Archive for the ‘Anime’ category

2014 Anime Comments

July 20, 2014

It’s strange that Akame Ga Kill is being shown in Japan right now. It’s like a prophecy about US state of affairs.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/akame-ga-kill

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/aldnoah-zero

Aldnoah Zero also reminds me of certain factions in the US.

Free stream with advertisement available here http://www.crunchyroll.com/videos/anime

This Cruel yet Beautiful World

July 18, 2014

Fitting isn’t it. That’s the product of a fan(atic) in the truest sense of the term.

Japanese version with English song translations.

Song translations don’t really work for me as I read and listen, unless I just translate the words from Japanese to English in my head (but that’s not reading the subtitles). So the first video truly is a work of hard, they re translated it and fitted the English words to the lyrics and melody, individually on a custom track.

To see the true genius, press play on both videos at once, so they synch together. Then adjust the volume sliders up and down, and see if you can detect which language you are hearing. Talk about some psych ops. If we had people as passionate and hard working as this working in the United States government, most problems would get dissolved.

A Look at Bottom up Hierarchies

May 6, 2014

While these are things I’ve heard in passing and haven’t participated in (much), they do a good job of presenting a lot of data in a short amount of time (one page). The data needed to understand what exactly is bottom up hierarchies and how they differ from top down hierarchies.

Kickstarter, I would say, is more of a hybrid. There is a middleman, kickstarter itself as an organization that cuts their cut, but it isn’t a mob or mass working on wikipedia forming their own rules on how to create a story nor is it a company that has a top down order list.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FTL:_Faster_Than_Light

This post is directly inspired by a previous project that already ended,

http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/dysfunctional-systems-the-sequel-funding/

So, we have Love in Space’s Sunrider that has finished a space romance action funding goal. FTL, an almost brutally hard permadeath based ship combat run (same difficulty as arcade shoot ups, without the continue function).

Then there is Exogenesis : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2921787/exogenesis-post-apocalyptic-tokyo-adventure-visual

Which still has 16 days to go and because they set a rather high goal, they are lacking about 40% of the funding. I’ve heard of Ace Attorney but for those who haven’t played the console or emulation setups, the idea of a lawyer game isn’t particularly popular in America. At least, not right now. It has some bad connotations. I can’t say definitely that this is why there’s a funding difference, but Sunrider runs on a more familiar bishoujo theme.

Now for my interpretation or executive summary.

Bottom up hierarchies are ad hoc organizations formed between two or more people, based upon the needs of the moment: a sort of convenient alliance for survival. There is no adjudicator or mediator usually, so all the negotations must form between the leader of party A and the leader of party B, it is very direct.

Top down hierarchies form based upon a unified social authority, where the group recognizes a sole leader and that leader has a legitimate chain of command under them. The closest example is a civilian political system or a military ranking system.

Since life is rich and complicated, people often alternate between top down and bottom up hierarchies. A married couple, for instance, generally decides things together, using negotiation. The moment they use the court system to adjudicate and force things, then they are living under a top down hierarchy, where things happen only because the Boss says they happen. As a result, negotiation breaks down. Society, the judge, and the lawyers don’t necessarily have the best interests of the divorced party’s in mind. Everybody must appeal and rely upon the judgment of the Top, to get things done. This has a concurrent corrosive effect on personal initiative and a greater reliance on force and power. The use of a mediator, though, someone who lacks legal or physical power to force one party to do something, generally still allows a couple to conduct their relationship as an ad hoc, bottom up hierarchy.

Because bottom up hierarchies are flexible, they can be used in a lot of ways. The leader of Soviet Russia and the leader of Nazi Germany could use a mediator to agree on an alliance to divide up Poland, even though they would later invade and try to kill each other’s people. Even though in those two systems their hierarchy of choice was top down leadership (dictatorship or totalitarian thought control), they could still form an ad hoc, private one to one, relationship with another. And thus also tie their nation’s people together as well, momentarily.

Kickstarter type funded projects are a form of hybrid, taking elements of the best from bottom ups and combining them with the adjudication powers and enforcement powers of a top down command structure. The mediator, or middleman in this case it would be Kickstarter’s organization itself, determines or enforces the correct usage or refunding of money. The various consumers form one side of the party and the developers form the other side of the party, and both utilize negotiation, propaganda, and verbal influence in order to get the other side to do things. In the end, this creates a synergy, a product that pleases both sides.

