Archive for April, 2007

Eyecatch.

No, really. Five times.

Episode 5 of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS gives us the long-awaited transformation sequences, and with the sole exception of Elio, they all proceed in much the same manner: the characters float around and pose as their clothes disappear layer by layer, although honesty compels me to mention that no actual details are shown; I believe the term is "mannequin-nude". Then new clothes, ie their Barrier Jackets, form around their bodies, and they finish off with a dramatic pose against a dramatic background. (Elio's transformation sequence is almost as the others', except that he does not go nude. Any comment I can conceivably make to that will likely be considered inappropriate, lewd, or inappropriate and lewd.)

I will not be posting very many screencaps of the transformation sequences. In fact, I will not be posting very many screencaps at all. The reason for this is the unfortunate dearth of good-quality sources currently available; I feel that it will be an injustice towards the very nature of the fanservice of this episode, which would demand nothing less than the absolute best for the MSLN fan.

And fanservice it is: the Newbies are mobilized to action as the train carrying the mysteriously powerful Relic is attacked by the AMF Gadgets. Apart from the much-mentioned transformation sequences, we also get to see the Newbies being surprised by the sheer power of their new Devices, even with the limiters placed on them. The Newbies get used to their new Devices, Nanoha and Fate run interference for the Gadget air force, and we get a fairly blatant progression towards a Caro/Elio pairing for the series. And to top it all off, we get some backstory about Caro's recent past, and a Suspicious Scientist sort who seems to be observing the battle for his own ends.

I suppose this is what they call a Highlight Episode.

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Koyori-chan!

I remember having a hospital stay for a couple of weeks or so once when I was little, but my sister was also there (and suffering from the same thing I was, I think), my parents were pretty much constantly at our sides, and the most I had to worry about was boredom. Well, and being sick, but that's a given. If I were there for longer and more isolated (and possibly old enough to realize this), I don't think I would have been as blase about it.

A Koyori and Aono-centric episode this time, a third of the way into the series. I'm beginning to guess that sola is going to go with a majority of slow drama episodes, focusing more on the various characters and their unique circumstances, before going into the meat of the supernatural portion of the story.

It's a bit like Kanon: here we have some very strange events that do not seem to be explainable by science, and each one alone could be a story all unto itself if one would analyze all the little details and inner workings… but no, we get a large amount of handwaving and far more focus on the emotions of the characters. This is good in its own way (as may be seen from the immense Kanon fandom), but in a relative unknown like sola, what a lot of the viewpoints I've seen so far may be the result of false expectations. We see the Night Demon plot point, and we expect that the anime will revolve around that, when it may well all be some sort of MacGuffin, at least for the first half of the series or something.

Anyway. Aono gets some character development, while Koyori is all sweet and polite and very loli cute. It's almost Pavlovian by now: every time I see Koyori, I go all hanyaa~n and moe~ in a way that would probably be extremely creepy and disturbing to any unfortunate onlookers.

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Zzz.

Imagine that you are an anime blogger. You have, thanks to circumstances far beyond your control, one hour to throw together a compelling, substantial, and above all entertaining post. You have to come up with a theme, the words to flesh out that skeleton of an idea, and the pictures to go with it to break up the monotony of Great Big Blocks Of Text. You have to have these Blocks Of Text, since that's your reputation, to talk about nothing in particular, but to talk about it with Big Words. It is, so to speak, a sort of modus operandi, without which one might well be branded as an imposter, some sort of false pretender with delusions of vocabulary.

Theme, words, pictures, and style. All of this, within one hour.

Oh, and did I mention that you are also laid low by illness and stress and worry, and would like nothing more than to just give up on the whole business and curl up in a cocoon of nice warm blankets nursing a mug of hot chocolate, or perhaps a bowl of chicken soup? Wishing mostly for the world to just stop for a couple of days or so while one emphatically does not get one's affairs in order, and indeed does not do anything productive, but instead just sits back and laughs at some random romantic comedy anime or something. Something familiar and reassuring.

But no, the Blog must be fed. It can, for now, be merely a token, but one must soon come up with something relevant, or the readers will rise up and hang the offending blog author by his entrails as an educational example to one and all.

Yeah, in case you hadn't guessed by now, I am in no shape mentally, physically, or emotionally to make a real blog post. Not even, I suspect, to save my life. I do not know how long this state of affairs will persist, but rest assured that I will strive my hardest to update this blog with one post (sans any guarantees of quality) Every Other Day. Such is my pact with you, gentle readers, and if I should break it, may I be kidnapped by lolis.

… that probably wasn't the best disincentive to use.

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Eyecatch.

About a sixth of the way into the series, and we still have not gotten much more than yet more scenes of the Newbies going through training. Judging from the next episode preview, though, we may be seeing some real action soon. But then I'm getting ahead of myself here.

