Friday, December 12, 2008

Rie fu - Vintage Denim

This is something I was looking at, quite a few months ago. Since then, I've increased my knowledge of Japanese significantly, I'd say. Plus I can use the dictionary much more effectively.

Rie fu's "Vintage Denim" is from her Rose Album. It's mostly in English, and the Japanese parallels the English, but there's some slight differences here and there. I feel confident enough to tackle a mostly-Japanese Rie fu song now, but anyway, here's the few Japanese lines of "Vintage Denim":

VINTEJI no DENIMU o haite KAATEN o aketara sotto
Wearing vintage denim, the curtains softly brighten with the dawn
amai RINEN ni dakare KAATEN o maku youna
Embraced by sweet linen, as if rolled up in curtains
BIGGU BEN ni akari ga miete miagetara sore wa ookiku
You see the light from Big Ben, if you raise your eyes to its greatness
tsutsumikonde kono machi mo atatakai
Wrapped up, this city is also warm
tsumetai kaze ni hokorimamire no kutsu
In the cold wind, shoes covered in dust

They say that Rie fu isn't that popular in Japan, which is an understandable shame. I see her music as a synthesis of American and Japanese styles. She's got the harmonic and melodic complexity of Japanese pop, with the instrumentation and rhythms of American pop. And her voice -- it's an honest voice, with a twang that probably came from the time she spent in Maryland. Going up against the Oricon with this innovative hybrid takes some guts, and I'm surprised that Sony has marketed her so consistently. Lately though, her music has seemed more commercial in nature -- the Tobira Album feels more produced, and has less of what I've come to regard as the Rie fu trademark: long, drawn-out explorations, with unconventional song structures and complex chord progressions and melodies. Perhaps she's feeling pressure to be more mainstream, to "succeed" in the Japanese market. I can only hope that she hangs on to the rawer blues/rock influences that drove the (really impressive, I thought) Rose Album

Finally, some Sazerac

For a while now, I've been wanting to get my hands on the Sazerac-label rye, a six-year-old item that seems to be a standard-bearer among ryes. Presumably it has something to do with the glorious Sazerac cocktail, made with rye, absinthe, and bitters. I was in the city today, so I dropped by Cask, the spirits store that's an offshoot of Bourbon & Branch, and picked up a bottle.

My usual rye is the Wild Turkey 101, which packs quite a bit more heat than the 90-proof Sazerac does. I'm sipping my way through a bit right now, and it's taken some sips to recalibrate my mouth's expectations. So far, I can say that the Sazerac is a complicated dram: beautiful aroma, astringency in the mouth that becomes tender sweetness, and a pleasant lingering burn down the throat. (Very tsundere.)

I was in the city to see the dentist, got a filling replaced and whatnot, so my cheek was numb for quite a few hours. I walked up to City Lights Books, read through a few things. First time I've been there, but it felt just like other quirky bookstores in the Bay Area. I read a bit of Kenzaburo Oe's A Personal Matter, which I'll have to find some time to read in its entirety. Then I looked through James Gleick's Faster, which had a riveting opening but seemed to run out of steam. Then Ross Duffin's polemic about equal temperament caught my eye, and I flipped through his arguments about how ET is not always the best, and how various other tuning systems have gone in and out of favor through history. I ended up taking home James Gleick's Chaos, and the All Over Coffee book, which I've been meaning to obtain ever since it came out.

If you're ever in the SF Financial District for lunch, you should go to Muracci's, which makes the best tonkatsu I've ever tasted. I had it for lunch today, and just thinking about it makes me salivate for more.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fall 2008 impressions, part 1

A few days ago, I was reading around the manga-related sector of the interweb, which appears to have expanded significantly. Reading longer-form pieces makes me want to produce some of my own, especially as my essay-writing skills need some honing. Through my years at college, I was only able to write one essay where I felt I had done a really good job. Part (most) of it was procrastination, and the rest lack of inspiration. With anime and manga I'd have ample inspiration, with the challenge of constructing a thesis and collecting supporting arguments. We are cursed to live in interesting times, and I am cursed to imagine that I have something substantive to say about them.

The task currently at hand, though, is to relate my first-episode impressions of the Fall 2008 anime season. My comments will probably not be as snarky as I had anticipated when I first started this blog; the all-corrupting moe has gone to work on me and lowered my standards. Anyway, in rough order of consumption:


Out, damned spot, out I say

So I read the novel translation over at Baka-Tsuki. I read the manga scanlations. For whatever reason I can't get tired of this franchise. For sure it's Yet Another Chibi Tsundere Series, but it does get to be more than that. Later I feel that it becomes "neurotic girls are neurotic", but I digress. The first episode of the anime is fairly well done. It's not particularly brilliant, but it's competent. I will probably end up watching it.

Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka

Sure, Rozen Aso is the PM now, but a more lasting solution to Japan's leadership crisis is...

I expected this to be bad, but it's not as bad as I had expected. The voicework is pretty good; the animation is lazy. The only distinction seems to be a preoccupation with stocking-related camera angles. I didn't expect Katagiri to be so damn moe though. This will be this season's "trashy romance series" for me.



This was pretty ambitious. Pretty insane, too. I approve. The most insane part was the next episode preview: seiyuu talking in their normal voices? Tripped out, man. Note to people thinking about more manga based on the four-girls-in-high-school setup: please, susser Tod, no. (Pontera, I'm talking to you.)


Do you eat taiyaki headfirst or tailfirst?

Not bad, not bad. Much is being made of the fact that "Yamakan", the original director of Lucky Star, is heading up this one; the OP is certainly lol-worthy. And it does seem KyoAni-like in that the animation is well done. Nagi's got the right amount of condescension in her voice too. I'm looking forward to the rest of this.

More to come.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


So I took the GRE yesterday. I could have done better, but I did well enough, I think.

Anyway, I went to Kinokuniya afterwards. I got more stuff than I had anticipated:

From left,
よつばとしろとくろのどうぶつ - Yotsuba & Monochrome Animals
この世界の片隅に(中) - In This Corner Of The World (middle volume)
ぱにぽに6 - Pani Poni 6
お茶にごす。1 - Ocha nigosu. 1
もっけ8 - Mokke 8
アリア7 - Aria 7
さよなら絶望先生14 - Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 14
へうげもの7 - Hyouge Mono 7

I got the Yotsuba book on a whim. It's pretty much a children's book, fairly minimalist.

In This Corner Of The World is by Fumiyo Kouno, the author of Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms. I really like Kouno-sensei's art...

I picked up Ocha Nigasu because I was intrigued. I was hoping for more tea ceremony stuff, but for most of volume one it seems like a gimmick. It's largely just delinquent stuff. The art's kinda cheap/minimalist, but there's some good puns.

Ordered more stuff from bk1 last week. I got sea shipping this time, so we'll see how long it takes to get here...

Friday, September 5, 2008


I just finished reading Haruki Murakami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. It's not a book that I can claim to have understood totally, nor does it lend itself to easy explanations. In addition to that, it's quite a different book than what I expected, though in retrospect it's very Murakami. (The only others I've read are Kafka on the Shore and After Dark.) What I expected was some sort of validation of my jazz-listening, whiskey-drinking, resigned existence. That's exactly what I got, actually, but with a whole bunch of other madness tossed in that brought it to a completely different plane. I feel relieved, somehow, and strengthened in my resignation. As ironic as that sounds. In any case, I will have to ruminate further on this subject -- with Murakami novels, the rumination never ends.

On other fronts, I voted in Saimoe for the first time in my life. Thanks to a number of sources, some outdated, I cast votes for Ayano and Asou. Only Asou won, which is fine. Ayano isn't that great; Shinra is too much of a repackaged Haruhi; the darned StrikerS and Sky Girls crap needs to go away; and I haven't watched true tears yet, so I have nothing to say on that matter. I think I will stay away from Saimoe until there is someone truly worth voting for. Like, today has Kaga from Zetsubou, but she's never going to win against Shana. Plus I bet if I watch/read Shana, I'll be quite a willing Shana fanboy.

On the anime side of things, I am feeling rather fatigued. Geass R2 is the only thing I've really kept up with, and it's sapped my energy for following anything else. This is because R2 has been FAIL for quite some time now. Yes, 21 was mostly fail too. They may as well have brought on the LCL -- in stunning 3D. Geh. I'll forgive Sunrise if they crank out a whang-biz ending, but I'm not holding my breath. They've already thrown away so much promising material in the pursuit of empty expediency.

Manga's always great, though. I'm going through MangaScreener's back catalog.

Friday, August 1, 2008

DreamTech Kagami & Tsukasa Hatsumoude Set

So, this is what happens when you decide to get that Kagami miko figure. You look at the price, and think, hmm, why is it so expensive? So then you see the limited edition Kagami + Tsukasa with stand and think, might as well get the set for 8000 yen. Then, of course, you choose EMS when you meant to get SAL originally.

