Angel’s Month Indulgence #3

Feb. 16th, 2019 04:16 pm
lovelyangel: (Ayu w/taiyaki)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
Gyudon at Crazy Sushi Shoten
Gyudon at Crazy Sushi Shoten
iPhone 8 photo

For what it is, the lunch is expensive. But I like gyudon, and it’s not easy to find for a weekend lunch. (Gyudon at Ikenohana is better, but they’re open only for dinner.) It’s been a rough week, and I decided that today I would spoil myself.

Anime Winter Week 6

Feb. 16th, 2019 04:01 pm
lovelyangel: (Miyako Angel)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
Princess Rona
Princess Rona
Endro! Episode 6

Here are the shows that I watched last week:

Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime): Episode 19
Well, that was surprisingly tidy. The warm up act was all the allies taking down the Megalodons. Lots of opportunities for fun and teamwork. Charybdis itself was much tougher – maybe too tough for Rimuru. Fortunately, One Punch Milim is on our side. Once again, Rimuru comes out smelling like a rose – and gains allies.

Dororo (Amazon Prime): Episode 6
Conclusion of the Moriko Song arc. Consistent with the nature of this series, this arc is a tragedy. The choreography and animation continue to be a sharp compliment to the excellent writing and direction.

Mob Psycho 100 II: Episode 6
It’s been a while since there was focus on Reigen, and this arc is digging in deep. Reigen has always been a contradictory mix of con man and practical advisor – and he’s kind of a difficult character to watch or like. This look at what makes him tick is repugnantly fascinating.

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru (Run with the Wind): Episode 17
After the high from last week, it makes sense there has to be a down episode. Thankfully it wasn’t too depressing nor long-lasting. The important thing was to work through the problem.

Yakusoku no Neverland (The Promised Neverland): Episode 6
This show never fails to give me the creeps. It’s pretty hard to watch. I can’t ever say I’m looking forward to seeing the next installment. But somehow I have to. I generally put off watching the week’s terrifying episode until the end of the week... and immediately afterwards I can follow with the new Endro! episode, as a Unicorn Chaser.

Tate no Yūsha no Nariagari (The Rising of the Shield Hero): Episode 6
Filo officially becomes the third member of the party. And an incident brought valuables and knowledge and connections to Naofumi, so he’s moving up. A mini quest added some action. And finally Filo has magic clothes. Maybe not the most exciting thing – but necessary. I’m not crazy about the jealousy between Raphtalia and Filo. Whatever.

Girly Air Force: Episode 6
Still a clunky, lumbering, somewhat annoying show. The trope is that something will happen that will allow these three incompatible Anima to work as a team. I’m betting the change will be a clunky, heavy-handed thing. For now, though, it’s just a mess.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai: Episode 8
Things are finally starting to heat up, and the Imaginator is on the move. Masaki got into a mess in his continuing masquerade as Boogiepop – but was bailed out by his stepsister, Nagi. I really like Nagi, and it was nice seeing her in action. The faceoff between the Imaginator and Spooky E was talky and lopsided; I didn’t expect the conclusion of the battle. The arc remains quite interesting.

Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka (Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka): Episode 6
This show is weakest when it focuses on school life. The writing is unconvincing, and the direction is stiff. On top of that, Kurumi is annoying with her smothering possessiveness of Asuka. I dislike that trait, so Kurumi needs to get her act together. Even the matsuri trope wasn’t enough to make civilian life interesting. The show threw us a bone, though, with a battle between Mia and Crescent Moon Sandino.

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Ren’ai Zunousen (Kaguya-sama: Love is War): Episode 6
The mysterious fourth member of the student council, treasurer Yu Ishigami, finally made his appearance. The foursome is complete. I haven’t read the manga, but I’m hoping there’s a Yu x Chika relationship cooking in there somewhere. Ai made an appearance, and I still like her a lot. This was not the best episode, but there were many good moments nonetheless.

Sword Art Online: Alicization: Episode 18.5
Recap episode. I didn’t even fire it up.

Endro!: Episode 6
A Mao-centric episode, showing what happened when Mao was sent back in time when Yusha’s party defeated the Demon Lord at the first endroll (Endro!) It wasn’t a great or funny episode, but it wasn’t completely dull, either.

This season’s new series backlog is getting worse. The shows I need to check out are: Fight League: Gear Gadget Generators, Pastel Memories, Bang Dream! Season 2, The Magnificent Kotobuki, How Clumsy You Are, Miss Ueno, W’z, Domestic na Kanojo, and Dimension High School.

