October 10, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #137: Kettenkrad!

-Girls Last Tour, Ep01
I've always thought that halftracks were neat.  It's a truck with treads!  It's a tank with the front of a truck welded on!  It's chocolate in peanut butter!  They really were a great idea, but overly complicated to keep running and much more expensive to build.  I mean, sure, they had better off-road skillz than a wheeled vehicle... until they threw a track.  At least with a truck, you can keep moving with a flat tire.  All you could really do when you were missing a track on one side is go in circles.  While halftracks are actually still in use by militaries here and there, particularly Israel, for the most part they stopped being common by the '60s, when the surviving WWII-era vehicles finally wore out.  The Kettenkrad, above, was the smallest halftrack in common use, the Wehrmacht using it as a tractor for light artillery pieces and as a tow vehicle for the Me-262 jet fighter.  It looks like a tankette and a motorcycle had a child.  What I didn't realize until recently was that it didn't entirely steer using the front wheel.  Turn the handlebars past a certain angle and the inside tread locked, allowing the other tread to push the kettenkrad into the turn.  That's kinda good thinkin'!

Oh, the show?  It was the only series this season that I was really looking forward to, because I've seen the manga here and there and it looked interesting.  Turns out to be the cutest, most relaxing post-apocalyptic journey story ever!  I mean, except for the picture above, but even that's adorable... mostly.  Other than the gun part.  The situation isn't quite as serious as it looks.  Mostly.

This is going to sound strange, but Girls Last Tour feels a lot like Flying Witch.  Oh, they're really nothing alike, but they both have a sense of calmness to them.  Which is quite surprising, considering the two are travelling through a country devastated by war.  We don't know where they're travelling to, and it's not clear they do either.  At the moment, they just are.  There's probably a serious story lurking underneath it all, but I kinda hope not.  Sometimes, two moeblobs travelling around in a kettenkrad is all you need.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:24 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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September 21, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #136: Smile Again


-ARIA the Avvenire, ep01
I've felt better of course, but the march of time slows for no man.  As easy as it would be to continue to feel miserable, I have to get back to what passes for life around Pond Central.  Thanks for indulging me for a few days.

Of course, this post's title is also one of the EDs from ARIA the Natural.  Almost seems like I planned that or something. 

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September 10, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #135: Moe Shipgirls, Mo' Problems


-Kantai Collection: The Movie
There was a disturbing lack of Mutsu in the Kantai Collection movie.  The production staff appears to have added Hideaki Anno, as that's the only way I can explain the second half.  Any of the lighthearted elements of the series were removed, actually making it kinda grim in tone.

As you would expect from a film, what with its bigger budget and all, it looks wonderful.  Almost all of the awkward CG work from the series is gone (there's one moment that's clunky though), and the action on the whole is really good.

We do finally get to find out the nature of the Abyssals, and there's at least one moment in the film that made me gasp in surprise (more along the lines of a jump scare than anything else).  On the whole, if you enjoyed the series or the game, you'll like the movie.  I'm trying to decide if I want to do a full writeup or not... it doesn't immediately lend itself to such things.  A fully half of the 95 minute run time is combat, kinda mindscrewy, or both.

It's very confused fighting, for that matter.  At one point, there's five different fleets doing five different missions and the film tries to follow all of them before it becomes Evangelion Jr.  Good looking, but confusing.  Oh, and most of it is at night.  Historically accurate, sure, but somewhat less than perfect for viewers.

I guess I'm a little disappointed.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:07 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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August 31, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #134: Ah! An Adventurous Abecedarian Abruptly Approaches.

-ARIA the Avvenire, Ep02

There are people out there who don't like ARIA.  I get that.  I don't understand it, but I get it.  They probably think it's too slow, or that nothing happens.  And they're right... and wrong at the same time, as anybody who's watched the franchise can tell you.

But one almost universally held opinion is that Kozue Amano sure does draw 'em purty.  And singularly so at that: you won't find any other characters that look like the ones from ARIA.  This is a good thing.

Usually.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:35 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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August 25, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #133: Best Laid Plans

I had a fantastic idea for a post involving one of the last scenes from New Game!, I'd been working it over in my brain all day at work, had it nailed down perfectly.  You would have gotten a look inside the brain of Wonderduck while connecting it together with the show.  I think it would have been a really good post.  


And then I got home, watched the scene again... and realized it had absolutely nothing to do with what I had been thinking.  Total fail, and there's no way I could twist it to fit.  So here's a picture that fully fits my mood.
It's the weekend, at least.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:07 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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August 12, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #132: That Was Surprising

-New Game!, Ep02
We've all had one of those series... you expect nothing from it, and you get pleasantly surprised.  Well, New Game! is one of those.  "New girl starts working at small video game company, hijinks ensue" is not exactly either the most original concept, nor the most promising.  Yet for whatever reason, there's actually something good coming out of this.