The Japanese blurb about Kagami says "tsundere kei" (ツンデレ系), and the English one translates this as "aloof-chummy type". I think we can agree that this characterization is fail.

The base includes a shrubbery, probably stolen from someone's railroad diorama. It sheds little bits.

Well, here it is. Ain't it nice. But here's the perverse part: I didn't realize this when I ordered, but the skirts are molded separately from the legs. Maybe that explains the price, but it sure makes me feel dirty. I guess these are fairly modest as far as most figures are concerned.

They're definitely gouging the Lucky Star fanbase (i.e. me) but I'm happy with my purchase. I gotta say, the Haruhi figure is a much better value.

These are my only figures so far, and to some extent I'd like to keep it that way. I can tell it's a slippery slope. The only other figure that calls out to me is that Tsuruya waitress one, but I can resist. Maybe.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Geass R2 15

Man, they sure blew everything wide open. CG has really spoiled animators into making stuff that looks stupid. C.C. moe dasu :3

Friday, July 11, 2008

I might as well

Seeing that I've managed to while away most of my late-evening reading AnimeSuki (and, uh, reading eroge blogs), I should probably spend some time getting stuff off my mind.

First of all, I saw a ghetto itasha today. In Berkeley. On Shattuck. It was the Fruits Basket triumvirate, painted on the hood of an old yellow car. I must've done a triple take for once. I thought about taking a picture, but I'd had enough embarrassment for one day. "Ita"-sha indeed.

Last week I watched Geass R2 7-12 in one sitting. What can I say? Apart from the school stuff, it was pretty good. As usual the sudden turnabouts were pretty amusing in their credulousness. Like WTF methane clathrates? A million Zeros? On the other hand, Zero showing up at the reception was pretty awesome, and we got a glimpse of the Gawain system. I'm also finding myself appreciating the fanservice more, to my chagrin. Like, the girl at the forward right command console :3.

Episode 13, though, was something of a letdown. Writers never seem to know what to do with characters like Shirley. What happened at the end of 12 should've been a catalyst for some real character development, but nooooo, they took the easy way out. And what's with Orange-kun? He was convinced so easily? Well, I'm hoping that the rest of the series takes the high road.

What else did I watch... 7-12 of Allison to Lillia. Not bad, but not that great either. This series is a bit too credulous as well.

Real Drive has been pretty good so far, though the female character designs are somewhat strange. It's like the guys are hyper-realistic while the girls are... hyper-realistic in a different way.

Kara no Kyoukai is pretty darn awesome. Part 1 wasn't all the way there, I felt, but part 2 was quite compelling. ufotable has really got the atmosphere going, and the quality is spectacular. And there's five more parts to look forward to!

Gosenzosama Banzai Banzai ep 1, via Ureshii, was rather peculiar. It felt extremely procedural, like it was a stage play, especially near the end. And the way the characters are drawn: bunraku? Pret-ty bizarre.

From this season, Telepathy Shoujo Ran is more interesting than I expected, although still standard fare. I like the OP... didn't know that it was possible to drawl in Japanese.

The first episode of Hidamari Sketch x 365 was fabulously outrageous. That Shinbo guy is really pushing the envelope. It's a testament to SHAFT's abilities that they can change gears from something like Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei to something as moe as Hidamari Sketch. (And it seems rather more moe than the first season...) The part with the arrows... waah WTF. Ume-tentei... I gets it now.

I've only watched a bit of the first Mahou Tsukai (etc) episode, but the simple animation versus the "real" backgrounds is stark and jarring. Will reserve judgement for the time being...

On the manga side of things, I must express my appreciation for Watashitachi no Tamura-kun. Dunno if there's an otaku term for "weird girl", but weird girls and tsunderes are at the top of my list. :3

Bleach was really good up to now. The past arc could've gone on for more chapters. Not that anxious to see what happens in the main chronology, but I did forget about the hollow-using people.

One Piece is in a really awesome place right now. Strong enemies, strong allies... it's always great when they draw the veil back a bit further.

Shin Angyo Onshi came to a finish. For now, repeat after me: Munsu is badass.

Un, that's all for now, as far as consumption is concerned. I have been transcribing things for future scanlation purposes: Discommunication Seireihen, Mokke, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun. Why did I choose seinen manga? It's more interesting. Unfortunately it's also waaay beyond my current level. If you come into my room late at night, you'll hear me muttering, "multi-RADICAL, dude" while searching WWWJDIC. Yeah, scary huh.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Summer is upon us. It certainly felt like summer last week, but here in the Bay Area we're back to fog, chilliness, and general strangeness.

