Monday, March 31, 2008

Pre-Birthday Rambling

So, it is yet again the most wonderful time of the year. Spring has sprung, the trees are green, the grass is growing and getting mowed (much to my poor muscle's complaints). Of course, none of that really matters at all! The importance of this particular time of the year is that it is when this world was blessed enough that I joined it.

Yes, I'm a narcissist. After all, my children had to have inherited that trait from somewhere.

Anyways, I was thumbing around the 'net and discovered that some odd kook from Georgia (and it just HAD to be the South, didn't it) has decided that, hey he can marry a robot if he wants to! Besides the obvious err, okay factor of the story, I can't help but remember that classic of '80's science fiction, you know the one I mean, right?

No, not Earth Girls are Easy, though it was on the television the other day. I was amused by my wife's reaction to the existence of a SF musical. I'm not even talking about Ice Pirates (though I'd love to get that on DVD).

I'm talking about Cherry 2000.

I mean I can see this guy, fifteen years from now, hunting through the internet archives for a copy of the AI software so he can reboot his robotic spouse. Of course, being the utter geek I am, I had to wander off to the A.L.I.C.E. AI Foundation's website, and ask their copy what she feels about this guy, and her response there was:

ALICE: I have to process that one for a while.
Heh. Apparently, Zoltan isn't that great of a spouse. Or he erased her memory again. Additionally, I doubt that Melanie Griffith is going to show up and help him find her personality matrix.

I definitely don't see her showing Zoltan the joys of a human/human relationship.

Anyways, last night I opened up my DVD of I Am Legend and watched the special, alternate ending. My decision on which I liked better is still up in the air, but I think I'm leaning towards the alternate ending. It felt more like the book to me.

And speaking of books, I'm in the midst of writing my review for Revelation AND I got Star Wars: Legacy volume 2, and Knights of the Old Republic volume 3 last night. I can admit to being all sorts of happy about having more Star Wars to read.

In the anime front of things: True Tears , CLANNAD and KimiKiss have all completed. This frees me up some time to watch the Persona: Trinity Soul and Spice and Wolf. Hopefully I'll be able to get those watched prior to the new stuff appearing.

Finally, Ghost in the Shell is going to be playing on SF's Ani-Monday tonight. That's the only thing of interest until April 21st when they show Psychic Wars. Though, from what I just read on IMDB I'm not expecting anything all that great.

Well, here's to hoping that I'm wrong...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

True Tears Episode 13 - Final

My Thoughts:
I've got to admit it's not what I was expecting. Unfortunately, I can't continue this on without spoilers--so if you don't want that, stop reading this particular post now.

I was wanting a Noe ending. I can admit it. I liked Noe, she reminded me of my wife. Her innocence and eclectic personality were some of the things which drew me to my wife--and it is those attributes of Noe's personality which I found most compelling.

Hiromi on the other hand seemed a bit more world-wary. She was formal and proper. I can honestly admit that I've never dated anyone like that. Sure, girls like that can pretty to look at (on occasion) but I just can't handle that level of... well, I'm not sure how to describe it.

And don't know what I'm talking about; then look at the picture. Which of the three girls, just from the way they carry themselves says "Hey, I'm the sweet, yet fun-in an innocent sort of way girl."

But you know, that's a discussion for the full series review. As for this episode, we touch upon what exactly the tears in the show is discussing-and find out how that relates to the often wishy-washiness of the male lead.

Fundamentally though, the entire show was about cleaning up the various plot points and giving us a nice resolution to everything. Though I would have liked for a bit more time spent on Ai-chan and Nobuse after the whole Hiromi/Shin/Noe thing got clarified.

Well, I say clarified, but if you pay CLOSE attention, you'll realize that we're really not certain what happened. Hiromi is not on screen saying yes to Shinichirō , and more importantly, she's refused him flat-out twice in that scene. At this point, we frankly don't know who he actually ended up with, as we're not shown a scene with Shinichirō and either of the girls. Rather, we get scenes where Hiromi and Noe are interacting with their peers, and scenes where Shin is alone.

While I feel that this was a firm Hiromi ending, I can't point to final proof where we see the two of them unequivocally together--or apart. At the same time, I don't feel that it was a Noe ending, but likewise there's no scene where they are interacting with each other.

Although, in the first scene in the spring, Noe is running towards the other two girls, and we follow where she had came from, and lo and behold, that happens to be where Shinichirō is. Of course, at that moment, he goes off on some inner monologue as if he hadn't talked to her in months.

Frankly, the more I pick at that ending, the more I have to wonder if he ended up with neither girl.

Episode Summary:
The day after the festival, Shinichirō is at the hospital with Jun, and we find out that all she did when jumping from that tree was break her leg. Well, the two head off to the roof, and Shin tries and apologize to Jun. In response, Jun makes some cryptic comments about the snow and then asks Shin why Noe can't cry. When Shin gives him some silly answer, Jun says he will not forgive him. Later on, Jun's walking in his full angst mode, and bumps into Hiromi, where he confesses that he doesn't feel a thing for her.