The animation is nothing overly special, true, we've met all these characters before in dozens of other shows (not literally, but you know what I mean), and the plot is "main character perseveres and gets stronger".  It may be "New Game!" but it's really "Old Retread."  And yet, I'm amazed to discover that I LIKE this show... a lot.

It's got just the right balance of seriousness to humor (maybe 1:50, but it's there), and as of episode five there's not even a hint of acrimony between any of the characters.  These people are likable goofballs that are also professionals, putting in a ton of work and effort into making the newest entry in a video game series.  While we're not exactly witnessing people coding and boring stuff like that, we do get to peek behind the curtain, so to speak.  I'm sure it's dumbed down and not really like what we're seeing... it's anime, after all... but it's being handled better than anybody could have really expected.

That is not how you sword. 
The purple-haired one is the main character, and honestly she's kinda the worst part of the series.  She falls into the "earnest try-hard" camp, and is kind of annoying at times, at least to me.  Fortunately, she's surrounded by other, more interesting, characters at all times.

Let's see... from left to right we've got: Quiet Geek, Earnest Try-Hard, Clothes Horse, Genki Girl (all four of whom work in the same pod), The Legend (she's the original character creator for the video game series), and The Level-Headed One (the Art Director for the game).  The first three are artists for the game, Genki does motion work, and the other two... well, their jobs are obvious enough.  The two older women actually have depth to their characters, too.  The other four, eh, not so much.

There hasn't been any laugh-out-loud moments as of yet, but a good smile or chuckle is common enough.  None of this should be taken as me saying that this is a GOOD series that I wholeheartedly recommend, just an entertaining one.  Sometimes, that's enough.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:22 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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August 05, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #131: Hi! My Name Is...

Makoto Shinkai.  It wouldn't be overly controversial to say that he's the best known anime movie director not named "Miyazaki" today.  His films have all been successful, thought-provoking, and a little sad.  To a certain subset of people, though, the wild popularity is a little confusing.  His films have all been good, but have left me a little cold.  It may be a cultural thing, I don't know.  Except for "She and her Cat," that one worked with  me on almost every level.  One thing nobody will debate is that, going all the way back to his earliest works, Shinkai's films have been beautiful.


His newest film, Your Name (Kimi no na wa), pushes the bar even higher.  It's absolutely the best looking piece of animation of any type that I've ever seen.  I'm sure a lot of it has to do with progress in the use of CG, but my lord it's beautiful.

Even something as simple as a sliding door and the border of a tatami mat is given the full treatment... a simple, throwaway shot that lasts a second looks better than anything that's come before it.

And the story.  The story.  Holy crepe on a stick... but no matter how good it is, if you don't like the characters, the story doesn't work.  And, unlike the way Shinkai's earlier films sat with me, Your Name hits just all the right notes.  

I refuse to say any spoilers, not even about the plot.  If you haven't seen it already, go watch it immediately... and go in blind.  I intentionally avoided reviews and comment threads about it, and I'm very glad I did.  And you will be, too.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:33 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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July 18, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #130: From The Screen To The Page...

-Hibike! Euphonium the Movie
The good folks over at Yen Press recently released the original light novel for Hibike! Euphonium, translated of course.  Since that was probably my favorite anime series in years, of course I eagerly picked it up... I wanted to see how it differed and how it stayed the same from the material I knew.  And the result?

It's not as good as the anime.  And no, I'm sure there isn't any "first come first served" bias going on here... KyoAni just did a better job with the source material than the source material did.  For example, let's use what I think was the best sequence from the anime, the mountain scene with Kumiko and Reina.  Much of the dialogue is the same, and a lot of the details as well (Reina's white dress, or her ankles getting rubbed raw).  However, in the novel they don't take their instruments and thus the duet on the mountaintop doesn't occur.  That simply amazed me.  In another big difference, the "secondary leads," Hazuki and Sapphire, get almost no character development.  Also, and most painful to yours truly, Asuka's personality is more obviously a facade and her nasty side is more evident.  The wacky part of her that made her an instant fan favorite is almost totally missing. 

But the obvious difference is the music.  For a story about a concert band, there's a total lack of music involved with the book.  Which is natural of course... a book is words on paper, and the author isn't talented enough to overcome that handicap in comparison to the anime.  Please understand, the book is still quite entertaining and well worth the small amount of time it'll take you to read it. 

