Friday, October 29, 2010

Give a Hoot

Brand new SNSD (Girl's Generation) music video hot off the presses, Hoot.

I genuinely love their music. Anyone who is a fan who hasn't picked up their amazing iPhone app that includes their second album and music videos and pictures can do so: here. Otherwise enjoy their new video:

I think Yoona has slowly worked her way up to becoming my favorite of the girls. She looks especially hot in this one.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Daft Punkin'

To keep up with current themes...

Source:  Hack of the Day
Via: Engadget

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Daft Punk Video/Trailer for Tron Legacy ..

I know, I know... It's been a while. Most of you probably hardly noticed. My return is imminent but to start things off I'll post the recently released Video for Tron: Legacy and featuring Daft Punk's Drezzed. I can hardly wait for December.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lonecow's Top 10 Anime Women - Haruhi Suzumiya

We are down to the last two entry's in this "Top 10 Anime Women" Series I started a few months ago. Clearly, I've been putting off these last two, just because of how much I want to cover with each of them.

Neither of the final two will really be a surprise, and they are two of the most popular females in anime. But there is a reason for that. They are both excellent characters who deserve the attention they receive. With that said, I give you:

Number 02: Haruhi Suzumiya
Show: The Melencoly of Haruhi Suzumiya

Background: Haruhi might seem like your every day frustrated high school girl, but there is something much different about her. She is God.

Well maybe not God, maybe just a powerful Esper, or a living singularity. But whatever she is she has the ability to alter the world around her through her subconscious. Haruhi doesn't know this, of course, she is just angry at how boring her life is. It is up to the people around her, most notably Kyon, to make sure she never figures out about her power, otherwise the world might be doomed.

Why she is on this list: The Melencoly of Haruhi Suzumiya was a revolutionary anime. Some people might take issue with that statement, but as I said before it is a popular anime because it is such a good show. Before Haurhi, television anime, was mostly "monster of the week" or "magical girl with reused stock transformation sequences". Anime was all about flashy specticales with super powers and transformations. Then Haruhi came and turned the genre on it's ear.

Since then, Haruhi has been the main progenitor of moe culture. So many see it as the anime equivalent of Saten, with moe as it's unholy hell spawn. As I have had to defend moe a lot on this blog, I will do so again. Moe, is to love an anime character. It isn't a genre of anime. Slice of Life is a genre, moe is not. Haruhi started the moe craze because when she showed her face in the second episode of the TV show, millions of Otaku fell in love. Love with a 2D character = Moe. That is the extent of it.

And while I did find Haruhi to be quite an appealing character, it was the show's concept that drew me into it. It wasn't a show about "in your face" science fiction. It was a very clever sci-fi show where all the supernatural stuff happens in the background. It happens in a way where you could even say, "Hey this kind of thing might be going on right now".

Don't get me wrong, I love crazy explosions, and Star Wars, Aliens, etc type Sci-Fi as well, but sometimes I like the calmer affairs. Something like the novel, Never Let Me Go, which was just made into a film, to me is on the same lines of Haruhi. Of course they are very different in tone and quality of writing, but they are the same type of science fiction. It's the world these characters live in, but it isn't what drives them through their daily life. The supernatural is there, and they deal with it when they need too.

It also makes the scenes where there is explosive action stand out and become that much more rewarding, as opposed to having every episode with characters throwing fireballs at each other. The bloody battle between Yuki and Asakura is so memorable because there isn't a ton of those types of scenes throughout.

But here I am going on and on about the show, when this is supposed to be about the character of Suzumiya. Of course none of this show could work if she wasn't one of the greatest anime protagonists in history. The show would fall flat if Haruhi was just as flat.

She is a complex character, that you never really know what she is thinking. She is smart, brash, eccentric, outgoing, ambitious, emotional, bipolar, and just a little bit sweet. All these qualities I've listed double as both her greatest strength and her biggest weakness. Any character that can't be simply defined by a word or a stereotype (like so so many anime characters out there) is a great character.

The "sweet" moments I mentioned above are what makes her work her way into your heart. Most of the time she is "balls to the wall" full of ambition with her next totally insane plan, but in an instance where Kyon tell her she looks good in a ponytail, only to see her wearing a ponytail in the next episode. Those are the endearing times where we see her humanity, and that she really is a normal teenager who wants to be loved. And because of that you can't help but love her.

