Galilei Donna 9




by dm00



In episode nine of Galilei Donna, Hozuki travels back in time (it turns out goldfish are baited with wormholes) and meets Galileo, who has not only pioneered flight a couple of centuries early, but who has even invented statistical graphics a couple of centuries before Playfair

I think the creators of this series have confused him with the inconveniently childless Leonardo Davinci.

Sometimes I think I’m really only watching this series for Kazuki’s pageboy.

More manga as a Fantagraphics kickstarter stretch goal

by dm00


The Fantagraphics Kickstarter to jump-start their spring catalog has added a new stretch goal: if they reach $250,000 (by Thursday 5 December 2013), they’ll “increase our line of literary and experimental manga translation.”

(The Kickstarter page is maybe a little NSFW.)

They’ve been printing Wandering Son, works by Moto Hagio, and will be bringing out Inio Asano’s Nijigahara Holograph.

Wandering Son and Nijigahara Holograph may be pre-ordered as premiums on this Kick-starter.

Gatchaman Crowds 3: [C]rowd sourcing utopia

by dm00

Gatchaman Crowds - 03 -7[2]

In episode three, Gatchaman Crowds brings crowd-sourcing to bear on the problem of contaminated milk distribution.

What a techno-utopian vision of post-scarcity anarchism. It’s a combination of massive central planning (the simulations the GALAX system was running, optimizing the allocation of crowd-sourced resources against probable outcomes) and anarchist pay-it-forward gift-economy pitching-in.

It’s sort of the opposite of Psycho Pass‘s Sybil system (and not just in its candy-coated color-scheme): here, it’s the older, pre-Sybil adults who are disempowered while the younger Sybilites feel empowered to act and solve problems on their own.

Or maybe it’s what the marketing brochures for the Sybil system looked like before the reality set in: the too-cheap-to-meter phase of atomic power before Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, the Declaration-of-the-Independence-of-Cyberspace phase before turned the Internet into a 21st century Sears Roebuck catalog.

Friedrich Hayek must be spinning in his grave. His contribution to economics was that it was impossible to gather the information required for the kind of resource-allocation that the GALAX system is doing, even leaving aside the fact that the GALAX system is working with resources solicited from the crowd. Markets win because prices can carry that information. But it’s tempting to wonder if technology might be nearing the point where it could provide an alternate mechanism to markets and prices. See Down and out in the Magic Kingdom, and “whuffie”.

(Though, see here for an alternate look at the need for whuffie in the GALAX system.)

I wonder where they’re going to go with this. I suspect the GALAX system has its darker side (or that there are people in Gatchaman’s world who will figure out how to exploit it for its darker side).

Update: corrected name of GALAX system, link to alternate view on whuffie.

Gunslinger Girl: Finale



The final volume of the Gunslinger Girl manga arrived today.

The first surprise were the words “heartwarming conclusion” in the blurb on the back cover.  The second surprise was that Yu Aida really did pull it off (perhaps the third surprise is seeing Jean finally treat Rico as decently as she has long deserved). God, I’m a softie, and I’m sure all the Kool Kids will snicker, but I found this final volume to be a fitting conclusion — the complete opposite of the carnage and mayhem of the previous volumes. Yes, it has its melancholy aspects, and many beloved characters do not survive the series, but it really does end on a note of hope as the weeks of bloody terrorism give way to a peace movement with echoes of the one that emerged in Northern Ireland, and the Social Welfare Agency takes on a new role.

This volume, called “Finale”, brings the series to a close, showing the fates of the survivors, and laying many ghosts to rest, giving each a witness to recognize their passing.
I’ll agree that the epilogue lays it on way too thick, but for Triela, I’ll forgive almost anything.
I’m so glad that Seven Seas picked this series up from ADV Manga, and saw it through to its conclusion.  In twenty years of manga reading, this series stands out in the way it breathes life into its characters as it tells their stories.


Ohikkoshi – Hiroaki Samura does comedy in a modern setting

by dm00

animepaper.net_picture_standard_artists_samura_hiroaki_ohikkoshi_140294_rauzan_preview-f5a0ff13Ohikkoshi is an anthology of short stories from Blade of the Immortal‘s Hiroaki Samura.

Blade of the Immortal has always looked too violent for me, so I’ve never looked into it — though I can appreciate the artistic talent of the creator.

Ohikkoshi, published by Dark Horse, is a collection of three comic short stories set in the contemporary world.  The title story is about a collection of college-age ne’er do-wells drinking, forming bands, encountering Italian assassins, and missing connections when it comes to love.

