kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 candy mountain)
Sidenote: I think I got a stress fracture in my foot last monday. Foot's definitely reacting like it. I've been getting these off/on (in either foot) since 4th grade, so I'm pretty blase about it. It was a little more complicated by the fact that on Tues/Wed, my team at work had a major offsite team-building/innovation thing that I absolutely could not miss -- followed by four days in Philly for the Association of Asian Studies (AAS) conference that I absolutely refused to miss. I tried to minimize the walking on Tues/Wed, with minimal success, but there was no minimizing any walking between airports, hotel, going from panel to panel, and then going out to find things to eat. Only got to go to Chinatown once. If I hadn't been limping so much by that point, probably would've spent a lot more time in Philly's more-than-a-block Chinatown.

On the plus side, coming back, I somehow lucked out and got on TSA's pre-boarding. No more shoe removal! Which was both good and bad. Bad, because I really really wanted to take the boots off (I wore hiking boots in the possibly-false hope that some compression would help) and good -- because if I had taken the boots off, there was a good chance I'd simply not put them back on. My hiking boots have the least flex in the sole, which in this case is a good thing.

But enough about me. Some random observations about AAS. )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 patience is not my virture)
Hello, fandom, my old friend. Been so long I've almost forgotten how crazy you are. Almost. It's okay, don't call me, I won't call you.

ANYWAY. So. Noragami. One of the first anime in like forever to really capture me, which tl;dr means: why the hell have I not seen in-depth, sparkling, thought-provoking commentary from either of the Emilys? -- [personal profile] branchandroot and [personal profile] annotated_em, that is. Or even [personal profile] starlady who is not an Emily, but does begin with a vowel, so that's close enough. ONE OF YOU. Satisfy my need for analysis! Or I shall be pushed to poke [personal profile] ivoryandhorn or [personal profile] phoebe_zeitgeist to carry the weight. Which I might do anyway, because analysis.

SOMEONE. AVAIL ME. My former fandom status as a near-BNF compels you!

Also, I just got home after enjoying two glasses of some really nice reisling, the name of which I totally meant to get and did not. In case you couldn't tell from the random name-dropping. Where is my next episode of Noragami? Or my next scanlated chapter? I'm retired from scanlating, so I'm able to say again that scanlators are toooooo slow. Damn it.

Should reisling be capitalized? Inquiring minds want to know. Leik yesterday.

I actually had to explain tl;dr to my sister this evening (while texting). Either I'm hipper than I realize, or my sister is seriously out of touch. I'm guessing the latter. Very eye-rolling, so sigh.

Also also, I realized while talking to my other sister that I AM the disruption at work. Go me! Doing prototypes and shit that will cause nothing but trouble for other departments, and this is WHY I was hired. This is awesome. I'm causing trouble and I'm getting PRAISE for it.

I'm considering changing my tag from "analysis is my chocolate cake" to "analysis is my greek beignet" because holy fuck you people, this shit is awesome. I am addicted to greek beignets. I shouldn't be, but I am.

I just realized that 'reisling' is another exception to the i-before-e rule. Which reminds me of the time I got sent to the principal's office because I demanded to know why 'science' broke the rule of 'i before e except after e'. Yes, newsflash, I have always been a troublemaker.

There was some other also to add, but I forget now. Where's my extensive analysis on Noragami already?
kaigou: fangirling so hard right now (3 fangirling so hard)
Sorry you guys who are LotR fans, but I've finally gotten to see the live-action Rurouni Kenshin and cripes has Takeru Sato left his idol days of Nobuta wo Produce far behind. As adorable as NwP was, no doubt, it was goofy and magical but it wasn't Kenshin, omfg. I don't normally keyboard smash of fangirling but ASDLKJFASDF;JASDLN;A ;JASD;LJASDF;LAKJDF Want want want sequel like FIFTEEN MINUTES AGO RIGHT NAOW A;SJLDFAL;KJDFSL;AKJDFS;OIEURSDNFLK

(Also, this is the second year in a row that I knew exactly what I wanted on my birthday, and it was available in some means on my birthday, but I didn't get to see it until the last few days of the year. Last year it was tickets going on sale for a dance production that wouldn't be until 12/28, this year it was Kenshin and having to wait until today for the BR/DVD to finally show up. Subbers seriously worked overtime to get well-done subs out at record speed, too. My birthday delayed no longer! Though perhaps next year I should just plan ahead and accept I'm now effectively a Sagittarius.)

