

These are her friends at school.  Yuri is the one in the sweater, Kurumi is the twin-tailed girl, and Miki is the blonde, who is Yuki's "protege".  The puppy up there is Taroumaru, and he's basically Yuki's.  Yes, that is spaghetti they're eating, and yes, it is the morning. 

And before you ask, yes, yes they are at school.  They're members of the "School Living Club," a bunch of kids who love school so much they never leave.  Uhhhhh... okay.  Though to be fair, I've seen stranger things in anime before.  Still, the handwritten sign is a little... odd?


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June 30, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep13

"It's a little sad, isn't it?  We had so much fun, and now it's about to end."

-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep13
It's rare that a final episode of a show will make me immediately wish for more, but that's what just happened with Hibike! Euphonium.  Oh, to be sure, the climax was what I mostly expected (the writers left juuuuuust enough room for doubt), but along the way the Goofy Cute showed yet another side of herself, and an unexpected one at that.

Melancholic Asuka.  Sitting on the stage, amongst the classmates she's worked so hard for and with, ready to give what is potentially their final performance together, she gets quiet and introspective, and says the words at the very beginning (and very end) of this post.  When she said them, I got very sad.  Combine them with the picture from Ep07, and it's very hard not to see a prototypical (if not stereotypical) image of a "gifted child".  An loner with just one or two friends that don't really know her, who in public tends to go a little overboard in the ebullience category, yet winds up sitting alone in her room studying a topic that none of her peers understand at a level anywhere near hers.  Being in the concert band has to be something close to the only normal relationship she has... she's given so much to it, and now comes the moment she's both anticipated and feared since the moment everybody decided to try for Nationals.  There's every chance in the world that the group she's helped create over the past three years will be no more after this performance... and she'll end up back in the bedroom, alone, studying a topic that none of her peers understand at a lever anywhere near hers.  Melancholic?  If that's all she is, she's got a stronger will than most.

(thanks to friend Ben for the screenshot... I could not get my player to pause at the right spot to save my life)
When the announcement finally comes down, revealing that all their hard work... all HER hard work... has paid off, we get this look.  Around her, the members of the Kitauji High School Concert Band and its auxiliary team is celebrating... and Asuka is entirely, hopelessly alone.  There may very well be a different story than the one I've told behind her reaction.  In some ways, I suspect I'm reading way too much into this from not enough information.  But in other ways?  I know I'm right, at least to a certain point.  Her reactions are much too familiar to me for them to just be a coincidence.  Longtime readers of The Pond know that I have a background in theatre, specifically lighting design and scenic work.  I've worked on countless shows, almost entirely in a behind the scenes capacity, and while everybody else on cast and crew celebrated their performances, it wasn't uncommon at all for me to react like Asuka... and yes, I was a so-called "gifted child," both musically and book learnin'.  Or, at least, the school district thought so.  Anyway, what I'm saying is that my reaction to Asuka isn't just pulled out of thin air here... there's too many parallels from my own history for me to miss them.  It would explain a great many things, looking back at her through that lens.  Unfortunately, this is all just conjecture.  We've seen the final episode of the series, there's been no announcement of a season two as of yet, and, while there's an OVA coming sometime in the future, I expect something other than an Asuka episode from that.  We may never know exactly what makes Our Goofy Cute tick.  If that's true, it would be perhaps the only major failing of Hibike! Euphonium. As of right now, it's the Series of the Year, and its only competition is likely the forthcoming ARIA sequel.  Bravo, Kyoto Animation.  And thank you for introducing us to Asuka.

"I wish summer would go on forever."

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June 25, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep12

Dammit, we need an Asuka-centric episode.  I say that not because it would make writing Your Weekly Asuka a lot easier, but because KyoAni has stopped using her as an actual character.

-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep12
In this, what will probably end up being the penultimate broadcast episode for this season, the euphoniums are asked to lend their sound to a particular fragment of music that sounded empty being played by just the contrabass.  It's a tough passage, the musical equivalent of making Rio: Rainbow Gate! funny.

Of course, Asuka barely glances at the sheet music and plays it flawlessly.  Worse, she makes it look and sound easy.  So when it comes time for Our Hero to give it a go, she sounds awful.  Worse than awful, she sounds clumsy.  Embarrassed for no good reason, she grabs her music stand, says "I'm going to go practice", and the events of the episode are put into motion.

