krpalmer: (anime)
Back on the upslope of last decade’s anime and manga boom in the English-speaking world, I did feel tickled at the first reports of series being optioned for Hollywood motion pictures. It’s been a while since then, though (including a bust that might not after all have amounted to “complete retrenchment to a handful of obsessives for all time”), and as some productions got lost in a maze of development and some did show up to reactions at most unimpressed among “fans in the know” and a general slide into obscurity, I suppose I fell back to “the original work isn’t diminished for me.” I can also ponder whether I’m more content than some with “drawings” and less requiring “the legitimization of live-action,” aware as well of live-action manga adaptations made in Japan that I don’t take too much interest in either, even if I’m also aware of snickers about “detachment from three-dimensional reality.” There might be a connection between that and how, while I don’t take a lot of interest in “live-action superhero movies,” I did go see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at the movies after noticing the enthusiasm of others, then indulged myself watching The Lego Batman Movie on Netflix.

When it worked its way around to release at last, though, one more live-action adaptation of a manga that had been in production for a long time did seem to produce some positive reactions from people with their own solid interest in anime and manga. They seemed positive enough I even started wondering about taking my own chance on the movie. While I couldn’t see it during its opening week, on its second weekend I went to see Alita: Battle Angel. I was wondering a bit about this being one franchise I’d been aware of without ever quite managing to take it in, having missed out on previous releases and then supposing Kodansha Comics’s latest version did seem a bit over-produced for me as large-format hardcovers. As I watched the movie, though, I did get to thinking that while I wasn’t distracting myself “comparing it to the original,” that didn’t seem the only thing keeping up my interest in it.
An uncomplicated appeal )
krpalmer: (anime)
Each successive volume of Legend of the Galactic Heroes arriving translated in print raises my hopes we’ll really get to the end of the series, even if it’s a conclusion I’ve already experienced through the anime adaptation. The eighth volume was where I supposed that this time for sure we’d be faced with a shocking development, one that would shake up certainties and leave the survivors in the story trying to make a new way forward. Once it had passed, though, I did have to recognize I’d forgotten some of the particulars of just how it had happened. In any case, with the various tactical schemes of the space opera battles easy enough to just sort of accept (a lot of the action in this volume is set in a choke-point in space set up beforehand as somehow constraining fleet deployment) the development did get away from everything else seeming to revolve around how enlightened a despot Kaiser Reinhard von Lohengramm is. Yang Wen-li, even holed up in a last redoubt, remained skeptical about what might happen “after Reinhard”; I’m afraid I was inclined to stay skeptical about the way Reinhard was himself presented and to muse about just what “the average folk” might wind up for whatever reason holding up, although it does seem like it just might be more interesting to provide an opposing argument by setting up a different fictional scenario than to just complain about the way a particular fictional scenario has been designed.

The omniscient narration of the book did seem to keep alluding to future developments I’m also familiar with. One thing that did surprise me, though, was a third translator showing up. I can’t say Matt Treyvaud’s work seemed any better or worse than what had come before; there was a certain bit of familiarity in the Imperial marshal Oskar von Reuentahl, who has one blue eye and one brown eye (a trait at least a minor fetish scattered through other anime series) being described as “heterochromiac.” I did look ahead again and see a pre-order listing for the ninth volume of the series, but it’s a long way away yet; even if getting to the end of the series keeps feeling a bit more likely, I can admit to feeling freer to wonder if that’ll happen this year.
krpalmer: (anime)
I suppose I look at the "Manga Bookshelf" site fairly often. Seeing the eye-catching title "Last and First Idol" on its front page, though, left me with an impression of having been lucky to have had something so precisely combining diverging personal interests catch my attention before the steady march of new content could push it out of sight. Sean Gaffney's review had explained the electronic release from J-Novel Club was a collection of three short stories using idol singers and other tangents off the anime-manga nexus to set up some pretty hard science fiction. I could amuse myself wondering how many other people have not just some interest in idol singers (I might not have quite as much as some, but it seems "enough") but also some awareness of a science fiction book from the beginning of the 1930s, less a conventional novel than a "fictional history" of its near to a very far future, named Last and First Men by an English author, Olaf Stapledon.