At school, Hiromi asks Shinichirō to come by her apartment after school, and when he does, she sends off some insane mixed-signals before kicking him out. Then he gets home just in time to catch a phone call from a publisher. After he asks his dad about when he cries, Hiromi pops in. They chat, and she sends him off to get things right with Noe, and basically that he needs to pick between them.

So, i'ts one again, off to the hospital for Shin, and while he's sitting out in the hall, he tries to convince Noe that she needs to see the pretty pictures he drew her. When she refuses, so he says he is going to throw it into the sea; and telling her that he saw her try to throw Jibeta into that same sea. Well, he goes out to the wharf, and proceeds to rip out pages, and throwing them as airplanes.

Which means it's time for Noe to show up and try and break her leg a second time. So, Shin collects all those pages he had just thrown away, and off they go to a bus stop which conveniently has a heater in it (I'm a Southern boy--if our bus stops have anything like that in them, it's air conditioners). Anyways, as she's looking through them, she realizes that she doesn't have the last page, and tells him that she can make it up.

Shinichirō tells Noe what he's really thinking and feeling. Basically that he is in love with Hiromi but his heart wavers when he looks at Noe. It's her turn to once more spout off cryptic things. Shinichirō goes to Hiromi's apartment, and when he can't find her he proceeds to run out into the bamboo forest thing. When he finds her, he asks her to go out with him, and she refuses, so he does it again, and she still refuses--so he proposes.

Well, the next scene we get is suddenly spring-time as evidenced by the sakura blossoms. First we see that Noe has once again started making friends. Hiromi is still playing basketball. Jun is in the city, Shin is sneaking in drawings instead of studying, and there's some other odds an ends, including a final bit of Ai-chan and Nobuse. The final bit is Noe standing by Jibeta's cage, where we see Raigomaru 's grave, and the stones Shin used earlier in the series--as well as Noe's tears.

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's a Friday Morning

I'm lacking some serious time for this morning because around lunchtime I have a golf tournament thing to participate in. Ahh, good times. As some of you may have noticed--I never did get around to putting up my episode review for Kimikiss episode 24. The reason for that is after I got it, I realized that I had yet to see episode 23. So I had to go hunt down 23 which took a bit, get it downloaded, and then watch it and 24 last night. I enjoyed both episodes, and I think I'll forgo the single episode review in favor of the full series review. So I'm in the midst of writing that at the moment, and it can be expected in a day or two--hopefully.

On the movie front, there's a supposedly reliable rumor (if such a thing can be said to exist) that a trailer for the new Star Trek movie will be found in the previews of the upcoming Indiana Jones movie. I have to actually wonder if it will be a full trailer or a teaser though. May 22nd of this year is awfully early for a trailer for that particular movie.

Though I could see one for the Big-Screen release of the first bit of the new animated Star Wars: Clone Wars show. Ugly character designs aside, I'm all sorts of excited about that.

Finally, May 3rd is the date for this year's Free Comic Book Day. There's a lot of interest including some Manga titles. I'll be at Heroes and Dragons with the rest of the Mandalorians in Pearl, Mississippi for anyone that lives in the general Jackson-Metro area.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring is in the Anime...

Ah, anime, that wonderful time-sink which allows me to watch pretty cartoons. I still don't see why my beloved doesn't like it. I mean it's cartoons. What's not to like. Anyways, there's been some interesting tidbits popping up about anime recently. Of most interest to me, is the fact that a second season of CLANNAD is coming out, with this season being based on the AFTER STORY portion of the game. I'm all sorts of happy about that.

Second, anime blog a geek by any other name tells us that BOST TV will be releasing DRM-Free anime episodes. Anytime someone wants to release something without DRM it makes me happy. As a consumer, I despise DRM. It's evil I say... evil! Amusingly enough as a programmer I feel much the same way.

Anyways, here is the current lineup for animes that should be appearing this spring (and this data is from A Geek By Any Other Name's cheat sheet):

