It's been years since I watched a new anime that I felt was worth reviewing. There are several reasons for that, including but not limited to: 1) me not having a job, and thus losing the big block of alone time on the ferry where I was accustomed to watching TV shows from Netflix on my laptop; 2) teh_boy being old enough to want to watch anime with me at home, which limits my choices to things I know are age-appropriate for him, which basically means re-watching things I've already seen; 3) no, those first two are the big ones. The Devil Is A Part-Timer! is a single short season, at least the part of it that's available on Hulu.

This is a weird one, tough to classify. It starts out in the end days of a world-spanning war between demons and humans in the medieval fantasy world of Ente Isla, a war that the demons have all but won when there arises a HERO from among the humans. Born of a human father and an angel mother, the hero Emilia is the only person who can wield the heavenly sword that can defeat the demonic horde. She carves a mighty swath through the demonic army, destroying three of the four generals and setting her sights on the fourth, Alciel, and his master Satan. In the final battle, she fights the two demon lords to a standstill, but before she can strike the finishing blow, Satan opens a magical portal, and with the standard "I'll be back to destroy you all/tremble in fear for my return" blather, vanishes with Alciel to...modern-day Tokyo, where the pair of them discover that Earth's low-magic environment forces them out of their demon shapes and into puny human shells.

Forced to conserve their magic, Satan and Alciel rent a small, run-down apartment in a poorer part of town, and while Alciel sets up housekeeping, Satan goes to work part-time at "MgRonalds".

From this point on, what we have is a light-hearted slice-of-life story where Satan works hard at his job, determined to improve his status from part-timer to full-time employee of MgRonalds, and someday--dare he hope?--maybe even shift manager, all the while bringing various characters into his orbit, starting with his teenage coworker, Chi, who is impressed with how earnest and nice a person he is.

Oh, and interspersed with that, he has to fend off attacks from forces who have followed him to Tokyo from Ente Isla to take him out. These attacks come both from demonic former underlings and also representatives of the human forces, including Emilia the hero. Who finds herself similarly magic-poor and working telephone customer support for a local company.

The major tension of the story comes from Emilia, naturally, as she finds it nearly impossible to reconcile the hard-working, slightly naive "Maou Sadao" with the monster who laid waste to her world and presided over the demonic army that murdered her father. Especially when she sees that, whenever "Sadao" *does* gain any kind of magical power (which, they learn, can be harvested from the fear and despair of Earth humans), he spends it helping people and repairing the damage caused by the repeated attacks on his person and those around him.

It's this tension that made me want to review the anime. Because they never bother to explain why there's this huge difference, and while they dance around the idea that maybe Satan wasn't all evil (one of the angels who comes to attack him routinely uses torture to get his way, even on people who are nominally on the "good" side, and the Church of Ente Isla is modeled on the worst aspects of the Inquisition), they never actually close that loop, and we are left with no substantive reason to think that the Satan of Ente Isla is anything other than a monster.

Like a harem-anime, the show collects characters around "Sadao", each with their own special relationship with him, but in a neat subversion of the trope, all those characters (so far) are either reduced-magic demon generals who live with "Sadao", or humans from Ente Isla who've come to Tokyo to kill him, but have found reasons to put off the denouement--for now.

I liked this show, and I wish there were more of it. As I mentioned above, you can watch it on Hulu. (I have a Hulu Plus subscription; I'm not sure whether it's available to non-subscribers.)

Happily, I see that the light novels on which the manga and anime are based have been licensed in the States and the first two volumes are available from Amazon.
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We rarely buy a movie if we haven't already seen it*, but there was almost no chance I wasn't going to want to see TRON:Legacy when it came out on disc**, and as soon as Disney elected to release a special edition collection with the original movie, we preordered it.

Teh_boy has not seen the original TRON, so we queued that up this weekend and will get to the new one in the next couple of weeks, probably.

I'm going to assume the rest of y'all have seen the original TRON, however, and not worry too much about spoilers. Or the plot synopsis that could potentially lead to spoilers, for that matter.

