Wednesday, January 17, 2001 — Martin L. King Jr.’s Birthday

As luck would have it, I have a pretty long update today.

I found a site that hosts RealVideo files of fan-subtitled episodes of the anime comedy series Kodomo no Omache (a.k.a. “Child’s Toy”). I was introduced to Kodomo through Kodomo no Evangelion, a pair of spoof videos that put the theme songs for Kodomo to original animation of Neon Genesis Evangelion characters. I then did a bit of searching online and was intrigued by the descriptions I read of Kodomo.

I really like what I’ve seen so far (namely, the first episode). It is very high-speed show, both in terms of animation and humor. A lot of the humor is conversational, and the comments can fly by so quickly that you’re not done even comprehending one by the time another is completely delivered. It’s a lot like the comic stylings of Mystery Science Theater 3000 when those folks were at their best.

The characters are certainly well-presented. Sana, the main character, is a somewhat hyper girl who is also a child TV star. She switches moods with impressive speed, but generally stays positive. Meanwhile, there’s her bodyguard Rei, an unflappable man who always wears sunglasses and Sana calls her “pimp.” He’s a great foil for Sana’s general insanity. Meanwhile, you have Sana’s mother, who is cool as ice in all situations, and tries to instill in her daughter a sense of decorum and grace (to which I say, “Good luck”). Combine this with Sana’s classmate Hayama, who is cold and cruel, but seems to be less than totally evil, and you have a cast of characters who really bounce off each other in interesting ways (much like the cast of, say, Tenchi Muyo!).

There are really only two things I can complain about. For one, the drawing and animation styles are both less than stellar to my eyes. The character designs are occasionally quite pretty, but often somewhat ugly. Related to this, the show often drops its drawing style into a simplified style that really doesn’t look very good to me.

Secondly is an issue which deserves some perspective. Anime series tend to leap from scenes of drama to character development to humor to action much more quickly than Western movies or TV shows. This is an aspect of the anime genre that one simply has to get used to.

Unfortunately, Kodomo jumps from comedy to character development to drama to who-knows-where much more quickly than most anime series. I found it to be so rapid that it was almost jarring; I needed at least a few seconds to mentally transition from comedy appreciation to drama appreciation. Kodomo at least continues those scenes long enough for me to appreciate them before leaping again, but I would have preferred at least a little transition time between certain moments in the episode I saw.

But even so, I found Kodomo no Omache to be hilarious and very entertaining in many ways. Though it’s certainly not for everyone.

What else. Hey, I found an online comic with good art, and the comic stylings of Bill Watterson (the Calvin and Hobbes guy). It’s Sinfest, and while there is some occasional foul language and mature subject matter, it makes a lot of good points and is often quite hilarious.

Heh, life is odd. Saalon and I talked the other night about the viability of mechs (e.g., large, piloted humanoid machines) in real life, whether they’d actually be worthwhile to construct. We concluded that Earth-based business or military applications would probably be relatievly minor, but they’d be very useful on other planets doing construction and the like. Want to build a large colony-type structure? A mech is basically a mobile crane, just to mention one use.

Then, I read a BBC report that the US military is funding research into building exoskeletons for soldiers. They’re basically looking like primitive versions of the ExoSuits from ExoSquad; you strap yourself into one of these machines and it enhances your leg movement, how much you can carry, etc. An excellent idea, I think, and it opens the door for more interesting and far-ranging applications, like…mechs.

There’s evidently going to be a new anime series called “Lingerie Fighter Papillon Rose” (?!?) that will be streamed on the web like NieA Under 7 was. In this case, though, the series will evidently be exclusive to the web (they’re calling it an “Original Net Animation,” as opposed to “Original Video Animations”). You can download the trailer as a small or large MPEG file.

Based on the promo, the show looks like Sailor Moon with older protagonists, whom all wear lingerie instead of sailor uniforms. :blink: I seriously hope that this is meant to be a parody.

Let’s see, what else. I made a big anime order at Right Stuf today, all VHS tapes that they were selling for cheap. I got AD Police Files #1 (a dark spin-off of the original Bubblegum Crisis), Ayane’s High Kick, Mighty Space Miners (never heard of it before, but it looked intriguing), My Dear Marie, and the complete You’re Under Arrest OVA (a modern-day comedy about two female traffic cops). All of it’s dubbed, except for My Dear Marie which is only available in a subtitled version. Should be interesting.

I also went to the first installment of the “Discovery series” at The Falls Church (Episcopal). The Discovery series is a set of three nights where the staff of TFC explain to potential members about TFC’s structure, history, goals, etc. It was very interesting to hear how people looked at The Falls Church, and its place within the Episcopal church.

One of the things that really caught my attention was what a priest said about the Episcopalian view of personal faith and religion. He explained that the Episcopal church won’t tell you what to believe, beyond the basics (the basics being: There is a God; He sent His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins; accepting Christ’s death for your sins pays the price for all of your sin and guarantees you a place in heaven; etc.). The church may have opinions on these things, but it won’t proscribe those opinions. More importantly, the church tries to actively encourage people to think about their religion. They want people to use their reason to come to their own conclusions. How many religions or churches will say that?

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