An existential widescreen yuri baroque proletarian hard sci-fi idol story )
krpalmer: (europa)
Returning to a whole cycle of movies once a year, given I don't often carve out the time to watch other films (although I did get to the nearest cinema to see First Man earlier this month), can seem an extravagance. Even so, I have told myself that since I haven't taken in their spinoff narratives in print for quite a while (and now I'm not doing that in computer animation, either), watching "just" the six Star Wars movies in the saga set isn't that all-consuming. With that, though, does come the ambiguous admission that where just a few years ago I'd wondered about an expanded series finally becoming overwhelming to watch "in full" yearly, now the "Disney productions" aren't on my agenda. Last year I had started off by watching Rogue One on Blu-Ray and then proceeding in "production order," but this year for one reason and another I'm not quite interested in even that. Instead, after watching the saga one rather conventional way last year and trying the "hybrid" or "flashback" order again the year before, I was looking forward to the simple and strict "numerical order."
A thought or two )
krpalmer: (anime)
Seven Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels having been officially translated into English and sold in bookstores ought to be something, but I admit I was still relieved all over again on the appearance of the latest volume that "losses hadn't been cut in the face of seemingly inevitable book-to-book sales declines." Anyway, as I started into the seventh volume I did wonder about the recently concluded new anime adaptation (which hadn't even adapted to the end of the first volume) and its slicker character designs coming to mind; as I kept reading, though, my older memories of the older anime did seem to return.
What I remember may surprise you )
krpalmer: (anime)
A little while ago, my area newspaper ran an article about thirty years having passed since the movie Akira opened in Japan. Something about anime showing up in something like a newspaper (and I'm afraid I can think to add something like "especially in these page-straitened days") does get my attention, but beyond that it had me remembering I'd bought the movie on Blu-Ray a while ago to move up from the DVD I'd first watched it on, seen some criticisms of that particular release and let the disc sit, and then heard it was being released on Blu-Ray again and bought that disc as well only to also let it sit...
Crossing the Pacific )
krpalmer: (Default)
Even if we're well past the year it made famous, this being the fiftieth anniversary of 2001: A Space Odyssey has led to more looks back at the movie. News of a new book about its making did get my attention; I am aware that a good bit of what I think the film's imagery has been cadged from various print sources, starting with Arthur C. Clarke's novel but going on from there. At book sales over the years I've turned up vintage copies of Jerome Agel's The Making of Kubrick's 2001, a sort of scrapbook but as much about period takes on the movie (some of them even thoughtful and different from what had wound up seeming set reactions) as its actual production, and Arthur C. Clarke's The Lost Worlds of 2001, selected chapters of various takes on the constantly developing story, interesting in the same way I've found "the early drafts of Star Wars" that drift around online, and knit together with personal reflections (although Clarke wound up distant from the film production). I also remember finding a copy of Piers Bizony's mid-1990s 2001: Filming the Future in a used book store. The only problem is that when I think about the book, its "plus side" brings to mind a drawing of how the interiors of Discovery shown on screen could fit inside that spaceship's forward sphere (with plenty of room left; following up on a whim, I turned up competing cross-sections online), but its "minus side" includes a closing chapter with a rather sour judgement of both real life and all other science fiction movies since for not living up to the on-screen example. That does make for a rather unbalanced impression.

Those thoughts did add to my interest in reading Michael Benson's Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece. I did, though, flip through its last chapter in a bookstore before committing to asking for it for a birthday present; Benson dismissed the sequel 2010: The Year We Make Contact with very faint praise but otherwise didn't seem too negative about the half-century following the original film. Once I'd started reading my own copy of the book, I did notice a brief early note pondering HAL's efforts to remove men from the mission to Jupiter, but from there found myself devouring its story at a rapid clip.
Complex characters, a complicated production )
krpalmer: (anime)
The appearance of another translated volume of Legend of the Galactic Heroes was in some ways a simple relief to me, given I still remember the days of a decade past when translated novels connected to anime series always seemed to stop appearing after their third volume, doomed by low sales. Even though some of Yen Press's translated "light novels" have run for a lot longer than three volumes nowadays, Legend of the Galactic Heroes being translated by a company connected to Viz does keep me wondering. At the same time too, the sixth volume showed up at an eventful yet controversial moment for its whole franchise over here.