Haruhi was number one on my list for a long time. Pretty much ever since I watched the first episode. Then Endless Eight happened. Now I'm not one of these people who got so pissed at Endless Eight that I stopped watching the show, or wrote angry tirades on ANN. I just watched two episodes of it and went on. But the negativity surrounding the whole debacle did wear on me a little bit, and as a result Haruhi dropped slightly in favor. But I haven't seen the movie yet, so she still has a chance to work her way back to the top spot.

Seiyu: Aya Hirano

In many ways I've be waiting to do this article just because I knew this section would be much longer than other Seiyu's in past entries.

When I first got into Haruhi, and decided to look up who was the voice of Haruhi Suzumiya, like I do most characters I like, I never thought it would take me down the path it took me.

If I had been born a Japanese Otaku, my love for Aya Hirano might have led to possible stalking and a restraining order. I haven't fallen so hard for a celebrity since I was a teenager watching Natalie Portman in Phantom Menace.

I mean here was an anime character I absolutely adored, Haruhi, and her real life voice actress was just as beautiful and quirky as the character. It was too good to be true. And it was the closest thing to having Haruhi exist in this plane of reality.

Aya became the first Seiyuu whose career I actually followed. I watched some of her anime before Haruhi, such as Death Note, and Kiddy Grade (horrible anime btw), and after Haruhi I've followed her through a majority of her work, often by accident, such as Lucky Star, Marcross Frontier, Bakemonogatari, Queen's Blade, White Album, Seikon no Qwasar to name just a few.

Like most Seiyu's these days she is also an accomplished musician and has had a few albums released, as well as hit singles. I had the pleasure of being in Japan when Riot Girl was released.

It's been rumored that she is giving up being a Seiyuu. When this was announced, most Otaku went into rage mode. However, if you see how much she works, and how much she is scrutinized by her "fans", it is no wonder she wants to possibly call it quits. She was lampooned so bad by the people who claim to love her, just for wearing a bathing suit upside down. At some point I also would say, "It's not worth it."

If anything I think she will just cut back on the number of roles she takes. Right now she is rivaling Megumi Hayashibara for the hardest working woman in voice acting, and I'm sure it is taking its toll. I have little to no doubt that she will always voice her main characters such as Haruhi, Naneal, Konata if asked to do so. We just won't see her playing side characters anymore.

Regardless of what her future is, I always hope she comes out on top because she really is an amazing vocal talent and it would be a shame to see it wasted.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Unlimited Blade Works Review and Preamble

I haven't been a Fate/Stay Night fan for long. In fact it's probably been three years this month. However, despite not being into it as long as some fans, I feel about as strongly about it as I do many other properties that have been with me for a longer time.

My love for Fate/Stay Night is exclusive to the Visual Novel. The Visual Novel is unlike many other Eroges and VN games in that there are three distinct paths the main character, Shirou Emiya must go down. Each path cannot be unlocked until the former has been played through until the end. These three paths are called: Fate, Unlimited Blade Works (henceforth referred to as UBW), and Heaven's Feel (HF).

The real genius in this model is that although all three stories have the same beginning, they don't reiterate a lot of the same information. For example, some of the grand revelations in the "Fate" storyline aren't even addressed or are figured out a lot quicker by the characters, so there is a never a point the reader is like, "Alright get on with it I know all this already." However, there is some things revealed in Fate, that is needed to know by the reader to understand UBW and HF. It is a literary work of art in my opinion. How can you tell a story in three alternate universes, that is essentially the same story but have all three versions be compelling? Fate/Stay Night is the answer to that question.

That being said, the Unlimited Blade Works is hands down my favorite route in the novel. Fate I liked because of Saber and all the mythology, but I really hated Shirou in that path. He was a male chauvinist to an umpteenth degree. Some of this I realized is deeply routed in Japanese customs, but when you compare Shirou in Fate to his UBW and HF versions, you have to wonder what was wrong with him. In UBW he is a complete heroic badass, and doesn't even stop to let Tohsaka or Saber fight for him (though he still prefers protecting them when possible).

