October 31, 2008

F1 Practice: Brazil 2008!

In lieu of there being anything in particular that could be considered interesting on track today, we were instead regaled with the answer to two trivia bits asked here on The Pond recently!

First, regarding Steven's wondering about the pitlane at Interlagos, it turns out that it used to release into Turn 2, right where you would expect it to.  It turns out that it also released cars directly into the racing line, and while I can't find any reference to an accident occurring because of that, it certainly would have happened sooner or later.  I can't figure out exactly when the change took place, but it almost certainly happened in reaction to the events at Imola, 1994, directly or indirectly.

Second, regarding the changing of liveries during a season raised by Pete, the FIA does need to approve alt-liveries, but there's more to it than that.  It turns out that the other teams on the grid ALSO need to approve the change unanimously.  So, for example, if McLaren wanted to remove the Santander logo and replace it with "Ferrari Sucks!", it probably wouldn't be approved.  However, in the case of DC'sC one-off livery, why wouldn't a team approve it?  The same went for RedBull's "innovative" charity livery at Silverstone in 2007.

Y'know, I rather like that color scheme.  It's a lot better than the regular RedBull livery, if you ask me.

And finally, something that I've been wondering about for the entire time I've been a F1 fan.  We've been told that Formula 1 is the pinnacle of technology, that the cars are engineered within an inch of their lives, and there's nothing F1 can't do if they don't put their minds to it.  So why the heck haven't they been able to put a camera on a driver's helmet so we can see what it looks like from the cockpit?

Today, they finally did it.

I guess it's fitting that The Chin, probably the most fan friendly of the drivers, got to debut the tiny camera today.  From what the Legendary Announce Team (and myself) could figure, it appears to have been mounted just below the visor, so it's actually a little lower than the driver's eyes, but still, it gave us a great idea of what the driver goes through.

The buffeting they go through is amazing, as we know from the 5.0Gs figure we get to see when they slam on the brakes, but there's a difference in seeing the g-force gauge move and watching the view of the camera go from the above shot... to one that gives us a great look at the steering wheel as The Chin sank down into the cockpit under braking.  Of course, that might have just been because The Chin itself has a pretty substantial gravitational pull.  Interestingly, Jeff Gordon, NASCAR driver, talked about that feeling when he swapped cars with Juan Pablo (The Pope) Montoya back in 2003 on SPEED's "Tradin' Paint" program.

Oh, and it was drizzling off and on today, too, with t-storms expected for quals.  Great!  Take the single most important race of the season and make the weather bad so we wind up with a Force India on pole!  Fun!

See ya after Quals.

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Happy Halloween 2008!



Boo!

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DCC's Last Race

While Brazil will be the last race of the season, it will also mark the end of a F1U! legend's career.  After 246 races, the fourth most in F1 history (behind Rubens Barrichello, Riccardo Patrese and Slappy Schumacher), 13 wins, 535 points and 12 poles, David Coulthard's Chin will be hanging up his helmet for good.
He's finished as high as second in the Driver's Championship (2001 for McLaren) and finished third four times (1995 for Williams, 1997, 1998 and 2000 for McLaren).  His last win came in Australia, 2003.  While he's only had two podiums since them (Canada this year, Monaco in 2006, both 3rds), he's always been a solid performer, if not particularly successful.

A lot of that can be put down to lackluster cars; McLaren won only once in 2004 (Kimi Raikkonen, Belgium), and Red Bull has yet to win in their four seasons.  Despite it all, The Chin has always been one of the more fan friendly drivers in the sport.  He became legend 'round these parts in 2005 when a blown engine took him out of Friday's second practice at Silverstone.  Rather than walk back to the pits, The Chin started signing autographs and chatting to the spectators.  Forty-five minutes later, he was still at it.