Now we backtrack and take a side road. Ft. Hood and Ft. Hood 2 are great examples of top down hierarchies making a policy, forcing people to Obey that policy, and only afterwards do people realize that this doesn’t really benefit most people. It’s as if Kickstarter took all the money and fled. Or the developers took all the money and fled, without delivering on promises. Or the consumers got the game, and then stole all the money they said they would invest, back. Since there’s a Ft. Hood 2 deaths, the idea that a top down hierarchy would fix problems they see is… not really looking realistic. The way this can happen is if the top down leader orders and ensures that such events happen. Cause generally a society or organization that obeys its leader, will fix problems the leader tells them to fix, unless stopped by the leadership’s own orders or the organization’s own barriers. The military, or in this case the US military, often looks down on purely civilian militias as disorganized mobs or civilians trained to a high tactical level as out of control loose cannons that don’t obey police or military ROEs. That is indeed a deficiency of bottom up hierarchies; it is unstable, it lacks coordination, the left hand can often bungle straight into the right hand in operations. What the modern 21st century has given the West is not a bottom up hierarchy as historically people called the “mob” or the “crowd”. What the modern 21st century has created are hybrid organizations that combine the best of both, with the deficiencies of neither, using a combination of internet free source information flow, individual initiative, and top down legal enforcement.

In order to be combat effective, the US military has often had to promote individual initiative as well as obedience to orders in their rank and file, NCOs and officers. What we are seeing is a decided lack of personal initiative, more obedience to orders, and the fallout that results from getting rid of bottom up hierarchies and replacing everything with a top down command system. It’s not very efficient and it’s not very effective either.

This is how we can tread the path of a civilian entertainment industry and end up in a war scenario. We’re still dealing with humans here and humans have experienced social hierarchies for so long, for a reason. As for the authority behind this piece, you can either take the reasoning I’ve provided or you can look for another source. Being able to think for yourself, BY yourself, however, is not an option but rather a requirement.

Vignette Ten: Knowledge is power.

Camp Swampy, 1986.
When Hamilton was a young puppy of a lieutenant, his company commander made him promise that, when he took command of a company, he wouldn’t change a blessed thing for at least six weeks. Instead, he solemnly promised, he’d do a lot of LBWO, asking questions, and then analyze.
He did that for the first six weeks of his first command. In the process, he saw all kinds of interesting and eye-opening things: People sleeping in the barracks on duty time, squad leaders who really didn’t have the first idea that they were responsible for their troops, in toto, squad leader time consisting of people playing ping pong in the dayroom. And this was in one of the better companies of that battalion, Hamilton’s predecessor having been a first class officer, in general (though he never made general).
Hamilton didn’t really blame the squad leaders or platoon sergeants. And his platoon leaders were all brand new. The officer corps had castrated the NCO corps decades prior. They were so used to being told what to do, all the time, to having their time managed by higher, that the idea that they were responsible was just alien to many, maybe even most, of them.
So Hamilton called everybody from squad leader on up into his office and gave a little speech, more or less to this effect:
“Boys, I’ve been in the Army about nine and a half years by now. I think probably every year, sometimes twice, some company commander or other would announce, ‘People, I’m sick of this fucking off in the barracks. We’re gonna account for every man, every minute. We’re gonna tighten up the training schedule…We’re not gonna let a minute go to waste…”
“Yeah…no. That usually worked for about ten days until the next crisis came upon us and some new priority popped up; then we went right back to what we’d been doing.
“We’re going to try something different. Rather, we’re going to try a few things different.
“Item one: Look at your new training schedule. Note where it says ‘sergeants’ time’? Right; it doesn’t; it’s gone. All time that I don’t specifically take is sergeants’ time. Now flip it over.
“Item two: Remember where it used to say ‘opportunity training’? Note that now it says ‘mandatory opportunity training.’ That means you are going to do it; trust me on this. I’m testing Friday afternoons. If your guys fail, we’ll retest Friday night until Saturday morning, if that’s what it takes. Yeah, it’s micro-managing. For the moment.
“Item three: Where’s the time coming from for this? Go back to what I said in item one; I’m not putting anything on the schedule that isn’t _my_ major event. So you now have a lot of time.”
The first week they didn’t believe him. He had the first sergeant select two men from each squad, randomly, and used his platoon leaders and platoon sergeants to test. The men failed. So the dirty bastard kept the whole company there retesting until about 23:30. Next week, two of the squad leaders believed. Their people passed. The rest stayed until about 22:30. The next week it was four, until maybe 21:00.
It took six weeks but, by that time, they all believed.
Hamilton kept it up for another six weeks after that. Allegedly, one – at least one; might have been more – of his squad leaders had troops coming up to him and saying, in one case literally, “Forsooth, Sergeant, I am in desperate need of getting laid. Sadly, if we don’t pass the muthafuckin’ CO’s test Friday, it won’t happen again this week, either. So please, PLEASE teach me this shit.”
After that twelve weeks was over there was another little prayer meeting in Hamilton’s office. The gist of that was, “Okay, now you know you can do this; you can train your own troops without being told where and when to do it. The next step is that now you’re going to decide what your squad needs. Right. Now give me five Soldiers Manual tasks, three if they’re exceptionally hard. Yeah, that’s each of you. Yeah, I’m still going to test Friday night.”
That program, in conjunction with some other things, worked pretty damned well. By well I mean that when the annual hands on Skill Qualification Test1 rolled around, the rest of the battalion shut down for two or three weeks to prep. Hamilton’s crew didn’t. Instead, they went to the field, did a best squad competition, some deliberate attacks, couple-three live fires, some patrolling, some anti-armor ambushing…and basically had a good time. They came in from the field rather late the night before it was their turn to take the SQT (which in that battalion was done much like an EIB test, _very_ anal). Hamilton told the boys, “Oil your rifles, knock the mud off your boots, get a good night’s sleep. See you out here in the morning.”
Seven people in that company didn’t max the test. That was something over two thirds of all the maxes in the battalion, which is pretty good considering he had less than ten percent of the battalion. The top nine squads were Hamilton’s, ten counting company HQ. The top three platoons were his, and nobody else was even close. All his squad leaders acquired a pretty vast level of prestige with their own troops and within the battalion, overall.
After that, he still collected their tasks, but just spot checked occasionally. The sergeants were doing it, all individual training, entirely on their own hook. And from there he could put in a date and time for a given inspection or any other event related to his squads and be quite confident it would get done, efficiently and well.
(Oh, the next year, where he paid zero attention to the upcoming SQT, only four of the men didn’t max it.)

