It's a duck pond.
Why aren't there any ducks?
I don't know. There's never any ducks.
Then how do you know it's a duck pond?
Saturday, May 26
I started posting this as a comment on Steven's blog, but it got longer and longer and in the end I decided it was better as a post in its own right, so here it is. It's a discussion about the art styles in the various incarnations of Oh My Goddess! - particularly the OVA (which is a classic) and the recent TV series (which is a pile of poo). See hideous thirty-year-old transvestite Megumi and ugly flat-faced Urd for background.
Joe wrote:Joe is right that the artwork changes substantially over the course of the manga - with such a long-running series, that's not surprising. And the changes to Belldandy are the most significant (with Keiichi coming second - early Keiichi was kind of ugly, and that seems to be the version they picked up for the TV series).
I've been an AMG fan for close to a decade now, and I have a nearly complete collection of the original Japanese-language manga all the way to the latest volume (34), so I'm able to review the way in which the drawing style has changed over the eighteen-some years of the manga's run (the way Belldandy was drawn at the beginning is RADICALLY different from the way she looks now, so much so that if it wasn't for the identifying marks on her face, you'd wonder if they were even the same person). To me, Belldandy, Urd, Keiichi and Megumi have always looked like what they were meant to be - young adults - in the manga as well as the anime.
Steven wrote:18-year-olds tend to look more like kids than not (though of course there's a lot of variation). And Megumi is not just an 18-year-old, she's a cute and bubbly 18-year-old. The artwork in the anime is dull and flat; it shifts the colour of her eyes and hair from red-brown to grey-brown, elongates her face, makes her chin pointed rather than round. All it really succeeds in doing is making her look tired and washed-out, which makes her look older than she should be.
Within that context, Megumi as drawn in the TV series looks scandalously mature, even old -- but only because the context itself is distorted. Megumi doesn't look 29; she looks 18. The reason she looks out of place is because so many other girls that age (or slightly younger) in anime are drawn to look 12.
Steven wrote:But the change there is the eyes, Skuld being wide-eyed and childlike and Urd being narrow-eyed and mischievous - even in the manga. Manga Urd may have a similarly-shaped face to manga Skuld, but the expressions are different, and the proportions of the face are different.
The difference in art style between Skuld and everyone else is the source of one sight gag. Urd senses that Skuld is hiding something and needles her by imitating something that Skuld would say. The seiyuu makes her voice sound like Skuld's voice, but they also change Urd's face art so that her face has the same proportions as Skuld's. That gag wouldn't have worked if everyone had been drawn like Skuld is. And everyone is drawn that way in the manga and in the OVA. Irrespective of body proportions, they all have the faces of kids.
I don't recall that gag from the manga, but what Fujishima did do was have them swap ages, so that Urd was a little kid and Skuld was grown up. And their faces changed appropriately. They're similar, because that's the artist's style; they aren't identical. (And even if they were, the gag would work just fine - c.f. Jungle Guu.
Steven wrote:Actually, Megumi is supposed to be short and... well, not particularly slender. (As in, solidly built, not top-heavy.) Megumi is supposed to be cute, in contrast to characters like Belldandy and Urd and Sayoko, who are tall and slim and beautiful.
As it turns out, Megumi is quite slender and isn't at all top-heavy; and that's realistic.
Height's another age cue, but Chihiro is short like Megumi and Sora (and not particularly slender, either), and her face is drawn in the same style, but she still looks older. Fujishima does this using facial proportions and expressions - and hairstyles.
Steven wrote:That's partly true, but it's a small part. Anime Megumi's face looks tired and old, because they've washed the colour out of it. It just doesn't suit her personality. And the artwork of the entire show is ugly and flat.
Pixy is, I think, reacting first to the series history and objecting to the changes that were made. (Fanboy loyalty.)
Steven wrote:Well, where you define 'current' as everything since Osamu Tezuka first picked up a pen. And he stole the concept from Disney.
But he's also reacting to the current anime context where "adult" girls are being drawn more and more young looking, a kind of genre-wide pervasive lolicon.
Oh My Goddess! is supposed to be cute and bright, and it is, in every version except the TV series. The characters look older in the movie, but that's because the movie comes late in the ongoing story, and the movie doesn't make Megumi (or anyone else) look washed-out. (In fact, the movie is gorgeous.)
It's not simply a question of neoteny, it's that the art style in the TV series is both ugly and inappropriate.