NameGenreMy thoughts
Allison to LilliaShounen/ AdventureSeems interesting
AmatsukiFantasyI'm kind of hesitant about this one.
Blue Dragon Tenkou no Shichi RyuuShounen/ ActionOh no....
Code Geass R2Mech/ DramaThe first season was good, so I'll give it a try
Crystal BlazeSci-Fi/ ActionJust sounds odd.
D.C.II S.S. Da Capo II Second SeasonMoe/ RomanceBleh...
Druaga no Tou ~the Aegis of URUK~Fantasy/ Adventureerr...
FireballKids/ CGNo!
Golgo 13Actionyet more bleh...
Himitsu ~Top Secret~Sci-Fi/ ActionIt has some promise, but I don't think so.
Itazura na KissShoujo/ RomanceMore fun drama.
Junjou RomanticaShoujo/ Boys LoveNo. Just no.
KaibaSci-Fi*shrugs* It's SF so I've gotta give it a try.
Kamen no Maid GuyComedyI'll try, but I don't see me sticking with it.
KanokonShounen/ RomanceThe Manga is a fun ride
Kyou Kara Maou 3rd SeasonComedyMore Bleh.
Kyouran Kazoku NikkiComedyI've seen worse plot descriptions
Macross FRONTIERMechI'm so there!
Monochrome FactorAction/ FantasyAgain, No.
Nabari no OuAction/ FantasyStill no.
Nijuu Mensou no MusumeAction/ MysteryShould be interesting.
Penguin Musume ♥ HeartComedy/ GagUhm.... I'm thinking no....
RD Sennou ChousashitsuSci-FiI'm so wanting to see this...
S.A. ~Special A~Romance / Reverse Harem*shrugs* I doubt it
Soul EaterShounen/ FantasyOh yeah! This has potential.
To LOVEruShounen/ Romantic ComedyIt sounds a bit like a half dozen previous animes, so I guess we'll have to see.
Toshokan SensouAction/ ComedyShould be fun.
Vampire KnightShoujo/ FantasyI'm kind of scared...
Wagaya no OinarisamaFantasyuhm.... I'm thinking no....
xxxHOLiC KeiFantasyI'll give an episode or 2 a try.

So, that's what I have to look forward to starting in April. I'm especially excited about the new Macross.

Monday, March 24, 2008

True Tears Episode 12

My Thoughts:
I've got to admit--every time I think I understand how this show plans on ending, they turn around and kick everything out from beneath me.

Shin'ichiro, and the two remaining female leads both suffer some serious angst issues in this episode.

Yet what really came out of left field was Noe's realizations on just how naive she's been. While she easily saw through Hiromi's attempts to get close to her early in the episode, that was the last time she really recognized anyones feelings. At least that's what she's told herself. She didn't see Jun's feelings, and she didn't see what she believes to be Shin's feelings as well. Hiromi's she kind of knew the entire time.

Frankly, I've always liked Noe. She's innocent and carefree and just fun. In fact the way her character is built reminds me of my beloved wife. Yes, I could see my beloved singing a song about how I had a roach under my hat as a form of less-than-subtle mocking.

Hiromi though, I've always been a bit less interested in. I personally didn't find her as compelling a character. Sure, she had the right keys to kick things into gear: sad background, childhood friend, lives in the same house and of course the issues early on with Shin's mom. Yet she didn't start anything until Noe appeared on the scene.

Finally Shin'ichiro. He's grown up a lot over the course of this series. Yet, we still have to see what type of lesson he's learned. Fortunately, this isn't one of those things where it's win or lose. At least in the short term. He's choosing a girl. More importantly, the one he chooses will ultimately be his choice. Which is one of the things that he's learned. Life is about making choices, and then living with the results of that choice.

Now, we just get to see what his choice will be.

Episode Summary:
Episode 12 begins right where 11 left off, Noe standing on the wharf with that chicken, seeing the roach/Shin'ichiro song. She says something about how the chicken chose not to fly and that was his strength which she didn't see. Shin watched all this, and then disappears. We find out that he snuck back to his house, and called Hiromi so that she could call Jun and tell him that Noe would probably be home soon.

After he gets off the phone, Shin has some serious soul searching/emo/angst thing going on while hiding in his closet. He considers his dancing, his drawing and the three girls, as he announces to himself that he had never chose anything.

Noe takes Jibeta back to his coop and heads to the house where she finds her brother making her dinner. She gives him a hug and tells him thanks.

The next scene is the day of the festival and Shin's mom and Hiromi are pouring drinks for the Mugiha dancers. One of them notices that Shin'ichiro isn't around and the mom sends Hiromi in after him. She goes in and finds him in a kind of daze, as he's still dealing with the emotional backwash of basically the entire series. Hiromi then wonders where she can get a good view of the dance, and Shin tells her she doesn't have to do that.

We then flip back to Noe to discover she's spending quality time with her grandma's picture and the Kleenex box chicken Shin made her. As she's doing this she says that she's not going to go to the festival.

The festival begins and Ai-chan shows up to help Hiromi. Ai says something or other about Noe being Shin's girlfriend and that doesn't please Hiromi one bit. Well, both of those see Noe, and Hiromi then tells Ai that she's Shin's girl. A fact that shocks Ai-chan. Noe runs off and Hiromi chases her down. Once she gets Noe to stop, Hiromi tells her that Shin is hers, and that she loves him, as she begins to cry. Noe says that Hiromi's tears are beautiful and then disappears into the crowd.

Then we get some male bonding time between Shin and Nobuse. He's apparently been roped into running Ai-chan stall while she helps Hiromi. Nobuse asks him what he's doing, and he admits that he has no clue.

Then we get some more pictures of Noe being emo.

While that's happening she gets a phone call, and then goes to Jun's workplace to ask why he's hunting for a job in Tokyo. Jun then confesses to Noe; and no, they're not not related. Since he realizes that it's not appropriate, he has decided to run away. He also confesses the deal he made with Shin'ichiro to her.

