April 08, 2012

Easter 2012

Happy Easter!  Not much else to say, really...

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Ten Years Of Joy

April 8th, 2002 was just another day for many people.  They woke up, went about their daily business, came home, and went to sleep.  But in between waking and sleeping, some of these people were fortunate enough to watch something wonderful occur.  For it was on April 8th, 2002, that Azumanga Daioh premiered on the TV Tokyo network.

I've written about Azumanga Daioh before.  It's my Favorite Anime Series Of All Time, and it was also the subject of my first bit of anime writing, way back in 2005.  In fact, it was shortly after I wrote that 2005 post that Big Papa Pixy offered me a spot in MuNuVia, so I've always thought that this blog owes its existence to the show.  There's no way I'd still be blogging so many years later if I was still stuck in the Blogspot ghetto.

While AzuDai was not the first anime I'd ever seen, it was the first that made me appreciate that the genre could be something more than just mere cartoons.  Pretty impressive, considering that the first time I watched, I didn't like the show.  I only made it two episodes before I said "nah, not for me."  Some months later, I watched the first episode again... and wondered what was wrong with me the first time.  I would watch an episode a night, for this was the dark time when I had only dialup internet; a single episode would take anywhere from 12 to 16 hours to download.  But I did it, and gladly.  Besides, anybody who needed to get a hold of me knew my cellphone number anyway.  Once I had watched the series via fansubs, it became the first one I ever purchased, six DVDs at $24.99 each.  But I paid that $150 gladly.  I wasn't the only one, either. 

There's something about AzuDai that hits many people right in the happy place.  It's not a masterpiece of writing.  The animation, while very good, wasn't the best, even in 2002.  There's practically no plot to speak of.  And yet, an episode of the show is usually enough to bring a smile to anybody's face.  It may be a wistful smile, but it's there nevertheless.  In fact, it may be that wistful smile that gets to the heart of AzuDai's success.  It reminds us of what the good parts of high school were like, the day-to-day interactions with our friends, obnoxious and annoying as they have been,  the little triumphs that made things worthwhile.  The series brings us those rose-colored memories with a skill and aplomb I've not seen since, though some have come close (the Hidamari Sketch franchise and Sketchbook are two that come to mind).  Sure, the characters are a little more out-there than your circle of friends, probably, but still entirely believable.  In the end, the six girls that make up the main cast of AzuDai are more than just moving pictures on the television screen... they're people.  For the trick of pulling that off alone, the show deserves praise.  There are people out there who don't like AzuDai, or are critical of its weaknesses.  To be sure, it has faults... but they do not (or should not) detract from the whole. 

It's been ten years since Azumanga Daioh was first broadcast.  Ten years of joy.

"Thank you very much."

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April 06, 2012

Vengeance Is Mine, Sayeth The Duck

See?  Told you... Vengeance! is mine.

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April 04, 2012

High School Of The Dead Ep04

If my memory is correct, last episode Our Heroes escaped from Zombie High in a mini-bus.  Along the way, they picked up Mr Shiro (a devious teacher) and what survivors from his class that remained (lickspittle whining toadies).  At the end, Rei and Takashi leave the mini-bus, then are separated from the rest of the cast by an exploding busload of flaming zombies.  They go on to find a motorcycle and head for the city.  Then they find a F-4 Phantom II and take to the skies!

...or the JASDF has made an appearance, one of the two.  Interestingly enough, a small amount of research indicates that the plane, probably a RF-4EJ, didn't take off in Japan proper.  Instead, it almost certainly flew from Okinawa, home of the Southwestern Composite Air Division, which is the only unit of the JASDF to fly the recon variant of the standard F-4.  So one could posit that, while the rest of the world is being affected, there are still some places that aren't.  Okinawa, for example.  The Falklands, certainly.  One could continue to speculate, but that's not the point here.  The point is, the authorities are trying to figure out what's going on

The picture isn't good, at least in this city.  I don't know that I would have expected fires to have broken out like this so quickly, but maybe it's the result of all those incendiary undead from last episode.  Are there armor-piercing zombies, too?  However, all hope is not lost.

For where there is life, there is hope.  Even if said life is a pair of teenage kids riding a motorcycle without helmets or even a license between them.  While I commend the pilot for his exciting flying, does the show really expect us to believe that the Japanese don't make a camera that's got a halfway decent zoom lens on it for their recon aircraft?  I mean, really?  Do the names "Nikon", "Minolta," "Konika", "Pentax" or "Canon" ring any bells?

Whatever they've got, it's got one heckuva fast shutter speed to be able to take blurless photos with the combination of the aircraft's velocity and the distance to the aiming point being so ridiculous.  At least the backseater's got decent taste in where he's got the camera focused.

But then again, this IS High School Of The Dead... what else would we expect?


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I made it until the monkey appeared.  Then I completely lost it.

Then I couldn't stop.

With any luck, the HSotD Ep04 writeup will be along tonight.

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April 03, 2012

It's Baseball Season

There was once a time when baseball was king.  The nation practically stopped on Opening Day, which was on Monday.  The first game of the season was always played in Cincinnati, because they were the first professional team and that's the way it always was.  Hot dogs, beer, crackerjack and peanuts.  The greatest moment ever was when you climbed the stairs from the Wrigley Field concourse and you first glimpsed the beautiful expanse of green beneath brilliant blue skies.

At which point, you knew that all was right with the world.  Oh, the Cubs might lose or win, depending on the vagaries of the day, but for a few hours at least, you were in a better place.  I'm sure there were similar moments at every ballpark. 