Though as I mentioned to CP mid-movie, I can't think of another Japanese tv/movie production that really showed the utter lethalness of the katana in full-on melee at top speed. The closest might be Ichi, but that was almost always a single-combat, one-strike-you're-dead lightning fast move. Not at all the same as a style (supposedly) intended to take out a huge number of people at top speed. Can't say I've ever seen a Japanese movie choreographed as tightly as this one; it was almost Sammy Hung levels of choreography. Very impressive.

And the real enjoyment came as I realized about halfway through that while the first four or so arcs of Kenshin (the fake Battousai arc, the Kanryu/opium arc, and the Jin'ei arc, plus the mini-arcs introducing Megumi, Sanosuke, and Yahiko) are all bound together in a neatly-plotted, much tighter storyline... it doesn't feel as though the director's personality got slapped on top. Maybe it's that I wasn't exposed to a media onslaught during production, the way it was hard to avoid the same for LotR and then TaBA and Jackson, Jackson, Jackson. But the adaptation of LotR did feel, throughout, to me as though Jackson had to make the story 'his' in some way. Things being changed for the sake of being able to say he had changed it, while here, it felt like the movie bent to the story, instead. Not sure that makes sense; it's hard to express.

But in all, as someone whose first true anime love was Kenshin, I cannot think of a single element in the live-action adaptation that leaves me anything less than absolutely ecstatic, pleased, impressed... and omg I am so dying for a sequel. Someone please please tell me there'll be one.

full subs @ yuizaki-libra's journal
to find 720 version, google RUROUNIKENSHIN[GB][BDRip][720P][x264_Hi10P_AAC_5.1CH] -- scroll down to find the magnet link.

AND, pass this along because this is a movie that DESERVES to be seen on the BIGGEST SCREEN POSSIBLE. Okay, not imax, because that might be a little too much, but damn near close. Sign the petition and repost! Petition for Nationwide theatrical release of Rurouni Kenshin -- hey, can't hurt!


1 Jul 2012 09:30 am
kaigou: (2 play naked)
Moretsu Pirates is going to have a movie-continuation.
kaigou: first I'm going to have a little drinkie, then I'm going to execute the whole bally lot of you. (2 execute all of you)
Honestly, when it gets to the point that I'm watching the newest Legend of Korra episodes because they're better than my other anime-options (and it's still 24 hours before the next Moretsu, anyway, so I'm dyin' heah), that's just... so many kinds of wrong. But still, voice-acting aside, it's a far more dynamic (camera-action-wise) cartoon than just about anything else I can ever name that came from a Western production company. And the background shots of the AU-Shanghai are just incredible. Sure, it's not Last Exile (but really, there is only ONE Gonzo), but it's head-and-shoulders with some anime I've seen, and several body-lengths above any cartoon I've ever seen, including the first Avatar series. (Then again, Nick isn't doing the awful compression-crap they did on the first Avatar, gawd, my eyes.)

I wanted to like Kuroko's Basketball, but by the third episode, it was showing its shonen roots, and not showing anything to break from that mold. Having a female coach doesn't save the day if you never actually see her, y'know, coach. Or produce a strategy, or tell the players what to do. Nice idea, but she's certainly no coach like Oofuri's Momo-kan. See, now that's a coach.

Sakamichi no Apollon, why oh why must you be only eight episodes? Talking about animation, I honestly do not think I have ever seen anyone animate music-playing to this degree. It's delightful. Even if the strong Kyushuu accent seems to be tripping CP up constantly.

And for those of you who'd wanted to know about potential yuri in Moretsu Pirates, well, my yuri goggles are a little cracked, so I'm not seeing it. But I can tell you that I was pleased and impressed with ep17 (the most recent). Here's the deal: it's an adaptation of a series of light novels, and somewhere in the pre-production, the director said in an interview that in order to adapt the story faithfully, something had to be cut... and the decision was made to cut the romantic storylines. Pretty gutsy, given that this might alienate some part of the shojo-tuned audience for whom romance is a make-or-break.

But! But! In the wiki, it mentions that Lynn, the now-president of the school's 'yacht' club (where 'yacht' = 'spaceship'), is a lesbian, and in love with Jenny, the previous president of the same club. I had expected that if all romance was being dropped, that this, too, would be set aside. I was okay with that, since it's not like the usual, where the non-traditional romances get set aside and only the heteronormative ones make it through adaptation decay. Except this time? The only romance that's so far made it into the adaptation is the lesbian relationship.

Let me clarify: it's not yuri. It's not primed for the male gaze. It's actually given the same respect and affection (and other characters' reactions) that I'd expect if one of the two were a guy. It's simply a relationship, and now it's canon for this adaptation, too. My love for Moretsu, it just grows exponentially with each episode.

