AKB48, Round 2

Chibi Haruhi
I really can’t connect the VCR to the home video system without messing up the cable box. That is, I don’t want a requirement to have the VCR on in order to watch a cable channel, but that is how it would have to work.

So last night instead of taping the weekly AKB48 Show, I woke up at 11:30 pm for the midnight broadcast. The opening song was performed by HKT48 and the ending song was performed by AKB48. I think both songs were a little better – music and choreography-wise – than the previous week’s offerings. The actual opening was a skit by three HKT48 members which segued into the performance. I think a skit in the middle featured Mayuyu, who I like quite a bit. It would have been nice to have had this show on tape so that I could have done a validation.

The news featurettes again were quite interesting. I wish I could read Japanese faster! I even recognized two of the songs. One was Heavy Rotation, featured prominently in AKB0048. That was nice to see and hear.

All in all this was a better package than the week before – nothing really special – but fun in the mindless pop idol way.


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Coda 2.5

Eve Angel
Last week Panic released Coda 2.5, a free upgrade for us Coda 2 users. Normally I wait for other users to work through the early bugs, but I don’t have critical dependencies on Coda, so I went ahead and upgraded. I figured I needed to do it in advance of upgrading to Yosemite (Mac OS X 10.10) anyway. There are lots of New Features. Immediately the new indentation guidelines are nice. I’ll be interested in seeing in practice how my favorite HTML/CSS editor got even better.


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Anime Autumn Season: Early Ranking

Konata Burst
Musashino Animation
Musashino Animation
Shirobako, Episode 2

I really did try to keep the number down... and I still ended up with 18 half-hour shows – just like last season. I’m hoping for some attrition, though. Here’s how the horse race is looking at the first turn...
(As always, the shows are ranked highest to lowest within each category – and consequently, the entire list is in priority order.)

Watching With Enthusiasm (5)
Top shows of the season that aren’t likely to get cut
Grisaia no Kajitsu (The Fruit of Grisaia)
Mushishi: Zoku-Shō
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal
Shirobako
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)

Watching (10)
Shows I expect to stay on my watchlist – but if they take a wrong turn, I’ll drop them
Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru (Yūki Yūna is a Hero)
Inō Battle wa Nichijō-kei no Naka de (When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace)
Denki-gai no Honya-san (The Electric Town’s Bookstore)
Trinity Seven
Akame ga Kill!
Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works
Sword Art Online II
Log Horizon II
Gugure! Kokkuri-san
Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen (Silver Will Argevollen)

Watching With Wariness (4)
Shows that are on the fence. Wouldn’t take much to knock them off of my watchlist.
Akatsuki no Yona
Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo (Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon)
Sora no Method (Celestial Method)
Bonjour Koiaji Patisserie (5 minute episodes)

Dropped (11)
(not even counting the sequels and continuing series that I decided not to sample)
Girl Friend BETA
Tribe Cool Crew
Joker
Hi-sCool! Seha Girls
Parasyte ~the maxim~
Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken (I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying)
Ōkami Shōjo to Kuro Ōji (Wolf Girl and Black Prince)
Terraformars
Karen Senki
Orenchi no Furu Jijo
World Trigger

A huge list, to be sure... and disappointingly, Crunchyroll is not streaming Amagi Brilliant Park, which I had wanted to see. Ah, well. My slate is full anyway. Overall, Crunchyroll did a pretty darn good job Covering The Autumn Season, taking a high percentage of the shows.

Musashino Animation
Musashino Animation
Shirobako, Episode 2

Distribution
Here is the list of simulcasts I watch broken down by day. (I took this from my weekly task list.) Thursdays are unusually bad, but I can let overflow go into Friday. The times in parentheses are Crunchyroll broadcast times (Pacific Time). On weekdays I don’t watch the shows at the time they are simulcast; I watch the shows after I get home from work.

