May 19, 2018

Idol Threats

One thing I've been able to do while I've been... um... hobbled, is watch anime.  Take the laptop into the bedroom, set up a book holder on the bedside printer stand (what, you don't have a bedside printer stand?), open the laptop, put it on the holder, and voila!  Anime viewing station, perfectly angled for me to see the screen while in bed (I have a low bed).


What I've mainly been watching is Love Live Sunshine!!, the second installment of the Love Live idol-fantasy franchise.  I've gotta admit: I'm enjoying the hell out of it.  Well, duh, it's Cute Girls Doing Cute Things In Cute Ways While Wearing Cute Costumes (CGDCTICWWWCC?), of course I'd like it!

The one complaint I have, however, is that almost all the songs being sung by our heroes sound alike.  It's always the same themes: "shining", togetherness, happy, etc etc... very Up With People, if you're old enough to get that reference.  I mean, sure, that's all fine and dandy, and the music is done well, but it got dull.  That is, until Ep08 of the first season.  That's when these two show up:

I freely admit to groaning when we first meet them... it was obvious as hell that the Production Staff intended them to be The Great Nemesis, the "final boss" our heroes would have to defeat to win the competition and save their school.  I didn't want that... the series was perfectly fine without an ArchEnemy to worry about.  And then...
...I didn't care anymore, if it meant we'd get more music like "Self Control." I'm very near the end of the series... I just finished the 20th episode last night... and their first performance is still the best "in concert" in the show.   It goes without saying that the song is in heavy rotation on my mp3 player.  Calling it a huge (but pleasant) surprise goes without saying, but a greatly welcome one.

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March 22, 2018

ReLife ReTurns

Almost two years ago I said "I did not expect this to be that good," when referring to ReLife, a little show that just sort of... snuck up on everybody.  Short version of the plot: a 27-year old NEET is given the chance to have his problems (not all of them of his making) dealt with.  He'd be given a good job with a good company, with interesting work to be done... in short, he could honestly feel like he could go out in public again.  The only catch?  He has to spend a year back in high school.  Nope, not as a 27-year old, but as a 17-year old!  There's been a... pill... created that will knock ten years off your appearance until you take the antidote.  Sounds great, huh?  Well, not so much... you're still 27, after all... no longer a teenager, no longer fit, you've been out of high school for TEN YEARS, if you're a smoker you've still got the addiction, and... well, your female classmates are kinda hot.


Yes, now you see the potential difficulties an adult could face in a situation like this.  And it's amazing just how intelligently and realistically ReLife handles such matters.  I mean, "realistically" if you accept the possibility of a magic pill and going back to high school, that is.  There's also an interesting layer of wish fulfillment running underneath the surface: if you could go back knowing what you know now, would you?  I hated high school, and even with 30 years of bonus experience under my belt, I'd rather faceplant onto a claymore mine than go back.  But that's not really why I'm writing here.

No, the reason I'm writing today is to let you know that, sometime yesterday, the long-awaited ReLife OVA was released... the FOUR EPISODE LONG OVA.  For a series that was 13 episodes in length.  There is now good solid evidence that somewhere in Japan, there is a Production Staff that loves us and wants us to be happy.  As opposed to all those Production Staffs that hate us, laugh at us, and makes us watch Rio Rainbow Gate

I will not give spoilers, for no other reason than I haven't watched any of it yet.  One bit of information that I have gleaned, however, is no spoiler: it picks up right where Ep13 leaves off.  That's right kids, no "episode 8.5" here, it's a full continuation of the story!  So if you've seen the series, why in the world are you still reading this?  Go watch it!  And if you haven't seen ReLife, why are you still reading this?  Go watch it from the beginning!

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February 25, 2018

Warning To Pirates, Yarrrr!

A few days ago, I found that one of the private trackers I'm part of was firing up red all over my torrent program.  Nothing from that place was responding, but the other trackers still seemed to be working.  Oh crap, have they gone away?  I quickly visited the site, expecting to get a message saying they'd gotten a C&D, or had been DDoS'd into oblivion.  Imagine my surprise when everything seemed to be fine!  I looked in the attached forum and found out what was going on.