Aaaaand then we have this season's Guilty Crown -- well, one of many, but the only one I took even a few minutes to bother watching, Hiiro no Kakera. Don't ask me why; I was bored. Reeeeeeally bored. (Then again, I marathoned the first 18 episodes of Guilty Crown in a fit of absolute crazy-contract-recovery madness. And then I sobered up and said NO MORE.) CP mentioned he was thinking of downloading it, since it ostensibly revolves around a priestess (a particular area of study of his, pop-culture-wise), and I had to break it to him. This show makes Guilty Crown look good. That takes quite a bit.

That's my new benchmark, incidentally. Is it as bad as Guilty Crown? If yes, it means that budget, voice-acting, backgrounds, and in-betweening is all decent to fairly high-quality... but that someone forgot to, y'know, actually hire someone to write a damn story.

Oh my gawd, the pain. I lost nine hours of my life watching that debacle AND I WILL NEVER GET THOSE HOURS BACK.
kaigou: (1 olivia is not impressed)
I've touched on this before but this weekend I read several novels that brought it back into focus for me. Then I came across a short blogpost about when a character defines herself as butch, and decided it was time to post. If you haven't read any of these titles, I recommend each (not unreservedly, but still more than mostly).

Sword of the Guardian -- Shannon, Merry )
Branded Ann -- Shannon, Merry )
Lady Knight -- Baker, LJ )
Backwards to Oregon -- Jae )

Click the cuts to see the summaries. Mostly I'd been trying to track down stories, any stories, which dealt with crossgender or crossdressing, stumbled on the first one, liked the author's voice enough to read the second, got the third recommended by virtue of the first two, and had to seriously google-fu to find the fourth, and read a little of a few others while looking.

(Warning: I DNF'd on the third due to warnings from reader reviews that the story not only doesn't HEA, it barely HFAs, and I'd pretty much hit my limit anyway from reading a warmed-over retelling of the Crusades, complete with Saladin's Arab world being cast as this side of barbaric, unintelligible devil-worshippers. Thanks, but I've done my time studying Crusades history, and if there were barbarians at the gates, it was the Christians. If you're equally skeptical about seeing the Christian Crusades as anything other than ambitious land-grabs by hordes of unwashed, uneducated masses, then expect this book to hit that annoyance button, hard.)

Along the way, I DNF'd on Shea Godfrey's Nightshade (the first three pages manages to fantasy-world-mashup India, the Middle East, and a bit of East Asia, and I like mashups but not quite to the degree of having to disconnect multiple culture clashes in my head while reading). I also DNF'd within a chapter on D.Jordan Redhawk's On Azrael's Wings because "worshipful slave falls in love with owner" is not, and hopefully never will be, a kink of mine. ("Recalcitrant and fiesty lower-level character fights back and gains equal standing in relationship with, and respect from, higher-level character," though, yes, but that didn't seem to be Redhawk's story.) Oh, and I started and stopped on Malinda Lo's Ash, too, mostly because I wasn't in the mood for YA; I wanted to read about adults in adult relationships with adult baggage. (Huntress remains on my TBR list, though, even if it is YA.)

Anyway, outside of the obvious that all these works focus on lesbian relationships, the other major factor is that at least one-half of every relationship is a woman claiming, or who has claimed, significant earthly power and respect. In all but Nightshade and Ash, I'd say, this respect is also military or naval, with rank. In other words, women in positions of power, either able to kill or trained to kill. Those two exceptions I didn't read far enough to meet the 'other half' of the intended relationship pairing, but of those I did read, in all but one, this powerful/respected female character is, at first, mistaken for a man.

And a bit more about each, along with how each character defines herself, versus what the text gives me. )


24 Mar 2012 05:11 pm
kaigou: fangirling so hard right now (3 fangirling so hard)
Of all the things to love about The Legend of Korra, perhaps what I loved best from the very start (other than Korra's awesome childhood introduction of, "I'm the avatar! Deal with it!") is that she's absolutely, undoubtedly, no-two-ways-about-it, a person of color. I recall the earliest promo-stills from a year or so ago, and she was shaded more like Katara had been -- but now? She's definitely not white. I wonder if the animators went out of their way to make sure that was quite clear. Whether or not they did, I think it's freaking awesome. She's clearly a woman of color, and she freaking kicks ass.
kaigou: Jung-In (Kim Jae-Wook) looking very please-no (1 oh dear heavens no)
Well, it's a kind of linear, but it's still not very good. I mean, watching Fam: the Silver Wing (sequel to Last Exile which was and remains a favorite of mine) and... it's like every episode is a timeskip. One episode ends with a cliffhanger of a character fighting what appears to be a major one-on-one fight -- and the very next episode opens with the same character now fleeing several miles away. What? Did I miss an entire episode between then and now? Apparently not. Apparently "end of an episode" is grounds for the director to just, idk, skip a few scenes or something. A mini-timeskip every time. It's driving me bonkers.