Two anime adaptations and one translated novel )
krpalmer: (anime)
I've mentioned before how I seem ready to accept anime piles up faster than I can watch it but, convinced I can at least keep even with the manga I buy if I work at it, I don't often go back and read it over again. The most obvious exception to that is when a title I've read is licensed over again with promises of a new translation and perhaps improved production values. Vertical releasing a new edition of the "Voices of a Distant Star" manga did get my attention, but I suppose the not quite articulated respect I have for that company's licensing choices and presentation of which had to be weighed against knowing the manga was an adaptation of an "original anime," and the impression I've long had those adaptations are assigned to artists who can't quite manage titles of their own because the people in Japan too cheap to buy expensive disc releases don't deserve anything better. I still bought the manga anyway.
An impressively powerful cell phone )
krpalmer: (Default)
I wouldn't say "a live action movie is the sure sign of a property having arrived" the way some people seem to, but I admit that close to five years ago now I was intrigued just by the thought of the movie Pacific Rim, and went to see it with what must have been some hope "piloted giant robots" might push a little further forward into the consciousness of some. In retrospect, though, I'm aware I bought the Blu-Ray afterwards (back when Target was still open on the corner of the block where I lived), but haven't got to opening it yet (although I suppose it's in ample company there).
Off-and-on rumours and beyond )
krpalmer: (Default)
On a "last chance sale" table at the bookstore, I saw a copy of a science fiction novel called Altered Carbon, by Richard Morgan, marked down to two dollars. That was cheap enough to break through my usual exaggerated caution towards current science fiction. Once I'd bought the book, though, it did sit in a pile for a while before I decided, more or less all of a sudden, to start reading it. While I can't say this with certainty, I do believe that decision preceded my managing to see Netflix was streaming a series of that title, the capsule episode descriptions of which matched what I'd sorted out on starting to read the book (the vagueness of the back cover blurb and promotional quotes just might have slowed me down getting past them) as a story about a man named Takeshi Kovacs, shot in a futuristic gunfight in the prologue only to recover in a new body on another world with the order to solve the murder of an immensely wealthy man irritated at needing to have been restored from a backup.

If it hadn't already happened by the time I heard about the adaptation, though, I must have supposed pretty soon afterwards that it wouldn't have mattered whether the series was on Netflix or anywhere else in a certain amount of the book's violence-and-sex excess having to be toned down in the adaptation to a visual work. That excess could make for a fair bit of narrative drive, however, and the development of this particular future felt nicely metered out throughout. (There was a little bit of odd piquancy, however, in getting a general sense the book was British with an announcement coming over the "Tannoy" and Kovacs being stuffed into a car "boot," but all the action happening on the west coast of the future Earth's North America.) At a certain point I was getting through the book in small bits at a time, though, and that might have contributed to a sudden feeling of a new and significant antagonist popping up in my mind even as I supposed the proper introduction had already happened. I might have to read the book over again to really grasp that; some of the nastiness in it, though, might be leaving me reluctant to do that right now.
krpalmer: (anime)
I've mentioned before the interest I've taken in the anime series "From the New World." It has a lot to do with the feeling there was fresh thought put in, and room for my own further thought, to its exploration of a particular idea science fiction has long included (although part of the novelty did have to do with my impression written science fiction backed away from "psychic powers" decades ago, perhaps not coincidentally around when a general credulousness for the idea crested and ebbed, to leave it for visual science fiction). Before the series had completed its first streaming run, though, I'd managed to hear this thoughtfulness had come not from the beginning of a manga or "light novel" series (or even from an "original production"), but from the adaptation of a serious and self-contained Japanese novel.