I've been keeping lots of tabs open as I read about the impending summer season. Thankfully Firefox 3 seems to have halved the memory footprint of Firefox 2 (not that Firefox 2 taking up a gig of memory is particularly hard on my system). Here's THAT, moetron, Mistakes of Youth, and hashihime. At first glance, there wasn't too much to watch this summer. But after reading hashihime's seiyuu-oriented rundown, there are a few more that I might need to watch. I guess I'll categorize this time.

Definitely Gonna Watch

Hidamari Sketch x365: Hell yes. More Hidamari, more!

Lucky Star OVA: Moar.

Zero no Tsukaima - Princess Rondo: Fufufu. ZnT can be a little much sometimes, but I need to get my tsundere fix somewhere. Speaking of which, I still haven't gotten through season 2.

Seiyuu Compelling-ness

Telepathy Girl Ran: Katou Emiri. Might make this worth watching.

Mahō Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora: Hanazawa Kana. (Thanks to hashihime, Sora in Sketchbook.)

Ari Ari

Natsume Yuujin Chou: Good staff? Or something.

Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: Otaku girl? Wish fulfillment.

Ponyo on a Cliff: Miyazaki? Watercolors?

The Sky Crawlers: Oshii Mamoru?

Detroit Metal City: Good staff?

The Manga Is Awesome But They'll Likely Screw This Up

Blade of the Immortal: Nuff said.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Two volumes of Orange Road

I just came across this draft from september, with the above title, above picture and the text: "Three, actually, with more in the closet. Even a wideban. But they don't make me an extraordinarily effective military force, unfortunately." Which might've been more amusing at the time, naturally.

My flatmate's been watching Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, and by watching, I mean watching it over and over and over since he's got nothing else to do. I've only gotten to episode 6 myself, due to general lethargy, but it seems I've caught bits and pieces of later episodes as he was watching them. Man, I thought the first few were utterly insane, but it just gets crazier and crazier. I can hear my friend lhao-ing while I'm cooking dinner downstairs. There are worse ways to while your time away, I suppose.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


This must be the Kouyouen Haruhi, which means the second season is going to pursue that crazy plot arc. In fact, I may have to go back and read it again.

Give me back my Haruhi with long hair, dammit.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Manga café economics

Someone's opened up a manga café in San Francisco. What are the rates? $5 for the first hour, $1.25 for every additional 15 minutes. So basically $5/hour. Given that English-translated manga runs $10 a volume, $5/hour is pretty good. I figure if a typical volume is 200 pages, and I spend a generous 20 seconds on every 2-page spread, that's approaching two volumes per hour.

The going rate in Japan seems to be a buck per hour. (Or more for swankier places, I guess.) So indeed, staying up all night (or sleeping) in a manga kissa would be a pretty economical way to live. And a really economical way to read manga, needless to say.

I also found this fond remembrance of the "jazz kissa". It really sounds wonderful: jazz cafes everywhere, listening to cutting-edge music, reading avant-garde manga and magazines. Youth subculture, indeed. Now I need to find some Japanese free jazz.

Change of topic: I was reading this thread at AnimeSuki, and have been enlightened as a result. Namely, I had previously believed that buying directly from Japan entailed either 1) or 2) some random Japanese export service. The main problem with amazon is ridiculous shipping -- $20 plus $3 per book. The problem with export-type sites is that they either specialize in finding stuff, or require more Japanese comprehension than I am currently capable of.

Enter bk1. They can ship via SAL! And their website is fairly obvious. So this means I'm going to buy stuff. Like the Maison Ikkoku reprint. And widebans of Kimagure Orange Road to complete my set. Pani Poni. Seto no Hanayome. And maybe Yume Tsukai, but I'm more interested in earlier Ueshiba Riichi stuff, like Discommunication / Seireihen. But bk1 doesn't have older stuff, so I'm wondering what's the most economical way to find such things. (What I really need to do is visit a BookOff. I go to NYC a few times a year for work, but wasn't thinking about manga the last few times I was there. The alternative is to take a bus down to LA... hmm.)

Oh yes, trashy manga. I was thinking of buying a few. Like A Girls, which appears to have been panned by the amazon reviewer. And quite deservedly so; but I still want to know what happens after the first volume. Well, now that I think about it, it's probably fairly cliché. After all, it's from the same team that brought us volumes upon volumes of Boys Be. Maybe I should just read it at a manga café.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Maison Ikkoku again?