To the 'review'! )
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We watched _Diary of a Wimpy Kid_ this weekend, because the boy has read like all the books and the new movie is coming out on Friday, the first movie got actually pretty good reviews with respect to adults viewing it, and the boy's parents wanted to know whether or not we wanted to go out and see the new one in the theater.

Turns out, the reviews were right; we all enjoyed the movie. We won't be seeing the new one in the theater, but we will get it from Netflix when the time comes. There were several laugh-out-loud moments, and it was decently acted all around, considering the subject matter. If you've got kids who are interested, I can happily recommend it for your next family movie event.

But damn, so many of Greg's issues are a direct result of his behavior, and I didn't feel like that was sufficiently apparent to the target audience. This is to a significant extent understandable, since Greg is the unreliable narrator, and he's obviously completely incapable of recognizing that mostly he's screwing himself over, rather than being the innocent victim of circumstance that he imagines himself to be. I expect this is even more the case in the books, where Greg is the *only* source of information, and the boy informs me that the redemptive moment at the climax of the movie doesn't actually happen in the book.

But if you consider it a parenting opportunity to talk to your kids about how Greg's actions and attitudes affect his experiences--(pause) "Wow, did you see that? How do you think the other kids are going to react to that?*" (discuss)--you've got not only an entertaining experience, but maybe an educational one as well.

I wouldn't watch this movie to watch it for myself, but I've seen plenty of movies with the boy over his eight-plus years that had a lot less to offer me in entertainment value.

*Yes, I do try to be Socratic with the boy. It's easier to get ideas into his head if he thinks he's coming up with them himself than if I'm just preaching at him.
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Please Twins! is a follow-on (not a real sequel) to Please Teacher!, which I have reviewed previously.

The motivating idea behind Please Twins! appears to be, "How do we top Please Teacher!'s clever mix of inappropriate teacher-student romance and alien invasion? How about incest (but not really, kind of sort of, maybe?)!"

And on that bombshell, on with the (relatively spoiler-free) review! )
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georgmi: (Gurren_Lagann_Yoko)
( Mar. 10th, 2011 01:49 pm)
This is more like what I hope a fan-service should be: plenty of titillation, but a story and characters that would still be worth watching--or possibly even more worth watching--without the generous expanses of skin.

(Held back from Facebook; my circle there is wider and less carefully chosen. Also, it includes my mom. I guess you could feel privileged or honored or something if you want, but it's not required.)

Ah, My Buddha! anime review. Mild spoilers, sexual situations. )
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georgmi: (madness)
( Feb. 13th, 2011 04:54 pm)
Got this from Netflix and watched it this weekend. M. had previously read the source material, a book of the same name by Christopher Priest.

Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play rival stage magicians in London around the end of the 19th century. Directed by Christopher Nolan, this movie had almost no overtones of Batman vs. Wolverine. Supporting cast includes Michael Caine as Jackman's trick engineer, and David Bowie as Nikola Tesla.

A psychological drama, the essential question of the movie is, "How far will you go, what will you sacrifice, to destroy the man you hate?" Without going into spoiler territory, I can only say, you have to see this movie.

Jackman and Bale give brilliant performances as the obsessive rivals, and I was very surprised, given what I know of both David Bowie and Nikola Tesla, to see Tesla supply the role of reserved voice of reason in the film. Of course, he also supplies the potentially-civilization-destroying* machine around which the movie's endgame revolves, so take a reserved facade for what you will.

I was amused to note that the bitter, historical rivalry between Tesla and Thomas Edison was on display in the movie, but it was never explained or described; it was just there.

M. says the movie departs sufficiently from the book that one need not worry that knowing the book's secrets will ruin the movie. I think I'll be reading the book myself, as soon as I finish _Canticle For Leibowitz_, which until recently had been sitting untouched on my shelf for years because I am a bad scifi fan.