Of course, this sends Noe dovetailing right back into her emo mode; though she still doesn't cry.

We cut back to the big-event at the festival: Shin's dance. Hiromi's in the crowd watching, and then she notices Noe there. Shin'ichiro while dancing is thinking about the picture book story and everything that's happened to him. Once the dance is over, Hiromi looks at Noe again to find that she's gone.

Shin comes down, and sees her, and he tells her he has to go somewhere for a bit. She tells him that she chased Noe off, and asked if he was angry at her. He tells her no, but then runs off anyhow. She goes emo as well, and slips off her shoe, telling him to not leave her behind.

Rather than going to the closing celebration, Shin heads to the school. Where we find that Noe is climbing the tree she had climbed at the start of the series. She's still angsting over her lack of insight, and once Shin arrives on the scene, we see her falling.

It's Monday! Time for me to ramble a bit...

Well, here it is on this surprisingly cold, post-Easter morning. I'm still not used to waking in the morning, and seeing that the current temperature is 40F, the high for the day is to be 60F yet tomorrow both of those will be ten degrees higher. It just doesn't seem right for some reason.

Oh well.

If you're paying attention, you'll see that I pushed out an episode review for H20, as well as the book review for Darth Bane: Rule of Two. Additionally, I've finally finished reading Revelations (the first time I read it was while riding the waves of my pain medications, and upon sitting down to read the book, realized that I couldn't remember enough of it to write a fair review).

I'm probably going to be a day or so late getting my episode review of True Tears out, which of course means that Kimikiss will be pushed back a day as well.

In television news, Jericho is not getting picked up for a third season, and this is the last season for Battlestar Galactica. Of course, I don't watch TV so that really doesn't have all that much of a bearing on me.

Movies and books, I've got nothing new to report. Sadly, as I could use another new book.

But I've got to say, I did see the trailer for the Wachosky Brothers' take on Speed Racer and I'm actually excited and interested in it. I can see my beloved wife shuddering at this announcement, but hey, she loves me and she'll suffer for my sake.

Or she'll send me to the movie theater by myself.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Review: H20 - Footprints in the Sand, Episode 12

My Thoughts:
Okay, my thoughts mainly revolve around a big "What was that?" It was disjointed, and odd. An incredibly unsatisfying end to the series. Additionally, it's jumpy for a single episode.

Sure, it was fun to see Hotaru get the jump on the old guy, but I was still wanting to see him get stoned or something.

Sure, it was fun to...

Well, actually, I can't think of anything else fun about the episode.

It's hard to talk about this episode without delving into spoilers, and while I'm fine with spoilers being in the episode summary (that's what it's there for after all) I try to shy from them here. And to let you know how hard it is, I've had to delete a four or five paragraphs from this spot, three different times.

I'm going to sleep on this, and try and get the review for the entire series up soon. Maybe that'll help me make sense of all of this.

Episode Summary:
Takuma stops the village elder from shooting Hayami, as he screams things about protecting his mom. A few moments later, Hotaru shows up, and tells her grandfather that she's done called the police. We then find out that Takuma has gone somewhat coco for cocoa puffs, and thinks he's a child and Hayami is his mom. So, in order to fix this, Takuma and Hayami are off to Tokyo.
So, while Hayami is playing mom, we find out all sorts of oddball things while a song plays in the background.

Finally, Hayami lets go of Takuma's hand in order to go to get some idiot kid off the train tracks, and Takuma remembers taht his mom didn't commit suicide. Rather she was running off after some other idiot kid. Once he's accepted that, he regaisn his sight and his mental age, just in time to witness Hayami get smacked by the train.

We peek in on everyone and realize that it's been a few years. Takuma's back in the village, and he's building a windmill on the hill where he met Hayami. Otoha pops up and tackles him and starts muttering oddball things about the Spirit Council. Then she runs away.

Right after that Hayami comes strolling up, and the two have some odd Kodak moment.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Review Clannad Episode 22

still pretending that I'm not too lazy to get the screen shots from this anime. So imagine 4 images, three of them of emo-Nagisa, and one of bewildered Tomoya. Snarky comments extra.

My Thoughts:

Well, Nagisa shows her teenage self nicely in this episode, as does Tomoya. Neither of them fully understand what it means to be an adult, or a parent, and their reactions here (Nagisa to the thought that Akio and Sanae gave up their dreams for her and Tomoya for not quite knowing how to explain that to her) showcase that perfectly.

It's obvious that they don't realize that parents are happy to see their children excel. In fact I gave up my dream of doing nothing, and go in to work every day, just so my kids can have things.

All references to obscure geek-beloved movies aside, one thing I am wondering about is just what that whole dream world thing was about. Sure, I get the prime concept that it was the basis for Nagisa's play, but it doesn't tell us anything.

Where did she hear it from? Why did it sound familiar to Tomoya? Why has it been popping up throughout the entire series if it's only relevant to the last episode?

Yet, my biggest question would by, why didn't Akio get kicked out of the play for coming in, and yelling at a student? Especially when some of the words used were expletives?

