December 30, 2013

For Steven

If he ever comes by, these are from Accel World episode 6. The woman is "Aqua Current", who helps our pudgy hero when he spends too many points leveling up and is at risk of getting knocked out of the game.

With bonus awkward fall.

Bonus: Her avatar wears them too.
"You can introduce me to Gendo Sensei?"


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December 29, 2013

I must be doing something right

After a LONG absence, I'm attracting spammers again.  Annoyingly, there's one Japanese one who has figured out the formula well enough to come in at a 4.5 on the spam-o-meter so his posts actually show up.

Until I delete them.

In the Queue: Accel World. I decided to pick it up because of an AMV. Yeah, I know I hate Arena combat, but something about the interaction with the pudgy, loser main character and the school princess makes me want to find out what's going on.

Two episodes in though and I'm seeing one flaw with the design.  New users of the Brain Burst program get 100 points. Every time they enter it they lose one, and every time they lose a fight, they lose 10 (or win 10 if they win). There may be a greater prize if they beat a higher level player, as unlikely as that is. If they're wiped out, they're locked out of ever using it again.  So it's kinda like AmWay, to get anywhere you have to keep bringing new people in and wipe them out. Thus it CAN'T be such a secret society like they're making it out to be, and their count must be off.  Especially since other players seem to enter the burst mode just to watch the fights.

Update: Okay, Spectating doesn't count, but still, the point economy only has transfers and losses, so the only way to add to the economy is new members.

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December 27, 2013

Planetes - Series Review

Finally!  Something Good!

I try to be a good guy, and when something is commercially available, I get it from Netflix instead of torrents.  Well, usually.  But some schmuck lost or destroyed disk 4, and they are probably never going to get it replaced.  Surprisingly there are a couple of active torrents (one is insanely big, BD dumps and tons of extras (but who really needs 6 meg png files?) 27 gig is just too much.)

The show is near-is future, 2075, Earth orbit is very commercialized, and very full of junk. Our heroes work in the very lowly-regarded Debris Collection department of one of the space companies, Technora. Tanabe Ai is a young girl who just got her job with the company, and as she and her three other friends who came up with her go to their new departments, she begins to realize that her low test scores have literally landed her at the bottom.  But in spite of the weird crew of misfits she's been assigned to, she takes her work of making space safe very seriously.

Hachimaki - Hachirota Hoshino is their ace EVA guy, Fee Carmichael is the pilot of the Toy Box, a retrieval vessel with a big cargo bay that opens, for the big stuff, and a compliment of "Fishbones" bare-bones crew transport sleds for the smaller bits. Yuri Mihairokoh is another crew member, who has a side business running a kennel for people's pets, plus there's an assistant manager who is a bit of a clown, but always eager to make sure he's licking the shoes of the company superiors properly, and a manager who is thoroughly inept but very close to retirement.  Fortunately they have a temp worker secretary who is utterly by the books to keep the paperwork straight.

In 26 episodes the manage to cover a LOT of story arcs. There is a good amount of soap opera, Office politics, international politics, Space terrorism, disasters, philosophy, and a mission to Jupiter.

Some of the characters are tropes, of course, Ai is naive, but outspoken, and true to her name believes in the power of love, even when she's screaming at Hachimaki for being such a sullen lump. He has a pilot buddy who is moving up in the world, graduating from freighters to a passenger shuttle, while he's been in neutral collecting debris for the last three years. Fee is an excellent pilot, but nothing had better come between her and her cigarettes. Yuri's personal arc starts with him getting into debris collection because he and his new wife were on a shuttle that got hit by a very fast-moving bolt. She and her effects weren't found, but he's hoping to find something of hers.  He does, a Compass she was wearing around her neck, and while that helps, it's not until it gets crushed in an accident that he's finally able to let go of his grief.

The Terrorists, the Space Defense Force, don't like it that first world countries benefit the most from space resources, they want mankind out of space and the money spent on them and their problems. By odd chance, it's the crew of the Toy Box that fouls their plans again and again. But this isn't low-comedy, Saturday morning "Curses, Foiled again" plot foiling. At one point the Toy Box is destroyed on re-entry, almost taking Fee with it when a satellite designated as junk turns out to be a powered kinetic kill vehicle aimed at the big twin-wheel station that is their home. The resulting debris field will take out the other 11 stations, and pollute orbit with enough junk to basically confine mankind to the surface.

This is a show that loves space, and in spite of the politics of resource allocation in the backdrop, it unabashedly promotes the idea that humanity's future is out there, although it is a cruel and unforgiving mistress.

Yeah, I can recommend this.  I watched it straight through over the course of two days.

The Deadfish torrent is 6.84 gigs, contains just the 26 episodes in 720p, but, alas is hardsubbed.

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December 24, 2013

Deadman Wonderland

So, rather than resuming episodic reviews, in this case I just went and sat through the rest of the series. It's been a while, so I don't know if anyone would pick up the thread for lack of relevance.

