Internet Deprivation Diary

So I have an internet connection, of sorts, in my new home now. As suspected, acquiring it was, roughly speaking, as fun as nailing my own arm to a door, and not one of your nice clean, new doors, no, an old one with splinters and woodlice. Still, I’m back earlier than I expected, which is something.

Much of the time covered in this diary was taken up by the inevitable settling-in period before the beginning of the semester proper. (The mills of the academy may grind small, but they start grinding exceedingly slowly!) With little to do, I spent my time reading and watching anime – it was an idyllic, if slothful existence, marked by a sustained failure to watch any more Ideon.

(The images tend to relate to what’s below them, rather than what’s above, if they relate to anything at all.)

Day 1

Moved in. Desk hasn’t arrived yet, which causes a domino effect: the chair becomes a desk, the futon becomes a chair and the floor becomes a repository for books-in-use.

The ninety-eighth episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes really stands out – another ‘Good night, sweet prince’ episode, and again very well-done. At least one twist there that I didn’t see coming.

Wrapped up the first thirteen episodes of Vandread. I’m surprised at how amiable this series is, a diverting combination of naval pursuit and a comedy of genders. Interestingly, I even like the fanservice: it’s amusingly innocent, almost prelapsarian (don’t think too hard about the theological implications of that, I’m sure they’re incorrect).

Began Heroic Age. The OP (see below) has a fitting amount of THUNDERING ECHO and ROARING CHOIR.

In other news, the copy of Pamela that I ordered arrived the day before I did. The Pamela persona is engaging and well-written, but I miss the variety of voices that I enjoyed in Clarissa. (Also, there aren’t any swordfights.) Pamela would make for a fun, rather wacky reverse harem comedy manga adaption (some violence would have to be done to the plot if one wanted a harem incertus, though).


Day 2

Heroic Age forges ahead. It seems that humanity’s rulers are more dissipated Goldenbaums than a hyper-competent Lohengramms. Maybe it’s the Hirai Effect, but the soon-to-be-dictator vibes emanating from Dieaneira make me disinClyned to sympathise with her.

I’ve figured out why Pamela brings reverse harem to mind: it’s not a direct connection, it’s via Hot Gimmick. Pamela is like Hot Gimmick, the latter is reverse harem and my conscious mind skipped the intermediate step. Unfortunately Richardson seems to have added two hundred pages after the doki-doki bit.

To continue the literary comparisons (I’m limbering up), I just watched a wedding in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and as soon as Oberstein’s face appeared ‘Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York’ started playing in my head.

Day 3

Vandread: The Second Stage continues to be surprisingly engaging. The seventh episode gently and respectfully pokes fun at its own harem elements through an audience present within the story (quite a contrast to s-CRY-ed‘s comparatively vicious swipes on harem, revolving around Kigetsuki), and even the lacklustre ninth episode has an amusing, if possibly unintentional, allusion to VOTOMS. Sometimes Vandread‘s trite, but then that’s a common fault.

Horace Walpole, Terrorist

Horace Walpole, Notorious Terrorist

Day 4

Wrapped Vandread up. I would never have expected to type this when I started the show, but I have to acknowledge its kinship with Nadesico. It’s not nearly as good (very, very few anime are!) but there’s a definite resemblance. Oddly, I think Infinite Ryvius is somehow involved here too: all three use their central crew in some kind of thought-provoking way, though Ryvius uses a long dark night of the teenage soul where the other two use comedy. Nadesico and Vandread are definitely enjoyable when taken in the spirit of serio ludere while Ryvius is more about pointed angst – I might suggest serio solicitare, but I think worrying is by definition a serious business.

In other news, I just tore through The Castle of Otranto. I think the best bit in the book is actually Walpole going off on a tangent to flame Voltaire in the second edition’s preface. You know you have problems when the paratext outshines the feature presentation. I suppose, however, that like Gundam it’s something to be respected for its influence if nothing else.

Day 5

Today I played Age of Wonders II all day. I still can’t decide between Phasers and Hasted fliers, though I suppose it’s rare to have the choice in practice.

Day 6

It strikes me that the lazy mental dichotomy I usually make between ‘old tsundere‘ (initially frosty, later affectionate) and ‘new tsundere‘ (alternating between cold- and warm-hearted, possibly using some sophisticated charts) ignores the possibility of a combination, a character who alternates between moments of antagonism and moments of affection with affection’s frequency increasing over time. It’s not like I actually care about this, however – I’m just thinking about it because I’ve nothing better to do.