Demon Lord Milim
Demon Lord Milim
Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken, Episode 19

Time Permitting
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations (caught up through episode 93)
Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue (a.k.a: My Roommate is a Cat)(caught up through episode 2)
Go-Toubon no Hanayome (The Quintessential Quintuplets)(caught up through episode 3)
Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita! (a.k.a: Wataten!: An Angel Flew Down to Me)(caught up through episode 6)
Egao no Daika (The Price of Smiles)(caught up through episode 6)

Happy Valentine’s Day

Feb. 14th, 2019 07:19 pm
lovelyangel: (Yukinon Happy 2)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane
Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane
Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai - Tensai-tachi no Ren'ai Zunōsen, Episode 4

The day for couples was today, and I like to highlight the best couple in the current anime season. By far and away the honor goes to Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane in Kaguya-sama: Love is War. They’re the best couple, even if they’re not yet a couple. Just like Takagi and Nishikata Last Year.

For single me, I’m more than content with a valentine from my best friend. 😊

Valentine from Jenni
Valentine from Jenni

Star Words: Episode III, Part 43

Feb. 14th, 2019 10:14 am
matril: (Default)
[personal profile] matril
Happy Valentine's Day! And what's more romantic than analyzing the scene wherein a fallen Anakin learns that his beloved wife is dead...right?

Well...maybe not fluffy romance, but if you like your romance dripping with angst and anguish, this is it.

A few entries back (Part 40) I noted that a feverish Padmé's first and only thought was for Anakin's well-being. This is mirrored in the Frankenstein-ish scene that reveals a full-suited Vader, as we know him throughout the original trilogy. After a brief, "Yes, my master" to acknowledge the Emperor, his very next words tell us what has been haunting him ever since that fateful moment on Mustafar.

"Where is Padmé? Is she safe? Is she...all right?"

There is so much meaning contained in those last two words. Not just her physical being. The last words he spoke to her were a bitter accusation. His last action was violence. Rather than face his guilt, he lashed out at Obi-Wan and blamed him for their estrangement....but somewhere deep inside, he must know he is to blame. He is tentative, not demanding. He fears he has damaged their relationship beyond repair.

What his master tells him is far worse than that. She is dead. And, according the Emperor, she died at her husband's hand.

This bending of the truth is very useful for Palpatine. As you watch his delighted expression at Vader's frenzied reaction, it's clear that he will use these intense emotions to further push his apprentice down the dark path of anger and hate. I have to wonder how much of the truth Palpatine really knows. He's unaware that the babies survived, or he would have gone after them right away. But I don't think it really matters to him how Padmé died, only that Vader believes it's his fault. I know there are theories that Palpatine used her life force to unnaturally strengthen Vader, but I'm dubious of attributing such galaxy-spanning powers to anyone, even the Emperor. And it's more meaningful to me if Padmé died because she loved more intensely than her heart could bear.

In any case, what does it mean for Vader? The irony is straight out of a Greek tragedy. The one thing he dreaded more than anything else, the thing he sold his soul to prevent, has happened -- and by his own hand. By trying to stop Padmé's death, he became so consumed by darkness that he actually caused it. He mistakenly believes it happened in the moment of strangling, but it's just as painful that his heartbreaking choices ultimately led to her death. Now every time I see Vader Force-choking someone, it's so much more painful because his own wife was the first victim of that signature move.

Well then, if his whole Dark-Side turn was a bust in terms of saving Padmé, why doesn't he chuck the Emperor down a pit and mosey on back to the light? Alas, the Dark Side doesn't work that way. It's not a handy tool to use and then discard. It has transformed him, tainted every emotion and motive, altered his world-view so thoroughly that he cannot imagine turning back. As with the scene wherein Anakin pledges himself to Sidious and takes on his Sith title, it is not a moment of giddy bloodlust and dark glory. It is despair. It is deeply-riven anguish. It is an endless moan of regret, shouted vainly to the heavens. He has burned every bridge. This is his life now.

So he believes, until a boy comes along with the voice and soul of his mother.

Just two more lines to go, my friends. Next time, a glimpse of the respective fates of the children of the Chosen One....

Angel’s Month Indulgence #2

Feb. 10th, 2019 05:11 pm
lovelyangel: (Riho Camera)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
I had an idea for an experiment I want to try when I do my annual self-portrait... and I was poking around B&H Photo for inexpensive studio equipment. I selected a modest kit for a professional backdrop and a round LED light for front illumination.