I think I'm only still watching out of affection for the original characters, because the new characters just don't have much going for them. Nor does the story, for that matter. That's not to say there isn't a good story in there, it's just not the story being told. That kind of almost-could-be is the worst, I think.

Anyway, those random interval timeskips make it especially wierd when I'm missing an episode. Not helping is the fact that some of the fansub groups have renumbered somewhere in there; an unexpected recap got skipped by some groups as tediously useless, but their numbering also skipped. So depending on the group, episode 12 is actually episode 13. And it's taken me to the (real, not renumbered) episode 17 to realize we did skip an episode in there, somewhere, which I think was episode 14. Or maybe 13. I'm not sure. I wouldn't even know for sure if I didn't follow a blogger who posts weekly reviews.

Meanwhile, Rinne no Lagrange is holding in there (and its humor remains undismayed, even as its plot thickens), but Mouretsu Pirates still holds my heart, this season. When was the last time you saw the bureaucratic aspects of owning/operating a ship (let alone a privateering vessel) -- and there isn't a shonen-mecha show I can think of that ever thought, let alone actually went and showed, sending its hero into a test situation before ever exposing him to true battle. What a freaking concept.

Ah, then again, turns out the author of the original story is an award-winner of the Japanese version of the Nebula. Well, now it makes a lot more sense how we can be seeing a hard SF anime that, well, makes so much sense.
kaigou: fangirling so hard right now (3 fangirling so hard)
Did I think my love for Seirei no Moribito and Twelve Kingdoms could ever be eclipsed? No -- okay, not really -- but damn, Mouretsu Pirates is coming very, very close, and if it keeps this up, it will definitely stand alongside quite easily.

I think I've rewatched ep5 at least four times, and I suspect that ep6 is going to get the same. No ditziness passed off as cuteness! Genuine humor that has nothing to do with gender (but lots to do with inexperience)! And some incredible team-work and a club president who may be blonde and blue-eyed but is also steely and capable of delegating and has a quiet slicing humor, too. And a buxom "medic" who may be dressed like the fan service but her lines are nothing but intelligence, and a cast of what looks like equally male/female roles among the pirates.

Holy crap, did I actually die and not notice? Or did one of us save the president in a former life? Because what did we do to deserve this, so we can make sure to do it again, as often as possible?

although with the way the roles are set up between Marika (the cheerful but terrifyingly ingenious newbie pirate-captain), Chiaki (the somewhat tsundere quasi-rival), and Mami (the perky and naive best friend), if these three were guys, we'd already be neck-deep in shipping posts. It has all the early hallmarks of what slashfans seek, just with genders switched.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 the part that's less fun)
Now that I understand written Cantonese (in comics) uses the grammatical forms of Cantonese, not Mandarin, I finally know why a Chinese (from Shanghai) friend took one look at a manga I'd purchased and said, "no one talks like this!" She didn't know, anymore than I did, that it made a difference that it was an HK publisher. Now I know. And now I need to figure out how to get Taiwanese translations, although I guess this means paying more, seeing how all the import-to-US companies carry HK translations.

I've been helping with translations for a shoujo work that has its fair share of bishonen. I've become accustomed, over the past [censored] years with shonen work, of seeing self-identifying young women declare they hate the girl leads, or the female side-characters, or want some (or all) of the girl characters to die. I am slightly surprised that I'm not seeing that, with this manga, and it finally dawned on me that perhaps we've been blaming female readers for being indoctrinated with misogynist feelings (in re female characters).

Maybe it's simpler than that. Maybe it's that, honestly, the majority of female characters in shonen stories really are that useless, compared to their male counterparts. Because in reading commentaries by young (some as young as 12) female readers, for the rare stories (shoujo and shonen) where the female characters are not stupid, are not helpless, and are not whiny self-entitled children expecting to be saved... the responses are quite different. There's a whole lot of love for the character(s), and a certain sense of satisfied expectation when it comes to the pretty men being interested in her. Few have said it so blunt, but at least one female reader did: "of course they'd all be interested in her, because she's interesting!"