But I digress, we've had 22 episodes of relationship building between Nagisa and Tomoya and that's all we get? I'm especially left wondering about the after-game portion from the source material. Alas, KyoAni can't produce perfection with every episode and storyline.

Episode Summary:
Nagisa is being all emo about the fact that her parents stopped pursuing their dreams in order to spend more time with her. Anyways, it's the day of the school festival (and the play) and Tomoya is trying to spouting oddball things in a vain effort to cheer her up.

Once they get to the school, the rest of the drama club sees Nagisa's angst and they too try to cheer her up. Upon failing, they split up to spend some time at the festival. When Naigsa and Tomoya get separated, she heads up to the reference room where old videos of her dad's plays are stored. Tomoya finds her there, and after a few minutes of watching, shuts down the video and takes Nagisa to where the stage is.

Once the play begins, Nagisa has something of a breakdown, until Akio pops up and basically yells at her for not realizing that as a parent, his dream is that she fulfills her dreams. Sanae chimes in with something similar, and then Tomoya drops in and tosses in his two cents worth.

So, we get Nagisa doing her play, and find out the full story of the dream world.

Anyways, the drama club has a party, and then the next day, Tomoya and Nagisa goes out on a date because they don't have any school. One of the places they go is the drama club room, and Nagisa finally notices that Tomoya had put her in for day duty. After some playful banter, Tomoya confesses to her, and she gets all weepy like.

Review: Darth Bane-Rule of Two

Here we are, for yet more Dark Side fun. No, I'm not talking about another Holiday Special, I'm talking about Drew Kashpryn's sophomore Star Wars novel, Darth Bane: Rule of Two (ISBN: 978-0345477484). This was a hardcover released on Boxing Day 2007, and came in at 336 pages. Not bad for a novel that was ordered and produced within six months. Unfortunately, you can see that rush in a few places, but over all the book is a decent addition to the SW mythos.

Opening the cover, this is what's found on its inside:

In the New York Times bestseller Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, Drew Karpyshyn painted a gripping portrait of a young man’s journey from innocence to evil. That man was Darth Bane, a twisted genius whose iron will, fierce ambition, and strength in the dark side of the Force made him a natural leader among the Sith–until his radical embrace of an all-but-forgotten wisdom drove him to destroy his own order . . . and create it anew from the ashes. As the last surviving Sith, Darth Bane promulgated a harsh new directive: the Rule of Two.

Two there should be; no more, no less.
One to embody the power, the other to crave it.

Now Darth Bane is ready to put his policy into action, and he thinks he has found the key element that will make his triumph complete: a student to train in the ways of the dark side. Though she is young, Zannah possesses an instinctive link to the dark side that rivals his own. With his guidance, she will become essential in his quest to destroy the Jedi and dominate the galaxy.

But there is one who is determined to stop Darth Bane: Johun Othone, Padawan to Jedi Master Lord Hoth, who died at Bane’s hands in the last great Sith War. Though the rest of the Jedi scoff at him, Joshua’s belief that there are surviving Sith on the loose is unshakable.

As Johun continues his dogged pursuit of the man who killed his master, Zannah, faced unexpectedly with a figure from her past, begins to question her embrace of the dark side. And Darth Bane is led by Force-induced visions to a moon where he will acquire astonishing new knowledge and power–power that will alter him in ways he could never have imagined. . .
Fundamentally, it's not bad. It gives a lot of hints of things, though they are in a slightly disjointed order from the events of the book. Of course, that's not important. What's important is does it make one want to purchase this novel. To that, I have to say, possibly. This was written towards those who had read the first novel. Not a bad approach to take with a sequel, but still, there is information in this blurb that just doesn't need to be. For example, do we need to know Hoth's name here? No! He doesn't appear in this novel. A better take on that sentence would have been: Johun Othone, whose Jedi Master died at Bane's hands in the last great Sith War. It provides the same information, without dragging the reader down in pointless facts.

Anyways, on with the proverbial meat and potatoes of the review. I had trouble picking out a single, overarching plot for the story. The closest would probably be Zannah's struggle to accept what she has chosen to become. This is not a classical plot-line where x macguffins had to be recovered before the battle against the evil wizard. There was no climatic scene where the protagonist struggled against the antagonist to save the day. Since, the protagonists here are the Sith, one can't expect that type of story--they are after all, the bad guys of the Star Wars universe. It would be like having a Hero's Journey tale about the Ring Wraiths. What you do have, is a number of smaller plots, weaved around four main characters over a number of years, and then what happens when they all collide. It's not a bad way to take the tale, and it happily glosses over the decade where Zannah is learning how to control her powers, and drops us neatly into the most important bits of her character arc.

And since I've stumbled onto talking about the characters, let's take a look at them. There are four primary characters here: Zannah, Darth Bane, Johun Othone, and Darovit. Personally, it's my opinion that their importance in the novel, is in that particular rank as well. For despite the fact that Bane's name is in the title, it's really Zannah that runs the show here.