MONDAY
Inō Battle wa Nichijō-kei no Naka de (Mon 11:05a)
Bonjour Koiaji Patisserie (Mon 6:00p) (5 minute episodes)

TUESDAY
Akatsuki no Yona (Tue 8:00a)
Trinity Seven (Tue 10:40a)

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY
Denki-gai no Honya-san (Thu: 7:30a)
Shirobako (Thu 8:30a)
Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen (Thu 8:30a)
Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru (Thu 11:50a)
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)(Thu 12:00p)

FRIDAY

SATURDAY
Sailor Moon Crystal (Sat 3:00a)
Log Horizon II (Sat 4:30a)
Sword Art Online II (Sat 9:30a)
Fate/stay Night UBW (Sat 11:00a)
Mushi-shi (Sat 11:00a)

SUNDAY
Cross Ange (Sun 2:00a)
Sora no Method (Sun 7:30a)
Akame ga Kill (Sun 9:00a)
Fruit of Grisaia (Sun 10:00a)
Gugure: Kokkuri-san (Sun 12:05p)

Arupin Model Sheet
Arupin Model Sheet
Shirobako, Episode 2



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Kill la Kill Blu-ray Volume 1: Finished

Kuroyukihime Fire
Ryuko Matoi
Ryuko Matoi
Kill la Kill, Episode 1

Last weekend I finished my volume 1 box of Kill la Kill. Even though the box was an unplanned expense, I’m glad I bought the volume as I really enjoyed rewatching these introductory episodes from the series. The Blu-ray images are sharp, bright, and spectacular. Trigger packed a lot into each scene, so having the ability to freeze and step frame by frame through the mania is a huge plus. Kill la Kill is an impressive piece of work.

The disc is light on extra features – clean OP and EDs, of course – and the addition of the web trailers. That’s it.

The remix soundtrack CD has just five songs (plus five “off vocal” versions). The songs are good, but the standout is Before my body is dry, dramatically rendered by Mika Kobayashi. I like the performance a lot, in spite of the Engrish accent. Kobayashi gives a good effort.


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Annoying

Haruhi NotImpressed
My Homemade Miso Soup
My Homemade Miso Soup

Last weekend I came down with a cold, and to keep from spreading it to my co-workers, I’ve worked from home on Monday and Tuesday – not that I had a lot of energy for going to work. Depending on the time of day and the impact of cold medicine, my condition has varied between feeling OK and hardly able to work. How annoying. At least my VPN connection worked and I could access the files and systems I needed from work.

I’ve been having leftover miso soup that I made last weekend – and last night I noticed that my bowl was cracked. That means of my original four traditional soup bowls, I have only two left. Realizing that today was the last day of Uwajimaya’s anniversary sale, I decided I’d go to the store and get some replacements. I went, but the store no longer carries those bowls. I’ll check Anzen... but I’ll probably have to get the bowls through Amazon. Amazon only sells them by the Dozen, though. How annoying.

I didn’t want to have made the trip to Uwajimaya only to come home empty-handed, so I bought some boxes of Pocky at a big discount. Checking out, I tried to tell the cashier that I didn’t need a bag – but found out that I’d lost my voice. Not so much annoying as unexpected.

I really need to be better by tomorrow – or my special daytrip on Friday will get cancelled. If that happens, I will be far more than annoyed.


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Anime Autumn Week 3

Tomoyo Confident
Sailor Venus
Sailor Venus
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal

Here are my quick takes on the episodes I watched this week...

Inō Battle wa Nichijō-kei no Naka de (When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace): Episode 2
A pretty silly episode albeit nicely rendered. The misunderstanding was painful – as was the resolution – but ultimately the episode ended well.

Bonjour Koiaji Patisserie: Episode 1
I’m not really sold on this one; the drama seems too stereotypical. However, the episodes are only 5 minutes long, so I guess a three-episode trial couldn’t hurt.

Akatsuki no Yona: Episode 2
Unfortunately, Yona was totally worthless this episode. This series is going to be painful to watch if she doesn’t get past this quickly.

Trinity Seven: Episode 2
Sorta different... a headscratcher... harem hijinks and magical mysteries... but done in an interesting way, although the fanservice aspect remains problematic. The art, animation, and direction remain solid.

Hi-sCool! Seha Girls: Episode 2
This was pretty bad... and less amusing than last time. I really don’t have time for this. Dropped.

Denki-gai no Honya-san (The Electric Town’s Bookstore): Episode 3
Not a particularly funny episode... and rather slow-paced. We received a sliver of hope for Hio-tan x Kantoku. There was a brief moment of Fu Girl x Sommelier. And most importantly the ending was sweet with a little bit of development for Umio x Sensei. I’m rooting for all ships!

Shirobako: Episode 2
I’m not sure how to describe this... the episode was mundane, technical, revealing, subtle, cool, predictable, blunt, awkward, erratic... and then kinda amazing. I really liked it!

Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen (Silver Will Argevollen): Episode 15
Finally a significant development in the story... and a decent battle. I’m guessing this ties back to the research that Tokimune’s sister was involved in. And we all want to take down the actual villains – the arms developers/dealers – but nine episodes is a long way to go. Pacing may continue to be a problem.

Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru (Yūki Yūna is a Hero): Episodes 1 and 2
It’s a good thing I didn’t read any previews about this show, because I was really surprised when the mundane middle school slice-of-life suddenly turned into a magical girl show. Really suddenly. Nice transformation sequences... and good battle scenes. I’m easily sucked into pretty mahou shoujo anime. Count me in!

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April): Episode 2
I loved Kaori’s performance, and I’m glad it had a strong effect on Kousei. A good episode.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal: Episode 8
A great episode this week! Too bad we have to wait two weeks for the next one! Wonderfully, this reboot is more faithful to the manga, and the animation has been improving.

Log Horizon 2: Episode 3
The raid is OK, I guess. Log Horizon tends to be a bit weak when having to explain the mechanics of the world, and the raid had an unusually lengthy and dull discourse.

Sword Art Online II: Episode 15
New arc exposition. I’m actually looking forward to this arc, and I hope it’s less controversial (badly paced / poor character development) than the previous ones. We’ll see.

Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works: Episode 2
Not unexpectedly, this episode was a very talky one – a staple of the Fate franchise. But the pattern looks to follow the Fate norm as next week we’ll have a battle. The only fun this week was a few moments of tsundere Rin.

Mushishi: Zoku-Shō: Episode 11
Wow. That’s quite an impressive way to kick off the second half of the season – a rare, young Ginko story! And strongly written, too.

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo (Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon): Episode 3
Well, we finally got to the end of the whiny princess... but the deus ex machina did not help believability. And I’m not exactly sure why Ange wasn’t just put to death for desertion and causing the death of her teammates. I’m just hoping things get better from here on out.

Sora no Method (Celestial Method): Episode 3
I hate the forgotten memories trope, and this one has been dragging out over three episodes. However, it seems we might finally get a breakthrough. Whether this series is worth sticking with is going to depend a lot on the next episode, I think.

Akame ga Kill!: Episode 17
Big battle time! But it’s not a good sign that only half of Esdeath’s squad seems evenly matched against all of Night Raid. I’m bracing myself for another loss. (But it’s just a guess on my part.)

Grisaia no Kajitsu (The Fruit of Grisaia): Episode 3
Sort of a nothing episode... but that’s OK. Yūji did his best Araragi impersonation. The harem remains likeable – although I’d like to see more backstories.

Girl Friend BETA: Episode 2
I didn’t really care for this week’s episode. Because I’ve got too many shows on the schedule, I think I’m going to take this off my watch list for now.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san Episode 3
Umm... whatever. The usual random quirkiness. Plus a new spirit, who seems more annoying than the other two. I’m starting to lose any enthusiasm for this series.

Amane Suou
Mihama Academy Moment
Amane Suou • Grisaia no Kajitsu, Episode 3



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Breaking the Build

Homura Watching
Penance
Penance

A couple of employers ago when I worked in a Java development team we had an unofficial rule that if you checked in code which broke the nightly build, you would have to bring donuts for the team the next day. We had really good, smart, meticulous developers who were thorough testers, and we didn’t get donuts very often.

A little over three weeks ago I saw that one of the common tables at my workplace was loaded with a dizzying assortment of craft beers. It turns out someone had broken the build, and his penance was to bring beer for the team. I have apparently graduated from a donut-driven to a beer-driven organization. Kinda impressive.

I could get only a fraction of the bottles in frame for a photo. The saddest thing? This image has been sitting in my camera for many weeks – along with a few other weak attempts at photography. One of the photos was my car at dawn in an empty parking lot at work. I really liked the photo except at the moment I raised the camera to my face to compose the photo, another employee ran up to the car... stopped there... and then started doing Tai Chi exercises. The whole dang parking lot was empty, and he had to stop right at my car and ruin the picture. And I could see that he wasn’t going to leave for a while, so I gave up. I guess I could Photoshop him out of the picture, but that’s cheating – besides being too much work. I was really annoyed that morning.

All this is to say that I’ve done a really terrible job doing any photography for weeks. I’ve just been too busy. Images sitting on a memory card for nearly a month is a bad precedent also; I’m usually pretty good about processing photos not long after they’re taken.

This weekend I’m again in energy recovery mode, and tomorrow (Sunday), I’m liturgist for my Church’s worship service. I don’t feel fully prepared, and I hope I get through the morning without issue. I’m actually feeling slightly under the weather right now, so getting good sleep tonight looks to be critical. I definitely don’t want to break the build tomorrow.