While he'll be missed on the track, he'll be joining the BBC's race coverage when they pick up the F1 contract in 2009.  I'm sure his knack for the pithy comment will be quite popular; he easily has my favorite quote of the year.  When he had a 'racing incident' with Felipe Massa, he said: "I know I screwed up the same way with Alex [Wurz] last year, and took full responsibility for it, and I would expect Felipe to do the same. If he doesn't, I'm going to kick three colours of shit out of the little bastard."

Even with his last race looming, The Chin will be going out with class.  For this final race weekend, he'll be running a special paintjob to drum up attention for the organization "Wings For Life," which is a charity for research into spinal cord injuries.

DC'sC (center), the rest of the F1 racers, and the RB4
Interestingly enough, The Chin has a museum devoted to his racing history in his hometown of Twynholm Village, Scotland. 

We'll miss you, David Coulthard's Chin.  A tip o' the cap from all of us here at F1 UPDATE!

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October 30, 2008

(Unintentionally Amusing) Random Anime Picture #29


-Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, ep08

Considering what happens later in the episode (Nanoha befriends the hell out of her), this might have been Tea's best option.

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October 29, 2008

Ikkitousen Great Guardians OVA 2

Continuing with the quest to see if they can out-ecchi the Dragon Destiny OVAs, the good (if somewhat pervy) folks at Studio ARMS have rolled out the second OVA for Ikkitousen Great Guardians

It's a high bar to try and clear... do they succeed where they failed the first time around?

Boy, it's good to be an otaku...
And who is our Sexy Cosplayer this time around?

The living dead girl herself!
Obviously, from here on out, everything should be considered NSFW.  Most of it really isn't, but better safe than sorry, neh?


more...

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October 28, 2008

F1 on SPEED: BRAZIL 2008!

This is it.  The Big One.  The last race of the season, and it's all up for grabs.  Ferrari vs McLaren for the Constructor's Championship, Hamilton vs Massa for the Driver's Championship... and it's Massa's home track.

And I hate it.

Interlagos, which in Portuguese means "between the lakes", is positioned between (wait for it) two lakes which are actually reservoirs for the city of Sao Paolo.  But then, Interlagos hasn't actually been named "Interlagos" since 1977, when it was renamed "Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace", named for a F1 driver killed in a plane crash.  Drivers like the circuit, which bobs and weaves over rolling terrain, but the rest of the team's staff despise Interlagos, despite recent updates.  Unlike almost every other permanent track on the F1 calendar, Interlagos is actually located inside the city, and not a good part of it, either.  In 2006, Toyota staffers were attacked by gunmen on the way to the circuit.  Throw in the recent police strikes (and police on police rioting), and one can understand the dislike.

Let's take a look at the circuit map:

The circuit actually reminds me of the (now-departed) Indianapolis GP circuit, which I wasn't overly fond of, either: high speed, but with a really annoying "mickey mouse" section thrown in to ruin the design.  Further, Turn 15 makes me think, every stinkin' year, that someone is going to crash into the Pit In at 170mph.  It's just an optical illusion from the camera angle (placed near Turn 1), it still bothers me.  It is also one of the few counter-clockwise circuits on the calendar.

The circuit's concrete, though redone before last year's race, is very bumpy; the ground underneath the track is constantly in motion due to the pressure of the two lakes.  This causes the track surface to buckle and heave, causing the washboarding effect.  While it was better last race, what Interlagos calls "smooth" would be considered "rough" everywhere else.

Finally, the track has the longest pit lane in all of F1.  While it may be safer for all involved, it also removes cars from actually racing for an extended period of time.

Felipe Massa is historically good here.  He relinquished the lead intentionally to teammate Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, won in 2006, and was on pole both years.  This is important, as he MUST win to stand any real chance of victory in the Driver's Championship.  Even if he does, he'll still finish second to Lewis Hamilton if Hamilton finishes 5th or better.  Of course, the same situation applied last year and Hamilton peed it down his leg, finishing 7th.

