All posts by gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at mike.huang@animediet.net. You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.

Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette 2

Impressions


This shot echoes the famous picture of Cosette from the original edition of the novel, which also became the iconic picture for the musical.

It’s now very evident that this is a children’s show, since the focus is so frequently on the lives of the kids (Cosette of course, but also Alain, Gavroche, and Eponine and Azelma). I realize that the subtitle of the show kinda gives away what the creators want to focus on, but I was still secretly hoping to see a more elaborate retelling of Jean Valjean’s backstory, particularly the scene of his redemption by the Bishop of Digne. (Especially since the episode is called “Jean Valjean’s Secret.”) It’s a very powerful backstory and I feel it deserved a little more screen time than it got.
Continue reading Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette 2

Nodame Cantabile 4-5


Nodame “persuading” Chiaki not to change majors in her own special way.

Impressions

Hooray, the show is funny again! I felt that episodes 2 and 3 were a bit lackluster in humor (though necessary, since they introduced major characters), but the introduction of Stresemann the randy conductor really livened things up. Stresemann is not an unknown character type either in anime or, interestingly enough, in the history of classical music–which is full of pianists who wrote and played duets to hit on their duet partners and other groupie-like behavior. As episode 5 is meant to illustrate though, Stresemann is ultimately meant to be likable and have a natural feel for encouraging even mediocre musicians to do their best–a tactic I’m not sure always works for everyone but is certainly better than Chiaki’s hectoring.


Hey baby, why don’t you and me go for a little one-on-one rehearsal time?

The characters are settling into comfortable roles now, especially Nodame, who I just can’t get enough of. She’s the female version of Honey and Clover’s Shinobu Morita in many ways (glutton, undisciplined natural talent, impulsiveness, etc) and there was many a time when I had wished H&C had more Morita scenes–well, while this show isn’t nearly as dramatic as that wonderful show, it makes up for it with delicious slapstick humor–Nodame enjoying food, Nodame punching Stresemann, Nodame inviting Chiaki to bed…


Voulez-vous couchez avec moi, ce soir

I guess the only thing is that I do want to know more about these characters eventually. They fit broad comic archetypes and they play them well, but with many more episodes to go some character development would be needed to keep the momentum going. And I’d like more actual animation of musicianship–there’s way too many stills and pans during playing scenes…this is a show about music, JC Staff. I have yet to see anything that rivals Haruhi Suzumiya’s glorious concert episode in terms of accurate animation of musical playing. The bar’s been set high…perhaps they just don’t have the budget.

Oh well, as long as it’s funny and engaging as a story, I’ll continue watching. Now, back to my listening of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony…

100% Fresh Squeezed Lilith Juice!

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In their continued quest to milk the Evangelion cow, Gainax has just released Eva-branded orange juice. And they’re calling it “LCL.” That’s right–LCL, aka the fluid that smells like blood, makes kids choke, and is actually the blood of the Big Mama Goddess Lilith.

All I have to say is: good luck to the marketing team that has to try to sell this.

  • Minute Maid 100% Fresh Squeezed Lilith Juice. Made from Angel Concentrate!
  • Gainax LCL. For the Goddess in You!
  • LCL. Third Child tested, Lilith approved

Ah, to think that this was the show that got me into anime. And now they’re remaking it into a new movie series. Anno, please don’t let me down…even if the rest of Gainax Marketing does.

Any other ridiculous slogans anyone else can think of? Or for other possible ridiculous products?

Scattered Cels Podcast #7 – Haruhi is a Kiddy at 5 Centimeters a Second

We’re about to release the MST3K of Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora in a few days! In the meantime, enjoy as Jeremy, Ray, and I yak about the Kiddy Grade movies, Makoto Shinkai’s new film, and the Haruhi Suzumiya English dub casting announcements (and the merits of dubs overall).

Show Notes

Eva Unit 02: It’s ALIIIIIVE!

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Some time ago, Ray gave me a Eva 02 model kit from Japan for Christmas. I never got around to finishing it until now, and I’m pleased to present the final results here. Thanks a bunch, Ray! It was a lot of fun building it, giving me a lot of the same pleasure that I have when I build computers. It was also cool seeing how all these little, weird-looking, and seemingly unrelated parts come together and you discover–hey, this is Unit 2’s arm! This is the leg, the torso, the head!

Alas, I don’t have the skills to paint the remaining parts manually, nor the time, but it looks awesome anyway. Its final home is on the top of my monitor, standing guard for any evil alien Angels hovering nearby.

The full photo gallery is at Flickr over here. CIMG1721.JPG

Scattered Cels Podcast #6 – And Then There Were Three…

A new co-host, Jeremy, has joined the merry duo. (DUM DUM DUM!) With our powers combined–we talk about Mushi-shi at Sundance (aka BUGMASTER!), licensing news from the past, and some impressions of Code GE-ass and (snicker) Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora, aka The Secret of Mana is Kissing. We also talk about the phenomneon Ray has dubbed shouri anime.

Also in the works is a new feature–downloadable Mystery Science Theater 3000-style commentary tracks on selected anime episodes! (Give credit to Ray–as you’ll hear, it was his idea.) Stay tuned to this podcast channel–the earliest will be up as early as Monday!