Speaking of which, if you like your science quite hard, and you like your cast strongly female, try Moretsu Pirates. It's translated (for no reason that I can tell) as "Bodacious Space Pirates", and the OP seems fluffy enough... but it's suddenly taken a strong left into hard sci-fi. It's like a stealth anime. The premise isn't that unusual: an unknown parent dies, and leaves some kind of inheritance (in this case, the letter of marque for a sanctioned space-pirate ship), and the child (usually a boy, but in this case a girl) must decide whether to accept the deceased parent's mantle. We're on episode four, and the heroine still hasn't actively made that choice, but damn. The first episode was fluffy shoujo, with a few hints. The second episode started to show a bit more of a feminist flair. The third episode, Mom's teaching our heroine how to shoot a gun (and not one that's small and pink, either) and the fourth episode, we're dealing with science the level of your average Star Trek episode. And not a twit-brained, big-chested, useless waste-of-space* in sight. The female characters are capable, realistic for their age (able to joke around), but also pretty savvy. I am torn between love for the yacht club president and vice president.

Here's hoping this series stays strong, because it's been a long time coming, not to mention to have two such strongly female-centric anime in one season (the other one being Rinne no Lagrange).

* there is a doctor-character who gets the fanservice, with boobs and garters and heels, but so far if she's in any stereotype, it's as the intelligent but somewhat sly femme fatale. Not perfect, but still not a twit. I'm not sure what it says about the expected audience, if the majority of the fanservice is an adult character.
kaigou: Edward, losing it. (1 Edward conniption)
Currently having a slight mental breakdown over the tanks that just arrived. Not from a Taiwanese publisher like I'd thought, but from a Hong Kong publisher. Which for a moment made me happy, until I realized, it's traditional. Why is a HK publisher using traditional? As if it's not bad enough that the publisher's using characters that I haven't seen at all (from reading Taiwanese scans), they can't even be arsed to simply keep the original kanji for Japanese place-names. No, they're spelling out names phonetically, like instead of 名古屋 it's 那古野 (na-gu-ye?) so I spent several long minutes utterly baffled. At least most of the personal names (so far) have kept to the original Japanese, and thank the heavens for Wiki including the kanji for non-English names.

But still: why is a Hong Kong publisher, of a work that (according to the inner page) should only be distributed in Hong Kong (ahem), using traditional? Is this some kind of a political statement, or is there something else going on?

Because it just seems to me that if it's a manga that's supposed to be for readers 15-22, wouldn't most of those readers, post-98, have been educated in simplified per the switch back to PRC-rule? Wouldn't traditional be making the text just that much more complicated, comparatively?

Sheesh. It's like I can't win, sometimes. Taiwanese is traditional, and that's hard enough, but at least I've finally got the hang of the more common Taiwanese slang/colloquial... and now, looks like I have to do it all over again with HK.

sob, sob.
kaigou: the kraken stirs, and ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. (3 the kraken stirs)
In this post: GetBackers, Vampire Knight, D.Gray-man, Amatsuki, Di(e)ce.

I gave up on GetBackers, despite [personal profile] branchandroot's rec. Mostly, though, because of its discordance. Background, if you're not aware: it's the usual shonen bromance kind of story, with a fair bit of quasi-science-fiction/supernatural mixings, and plenty of the usual cliches. Two things about its development stuck in my head while reading. Hmm, make that three. I made it about halfway through the anime, then tried the manga, and quit about halfway through. While watching the anime, I also checked into the anime's development, and noted an unusual bit of info about the series' wrap-up (which happened prior to the story wrap-up, so there was the usual question of whether to do an anime-original ending).

Note: the story is actually a three-way invention, from what I gather. I think, not sure, but I seem to recall the author is actually a brother-sister penname, who work jointly with an artist. That is, the penname gives credit to brother and sister, but apparently (why am I surprised) the only mention of author quotations act like it's just one guy. So, dunno what the sister does. Anyway.

I can't find where I came across this bit -- I think in one of the articles cited in the wiki entry. Apparently, the anime director suggested making Kazuki's relationship canonical (anime canon, that is) with his second, Juubei. (Their respective weaponry, threads and needles, even suggest the pairing... among the many, many other things that do, including their own dialogue.) The mangaka-author refused, saying that Kazuki already had a destined pairing, Ren Radou.

Then I got to that character's introduction in the anime, and discovered the character isn't even real. She's part of the 3D/holographic construct. Alright, it's one thing if there's a flesh-and-blood half to match with the flesh-and-blood (err, in context, that is) character, but I have major issues with a story-author who'd insist there's a pairing, and choose a pairing in which one character is a computer program. It'd be one thing if the author insisted it be left undefined, but it says a lot to me about the author's agenda if he'd choose this real/nonreal pairing over the damn-near-text of a real/real pairing. There's erasure, and then there's replacement that reaches the level of ridiculous.