I've been using µTorrent for a very long time, long enough that I can't remember if I've ever used anything else.  While it's been updated a gazillion times, I've kept using version 2.2.1 over the years... I gather there's been some adware built into the newer versions?  Anyway, µTorrent has served me very well and faithfully.  And the tracker site, which I've been using for nearly as long as I've used µTorrent, had blacklisted all versions of it.  Apparently there's been a rather unpleasant security flaw discovered in it, and Bittorrent Inc lollygagged on patching it... to the tune of more than 90 days.  When the flaw was announced after three months, Bittorrent finally released a patch that for all intents and purposes, didn't work.  Oh, it broke the exploit, to be sure... but in such a way that it didn't actually fix the flaw.  I'm not a software guy so my understanding may be incorrect, but from what I've read the patch took the metaphorical keypad lock that the exploit used... and moved it six inches to the left.  When the exploit went looking for the keypad lock, it wasn't where it was supposed to be.  Tah-dah, all fixed!  

For, like, an hour.  Then the guy who discovered the flaw in the first place "moved" the exploit and voila, vulnerability still around.  Because of this, and because the patch only "fixed" the newest versions of µTorrent, the private tracker blacklisted it.  As it turns out, the situation is a little more nuanced than that... for example, version 2.2.1 is apparently missing the keypad lock entirely and thus may not be vulnerable. The recommendation from everybody involved that isn't Bittorrent and µTorrent appears to be "move to a different program."  While there are dozens of torrent programs out there, after a hour or two of research, I've decided to move The Pond to qBittorrent.  It's open source, there are no ads involved, the exploit doesn't exist on it, and it appears to operate in a manner that's very familiar to µTorrent users.  While I'd rather continue to use what I'm used to using, oh well.  If you too hoist the black flag, you may want to look into this matter as well.


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February 02, 2018

What's Wonderduck Watching? Winter 2018

Been quite a long time since I did one of these... long enough that I can't remember the last time.  Which tells you one of a couple of things.  1) I never really did them as a regular gig, and B) I haven't been watching all that many shows per season, because III) there's been a lot of not-very-good anime recently.  And I've been the optimist of the group!


But this season seems... different.  Now that most shows are at least four episodes in, I'm fairly sure about what's what, and there's three series I'm definitely watching, another that I'm going to at least pay attention to, not to mention not one but two new Fate/Nasuverse shows!  So What's Wonderduck Watching?  Click "more" for... well...
more...

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November 27, 2017

A Very Pleasant Surprise Indeed

On the whole, I tend not to talk about manga here at The Pond for no other reason than I've got enough on my plate already.  I can only remember talking about two manga titles in the 12 years The Pond has been going, though there may have been another few that I don't remember.  Which doesn't mean I don't read them... oh, heavens no.  I just don't... talk about it here.


Today though, I need to sing the praises of a series I discovered last week.  I went into it cold, ordering the first two books from amazon sight unseen... hey, I liked the title.  As it turns out, this gamble has paid off big time.  Allow me to introduce you to...

...That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime.  And really, what more do you need to know when you've got a title like that?  It may not be the perfect title, but I'll be darned if it wasn't enough for me.  But, as they say, you can't judge a book by its cover.  How about what's under the title?

Our hero dies in the first few pages, stabbed breaking up some street crime.  It's probably the only memorable thing he'd ever done, honestly.  He's 37, lives alone, has a nondescript job, is neither outstanding or poor at it, doesn't much go out, plays computer games, and realizes that he's nothing special.  As he's dying, he tells his co-worker to make sure his computer hard drive is destroyed.  Heh.  Then everything goes black.  The End.

