Category Archives: commentary

Analysis or thoughts about things which have finished

Caligo Madocae

I’m a little tired of this angle.

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The Burnt Remains

It should be obvious that this is a war story.

On Boxing Day I finished watching Dougram, a longish old anime about a small band of rebels and a prototype war machine. A fairly standard recipe for its time, distinguished in this case by understated mecha and heightened attention to politics. This is the first thing Takahashi directed (Anglophone fan-rumour has it that Takeyuki Kanda rode shotgun), and it began airing in 1981. It feels a little like an attempt to do a toned-down Mobile Suit Gundam — with which it shares a scriptwriter — though, being an anime history dilettante, I don’t know whether in 1981 Gundam was regarded as something influential, interesting or successful enough to be worth imitating.

I liked it rather a lot. I’ll say why I liked it in a bit, but first I think it’s worth pausing to note the significance of my being able to finish watching it at all. Continue reading

Ideon 9 & 10

Until last night I hadn’t watched any Ideon for roughly two years and ten months. Too long, I think.

The adventurousness of it all is what’s pleasing me most. I feel like the screen’s sending me messages along the lines of

  • Cheer! As giant war machines clash in the depths of hyperspace!
  • Gasp! At the grotesque lifeforms of a crystal world!
  • Weep! For the champion killed by unthinking beasts!

There’s a lot here that comes across as pretty odd, though. For example— well, Zeta Gundam is noted for all the personal violence between characters, and that’s absurd, sure. But there’s a scene in the tenth episode of Ideon in which two characters exchange at least seven slaps to the face mechanically, like puppets. (I say ‘at least’ because it’s implied they continue after we leave the scene.)

Encroaching Emotion

I recently joined Goodreads, partly because I hope it’ll give me the chance to slap more people in the face with my lit-peen and partly because I find it useful to have a place to look up books I’ve read in the past — going through the bibliographies of past work is a time-consuming and haphazard method. I’d include a link to my profile, but I don’t want to, so I won’t. Continue reading

Those Uppity Mycenæans

The Mycenæans built with such large stones that their successors thought that they were giants.

The Mycenæans' successors thought that only cyclopes could have built with such large stones.

The Mazinkaiser movie (which might more accurately be called a one-hour special) reworks an earlier title, Mazinger Z vs. The Great General of Darkness. I’ve seen Mazinger Z vs.: it was made back in the seventies and it connects Mazinger Z to Great Mazinger. During its climax Tetsuya brings Great to the aid of a faltering Mazinger Z, and the ending leaves the villains only temporarily defeated. It has some enjoyable scenes — Kouji manfully struggling out to the final confrontation after giving blood, for example — but it’s a little flat, and a criminal amount of time is spent without something large and destructive on screen. Continue reading

Remember, Remember

Today’s the twenty-fifth anniversary of the premiere of Do You Remember Love? (Oi, Ghostlightning!)

In some ways this feels more significant to me than Mobile Suit Gundam‘s thirtieth anniversary earlier this year, despite the fact that, as my tagcloud attests, Gundam is the franchise I’m more familiar with. But it may be precisely my lack of easy familiarity with Macross that makes DYRL? more prominent in my mind. It was very nearly my first Macross experience, only preceded by Frontier‘s first episode, and it’s the one part of the franchise that I’ve since watched again. I can quickly call several scenes to mind: Minmei and Hikaru going on a date, for example, and of course the spectacular martial-musical fusion of the final scene.

Sadly I am restricted to memory myself tonight, as I didn’t bring a copy with my on my laptop and I won’t be able to squeeze one down this internet connection any time soon (apparently downloading slowly is preferred here). But even  remembering DYRL?, thinking of its delicious animation and its curious mixture of silly and serious, always uplifts me. I rather like the fact that this movie shares its anniversary with the 2005 Tube bombings: facing such gunpowder treason, love, in more than the narrowly romantic sense of the word, is not a bad thing to remember.

The One Safety of the Conquered


. . . is not to hope for safety.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, for several reasons. One of these reasons is my preparation for a working holiday. In its (questionable) wisdom, my university has sent me to Cambridge for a month, to badger academics, raid libraries and generally gather enough material to write an impressive ‘Wot I Did In My Holidays’ piece when I return from the land of privilege. So far I can report that the land of privilege is efficient, friendly and just a little mad: there is, for example, a big white piano in my room. The room’s big enough that the piano isn’t inconvenient, or menacing, but it is there. Maybe I’ll attempt ‘Chopsticks’ once I finish writing this. Continue reading

‘Waiter, there’re noises in this OP!’


I’ve been busy, writing essays and experiencing the loneliness of the long-distance reader. Here’s a list of some post ideas I’ve thrown together, but not worked up: a condensed review of The Skull Man; a post about honour in the eighth episode of Space Runaway Ideon; praise for the mechanical design of the ZZ Gundam; a piece on different attitudes to time and progress, and those attitudes’ effects on our viewing experience; a post asking just what I’ve been doing here, and why; and something approaching the Book of Darkness from Nanoha A’s as a metaphor for text in general (an idea which has no proper relationship with truth but which, like the Book of Darkness, practically writes itself). Some of these may see the light of day eventually.

And here’s a post that I have, more or less, written up. Newtype (the blogger, not the magazine) mentioned the presence of sound effects in some of the openings for Zeta Gundam. I squirrelled this point away in the back of my mind. Now I’m de-squirrelling it. This post is a slightly rambling survey of a fairly insignificant thing — the commentary category in all its glory — so don’t expect any thrilling conclusion. I’m currently a little tired of writing conclusions, thrilling or otherwise. Continue reading

Is That Really You, Father Virgil?


Scanlators have been working on a manga adaption of the Divine Comedy (I seem to recall that Lelouch was a fan). However! Rather than simply translating the dialogue they’ve decided to admix it with appropriate lines from existing translations — not translations of the manga, but of the Comedy itself:

[W]hat we are doing with this as of now is 1. translating the manga, 2. comparing to the original divine comedy/history (when the mangaka leaves the context of the Divine Comedy), 3. mixing it all together and 4. re-writing it in a decasyllabic meter to match with the Divine Comedy’s poetry style. We used mostly H.F. Cary’s translation of the original Divine Comedy as reference, but if the translation was to archaic to be applicable, we used Longfellow’s.

While there’s obviously a lot of potential for a mismatch of tastes here — one person’s archaism is another’s ornament, and not all of us enjoy Longfellow — I instinctively approve of this. A translation is a new text, and so it’s perfectly permissible (though not always advisable) for a translator to throw accuracy out of the window and try something creative. Continue reading

Landscape With Anti-AT Rifle


Armour Hunter Mellowlink arranges lots of fighting around a simple, sturdy story, leavened with drama and mystery in just the right (minimal) amounts. I owe it a certain debt for being my introduction to the VOTOMS franchise. It has, therefore, always pained me that the only available subtitled version is a set of rips from some kind of well-worn VHS fansub. Recently, however, I discovered that some inspired /m/en had got together to release Armour Hunter Mellowlink in higher quality. It’s still the old, amusingly unreliable translation but — well, I did say this was mostly fighting, didn’t I?

Anyway, to celebrate, I thought I’d write another post about it. Continue reading