The backdrop is a Simple Stand and a Black Muslin Backdrop. Collapsed, the kit is relatively compact. I’ve not set up the backdrop yet.

Studio Backdrop
Studio Backdrop

While I do have two LED lights, they’re square – which is not good for catchlights in subjects’ eyes. I was drawn to the Dracast Silkray 600 light because it’s round – and it was less than half price. Plus all reviews were solid. The light comes with a nice carrying case.

Dracast LED Light & Case
Dracast LED Light & Case

I was sort of rushing through this purchase as I didn’t realize until I set up the light today that this is a single color (daylight), not adjustable temperature light. I guess that’s not a huge issue as portrait lighting should probably be using daylight temperature anyway. But the flexibility to adjust to a different temperature would have been nice (although 1/3 more in price).

I also forgot to order a stand, so I used one of the stands for my other LED lights. I guess I’ll have to decide if I can get by with just two stands. Also, this light did not come with rechargeable batteries, like my other two LED lights did. I’m not planning to go mobile, so the battery probably isn’t needed. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared.

The light is really bright. In the photo I have the light at 10% brightness.

Dracast LED Light
Dracast LED Light

I didn’t do a lot of research. This was definitely an impulse buy. I do think it will be useful in the future.

Anime Winter Week 5

Feb. 10th, 2019 02:51 pm
lovelyangel: (Shun Angel)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
Chika Fujiwara
Chika Fujiwara
Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Ren’ai Zunousen, Episode 5

Here are the shows that I watched last week:

Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime): Episode 18
New villain time – a Calamity Class Demon. I could have done without the clowns, though. Phobio was a weak character, and his "promotion" to a demon seemed forced. But a new Big Bad is simply another opportunity for Rimuru to prove his stuff. I’m happy to watch.

Dororo (Amazon Prime): Episode 5
As I suspected, the sudden ability to hear is a huge problem for Hyakkimaru. He’s having a rough time, and it’s a bit surprising that he was able to pull himself together sufficiently to do battle. Things are pretty messy right now, with Hyakkimaru only half able to fight – and getting wounded – and Mio earning money in the way that she can – in the middle of a local war. I hope things get better for Hyakkimaru soon.

Mob Psycho 100 II: Episode 5
OK. That was completely over the top. The sakuga gods have been working overtime. Most awesome Mob explosion ever – twice. I’m going to have to watch this one again.

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru (Run with the Wind): Episode 16
I really didn’t expect the team to end up where they did in the standings. I had steeled myself for worse news. Pretty amazing. I’m worried about Haiji, though. What if his leg doesn’t hold up?

Yakusoku no Neverland (The Promised Neverland): Episode 5
Man, what a mess. I certainly don’t trust our traitor. I have faith that Norman will figure out a way to deal with everything. Emma is the compassionate, intuitive one, and she is showing a capacity for sharp insights. Besides the intrigue and intellectual chessboard, Don is the biggest problem – leading to this week’s cliffhanger. I sure hope this interruption is caused by one of the three protagonists.

Tate no Yūsha no Nariagari (The Rising of the Shield Hero): Episode 5
Thankfully Naofumi has allies in high places. And this week he gets a new addition to his party. More allies makes the series palatable. Putting down the Heroes We Hate is a bonus. The contest was not the greatest setup – but we know who was going to win in the end.

Girly Air Force: Episode 5
Still terrible. Gripen is a weak character, and Kei is little more than an emotional prop. We’re finally introduced to the third Anima – and she’s not what I expected. The expected trope is the smart, shy, introverted one, but Phantom has got the confidence to challenge Eagle. And this is something the cast needs. Will the characters get better? Saa.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai: Episode 7
At least I’m following along better... and the story is coming together. It’s pretty interesting, and I’m curious as to how this arc will conclude.

Egao no Daika (The Price of Smiles): Episode 6
I’m not happy with the way this story is progressing. It’s been tedious. We’re six episodes in, and still no Stella + Yuki. Plus the command personnel in Soleil have overridden Princess Yuki’s directives. How annoying. I’m suspending active tracking of this show and throwing it onto the Time Permitting pile.

Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka (Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka): Episode 5
The battles weren’t as messy as I expected. I thought Magical Girl Barber Scissors Abby was going to catch up with Kurumi before Nozomi was in a safe haven. But that didn’t happen, and that allowed a 1:1 face-off. War Nurse is a healer, so she couldn’t have the offense to deal with the maniacal magical girl – and consequently took a thorough beating. Asuka, of course, did fine. And finally Asuka has joined spec-ops. Took long enough.