Piqued curiosity and an eventual surprise )
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
Two years ago, I made a fair deal out of three decades having passed since I happened on Robotech. Sometimes, though, I do wonder if I've mythologized just what I made of that show back then as compared to any other science fiction-flavoured Saturday morning action cartoon I also watched visiting my grandparents, who had cable, or even to the episodes of Transformers and Thunder Sub my family had taped off our own TV and not recorded over soon after. I'm at least conscious of the suggestions of risk in letting personal identies get tangled up with inconsequential popular culture consumed, especially the stuff seen when young and impressionable. There is one bit of hard evidence left from back then, however, in a comic I drew to put together and in some small way preserve the serialized story I was taking in one disconnected bit at a time, even if I have to sum it up as the sort of thing a pre-teen could manage. It didn't wind up my only record, though, and the next part of a line that does trace between then and one of my leisure interests now picked up a bit over two years after my first viewing, which means it took place three decades ago right around now.
In the leadup to Christmas... )
krpalmer: (Default)
Just because an unfortunate and complicated confluence of events makes it harder than it once was for me to look at the title or cover of a science fiction novel and think "I haven't read that one yet, but I want to now" doesn't mean I won't take a close swing by the science fiction table at any particular used book sale. At one sale this fall, I did seem to get lucky. When I saw an old paperback named Seetee Ship, I remembered having heard of it, and also that "seetee" wasn't an alien name but a vocalization of "CT," the abbreviation for "contraterrene," an old and at least science-fictional name for "antimatter." I went ahead and bought the book by Jack Williamson, who I knew to have made the transition from writing the original sort of "space opera" (before that at first dismissive name had even been coined) to staying active in the field well into the twentieth century. Intent on adjusting my expectations as required, I started reading.
One 1951 future )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
A few weeks ago, one of the frequent "what the 'Best Brains' are up to" updates on Satellite News mentioned that Mike Nelson and one of his Rifftrax writers, Conor Lastowka, were recording a podcast. Looking back, I can recognize the odds against my looking further into that. I've admitted several times to my leeriness about Rifftrax, formed when some of their first synch-them-yourself audio commentaries seemed intent on putting down familiar targets, and imagining that mean-spirited mood continuing cast a shadow first on their takes on big-budget pictures I might have had less divergent reactions to and then on their more "MST3K-like" B-to-Z movies even with the convenience of pre-synched voiceovers. The only Rifftrax-related content I'd really taken a chance on was an introduction to one of the last Complete Peanuts volumes, which Conor had been a cowriter for. There was also the complication of how infrequently I listen to podcasts; I can imagine even from my own experience that it may be easier to talk to someone about something than to set down your thoughts in writing, but I have to admit that for me listening seems more time-consuming than reading, and may distract me from doing other things in the meantime. However, there really was something that could get through all of that, and that was seeing the podcast "372 Pages We'll Never Get Back" promised a comedically critical take on the novel Ready Player One...
Assorted perspectives )
krpalmer: (Default)
During my vacation in Europe this spring, I managed to find my way back to a science fiction bookstore in Stockholm I'd happened on in my first trip there eight years before. Taking in its mix of Swedish and English-language material of all sorts once more, I noticed a book by Stephen Baxter I hadn't heard of before. The title The Massacre of Mankind did get my attention; seeing it was a sequel to The War of the Worlds reminded me I'd run across a copy of The Time Ships in my university's used textbook store about two decades before. Another continuation of an H.G. Wells novel did seem interesting enough.

I only had so much foreign currency and so much space left in my wallet, though, so I decided I could wait and go looking for this new book on the other side of the Atlantic. Once back from vacation, I checked the nearest bookstore but didn't see it. It was months later before I was surprised all over again to find a North American edition on the shelves there, but that edition being a hardcover did leave me thinking I could save my money and keep waiting. The wait hadn't been that long, though, before there was another surprise in seeing a copy on the new books shelf of the city library; I signed it out at once.
The rout of civilization? )
krpalmer: (Default)
Having managed to read a bit more fiction in the past little while than I've thought with mixed emotions to have got through for some time now, I found myself going a little deeper down a pile I'd bought from a library book sale to begin a science fiction novel that had managed to catch my eye there. The back-cover blurb for Christopher Priest's Inverted World had described a city being winched along tracks laid down in front of it and taken up from behind, struggling to pursue a moving "optimum" with fatal consequences should it keep falling back. I could think of other works of science fiction where humans struggled to survive in inexplicably altered worlds, and wondered how this one would turn out.