I will give the series credit on one point. It did NOT devolve into endless arena combat, but it does switch gears halfway through. After two fights, there's a bit of a wrap-up to the Takami Yoh arc - his sister it turns out is one of the "Deadmen" and he deliberately got into the prison to amass a huge amount of the Cast Points in order to buy his sister's sentence out. Unfortunately, once he tracks her down to the hidden G-block, he's told that prisoners there can not buy their sentences off. He is moved almost completely off the chessboard by having the living snot beaten out of him by one of the anti-deadman enforcers they suddenly introduce, called Undertakers.

Ganta falls in with a crew planning to bust out. And this introduces the reason I decided to finish watching, there's a girl with dark skin and almost-white hair. I really like that combination in Anime girls, I have ever since I saw Pirotess in The Legend Lodoss War. Doesn't hurt that she's fairly stacked, and she's the second in command of the group. Her blood power forms an impenetrable shield on her skin. It's kind of improbable that they had a sort of bar to hang out in off the G-block.

A little the worse for the wear after the big fight.

The plotters are taking advantage of a week-long inspection tour of the prison, during which a lot of the skeevier elements are hidden away. They have one super-hacker on the crew, and he's prepared a data drive full of evidence that will bring the place down. All they have to do is break out far enough to get it into the hands of a government official or member of the press.

Ah, they're so naive.

Their data expert is a traitor, actually a member of the undertakers, and it's all a setup. The data drive is not only a fake, it's an explosive device. They don't know this. While the leader and the hacker breach the control room to open the freight elevator for the others, the Undertakers make their move.

And at this point, they introduce one of the most improbable of characters, my disbelief had to be suspended by the neck until it stopped twitching. Clearly they must be borrowing from Bleach or something. The undertaker who shows up to take out the leader of the escape crew is a little 7-year old girl with a giant chain-blade axe twice her size that has no respect for the laws of physics. She has a background in punishment that makes Mommie Dearest look like Teletubbies, and apparently this led her to kill all of her kindergarten classmates for their deficiencies.

The leader manages to knock out the hacker, and drive off the girl and activate the freight elevator, which the rest of the crew takes, and which, naturally, leads them to a slaughter. He gets on the coms to warn anyone listening at the clubhouse about the data drive, but of course, nobody's there. Well, except Shiro, who, not having any blood powers (that anyone knows about) has been left out of the plot. With most of the crew dead, for some reason the Undertakers and their troops retreat. Shiro arrives via an alternate route, grabs the drive from Ganta's hand, and chucks it in a burning storeroom where it explodes. The fact that the store-room was full of flammables disguises the reason for the explosion, and Shiro's nutgirl logic is unable to explain why she did what she did. All Ganta can figure out is that she just ruined the escape plot, he punches her and they have a falling out.

There's a bit of business where the leader of the Undertakers captures and brainwashes the leader to be one of them, while the remains of the crew are held hostage to ensure his co-operation. The data guy comes in to gloat, reveals that the USB-like data chip was a fake AND a bomb, and that he was the one who edited the video that convicted Ganta, among other things. He also has a dislike for Ganta and wants him killed first, by two thug-like Undertakers who are given brief flash-back introductions (one raised by bears in the woods, the other an Ed Gein-like serial killer). The first guy Ganta fought, who wasn't in on the escape plot, whose blood forms sword blades on his arms, crashes in, kills the two thugs, and Says something about wanting to get in on the fight. "Who are their toughest guys?" he asks. One of the crew points to the floor, "I think they were." He looks very disappointed. Melee ensues, the squad is killed, that Data guy captured and beaten for intel. Dark/White announces they're going to break out anyway, and that demonstrating their powers would be enough to prove that something hinky is going on in the prison. Ganta is left out of the plan.

It's a prison, you'd think they'd have handcuffs or something, but no, he's HOLDING her hands behind her back. A fatal tactical error.

At some point, Dark/White is captured (after switching into some captured Undertaker armor - but her voice gives her away), along with Shiro, and unspeakable things are going to be done to them if they don't all surrender. But the crew sticks to the plan. Ganta, being out of the deal, goes to the rescue, and basically gets his clock cleaned. Dark/White is nearly killed by the brainwashed leader, who goes on to massacre basically everyone in the room, but Ganta interposes himself as a human punching bag when he comes after Shiro. Eventually though, he snaps out of it (cued by a bell Dark/White wears around her neck), and the leader of the Undertakers is defeated.

Three of the crew escape. The director doesn't quite care since none of them are on the official roll of the prison. Major Boobs, er, Makina, who with her data girl managed to get the goods on the director slyly agrees that everything is okay, but well, if there's a season 2, something might happen with that.

