krpalmer: (anime)
It was something that Makoto Shinkai had gone from "making a work of animation lengthy for one man on his own" to "directing full-length anime features," but I'm always aware of a nagging sense of the general rhetoric about "impressive lighting effects and background art" being followed by "but..." Working backwards through his filmography, The Garden of Words was short and might have raised an amused eyebrow or two, Children Who Chase Lost Voices just perhaps took "someone has to carry on the Ghibli tradition" to the point of "now let's see your own thing" dismissal, 5 Centimeters per Second could provoke some resistance to "downbeat, inability-provoked developments," and I remembered more positive impressions of The Place Promised in Our Early Days, but not its title without looking it up.
There was something different about Your Name, though... )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
The announcement Joel Hodgson was planning not just a new "movie-riffing" project but a revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 itself raised a more uncomfortable mixture of emotions than I would have liked to have felt. I've tried saying it's a matter of being ambiguous about a sense that modern "pop culture commentary" has so much stuff to comment on nowadays that it doesn't reach back as far as it once did and that "righteous superiority" can shade into "somehow not energetic enough to go looking for better stuff," but I suppose it's all just trying to cover up for how, as the MSTing community was slowing to a standstill, it didn't help that just about every comment hostile first to The Phantom Menace and then to Attack of the Clones would grate on me and kill my enthusiasm to read on then and there...

At almost the last moment, though, I decided I could take so much of a chance as to pledge for the "digital-only package"; if I did wind up deleting my downloaded files, at least it wouldn't be quite the same as trying to get rid of a Blu-Ray set with accompanying collector's book. That pledge did happen to produce downloadable versions of the very first two episodes of the show's formative season, and that was something I could think of as to the good. Even so, I knew the premiere of the episodes made decades later was approaching...

I started the special one-day-only preview stream with caution, and yet an hour and a half later there was "optimism" shading into that caution. While I later saw comments from others about "riffs being thrown at us" (the first few minutes of the rather memorable movie, though, were slow enough there to somehow alter my impression of the whole thing), to me they did seem to reach beyond "here and now," and more than that to address the movie in an entertaining way rather than just springboard off to all too familiar opinions. As the fourteen episodes enough money was raised for go up on Netflix, I know it'll be a while until I can watch all of them (and I'm still cautious about one described as a "1970s Star Wars ripoff"), but I can now at least hope the good stuff I've already seen will keep outweighing whatever hypothetical comments might disagree with me.
krpalmer: (smeat)
In eking this journal along through the ten-year mark (although I've just taken a step of a certain weight in switching off crossposting to the Livejournal it started as when new terms of service there, pushed at us instead of just sort of snuck by, raised a gut-level uneasiness), I have thought it'll get harder to make up "anniversary" posts. However, where there might not seem to be much of a difference between, say, "thirty years since" and "forty years since," there is one between "ninety years since" and "the centennial"...

I've been contemplating for a while the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, but in taking note of what seems the general attempts these days to give it significance in the Canadian historical consciousness, I've got to wondering if Canada stands out by efforts to look back to the First World War singling out a "success." Just among the other Dominions brought into the war with Great Britain, my general understanding of Australia and New Zealand is that they focus on the futile struggles to break open a back door of the war at Gallipoli, and even Newfoundland, which wouldn't join the Canadian confederation until after the Second World War, looks back to the heavy losses of its small force at the Battle of the Somme.