(ETA: I'll also be interested to see how well the movie holds up to a second viewing, when I do know all the secrets--a big piece of my reaction on first viewing was the shock at the unfolding mystery, each of which revelations came at about the time my brain was serving up the appropriate, "what about..." notion.)

*I'm happy to expound on this in the comments, but don't want to spoil the movie here in the review proper.
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georgmi: (style)
( Jan. 19th, 2011 02:11 pm)
Yes, I know. I am horrifyingly behind the times. But I absolutely loathe going to the movie theater. M. used to say that there are movies that you really need to see on the big screen, to which my response has always been that just means the screen we have at home isn't big enough, and that this is a solvable problem. (One which, with the new house, I believe we have solved.)

Review of J.J. Abrams' _Star Trek_. Contains spoilers, because even if you still haven't seen it, you've almost certainly seen most of the important spoilers already anyhow, so I'm not even going to try and conceal things. Oh, and it's long. Duh. )
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georgmi: (madness)
( Dec. 16th, 2010 11:58 am)
...fell on Friday. I begin to suspect that the end result will be a complete revamp of our hosted Web presence.

BigFolio.com is a company that hosts Web sites for professional photographers. They were recommended to me by someone who, it turned out, was Not a Reliable Witness on any front, let alone when recommending services that might have paid him for the favor. And I, flush with dreams of making a decent living at this thing that I really enjoyed and which got me out into the woods on a regular basis, was perfectly situated for the sales pitch.

Sure, $500 for setup fees to use their pre-existing site templates (optimized for hard-coded to 640x480 screens!) seemed a bit excessive, and the $55/month hosting fees were steep, but I'd only have to sell one or two images a month, and I'd be money ahead, right? And it's not like the fees would tax the budget particularly anyway. We could afford it.

All was not to be rosy, however. )

ETA: Looks like the folks at Dotster read my blog. They just sent me a response, it was informative and correct, and it solved my problem.
I never enjoy the fanservice anime series as much as I think I'm going to.

Girls Bravo is a 24-episode light-comedy harem anime that follows the adventures of Yukinari Sasaki, a high-school boy with a "literal" allergy to women. When a female touches him, he breaks out in a rash. Until... Light spoilers ahead )

Girls Bravo could have been essentially boring and unremarkable. Instead, it flat sucks. Avoid this one like the plague.
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Please Teacher! and Ai Yori Aoki have, in their separate ways, called out for me some significant cultural differences between Japan and the US more starkly than any other anime or manga I've seen.

As with all my anime reviews, this is long. Sorry 'bout that. (I'm not really sorry, you know. Love me, love my prolixity.)

Please Teacher! )

Ai Yori Aoki )
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In the far future, mankind lives underground, in isolated enclaves. A very few people still whisper legends of a "surface" world, one with no ceiling, where life is unconstrained and free, but these people are mocked by the rest of their community.

Simon the Digger is the best driller of Giha village, even though he is only fourteen years old. He is stolid, hard-working, and quiet. His parents died years ago when an earthquake collapsed the ceiling on top of them. Simon would be content to live his life out, drilling new passages for the expansion of his underground town, but his best friend has different plans.

Kamina is the leader of Giha village's delinquents. Kamina seems to remember visiting the surface with his father when he was very young. Kamina returned to the village because he was too young for the challenges of the surface, but his father continued on. Kamina's driving passion is to return to the surface and show his father that he's now man enough for the wide world, but the vast majority of villagers do not believe the surface even exists.

One day while digging, Simon finds a small drill bit buried in the ground. Soon afterward, he uncovers a huge metal face. As he is sharing his findings with Kamina, the mythical surface finally and dramatically comes to Giha village, in the forms of a giant mecha and a beautiful girl, and Kamina embarks upon his quest to find his father, with Simon in tow...

Cut for length and (minimal) potential spoilers... )

I rented Gurren Lagann from Netflix, but it looks like all 27 episodes are up on hulu: http://www.hulu.com/gurren-lagann
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