I'm in a familiar quandary -- I've run out of sappy stuff to read. So I'm thinking about reading Maison Ikkoku again. Although I'm pretty sure I did that a few months ago. Hmm... Well, it's either that or Kimagure Orange Road, and I seem to remember reading that fairly recently. Gah, what happened to the non-harem, non-craptacular romance story? Granted, we only have two exemplary works to extol. What else is there? Adachi? I went through Katsu for the second time, also in recent memory... I really gotta kick this habit.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I forgot to publish my Bartender=alcoholism post, but having a mizuwari reminded me.

Follow these fine directions to make your own. The 13.5 stirs is essential. I made the mistake of adding too much water. Also, using an expensive blend (Famous Grouse) was probably a mistake... should've settled for the Ballantine's.

Monday, May 12, 2008

So it goes

I stopped watching stuff for what feels like weeks, but in reality was more like a week or so. Seems releasing has slowed down too, probably due to school. Well, whatever.

Just watched Geass R2 5 and 6. The highlight of ep 5 was C.C. in a school uniform. The highlight of ep 6 was -- well, it was mostly made of awesome. Lots of mechs coming out of the woodwork, and the traditional second-season upgrades to the Lancelot and the Guren. I have to admit that I was going "WOOOO" during the Guren upgrade. Energy weapons are good; forget that kinetic-weapon-on-a-rope business. But anyway, what's Lulu gonna do now? He's probably going to do something bad again.

Yesterday I watched a few more eps of Allison and Lillia. Have to say, I'm not digging the naivete quite so much. Guess I'll keep watching though. Wagaya no Oinari-sama 2 was pretty amusing. I can live with the slight aesthetic off-ness if they keep on coming up with comedic nuggets.

Toshokan Sensou's got a lot of aesthetic off-ness, unfortunately. The premise is interesting in theory, but in practice it just seems to be war with a different reason than usual.

Awhile back I finished CLANNAD. I liked it a lot, but those allergic to heavy, bleeding-heart sentiment will probably want to steer clear. In CLANNAD, KyoAni managed to rectify Kanon's main weakness: a vague, amorphous, playboy protagonist. I'll leave it at that for now; I read through Kyou's and Tomoyo's scenarios and was deeply affected by both of them. Tomoyo After was pretty depressing... still looking forward to KyoAni's After Story though.

Oh, and Tokimeki Memorial is awesome.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring fever

The title choice is somewhat facetious; this is one of the lowest-pressure seasons in recent memory. So far there've been no real standouts, no exceptional brilliance. The only series I was anticipating is of course Geass R2. But anyway, here goes the snarky commentary, following the list from Random Curiosity.

Allison & Lillia: I like it. It's old fashioned in feel, with prop planes and good honest people. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that many of the people involved in the production have worked on recent Tezuka adaptations -- perhaps that's coming through here. Still haven't seen Kino no Tabi, but it has a stellar rep, so I'm not really worried that this story will go south. Wil's voice is a bit difficult to get used to though.

Macross Frontier: Is everyone raving about this, or is it my imagination? I missed out on the Robotech thing as a kid, so I don't have any emotional connection to the Macross universe. Nevertheless, I'll check this out. Eventually.

To LOVE-Ru / Kanokon: I was shocked, utterly shocked, to see "Yabuki Kentaro" on the front cover of the To LOVE-Ru manga. I got through about a chapter, and gave it up as trash, so I don't plan to even look in this series's direction. Kanokon is the other major fanservice event this season. From what I've read of the manga, Chizuru is very :3, but the anime seems like far too much of a guilty pleasure for me to consider watching it. ;_;

kure-nai: Watched a few minutes of this, wasn't particularly impressed. Yet everybody's raving about this one too? Well, we'll see.

The Tower of Druaga: First of all, kudos to Gonzo for jumping on the digital distribution bandwagon. It's a good first step. The second step is to make something that I'll be willing to watch. Not that the subs were bad (they were mostly good with a few oddities), the content is bad. Yeah, I'm not into fantasy so much, especially not lousy fantasy.

Amatsuki: The character designs seem like they come from a shoujou manga. Not really interested in the premise...

Kamen no Maid Guy: The first ep was full of WTF. And fanservice, if molestation = fanservice. It was hilarious though. I'm not entirely comfortable with letting myself watching this, although I do like the idea of maid-with-nail-studded-baseball-bat. We shall see.