But you'll be hearing the music from the series in your head when you do.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:18 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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June 25, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #129: While We're Waiting...

Over at Reddit today, I was involved in a little slice of funny.  The Original Poster (OP) put up a very cute picture of a sugar glider in a box of fruit snacks.  Of course, this being Reddit we're talking about here, someone berated OP for being "cruel to this rodent" for the sake of electronic approval points.  Which is where I came in:


OP: "This isn't a rodent it's a sugar glider which is a marsupial. Also it's a joke people!" 

ME:

-Rio Rainbow Gate, Ep07
Today... today was a good day.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:29 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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May 21, 2017

Random Anime Picture# 128: Ridiculous School Outfit

Even from a medium where over-the-top school uniforms are the norm, this has got to take the cake:

-Roku de Nashi Majutsu Kōshi to Akashic Records, Ep01

Seriously?  Come on, Japan... really?  The best and oldest magic academy in the most powerful country in the world, magically, and they dress their female students in that?  Forget about the practicality or lack thereof of a uniform like that, how in the world could the school expect the male students to concentrate?

Unlikely uniforms aside, there's not much new to this show.  Which doesn't mean it's not entertaining, because I'm enjoying it a lot.  It's just that we've seen it before.  It's a relatively pretty series when it gets the chance to be, but again, nothing earth-shattering.  It's one of those titles that will be forgotten shortly after the last episode airs.  It will serve its purpose, selling light novels, and that's all it'll be.  There's no shame in not being an awesome, awe-inspiring, game-changing series... most of them aren't.  Still, I like it.

I'm not sure why.  I'll have to keep watching to figure it out.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 02:39 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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March 05, 2017

Random Anime Picture# 127: Just For The Record


-Interviews With Monster Girls, Ep09

Still the best thing airing this season, and an early contender for Anime of the Year.  It has yet to put a single foot wrong, and I can't imagine how it would given where the story stands.  Just a marvelously fun series.

And when the character I expected to be the weakest of the bunch is the one that's quickly becoming the MVP?   That's just a bonus.  Really, you need to be watching this.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:41 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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February 11, 2017

Random Anime Picture# 126: Cheesecake Too!


-Hatsukoi Limited, ED
There are days when you plan and scheme and get everything you need to accomplish done.  And then there are days like today, where I got nothing done at all except sleep, and not even much of that.  The plan was to finish up the requested "Why A Duck?" post.  Instead, I did bupkis, and you get this post.

I mean, there are worse things that could have happened, I suppose.  It's just not what the plan was.  A lot of that going around, I think.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:57 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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February 01, 2017

Random Anime Picture #125: Cheesecake!


-Seiren, Ep02 ED
Why?  What, when did I start needing a reason to post cheesecake?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:51 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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September 22, 2016

Random Anime Picture #124: Reflections


-ARIA the Natural, Ep12
On the whole, today had to be listed in the "horrible" category.  But it's amazing how just one episode of ARIA is enough to take the edge off.  It didn't fix anything, it doesn't make things better... but it was enough to remind me that things aren't totally terrible.  And I guess that's enough, isn't it?

Akari Mizunashi, mad scientist.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:34 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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September 08, 2016

Random Anime Picture #123: Obsolete


-ReLife, Ep06
The year was 1994 and Our Hero was working at the Big Blue Electronics Retailer in the music department.  One day, the department head asked if I'd like to spend a day in Chicago with her at a training day.  Well, heck, why not?  I'll get paid for it after all, and probably get a lunch out of the deal to boot.  As we drove in the next day, I asked what the training was on.  "Sony is releasing something new that we're going to be carrying.  Some new music format."  Oh swell, another one.  I quickly changed my tune when the training started, for the format we were talking about was the MiniDisc.

I instantly fell in love with the beast.  Magneto-optical data storage, anywhere from 74 to 80 minutes of re-recordable digital-quality music?  Be still my beating heart!  The more I heard, the more I liked it, and I learned everything there was to know about them that day.  They were, to me, flawless.  Except for a few tiny little problems.  And by "tiny little", I mean "gargantuan monster".