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Ren’ai Zunousen (Kaguya-sama: Love is War): Episode 5
Another wonderful episode. And, again, Chika stole the show. Love detective. Coach. Umbrella provider. Is there anything she can’t do? I’m going to watch this one again, also.

Sword Art Online: Alicization: Episode 18
For a battle, there sure was a lot of talking. SAO has to do a ton of infodumps – though its characters. The battle between Eugeo and Bercouli was pretty good, and Eugeo finally showed some smarts of his own. He’s been so reliant on Kirito in the past. Even so, his moves he learned from Kirito. The whole battle was ruined by the appearance of the Senator. Ick. More clowns. This new, annoying stratum of power came from nowhere. I guess this is like a bad video game. Back at Kirito and Alice, there’s more talking as Kirito tries to sow some doubt in Alice by explaining Alice’s story. BTW, next week’s episode 18.5 is a recap episode, so the story will resume in two weeks.

Endro!: Episode 5
Introduction of Princess Rona, who we’ve seen in the OP animation. More complications are welcome. The princess simultaneously elevated Yusha to affirmed hero as well as inserted herself into the party’s daily lives. Another cute girl is fine by me.

Double Decker! Doug and Kirill: Episode EX1
The first of three bonus episodes, one month apart. I didn’t know Crunchyroll would get them. This one is mainly little stories of how each member became part of SEVEN-O. It was fun seeing all the characters again.

More series have premiered on Crunchyroll during the week. I’m way behind. The shows I need to check out are: Pastel Memories, Bang Dream! Season 2, The Magnificent Kotobuki, How Clumsy You Are, Miss Ueno, W’z, Domestic na Kanojo, and Dimension High School.

Princess Rona and the Hero’s Party
Princess Rona and the Hero’s Party
Endro! Episode 5

Time Permitting
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations (caught up through episode 92)(Note: The Mitsuki / Hidden Stone filler arc finally wrapped up. There’s been A Lot of Filler.)
Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue (a.k.a: My Roommate is a Cat)(caught up through episode 2)
Go-Toubon no Hanayome (The Quintessential Quintuplets)(caught up through episode 3)
Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita! (a.k.a: Wataten!: An Angel Flew Down to Me)(caught up through episode 5)
Egao no Daika (The Price of Smiles)(caught up through episode 6)

Star Words: Episode III, Part 42

Feb. 7th, 2019 11:50 am
matril: (Default)
[personal profile] matril
And so Padmé slips into death, minutes after birthing and naming her twins, seconds after Vader -- born from the ashes of Anakin's fall -- takes his first ominous breath. With her last breath, however, she speaks the words that represent the truth at the very heart of the saga: hope.

"There's good in him. I know. There's still..."

(A quick side note -- both Padmé and Shmi's final words are cut short before they finish their sentences. It could be a mere touch of realism, as death rarely comes at a convenient instant, but I also feel that it symbolizes the cruelty of the encroaching Empire, which aims to silence every kind and gentle voice in the galaxy. Because I overthink everything.)

When I saw Episode III for the first time, even as I was crying bitterly at the overwhelming tragedy of this sequence, this line made my heart sing. It was becomingly increasingly clear to me how much Luke had inherited from his mother, and these final words were the perfect capstone. It is a birthright of unshakeable love and optimism. Not blindness or naiveté; not a foolish delusion that everything is hunky-dory in spite of obvious evidence to the contrary. Nor is it masochism or a tendency to martyr oneself or let others harm you. It is wiser than that. It is nothing less than hope in the face of darkness and despair; it is love without any conditions, a faith in people's best selves.

It always surprises me to find Star Wars fans who see Anakin's return to the good side as a kind of incidental moment in Return of the Jedi, who focus on the defeat of the Empire and destruction of the second Death Star (those are moments of grand excitement, don't get me wrong!) while merely shrugging about the Luke/Vader confrontation. Worse, they fixate angrily on the rigid mathematics of cosmic justice and argue that one semi-good deed shouldn't be enough to earn Anakin a place in the Jedi afterlife. They think Luke is still kind of whiny and naïve and so on and so on. It's so odd that we could watch the same films and yet see completely different stories!