-Sometimes personal initiative requires a kick in the pants

Dysfunctional Systems: The Sequel Funding

May 4, 2014

I wrote about this game some time ago, and from the lack of news on its sequel I thought the first episode had not yet achieved enough market penetration to fund a second episode. Which was regrettable. But, it looks like there’s hope on the horizon, when the money comes directly from consumers to the business that provides what the consumers consume, without middle men taking 50-70% of the cut (like some trial lawyers do).

Now if only we could kickstart fund a program that replaces Hussein O’s Regime in America or kickstart fund a program that ensures internet freedom from totalitarian regimes. That would include stretch goals for protection from mind crime and the thought police, vis a vis homosexuality and feminism.

P.S. Click on the K in the upper left corner for the website. This link seems to auto imbed the intro.

Anime Recommendations

March 3, 2014

Someone asked me for recommendations and I’d thought to collate things at one link instead of using several at once.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/seirei-no-moribito

Really good action scenes with a strong cultural backdrop and parental guide. Designed originally as a novel for youths, but appeals just as strongly to more mature adults or warriors.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/cross-game

One of the first “sports” anime. Never really understood how you could make a good story from a sports game, but this series cleared up that issue for me. If you like baseball or want to learn about baseball in Japan and how people can craft a story around it, this is the one.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/silver-spoon

An educational look at farming and what’s really going on there. It’s like a world without PETA. It’s strange, but fulfilling. Also great backup material to On Killing by Grossman. While the Japanese may consider themselves nationally as pacifistic and weak, their research is solid and they know more about this subject than they realize. Far more than the omnipotent military in America land, at least. It’s slice of Japanese cultural life, but on a farming and teaching environment.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/hyouge-mono

The quintessential feudal Japanese experience, in a modern reframe.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/fairy-tail

Really long shounen series designed for younger boys and older teens, that really hits upon the emotional tones of nobility and passion. Even without finishing the long story arcs, the shorter arcs are satisfying. Successfully adapted from manga. I read the manga first and the old moments still shone as true in the anime.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/sword-of-the-stranger

An action adventure movie about redemption and feudal era sword fighting.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/code-geass-lelouch-of-the-rebellion

A modern take on slice of life and Japanese political philosophy. Although since it involves kids, many don’t take it seriously. It may be termed a philosophy and political thriller.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/baccano

Really nice story composition about supernatural alchemy. The ending has a bang.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/heroic-age

Old science fiction and romance favorite. It’s about a ship on a journey, like the Yamato spaceship.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/ano-hi-mita-hana-no-namae-o-boku-tachi-wa-mada-shiranai

Really emotional story about a group of friends.