At the age of six hundred and fifty miles... )
krpalmer: (anime)
The fourth volume of Legend of the Galactic Heroes was one whose translation hadn't been promised back when the first appeared, so it was as welcome as any of them so far to me. I hadn't seen the part of the anime adapting it back at my university's anime club, so while I do have to admit to having managed to see it since then, as I read the book I did have a slight feeling of greater unfamiliarity. At the same time, I did have a sense the story was moving into an ominous endgame as the military genius Reinhard von Lohengramm exploits idealistic exiles and self-centred politicians while colluding with interstellar oligarchs to set up a full-scale invasion of his tottering opponent. I do keep thinking the focus of the series on "the appearance of an epoch-opening genius" can be balanced against "is it also possible a good many 'ordinary' people might only be convinced of that?", but just because a work of fiction raises a question it doesn't have to answer it itself.

Something about the translation did start feeling a bit odd to me as I worked through this volume, and I wound up going back to the earlier books to see they'd been translated by a different person. Whether this amounted to "an unfortunate cost-saving measure" or was just an inescapable necessity, I don't know. I had wondered on the way through if the entire book would amount to "preparations for battle," only for diversionary warfare to break out in the final chapters. This included a hand-to-hand battle between two high-placed subordinates, if one without quite as much significance as some might have anticipated. On getting to the end of the book without a preview page, though, I got to worrying again about this amounting to "everything hinges on how this volume sells if it hasn't already..." Looking a little further, however, did turn up some preorder listings for two further volumes. As I understand it this still won't complete the translation of the series, but there does seem to be a bit more to look forward to at the moment.
krpalmer: (anime)
Buying anime faster than I can watch it, in large part through the penny-wise, pound-foolish desire for "free shipping" turning most every casual interest into another title stored away here or there, does seem to have brought me to the point where every so often I just shrug off "getting through it" and go back to watch a series over again. The fair number of manga titles I buy haven't quite amounted to that yet, but that in turn has seemed to mean I never quite want to spare the time to go back and read a series again. When an older title that seemed to have attracted some lasting attention after all is licensed over again and released with promises of an improved edition, though, that can manage to get past my resolution.

Makoto Yukimura's Planetes got my attention near the start of the "cheap and fast manga paperbacks" era, and its science fiction tale of orbital garbagemen, collecting space debris and delving through layers of "resolve to exist beyond normal limits" to simple human connections in the end, left me with a "will anything else measure up to it soon?" sort of feeling. While his following work Vinland Saga has got through some risk-of-being-discontinued spots over here, it did get my attention again when I heard Planetes had been licensed once more, now by Dark Horse Comics. I did my best to buy both of the enlarged new volumes as soon as they were released, but it did take a bit longer to get around to reading them, specifically the Christmas holidays. Once I'd started reading them, though, I got through them with the speed of fresh interest.
A few new things, but one old thing too )
krpalmer: (anime)
In getting to read the Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels in translation at last, I am always sort of conscious of having managed to see their anime adaptation first. (At times, too, buying the novels does sort of seem a no doubt inadequate effort to try and "make up" for just how I saw the anime...) At the end of the second novel, I was as inclined as anything to keep seeing the story as pausing at a moment of great impact, but remembering a change in the anime's opening and closing credits (after a good number of episodes spun out of two novels) was one more sign of that. As the third novel picked up, I could see the Galactic Empire's protagonist Reinhard von Lohengramm as having been isolated by that, with his not nearly as totipotent counterpart on the other side of the interstellar space opera war, Free Planets Alliance Admiral Yang Wen-li, isolated in turn by being hauled before a kangaroo board of inquiry. I can understand this steady emphasis on the degradation of the Alliance (with an enigmatic third party meddling all the while) troubling people who might read the novel now; at the same time, I'm conscious of having become more dubious about invocations of "front-line military leaders who possess inbuilt dignity and reasonableness" since I first read the Robotech novelizations long years ago. The one point that might be made in favour of Legend of the Galactic Heroes could be that by this point in the story, the aggressive Alliance commanders have been killed off.
Space opera in the meantime )

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