Not the end.  He wakes up... and discovers he's literally in the dark.  Can't see, can't feel, can't move, can't smell, can't ANYthing.  Gradually, with the help of a computer-like voice only he can hear, he comes to realize that he's... a slime.  The lowest of the low.  The monster that nobody fears, not even civilian npcs.  Except upon reincarnation he gained two skills: [predator] and [great sage].  The first lets him absorb the abilities of anything he... um... absorbs.  The second lets him combine abilities in new and inventive ways, gives him an... "instruction manual"... to the world he now inhabits, and lets him access the memories of his prior life.  So he's an INTELLIGENT slime.  An intelligent slime that very quickly becomes the deadliest slime ever: by absorbing a passing bat, he winds up being able to spit poison, and talk (by modifying the echolocation of the bat).  As time goes on, he gains new and useful talents, but there's a problem.  He's alone.  He's in a huge cave, with no obvious way out, and nothing around him is intelligent.  Until... well...


Of COURSE the cave has a dragon in it.  Not just any dragon, either: the most powerful of the four dragons in this world.  Who was locked away in this cave a very long time ago indeed after being defeated by a Hero.  Magic prevents him from leaving, and his magic aura is so strong that nothing with a magic sense... pretty much everything even vaguely intelligent... will even come close to the cave.  The dragon and the slime become friends... they both finally have someone to talk to!... and eventually Our Hero comes up with a way to get the dragon out of the cave... by absorbing it without dissolving it.  Or something.  It works, but there's an unintended consequence... of course.  Hijinks ensue.

This is not a perfect manga.  Our Hero The Slime quickly becomes so overpowered there's no fear that he's going to get squished.  Removes a bit of drama from things, y'know?  Some may not find the humor all that funny... it isn't laugh-out-loud stuff for me, mostly just a small grin.  It's not at all hard to see where it's going, at least in the macro.  

On the plus side, the art is quite acceptable.  While the story may be predictable in the macro, in the micro there's been a few very nice surprises.  The worldbuilding has been top-notch; while it's a standard fantasy D&D-style land, the way magic works is fun.  Our Hero is a likable fellow, unsurprisingly... we're supposed to identify with him, after all.  Really, it's been a fun little ride thus far.  If you're in the mood for something light, but not too fluffy, That Time I Was Reincarnated As A Slime will go a long way for you.  The first two volumes are available where-ever books are sold, and the third volume comes out in a couple of weeks.   It's a good read.

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November 03, 2017

Doki Doki Literature Club

Yeah, I know.  "Wonderduck, another dating sim?"  Yep!  And not only that, it's about as formulaic as they come!  I mean take a look:


Left to right, you've got the tsundere, the shy bookworm, the genki childhood friend, and the school princess who's also the president of this little club.  Of course, you're the only guy in sight.  We've seen this anime, this manga, this visual novel, before, dozens of times really.  These same characters too... oh, the character designs might be different, but really they're the same.

So why did this free game that's available on Steam hook me so darn hard that it got into my dreams?  I want to make this clear: there are spoilers ahead.  Not massive ones, but spoilers nevertheless.  If you're curious about this, but you don't want spoilers, allow me to direct you to friend Ben's post over on the mysteriously named Midnite Tease.  He's got the stuff.

And, if you want to go into it with as little information as possible, I salute you and don't even mind if you're not going to read the rest of this post.  Here's some music for you.
Quite possibly the happiest, most bubbly tune ever... perfect for DDLC!


more...

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September 14, 2017

Presented Without Comment


Okay, one comment.  I always liked this song.  Still do, actually, though the cheese factor now is high... mostly because of clips like this one.

Still made me laugh, though.

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August 07, 2017

I Need A Nap Badly

So, in lieu of the latest entry in Operation RTPTIFG, I'm going to direct you to go read a post over at Midnight Tease about yuri manga.  I echo most of what he says.  And I'll just emphasize that Kase-san and... is good for what ails ya.  It's all in the expressions.


These are two people who really and truly like each other and like being with each other.  They act just like you'd expect people to act, more or less, and it's a joy to not have to deal with angst for once.

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July 02, 2017

Flying Witch: The Review

Simple, short review:  Do you want to be happy?  Then watch Flying Witch.  It'll do the trick in no time flat.


Oh, you want more detail?  Okay!  