Today I travelled an exploratory four episodes into Kannazuki no Miko on the strength of Crusader’s (not unqualified) recommendation. It is rather confusing – what is the point of the story? – why are there robots? – who’s the show as a whole aimed at? – but (‘Go! Litotes!’) not unpleasant. Animation is clean and attractive, if a little lacking in movement.

Also finished Heroic Age. It didn’t do anything unexpected, but it was certainly competent. The sense of scale was a continual pleasure – in fact, I think Heroic Age is set on a canvas at least as wide as Gurren Lagann‘s though it only achieves this on a technicality. CG inoffensive, animation rather nice if recycled every now and then. Pure space opera, mixing supers and reals, but somehow lacking the clout to lift itself above the crowd.

Day 7

Kannazuki no Miko‘s final episode is a bit verbose, but the second half of the eleventh episode is excellent. Chikane’s violent, erotic listing of Himeko’s attractions (really an armed, super-charged blazon) is worth the entrance price on its own. Ultimately, though, the show as a whole is only a half-success.

GaoGaiGar, meanwhile, elevates recycled animation footage to an art form, a pleasurable refrain rather than an imposition on the viewer. Or so I feel. The music just got (even) better, too.

Speaking of good music, the wavering, unsettling tune which accompanies the opening scenes of the thirty-seventh episode of Post-Bellum Gundam X is as good as anything you’ll hear in anime. Said series is fast approaching its famous cancellation-ending. The proof of the dome-shaped pudding will be in the eating, but it’s hard not to read the lovers’ anxious haste in this episode as a reflection of some kind of desire on the part of the staff to fit as much as they can in.

Day 8

X‘s ending struck me as more of a repudiation than a finale. The ending in particular doesn’t really measure up to the best the franchise has to offer, but in many ways X as a whole rather distinguishes itself: it has a romance that actually works, an intriguing setup, a great musical score and the courage to have an episode which doesn’t feature the title Mobile Suit at all. Characters also didn’t die very often, which was somehow a bit disappointing. θάνατος ή θάνατος!

Began Uta Kata today. Is the cuteness quietly menacing because of what I’ve read beforehand, or is it in the aniime itself? There’s a surprising amount of incidental fanservice. Mind you, I’m pretty genre-blind – how many pantyshots would you expect when starting an average magical girl anime?

The first volume of Divergence Eve came through the letterbox today. (If you haven’t heard of this one, it’s one of those rare anime which both (a) has mecha and (b) received a thumbs-up from Steven Den Beste.) The blurb says ‘What more could you ask for than a bevy of beauties forced to put their lives on the line to answer the call of duty.’ Could I ask for a question mark?

DE itself is science fiction with a dash of horror. Just to alienate you as much as possible (and as hinted at by that phrase, ‘a bevy of beauties’), the many female characters are excessively well-endowed – sometimes overflowing from the merely offputting into the Eiken territory of the outright disgusting – and while the show itself is surprisingly low on absolute, overt, in-your-face fanservice (surprisingly so in the context of the bosoms), the ending sequence is much more interested in celebrating the heroine’s body than it is in augmenting the story. Imagine firing up your DVD copy of Alien only to find that Sigourney Weaver has been replaced by Lucy Pinder!

Purely for illustrative purposes.

Purely for illustrative purposes.

Day 9

Finished Uta Kata. It is quite good – something of a fairy tale, and, like a lot of fairy tales, big on the seemingly-inexplicable cruelty. Unusually, it manages to treat as boring a subject as right and wrong without preaching. It also handles what in other anime would be lengthy, overdone subplots involving supporting characters with surprising deftness and brevity. I’m still a little surprised at the fanservice, although (to be scrupulously fair) since the story is set over the course of a summer school holiday in a coastal town, you might reasonably expect the characters to visit the beach a lot. The animation itself didn’t blow me away, but the magical girl did have twelve different costumes and twelve different (if somewhat truncated) transformation sequences, which suggests some effort on the animators’ part.

For the first time today I watched some anime on a television screen – indeed, this is the first time I’ve lived in a house with a television. It’s a weirdly bright and glaring experience, on a bigger screen than my laptop but also seen from considerably further away. Typically managing to continue doing it wrong, I made sure to watch anime which wasn’t really created for the small screen: Char’s Counterattack. I do like the cleaner, clearer subtitles.

Oh, and GaoGaiGar just got dangerously awesome. Dangerously.

I think she bought the farm

As death scenes go, pretty conclusive.