Geass R2: They pulled a fast one in the first ep; must've wanted to set stuff up all over again. At least in ep 2 we see a bit more of the Geass machinery. Suzaku is pretty scary when he's got his serious face on. Sunrise, don't screw this one up.

Wagaya no Oinari-sama: I'm not really into fox-girls, so this series is a case of kitsune vs miko. Miko wins, thanks to the bit near the end of the first ep, on the train. I'll watching at least one more ep; the animation and production values are good, but the direction and pacing are just off enough to annoy me into not watching this.

Nabari no Ou: I should know well enough by now to stop saying "wtf they're already making that an anime". The manga wasn't enough to keep my interest, but J.C. Staff has done a compelling job with the material. By applying their now-trademark watercolor backgrounds, they've really brought the scenario to life. I'm still a bit burned out on ninjas, but this series might be watchable. Looking at ANN, the director, Kunihisa Sugishima, has work ranging from storyboard on Zeta Gundam (!) to director of Strike Witches (...) to storyboard on Code Geass. This could be decent: shounen, but decent.

Special A: They made Hikari look too much like Kana from Minami-ke, but I could live with that. The second episode, however, shows no attention to drawing faces, which I can't live with. I must thank them for calling my attention to the manga, which although very shoujou-bubbly, still manages to have Hikari looking like she'll kick anyone's ass. And that's what matters. To me, at least.

Crystal Blaze: Well, I watched this. It wasn't as bad as I expected; it was fairly well done. However, that girl's voice is incredibly annoying, and it appears that the characters are all stereotypes. Meh.

Toshokan Sensou: Waiting for subs.

Kyouran Kazoku Nikki: I expected this to be funny from the setup, but I've had to inaugurate a new noun to describe this show: lolarity. I'm not so into catgirls, but I can dig "only the wife is allowed to abuse the husband" :3. Animation's cheap, but the rest makes up for it.

The rest: Himitsu? Monochrome Factor? Soul Eater? These seem to have gotten some good press, but unless they turn out to be totally awesome, I'll pass.

Bartender turned me into an alcoholic.

They knowingly conceived this project to exploit the finely romantic sensibilities of dreaming youth, lost youth, and youth being lost. It seemed, and now undeniably is, so natural, so beautiful, to forge one's courage, drown one's failures, or relive one's past through the lens of a cocktail. The bottles spin away into the horizon, endless labels of industrially distilled spirits, each containing glimpses of a dream. The strangely earnest jazz trickles past, a tributary to the river of sentimentality. And Ryuu creates his Glass of the Gods for the evening, and stricken with a desperate need to savor the same flavors and feelings, we rush out to buy gin and Drambuie and champagne and tonic water.

Well, we're not that desperate. I did end up having to try my friend's "Jack Rose", which he made by adding apple cider (or was it apple juice?) to a bottom-shelf brandy, together with some citrus component that wasn't a lime. Suffice it to say, it didn't really work. For my part, I bought a bottle of gin, which I gradually figured out how to drink. After that came a bottle of (lousy) tequila, and then a bottle of (awesome) rye. Now I think we have ten bottles of whiskey in the house.

I can't completely put the blame on Bartender for my alcoholism. Recent years have seen resurgence of cocktail culture in the United States, and perhaps the madness has made it to Japan. There are no melodramatic TV shows in the US about cocktails, though. Just articles and columns in the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times. And some great books.

On your personal road to developing an emotional dependence on alcohol, I advise not buying the liquors featured in Bartender's product placement spotlight. Spend a bit more to get top-shelf liquors. Your cirrhosis will be far more pleasant to develop. Now excuse me while I deal with all this acetaldehyde.

2 oz Rye Whiskey
1/2 oz Red Vermouth
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Assemble ingredients in mixing glass with ice. Stir a good bit, then strain into other glass of choice. I drink everything out of a "Scotch glass".

(Note to the PC police: alcoholism is a serious problem. Professional help is advised.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sign me up

Sign me up for the Kyou Fanboy Association. :3

Friday, March 14, 2008


So I finally finished a few series from summer 2007. Oh, sorry, Dennou Coil actually dates from spring 2007. From the same season... haven't finished Hitohira... I'll probably never watch Saiunkoku... Romeo x Juliet someday I guess... As for spring 2007, I got through Doujin Work. Still got Higurashi, Zero no Tsukaima S2, Baccano!... sigh.

Well, Doujin Work was pretty fun, through pretty trashy in terms of animation quality. (Well, there weren't any cabbages, at least.) It makes me want to check out the manga, which is probably made of LOL.