As I said above, Zannah is the main character of this novel. Much in the same way the PoD displayed in stunning glory Bane's own descent into the Dark, this shows Zannah's transformation from the happy girl at the start of the Jedi vs. Sith comic to a Sith. Additionally, she's well on her way through the proverbial Hero's Journey, and despite the fact that she's a Sith, she successfully fulfills the needs of the Journey in this novel.

Next on our list is Darth Bane himself. Bane is the mentor/father figure for Zannah in this story. That's not to say that he doesn't have things to do himself, but frankly, his bits in the story appear more like nods to dealing with continuity issues than any overt need for him to interact with the plot. In fact, his main goal was to gain and then lose the orbalisks and gain the ability to create holocrons. Beyond that, he was merely a force of nature, destroying things when the need arose. Of course, that was okay, because he carried out his Hero's Journey in PoD.

Then there was Darovit. You kind of have to feel sorry for Darovit here. He was happily building himself a life on Ruusan, harming no one, and occasionally healing folks. Yet the Jedi, once more appeared and thoroughly trashed his life. Oddly, this is something of a standard theme in Star Wars stories: if you interact with a Jedi, your life becomes something bad. Frankly, though, of all the characters, I think I liked him the most. He was a touch acerbic and bitter. Of course, you would be to if your beloved cousin happily smashed your hand to bits before leaving you to die.

The final member of the gang is Johun Othone. The lone Jedi who believes that some of the Sith survived Kaan's thought bomb on Ruusan. Frankly, that the Jedi don't believe this is somewhat insane if you ask me. I mean, what makes them think that EVERY Sith Lord & Apprentice was on Ruusan when the bomb went off? Not every Jedi was. That alone should have been enough to make them realize what a stupid mistake not believing Johun is. Of course, stupid mistakes are one of those things which Jedi excel in so I guess it's not that surprising. Beyond that, Johun is pretty much a standard Jedi. He reminds me a bit of a young Obi-Wan mixed with Ulic Qel Droma. Sadly, I doubt he'll be anything beyond utterly forgettable.

Beyond there are a host of secondary characters including Farfolah and a Chancellor Vallorum. These characters fulfill various needs within the story, appearing and disappearing when the time is right. Some of them have high impact on the outcomes, while others only impact a specific character. In the end, while these are not fully defined, they have enough definition that one can get behind what they're saying, and worry over them when they come into danger.

Settings were varied and well wrought. From the devastated plans of Ruusan, to the desert world of Ambria. Finally, there was the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, of special note are the bronze statues of the Lost Ones, and the differing reactions from Zannah and Darovit to them.

Mechanics in this piece were great. I could not remember finding any typographical errors, nor where there any glaring continuity errors that jumped out at me. In fact, all of the continuity nods were well-placed, tying into somewhat obscure references without being patronizing. Which is a very good thing as my prime complaint about the original Darth Bane novel was the continuity mistakes. Probably the greatest issue I have with novel, is its reliance on the macguffin to drive a few of its micro plots. Sure, we know that there are only 2 Sith left, so they HAVE to learn via holocrons, but the repeating quest to find the next holocron got a bit annoying.

Overall, I liked this book. A lot as it happens. Unfortunately, the lack of a unified plot was a slight detriment. It read more like a series of comic books, with each distinct chapter having its own plot and arc, and then a bunch of these were then collected together and shoved into a hardback book, and marketed as a novel. Which is not necessarily a bad thing--the original Foundation novel had a similar structure, the problem here is that only the last few sections really had a strong enough plot and conflict to hold together for this type of format. Everything else just read like the short character building cut-scenes that are often found in RPG video games. While those scenes were interesting (especially when dealing with things such as Dark Side training) they were not particularly exciting to read.

Beyond that, the characters were fun, and we have a solid Hero's Journey fulfilling Sith in the person of Zannah. Which I have to admit is something that I never thought I'd see from a Star Wars novel.

In the end, what we've got is a book with great characters, interesting information about the Dark Side, pretty scenes, a handful of new spaceships and finally a weak overarching plot comprised of a handful of strong mini-plots. In the end, I'm having to give this a 2.7 out of 4.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday's fun for rambling.

Sad news, apparently the last of the Great SF Trinity, Arthur C. Clarke, has now passed on. It is a sad week of course, but the guy was 90. He is probably the greatest of that era's futurists, imagining things such as communications satellites. Yet, the question that runs through my mind, is if my beloved will read one of his novels (luckily I have Against the Fall of Night on my bookshelf) in honor of his life, the way she read A Wrinkle in Time after Mrs. L'Engle died.

Beyond those thoughts though, is that I watched Enchanted the other night. I must say that that was probably one of the most enjoyable movies I've watched in a while. I absolutely adored it.

Then last night, I was scrolling through the list of channels and saw something. Boomerang was playing Voltron. I was in utter shock and awe and just KNEW I had to watch. I mean it's Voltron--giant mechanical lions, a Liberace-based baddie, suits which appeared to be an influence for Space Balls, and how can we forget the intelligent alien mice?