There are risks in narrowing history to single moments in time. Capturing the ridge at Vimy was one operation in one more larger, inconclusive battle as crisis started really setting in for the Allies in 1917, and for all the mythologizing afterwards (although to say efforts to play up the battle only picked up in recent decades as its last survivors died do remind me I've seen a book from a Canadian centennial series that picked the battle as its "headline of that decade"), the war didn't help national unity so far as the conscription crisis pried apart English and French Canada. At the same time, I might have a weakness for "counter-counterarguments," and while making the Second World War "the good guys versus the bad guys" can neglect how much of it hinged on Germany turning to attack the Soviet Union and how much that reshaped the world afterwards, to the best of my understanding the First World War wasn't quite a matter of "the side scratching its head over why its flower of youth being fed into a grinder wasn't working somehow lasted long enough to declare victory"; to that extent at least Vimy could be seen as a step towards learning to get through the Western Front. I suppose, though, I've also thought that perhaps we've come to remember Vimy from the First World War because one specific moment that keeps coming to mind from the Second World War was the unsuccessful Dieppe raid.
krpalmer: (anime)
The start of a new year meant, among many other things, the start of another season of anime series, but in the first days of the year I watched the list of streaming announcements accumulate without quite seeming grabbed by any of it. (Exclusive licenses to streaming services I don't have subscriptions to or which hold episodes back until they're good and ready to pull in "binge-watchers" were a side note, but not quite a crisis in themselves.) This might have bothered me more than it did given I'd had the same problem for most of last year, but in its last three months I'd managed not just to start but to stick with a fair handful of streaming series. I could watch other people muttering about how thin the new season seemed while thinking my own anxieties had somehow reset; in any case, I still wasn't lacking for things to go back to.
Returning to start off: Planetes and Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans )
Two different catch-ups: Princess Tutu and Sound! Euphonium )
A standout catch-up: Flip Flappers )
More getting around to things: Full Metal Panic! and Lupin the Third series 2 )
Finishing up: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU )
krpalmer: (Default)
I managed to notice that not only was SpaceX about to launch another satellite, but that launch would use one of the first stages they've begun collecting by managing soft landings on floating barges with in-jokey names or even heading all the way back to where they've started. The launch was scheduled for when I'd have a chance to watch it via streaming video, but I suppose I was conscious of the chance of something going wrong. That thought only got stronger as I saw the Falcon 9 rocket standing on the launch pad repurposed from Apollo's Saturns to the space shuttles and now to another generation of rockets, aware all the same SpaceX had moved in after blowing up a rocket at the launch pad they had used to use.

The rocket lifted off into a clear evening sky, though, and the second stage separated. The first stage was left to descend towards its barge, and I did notice its pop-out stabilizing grids starting to glow from re-entry before the video cut out. To the accompaniment of a very enthusiastic crowd at the SpaceX headquarters, though, the picture returned to show the first stage once more standing in one piece on the barge. Knowing the space shuttles wound up needing a lot more refurbishing in between flights than they were supposed to require, I am still wondering what it'll take in the end to turn the first stage around again, but it is something that it managed to land a second time.
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
The episodes of "Star Trek: The Animated Series" were engaging enough to watch while exercising on weekend mornings; I'd been thinking a bit, more or less from the start, that they somehow somewhat dodged the sense of "familiarity" and even "set consensus" that can settle over all of the live-action series, along with "if you are convinced Star Trek 'has' to involve its original characters..." They came to an end, though (with an episode I'd read Alan Dean Foster's novelization, considerable expansion upon, and rationalization many years ago), and I did get to wondering how I'd keep myself occupied on my ski machine from then on.

Right then, however, I saw an announcement the people working on the new Voltron Legendary Defender had selected some of the original Voltron episodes to be streamed on Netflix as an adjunct to their own series. That did get my attention, although I was quite ready to remember that when the original Voltron had had its "nostalgia release" on DVD a decade ago, I'd held out for the anime series it had been made from instead. The thought's occasionally come to me, though, that I just might be dismissive of Voltron because of the accident of having had "the other Voltron" stick in my mind a bit more, and just perhaps that "other" science fiction action had been more vulnerable than the space fantasy it seems just about everyone else remembers better to having all that careful "this is a cartoon; nobody ever dies in a cartoon" redubbing stand out. I went ahead and took a chance on "Voltron '84."
The complications of a single episode )
krpalmer: (anime)
When deciding to take a chance at last on beginning to read Milk Morinaga's "Gakuen Polizi" manga (only to surprise myself discovering it really was complete in two volumes), it's at least possible I was thinking ahead to news another one of her "girls' love" titles was going to be published in English. I did understood "Secret of the Princess" was complete in one volume (with a larger page size than normal), but perhaps I was still wondering how this one would turn out.
It did wind up with one advantage... )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
Even before I was remembering today can be marked as "Pi Day," I was thinking ahead to Joel Hodgson's announcement the new Mystery Science Theater 3000 will be appearing on Netflix on April 14. As that date gets closer, though, I'm still struggling with what kept me from taking in any of his previous "Cinematic Titanic" project and what keeps me from trying any "Rifftrax," namely the suspicion that to comment on even a "cheesy movie" these days is perpetually to springboard into taking shots at specific "outside" targets, jabs some would proclaim "cathartic" but which just seem to grate on me after all these years. I went so far as to admit this in a "Satellite News" thread about "watching the new series," if without stating just what targets would most grate on me; nobody seemed to notice and take me to task for that, though. However, later on in the thread some were worried the backgrounds of the new people involved with the series meant not that they'd be dwelling on the party line for that ambiguous term of "geek culture," but that they'd be making "political" comments... The specific case invoked, at least, doesn't seem to bother me. It even got me thinking that to have felt sorry for some movies to the point of thinking they weren't bad after all could have some differences from humourless ideological commitment too.