Day 10

The second and third volumes of Divergence Eve arrived today (the sequel, Misaki Chronicles, isn’t available here, so I’ll be watching the Moral Grey Area Edition). The blurb on the second volume cruelly mistreats a dash when a comma would have served much better, but the third blurb does include the piquant phrase ‘violate and annihilate’. We’re still, however, some way away from the good old days of ‘LOVE. WAR. GIANT ROBOTS.’ I suppose something of Nadesico‘s quality really forced the blurb-writer to rise to the occasion.

Despite its manifest flaws, DEeve has a certain something. The concept – that going somewhere else during faster-than-light travel invites things from somewhere else to come here too – is ideally suited to the pulpy sci-fi territory the story occupies, and the peripheral details, such as the zombie-piloted mecha, are well-done too.

The mecha, in case anyone’s interested, are something like Armoured Troopers in size, though they look more functional and are much less effective – something like the bastard child of a gorilla and a forklift truck. The use of CGI is a bit of a big shame, though.

To elaborate on GaoGaiGar‘s aforementioned awesome alteration, faces have become more detailed (Utsugi in particular has ascended to a higher level of Bridge Bunnyhood), battles more varied and the drama more, well, dramatic. I’m suddenly doubtful about the sound effects, though: when Stallion kissed Swan on the forehead as the thirty-first episode opened, it sounded more like he was slapping her in the face with a wet trout.

Days 11 and 12

Work began in earnest. I was too busy having my arse kicked by the two Geoffreys to pay any attention to anime.

At this point I will unquestioningly accept whatever is thrown at me.

At this point I will unquestioningly accept whatever is thrown at me.

Day 13

Divergence Eve‘s steadfast refusal to be completely crap is simultaneously irritating (I like writing with disdain, so it’s sad to lose an opportunity) and gratifying (I’m enjoying it). I’m always up for a chronoclasmic rummage through history and backstory. It strikes me that this is really an extrapolation of the happy-reset, ‘retuning the world’ ending: in DEve, the hero decides to create a happier version of the world, and the process turns out to be very messy indeed.

Meanwhile, the latest Legend episodes have been an interesting, if somewhat belated, closer look at Oberstein. His blunt utilitarianism is simultaneously repulsive and fascinating. It’s also good to learn a little more about the Black Lancers: I think throughout the show they’ve been presented as the spaceborne equivalent of the Rosenritter, but until now we’ve only really seen Bittenfeld outside of battle.

* * *

. . . and that, more or less, is what happened.

28 responses to “Internet Deprivation Diary

  1. SUUUUUUUUUUUGOOOOOOOIIIIIIII MONOGATARI ANIKI!!!

    Welcome back. :)

  2. Welcome back. I’m wondering what you’d have thought of Vandread had you seen it when it first aired, but that’s a totally different can of worms altogether. Trite? Only after watching several hundred episodes of mecha, surely? Tabula rasa is rhetorical in this context, but I can’t help myself.

    (For what it’s worth I saw it when I was about 14-15 and liked it. A lot. Watching it now might be the death of those rose-tinted glasses, though.)

  3. Having finished LOGH I can really say that Oberstein, along with perhaps Reuental, emerges as the most complex and fascinating character in a show filled with complex and fascinating characters. It’s easy to hate his pure repulsion, but like someone says in one of the episodes, you can’t dismiss him outright cause he’s just so damn logical and correct. The final episodes really raise him to an almost tragic hero role in my opinion, opposite Reuental’s romantic rebellion but still tragic.

    I remember reading the castle of otranto a couple years ago. Weird fiction, which is what all good horror before Stephen King should be called, is my literary niche so I had to read the beginning. It is indeed somewhat plodding, but it does have to be read to appreciate its influence. The absurdities of the plot are also rather fun to think about afterwards.

    And I really need to buy the second boxset of Gaogaigar at some point.

  4. Welcome back comrade I am glad you enjoyed the end of KnM. I just started Gundam X so far so good I hope to catch up soon, but I still have to watch the rest of Escaflowne.

    Hehe have fun with Geoffrey, I have to start to do some reading for my 18th and 19th Century British lit classes.

  5. So this is where you say ‘Tadaima!’ and we go ‘Okaeri’, yes?

    Anyhow, I watched around five episodes of Heroic Age and then dropped it. Not as good as TTGL, imo, cause it doesn’t have that sort of uniqueness that TTGL has. I can’t quite pinpoint the word – but let’s just say for now I thought it was rather boring. :P

  6. @ Michael: Thank you. I think my miniscule Japanese skills can stretch to understanding that . . .