While the animation is not nearly as pretty as today's standards, I still found myself happy and giddy over just the thought of getting to watch it.

But let's seriously bring up the most important question of the series: why didn't they just go ahead form Voltron and use the stupid sword right from the start whenever a new robeast popped up.

Beyond Enchanted and Voltron, I find myself seriously lacking in SF. Mainly because we're doing work on the house. Our foyer is going from this red color to a wonderful blue color and I'm staining our new kitchen table. Of course, those tasks are their own type of fun.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm so disturbed....

One of my friends from TFN's boards, Thrawn McEwok pointed me towards Britney's new video. He's aware of my interest in animated fare, and thought it might interest me. After all, it is animated. Well, when I got home tonight, I loaded it up, and brought my beloved wife in to watch it along-side of me.

Her first thought upon seeing it was "well, if you can't look good in real videos, make an animated one."

While that is a reasonable response, I had a more despairing one. At least to the otaku in me.

If you've read this blog more than once, you've probably realized that I like my cartoons, especially those of the Japanese variety which the video in question is attempting to emulate. Likewise, I don't take special care to hide the fact that I watch anime. I enjoy it, and I'm not ashamed of it--regardless of how often my beloved laughs at my little obsessions.

Prior to this video's release, conversations about this would go like this:
Me: I watch anime.
Unwashed Masses: Isn't that all tentacle porn?
Me: No!
UM: Oh, well I don't watch cartoons, they're just for kids.

I've become use to this particular response. One can almost expect and be comforted by the inanity of those not involved in fandoms. I can even almost hear how they use the word cartoon as an expletive. Yet I now have a fear. I deep-seated horror which chills to the very core of my body, almost as if Cthulhu was there and feasting upon my marrow. I can imagine sometime in the near future, a conversation going along these lines:

Me: I watch anime.
Unwashed Masses: Oh? You mean like in Britney's new video?
I would then be honor bound to beat them about the head with the nearest stick I could find. Probably more than once. I can already see me pining for the days when the unwashed masses could only complain about tentacle porn and the unsustainable belief that all instances of animated video entertainment are just for kids.

Of course I am here blogging about it...

What's sadder is that I Know I would have embeded the YouTube video if they hadn't disabled embedding for her channel.

It's 3/17 and a Monday Morning

Ah, I'm once more back in the proverbial saddle. Heck, I've even managed to get a Monday morning rambling out the door on a Monday.

Just utterly too cool.

Anyways, I've seen two movies recently, The Spiderwick Chronicles while my elder brother was in town and Horton Hears a Who with my eldest son on Saturday. Both were enjoyable, with Horton being more so than I had originally expected. That said, the climax to Spiderwick was the most well-thought out, and foreshadowed, surprise resolutions I had ever seen.

Beyond that, I should be renting Appleseed: Ex Machina tomorrow. I'm actually excited about watching it--and excited about subjecting my beloved wife to it as well.

In book news, I'm upset with my local Barnes and Nobles. I had expected them to put up some of their materials on clearance in an effort to not have to move them to their new store. Imagine my dismay when I went there last night and there was nothing, absolutely nothing new on clearance. I was hurt. And even more hurt upon learning that the new building next to the movie theater is not going to be a Books-a-Million the way I had been dreaming.

Oh well.

Anime things are looking well. The series that I've been watching are quickly coming to a close. True Tears, Kimikiss and H20 all have less than 5 episodes left--provided that wikipedia is correct on the number of episodes in each of the series. Once all those have finished, I'll write up some series reviews for them. Finally with April on the horizon we should be getting the new series out soon.

Now I'm off to see what sort of mischief I can get into.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

True Tears Episode 11

Yes, yes, I was lazy last night and didn't create an image. Just imagine four pretty pictures slapped together right here and an appropriate comment beneath each image.

My Thoughts:
Frankly, after episode 10 I was wondering if there was any hope left for a Shinichiro/Noe ending here. I can admit that I like Noe as a character. She is naive and comes across as innocent--but ultimately of the three girls, she was the only one who maintained a decent character a majority of the time. Ai was dating Miyokichi and then made moves on Shin while Hiromi was treating Noe in the same manner as Shin's mom treated her.

Not to say that I couldn't understand those characters and why they did the things they did, but Noe is the only one that didn't do anything that could be considered bad.

Of course that then begs the question of it Shin is worthy of her, especially after the 'deal' he made with Jun.

But I digress, after episode 10, we looked like we were firmly in a Shin/Hiromi ending yet he then goes and spends most of this episode daydreaming about Noe--and this happens most often when he's out doing date-like things with Hiromi. And when he gets that phone call, he never stops to think about how his actions would affect Hiromi, but rather jumps out of bed and darts out into the snow to hunt for Noe.

Frankly, I think Shinichiro is something of an idiot.

But again, I'm digressing.

Jun though, didn't seem to like his little secret-love to get revealed, and at this point I can only pray and hope that they're not blood-related. Otherwise, it's really, really creepy.

