April 16, 2020
Now THIS Is The Sort Of News We All Need There is an ARIA movie in the works.
It's coming sometime late this year. If there was ever a year that we need new ARIA content, my god it's this one.
This is a 15th anniversary project for the series. Information is sparse at the moment, but it's officially sparse, as the announcement is up on the publisher of the ARIA manga's website. I think we all assumed that after Avvenire, our trips to Neo-Venezia had come to an end.
I've never been so glad to be wrong about something in my entire life.
December 25, 2019
Christmas 2019 - Haruhi Style
MUCH nicer Christmas than last year's disaster. Oh, the Christmas itself wasn't the problem, it was the leg injury that occurred for reasons that are still a mystery to me... and that led to me being stuck in bed for 24+ hours. From there, it's an easily-drawn line to where I am today.
None of that happened this year. Therefore, it was INFINITELY better. And it allegedly hit 61 degrees too. In December. On Christmas. In Duckford, IL. What in the blue blazes...? In any case... huge thanks go out to Ph.Duck and Rn.Duck for putting up with me for another year, and the annual bottle of lingonberry will die happy soon enough.
And of course, you... the proud members of the Pond Scum. I've been letting The Pond down over the past year, which I hate but haven't been able to do anything about. Hopefully, next year will be better in all sorts of ways! Merry Christmas!!!
I just started playing Fate Grand Order. I'm fairly sure an opening draw of three lancers (and one of them duplicated!) and an assassin is pretty cruddy. Welp, we'll just see where it goes from here.
December 16, 2019
Today Is December 16th... ...and you know what THAT means:
The morning of December 16th... it was so cold... and I mean cold. That if you took an ice pick and plunged it into the ground, you'd shatter the Earth into a million pieces.
- Kyon, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
November 06, 2019
She Needs Us On November 7th, 2009, this video was posted to Youtube for the first time:
Now on the verge of the 10th anniversary of God Knows being made available to the world by the SOS Brigade, a concerted effort is being made to push the video over 100 million views. At the time of this writing, it's only 36000 views short. I call on the accumulated members of The Pond Scum: let's make it happen!
You don't want Haruhi to be disappointed.
Edit: changed the target from ten million to the correct one hundred million.
Another Edit: Nine hours to go until Midnight Pond Central Time, and we're less than 18000 views away from the goal.
September 28, 2019
"...And I Shall Call Her Mini-Me."
Two from the Haruhi Collection, which are legion.
July 18, 2019
Kyoto Animation Arson (updates at bottom) Around about 10pm Wednesday, Pond Central Time, some maniac walked into Kyoto Animation's Studio 1 building, poured gasoline around, and set it on fire.
As I type this at about 1am Thursday morning, some solid information has come in. First, the arsonist is a 41 year old male, and is in custody. Second, there has been one confirmed death (edit: police are now saying ten dead), and many injuries... the most common number seems to be right around 30. There are also 20 "missing". NHK is reporting that at least ten of those were found lying on the floor of the second level... and left there are the search for survivors went on.
There are reports that the arsonist said "Let's see if this burns" as he poured the gasoline.
KyoAni has a number of different office locations around Kyoto. Studio 2 is where their offices and their retail store is located, for example. None of those other locations have been targeted. Some 70 animators reportedly worked at Studio 1.
I'm hoping this wasn't some crazed otaku's way of "getting back" at KyoAni... "I hated Endless 8, blah blah blah..." Reportedly, they're one of the best studios in Japan to work for, so maybe a fired employee? We'll find out soon enough, I expect, but no matter the reason, this is horrible.
Update: 241am - According to one report, among the missing are Tatsuya Ishihara who directed AIR, the Haruhi Suzumiya series, Kanon 2006, Clannad, and Hibiki Euphonium. Or, in other words, all of my favorite KyoAni shows (and Air, which I'm not fond of). Other directors missing are Ishidate Taichi (Violet Evergarden), and Takemoto Yasuhiro (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya movie), and others.
Update: 855am - The death toll is now up to 33. I've seen unconfirmed reports that Takemoto is among the dead. Of the 70 people known to have been working in Studio 1 at the time of the arson, 69 of them are dead or in hospital for injuries of various severity. Many of the dead were reportedly found in a stairwell leading up to the roof, felled by smoke. It's important to note that this building was in a residential neighborhood; there were no fire escapes, only one stairwell, and only one way in, the main entrance. Oof.
Reportedly, the arsonist was yelling something that might translate out to "you plagiarized me." As KyoAni has only done two original works, Munto and Tamako Market, this seems unlikely. He had purchased 40 liters of gasoline in two containers just a half-hour before, and apparently brought them on a cart to the building. He reportedly told the people at the gas station that the fuel was for his generator. The president of Kyoto Animation has said that they've been receiving threatening e-mails for a few years... no idea if they're connected to this case.