And that would be fine if that's all Asuka had ever been, just some musical goal to reach for.  But she's been a major character in this show, just one small step behind the "big four" (and arguably ahead of one or two of them as well!), and light-years more important than most.  Worse, she's been a character with character, and a distinctive one at that.  And now KyoAni has turned her into a mere plot point.  I've been saying all along that, in a sense, this has been Asuka's show and in a way Ep12 proves that: her skill at playing the euphonium makes the episode happen.  But that's really not what I meant.   It is, however, how Kyoto Animation has decided to use her.  Damn shame, and quite possibly their biggest waste of a personality since Tomoyo in Clannad... the non-OVA version, that is.  Well, with the release of the first BD in Japan this week, they did give us a little bit of a pat-on-the-head... a two minute omake that included this image:

Obviously she needs a rubber duck.  I'm not surprised she doesn't have one, though... disappointed, but not surprised.  Really, Sapphire seems to be more likely to own a rubber duck.

UPDATE: I just noticed that this is the 400th post in the anime category.  That's gotta earn a "wow".

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June 18, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep11

There's one problem with having a weekly feature that follows a secondary character: sometimes they don't do a whole lot and that makes it hard to write coherently about them.

-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep11
Or, as in the case of the Goofy Cute this week, she stays as guarded and evasive as ever.  Even when Kaori asked her point-blank twice who she thought was better suited to play the solo trumpet part, Asuka deftly danced and deflected the question.

I'll admit that I'm beginning to understand why some people dislike this part of her personality.  I'm fairly certain that she's dodging all the drama intentionally... she knows that she's got influence in the band club.  The last thing she wants to do with that influence is use it in public; she wants the band to sound the best it can.  If that means arranging matters so that there's a second audition for trumpet solo, so be it.  That it'll help her friend, Kaori, is merely a side-note.

We desperately need an Asuka episode, but with two broadcast eps and an OVA remaining in this season, I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen.  Which means we may never find out what makes her tick, and that disturbs me more than anything right now.  I'm sure Ben's forthcoming writeup over at his place will cover the events of this ep in depth; he actually thinks about the show which puts him a step up on me.

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June 10, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep10

She's back!  The Goofy Cute is back!

-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep10
But only for a few moments, after which she is gone is a cloud of seriousness and puppetmastering.  For as mentioned weeks ago, whatever Asuka wants for the band club, Asuka gets.

This week, we had drama in that many of the 2nd and 3rd year students were outraged that a first year student, Reina, could possibly beat a popular 3rd year, Kaori, for the trumpet solo honors... to the point that a sense of discontent and back-biting has arisen.  Sides have been taken, with Team Kaori being both loud and sneaky.  Rumors are floated that the Conductor has known Reina for years, and that favoritism played a major part in his decision during auditions.

Kumiko, the POV character for the series, is perturbed by the way the band is disintegrating... and that her friend Reina is the proximate cause of the problems.  She hears Kaori practicing the trumpet solo part, and winds up wanting to find out what Asuka's opinion on the solo situation is.  "No comment", since she's the Vice-President and all.  Kumiko ain't havin' it, so she presses the matter with Goofy Cute, asking for her personal opinion, off the record. 

"I don't care.  I couldn't give a damn."  And then she traipses away, leaving an angry and depressed Kumiko behind.  She knows Asuka has an opinion, but there's way too much mask and armor to penetrate to find out what it really is.  Later, the rumor-mongering and backbiting becomes so bad that the Conductor allows for a second audition for anybody unsatisfied with the results of the first audition.  Only one person wants a redo: Kaori, the 3rd Year trumpet player.

...and Asuka smiles.  Which leads me to believe that she was the driving force behind the rumors of favoritism.  We already know she's devoted to music.  We've seen that she's extremely knowledgeable about the world of music (for example, when their playlist for the upcoming contest is handed out, she knows quite a lot about the obscure composer that created one of the tunes, just off the top of her head).  We've learned that the Conductor is rather well-known as a music educator, and that Reina's father, a well-known trumpet player himself, has known him for years.  It seems likely to me that this is all information that Asuka would know.  If she was dissatisfied with the results of the solo auditions, she could certainly say something casually where the wrong ears would hear... and the rumors would spread.

And Asuka gets what Asuka wants.

I'm willing to bet, though, that the audition next week will be done blind, with the soloists behind screens.  The winner is going to be chosen by a show of hands, and if they're behind screens, it won't devolve into a popularity contest.  Mark my words.

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June 03, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep09


-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep09
Stress is neither a good nor a bad thing in life.  It is simply something that is omnipresent in our world.  Some forms of stress can be enjoyable for one person, yet a horrible experience for the next... roller coasters, for example.  Some stressors are almost uniformly negative, like the death of a loved one.  One fact of life, however, is that everybody reacts to stress differently.  Some people can't sleep, or have digestive problems, or the index finger on their right hand twitches uncontrollably in a manner guaranteed to creep people out when they see it.  And some, like Our Goofy Cute Obsession here, become short-tempered.  While she surely has nothing to worry about from this episode's auditions, Asuka clearly is feeling the stress from them. 