The second bit was the mangaka-artist, who -- based on the copious amounts of ho-yay artwork -- has some serious yaoi fanboi leanings. Like, not even leanings. I'd say that tree fell over in the forest awhile back... and other commentary, and then onto the rest of the list. )

...and that should be enough for now. Back to catching up on Amatsuki, and at some point, I really will finally finish Kekkaishi, and catch up on Nurarihyon no Mago. Well, once I finish two other major projects on my plate, and there's always the kitchen...
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
Carrying on with the voice actor bits, watching Natsume Yuujinchou ep4 (fourth season), and the new yokai introduced... instantaneous response: it's Ginko. That's got to be Ginko. And... it is.

There is something just too delightful about the VA whose best-known role is Ginko, guesting on Natsume Yuujinchou. I'm not expecting any inside jokes, I don't mean that kind of delight. Just... there's lots of seiyuu out there, but they got Ginko.

Okay, so I'm kind of wierd, sometimes.
kaigou: (1 olivia is not impressed)
Watching a bit of Towa no Quon, ep5, over lunch, and there's a very short scene with two VA I can't recall seeing in the same scene together, before. I know they've worked together, they have to have had, but this is the first time I can recall seeing just the two of them: Toru Ohkawa and Shinichiro Miki. Also known as Roy Mustang #1, and Roy Mustang #2, respectively.

It's a little odd. It's like Roy Mustang, in stereo... and I'm going to have to say that although Miki did a fairly good job, in the end, as Mustang, that everything else being equal, I still prefer Ohkawa's version. Miki's voice manages the sexy, just as well as Ohkawa, but Ohkawa manages one thing really well that Miki doesn't: the amiable, guy's guy, kind of easy-going tone. And by that I mean, it's a kind of delivery that doesn't load on the sexiness, but sounds just like some regular guy, the kind of guy who'd have beer and chips to watch the game, and order too much pizza with the notion of having it cold for breakfast the next morning. Probably while standing at the sink in his boxers, still half-asleep. Miki's delivery always sounds like he's up to something, or would like to be up to something. Ohkawa's able to dial that down and just sound like the only thing on his mind is that pizza, and maybe another beer.

ETA: Ohkawa can also pull off the military a helluva lot better than Miki, who always sounds just this edge (if not all the way into) insubordination. And while Mustang may be ultimately insubordinate, plans-wise, he spends a whole lot of the storyline not showing it. Ohkawa manages that dutiful military respect a great deal better.

Still. Dual Mustangs. I swear, there's a fanvid in there.
kaigou: fangirling so hard right now (3 fangirling so hard)
I just need a moment to stop hyperventilating.

and then maybe a few more minutes to stop running around in crazy circles.

kaigou: this is what I do, darling (1 dimples that kill)
The past few months have been... well, there they've been. So instead, I'll list what's fit for quasi-public consumption. Reading list!

First, the manga.

Kamisama Hajimemashita: read it for the female protagonist. It's shoujo done right.

The summary sounds like yet another stock premise from the land of girl's (and boy's) manga: our hero has a single parent, who up and abandons the kid, for reasons of debt, in this case gambling-related. Thus, by the end of the first chapter, Nanami has gone from being the poorest girl in school with a gambling father to still the poorest, but now abandoned by her father, and homeless thanks to the loan sharks confiscating everything. Stuck in a park with her one duffel bag and nowhere to go, she rescues a man from a barking dog, and in appreciation he... gives her his house. Which turns out to be a shrine. A rather forgotten and run-down shrine, at that. Which comes with its own shrine guardians, one of whom is a former wild fox and is mightily displeased that the shrine's god not only has not returned (after an absence of twenty years) but sent this girl in his place, as the new land-god.

Kamisama comparisons, and Dengeki Daisy, Sengoku Strays, and a hope there'll be more coming from Rinne no Lagrange. )

I realized the other day that the first anime I saw was ten years ago, with Spirited Away. Outside of Miyazaki, it's taken ten years to be able to list this many good heroines in one post. Here's hoping in another ten years, such heroines will be so common that I can't fit them all in twenty posts this long.
kaigou: Jung-In (Kim Jae-Wook) looking very please-no (1 oh dear heavens no)
No names here, because from what I've seen in my life, this is human nature and it gets repeated in any of a dozen places at any time. Doesn't change the fact that I find it amusing... and as amusing things are reason for chatter, here we go. If you're up for it, join me in the eye-rolling.

So let's say that there's a Japanese manga out there, which had originally been picked up by several groups for scanlation. All but one dropped it, and that last group -- we'll call A -- continued to scanlate over on the side.

Except, y'see, A has a Very Strict Policy of Do Not Share This Anywhere With Anyone Ever And Ever Or Else We'll Take Our Toys And Go Home But Not Before We Rant About How Horrible People Are. If that sounds like an exaggeration for the sake of humor... actually, it's not. Group A is very serious about this, folks, because scanlations are SRS BIZNESS.