Show Notes

Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette 1

Impressions

Say what? Yet another version of Les Miserables, and it's actually the second time it's been done as an anime? This series caught my eye anyway, seeing that I'm always fascinated by Japanese takes on familiar western stories (like Akira Kurosawa's Shakespeare adaptations–not to mention the upcoming Romeo and Juliet anime). This one just started, so it's too early to tell, but so far, it's interesting enough for me to continue watching when more episodes are out. It's also been a while since I read an abridged version of the Victor Hugo novel and saw the musical in London, so I needed a refresher of the plot–and this seems good as any. With 52 episodes, they should be able to cover the bulk of the story.

Continue reading Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette 1

Scattered Cels Podcast #5

This week, Ray introduces the show, and we talk about Ghibli research grants, the possible Hollywood adaptation of Ghost in the Shell (and who we’d cast in the different roles), and review Zero no Tsukaima and a first look at Megadere! There are also major changes coming for next week’s podcast, so keep in touch and keep listening, and leave your comments, questions, and flames in the comments section below.

Show Notes

  • OP: Last DInosaur by the Pillows (from FLCL)
  • ED: Crazy 4 U by Koda Kumi (from Gilgamesh)
  • Studio Ghibli to offer research grant for animation reseach, of 300,000 yen. You have to be under 35 to get it. (http://animenewsnetwork.com/news/2007-01-19/ghibli-museum-to-support-animation-research-project)
  • Studio Madhouse is doing an anime version of Highlander. It will be released direct to DVD, and the American edition will be put out by Manga Entertainment on June 5. (http://animenewsnetwork.com/news/2007-01-16/highlander-film-on-june-5)
  • Production IG is in talks to make a live-action Hollywood version of Ghost in the Shell. (http://animenewsnetwork.com/news/2007-01-18/production-i.g-enters-negotiations-for-live-action-ghost-in-the-shell)

Nodame Cantabile 1

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Note: I have decided not to do plot summaries for the time being. They take me too long to do, and I have a lot of schoolwork to finish.

This show inspired so much narcissistic nostalgia in me, the review will probably be more about me than it. Oh well…

Like many other Asian-American youths, I was forced to take piano lessons as a child. I think I stuck with it a little longer than a lot of my peers, partly because I finally got the point where it stopped being a parent-enforced thing and became enjoyable. (It also helped that I started playing jazz in high school, not just the classical music staples everyone learns–some of which are featured in this anime.) I still even play once in a while, and consider myself fairly music-literate, and am thankful now for my musical education. So when I heard about an anime that would talk about classical music, hopefully in a knowledgeable way, my ears perked up. Would they get it right and maybe even inspire people to pick up an instrument, the way Yakitate Japan! got me to start breaking bread?
Continue reading Nodame Cantabile 1

Scattered Cels Podcast #4

And then there was a short one. This one is only 34 minutes, and it’s mostly a news rundown, mostly because we forgot to figure out what we wanted to review this week. :) We also give a few not-very-informed impressions of Nana and Megadere.

Show Notes

  • Viz licenses Death Note in unique way: will release downloadable, subbed episodes soon after it airs in Japan. (http://animenewsnetwork.com/news/2007-01-11/viz-licenses-death-note-anime-for-download)
  • Geneon licenses Rozen Maiden (http://animenewsnetwork.com/news/2007-01-12/geneon-licenses-rozen-maiden)
  • Japan Post Office releases Evangelion stamps
    (http://animenewsnetwork.com/news/2007-01-09/japan-post-evangelion-stamps)
  • North American TV release of Nana in the works
    (http://animenewsnetwork.com/news/2007-01-09/nihon-tv-plans-to-air-nana-in-us)

Scattered Cels Podcast #3

Episode 3: now with upgraded, sexier audio, courtesy of much better microphones! We ramble on this time about dubs vs. subs, Miyazaki’s rumored new project, the death of the inventor of instant ramen, and The Third–among many, many other things. This is our longest episode yet! (1 hour)

If you have any questions you’d like us to answer on the air, please leave them in the comments section below!

Warning: some Samuel L. Jackson-style swearing near the end of the podcast. Cover your ears, all those 17 and under. :)

Show Notes

  • Ray’s controversial post is here. (A)
  • This is novel Miyazaki supposedly is adapting. (B)
  • Here is an article about Ando Momofuku, the late inventor of instant ramen. (C)
  • OP–“Purupurupu Purin” from Welcome to the NHK!
  • ED–“Waltz,” by Suneohair (ED to Honey and Clover)

(A) http://anime.imagria.com/2006/12/dubbingyeah.html
(B) http://filmick.blogspot.com/2007/01/i-lost-my-little-boy.html
(C) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070107a2.html

Review: Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora (Hantsuki)

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Also called “Looking Up at the Half-Moon”: a fine title that I should have used for one of my stories

This 6 episode drama OAV aspires to be, and should have been a quiet, believable short story about the struggles and joys of two hospital patients. The unsynthesized and unpretentious opening song (a wonderful song, by Nobuko) promises as much, and at its best, the show fulfilled that promise. But more often than not, it preferred soap opera histrionics and out-of-place humor to realistic character-driven action. I see a story that, in the hands of more skillful writers, could have become a genuinely affecting tale without being melodramatic–the way Honey and Clover was at its best. But the most I could feel in the final episode was “oh. It’s over. Wonderful.” And that, unfortunately, is pretty much a death blow for a show of this kind.
Continue reading Review: Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora (Hantsuki)