In this world, magical beings are a little uncommon but known of by the general public.  They don't announce themselves as a rule, but it's not like they'd be persecuted if they did.  It's just... easier, I suppose.  Our main character Makoto is a trainee witch.  Well, that's not quite accurate: she's recently turned 15, and according to the traditional ways of witching world, she has come of age and is supposed to be out on her own.  Her parents, progressive in the magical community, instead send her off from their home in Yokohama to the city of Hirosaki near Aomori to live with family until she graduates high school, since being a witch "isn't exactly reliable these days."  While she's there, she'll get to learn magic better.  Hijinks ensue.

Except they don't, not really.  Oh yes, it's that kind of show.  If you think ARIA, but without all those pesky rowboats flitting about, you've got the idea of the sort of pace Flying Witch brings to the table.  People do things, stuff happens, the odd semi-deity shows up, lets go get a donut.  Makoto is just a little bit off from the "real world", not enough to be annoying,just... well, she's a witch and people are people and the two don't quite align perfectly.  Don't worry too much about it, have some tea and admire the scenery.

In many ways, the city of Hirosaki and the surrounding area is a quiet member of the show's cast.  It's the sort of place you can probably only find in certain locations in the world: it's an urban center of about 175,000 (which is roughly the same size as Duckford), but with a density of about 340 people per square km.  Duckford's population density, by comparison, is nearly 900/km2.  As such, Hirosaki is very much a city where if you go this way, you're heading into the city center and everything is compressed and... well, city-like.  If you go that way, though, things get more and more rural until you aren't really in a city at all anymore.  Go a little bit farther and you're in the woods. 

Image is from the OP, but it shows what I mean perfectly.  What all this means is that the series has the ability to position itself in any sort of scenery it needs at any time, and to look good doing it.  Believe me when I say that it takes advantage of this every single episode.

So.  We know Flying Witch looks nice, but a show like this doesn't work unless the characters and their interactions are outstanding.  Does it measure up?

more...

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May 31, 2017

Aria The Avvenire Ep03

"But Wonderduck," I hear you say and honestly I should get that looked at, "that came out in July of last year!"  And you are absolutely correct, it certainly did, good on you!  "No, that's not what I mean," you're saying crossly, "I mean 'why in the world are you only blogging about it now?'"

Oh, that's very simple.  I only just watched it last night.  Look, let me explain why I, as devoted a fan of the ARIA franchise as there is, didn't watch the last episode of the long-awaited special that was released with the new BD boxsets.  I don't know if anybody else does this, but if I'm hotly anticipating something I often... wait on it.  A new book I've been looking forward to for months?  It's going to sit on the table for a few weeks.  New episode of ARIA?  Oh yeah, that's gonna wait.  Part of it is anticipation: "I'm so excited about this that I don't want to lose that feeling!"  Another part is fear: "Please please please let it be as good as I hope.  If it's bad, it's going to feel awful!"

So I've been saving it for a dark and unhappy night.  Last night, in the middle of a bout of self-loathing (I may be on happy pills, but they don't work miracles), I decided it was time.  I settled into my chair, got as comfortable as my various injured body parts would let me, and pressed play.

Just from the first few minutes, I knew two things.  First, oh god they got it right on the button.  Second, I could see where this was going and I was going to be a sobbing mess by the time it was done.  If you're a fan, you'll note the people in the picture above: three generations of undines (plus Grandma).  The three newbies in the aprons, the main characters on the left, and the "old guard" on the right... except someone's missing.


more...

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May 16, 2017

Definitive AMVs

Let me explain the title.  In my mind, there are certain Anime Music Videos that capture the spirit of their subject so well that it becomes the (say it with me) definitive AMV for it.  It could be a character study, or an overview of a particular series, or less often, the AMV is practically synonymous with a song.  

To me, it feels like it's clear almost instantly that "this is it, this is the one!"  It will come as no surprise to me if people disagree with my choices... I can't help what other people think, even if they're terribly terribly wrong... but that's the beauty of this sort of thing.  If you and me think entirely alike, one of us is superfluous, right?  Enough chatter!  Let's get to watchin'!


more...

