Space cowboy and gangster of love

I finally watched Cowboy Bebop. I tried it out probably eight years ago and found it boring, but it turns out that was because I was watching it with subtitles. After I tried the English dub I finally got how cool the show was. The music especially was great. This show and Baccano are joining my short list of great English-dubbed anime.

Oh, and happy Victoria Day weekend once again to all of you in cyberspace.

Shakespeare in the original Klingon

This is a weird thing I just came across, but I discovered a trailer for Legend of Korra in the original Japanese.

I jest, of course. But something seems off about the voices.  I assume the top voice talent wasn’t used to dub a foreign cartoon show.

Some research into Korra and Avatar‘s reception in Japan reveals that it was seen as too American, which I can understand because the show basically has American kids dressing up in East Asian costumes.

To continue with the weirdness, here’s a trailer for Book 2 of Avatar:

I don’t think they got Azula’s voice down. But I think Katara’s voice wasn’t bad in the opening. And here’s a peek of how the typical episode plays out.

Strange, right? It’s like looking through a portal into a parallel universe.

Wake me up inside

I was sick a few weekends ago so I watched all of Daredevil in one day. I’m not a huge fan of DD but I’ve read a bunch of the comics and I have to state that the show somehow translated the sensibility of the comics to TV. The consequences of living in a world with superheroes is an unspoken concern for the show and for its characters. It’s not quite The Authority in questioning the ability of weirdos in circus costumes to enact positive social changes through fisticuffs, but at times the show kind of hinted in that direction.

I was somewhat surprised at the very oblique appearance of mystical Oriental hoodoo. I’d thought that the show was going to be completely grounded in the street level stuff and would be just about DD versus the Kingpin. By the way, Wilson Fisk is never called Kingpin in the show, nor is Leland Owlsley ever referred to as The Owl. Anyway, I assume that this Orientalism is for setting up the Iron Fist kung fu show that’s coming later. Perhaps we’ll soon see the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven.

Finally, I have to wonder just how much Marvel’s New York is like the one of our world. The battle in the Avengers couldn’t have turned present-day Clinton to this show’s Hell’s Kitchen no matter how badly the reconstruction was mismanaged. The widespread police corruption, at the very least, couldn’t have happened in just a couple of years (one of the cops says 18 months). The only explanation I can come up with is that Fisk was already entwined in the fabric of the city long before aliens invaded.

Anyway, I did like the show. I almost never binge watch, so when I do, it’s because a show is exactly on my wavelength. If this is what Netflix’s Daredevil is like, then I’m looking forward to the rest of the superhero shows that are coming. Personally, it’s Jessica Jones that I’m most interested in.

What’s the story

You know, I’d forgotten how easy it was to watch – or rather, re-watch – My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. I’ve already gotten through the first season again and even the OVA. It’s not too heavy and not too light. Individual episodes aren’t weighty enough to require time to process but there’s enough of a hook in the relationships that I want to see more and can’t just leave the show and return two weeks later like I do for other shows.

And I like where the show is going in the latest episode. There’s actual forward movement happening in the relationships. A lesser show would have stuck to the status quo and just covered the wacky hijinks of the club.

In fact, Hachiman’s desire to stay safe in his own corner is shown to be self-destructive. I especially liked that Yukinoshita is angry at him for always volunteering himself as a punching bag, which wouldn’t have bothered her at the beginning of the series. Relationships are changing, and while I don’t think this conflict is arising from romantic feelings, it’s not coming from nothing either. Friends hate it when their friends are hurt, and especially so when they’re the ones doing it to themselves.

I’m just looking forward to the next episode.

The return of Haruhi Suzumiya

Spring is here and with it the new spring anime. Today I come to discuss one series in particular – The Disappearance of Yuki Nagato.

It’s been quite a few years since we saw anything related to Haruhi Suzumiya, so you might be forgiven for not remembering that Nagato is the anti-social alien android pretending to be a high school girl to keep a close eye on God (a.k.a. Haruhi Suzumiya, a Japanese schoolgirl unaware of her position as the Prime Mover and the source of all Creation). The original show had all kinds of crazy stuff – time travellers, psychics, dream projection, and enough sci-fi cliches for a Star Trek series.

However, The Disappearance of Yuki Nagato is about a parallel universe where those things seemingly don’t exist. Specifically, it’s about an alternate ending to the movie The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya where the protagonist chose to stay in the universe of the ordinary people. So without the science fiction elements, what are we left with? A rather ordinary slice-of-life high school story about a girl, the boy she likes, and the literature club they belong to. Watching this premiere, I realized that there was a good reason that Nagato was only a supporting character in the regular show. Quite honestly, a quiet and shy wallflower is not heroine material. The conflict and forward movement in the plot was only able to happen in this episode because of the actions of two other characters who were more outgoing than the supposed protagonist.