Dennou Coil was downright incredible. Definitely one for the history books. I would have liked to have seen more plot, rather than the extended illegal-exploring lull in the middle of the series, but that's just a minor quibble. If only American "kid's shows" could mine such deep territory; sorry, Jonny Quest can't touch this. Go watch this if you haven't already.

I finished Asatte no Houkou, which has got to date from 2006. It was quite riveting for the last few episodes; channeling the thoughtful approach of historical Japanese cinema (think Ozu), while keeping a character of its own. Kudos to J.C Staff for another animation job well done.

Currently working on: Kimikiss, CLANNAD, Hidamari Sketch, (and maybe finally get through) Noir. All of which I heartily recommend.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tainaka Sachi

I placed an order at YesAsia for a bunch of stuff. Enough stuff that I was debating whether to add in Tainaka Sachi's latest album, Love is.... If you'll recall, タイナカサチ burst upon the scene with the OP to Fate/stay Night, "disillusion". Strangely enough, that song was produced in a way that takes the edge, the distinctive cry out of her voice. I guess they were going for a different effect, with the sweeping violin harmonic line and the, uh, soprano solo.

I was much more impressed by the "B-side" to the single, 忘れかけていたのかな (Wasurekaketeita no kana). It's a quiet song that shows the artist's ability to write musically sophisticated songs, and the brilliant vocal ability to pull them off. Curiously, this song hasn't made it into either of her albums, although it's one of my favorites.

Back to Love is.... Itoshii Hito he is a song where she's really got the cry going on. Seriously, her voice gives me chills. The music video is lacking something, though.

Lipstick is a song which I found somewhat too obnoxious at first, but I've warmed up to it. It's nice that there's real brass in this song, though it seems to be multitracked. With regards to the PV, I can attest that it's really hard to groove while playing a trumpet, unless you have extensive marching or ska band experience. I'm also a bit surprised that I can't find a translation for this song online. Makes me want to step up and do it, but my skills are probably far too rudimentary.

Well, anyway, I ended up not ordering the album. Maybe next month, who knows.

Monday, February 25, 2008


So I'm about to plunge deeper into this subculture, by putting lots of money into it. It will be a downward, vicious cycle of spending and obtaining; I can feel it. Though, arguably I started this behavior sometime ago. I was at Kinokuniya today and ended up buying 9 volumes of manga. That I am unable to read, mostly. They join the rest of my manga in my bookcase, which has been growing at an exponentially increasing rate as of late.

But, buying "raw" manga doesn't worry me that much. I feel a certain responsibility to buy the series that stand out, after having read so many scanlations. In my book, buying J-pop is more worrisome. After all, I'm not so big a fan of pop music in general. There are a few standout artists that I feel compelled to support, though admittedly I view J-pop through the limiting lens of anime openings and endings. I think what makes buying J-pop more worrisome is that I have to import it. And it's $30 an album, or $12 for a single. That level of pricing gives me pause. Still, I've filled my shopping cart and am waiting for a sense of finality -- some comparison shopping shows that yesasia doesn't carry some of my items. I guess I'll sit on this basket for one more day. Or not...

The most serious threat to my wallet and my ego, however, are figures. I posted a picture of the older version of this Haruhi some time back. I think I'm going to get it now. Hopefully the molds aren't shot.

I wouldn't be thinking seriously of getting figures if it wasn't for good ol' Heisei Democracy. I have a serious itch to get that Kagami, even at $40ish. They're definitely sucking the fanbase dry on this figure -- the design is nowhere near as complex as other figures at this price point. So, uh, somehow that makes me think that getting the Kagami + Tsukasa set is a good idea. Seriously. I'm walking a fine line between semi-restraint and full-blown goods fiending. After the figures come square pillows, and then long ones. (I don't know Polyphonica, actually, just couldn't find the Hinagiku dakimakura on this site. There seems to be a towel though. :3)

Friday, February 22, 2008

anime on bossa = wtf

I saw [Iwao Junko - Anime on Bossa] at the strangely-titled Akibanana, and decided to check it out. It's pretty weird, as expected. That's not to say that there's not good talent involved: the musicians have impressive chops, and Iwao Junko does something of an Astrud Gilberto impression. As a card-carrying member of the Jazz Police, however, I sense some faults in this album, on a deep, ideological level. First, these are anime songs (that I don't know, mostly), so they sound a bit funny (or a lot funny) when set against that swaying bossa nova beat. Second, a few of the tracks aren't bossa nova; they're that corny-earnest weird Japanese jazz.