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February 08, 2017

Interview With A Vampire

Hopefully all of you regular (or irregular, I don't judge) anime viewers are watching the show of the season, Interviews With Monster Girls.  It's light-hearted, with a surprising amount of depth to it as well.  While I'm not a huge fan of the yuki onna (yet... she basically was just introduced in last week's Ep05), everybody else in the show is delightful.  Even the normie teacher.

There is no doubt, however, that the true breakout star of the series is Hikari, the vampire.  She's basically the most realistic high school girl I've ever seen in an anime series.  I mean, other than the whole "vampire" thing, of course.  I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but not too terribly long after I returned from grad school in ignominious defeat, my old theatre teacher from high school called and hired me to do the lighting design for a play the theatre department at his new school was doing.  He had a lot of expectations of this one, because it was being entered into the All-State Theatre Festival... there were something like 900 shows being considered, but only six would be chosen.  The name of that play?  Dracula.  A fairly faithful retelling of the original vampire story, in fact.  And o, did I go wild on that design!  Easily the best of my 200+ lighting designs, in fact.  Anyway, we did go downstate, where I got to take a custom light design run via computer and turn it into something using a generic light plot run via a manual control board.  That only took four hours to do.  I digress.  They say that there isn't a competition between the "full-length feature presentations" at All-State; officially, they're right.  Unofficially, however, that's a bunch of hooey and everybody attending knows it.  I saw four of the five other plays downstate, and the fifth I saw when it ran here in Duckford at a private high school.  Not only were we the best of the bunch, it wasn't even close.  I'm honestly not bragging about that, it's just a simple fact.  We had a good bunch of kids... which brings me back to my original point: Hikari reminds me of, like, three of my students rolled into one.  Good kids, all of 'em.  If you've been watching the show, you undoubtedly remember the laugh-out-loud moment from the most recent episode: when Hikari needs to chew on someone because "her teeth itch."  Relative to that scene, I found this:

For everybody that ISN'T watching the show, hopefully that just convinced you to do so.  You're seriously missing out.

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January 30, 2017

The Winter Season Of My Discount Tent.

The long-standing rule of thumb is that the Winter season of an anime year is the weakest.  Looking back through my January archives, I see that such shows as Vividred Operation and Rio Rainbow Gate! both aired in that month.  With that sort of pedigree, it seems hard to argue anything but Winter being the weakest.  However, there's always something to watch in every season, and this Winter is no different.  In fact, I went into it interested in five series, and was ordered to watch a sixth.  We're now three episodes into most shows and that means it's time to take a look at what hit with me, what missed, and what failed badly.

Let's see what we can see!

more...

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November 22, 2016

Your Weekly Asuka, S2E07

So we come to Asuka's most revealing episode yet.  We finally discover exactly why she's so wistful about "wanting the summer to go on forever", why she's so adamant about getting the band to Nationals, and maybe... just a bit... about why she's so secretive all the time.  However, sometimes the answers you get aren't the answers you want...

This look comes immediately after an announcement that the Club will be playing a concert at the local train station in about a week or so.  Our Goofy Cute is definitely not reacting the way she should.  A short time later, we find out why.

In the Teacher's Office, Asuka's mother is trying to get The Powers That Be to accept Asuka's resignation from the Club, so she can concentrate on college prep exams.  Body language would seem to suggest that there's some disagreement on this matter.  When Conductor-sempai says "nope, because it's not what Asuka wants, and you really should support her y'know..." it looks like the matter is over and done with.  Until Mom says, quite calmly, "Asuka, tell the nice man you're leaving the club."  It's with some surprise in her voice that Our Funny Obsession says that she doesn't want to quit.