    @ Owen S: I don’t think the triteness a matter of genre here – what I was trying to say was that, despite being an amiable and more-than-initially-expected incisive story, or set of stories, Vandread‘s Messages sometimes sound trite, like the little morals in what little I’ve seen of US comedy television. Except Vandread avoids it most of the time.

    @ Demian: I’m beginning to get a sense of that tragedy. Command on Heinessen seems to be something of a poisoned chalice.

    I’m almost entirely new to the Gothic, weird fiction and horror writing – I didn’t know that King had a genre-shaking influence, though I had realised that he’d sold a lot of books. Now that you say it’s fun to consider afterwards, I do realise that Otranto had a pleasant aftertaste. It’s hard to really dislike something so dotty.

    @ Crusader: Escaflowne certainly deserves priority there, being the classic that it is. I hope you enjoy X – I thought you could see the ancestry of perhaps some of the more annoying traits of SEED and 00 in it, but in much more inoffensive forms.

    I’d better have fun with Geoffrey, I have to deliver a presentation on him on Monday morning . . .

    @ Hoshi: That sounds about right, yes.

    I think I know what you mean about Heroic Age. It’s not a show that stands out. It is somehow bland, though not bad by any means. I’m tempted to compare it to Terra e . . ., which I think is better, though slower to start and less loaded with action.

  7. I missed you : D looks like you managed to catch episodes of two of my least favorite anime of all time in you break, nice one lol

  8. Day 1: Pamela and Clarissa sound awesome. Unrelated: I checked out a collection of Saki’s short stories from the library. They are hilarious and made of awesome.

    Day 2: If I had sunglasses handy, I would have put them on at the Richard III line. Also, bought a copy of The Taming of the Shrew.

    Day 4: VOLTAIRE? VOLTAIRE? HOW DARE HE!

    Day 7: So, when do they make Antebellum Gundam Q?

    I would have gone crazy with 13 days of non-internet. :(

  9. OGT:

    in b4 Schartz-Metterklume Method

    Pamela and Clarissa are FUCKING LONG as hell novels.

    Urf, better get back to reading.

  10. blah blah blah blah not listening to LoGH spoilers…

    I inadvertently saw the word “Oberstein” twice and that’s pretty much a spoiler in itself.

    30 in, I’ll have to scour the blogosphere for writings on LoGH that I’ve been fervently avoiding.

  11. Heroic Age, I must watch that. I have it on my backlog. Infinite Ryvius was good, and dark.

  12. I think you may have misunderstood the ending of Divergence Eve, though it’s easy to see why that would happen. When you start watching Misaki Chronicles you’ll find out that it isn’t what you think.

    I’m glad you enjoyed DE; it’s an easy series to underestimate because of the character art. Sort of the anime version of “She’s got big tits so she can’t be smart” prejudice. The characters look like refugees from an H-game, but it really is a smart story — and it gets even better in Misaki Chronicles.

  13. @Michael: Are they as long as Genji Monogatari? I actually checked that out and never read it because the 1000+ page length daunted me terribly. The Japanese Culture class (which I am not taking) has it on the list of readings this semester, but only three or four chapters, since those are “the only ones that really matter”.

    I doubt I’d ever get a chance to read them (I’d never even heard of them until this post) and the phrase “epistolary novel” sounds terrifyingly preachy in ways that C.S. Lewis was not.

  14. Welcome back, IKnight, I presume the days spent away from the internets were well spent?

    Oh, and the Kannazuki no Miko manga, I just picked up on that, better get down to it.

    Also, never seen a deathflag more obvious.

  15. @ 21stcenturydigitalboy: Heh. Let me guess . . . Kannazuki no Miko and Heroic Age?

    @ OGT: 1: They are awesome, in their own, long-winded way.

    2: I wonder if The Taming qualifies as a tsundere story.

    4: In Walpole’s defence, Voltaire had insulted Shakespeare.

    7: ‘Quo’ wouldn’t be a particularly odd name for a Gundam, but if it was Antebellum you’d have to wonder if it was really a mid-series downgrade.

    To be scrupulously honest, I was able to access the ‘net from time to time at my uni’s library. But it wasn’t enough . . .

    @ Michael: There’s nothing like having the little tykes recreate the Battle of Towton to foster a calm atmosphere in the house.

    @ lelangir: I think I wrote a post about 34-35. Someone needs to do an episode-by-episode summary of the show.

    @ Panther: Heroic Age is definitely worth a try, though I offer no guarantees. I’m with you on Infinite Ryvius – possibly not good enough to justify its position in my favourites, but very good still.