(Then, thinking I'd take one more look at the "countdown" on Satellite News, I happened to notice a selection of "classic episodes" will show up in advance of the new premiere on Netflix. It's sort of intriguing to contemplate "a direct comparison" being welcomed.)
krpalmer: (anime)
After taking much interest in two of Milk Morinaga's "girls' love" manga series, I was more than ready to start reading another one, and one Seven Seas was now publishing in regular-thickness volumes as well. As I bought the first volume of "Gakuen Polizi," though, I did notice a few comments that the flirty, slashy preliminaries seemed less undeniable to start with, and I suppose I decided to wait until I had the second volume as well for a bit more impact. Once that had been published, I didn't quite get around to the series right away, and then I realised there weren't any more volumes being solicited...
One day, though... )
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
Something about reading news about text adventures and interactive fiction every day but seldom getting around to playing any of those games I read about can get to me just a bit. On one trip to the Interactive Fiction Database, though, a new review on the front page managed to pique my interest and point me onward. For all the games I haven't played, I do still seem to have picked up enough knowledge of "familiar adventure genres" that a game promising to poke fun at "the psychological landscape of an incapacitated protagonist" evoked amused expectations. I downloaded Ryan Veeder's "Nautilisia" into my iPad's interactive fiction interpreter and started into it.
The adventurous push )
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
I got an email today reminding me it's been a year since I signed up on Tumblr. At the time, I'd been feeling just a bit fatigued at putting together a new post here every week "just to keep my streak running." After a few "crosspost" posts listing the old computer magazine covers I was putting up in order, though, the ideas for here did seem to start coming with a bit more ease, and I let the two streams flow in parallel (although I usually try to cross-promote posts here over there, just in case). Sometimes it's easier to just look at where my queue of covers is, but in any case I am beginning to round out 1981's computer magazines; I'm a bit conscious of plans to add more titles around 1983 or so, though, a while yet before the ebullient "8-bit boom" went bust.
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
"The Complete Peanuts" may be more than complete, but the spinoff project to release the Sunday pages in colour is still under way. It did take me a while to get the latest volume of "Peanuts Every Sunday." I had ordered the previous large and pricy volumes from amazon.ca, but this time the wait for the listing to offer physical copies had stretched on until at last I ordered it through my local bookstore, which with my discount card was cheaper than going through an online reseller. In any case, I had a definite interest in this volume. The second half of the 1960s, as I understand it, were "the phenomenon years" for Peanuts, where all the developments of the fifteen years before added up to more attention than most comic strips get as the television specials added up along with the magazine covers, followed by appearances on stage and screen and going to the moon, with the World War I Flying Ace more or less leading the way.
'I scan the air carefully searching for the Red Baron.. I *must* bring him down!' )
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
A piece on Anime News Network described the president of a Japanese television network speculating about artificial intelligence taking over the production of anime. I have to admit one of my first reactions was that this felt so much one of those "one of these days" cyber-utopian visions that there did seem an edge of "trying to provoke a strong reaction just for the sake of attracting attention" to the posting of the article itself. Anime fandom, at least that part of it I can follow, does seem to have a strong undercurrent of disdain for what computer animation has worked its way into the industry. An AI-produced work might look like it was drawn by human hands (assuming tastes don't change at last by then, even if only by the fandom itself turning over), but I can still imagine other people looking ahead with specific aesthetic concerns for the future, given how ready some seem to make accusations about "stuff produced by formula." Beyond that, there's the whole deal with and issue of "sharing the profits of production out to as few people as possible"; the piece made a point of mentioning the familiar worries about how little money gets to the actual people with the pencils.

I can manage to think beyond even all of that, though, and there seems at least the possibility what might begin as "expert systems in the hands of the existing producers" might yet wind up "available to everyone." There, I could remember an online anime magazine from years ago (even if not which one it was to try and delve into the Internet Archive) that had looked ahead with apparent enthusiasm to the moment when people will just have to tell computers what they want to get entertainment tailored to them. The thought of everyone becoming more-or-less inarticulate moguls with endlessly patient creative staffs at their disposal can seem to hold the solution to some very familiar fan woes; the only cost would seem to be collective experiences dissolving into a certain kind of solipsism.
krpalmer: (anime)
The unexpected buildup of its third series, from "I suppose it's playing to its strengths" to "did it just leave a part of its familiar setting behind?", did a lot to revitalize my interest in the computer-animated, "anime-esque" RWBY. I wound up buying its Blu-Rays and watching through them with a full awareness of where they were headed, perhaps still helped along by the thought it was "an indie production" but getting past "it's something it was done at all." (This might reflect a bit on how I did just stop watching the slightly connected "Red vs. Blue" without making a big deal of it.) As the fourth series got under way, I was pleased to see it available on Crunchyroll, even if this might bring to mind "it's perhaps even an all too comfortable way to convince myself I'm not just watching anime."