To me, Anakin's return is everything. The very title of the film implies it. Luke hasn't been a Jedi yet, so it's about more than him as a single Jedi. It's about the rebirth of the Jedi Order as a whole, and the return of a Jedi who has forsaken his ideals for far too long. Hence the beauty of titles with ambiguous meaning, which happened decades before people were speculating about the possible plural connotations of "Jedi" in the 2017 film. Ahem.

Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, everything in the saga leads up to that moment when Luke throws away his saber and refuses to give in to aggression, when he sets the example of goodness and implores his father to follow him, and when Anakin steps forward and finally does the right thing. When Anakin reclaims his birthright of the Chosen One, symbolizing the rebirth of the Jedi and the Republic and all the light in the galaxy. Not because that one act can erase everything that came before it, but as a single step into the light -- a refutation of the notion that a turn to the Dark Side is forever irrevocable, proving that no one is ever so corrupted that they are not still capable of doing something good. That has been the theme of Star Wars since 1977. Consider how Luke's arc in the third act of Episode IV is, on a smaller scale, the same arc that he undergoes in Episode VI. He sees that someone close to him has turned from the hero's path, is disheartened, but maintains hope that they can still make the right choice, even when it seems the least likely thing. Then he is vindicated when they step in at the last minute to help Luke save the day.

In the first film it's Han. Luke's belief is still immature, his responses more impulsive. But that belief is justified. By the last film, he carries a calm but impassioned assurance that his father will ultimately make the same sort of choice as Han, no matter how far down the path of darkness he has strayed.

A moment of giddy vindication

Another moment, far more somber, but deeply exaltant

So, to sum up a very long digression, Padmé's words are not a minor moment of foreshadowing. They are everything the saga stands for, a celebration of that unquenched spirit of hope that she passes on to her children even on the verge of death. We do not hear her name spoken in the original trilogy, but her legacy is carried within anyone who fights oppression, anyone who strives to restore freedom to the galaxy, within her daughter's fierce determination and her son's pure love.

Next time, the inimitable James Earl Jones gives us Vader's first words after his transformation....

At Sunset

Feb. 6th, 2019 05:30 pm
lovelyangel: (Homura Watching)
[personal profile] lovelyangel

When I left work around 4 pm, the sky was blue, and the sun was shining. Although the temperature was only 36°F, the sunny afternoon felt cheerful. This was not a gloomy winter day.

I was going to take a picture of the nice weather when I got home, but I got distracted. By the time I remembered and took a camera outside, the sun was going down. The only thing still being illuminated was this tree in my front yard. So that’s what I got.

Before the Festival

Feb. 5th, 2019 09:19 pm
lovelyangel: (Haruhi Camera)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
The Portland Winter Light Festival starts Thursday evening. I spent some time this evening preparing my camera, lens, tripod, and camera bag. I have an extensive checklist. Batteries are charged; memory cards are formatted. The kit is ready to go in an instant come Thursday afternoon.

The PDXWLF 2019 Catalog (PDF) is available for download.

Never Letting Go

Feb. 5th, 2019 06:07 pm
lovelyangel: Illustration by loundraw (loundraw Photographer)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D
AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D

Today I read a short piece – Do You Have a Lens You Will Never Sell? Yeah, I do. I’ll never sell my AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D lens. Flaws? Chromatic aberration with occasionally nasty purple fringing. Vulnerability to contrast washout when shooting into bright light. I’m accepting of all that, as everything else about the lens is marvelous. Sharp focus. Silky bokeh. Simply beautiful rendering of subjects and backgrounds.

My copy is 11 1/2 years old, and I’m keeping it forever.

At Cedar Hills

Feb. 3rd, 2019 06:19 pm
lovelyangel: (Mamimi Camera 2)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
In Front of Pastini
In Front of Pastini
Beaverton, Oregon

After church today I ran errands on the way home. One stop was at New Seasons Market at Cedar Hills Crossing. I don’t like grocery shopping on a weekend afternoon as the places are extra busy. But I didn’t have a choice.

Parking is a mess at Cedar Hills Crossing, and I chose to park quite some ways from the store. I didn’t mind walking; the sky was overcast, but the rain had held off so far. To my surprise, I discovered a new Office Depot next to Pastini. The old one near Walker Rd had closed some time back. I didn’t know it was being replaced with a new outlet nearby. I don’t shop Office Depot often, but once in a while I’ll do some mission shopping for paper or shipping materials. It’s nice to have around if I need it.

My mission at New Seasons was successful, but parking around WinCo was so bad that I aborted the grocery mission there. I was running quite late anyway, and heading home was the best option.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the sign in front of Pastini. I like pasta!

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