In any case, Nanoha takes over the duty of training the four Newbies while Fate and Hayate go about their mysteriously official business, mostly involving lots of worried meetings with various Newly-Introduced people, such as Carim from Saint Church and suchlike. Sadly, the really side characters of the first two seasons have yet to make an appearance, and I suspect that the final episode of the previous season may have been the last we see of Arisa and Suzuka, much less Miyuki and Kyoya.

These meetings, for their part, seem to have little actual practical purpose other than to fill the viewer in on the background for the uberplot, and to do so slowly. Mind you, I still need to rely on subs and such to understand what the dialogue is all about, so if you're looking for details, you will not find it here.

Animation quality is down this week (raw quality notwithstanding), with the slightest hint of a return of the odd character designs that made the middle episodes of the first two seasons look so weird. I've made my fair share of complaints about them, and this episode isn't that bad, so I'm hoping that this is as off-design as it's going to get.

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Makina from Nursery Rhyme.

I don't actually have any posts in reserve for today, so I'll do the extremely lazy thing and schedule a wallpaper, 1024×768 version. This is Makina Tomoe from the erogame Nursery Rhyme; she's the happy, genki type, who's probably going to be the Real Ending or some such. (Well, unless the game throws something out of left field at me.) Source is unknown, but probably 4chan, judging by the filename; I didn't even know I had a Nursery Rhyme wallpaper until today, when I was browsing through mine wallpaper folder. Apparently I grabbed it some time ago, and only grokked the source recently.

In all honesty, I've not actually finished the game, or even progressed much since the last time I played it, largely because I find myself with less faith in my understanding-from-context Japanese skills picked up from over twelve years of watching anime every time I see that torrent of complicated words. I should probably put some time into deciphering the text, but I yet hold out hope that some kind soul out there will release an unofficial English translation patch or some such. That, or a walkthrough.

I don't really have the spare time in front of my computer to construct an actual post, mostly because this weekend is taken up entirely by (tabletop) gaming. Exchanging one geeky activity for another is probably not that bad of a thing when the end result is more socializing with other (probable) human beings. Still, I'll probably be looking to pick up another anime that is easy to understand sans subtitles for my blogging, in addition to Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Current prime candidate is sola, mostly because it seems to have enough things that I can actually talk about at any length, and which I actually like watching.

Of course, I might also be pulling out yet another Card Captor Sakura episode summary. I should probably spread those out; too many "Yukito says he's just visiting Touya to Study, wink-wink nudge-nudge hur-hur-hur" jokes in rapid succession would probably get a little old.

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This entry is part 10 of 20 in the series CCS Episode Summaries

Title Screencap

If this episode summary seems somewhat less than entertaining, it's probably because I'm feeling rather under the weather at the moment. It's nothing serious, just a persistent cough and cold, but it does place me in the frame of mind that is not quite the optimal balance of discomfort and clarity of thought which seems to accompany some of my Finest Work (or so I'm told). Apparently my snarkiness is directly proportional to how irritated I am.

Sadly, this cold appears to have stolen a great part of my vocabulary. I may descend into monosyllabic grunts by the time this summary is over.

Episode 10 of Card Captor Sakura, "Sakura and the Sport's Day of Flowers", deals with, unsurprisingly, Sport's Day and flowers. I remember Sport's Days back in high school (equivalent) or elementary school (equivalent) as being rather, well, boring affairs. For some weird reason, the Track and Field events were reduced to simply Track events, and the Field events were done before the actual Sport's Day event. What we random students did, therefore, was sit in the hot sun for several hours, while periodically (every half an hour or so), several of the more athletic members of the student body ran varying distances. And then we clapped. And then we waited some more. Being a decidedly unathletic sort, Sport's Days were pretty much just one in a long line of Things Which Do Not Interest Me.

Apparently Sport's Days in CCS-verse Japan are more interesting. For one thing, we didn't have cheerleaders.

This episode summary is also fairly light on the CHECK!Points, but in this case, it's because there really isn't a lot of CHECK!Pointable stuff in the episode. The art isn't bad (unlike episode 5), but events in the episode just did not result in a great deal of screenshots that would make one melt into a puddle of hanyaa~n. Still, it's not utterly dry either.

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Xyzzy.

I don't have much to say of substance today, at least until I get around to writing up any one of the following: an episode summary of a new anime show, an episode summary of Card Captor Sakura, or an essay about the appeal of the meganekko.

So as most of you may have noticed by now, I've changed my theme to Daisy 1.0, after I got tired of the Pool theme not respecting paragraph breaks in comments. I don't think I broke anything when changing over, but I'm not entirely certain. I'm still trying to figure out how to include the sidebar on individual pages, which the theme author seems to specifically exclude.

Also, I grabbed the Makotofox icon from Hikago, although damned if I can find the original post thereof.