In any case, as the fourth series got under way the characters did remain scattered and in new places, and that pushed from my mind the wondering I'd done right at the end of the third series of if things might be put too much together again. That did, though, connect to how it might be all too easy to pile up a list of anime series where the characters have fantastic adventures but never have to go very far from the safe base of their high school, although when I think a little bit more about that not all of them can be called "recent" in the way just perhaps used by some for who every "fannish" diversion is forever falling from the heights they started at. Noting the different ways "family" got involved in the plot threads, I stayed interested all the way through. It was only thinking back that I did wonder a bit about the story having taken its time dwelling on large and staggering things having happened, but that might have been inspired by one comment from someone else I did look just a bit for, which may only have reminded me of all those suspicions that to delve too much into the opinions of others for reassurance your own opinions are valid can feel like a zero-sum game. In any case, I'm wondering where things might go next, even with new episodes of Voltron: Legendary Defender available to keep taking that trifling step away from outright anime. (Some of the first episodes in its own new series, though, seem, without having made a big, showy deal of it, to have stepped away from "this is a cartoon; nobody ever dies in a cartoon.")
krpalmer: (europa)
Dropping in to the discount store across the corner on the weekend, I was wandering around its rack of cheap Blu-Rays when I saw two "previously owned" copies of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on display. A moment I'd imagined might arrive back when I hadn't bought the movie on its home video release had indeed come to pass, but I walked out of the store without a disc, remembering how hearing the special features had gone straight back to "isn't it wonderful there were so many animatronics on set?" had squashed what interest I might have had and how the movie's been available on Netflix up here for months but I've kept putting off making the time to watch it.
Instead of that... )
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
There are problems and problems, and "starting to feel a bit lost getting deep into a manga series" seems pretty far down the list. As I read through the ninth volume of Arpeggio of Blue Steel, though, I did wonder if my thoughts on this matter were becoming articulated enough to solve the different problem of "coming up with one more post," even if that's pretty far down the list too.

I must admit the general idea of "battling strange, superpowerful vessels that just happen to resemble Second World War ships and just happen to be personified by cute anime girls" got my attention. Hearing the anime turned over not just the "mechanical" but all of the "character" animation to computers, though, became an unfortunate sticking point; as much as there seemed some slight disagreement as to whether this series or Knights of Sidonia was mired deeper in the "uncanny valley," I'd gone for the outer space mecha series (and that after beginning to read its manga). Hearing the Arpeggio of Blue Steel manga was being published over here now, however, seemed to give me my easy way out.
Things drew me in well enough to begin with... )
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
Makoto Yukimura's Viking manga Vinland Saga has been through enough "this volume had better sell" squeezes staying published in English that hoping the story's next instalment will arrive can feel as harrowing as reading through some of its "Dark Ages" action itself. At the end of the seventh double-thick volume, I did react with some extra relief at the story's long-enduring protagonist Thorfinn closing a painful circle that had opened at the tale's very beginning. That relief, though, might have led to the thought that if things did have to leave off there, it would at least not have to face the question of whether Thorfinn's hard-gained resolve to build a new and better world by sailing west would only carry what he was now trying to escape with him.
When I heard there'd be an eighth volume published, though... )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
Over the course of its two dozen official Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD collections, Shout! Factory has kept finding different ways to add jokes to the back cover copy; this time, there's a "Wikipedian" flavour to it. As for the actual selection of episodes, I was looking forward to them, even if I knew that to watch through it in the usual oldest-to-newest order would mean ending with an episode long stuck with something of a "difficult" reputation...