And then her mother whups her upside de haid.  It was at this point that I suddenly had an icy knot in my gut.  Look, I know she isn't real.  I know Asuka's just a secondary character in a cartoon.  Not even ink on paper anymore, y'know?  I know all this.  But this show has done a helluva job making the watcher care about the cast of Hibike! Euphonium.  Hats off to KyoAni for a job well done.  It was also at this point that much of Asuka began to be explained.  Why the desire for the endless summer (so she wouldn't have to quit).  Why she was so desperate to get the band to Nationals (so she had a reason not to quit).  And why she's so secretive about her real feelings (learned behavior, keeping her interest in band under cover from mom). 

When a suddenly contrite mother attempts to apologize, Asuka simply turns to Conductor-sempai and says "I'm afraid I'm going to miss club today," takes her mother's hand, and walks away like nothing had happened.  She's then missing from the Club for the next week (note: the original translation out there said it was a month.  Within twelve hours of release, the length of time had changed to a week).  Well, mostly missing.

She does make an appearance shortly after the slap, tells everybody not to worry, and then mostly disappears again... except for one conversation she has with the president of the club.  Again, she says it's no big deal, but this time someone calls her on it.  It's a lot more serious than she's letting on.  She doesn't deny it, but also says she won't be causing problems.  And then she's gone again until the day of the concert at the train station.

She's back and she's ready to play.  But there's no explanation about how that happened, how things got worked out with her mother, nothing like that at all.  This isn't over, and we're going to learn a lot more about Asuka pretty darn soon I'm thinking.  Though after this episode, I'm no longer quite as enthused about seeing behind the curtain. 

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November 18, 2016

Your Weekly Asuka, S2E03 - E06

Yes, yes, the feature took a few weeks off.  Between the Cubs and overtime at work, it's been hard enough to watch Hibike! Euphonium 2, let alone write about it.  But this week was special, because we've finally gotten to see behind the curtain and find out what makes Our Goofy Cute tick... at least partially.  More than we have before, and that's a good thing.  Except... well, you'll see.  But first, let's get caught up.

Episode 3 saw the band go to a training camp for a few days.  Meanwhile, the controversy about the third-year who quit the band wanting to get back in swirls apace... and all of it swirls around Asuka.  She's the one preventing it from happening for reasons she refuses to tell, other than it'd hurt the club.  Just like in Season 1, she's the focal point of everything... without being the center of the show.

Ep04 brought around the resolution of the previous episode's drama, and Asuka's true reasons for her actions become apparent.  One telling line from Our Silly Obsession was "I think people are fairly calculating in terms of their behavior."  When the show's nominal lead comes right out and says Asuka's too cynical, we get another one of these shots:

...and her saying "Let's get to Nationals."  In doing so, the lead begins to wonder (again) what the REAL Asuka thinks, as do we all.  The look on The Goofy Cute's face as the scene comes to an end is not goofy at all, but... resigned, maybe.

Ep05 includes a rather emotionally charged speech from the Vice-President of the Band Club, where she comes out and says just how badly she wants to win this competition.  She actually gets angry during it, which is new.  Even as it's going on, it's clear that this isn't just another rah-rah-win-one-for-the-gipper speech for her, there's something more brewing behind it.  And then KyoAni goes out and blows every production studio in Japan out of the water with the last eight minutes of the show.  We finally get to hear the band's competition piece in its entirety... and KyoAni animates the entire thing, giving every member of the band some face time... and not a single word is said during that time.  If you want to see the whole thing, you can watch it here... I'd recommend watching the whole episode though, simply because yootoob's compression does bad things to the video quality.

Ep06.  It's festival time at school, so of course Asuka's in full Goofy mode as a fortune teller.  After this, she disappears for the rest of the episode... or at least until the very end, where we find her alone in a classroom, practicing silently... while a woman with similar colored hair knocks on the door to the teacher's office.

Which brings us inexorably to Ep07... soon.

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October 18, 2016

Your Weekly Asuka, S2E02


This week, the second season of Hibike! Euphonium presents us with a staple of "group" shows: a training camp!  The entire band will secrete themselves away for multiple days and do nothing but practice, practice, practice!  Of course, it never works out that way: there's always downtime for hijinks to occur.  But before that, there's a mandatory three-day break enforced by the school.  Whatever will our main characters do during a short summer vacation?  Why, go to the pool, of course!  I have to admit, I didn't expect a swimsuit episode in this series, but hey, I'm not complaining.