Along the way, though, something changed, and not for the better.  Baseball is no longer the king of American sports.  Sushi, nachos, toasted ravioli and... walleye?... are being seen in more and more stadiums.  The season isn't even starting on a Monday in Cincinnati; it's starting on Wednesday night in Miami, for Hornsby's sake!

Except that won't even be the first game of the season.  The first official game of the 2012 Major League Baseball season was last week in Tokyo Japan, between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A's... and it wasn't even televised.

There is something wrong with baseball, my friends.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I still love the game, and will until I die.  Maybe there's a bit of "Back in my day..." going on, but I don't think so: perhaps the pace of today's world has passed baseball by.  Cellphones and iPads are replacing transistor radios and scorecards.  Maybe "America's Game" has become America's Anachronism.

Maybe, therefore, I'm an anachronism.  Perhaps.  I don't care.  Give me the National Pasttime, please.  With plenty of mustard and bright green pickle relish.  And NO ketchup.

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April 01, 2012

High School Of The Dead Ep03

Yes, really.  If I can, I want to get a few more episodic recaps done before the next F1 race, too. 

As you may remember from just a couple of days ago, the three pairs of survivors had made contact with each other and were making plans to rescue their family members when Rei turned on the TV...

...just in time to see a remote news team turned into hors d'oeuvres by a wave of reanimated corpses.  The reaction of the television channel to the death of their newswoman and cameraman... on camera, no less... is just about what you'd expect from the world of TV.

Is there nothing that can't be fixed by a brightly colored scene, hand-drawn by kids?  End of the world?  Zombie apocalypse?  Eh, just get more crayons!  Saeko, apparently repulsed by the color magenta, changes the channel, perhaps looking for Ninja Warrior but instead stumbling across...

...uh... CMN?  Whatever.  The Cable Mews Network anchor reports that things are going zombietime all across the planet.  Beijing is in flames.  Contact has been lost with Moscow.  London has managed to maintain control, undoubtedly because they've had experience lately, what with 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead and all.  There's looting in Paris and Rome, which means it's basically just like every other day in Paris and Rome.  Here in the US, the President is allegedly being evacuated to an aircraft carrier-based command post.  Meanwhile, A-10 Warthogs are bombing the streets of New York City.

I'm okay with this.  Really.  Do we need to have a reason to do that?  Aim for the New York Times building while you're at it... the place is full of mindless undead.  Oooh, snap! from the apolitical anime blogger!  While I'm feeling all sorts of triumphant for sticking it to Da MAN, the Pink Haired Harpy Saya is harshing everybody's groove by pointing out that they've got a pandemic on their hands... one that seems to be following a similar pattern to the 1918 Spanish Flu... or the Black Death in the 1300s.  Y'know, two pandemics that ended only because they killed people too quick for them to pass the disease on?  Except with this one, the vectors are human-sized and they walk...

With that thought ringing in your ears, sleep well tonight!


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Ga-Rei Zero Live Action A Go? Maybe!

Potentially exciting news from Japan, where it was revealed that a live action version of Ga-Rei Zero is in the works.  Brickmuppet will have more details, since he's the one who did most of the legwork on tracking it down; I just heard little rumors.  Considering the lack of information in English, I defer to his knowledge of Japanese on this one.  If it's true, I'm going to be one happy Wonderduck. 

Actually, GRZ would make a fine movie... plenty of action, drama, even a romance if they want to try and work it in.  Even if they didn't, there's plenty there to work with.  Just the main "Schoolgirl in Black vs Everybody Else" storyline would make for a fun action flick.  I'd think they'd do away with the twins, Nabuu and Nabuu, Isayama (the guy with the drills), Kazuki (the one who dies... well, one of 'em.  The guy with the multi-barrelled briefcases), Motive Power Kiri-chan and The Boss with her Rocket-powered Wheelchair of Awesome, even Kagura's friends on the swim team, all of 'em gone.  Which would be a shame, because c'mon, they're what makes GRZ so much fun.

But the Monochrome Schoolgirls and Mr Laser Weasel would surely be in there.  I wonder if they'd even bother to do the "Spiritual Beasts", and just stick with the sword-fighting.  THAT would be a huge mistake, but it would save them money on special effects.  It would also be like doing Death Note without Ryuk.  Or Evangelion without EVAs.  Or NOIR on American TV.  Oh, wait... 

I don't know that there's another franchise I'd be more willing to see Live Action-wise, come to think of it.  It's not like Kanon would be a good candidate, or HidaSketch.  You could do a Live Action version of ARIA, but it'd fail so hard I can hear the producers jumping out of windows right now.  Maybe LA Fate Stay/Night?  I'm willing to bet that Glico is more than willing to work with the production, though... particularly if there's a chance it'd get a US release.  Pocky from sea to shining sea!

UPDATE: Brickmuppet is still working on his post, but he sent me a pic of Yomi (aka "Schoolgirl In Black") that he found... click on the "more" link.

ANOTHER UPDATE: 'Muppet's post is here.  I must have misunderstood him, because he's saying it's gonna be a TV series, not a movie.  He also says that it'll start with GRZ, then go on to cover the manga, Ga-Rei.  While I'd rather see the manga turned into an anime, Live Action is perfectly okay too!  I'm sure the producers right now are saying "*whew* Wonderduck approves!  We were scared." 

THIRD UPDATE: Muppet spills the beans.  It was his idea, though, and I've got the e-mails to prove it.


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