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Spree

Chibi Homura
Anime Art Books from Kinokuniya
Anime Art Books from Kinokuniya

Also starting on Wednesday was the 7-day annual sale at Uwajimaya and Kinokuniya – 10% off everything at Uwajimaya and 20% off everything at Kinokuniya (because I’m a member). At Uwajimaya I bought fixings for miso soup, a couple of Asian pears for Jenni, and a big bag of Pocky for myself.

On Friday night after work I went to Kinokuniya to scan the art books, looking for additions to my library. I brought home a list that I used to search the Internet for descriptions and prices – and also to confirm that I didn’t already have them in my own library. (I forget sometimes what I have. I have a lot of art books.) I should note that at our particular Kinokuniya it’s difficult to assess the books as they are all sealed in clear plastic. The decision to buy would be a whole lot easier if I could see what’s inside. But I can’t. So the game is to guess the contents and make a risk / reward assessment. I’m pretty good but not infallible at this game.

Today (Saturday), I went back and bought four of the books on my list – about half of the candidates. Books I didn’t buy were from YuruYuri, Kagerou Project, Girls und Panzer, and Kill la Kill. The books I did buy were from Bakemonogatari, Puella Magi Madoka Magica (The Rebellion Movie), Kagerou Daze, and Kill la Kill. The Kill la Kill book is the weakest, containing only black and white model drawings for the second half of the series. The Bakemonogatari Production Note book also contains mostly black and white model drawings – but the drawings are more detailed and a more comprehensive selection. Also there are color renderings. It’s pretty cool. Kagerou Daze is a full guidebook to the series and is packed with screenshots and full page illustrations. Pretty!

The best book of the set is Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion – Official Guide Book – Only You. The movie had the highest production values of all, so all screencaps and illustrations are magnificent. This book is simply gorgeous inside, and it’s a delightful addition to my library.

The total financial hit was sizeable, of course, but it was tempered by a number of things... the 20% discount off list price for all books... a $10 Kinokuniya gift card I received from my Kinokuniya membership (for going over the rewards threshold in my previous membership cycle)... and the fact that this month is a three-paycheck month. (I get paid biweekly, and twice a year I get an extra paycheck in a month.) Plus, I bought only half of the books on my candidates list; damage could have been twice as bad. This is turning into an annual event in October – the Post-Kumoricon, Kinokuniya Sale, Anime Art Book Spree. I’m good with that. (^_^)


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Free Idols

Haruhi Starlight
AKB0048
AKB0048
AKB0048 Next Stage, Episode 7

Since Wednesday, October 15, TV Japan has been doing their annual free promo period on Comcast through the end of the month. TV Japan is owned by NHK, Japan’s public broadcasting network, so the programming is fairly staid, and there is very little anime (although ONE PIECE is among them – but I can get ONE PIECE on Crunchyroll, subtitled) and just a few dramas. Because I could review the Week’s Schedule online, I could pick out shows to watch or tape. And this is how I ended up awake at midnight on Wednesday to watch the half-hour AKB48 Show. (Turns out I haven’t wired up the VCR in the living room, so the easiest option late Wednesday was to just stay awake.)

The show was roughly what I expected – an opening song, a middle filled with featurettes/skits/antics, and an ending song. The opening song and choreography were not all that good, but the ending song – featuring only three of the singers – was better. I don’t actually remember, but I think it was Team B that was performing this week.

I didn’t know anything about AKB48 prior to my watching AKB0048, the anime (along with Wake Up, Girls!) that taught me about idol groups. All the competitions and weird appearances on TV variety shows and local events now make a lot more sense to me. Watching AKB0048 gave me reasons to root for the individual idols, while my learnings from Wake Up, Girls! made me root against the idol system. My anime knowledge made watching the AKB48 show quite interesting. I should probably tape next week’s show.

As far as the rest of the TV Japan programming that I can watch for free this month... I don’t think there’s much I can fit into my schedule. The channel is kinda fun to just have on in the background, though.


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State of Wonder

Chibi Haruhi
I just now finished listening to this week’s State of Wonder featuring Sleater-Kinney. Portlanders who are nostalgic about the indie rock scene here in the 90’s and early 00's might be interested.


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Tokonoma

"There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don't expect you to save the world I do think it's not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect."
-- Nikki Giovanni

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