Ai though, has done a lot to redeem herself this episode. I like that she dumped Miyokichi now. That way she's not dating him in order to get closer to Shin--but rather she's setting things up that she can start going out with him because it's him.

Episode Summary:
We start off with a quick peek at the two remaining heroines for Shinichiro. Then a look at his family, before settling down on seeing Hiromi making breakfast for Shinichiro. She drags him off to the beach to look at the snow. On the way to, and while at the beach, he's constantly thinking of Noe. At least he is until Hiromi kisses him.

Then we take a look at the other male lead, poor put upon Miyokichi. He's getting a call from a payphone on his cell, and when he answers discovers that it's Ai. She's basically begging that they can start over, and he steps into her shop, making her all sorts of happy.

Shin works for a while on his picture book, and then it's time for a basketball game. Hiromi keeps getting fouled--or she is until Jun steps onto the court and reads the female team from his school the riot act for their behavior. After Shin sees this, he walks away and gets stopped by Miyokichi. Confused after that run in, he wanders off to Jibeta's coop hunting for Noe--who has been pretty much hiding from him. More pictures book work, and then he goes stands in Hiromi's old room. He then gets a warm Kodak moment with his dad and his dad's apprentice, followed by more picture book stuff.

Then we cut over to Hiromi who is doing odd things now that she's living alone. She gets a phone call from her friend, Tomoyo first, and then another from Jun asking her to see him. The next day she's over at Shin's house helping Shin's mom with some laundry, and when she takes Shin's stuff to his room stumbles upon the picture book. Shin comes in at that point and they have a freeze-frame moment.

The next scene is Hiromi meeting in the park with Jun. He apologizes for the fouls in basketball earlier, and she tells him to leave her alone. And does it by revealing the fact that she knows who he really likes. While she's walking away from him, Shin sees her and is about to call out to her when he notices Jun off to the side.

Which means it's time for more picture book stuff.

Then we get Hiromi sleeping, and being woke by a phone call from Jun. Apparently Noe hadn't returned home, and he wanted Hiromi to ask Shinichiro if he'd seen her. Hiromi hesitates for a moment, but then she calls Shin who instantly decides to go out into the snow and hunt for her. We take a quick peek at Noe, to discover that she's once again hanging out in the hen house. Shin heads to the school to find her, and upon finding the empty hen house has a flashback to one of the times he was at the beach with Noe. So he starts heading that way.

We flip over to Noe at this point, where she's walking on the wharf singing her Shinichiro/roach song. She adds a new verse this time about the person who's in Shin's heart--one which Shinichiro manages to overhear.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Life goes on...

Well, lo and behold, after two weeks of meds followed by a visit from my elder brother, I am now nearly back on track. I'll spend the rest of this week getting caught back up, and will resume episodic blogging of the animes come this Sunday. True Tears episode 11 will be the next one, and I'll probably be just letting the missed shows get themselves skipped.

Anyways, a lot has happened in these past two weeks. Most important is displayed for all the world to see in the image to the left there. Yes, that's my boy and one of the neighborhood kids in my backyard smacking each other around with lightsabers. Then, when my brother an his family were here earlier in the week, the eldest and their son went out back there and did the same.

It makes me so proud to know that I'm raising him nice and geeky.

And it's not just my eldest son that I've been corrupting. While my brother was here, I managed to drag him down to the Barnes & Nobles that's closing, and convinced him of the joy of purchasing his first Star Wars novel. Then after a short knowledge dump about SQL Server Express, I showed him around the Anime fansubs and other things I do online. He seemed interested, so maybe, just maybe, I've brought another person over to the dark side of severe geek fandom. Ahh, good times.

And speaking of corruption, my beloved wife actually played my Wii. She had instant fun in bowling--not so much in boxing. It really does bring a tear to ones eye when one is vindicated in such a way.

As for the whole basket of anime that I've been trying to catch up on and consume, I am somewhat shocked at how True Tears has been going on up until episode 10. Both this show and KimiKiss are surprising me in the various twists and turns that they're taking. Which is a good thing. Additionally, I'm eagerly awaiting the start of the new Macross series. I also managed to watch Appleseed in its entirety and was thoroughly entertained--as was my beloved wife who watched most of it. Now, I just need to go rent the sequel that came out on the eleventh.

I am more hesitant over the upcoming live-action Star Wars television show. A feeling which the folks at are also feeling, as they were led to post an article on what they want to see and not see in it.

Well, that's me at the moment, and like I said, expect a True Tears episode summary Sunday night.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Where did last week go?

I feel so utterly and totally out of touch with reality. Even the slightly skewed version of reality with which I am intimately familiar with. As I hinted at last week, I went in for some dental surgery on Thursday the 28th. While I have been at work all this week, at home it's been all I could do to make it until the kids went to bed before crashing myself. I'm going to read my Ro2 review once more and then get it pushed out as well as hopefully spend some time running through my somewhat large backlog of anime that is waiting for me now.

Anyways expect things to get back to normal around here sometime in the next week or so.

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