atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

Anime anime anime

Nana

I've watched up to episode five--that's all that's out there at the moment--and now I'm hooked. It's good stuff. It's a soap opera, but it's a good one; and since I enjoyed Marmalade Boy and Hana Yori Dango I'm thinking this one ought to be entertaining as well.

The first episode deals with how Nana and Nana meet and end up living together; and then the next four show us their backstory. It's common in anime for the first episode to set the hook, while the next several explain how the first episode actually ended up happening. Flashback is a time-honored technique; and to be honest I don't think starting the story at the actual beginning would have made us care at all about the eponymous characters.

Creamy Mami

I haven't watched more of this yet. I have episodes 15 and 17 in their entirety; but when I try to download episode 16 I get errors and an incomplete AVI file which--as some of you may know--won't play. AVI files are like that.

Video File Annoyances
I guess that the DiVX format is a form of AVI. It's a shame that there's not an MPG format which is as useful (or pervasive, anyway) as the DiVX format; the nice thing about MPEG files is that they're robust: drop a frame (or a few thousand) and you get a video glitch, some blocking, and then after a bit it picks right back up and plays normally again. You need not necessarily have the beginning, or end, of an MPEG, in order for it to play, as long as you have one of them...and sometimes you don't even need that.

AVI? Forget it. If the whole file is not there, you might as well delete it, because it won't play. There are programs which can repair them, of course, but I've had only mixed success with them.

I did have an issue with a massive AVI file. The CD it was on got scratched, and this 350 MB AVI file could not be read from the CD. After using plastic polish and a CD repairer, repeatedly and in alternation, I managed to get the CD to the point where the AVI could be copied to the hard drive. Then I used an AVI recovery program to fix the AVI, so that it plays. I lost the first minute or so, which is not all that critical--and which is certainly preferable to not having the file at all.

From this I learned that whenever I remove something from my hard drive, I must first copy it to two disks, not one. Two backups, not one. Two copies, not one. TWO.

TWO
NOT
ONE

...because with digital media, if you don't have it in at least two places, you don't have it. And blank disks--CD-Rs in particular, but it's also true of DVD+/-Rs--are a lot cheaper than the hour plus I had to spend rubbing tiny circles of plastic polish on a CD in order to get MOST of the data back....


So I'm trying again to download the next several episodes of Creamy Mami.

Chobits

I just remembered something else about this series. One of the characters is a senior in high school named Yumi. She tells Hideki, point blank, that her breasts are an "E-cup".

...of course that makes her a D-cup here in America...but those are just huge breasts for any high school girl, particularly one who is Japanese. Now I find myself hoping for some fan service.

The thinpack box set I got for $65 includes a CD of "character songs". Character songs are similar to insert songs, except that they are not (normally) used in the actual anime. They may be used on drama CDs.

IMHO, character song CDs are just about worthless. I have never heard a character song I liked. There have been pleny of insert songs I liked ("Summer Jewel", from Wedding Peach, for example) but not character songs. I would have been a lot happier if they had included a soundtrack CD (OST CD), as was done with the Vampire Princess Miyu TV (VPM TV)box set, for example.

Kenji Kawai
The soundtrack music for VPM TV was done by Kenji Kawai, who is--bar none!--my favorite Japanese composer. When it comes to anime soundtracks there is none better. He has an impressive list of credits to his name (Internet Movie Database entry: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0442766/ ) going back to 1986, when he did music for Maison Ikkoku.

If you listen to it in the context of the anime, it is simply perfect. For example, in Mermaid Forest the music has a wonderful sense of melancholy that perfectly matches the mood of the story. In VPM TV, the third track on the OST disk, "Karma", nicely captures the feeling of hopelessness that pervades the entire series. Yet if you listen to the OST for Hime-chan's Ribbon, the music he wrote for that series is cheerful, optimistic, and fun--which matches that magical girl series perfectly.

The Patlabor movies are serious stories set in an alternate universe where large anthropomorphic machines (called "Labors") are used for things like construction. Kawai did the music for all three of them, although I have only seen the first two--and the music, again, fits pefectly, giving a sense of purpose, a modern energy with optimism, but with the assumption that not all will be well all the time. In particular, the opening music to the first Patlabor movie is a track named "Heavy Armor" which shows a bunch of military labors taking out a prototype which is apparently being stolen...only once it is disabled and forced open, there is no pilot inside....


Rumiko Takahashi

I have to talk about Takahashi a bit here, too.

Takahashi is a woman, about 10 years older than me, and she makes as much per year as a good NFL quarterback. All that money has come from the tip of her pencil.

Her first big series was Urusei Yatsura (UY). Every comic artist on the planet would mow down entire primary schools for that kind of success; it's a pivotal series in anime for a variety of reasons, and it's found a second life among American anime fans.

Right on the heels of UY came Maison Ikkoku. Maison was totally different from UY. UY was a science fiction slapstick comedy with a love story at its core; Maison was a present-day love story with a core of slapstick comedy, and the manga has some very well-tuned dramatic moments in it. While Maison was not the powerhouse that UY was, it was successful enough to run from beginning to end and spawn a 72-episode anime series.

Then, after Maison, came Ranma 1/2. Again, it was a completely different type of story: this time it was a fighting series, centering on martial arts, but with a twist: the main character, when splashed with cold water, turns into an attractive girl, due to an ancient Chinese curse...and other characters in the series are similarly afflicted. And of course, at the core of the series is a love story.

Ranma is the series which sold Americans on anime, too. Shogakkokan, the company which Takahashi works for, established Viz Communications here in North America and proceeded to distribute the series here, both in sub and dub formats. The dub was "just right" for the first three seasons' worth of the series, with voices, pronunciation, and translation all dead-on. Commercial distribution started in 1993, as I recall. Or perhaps it was 1994; I didn't start collecting Ranma until 1995, myself, and wasn't even aware of its existence before around June of 1994. A lot of people I know who are into anime are there because they saw Ranma 1/2, and it didn't suck.

Ranma turned in seven seasons' worth of anime, six OVAs, and two feature-length movies. (One movie, 30 minutes long, was released here as an OVA.) The merchandising was pretty spectacular, too.

And after the end of Ranma, Takahashi started with Inu Yasha (IY). IY went to animation at the same time the manga was being published. IY is shown on Cartoon Network. The dub is not what I would call "very good" (see earlier entries). But IY is, to any and all inspection, just as popular as Ranma was, and possibly a good deal more...and of course if you buy the DVDs you don't have to put up with the dub.

There are few comic artists in the world who have ever seen this kind of popular success. Takahashi knows what she's about, that's for sure.
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