Friday, May 04
This is the fourth instalment (and second reboot) of the Futari Wa Pretty Cure franchise. Gone are Nagisa and Honoka (sadly) and Mipple and Mepple (thankfully). Cure White and Cure Black are replaced with Cure Dream, Cure Rouge, Cure... Cure Lemonade?! Oy. I won't look up the other two to avoid spoiling the surprise.*
The original was quite a good show, though it did to some extent fall into the monster-of-the-week trap as magical girl shows so often do. The heroines were very engaging, and the opening and closing themes kicked ass.
The sequel and reboots haven't managed the charm or originality of the first season, though it's been successful enough to run to nearly 200 episodes and several movies - as much as the entire run of Sailor Moon.
I'd give this season a miss unless you're a Pretty Cure completist or a mahou shoujo addict - or a ten-year-old Japanese girl, in which case, I must congratulate you on your grasp of the English language!
Quote almost worthy of Gir: I wish I could go to sleep at night wrapped in fried eggs!
* It's called Pretty Cure 5 not because it's season five, but because of the mandatory number of any sentai team.
Okay, so this one is not actually part of the current season. Or the previous season. Or the one before that. Or...
Okay, it's 30 years old.
But, unlike Toward The Terra, a 2007 animation of a 70's manga, this 70's anime doesn't suck. Even though it has much worse artwork and animation, even though it's 14 molar melodramic acid, it's still a good show.
I'm not sure exactly why, but it is. Possibly because Harlock is an archetype rather than a stereotype. (Whatever that means.)
But how does that chick with no mouth drink all the booze? That's what I want to know.
Hapless highschool student Hayate* gets fired from his bicycle courier job, and through Plot Contrivance 3B gets hired as a butler for super-duper-rich family.
It's a very standard anime comedy so far, but I do like his shoulder angels.
* Actually, it's more his parents who are hapless. In fact, his parents should be shot.
Thursday, May 03
The break-the-fourth-wall show of the season. It's a show set in an MMORPG featuring characters who know that they are in a show set in an MMORPG.
It's largely just a send-up of RPG and anime tropes, with no sign of a plot, but it does this well enough to be worth watching.
Beautiful space princesses. Grizzled space captains. Deadly space ants. Skintight space suits. Cliched space opera - well...
Actually not too bad, judging from the first episode. Nice character designs, artwork, and animation. Big spaceships. Biiiig spaceships. Giant robots too. Appears to be a straight action series, but as long as it doesn't take itself too seriously, it could be quite good.
Missed a few items in my current season viewing: Romeo x Juliette, Heroic Age, Master of Epic - The Animation Age, Reideen, Hayate the Combat Butler, Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, and the OAV Murder Princess. There's still a lot more out there, but the rest hasn't been fansubbed yet.
Watching Rocket Girls has led me to some ponderation on the subject of fanservice. When you think of fanservice in anime, the first thing that comes to mind is panchira and the like; gratuitous T&A. But more generally, fanservice is something put in, not essential to the story, that makes fans happy.
There's are fair bit of fanservice of the latter sort (and a certain amount of the former) in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which has certainly contributed to its popularity. Admittedly, Haruhi's awareness of Narrative Causality makes it hard to say what is and isn't important to the plot...
The scene with the HP-41 in episode two of Rocket Girls is pure engineer fanservice. The same character is back in episode three, describing his childhood dreams of going into space, which began when he watched the moon landing (he's in his early forties; I know I watched it myself, but I was too young to really remember it). He ended up a salariman, but left his job at the age of 40 to join the SSA, an apparently private but government-assisted space project.
The reason I wanted to discuss this is that if you are delivering engineer fanservice, you must be assuming that your target audience will include engineers, and you need to understand that they will suffer from engineer's disease. And when you put in scenes that just plain wouldn't happen - the helicopter scene in episode one; the catalyst scene in episode three - purely for the comedy value, you do rather irk your fanbase.
Not irked enough to stop watching, not by a long shot, but still irked.
Tuesday, May 01
What are the values of Δv1 and Δv2?
But some of those numbers have seven digits...
You have a calculator, don't you!?
Right, right! ... the heck is this!? There's no equals key!
Of course not! Don't you know Reverse Polish Notation?
Of course not!
Oh, really? In that case... I'll take five minutes to cram its operation into your head. When I'm done with you, you'll never be able to use a regular calculator again!
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