The Heaven's Feel route I enjoyed for the story and creepy atmosphere and the focus on Rider, but I absolutely can't stand Sakura, whom is the female protagonist in HF, and thus really made it less enjoyable for me.

The Fate/Stay Night anime was mostly based on the Fate scenario, with some bits added from UBW, and some made up stuff, that just make the whole thing unwatchable. When I went back and watched it a second time, I enjoyed it more, but really I don't like the anime.

So when the movie version of Fate/Stay Night was announced, and claimed to be based on Unlimited Blade Works, I couldn't help but get excited. Then news came out that Studio Deen, the company behind the anime, would be handling it, and I got nervous.

Last night I watched the Unlimited Blade Works film, and I haven't been this torn about a movie in a while. I mean that quite literally. Half of me loves it and half of me hates it.

Compilation films, when spoken together, are two dirty words to western audiences. I'm not sure how the Japanese feel about them, but I know whenever news comes out that an anime is getting a feature film, all excitement is instantly quelled when it is later reveled the film will be a compilation film.

Compilation films are those that takes the anime and cuts it down into movie length. Usually, what results is a truncated version of the story with much of the personality cut out. On top of that, huge gaps of the story are missing and as a result, the movie makes no sense to anyone who hasn't already seen the TV series. To this day I don't really know who the intended audience for these films are.

Now that I have said that, I must point out that Unlimited Blade works is not a Compilation Film from the Fate/Stay Night anime. UBW features brand new animated scenes, that could possibly melt your eyeballs with their flashy elegance and beauty. There isn't a single scene in UBW that comes from the anime.

So why do I even make the distinction of a Compilation Film? It is because that is exactly what UBW feels like. It isn't a real movie. It is a Compilation film based on the Unlimited Blade Works route in the visual novel if that had been animated into a TV show.

What I mean is that unless you have read the Visual Novel, Unlimited Blade Works likely won't make a lick of sense to you. This is mostly true for the beginning of the movie, when the scenes change location to location without a single speck of dialog explaining how the characters where at home and now in a church and now on a bridge. It kind of reminds me of the anime equivalent of the Old Spice commercials. I halfway expected Shirou to look at the camera and say, "I'm on a horse."

However, if you read the visual novel, everything will make perfect sense.

This is why I said I am torn in my feelings for the film. I actually caught myself thinking during one pivotal scene in the film, "I love this." When I read the novel, I wanted to see that scene animated, and here it was in full glory, rendered almost exactly how my mind had pictured it. For that, the film succeeded in matching my expectations from a visual level. The action is so fluid and so beautiful that it is almost a dream come true to see it as such.

But as a film it just doesn't work. A film needs to be able to tell a story from beginning to end without need of previous knowledge. It needs to stand alone. This is why adapting a book into a screenplay is such a hard and tedious job, and no one likes doing it. The creators of Unlimited Blade Works movie just decided to skip this integral step and animated their favorite scenes. So as a film it is a complete and utter failure.

So really it comes down to what kind of a fan you are. If you read the Visual Novel, and have a complete understanding of the situation, then you will most likely enjoy this film. Even if you haven't read it in a long time, it isn't confusing at all, as long as you have read it.

If you are completely ignorant to all that is Fate/Stay Night, then you might want to stay away from this film. It is not the way to be introduced to the wonderful and magical world of Fate Stay/Night.

Ultimately, the perfect place for this movie would be to be re-edited into the original visual novel, so that when those scenes happen it goes straight to the animated version. That I wouldn't mind seeing at all.

Queen's Blade Battle

I make no qualms about being a huge Queen's Blade fan. I'm sure that isn't surprising to anyone who frequents this blog.

I am a fan of cheesecake camp. If you go on a message board and say you like this type of stuff, some prude always channels their inner Puritan, and has to say, "Just Google porn if you want to see bewbs." The type of person that responds in this manner is most likely also the type of person to stay up all night, pasty faced, watching all kinds of deplorable acts between a man/woman and a horse, in the same way that conservative senators and politicians who make legislation against homosexuals are always the ones taking it from both ends at a dive in San Fransisco. But I digress.