Rain is forecast for race weekend, though it may not actually rain during the track times. There's a 40% chance of rain on Sunday, and 60% on Friday and Saturday.  If it DOES rain, the season is over right there (probably), as nobody is better on wet tracks than Hamilton, and Massa is... suspect in the wet.

Well, we'll see what happens, and thanks to the good folks at SPEED, we'll be seeing it all live!  Practice session #2 comes to us from 11am to 1240pm on Friday morning.  Quals, from 11am to 1230pm on Saturday, will be interesting strategy-wise.  Will McLaren short-fuel Hamilton to get him on pole, so as to avoid ANY chance of getting caught in the Turn 1 schmozzle, but throw away any chance of a win (which Hamilton does not need)?  Find out on Saturday!

Finally, race day.  Coverage of the Brazilian Grand Prix (that's a lot of Grand Prix!) begins at 1030am and goes until 1pm on Sunday.  Keep in mind that Daylight Savings ends early Sunday, so set your clocks back an hour!

Of course, the F1U! crew will be all over everything... see ya then!

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October 27, 2008

Random Anime Picture #28: Bloink!


-Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, ep06

The whole Nanoha franchise is pretty darn fantastic (yes, even StrikerS... I don't care if it was more or less universally panned), but A's might be the best of the three series.  This is the first time I've seen it, and it's just blowing me away at every turn.

Nanoha's and Fate's transformations are a little creepy, though...

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October 26, 2008

Wonderduck's Week

I'm on vacation!  My first extended period of time off since last Christmas, I've got the next week off.  It's a wonderful thing, and a wonderful time for it.

First and foremost, this is the last week of the F1 season, and both Championships are still to be decided... and the race is in Brazil, which puts the race weekend firmly in "live viewing" territory, with everything starting at 10 or 11 in the morning, more or less.

Then, of course, there's the backlog of anime to watch.  My last order to Bob, which coincidentally got me a mention in his weekly e-mail (much to my shock!), included the last dvd of Kanon '06 and the thinpack of Please Twins, which I once described as a secret shame.  I'd like to change that description: there's no reason to be ashamed of the show.  It's awfully good.

There's also my tradition of the "vacation book".  This time around, it's The Barrier and the Javelin, by HP Willmott, a well-regarded history of the strategic levels of the Pacific War from February to June, 1942.  I've wanted to read it for quite some time, but have never found it in a store... until last week.  It's also one of the last really important books on the Battle of Midway that I haven't yet read.  In that same vein, let me recommend to anybody interested in WWII air combat in the Pacific, the book The First Team, by John Lundstrom.  It's an exhaustive look at the operations of US carrier fighter squadrons up to Midway.  If you've read Fire in the Sky by Eric Bergerud (a fine book in its own right, and will Professor Bergerud ever write what I've come to think of as "Fire at Sea", the third of his books on the Pacific War around the time of Guadalcanal?), think of that title as the unofficial sequel to The First Team.  In some ways, it's as important a book to understanding carrier operations as Shattered Sword, praises to which I have sung repeatedly. 

I also intend on writing a post on what shows I'm watching this anime season... I think, now that we're about four weeks into it, that I've weeded out the weak shows and locked into the ones that I'll be sticking with.

Finally, this week will let me work on the two music projects I've had on the back burners for a while.  In fact, one of them has been percolating for almost seven months, and may be an all-time first: a full, well-thought-out music video for F1.  Oh, there are plenty of F1 videos set to music (mostly of crashes), but they're all just clips thrown together with no real rhyme or reason with a music track behind it.  With the GP of Singapore run, I had everything I needed to match the song, but I wanted to have the rest of the season, too.  So, I don't know exactly when it'll be done, but it WILL be done... my brain won't let me NOT work on it now.

So... Wonderduck's on vacation!  Relaxation awaits!

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October 25, 2008

My Third Birthday.