No, not complaining in the least.  Kumiko is, though... she has no idea who this strange girl that's molesting her is! 

Oh.  Now she knows.  It's the Goofy Cute, in full effect!  A nice lighthearted moment in an otherwise pretty serious episode.  It's also practically the last time we see Asuka until very late in the episode.  Which is amazing, because the episode from this point on spends its time describing the events of last year that saw most of the second-year club members quit, and Asuka's role therein.

In other words, it's yet another episode where she's the main character mostly without showing up.  Yet, despite all of this, we still don't really know why she's so opposed to letting that one second-now-third-year student rejoin the club.  The good news is that it seems we'll be getting that info in the next episode.

While this is all well and good, I'm still looking forward to THE Asuka Episode.  It's gotta be coming.  KyoAni can't be setting all this up just to ignore the payoff, right?

Ridiculously pretty shot of the episode:

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October 11, 2016

Your Weekly Asuka, S2E01

Wonder of wonders, Hibike! Euphonium is back for a very welcome second season.  Not only is it back, but Kyoto Animation has blessed us with an hour-long first episode to boot.  Pleasantly, the raison d'être of this feature, Asuka Tanaka, aka The Goofy Cute, is... well, not featured exactly, but she's quite involved with the first half of the episode.

What we get from her is like "Asuka's Greatest Hits", ranging from the Goofy to the master deflector, able to pass the buck on anything she doesn't want to deal with, to something of a new aspect: the cold-blooded assassin.

She actually does the cat-smile thing at one point, which was a little freaky I gotta admit.  She's also not above some cheek-pulling.  I don't remember either occurring during the first season, so there's that going on.

But its when one of the 2nd year students that quit the club last year asks for her blessing to rejoin that Dark Asuka pops up.  Not without a fight, however: she does everything she can to avoid the issue.  It's only the persistence of the other student that brings out Dark Asuka.  Her blessing?  Nope.  "I don't approve.  You wouldn't benefit the club."  All the while with a dead, dead look on her face.

It is telling, I believe, that the 2nd year student came right to Asuka first, rather than the club president.  I mean, we already know she's the power behind the throne and all, but still.  It's clear this is going to be the the season's first arc, which means plenty of Asuka.  This is nothing but a good thing in my mind, because we need to know more about her.

"We"... "I"... whichever. 

A word about this episode in general.  KyoAni pulled out all the stops with this one, particularly during the festival scene.  Holy crepe, did they go all out.

The festival is a riot of colors and hundreds of people, most of them animated, and all of it lighted by lanterns and fireworks.  It's very nearly movie quality at times.

We even get an Asuka sighting.  Alone and away from the festival. 

If you were wondering if Season 2 was going to measure up to Season 1, wonder no longer.  If it's anything like this episode, or even in the same area code, it's gonna be a fantastic three months.

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September 19, 2016

Returns


Soon.

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September 15, 2016

Finally!!!


October 5th. 

Hot damn.

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August 26, 2016

Revisiting A Figure

Nearly four years ago now, friend Ben from the curiously named Midnight Tease removed a blight from his figure collection sent a thoughtful gift here to The Pond.  Of course, I immediately took photographs... but even as I posted them, I was less than satisfied with the results.  Everything was either too dark or too bright, and Rio deserved better, darnit.  Well, over at the Anime Figures Subreddit, they run a bi-weekly photography contest and this time around the theme is "Smallest Figure".  There's plenty of ways to interpret that, of course, but I went literal... it'd give me a chance to fix one of the Rio shots!  Here's the result:

click the pic for larger MVCD.
Y'know what helps?  Having a camera that can keep up with what your mind sees.  That really makes a difference.  There's some saturation boost, and a "vignette" effect that you would have thought was just lighting if I didn't mention it, but otherwise, that's the picture the way it came off the SD card. 

Yeah, that'll do.

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