The first was the price.  There were two player/recorders available, one home-based, the other portable, and both were ridiculously expensive.  I mean, when you could buy three or four CD players for the same cost as the home unit, you know there's a problem.  The second was the size.  The home unit was normal, well able to fit in a home stereo system, but the portable?  It was very heavy, to the point that most of the people that bought them just used them at home because... well, it wasn't going to threaten the walkman/discman for portability, y'know?  The final and quite possibly worst problem was available media.  Only a few record labels were supporting the format; when we received our first shipment of pre-recorded MDs, they took up maybe two feet of display space... and that was a sizable percentage of all the MDs ever released.  Meanwhile, CDs and cassettes took up dozens upon dozens of yards of space, with music of any sort you'd care to think of.  Audiophiles loved the thing, though.  We had one guy who bought just about every classical MD we carried, and more besides, for example.  Here's the thing: he was pretty much the only customer we had for the thing.  And at that, we were still one of the top-selling MD stores in the central region of the country.

Eventually we stopped carrying MiniDiscs.  Sadly, it wasn't until the new century that the format started to get attention... just in time for MP3 players and the new thing called the iPod to appear on the market.  Still, Sony kept supporting the thing until 2011, when they finally stopped selling it altogether.  It's still a brilliant piece of kit, though... I wish I had one.  Alas, while that training class did give away a few portable units, I didn't get one.  I still have the Sony messenger bag, though!  Yes, 22 years later, it found a new life... as a case for my laptop. 

Yes, if there was ever a piece of equipment that was just flat-out unlucky, it was the MiniDisc.  Sadly.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:07 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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August 18, 2016

Random Anime Picture #122: This Is Fine, Too.


-Re:Zero, Ep06

Why am I watching Re:Zero?  Sure, the plot is intriguing, the hero is actually coping with his predicament, what we know of the world is solid enough, and the surrounding characters range from "that's a thing" to "top knotch."

But let's face it: the twin maids Rem and Ram should be arrested for grand theft, for they've bloody well stolen the show for me, for reasons that should be obvious.  Does that make me shallow?  I can't claim to care.

Because, I mean, damn.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:14 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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August 11, 2016

Random Anime Picture #121: It's A Cat. No, Seriously.


-Amanchu, Ep03
I've come to the conclusion that, despite all the talent and skill she has at drawing everything else ever,  Kozue Amano simply cannot draw a cat to save her life.  Well, that's okay.  She gave us ARIA, so she gets a huge free pass in my book.

Really.  It's a cat.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:01 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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July 14, 2016

Random Anime Picture #120: Pbpbpbppbpbpbpbpbpbttttthhhhhhhhhh!


-ReLife, Ep06
Review inbound once I finish the series, but initial reaction is "I did not expect this to be that good."  Because I did not expect ReLife to be this good at all.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:36 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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July 12, 2016

Random Anime Picture #119: Dark Mistress Of The Kitchen


-Shokugeki no Soma, S2E02
The second season of everybody's favorite semi-orgasmic fighting anime based on Iron Chef is in full swing, and while the hat-tip to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure may not have been to everybody's tastes (like mine), it's hard to deny the appeal of Mirror Universe Megumi.  Seriously, I hate this art style:

Ew.
We saw Delinquent Megumi briefly in S1, though to be honest I don't remember the context, but I DO remember both laughing and being intrigued by this less-than-wholesome version of our favorite co-main character.  And by "intrigued," I mean "grr stampa-stampa!"

I repeat: grr stampa-stampa!
All of which is to say, yup, nothing has changed from last season.  If you watched the first season of SnS and liked it, you've got no reason to avoid this one.  However, if you didn't like SnS, there's probably something wrong with you and you should get that looked at by a doctor... but you'll continue to not like this season.  Though you'll dislike it half as much, since reportedly there's only going to be 12 episodes this time around.

But how could you dislike this?  You'd just be evil and cruel.  Remember: she even has a rubber duckie.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:45 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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May 22, 2016

Random Anime Picture #118: Quick, Henry, the Flit!


-Strike Witches: Victory Arrow, OVA#03
I don't know when or where I first heard of Flit.  I assume it was in The Calculus Affair, one of the best Tintin stories around.  I wouldn't have known what it was, y'know, but I would have instinctively accepted it and moved on.  "Spray Flit, bugs die."  The perfect example of this unswerving acceptance of anything Tintin said as true was in... um... The Red Sea Sharks, I think.  At one point, Tintin describes a fighter plane as a "Mosquito."  I just assumed that was a nickname for all fighter planes (I was very young when I learned to read using Tintin...).

As it turned out, Tintin was referring to a very particular aircraft, the DeHavilland Mosquito, but I didn't know that.  To this day, I still think of fighter planes as "mosquitoes", though only to myself. 

FLIT!  Right, right.  Back to that.  I didn't really know what Flit was, just that it killed bugs.  That sprayer ("a flit gun") though... that's iconic.  I wonder what Tintin would think of Strike Witches?   And suddenly I feel this desperate need for a crossover...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 03:00 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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