A few months ago, B appeared on the scene, with a random scanlation of two chapters. (We'll call these chapters 10 and 11, just for demonstration purposes.) These appeared on various sharing/reading sites, but without any formal group acknowledgment. Just two chapters, out of nowhere.

Shortly after that, someone over in a fangroup for the manga posted a survey about A's policy of requiring a formal introductory letter in order to join the group and get the password and d/l the scanlations. Apparently the survey's response was pretty negative about A's policies. Unsurprisingly, A went completely ballistic. Not only did A grant the internets a rant the likes of which I hadn't read since FMA's daily explosions, A went a step further and deleted about a quarter of its registered readership because those names looked, uhm, suspicious. Apparently if you're really savvy and awesome (and fairly megalomaniacal), you can tell just from usernames who must be Stealing Your Work! and Posting It Without Permission! and Sharing With The Masses! and all that jazz.

This is a saga that will amuse me for most of today, I suspect. )

In short: Mom was right! You really do learn all you need to know about human behavior on the playground.
kaigou: pino does not approve of where the script is going. (2 pino does not approve)
[Edited/consolidated to reduce where I rambled. Wow, those cold meds are something.]

For a little background, read [personal profile] phoebe_zeitgeist's A perhaps-obvious point about shipping and voice work, and don't skip the comments, which are equally insightful.

The TL;DR version is that voicework can completely alter our impression of a work, which is (as Phoebe says), probably completely obvious. I think there's a side-issue at work, though, which is that the voicework can also tell us how the voice-actors, themselves, approached the work—and our impression of the work, therefore, is informed by the actors' interpretation. That is, interpretation as the output (the voice recordings) and interpretation as the input (their own view of a character, a story, the conflict, and so on). I'll refrain from quoting too much of the original post & replies, since you can read it there, but I do want to call out this example, from [personal profile] aquila_black:
...my first introduction to Naruto was one of the movies, dubbed into English and shown once at our local theater... The movie had interviews with several of the American voice actors, the Japanese voice actors, and the manga-ka himself. The middle-aged American lady voicing Naruto was embarrassingly informal and unprofessional, and had nothing interesting to say about her character. The Japanese voice actress gave the camera a serious, well-thought out response about the responsibility she felt, at portraying the emotional complexities of an orphan who projects a relentlessly cheerful exterior, while often feeling desperately alienated and alone. Needless to say, it was a night and day difference. The Japanese actress convinced me that her character was worth my time.

In short, I see the output-interpretation as hampered or stifled by the lack of input-interpretation. Or, in the instance of the Japanese voice actress, the output is significantly enhanced by the amount of input she gave it.

This is not that unusual for Japanese seiyuu, from the interviews I've seen. It's the English-speaking VA who spends considerable time watching the original, thinking about the character, that's the unusual one (and they do exist, but there's plenty more who don't know of the original or seem to care). A similar case in point, for me, was watching the VA interviews that came with the US release of the Cowboy Bebop movie. Spike's VA (from the series) didn't do the movie-Spike [See comments in re this statement.] Faye's VA... well, I recall the question was something about playing Faye, and the answer was mostly about how awesome it was to hang out with the gang, and we all get along well, and blah blah blah.

(Not saying VAs are the only ones who do this; I've seen many actors/actresses asked about their character and answer with how hard the filming was, or doing their own stunts, or how close the entire cast got to be. Okay, some actors/actresses just don't like to analyze a character, and insist it should be left to the audience. Except I'm not asking for the definitive meaning; I just want to know the actor/actress or VA actually gave characterization as much thought as I'm going to give it while ripping it apart.)

The reason the other VA non-responses stood out was because Edward's VA spent no little time explaining how much thought she'd put into trying to communicate Edward's utterly-Japanese wacky dialogue into an English equivalent (IIRC, the VA doesn't know Japanese). She put time and effort not just into understanding Edward, but into crafting the translated dialogue with the director and scriptwriter, to "find" Edward's English voice. That's a lot of extra work, though, for a job where you're probably only making a pittance, anyway. Not everyone can, or will, or even is allowed to, go beyond like that.

But criticisms like mine do put a lot of weight on VA shoulders, and I think we need to shift some of that to where it belongs: the director. If you're in a play, and you don't know or haven't yet seen where the story's going, it's the director who says, "read the line like this," or "the character is actually feeling like ___ but showing an expression of ____ because s/he is thinking ___." There's a reason for the old joke about the actor asking, "what's my motivation!?" When all else fails, the one who can best answer that is the director... and I think we may have a substantial lack of directors in US VA work, from the results I'm seeing. Either that, or the English-speaking VAs are so incredibly bad that no amount of directing would save 'em. Hard to tell from the final product.