The way she bites off Sapphire's head and bathes in her blood might have been a little over the top, but her anger at the way the contrabass player was moping through the rehearsal was completely in  character for Asuka.  We've seen that she's devoted to her music and can be quite the hard-driving taskmaster... throw in the added stress of auditions, and you get the dead eyes of a pissed off euphonium player.

Fortunately she doesn't stay that way the entire episode, and by the end she's back to her bouncy self... and it's no surprise that she didn't have anything to worry about from the audition process.  What I've found interesting is the online reaction to her this episode.  Practically overnight she went from The Most Popular Girl In The Room to despised, just because she got short-tempered about people's attitudes.  Quite astonishing, and entirely unexpected.

I suspect she wouldn't give a tinker's damn if she knew, as long as the band played well.

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May 28, 2015

The Evangelion Movies: 2.22 You Can (not) Advance, pt 3

Because what's more fun on a weekend than a movie filled with angst-ridden, emotionally stunted, just flat-out damaged kids being forced to save the world while being used by an O2STK to actually bring around the end of the world, just in an approved manner?  Right, doing a writeup of that very movie!  After pt 2, how could I not want to leap right into pt 3, huh?  I mean, other than reasons of sanity, not that that's ever been a concern of mine before.  But you know, times these days are hard, and at times like this, one's sanity becomes a precious, precious commodity, one to be treasured and nurtured, not squandered like the virtue of a Lady of the Evening named Trixie in San Diego during Fleet Week.  However, I squander my sanity gladly for the entertainment of my readers, the accumulated Pond Scum, a term I use endearingly.  You'll note, of course, that it's months after I completed the previous installment... that'll show how much I love you guys.  But enough of my self-congratulating maunderings, let's get on with the Adventures of Nigel Evangelion.

The night after they've killed the most recent Angel, Asuka has another teeny-tiny lil' breakdown.  She's used to being alone, but for whatever reason she crawls into bed with Shinji... come to think of it, it's quite possible that that's about as close to being alone as you can get with another human being.  Before you start thinking that we're getting red-hot one-on-one Eva pilot action, remember that Asuka is the one person who hasn't punched Shinji in the face.  She's perpetrated other violence upon his person, so I guess the suppose their relationship is still up in the air, but without the punch in the face you can't be sure.

Time passes  in a normal, relaxed way.  People get up, go about their days, come home.  Asuka proves to be only slightly better than feral.  Shinji doesn't whine much.  Teh Rei watches it all with an air of dull surprise.  Angelic days indeed (see what I did there?).

Except for all that Eva simulation training.  Oh yeah, that.  That sort of thing isn't exactly common.  I mean, for these kids it is, but it's not like Fred and Ginger in class 2-2 spend their afternoons stuck in a Entry Plug, surrounded by something that looks a lot like amniotic fluid, controlling giant bio-robots.  Don't worry, though... if they do, I'm sure there'll be an Evangelion movie about them.

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May 26, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep08


-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep08
In contrast to last week's episode, Episode 08 was much lacking in The Goofy Cute.  She was very much a tertiary character this week, as the show focused on relationships between the mains this time around.

But that's okay, because this episode was amazing.  I mean, I can't remember the last time I enjoyed myself as much watching an episode of ANY anime as much as I did this one.  I laughed, I teared up a bit, I wished I was 30 years younger for a few minutes. 

Asuka wasn't in sight very much, but a little speech she gave after one of her friends prayed for luck at auditions was telling.  I paraphrase: "Playing music is all about your effort, hoping a god helps you just cheapens it."  Amen, and that's why I was never very good.  The thing was, I knew I wasn't very good, and that after all the effort, after all the practice... I still wouldn't be very good.  It's a humbling experience to know that.

If you're not watching Hibike! Euphonium, you're missing out on the best series this season, and probably this year.  Sure as heck it's the best series KyoAni has done since Clannad/Clannad AS.  I have high hopes for the new ARIA series coming out in a few months, but it's going to have to work really hard to surpass HibEuph.

So why aren't you watching?

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May 21, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep07

"In the end, Asuka always ends up on my mind."
-President of the band club

-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep07

A remarkably Asuka-centric episode.  "Remarkable" mainly because she barely says anything, and nothing at all to any of the main characters in a non-ensemble setting.  However, the truth is that she was the focal point.