Watching the Queen's Blade anime has never once prompted me to "whip it out and go to town". I just like what I like, and I like seeing busty women fight their way to to be Queen of the land.

I also enjoy barbarian type fare, that goes back to my childhood such as Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja, Xena, hell, even He-Man. It's always been something to just turn your brain off and just watch the mindless violence and sex (not so much with He-Man). I don't like football, but I like this stuff. Make of that what you will.

But my fondness for Queen's Blade didn't start with the anime. It actually started with the Lost World battle books from which the property derived. The Lost World series of books is like a Dungeons and Dragons style tabletop game, with the Queen's Blade exception being, instead of fighting zombies, and mummies, you fight beautiful women who can't seem to keep their clothes on. In other words, it fixes everything wrong about Dungeons and Dragons (i.e. needs more partial nudity).

I bought a few of the books, and tried playing them with a friend of mine, though we could never really keep up with itin the way I would have wished. Really this type of thing is better suited for having a group of people with their own books. I only have two friends who are into the same level of geekdom that I am, and surprise, they are the other two people that run this blog. I'm just not set up socially to get the full effect of Queen's Blade.

Enter Queen's Blade Battle.

Queen's Blade Battle is an application made by leecherboy from the Hongfire forums, which allows anyone to play Queen's Blade without having to bother with figuring out the metricises or translation of the Queen's Blade books. It also allows one to play the game in an Arcade game type format, complete with (some) character introductions, endings, and fights against the rival. People can either play solo, against a computer, or online and locally with a friend. It's truly a brilliant effort put forth by one individual.

I can only dream about this reaching portable devices like the iPhone, or PSP. Though I expect for it to work on those formats, a fair amount of hacking would be involved. I would actually consider buying an Android just to play this on the go if that was the only way to play it without modification.

I'm trying to place some discipline on myself while playing this game and only use characters that I physically own the actual books for or figures. It should also be noted that character progression is permanent so any mods to your character earned through game play stay unless your characters is killed, which adds a layer to the app to make you want to stick to a certain character.

Link to Queen's Blade Battle homepage

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bert and Ernie sing Gangster Rap

Probably old as the Internet but I just found this and had to share.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Anno hearts Asuka

Going around my weekly Evangelion internet haunts, I stumbled upon this old interview from 96 in which Hideki Anno, in round table format answers fans questions. Some of the things he answers on here are surprising because he is usually guarded about these subjects in other interviews. Maybe he gave Americans a free pass, because I've seen a lot of interviews in Japanese where he hates talking about the actual characters in his show in a light hearted manner.

My personal favorite part, obviously, is at the end when he is asked his favorite character and says, Asuka, and also explains why Japanese men like Rei as opposed to Misato and Asuka. Of course a lot has changed in over ten years.

Reprinted Interview:

On the unique appearance of the Evangelion Units...

ANNO: There is a monster in Japan called the oni, which has two horns sticking out of its head, and the overall image of the EVA is based on that. I wanted also to have an image that beneath the image of that robot monster is a human. It's not really a robot, but a giant human, so it's different from other robot mecha such as those in Gundam.

On Gunbuster's alternate future -- is it dominated by Russia?

ANNO: There's a Japanese Empire. In the year 2000, the U.S. and Japan had a war, and Japan occupied Hawaii. Sorry.

On the decision to have the final episode of Gunbuster in black-and-white...

ANNO: When you have color, you have an extra dimension of information. Color would have gotten in the way of the sense of scale we wanted to portray with the black hole bomb. Also -- no one had ever done it before.

On the date 2015 which figures in both Gunbuster and Evangelion...

ANNO: The date is from an old show I liked as a kid, and it was also the year in which Tetsuwan Atom took place.

On his favorite American animation...

ANNO: Tex Avery, Tom and Jerry. I don't like Disney.

On anime creators who inspired him...

ANNO: Outside of my staff, Mr. Yoshiyuki Tomino. Tomino's Mobile Suit Gundam and Space Runaway Ideon are my favorite anime besides Yamato. Hayao Miyazaki, with whom I worked on Nausicaa, animating the scene where the God-Soldier fires, was also a mentor to me.

On computer games...

ANNO: I myself have no interest in them; however, I am interested in computer graphics for animation.

On how the protagonist of Evangelion reflects Anno himself...