Now that's out of the way, time for the main course: Kuroshitsuji, and some side-by-side comparisons. )

This took all day on benedryl, so I think I'll turn the mic over to the rest of you, now.

ETA: forgot to mention this, but at least one member of the English Kuroshitsuji cast does deserve some mention: the VA for Meiran did a remarkable job of matching the Japanese VA's peculiarly hoarse-raspy-funny delivery. It's not a total match-up, but the VA gets points from me for not only mimicking the Japanese Meiran-style, but doing it with a low-class Brit accent as well. Well done, that.
kaigou: Edward, losing it. (1 Edward conniption)
For reasons I won't go into here, decided I wanted to lie on the sofa and be lazy and watch something. Preferably something where at most I could hit the remote, instead of getting up and changing disks or whatever. (I'm talking about the computer-as-tv, since I don't have tv.)

Three episodes into Valkyria Chronicles (which I hadn't seen before) and all I can think is: I had no idea Arakawa was even more unconventional than I'd already thought her: all the FMA military women are in, well, military uniform. This show puts the women in miniskirts, and with over-the-knee stockings. (Do the male animators not realize how often you have to pull up your socks, when they're over the knee? And that there's a reason garters were invented?)

Screw this. I'm gonna (re)watch me some Kuroshitsuji, which may not be quite as awesome as the manga (yes, I am CAUGHT UP NOW and YES that was a MOMENT OF CROWNING AWESOME the likes of which is rivaled by only a few other instances ever, like one-hand-counting amount, so I just reread several times to make it feel like it happened more) -- but still, there are no military women in miniskirts.

Granted, the female characters in Valkyria are shooting and driving tanks and throwing grenades, but still. It's hard to take that seriously when they're also wearing miniskirts while the men get, y'know, real uniforms.

Le sigh.
kaigou: (1 olivia is not impressed)
Been watching Fate/Zero, which seemed (so far) intriguing, so I thought I'd watch some Fate/Stay_Night, just so I'm not completely lost.

TL;DR: just read the wiki entry and save yourself the pain.

Let's see. Where to begin, and yes, here there be spoilers. Technically. Me, I think the premise's treatment already stinks, so hard to spoil it any further.

Well, for starters, the hero -- Shirou -- is a textbook case of TSTL. I mean, we could teach entire semesters just on his stupidity alone, he's that textbook. Granted, it's not entirely valorized in that other characters voice their annoyance with his stupidity, but at the same time, the instant he tries to lift even his teeniest finger he's praised as being very good, a natural at something. Someone mentions spell-casting spots, and he identifies one immediately. He gets attacked by a champion, picks up a baton, and changes it into a weapon, first try ever. He tries sparring and he's a natural with powerful moves and assurance! It just makes his stupidity the rest of the time even more painful. I mean, if he at least struggled with what he can't do, then I'd be less likely to see his TSTL traits as, well, so damn stupid. Instead, he just comes across as naively unthinking, and I don't mean that in a cute way.

In the wiki entry, one of the antagonists -- Shinji -- is characterized as narcissistic (he is, definitely) and chauvinistic. Not sure about the latter, but I can say that Shirou is without a doubt one of the most sexist characters I've come across in awhile. He's facing the spiritual embodiment of King Freaking Arthur (aka Saber), and because (in what could've been a cool twist) King Arthur is more like a Joan of Arc character -- being female -- Shirou is adamant that she, uhm, shouldn't fight. Because girls are to be protected. And it's not like she's even facing death; as a non-corporeal entity, if she loses a battle, she just fades back into oblivion until the next time someone summons her. I'm not seeing a major issue here, in terms of the final cost of omg-death kind of cost.

But no, Shirou's got to jump in the way of a major baddie and get himself almost killed, because he's that adamant that girls should be protected. If Saber just hauled off and smacked him, I'd be all for it, but this story is more of the transitional same: the writers gave the girls guns, but took away all the ammo. Makes for a female character, like Saber, being a lot of talk but nothing to back it up. She tells him she's trained for combat, but caves almost immediately and agrees to let him (the untrained TSTL twit) fight; she hares into battle but the script makes sure to trip her up. Either it's her opponent calling a halt (like you didn't see that coming), or it's the script's setup that Shirou doesn't have enough "energy" to feed her spiritual needs. She's rendered helpless because the hero is a loser, but the result's the same: presented as a great hero, King/Queen Arthur is a lot of flash and not much kicking ass.

My reader-writer-analysis brain finds it all so frustrating... )


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

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