The Goofy part of her was completely missing this time around, but her screen time was actually quite limited.  However, almost every conversation somehow became about her... and not always in a positive light.  There's an undercurrent amongst the first-year members of the band that she's too perfect, that it's all a put-on, and one can't tell where the REAL Asuka is as a result.

It doesn't appear that the upperclassmen feel the same way.  However, many of them feel something even more stinging about her: that she let the band down.  We finally discovered why there's such a dearth of second-year students in the band club, and it's about what you would expect: a group of them were more interested in socializing than playing.  However, there was a group that DID want to play seriously, and conflict inevitably resulted.  People looked to Asuka to solve the conundrum and... she didn't.  She played neutral to the whole thing, as well as turning down the position of  President.  According to one of the officers of the band club, Asuka thought it out and realized that she couldn't succeed as the President with the club in the condition it was in.

That puts a completely different spin on her "master facilitator" persona, one that's not so flattering when mixed with the fake/phony appellation.  And yet, we still don't really know the TRUE "cute goofball"... we just know what other members of the band think of her.  Big difference there, but it was a fascinating character study cleverly done.  I have hope that next week we'll actually find out more.

Because this one image teases so much about her.  We've seen a few bedrooms over the course of this show, and none of them have been so empty, so sparse, so... lonely.  You'd expect the room to be a riot of color and action and noise, given the "Goofy Cute" that resides in it, but... no.  I fear what this means about her backstory.

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May 17, 2015

Oh Why Not?

Because I haven't seen very many good AMVs for Kantai Collection, here's a mostly good one.

I say mostly because it suffers from the same problem the source song does: it's about a minute too long.  Still, up to that point a fun time is had by all. 

Or by me.  One of the two.

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May 13, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep06


-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep06

We saw both sides of Our Goofy Adoration this week.  The stern but fair taskmaster alternately teaching and berating the newby tuba player when she was on the verge of goofing off...

...and showing that she's got the chops to back up her assertions in addition to being cute and goofy.  She's clearly serious about this whole music thing, despite not being interested in running the band club.

When handed a new piece of music for auditions, she looks at it for a moment, then plays through it smoothly, error-free, and at tempo.  Meanwhile, the main character of the show, who has played the same instrument for seven years, is clearly uncomfortable with playing, tentative and slow.  While the rest of the series spins around her, Asuka is proving to be the person I want to know more about.  Sure, Kumiko, Hazuki, Sapphire and Reina are the main characters, and their relationships are intriguing, and the show is hitting on all cylinders, but I'll be darned if Asuka doesn't steal every scene she's in.  There's something about her, above and beyond the goofy cute, that makes her interesting.  She's not a main character, but she's making a good argument to be one.

It's clear there's more than 13 episodes in the story of Hibike! Euphonium.  I'm hoping a second season will be announced quickly, and that one of the episodes is Asuka-centric.  I want to know her backstory... for all that I've adopted her as a motif to talk about the series, we really don't know much about her.

I have a feeling there's more to it than we think.

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May 05, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep05


-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep05
This week, the Goofy Wacko we've come to adore is almost entirely missing.  In her place is a being we've never quite seen before: Deadly Serious Asuka.  I mean, last week she was the voice of reason in a band leader meeting.  This week, she was the stern taskmaster who drove the marching band to levels they didn't know they could reach.

Because she's the Drum Major and darn well in charge on performance day.  She was also the consensus pick to be President of the Band, but she didn't want the job.  Well, no wonder she was so influential last week.

I did say "almost", didn't I?

On a completely different note, if you're not watching this show, you're missing out on perhaps the best work KyoAni has done since the Haruhi movie.  I mean, yes, there's the scene that everybody will be talking about, but they're making sure every single box is checked everywhere.

Sure, just a simple train station, but holy crap, I thought I was looking at a photograph when I saw the screenshot.  Honestly, KyoAni brought their "A"-game for this one, and when they do that, ain't nobody in the same league.

It goes without saying that the reflection of the train's lights in the stream is animated horizontally, but if you watch the scene carefully, you'll see there's also movement caused by the flow of the water.  It's a throwaway shot, on-screen for a couple of seconds at most (and, ohbytheway, the train is exactly as long, end-to-end, as the screen is wide), but there's more care put into it than you'll see in almost all flash-based style animation, and most anime in general.  Yes, I'm fanboying.  Yes, I'm gushing.  No, I don't care.  It's just.  That.  Damn.  Good.

click for bigger
I want this band to play this song.  A little bit of self-referential humor for the studio.  Now if you'll excuse me, I want to go watch this episode again.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:51 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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April 28, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep04


-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep04

A rather Asuka-less episode, with the cute goofball having maybe a minute of screentime.  She was remarkably serious this time around, too.  From being the voice of reason in the section leader meeting that actually determined the course of the series from here on out to teaching the newcomers to the bass section advanced techniques, she played the role of "good sempai" to a Tee.