There are encouraging hints that all is not as it seems. Nagato experiences a moment of deja vu when she spots the alternate Haruhi Suzumiya on the street, while Asakura remains disturbingly skilled with a knife despite being a regular student. And let’s remember that this world conforms too perfectly to a happy and idyllic story of teen romance for one Yuki Nagato. Anyway, I hope very much that these oddities are explored more in the rest of this season.

This is only the first episode, so I’ll stick with this show a little bit more. If I see any pocket universes or sandworms later on I’ll let you know.

You are winner

14 Game of Thrones Actors on Who Should Sit on the Iron Throne

Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth)

“Dude! I’m with Team Stannis! It’s got to be Stan the Man, doesn’t it? He’s the right man for the job! And I work for him. But if you go any lower, it should be Davos. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Mostly I’m perturbed at the image of Davos saying “dude”. Although Pod’s choice is exactly what my answer would be if I were him:

Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne)

“Brienne of Tarth, ’cause I work for her, and I need a job at the end of the day.”

April showers and May flowers

I just watched all the episodes of Your Lie In April that have been broadcast so far. I rather liked this teen-romance-between-classical-musicians thing. At first I was afraid it would be too much like Nodame Cantabile, where a free-spirited pianist slowly teaches her fellow student how to appreciate music again, but this show is different enough to be interesting on its own (nice shout-out to Nodame, by the way). Anyway, I don’t really have a review so much as a bunch of scattered thoughts.

First, there’s a lot of crying on this show. Do classical musicians cry this much in real life?

Second, I had no idea that Peanuts was that widely read in Japan. Teenagers can actually quote Charlie Brown out of the blue without having to explain where the line is from? Although “I’m not always going to be around to help you” sounds more ominous in the show.

Third, I think the book that the protagonist is reading in one of the early episodes is The Little Prince. The illustration on the cover looks familiar.

And fourth, I can’t tell the difference between a good or bad performance in classical music. Well, maybe if something was egregiously terrible and dissonant, but otherwise I have no idea what the characters mean when they say one rendition is rough and another is full of honest yearning. This reaction is to be expected, of course, since classical music is an elite pastime specifically meant to exclude those without the proper background, but what that means is that I’m watching the show for the characters instead of the music. I do kind of want to take up piano again, though.

Addendum: Based on further research (i.e., asking people who can read Japanese) the book in question is actually The Genius Liar by Ulf Stark.

Animazing

Okay, it’s been kind of quiet on the anime front lately. Let me just give a quick roundup of what I’m watching which is worthy of remark:

Durarara x2

I’m only a couple of episodes behind. It’s basically more of what we got in season 1, which is great because I liked season 1. “More of what you liked” is a pretty damn good thing for a show’s second season. It could just as well have been a decline in quality, after all (see: Sleepy Hollow). I’m still missing the first opening, though this new one is starting to grow on me.

Log Horizon

There was a Ghostbusters reference in the most recent episode. Earlier on in the present season, there was a character modelled after Leonardo, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Is the writer of the light novels a connoisseur of American cartoon shows from the eighties? I do know there was some influence from West to East – The Big O and its noir aesthetic owes a very great debt to Batman: The Animated Series, after all – but I always appreciate a nod to non-Japanese cartoons.

I’m also watching Saekano, of course, but I think it deserves deeper analysis than a quick paragraph. I may end up referring to Baudrillard and the hyper-real, so watch out for that.

On meeting the 100% perfect girl

I started watching Saekano, which is about high school kids trying to make a video game. The show is rather metafictional in its presentation; the comments that the characters make about the game they’re working on usually apply to the anime they’re in as well. It’s not Grant Morrison so the fourth wall is never broken but the show is clever enough in that regard.

It’s also a harem anime, with the first episode full of fanservice and girls competing for the attention of the male protagonist. Still, the only relationship I’m actually interested in is the sole human relationship in the anime, which is the one between the protagonist and his muse.

See, our protagonist meets a girl on the road one spring day in a moment straight out of a romance. The girl could easily have been a blank and perfect catalyst for male actualization but she quickly destroys our hero’s expectations the first time they talk. I’m intrigued by where this thing is going so I’ll stick with it some more. This could very very easily turn to crap but I hope the show is self-aware enough to realize that the criticisms it makes of clichés can also be applied to itself.

Woe, you sons of Israel

Terrible news, everyone! I’ve just come across rumours that a second season of The Devil is a Part-Timer will not be produced. Apparently publishers of light novel series, like the one this anime is based on, often fund the development of an anime solely to drum up interest in the original books. With their mission accomplished, they often do not bother producing more seasons. It’s cheaper to publish books than to make an entire anime, after all.

I’m hoping this is nothing but baseless speculation, but by spring it’ll be almost two years since the first season was broadcast. I’m starting to get antsy and may eventually cave and buy the books or the manga, playing right into the publisher’s hands. At least the story will continue somewhere, but I will still hope with all my heart that an animated adaptation is still coming sometime.