On October 25th of 2005, the Chicago White Sox were playing the Houston Astros in the World Series.  It was an exciting game, extra innings no less... and yet, I wasn't enjoying it in the least.

Y'see, I was watching from a hospital bed.  Strapped to my chest were a bunch of EKG sensors, and three different IV bottles were running into my arm.  The contents of one of them, potassium, hurt like a sumbeeyotch, no matter how slowly they let it drip.

I was in the hospital after my heart went off the rails.  Superventricular Tachycardia they called it.  I had been at the Duck U. Bookstore, sitting at my desk, literally shuffling papers from one stack to the next, when I felt something wrong in my chest, like my heart had tripped over something.  Instantly, my pulse went from normal to over 250bpm, and my blood pressure went into the stratosphere... and stayed there.  After a minute or two of figuring out what was going on, I had one of my co-workers call 911.

It only took 10 minutes or so for the EMTs to arrive, if that long.  For me, however, it felt like a year.  Every second that passed made me feel worse and worse.  My heart wasn't beating so much as quivering, and the roaring in my ears made concentrating on anything impossible.  When the medtechs did arrive, they tried to take my pulse: FAIL.  Blood pressure?  FAIL.  Their simple machines could not count that high.  They placed an O2 mask on my face and got me rollin to the ambulance.

In the ambulance, they hooked me up to more advanced sensors that got the pulse and bp.  WAAAAAY too high.  As one drove, sirens blaring, the other told me that he was going to give me a drug that was going to be uncomfortable.  "It'll feel like someone put a brick on your chest."  I actually was able to make a little joke, suggesting that a brick on my chest might feel better than I did then.  "It'll stall your heart for a short time, give it a chance to reset."

Ooookay.  First dose went in, and the brick was there, but the heart kept going at full speed.  Second dose, and the brick got a LOT heavier (to which I said "oof."), and suddenly my pulse rate went down to 120bpm, like someone threw a light switch.

After six hours in the ER, having ultrasounds and x-rays and who knows what else done to me (everything was clear, no blockages), they admitted me into the hospital overnight for observation.

My body chemistry was screwed up.  Potassium and Magnesium levels were very, very low, and those two things control heart function.  Ergo, the bottle of potassium burning the hell outta my arm. 

So today is my third birthday as a healthier person.  For my birthday present, I'll do what I've done every year since then: tell my readers that if you have anything "weird" happening with your heart, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY.  While SVT isn't commonly fatal, it can be, and the longer I waited the more likely that was... and you just don't KNOW what's going on.  Time is life, my friends, in a medical emergency. 

And I don't have enough readers to lose one early.

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October 24, 2008

I Got Nuthin'...


...so here's a picture of three people with a fish.

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October 22, 2008

"It's a paradox!" "No, it's a pair of DUCKS... in anime!"


-Hidamari x365, ep10

I so want one of the Hidamari ducks for my flock.

The second pic of the pair o' ducks is below, because some incredibly uptight, prudish office might think it's vaguely NSFW.  It's not, but someone might think it is.  So click
more...

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October 21, 2008

Random Anime Picture #27: Hatsuni Kagami


-Lucky Star OVA

Don't ask how or why she's dressed like this.  In fact, don't even watch the Lucky Star OVA... unless you're into fever dreams.  But somewhere, Brickmuppet is in his bunk...

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A Certain Magical Duck In Anime


-Toaru Majutsu no Index, ep03

For what it's worth, Index is currently my pick for show of the season (non-Clannad division)...

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October 19, 2008

F1 UPDATE!: China 2008!

The penultimate race!  Two championships up for grabs!  Did either get settled?  Let's find out... THIS is your F1 UPDATE! for the Grand Prix of China!

*DULL:  Once the lights went out, the actual race was actually pretty boring.  Lewis Hamilton had a good start, led by one second at the end of the first lap, and was never even slightly challenged.  Kimi Raikkonen tried to hang with him and stayed close enough that the McLaren couldn't really relax, but the result was never in doubt.