What might not be obvious at first blush is that Asuka has, to date, gotten everything she's wanted in this series.  From corralling three of the main characters to making sure the band is trying for Nationals to subtly siding with the new teacher in the section leader meeting and thus pushing everybody to accept his somewhat abrupt (but effective) style, Our Goofy Fascination is proving to be ridiculously skilled in playing the political game.  One gets the impression that if she was even slightly normal she'd be president of the student council, or maybe dictator-for-life.

You know how there is a school of thought that says that the Star Wars series of movies is actually telling the story of R2-D2?  At least through Ep04, an argument can be made for Hibike!  Euphonium being Asuka's tale, told from the standpoint of the three so-called main characters.  To be honest, I'm not sure if I really believe that or if it's just because I'm doing this weekly thing, but I find the possibility to be intriguing.

Shhhh... don't tell anyone!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:45 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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April 24, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep03


-Hibike!  Euphonium, Ep03

It's not uncommon for me to be more interested in a secondary character than a main... I love background characters, and always have. The Skippy T Spearcarriers of the world are people too, and they all have stories, at least in a world well-created.  Sure, the true background characters, i.e., the ones there to make it look like the world is populated, they won't have anything, but the students sharing a classroom with Our Heroes?  They should be people in their own right.  Maybe not as interesting as a 12-year old high school senior, or a schoolgirl who fights demons at night with a holy water-powered steam iron, but people nevertheless.

However, it is uncommon for me to create a weekly entry for them, but yet that's what I'm going to do for the character of Asuka from Hibike!  Euphonium.  There are two reasons for that.  The first should be obvious.  The second is that, while she's loonier than a sack full of wet quokka, she's also dearly devoted to the concert band in the show.  So much so that she's one of the true driving forces behind its continued existence after the second-year student walkout alluded to in this episode. 

What I'm saying is, there's more to her than a cute goofball.  I mean, sure, that's undoubtedly what I'll be focusing on in this running feature, but don't be surprised if it gets deeper than that.  If you're interested in a weekly writeup on the series, visit Ben over at Midnight Tease; he's adopted the show.  In contrast to my writeups, there's actual thought behind his!

Since I missed Week 2, here's a special bonus Asuka:

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:45 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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April 15, 2015

Triage X Diagnosis: Black


So, I decided to give Triage X another episode.  I figured I owed it that much, after the amount of fun High School of the Dead provided.  Maybe, just maybe, it'd realize how bad the first episode was and make some sort of drastic change that'd make it watchable.  It's not totally unheard of.

But in the case of Triage X, that would be impossible.  Everything loathsome from the first episode is back, this time with bandages and narcotics thrown in for good measure.  And just why exactly the bad guys decide that duct-taping folding chairs to someone's forearms would immobilize them is beyond me... particularly when the tape is applied in a small X to each seat.  I just don't it.

Even the single use of color for dramatic purposes, shown above, is disappointing because you just know it's going to go away for the BD release.  Instead of dramatic silhouettes, you'll wind up with bodies and blood, just like every other awful show that has a surgeon-samurai with gigantomastia in it.  Really, it's almost enough to make me weep for the anime business that crepe like this can not only be released, but awaited eagerly. 

I'll be fair, however: there was one change I can approve of in this episode.

They added "Episode: 02" to the card.  After last week's "Prescription of Hell" with no hint of what that meant, this must be considered a step up.  Maybe someone from CrunchyRoll reads The Pond.

Whatever.  This is so dropped.

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April 06, 2015

It's An Amazing Day

Okay, first it's Opening Day with a full slate of baseball games on TV and radio.  That always makes it a good day.  But even better is the appearance of this:

This PV for the upcoming ARIA the Avvenire answers many questions about the upcoming series. Specifically it lists the cast members and the news on that front is good: the VAs that made their characters who they are will all be coming back.  The PV does list Tomoko Kawakami as Athena, which on the face of it seems impossible since she passed away in 2011 from cancer.  Maybe flashbacks, or dialogue snipped from past episodes?  They can do remarkable things with technology!  The presence of Ai and Akari's hair style suggests that Avvenire will be continuing on from Origination... which means Athena and Alicia would both be retired gondolieri, but they're shown in their respective company uniforms.  Which means who knows? 

Here's what I can tell you for sure: I desperately need this show in my life.  Like, right now.  Instead, we'll have to look forward to September. 

Posted by: Wonderduck at 02:29 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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