ANNO: Shinji does reflect my character, both in conscious and unconscious part. In the process of making Evangelion, I found out what kind of person I am. I acknowledged that I'm a fool.

On his religious beliefs...

ANNO: I don't belong to any kind of organized religion, so I guess I could be considered agnostic. Japanese spiritualism holds that there is kami (spirit) in everything, and that's closer to my own beliefs.

On whether he is a vegetarian like Nadia and Rei ...

ANNO: I like tofu. I just don't want to eat meat or fish. It's not for religious reasons.

On expressing himself through animation...

ANNO: Animation makes sense to people in the process of their seeing it. So when people get confused by my themes, or cannot get the overall message, the connection is not really going through, because it didn't satisfy that person. So there would be less meaning for that individual. There has to be a relationship that comes into being between the person watching and what the character's saying in the animation itself.

On what he thought of Patlabor 2 and Ghost in the Shell...

ANNO: I haven't seen Ghost yet, but I think that Patlabor is really good. I liked the scenes better in the second film.

On Evangelion's success...

ANNO: As for all the merchandising, it's just a matter of economics. It's strange that Evangelion has been a hit. Everyone in it is sick!

On his next project...

ANNO: Another TV show, probably some kind of space adventure.

On The Wings of Honneamise...

ANNO: The director of Honneamise, Hiroyuki Yamaga, is pretty serious as a matter of character, certainly -- so he doesn't really think of compromising with the audiences. Therefore it wasn't a radical film from Yamaga's perspective. There's something like a sequel planned, but it's been stopped for now. Yamaga wants to make it 'the final anime of this century'. He wants to make it happen.

On the future of the anime industry...

ANNO: The creators have to change their frame of mind for the field to advance. And it doesn't look too hopeful in today's Japan. It's in a critical condition right now. I don't think there's any bright future. That's because the people who are producing it are not doing well. But there's also problems in the people who are watching it. The people who make it, and the people who want it, they're always wanting the same things. They've been making only similar things for the past ten years, with no sense of urgency. To get it going once more, you need to force people to go outside, to go out again.

On recent attempts to adapt anime from novels...

ANNO: There are many novels written today which are made with the intention that they will be animated -- so it's not that big a step. I think that Legend of the Galactic Heroes was well done, but then, it was that kind of a novel.

On his feelings about the current trend toward Japanese historical content in manga and anime...

ANNO: I have no interest in it; they are searching for a theme.

On his hobbies and interests...

ANNO: My hobby is scuba diving, and besides science fiction, I like to read romance novels written by women. Since I'm a male, I don't really know the emotions of women. And because I want to understand their feelings, and create more realistic female characters, this is something I have to pursue.

To an American fan who boasted of having spent all his schoolbook money on anime goods...

ANNO: You're a fool. Study harder. If I could go back in time and tell my college-age self something, I would tell him to study harder, too.

On where he would like to travel...

ANNO: I want to see the universe, outer space -- it's one of the places I want to go while I'm still living. When I was a child... I thought that it would be possible to go out into space when I grew up. And that's not possible now. But I'd like to go to the moon, or ride on the space shuttle.

On getting into the anime industry...

ANNO: If you want to get into anime, my best advice to you as a creator is to please have diverse interests in things besides animation. Look outward, first of all. Most anime makers are basically autistic. They have to try and reach out, and truly communicate with others. I would guess that the greatest thing anime has ever achieved is the fact that we're holding a dialogue right here and now.


On his favorite Evangelion character...

ANNO: Asuka , because she's cute.

When told that the American audience favors Misato ...

ANNO: I'm surprised. In Japan, the overwhelming favorite is Rei . They can't handle strong women such as Misato and Asuka .

On Evangelion's last two episodes , which upset many fans...

ANNO: I have no problem with them. If there's a problem, it's all with you guys. Too bad.

Behold... THE FUTURE!

Soon Japan will be filled with these interactive virtual hosts that are completely and 100% not operated by humans at all. You can ask them questions and watch them dance.

Of course, the obvious application is for people to be able to interact with Hatsune Miku. Watch the entire video for her cameo.

And this being Japan I can see this technology making its way into some of the shadier regions of Shinjuku.