*TEAM ORDERS?  IN MY F1 RACE?:  It's more likely than you think.  Article 39.1 of the sporting regulations state that "Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited."  The rule was instituted after a hideously blatant incident in the Austrian Grand Prix in 2002, where (surprise!) Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to relinquish the lead to Michael Schumacher.  He did, on the final straightaway of the final lap, in an obvious manner.  To be blunt, Ferrari did the same thing today, just without the orders being broadcast over the radio.  Felipe Massa went past Kimi Raikkonen with seven laps left for second place, giving Massa an additional two standing points.  This means that Hamilton's win gives him only a seven point lead going into the final race of the season... just like last year.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Robert Kubica, BMW.  From 11th to 6th in a car that was squirrelly all weekend isn't too shabby at all.  Unfortunately, he needed to actually win the race to have any chance at winning the Drivers' Championship, so he's been eliminated.   Still, a very solid drive under challenging conditions.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Ferrari.  Both drivers on the podium, and almost locking up the Constructor's Championship against their hated rival?  AND they didn't run over any pitcrew this race to boot?  Yeah, good job all around for the Red Cars.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  Felipe Massa had been slowly reeling in his teammate Kimi Raikkonen for five or six laps, coming from three seconds behind.  Massa slotted in behind Kimi's car as they raced down the back straight, getting a nice tow.  Then in a flash of red, he swung out and blew the doors off his teammate's car, breezing by like Raikkonen wasn't even trying.  *ahem*

*MOOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE:  On lap 25, BMW's Robert Kubica swept into the pit lane for his first stop for fuel and shoes.  The stop went perfectly, no hangups... except that the team for whatever reason decided not to change his front tires.  There is no good reason to NOT change tires during a regular pit stop that we at F1U! can think of, so in lieu of a driving incident, we'll give the Moooooo-oove to BMW's race engineers for making their man race for his championship life on worn tires.  Nice job!

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:


more...

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October 18, 2008

Mark Webber Goes Boom!

As mentioned, Mark Webber had an engine failure in P3 in Shangai this morning.  Reportedly it was somewhat spectacular.

Yup.

Boom.  Splat.

Who's got the marshmallows?
Yup, that's a kablammo all right.

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F1 Quals: China 2008!

As semi-predicted, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton continued his domination of Shanghai in today's quals session.  Other than a fairly lurid slide in Turn Eight in his first Q3 run, he handily owned the track and his opponents all day, ending up nearly a third of a second better than his nearest competition, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.  Let's look at the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton                
McLaren-Mercedes  
1:35.566  
1:34.947  
1:36.303
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:35.983 1:35.355 1:36.645
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:35.971 1:35.135 1:36.889
4 HWMNBN Ferrari (Renault Livery )
1:35.769 1:35.461 1:36.927
5 Heikki Kovalaininnie
McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.623 1:35.216 1:36.930
6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:36.238 1:35.686 1:37.083
7 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:36.224 1:35.403 1:37.201
8 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari 1:35.752 1:35.386 1:37.685
9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:36.104 1:35.715 1:37.934
10 SeaBass STR-Ferrari 1:36.239 1:35.478 1:38.885
11 Nelson Piquet Jr
Renault 1:36.029 1:35.722
12 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:36.503 1:35.814
13 Timo Glockenspiel Toyota 1:36.210 1:35.937
14 Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:36.640 1:36.079
15 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:36.434 1:36.210
16 David Coulthard's Chin
Red Bull-Renault 1:36.731

17 Kazoo Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:36.863

18 Jenson Button Honda 1:37.053

19 Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:37.730

20 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:37.739

There are two penalties to be assessed.  The first is Mark Webber's 10-spot penalty for an engine change this morning (apparently quite a nice kablammo, too).  The second is a weird three-spot penalty given to BMW's Grizzly Nick Heidfeld for impeding the progress of The Chin in Q1.  The fact that he was penalized isn't weird, but the amount of grid spaces is... three?  Usually a penalty of that sort is either five or 10 spots.  Oh well, just another lovely call by the stewards.