Of course, there was no season 2, and I suppose the Manga may even still be going. So it stops, but it doesn't end. Ganta and Shiro are reconciled, but they don't escape. Shiro had been revealed to have also been the Red Man responsible for it all, but only to the viewers. I guess she wanted Ganta to be with her to "play".

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December 21, 2013

Okay, so...

Since I can't whine about not getting any comments for three months (by one day), can I at least whine about not being on anyone's Blogroll?

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December 13, 2013

Yumekui Merry - Dream-eater Merry

(Sheesh, I now have TWO unfinished draft posts lurking under the surface.)

Anyway, I've been trying to work my way through the various series I've downloaded and never watched over the past few years, and decided to take them on alphabetically. (And this came first because the circle was Ayako.)

And the verdict is, "Man, I should have recovered that drive space ages ago."

What a MESS this show is. Clearly they expected a second season or something, or else they just dropped plot lines left and right for lack of attention span. They certainly didn't pay much attention to what they were doing. I mean, they set up one big bad, and then halfway through, they completely forgot about him to play with another big bad who was cuter and more psychotic.

So, the Hero is a guy who can see auras when he looks through his thumb and forefinger, and predict people's dreams, and he meets Merry, who is a girl from the dream realm somehow lost in the real world. Our hero is haunted in his dreams by a dream villain who has an army of anthropomorphic cats who chase him through his dreams. But this isn't too important, since they drop him after a couple of episodes.

Our Hero can somehow forcefully enter the "Daydream" state, and bring Merry with him, where she fights off the other dream creatures, called Muma, who are taking over humans, making them their "Vessels."

And this is where the concept breaks down. Because there are about four different factions here. There's an organized Big Bad, who acts as a "Lighthouse" drawing Muma towards the real world, where they can lodge themselves in people's dreams, another crazy one called alternatively "Mistilteinn" (Mistleteen in the subs) or "Sea of Trees." She's a very powerful Muma who basically murders other Muma for kicks. There's another girl who is the vessel for a sort of dream cop who wants revenge on Mistleteen, and another girl who is the host of yet another revenge-seeker named Engi who is after the first big bad for luring her sister off to her death.

One of the side effects of killing off a Muma who has successfully infested the dreams of someone is they become listless and unmotivated and lose their dream in life. (Now, sometimes this is actually a positive, symbiotic relationship, but the big bad has perverted this). BUT, in the first few episodes, Merry does this exact thing, making her just as bad, although the results aren't shown. Engi is also out slaughtering Muma who are part of the Big Bad's plot, with similar devastating results for the victims.

But the worst of the worst is Mistilteinn, since her host is the school's guidance councilor who is equally as evil and hateful as her. He builds up the dreams of his students so that they will be a much tastier slaughter for Mistilteinn, and it's also implied that he has brought to her some new things to do in the dream state that involve tearing off her clothes. Together, they are a really nasty piece of work.

The Cop type tends to run his vessel's life into the ground, she lives in a filthy apartment filled with the cans of coffee which is her only sustenance, has no friends, and she slips into the dream state because the Cop's gun which supposedly can kill Mistilteinn runs on the deaths of dreams, they're saving up enough for one "bullet."

Eventually Merry and Engi, who have allied, realize they can't just keep killing off other Muma, which puts them at the typical good guys' dilemma.  Especially when it turns out that our hero's sister, whose passion is art, has attracted a cute little Muma of her own, making her a delicious target for the guidance councilor. They battle Mistilteinn a couple of times to protect her, but avoid letting her in on the secret battle through the mechanism of having her unconscious all the time.

The final battle (and remember, the big bad is forgotten by this point) results in Mistilteinn thoroughly kicking everybody's ass, the gun failing to kill her, and even our hero, who has been utterly useless in a fight so far getting his ass handed to him. BUT, he has one thing going for him, "heart" and that inspires Merry to revival, and eventually to beating Mistilteinn. It is WEAK storytelling at best, and so many things get lost along the way, like our hero's quest to help Merry get back to the dream world, or the explanation about how she got to the real world without a vessel, or even why the cat guy makes a brief appearance as a useful source of information after an eight episode absence.

There are only a few bright spots about it. First is that they DON'T feel compelled to suddenly make Merry start going to our hero's school (Although they do get her to work briefly in the family cafe). Engi is a rather attractive character with her ball gown and crystal swords (and the oddest opera-length ... mittens ... ever), and when the cat guy for some reason helps spiritually heal our hero in the dream world, it is with the helpful ministrations of a couple of cat-girls.

Sorry, no screen shots. I was watching it on Etna, and I don't feel like going through this mess again to find a few shots. (although, if I get enough requests, I might pick a few things.)

There is a beach episode that is the most poorly justified excuse of a beach episode ever. For the plot holes, abandoned plot threads, the obvious openings for a second season that never came, and the heroine who is the least special Muma in the show (seemingly the only one without powers), I'm ashamed I allowed this trash to take up my drive space for two years. It's just utterly unsatisfying.

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