Corny-earnest jazz is bad. It's insidiously bad. I can't really explain, it just twists me painfully inside. I've heard it in places like 99 Ranch, a CD full of "I'm playing with strategically added grace notes from a half step below, so it must be cool and jazzy now" piano schlock. So please stop making this stuff. Thanks in advance.

[This post was rescued from the drafts dustbin in May 2009, and the original link is dead.]


I've been going a little crazy these past few days trying to find out when the 10th Haruhi novel is coming out. So far, no hard date. There's some news from last summer about it being delayed. This thing (described as a shareholder report by Babelfish) shows 涼宮ハルヒの驚愕 due sometime this month. However, given that there's been no massive ad campaign, it can't be arriving anytime soon.

I kind of feel that Tanigawa-sensei has written himself into a hole with the plot direction in #9. From past author's notes, Tanigawa-sensei gives the impression that he spends a lot of time in plotting and planning. Since #10 is supposed to be the conclusion of the arc started in #9, the only thing that could be holding it back so long is a massive replumbing job. At least that's my hope. #9 gets into dangerous territory, in that it focuses the overarching plot, introducing new characters and potentially expanding the SOS-dan. In previous novels we've spent a lot of time delving into things involving Yuki and Mikuru, and not so much the Haruhi=God supposition. By extension, we've yet to see much of Koizumi's secrets. I doubt this forthcoming novel will blow the whole thing wide open, but hopefully it'll answer more questions than it raises, without sinking the enterprise.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I took a look at To LOVE-Ru and saw the name Yabuki Kentaro. Flipping through the first chapter, I'm glad to say that I didn't see Train or Sven, but the bodyguard guys were awfully familiar... Well, typical shōnen fanservice manga I guess.

Then I came across this madness. Tokunan Seiichirō: Human Clock. It's seriously surreal: feels like Dali (art and film), Picasso, Miró, and whoever else did this sort of thing, along with a splash of French cinema. I can't tell if this is pure sloppiness or pure genius.

Comipress: Tokunan Seiichirō
Julien Offray de La Mettrie
Man a Machine, translated

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Doujin Work

You would think that the whole making-doujinshi genre has been wayy overdone. It has, for sure, but somehow it's terribly enjoyable. I started watching Doujin Work again (after a hiatus), which consists of some amazingly low-budget animation. The first few episodes were pretty predictable, but I watched episode 4 last night and it was hilarious. The whole Cafe With Cat stuff was great. And ... :3

[I finally hooked up my big speakers. Earlier I played the ED from Noir, which had a rather scary presence. Now I found my Tenchi stuff. It's pretty nostalgic. The OP to Universe is rather amusing. More importantly, I need to find my Foobar settings...]

Friday, February 1, 2008

Geh, more anime

I'm glad there's not very much to watch this season. Maybe I can catch up with older stuff... primarily Dennou Coil.

I just watched the first episode of Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de / They are my noble masters. It's pretty darn trashy, but still entertaining. I confess that I do have an affinity for the ojou-sama setup, which is the primary reason for my interest in this anime. However, it may just be too trashy to endure. For example all the characters are uncannily derivative. Shinra (-sama) gives me Haruhi vibes, I can't place Hato but she seems awfully familiar, and the rest ... yeah. I like how Yume is into ham radio, but these randomnesses are just that: randomnesses. (According to Firefox spellcheck, it's a word. Woot.)

Last week I watched Minami-ke ~Okawari~. I couldn't stand last season's edition, but the new crew seems to have a better conception of the manga's unique characteristics. Just starting from the (pretty bizarre) opening, you can tell they're reaching for some OMGWTF. Then the pacing, the fast cuts, and the freeze-frames are all done in a way that reflects the manga's deadpan action. I think they got it right, along with the slice-of-life elements.

Tried Wolf and Spice. Seems pretty meh. I'm putting this series in the "going to read the novel someday" pile.

Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is awesome, no question. Haven't watched it yet, beyond a few minutes.

I finished Myself; Yourself a few weeks ago. It wasn't anything special, and I plan to hate on it sometime. Currently in the romance pile are Kimikiss, CLANNAD, and Tokimeki Memorial (surprisingly awesome, I swear), so I'm not sure about picking up either of this season's offerings. H2O has generic character design, pretty nice backgrounds, and maybe an interesting story, but I worry that it's cliché and/or depressing. True Tears seems like it has more ambitious direction, and from the description has the potential to be more heartfelt and slice-of-life-y. We'll see.