Alas, Robert Kubica's faint championship hopes are pretty much completely gone after qualifying 12th on the grid.  He'd been having problems coming to grips with the car all day, complaining at one point that his BMW wouldn't turn under braking.  That's not good for a racecar.

Up at the top of the timesheet, the three Ferrari drivers are stacked between the McLarens, with Massa right behind Hamilton on the grid, and Kimi next to Lewis.  Considering the speed he's shown all weekend (and the threat of rain), if Hamilton gets a good start, he should run away and hide from the Ferraris.  If he doesn't, however, I fully expect to see him mauled and maimed by the end of Turn 3.

This should be a fun one... see ya Sunday!

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October 17, 2008

SDB Likes ARIA.

To be honest, I wasn't sure he would.  I knew he'd appreciate the show, sure, but as he said, he doesn't "do well with 'lots of personality but nothing happens' kinds of shows".

Well, he just finished watching S1e13, and one could say he likes it:

"I will say this: this is one of the best things I've ever watched."

In the past, I've either suggested or he's gotten interested in a few shows based (at least in part) upon my recommendation: World of Narue and Jubei-Chan, and I waged a campaign to get him to watch Azumanga Daioh, and while he's liked them all (2.5 stars, 3.0 stars, and unrated due to fanboi interference), he's never been as... enthused about a series as this.

I'm pleased.  And relieved: I really wasn't sure he'd like the series, and said as much in one of his comment threads.

*phew*
I'd feel awful if he hated the show and it was my fault he bought it.  Shoulda had more faith in the Girls from Aqua.



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F1 Practice: China 2008!

It's fact that in F1 practice, you can't really put anything down on the speed shown.  Different teams, even different cars in a team, may very well be working on something different from another team.  Toyota might be working on setup, Ferrari on tire wear, Toro Rosso just going out to set high speeds, and Super Aguri on finding funding.

However, there are times where you might be able to glean some nuggets of information from a practice, and today's second practice is probably one of those times.  With both championships up for grabs, Lewis Hamilton came out early in P2 and blew the rest of the field away with a 1:35.750.  Nobody else broke the 1:36 barrier, despite having nearly 90 minutes to shoot at it.  Hamilton's main competition for the Driver's Championship, Felipe Massa, put up a 1:36.480, good for 6th best on the day. 

And all this after stomping over everybody in Friday's first practice, too.  Again, it's dangerous to base anything on Friday practice numbers, but those numbers have to make you sit up and take notice.

In other news, HWMNBN still has a few issues with his year at McLaren.  During Thursday's pre-race interview session, HWMNBN said, flat out, he'd do whatever he could do to help Massa beat Hamilton.  Considering that HWMNBN basically despises Hamilton, this makes one wonder if we'll be seeing the Renault punting the McLaren into low earth orbit soon.  He says no, but we'll see once the heat of the race comes around.

Also, you may remember that after the Japanese Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel and Alex "Man-Mountain" Wurz were going to climb Mt Fuji, with the plan being that they'd summit at dawn.  Indeed, they managed to do so, but Wurz was partially eaten by a yuki-onna during the descent.  While unfortunate, this will allow him to fit better in the cockpit of the car that he test drives for Honda.

Quals later!

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October 16, 2008

Monza Has A Bridge...


...and I'm a friggin' moron.

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Good News From Nozomi!

Nozomi Entertainment shed some light on something suspected for some time: it's looking like they've got the entire ARIA license.

They just announced that the first half of the 26-episode series ARIA the Natural will be released on January 29th, 2009.  This coming fast on the heels of the release of the entire ARIA the Animation series just a few weeks ago should make every fan of ARIA click their heels with joy.

At least metaphorically.  It sure as heck made ME happy!

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