In any case, if anyone has any suggestions about improvements to the blog, please feel free to comment on it. I'm open to suggestions about new plugins or sidebar stuff, or even another new theme. Criteria for the former are that it should not be a feature for the sake of being a feature (I know the perils of the road to feature-creep), and criteria for the latter are that it should be simple, soft, evoke a feeling of moe~ or hanyaa~n (vague, I realize), and not cause someone to go "wait, isn't that the same theme as such-and-such other famous anime blog?"

On another note, here's a minor random thought that would probably not be substantial enough to get its own entry: just because there are "better" shows in a season does not make a particular series "bad". Otherwise, we'll have to have a long and particularly flaming row about how The Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas was pretty much ignored during the Spring 2006 season, what with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Ouran High School Host Club, NANA, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni… (note: not all of these series I liked, but I can admit that they were very popular.)

Take each series as its own beast, unless the series specifically aims to emulate or continue the tradition of some other. Comparing Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS to Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A's is fine. Comparing Hidamari Sketch to Azumanga Daioh is iffy. Comparing Lucky Star to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya makes no sense whatsoever.

Finally, I really need to organize my "unsorted" folder of cute/funny anime pictures. Windows Explorer seems to have problems with displaying more than three thousand thumbnails in a single folder.

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Eyecatch.

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS continues to pace itself for the long haul. In other words, we appear to be getting these morsels of plot progression a bit at a time, as well as something like one extended action scene per episode.

Hayate's new unit, which has been variously translated as "Riot Force 6" among others, is formally established, and about half of the episode deals with the administrative side of things, like speeches and reports. New named characters mentioned are Griffiths, who appears to know Nanoha and Fate from before and I suspect may be Hayate's new adjutant or something, and Vice, who appears to be the unit helicopter pilot (and is typically laid-back). Also, said helicopter is apparently somewhat Intelligent, and named Storm Raider. This may be a foreshadowing of Cool Explosions to come. Also, we have Shario "please call me Shari", who's probably a glorified lab tech, but in a nice way.

Yeah, cast expansion overload. And that's not even counting the unnamed (in this episode) extras and bridge bunnies.

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Himeka from Kamichama Karin.

Occasionally, there are series which seem to have elements that are Relevant To My Interests, and it looks like I'll be following them quite closely… except, of course, for something in the show, be it some hints in the opening, or perhaps a careless line by a minor character, which makes me suspect, planting the seed of doubt in my mind, that possibly things are not what they seem.

You know how it goes. For the first few episodes, everything is all light and happy and moe, and you can see the clear plains of predictability stretching away across the horizon… just before the show suddenly undergoes a major Genre Shift into Dark and Serious and possibly Bloody and definitely Angsty. Now, sometimes the genre shift still goes to directions which I don't mind, and perhaps indeed like: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha undergoes a change from Standard Magical Girl to something a great deal more action-oriented when Fate is introduced, and is still enjoyable, albeit not for the Magical Girl portions, but more for the Great Big Explosions portions.

I suppose what I'd rather not see are cases where the characters get emotionally scarred from a formerly pristine state. This may be a result of the whole concept of moe: the innocence and the purity of the character results in the urge to protect them, and having that innocence broken would imply a failure of that protection.

And so I am struck with indecision: should I continue with the series and enjoy what I can before the inevitable fall of the Hammer of Angst, or should I give up now and keep that one image of fleeting innocence forever in my memories? I never have a real answer for this sort of question.

On a completely unrelated note, I signed up for AnimeSeen, currently in beta. I'm not really sure how much I'll really be using it, since it implies my going through every single entry on some listing of Every Anime Ever and noting down every single one I've ever seen even a single episode of. So far I've listed down Card Captor Sakura, and then I lost all motivation to list anything else.

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Rei-clone? Hardly.

The whole great big (ongoing) debate on what, exactly, is considered moe has already been bandied about back and forth by people far more qualified to comment on it than myself. I suppose part of the reason for the inability to state a dictionary definition is that, like porn or the colour blue, one only really knows it if one sees it, and while the broad strokes are recognizable, it's in the tiny little details that get people riled up.

And so I can only really give my own personal takes on the matter, in the hopes that it won't be too far off. Then again, even if it is, it's not really that important anyway, since it's unlikely someone will complain (much).

Actually, I'm probably not going to talk about moe in general as much as aspects of moe in specific. There's just far too much to cover, from tsundere to yandere to meganekko to ponytails or whatever, so it would probably be a better idea to just touch on each of these one at a time, and see how far I get before I lose all motivation to ramble about this anymore.

As the title of the post would suggest, this time the topic of choice is the Silent Moe archetype. I'd say that this is, if not the top moe archetype on my list, then at least somewhere up there, along with the meganekko variety. And yes, this means that Yuki Nagato from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya gets extra points, at least until she loses the glasses. (Damn you Kyon.)

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