    @ I’m a few episodes into Misaki Chronicles; I see what you mean. Further mind-bendingness has ensued, and it’s still good fun (especially now my mind has become inured to the bosoms). I’m glad I gave the show a try, though to be fair I wouldn’t have risked it if it hadn’t been on sale relatively cheaply.

    @ OGT: I couldn’t really say, I’ve never seen a copy of Genji (maybe Mike can elucidate that). They’re both a bit preachy, yes. Reading Pamela in particular sometimes feels like being hectored by a prosperous, middle-aged and middle-class printer (funny that). Though ‘epistolary’ oughtn’t summon up visions of Pauline strictures, said visions are probably not innacurate. In this respect, I’d say Clarissa‘s superior. It’s a more problematic, darker and less clean-cut story. On the other hand, it’s also much longer . . .

    @ xephfyre: To be honest, my built-in slothfulness has the ability to expand fill the time available; if my time away was well-spent, I’d have less anime to write about.

    As for deathflags, I’m terrible at spotting those. I didn’t even spot that particularly obvious one in Geass R2.

  16. You ripped off my The Animated Spree format in this post, which I ripped off Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree. Such is the zeitgeist of our time.

    Glad to have you back IKnight.

  17. wrong! I haven’t seen any of heroic age! Kannazuki no Miko and Uta Kata.

  18. “how many pantyshots would you expect when starting an average magical girl anime?”

    None. Unless it’s targeted at a male audience, which is rare and usually lolicon stuff.

    I quite liked Uta-kata, though I have a vague suspicion I never finished it. Should probably go back to it and have another look. One of the more interesting elements of it was the costumes – each of the 12 different costumes was designed by a different, well-known artist.

    Regarding the ‘combination’ of old and new tsundere types, isn’t that how the female protagonist in most of Rumiko Takahashi’s stuff works? Ranma especially.

  19. Welcome back. I’m glad that you find my charts sophisticated (and/or possibly confusing). Elaborate and confusing charts – another step towards my goal to be a CS/CpE teaching professor… someday…

  20. This is a tad bit late, but welcome back! Missed you, one did.

  21. i was going to say welcome back, but it appears thats the popular thing to do so I wont

    also i was going to insert a witty joke about how you seem to enjoy the dullest of books, but I cant seem to put down Hegel’s phenomenology of spirit. So i suppose that would be a TAD bit hypocritical

  22. Welcome back, IKnight! Sounds like you became a hikkikomori in the absence of an internet connect- actually, hmm.

  23. @ newgeekphilosopher: It’s all about the ripping-off, all the way back to Gilgamesh.

    @ 21stcenturydigitalboy: Oh? Well, one out of two isn’t bad, given how many things you’ve watched.

    @ NegativeZero: I was right to be surprised, then. I didn’t know that about the different artists, but it makes sense given the pleasantly varied designs.

    I can’t really speak on the other R. Takahashi – she’s out of my genre and before my time – but that sounds plausible. As I found myself saying to newgeekphilosopher, nothing new under the sun.

    @ koneko-chan: Ultimately your students won’t feel satisfied that what you’re teaching them is worthwhile unless it’s suitably sophisticated/confusing.

    @ kaiserpingvin: One missed the internet, too.

    @ berkles: One man’s page-turner is another man’s poison, or something. I never tried Hegel, though I read that his philosophical system concluded with the declaration that his philosophical system was the pinnacle of human thought, which I thought was admirably ambitious.

    @ Nagato: You know you have problems when losing the internet means spending more time indoors. (Without GoogleMaps, how would I know where to go?)

  24. @animanachronism-to which kierkegaard declared “OP is a faggot”

    and launched nothing short of a war against his philosophy

  25. I almost fell off my chair when I read that you have finished watching Uta Kata. While I think it has some merits, I believe it is hindered by some oddities.

    Reading Uta Kata was a surprise to me;I am considering writing about it.

  26. @ berkles: Gotta love the Big K. Though on reflection, I suppose that’d be Kant. Hmm . . .

    @ The Sojourner: Uta Kata‘s hardly flawless, but I thought it was interesting. Maybe it engaged me on an ethical level that’s unusual in the anime I’m accustomed to watching. I’d be interested to read what you have to say, if you get round to writing about it.

  27. OGT:

    They’re fuck long, FOR SRS. They’re great ONLY for night reading (or if you just want to go to sleep, IMO), but then I could read Faulkner or Dostoevsky with roughly the same effect except with less boredom. :P

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