This is now the largest mass murder in post-WWII Japanese history, displacing the Sagamihara massacre.
Update: 1009am - Sentai Filmworks, the American distributor that has done much work with KyoAni (either currently or in the ADV era), has begun a GoFundMe campaign to help those affected.
June 27, 2019
AMVs To Make You Have Some Reaction. So today is the first time I've honestly had to shut Pond Central up and turn on the air conditioner. As I type this, it has just reached 86° F, but it's not very humid. Really, just sitting in front of a fan has been comfy all day, but a look at the forecast for the next week convinced me. Nighttime lows in the low 70s, daytime highs right around 90, and I'd really like to have the place temperature controlled before that sets up shop. "But Wonderduck," I hear you say, and you really should get that lump looked at, "what does any of this have to do with AMVs?"
To which I answer, "Have you ever read The Pond before?"
Over the past few days, in between frantic bouts of cleaning at 4am, I've managed to trip over a bunch of pleasing AMVs... some funny, some exciting, one or two just clever as hell. To you, I bring them now.
Enjoy, will you not?
December 25, 2018
Merry Christmas from all of me here at The Pond! I hope Santa brought you everything you wanted and nothing you needed...
Edit: Bring in the dancing Kumikos!
December 21, 2018
Plans Derailed. Schemes Foiled. Perhaps some of you may have heard that Christmas is this coming week? I know, I know, it surprised me too, don't worry. Still, I figured it out soon enough.
An accurate representation of the parking lot at work
Unfortunately, my bosses did not. Despite all the Christmas events we had this past week, despite the Big Boss playing Christmas music over the phone intercoms at random times, despite a dozen decorated Christmas trees populating the office (I very much liked the Santa Vader tree... Darth Vader helmet on top with Santa cap, black "cloak"... actually a black bag of toys... over it's "shoulders", illuminated light saber flashing red and green alternately, and TIE fighter ornaments), despite all these clues and hints, they never figured out that Christmas was next week. When they did, they had to scramble to give the staff a little something extra to go under the tree. So they gave us all the normal 10 hours of overtime as a gift.
An accurate representation of the supervisors at work.
Now yes, they did this to us at Thanksgiving too. But this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, a new... oh fer the luvva, sorry, didn't mean to break into song. THIS IS CHRISTMAS. Bad enough that we're open on Christmas Eve, and yes I know retailers will be open but I got out of retail for reasons like that. And being fired. But also for reasons like that. That's bad enough. Now they expect us to put in overtime on Christmas Eve, too, because otherwise you're doing 10 hours in three days. That's not gonna fly.
An accurate representation of something not flying.
So my options are limited... indeed, my options are 1) Kill Myself With Overtime, or 2) Work On Saturday. Neither option is particularly palatable. But I just got home from an 11 hour day, and I really don't want to do that next friday, particularly since I get a five-day weekend. So I'm probably going to work on Saturday, which kinda derails my plans for the "writeup warmup" I want to do. I'll still give it a shot, but instead of going into it with a nap under my belt I'll be going in grumpy after work. Which, come to think of it, might just be the perfect way to approach it. Stay tuned folks, it's gonna get crabby up in here.
An accurate representation of a crab.
December 18, 2018
Plans And Schemes Okay. Here's the plan, here's my scheme. You ready for this?
Anime writeups are coming back. January 12th, 2019. That's a Saturday. That night, I will begin (and hopefully finish) the writeup for Episode 01 of Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka.
It's been over three years since my writeup for Gakkou Gurashi died a miserable death. I do believe I'm a little out of practice, so I intend to do a little sumtin' sumtin' this weekend... y'know, get the juices flowin', stretch out the ol' arm, see if the old man has still got it in him. Maybe it might even be good. Who knows?
Look forward to it, won't you?
October 22, 2018
What A Time To Be Alive!
First, TokyoPop announced they'd be bringing ARIA: The Masterpiece over to our shores. If you're unfamiliar, it's essentially a collector's edition with a bigger format, better covers/binding, some new artwork, and improved paper quality. The first one comes out in February, and we've finally got a chance to actually see all of the ARIA manga released over here officially.
Then a new volume, #9, of "Sunshine" Sketch came out a few weeks ago, after nearly three years of waiting.
Now a new volume of Yotsuba!! is coming out on November 13th, after two-and-a-half years of waiting.
And they've just announced that Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is going to be an anime, premiering in January.
...and there's a darn good chance that's gonna be a possible writeup candidate, too!
Really, this is the best of all possible worlds! what a great time to be alive!
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.
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!
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.
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...
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.
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!
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.
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.
Anyway, go read Ben's post.
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?
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