The sole "Joel episode" in the collection, "The Human Duplicators," did get me remembering over the course of its "cashing in on the dawning James Bond boom meets the miserable tag end of the previous decade's science fiction boom" action some personal thoughts of the close of the fourth season feeling like the show had reached a new level. Although the only extra on the disc was the "Mystery Science Theater Hour" segments, managing to omit the segment where "the host" (played by Mike Nelson) recaps the first hour's worth of the movie, I suppose you could try and see that as not distracting from thoughts of how the mood the show was striking at that point carried forward to the end of the brief seventh season and the second episode in the set, "Escape 2000." The six seventh-season episodes can all feel particular standouts to me (even when they can get hard to watch), but this one's cut-rate urban dystopian action seems to turn out quite well. The DVD's extras include an introduction by Mary Jo Pehl and a little documentary about the movie that points out it was a sequel to a previous "Bronx dystopia" (the bombed-out tenement exteriors might even have been location shooting in the then very run down South Bronx, a contrast of sorts to the cracks about how "Italian" the movie is), complementing an original trailer that includes a good deal more gruesomeness than could get on television.

From there it was on to the eighth season. This can be where I start thinking the show could become "meaner" not just to its movies but to pop culture in general (which ties in to my unfortunate distance from the "post-MST3K projects" and my continued uneasiness about having paid for the upcoming revival), but "The Horror of Party Beach" does seem ridiculous enough to still feel good-humoured; there's the same triumvirate of extras (the little documentary explaining just how much of an "outsider" project its northeastern seaboard beach horror was, but the trailer looking kind of dark and drab). As I closed out the collection with "Invasion of the Neptune Men," I tried to remember thoughts it was the final extended battle that seemed to really get to the humour. Mary Jo Pehl's introduction didn't dwell too much on this, but the little documentary, featuring the return of the knowledgable person who'd contributed to the extras for the previous Japanese movies Shout! Factory had released, did explain the final battle had been padded out with not just stock but repeated footage to make it long enough for American television. (He also said a bit about "Prince of Space," the sunnier-if-still-skewed sibling of the eighth season which had been released back on a "Rhino" DVD.) The original trailer at least looked sharper, and just perhaps a bit more impressive, than what wound up in Mystery Science Theater.
krpalmer: (Default)
I had taken note of the news that SpaceX said it had worked out just why one of its Falcon 9 rockets had exploded on the launch pad (well short of actually trying to launch, not the moment you'd most anticipate unexpected shocks) and was preparing to launch another rocket. Not having worked out the exact moment it would happen, though, I was surprised to see the effort had succeeded through a comment on the day's Peanuts comic strip. Beyond the extra bit of news that another first stage had landed on a seagoing barge, I found an odd sense of heartening interest in knowing the rocket had launched a whole cluster of replacement satellite phone satellites. The "Iridium" network might have found success only after the company that had gone to considerable expense to launch the first satellites had gone out of business, but it's something to know "cell towers spaced across the civilized world" haven't made one use for space altogether obsolete after all.
krpalmer: (anime)
I've bought a pretty good number of the "girls' love" (or "yuri," to use the more in-the-know term) manga that Seven Seas publishes, and as I began picking up they were about to begin another series I supposed I'd take a chance on "Bloom into You" as well. The reviews I read as part of that process, though, made it of particular yet perhaps peculiar interest to me.

"I just don't seem interested in boys" might might seem obvious enough leading off one of these series. When the viewpoint character Yuu's attempts to find the best way to turn down the confession made to her just before she moves from junior high to high school happens to get her acquainted with the slightly older Nanami, though, whose also turning down a boy's interest makes Yuu think she's found a kindred spirit, Nanami soon tells Yuu "I think I might be falling in love with you," and the younger girl's reaction remains pretty much "shouldn't I have more of a reaction?" Nanami kisses Yuu a few chapters later to show just what she mean by love, and Yuu keeps thinking to herself "I'm not even excited." The Anime News Network review suggested there was something asexual about Yuu, a strangely intriguing interpretation for me. I'm aware of all the times I see other fans willing to play along with the game of "shipping" characters and I just sort of suppose that with no definitive (much less daring) commitment in the story we get I'm content to push thoughts of "this fictional character must get paired off for their own happiness (to say nothing of my own satisfaction)" to outside the story and pretty much outside my mind.

With that said, one of the things that appeals to me about "girls' love" manga is the definitive commitment or even the promise of that, and Yuu in no way tries to turn Nanami down over the course of this first volume, willing at one point to mull over a comment from one of her friends (the supporting characters, although they have minor roles in the story, do manage to stand out a bit at points) that time may be all that's needed even in unusual cases. While I seem to find a subtle, hard-to-define peculiarity about the artwork (the closest I can come is to say the faces look a little "elongated," or "sharp," perhaps), I am interested in seeing where things will go.

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