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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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A Very Anime Xmas

It's been a very anime Xmas here in my underground lair.

It started off in a non-anime way. Xmas Eve I got together with my brother, moon_custafer, and green_trilobite for some Chinese food, and then back to my place for some traditional holiday shows! Such as the Jermery Brett Sherlock Holmes episode The Blue Carbuncle, the Justice League episode Comfort and Joy, the animated Tick The Tick loves Santa, and finally A Charles Brown Christmas. As moon_custafer has already pointed out, it's amazing that on DVD, you can actually see the brushstrokes making up the backgrounds in aCBC, and that some of the foreground objects are paper cut-outs.

Xmas day, the anime starts! I got together with my brother in the afternoon, and we marathoned all 26 episodes of Planetes, finishing up at 2:30AM. It was worth it as it's an amazing show. Set in 2075, our heroes work for the orbital debris clean-up section of a large space station, an important, but low-prestige job. We follow them thru their ups and downs, and their hopes and dreams, and address topics such as the problems of being a chain smoker in space, third-world needs vs. first-world money, and meet a six-foot twelve-year-old girl born on the Moon. And the show designers have clearly done their homework on what near future space technology might actually look like, I didn't notice a single dumb mistake in the whole show.

Over the past several days I also managed to finish another box set I got recently, Angelic Layer. It's a very, very, cute show where people do battle with mentally-controlled foot-high dolls. Our hero is a Misaki, a young girl who moves to Tokyo, discovers the game, and starts playing after being inspired by watching the game's champion in action. Of course, said champion is actually her mother, who she hasn't seen since she was six (not a spoiler, it's obvious after episode two). This show was CLAMP's first foray into a traditional "boy" anime theme (the battling tournament show) and it's a lot of fun. They avoid the usual weaknesses of the theme (battles that go on too long, no character development, cardboard villains), and manage to make the cliches seem fresh (such as the "everyone goes to the beach episode"). Plus Misaki keeps winning her battles thanks to superior tactics over her opponents, not just because she's the star of the show. Highly recommended.

Finally, back in the pure SF realm, there's Starship Operators. It starts out with SF cliche #9, the cadets of the starship decided to keep up the fight after their home world is invaded and quickly surrenders, but then makes a sharp turn as the only way they can pay to do this is to strike a deal with the Galaxy Broadcasting Network to turn their battles into a reality show. The show strikes a nice balance, as everyone involved takes the fact that they're at war very seriously (people are killed, there are lots of scenes standing around map tables planning strategy, which I'm a complete suckers for), but they all have to put up with demands from the sponsors to start battles during prime-time slots, have lots of cute girls on the bridge, and try to carry out covert operations when they're all becoming media celebrities.

If you think this was a lot of sitting on the couch, it's true. More later on the non-anime watching things I've managed to do.

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I kept hearing Starship Operators' name mentioned, but never knew the premise. I'll have to check it out.

It's been a while since I watched Angelic Layer, but from what I remember, Misaki's superior tactics usually amounted to wallowing in self doubt for the first half of the fight, before winning with a well-timed boot-to-the-head. Her victory against Wizard was pretty smart, though.

Haruhi had some pretty funny space opera scenes in one episode, if you still haven't seen the best anime of 2006. :)

What's your take on Zipang, if you've seen it?

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