Continue reading ‘Ohikkoshi – Hiroaki Samura does comedy in a modern setting’

Yumekui Kenbun — Nightmare Inspector

by dm00

A recent Jason Thompson column about Yumekui Kenbun — Nightmare Inspector sent me off to the library. This is a delightful mild-horror series. The art is very nice (with some wonderful dream concepts). In the first three volumes, at least, I’d say the writing is stronger than that of xxxHoLic, in a similar genre. xxxHoLic makes better use of drifting smoke and textiles, Yumekui Kenbun is a little better at the fantastic, I think.

Hiroku is a baku — a dream-eater. He hangs out in the Silver Star Tea Shop (which basically destroys the shop’s business, as only people afflicted by nightmares go there). While at first the series seems pretty nightmare-of-the-week episodic, by the third volume we’re seeing links among some of the dreams and dreamers. After reading the first few volumes from the library, I’ve decided this is a series I want to add to my collection. Continue reading ‘Yumekui Kenbun — Nightmare Inspector’

Animating tactical genius: Miho, Marika and Shinon

by dm00


I came to Girls und Panzer very late and for an odd reason — the soundtrack amused me.  I’d written the series off as moe fluff (it is that), but something about the soundtrack on top of all the enthusiasm for the series prompted me to give it a try.  I started watching the series a week or so ago, and found myself plowing through all the episodes.

Between its production values and charm, it’s no wonder so many people rated the series so highly.  I’m sure it’s been talked to death.

But I want to express my appreciation for one thing the series does that’s rarely done so successfully: we see a brilliant tactician at work.  We see Miho being brilliant, we aren’t just told how brilliant she is.  We see her scanning the landscape through her binoculars, we see staring at her knees as she mentally tabulates her resources and the resources of her opponents. We see the flash of inspiration that leads to the audacious move that carries the day.

Anime (nor any other fiction) rarely pulls this off.  After all, it takes a bit of genius to show us the work of a genius (you can borrow some of that genius though: I suspect the military otaku have dissected each of Oarai High School’s battles and found possible inspirations in the history of tank warfare for Miho’s successful maneuvers).


Fortune favors the prepared.  We rarely see genius, even less often do we see the 99% perspiration that accompanies the 1% inspiration that makes up that genius.

We see it just a bit in Girls und Panzer as Miho spends a late night contemplating the forces tomorrow’s opponent will array against her.  We saw it as Marika in Bodacious Space Pirates struggled for sleepless days to hatch a plan to take on the shocking new opponent who had appeared and was destroying her fellow pirates.


One of the best renditions of the genius-by-sweat-equity was portrayed by the character Shinon in Starship Operators.  Throughout the series we see her strategic cunning at work. Then at the end of the series, when the odds looked hopeless, Shinon spends several days in the simulator, running battle plan after battle plan, looking for one that has a prayer of keeping them alive through the coming conflict.  She emerges with a plan that uses her ship in a completely unexpected way, and they live to fight another day.

(I guess we do see a lot of the “hard work and guts” school of winning the day through sheer determination and strength of will. I’m not talking about that, here.)

Girls und Panzer does this subtly and well.  It was a joy to watch.

The Anime Paradox: Anime and the traditions of Noh and Kabuki

by dm00

Sengoku Collection will ensare even the most jaded.

Slow, fast, faster: Sengoku Collection will ensnare even the most jaded.

If you are interested in Japanese history, you should check out The Samurai Archives, particularly if you are interested in the Sengoku era.

(Not so) Recently, they hosted Stevie Suan, talking not enough about his forthcoming book, The anime paradox, in which he examines anime through the lens of traditional Japanese theater.

Part one. This episode is mostly about the idea of viewing anime through the precepts of Japanese dramaturgy, in particular, the idea of Jo-ha-kyu, “beginning, break, rapid”, or “slow, fast, faster” — a fifteenth-century framework for Noh that has been inherited by kabuki, and plausibly applies to anime as well. Sadly, they just touch on the thesis and evidence for it, but they certainly make the book sound interesting (I haven’t looked to see if there is any discussion of the podcast in the Samurai Archives Forum). Stevie Suan sounds like he knows his anime, and is on to something in comparing anime to traditonal Japanese drama.

(Amusing aside: one of the podcasters, a military historian known for his disdain of anime, spends a bit of time marvelling at the way he’s been sucked into Sengoku Collection — and how Sengoku Collection illustrates part of Suan’s jo-ha-kyu framing.)

Part two. This episode is mostly about anime as a gateway drug for Japanese cultural studies, and the general trend in the humanities of cross-fertilization (e.g., 16th-century Japanese politics through the lens of modern political theory).

The book is forthcoming enough that Amazon doesn’t yet have it up for pre-order, but keep your eyes out for it.

And check out the Samurai Archives podcast. I spent many happy hours last year going through their archives. There’s some great stuff in there, especially if you’re interested in the Sengoku era.

Update: Here’s the publisher’s prospectus for the book. Eek, $133. Maybe a university library near you will get it.

The Authors (with others, too.)

The Good Old Days

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