These were all rated 5/5, in retrospect by me. While hearing it in Japanese and reading the translation isn’t required, it is what I recommend for people looking for the most original experience. You’ll need that experience if you want to de-brainwash decades of Hollywood gunk. Choose between changing the world or changing yourself.

Seirei no Moribito: Review

January 30, 2014

I finished re-watching this series for the 4th time at least: this Seirei no Moribito review is thus somewhat belated.

It’s still very entertaining, especially the realistic fight scenes. There were times when I wanted to fast forward through an episode because I already knew what was going to happen, but once the episode began I just watched it normally because it was good.

When I read the wiki article about it, I was surprised it came from a novel. Generally novel adaptations are tricky to do, although at least they are given more freedom than light novels (demographic limitations). Originally written as a fantasy novel for children, it is said to appeal to adults. Later it was adapted to a manga and then the anime which we see today. The anime was so well constructed I thought for sure it had to be an original script and character design work.

Single parent raising a child is one of the themes in the anime, but the material isn’t about the themes so much as it uses plot development to illustrate realistic characters living in a realistic setting. It reminds me of another anime adapted from a novel: http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/from-the-new-world. The world is a fantasy construct similar to Japanese legends about demons and spirits; yet the culture of the world would be very familiar to a feudal history buff.

Warrior virtues were featured, which appeals to me given my interests and hobbies. It is certainly easier to use killing techniques vs non-lethal ones, as non-lethal techniques have a higher chance of getting the user killed and is not particularly easy to apply either. But that just means for a warrior, there is a higher level that can be achieved even if you can win all life and death duels. The 1 on multiple enemies tactic is also applicable, in both the anime as well as physical life scenarios. The sheer maneuverability of the spear users, usage of leg attacks in combination with weapon attacks, is also consistent with Ancient Chinese and Asian martial techniques designed for the battlefield. When students like me learned the bo and bojutsu (long staff techniques), I always did wonder how long it would take to predict which part of the staff a blocked sword would slide off into, thus allowing me to extract from fingers from that area. Since a long staff is held with both hands at the 1/3rd mark on both ends, there are no metal guards protecting the hands from enemy objects. One reason I prefer the sword over the staff is because even though the staff has more range, it is more difficult to learn how to use at all ranges. The staff and spear is very easy for beginners to learn how to use, at its maximum distance (in Eve we might call that kiting range). But in brawling range, where the enemy is right in front of you in arm distance, the number of tricks you need to pull off in staff techniques are no joke. The spear or staff is considered a peasant or lowly infantry’s weapon, not something aristocrats or cavalry used. Mostly because it is made of wood and thus can be more easily crafted than a pure bar of metal that a sword requires. Although the war naginatas used by the Chinese and the women samurai, were probably partially or fully metal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naginata

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guan_dao

The Japanese artistic usage of women as weapons of mass destruction, both on a serious and joking manner, may be from their feudal era where samurai were expected to fight, male or women. In the Western or US sphere, the frontiers woman utilizing a gun for home defense would be the closest approximation. Something so far from our mainstream Hollywood culture, that it takes effort to recall or apply for those that were not born or raised in that kind of atmosphere.

The characters and character construction doesn’t feel designed for larger than life people. It’s not about the greatest soldier or warrior, nor is it about an Emperor, nor is it about the Emperor’s son that is brought up on the streets as a peasant. The themes are prismatic and flare like a fractal design. They support strong human emotions, but I don’t get the feeling it has a specific message other than the title itself. One may take each individual character and build a story on it, but as you see more and more characters the stories begin to interweave and support each other. In that sense, it feels a lot more like a family drama or slice of life production.

A close Western comparison would be the Croods movie. American popular concepts for raising children is a little bit strange. I’ve seen it in the mainstream enough times that I’m getting suspicious. Of course not everyone behaves like that, just as not everyone behaves like Moribito’s parents in Japan. However, mainstream art and communication tends to influence people more than democracies wish to accept.

P.S. One extra thing in the anime I considered an omake, was the howl or yell the primary protagonist and warrior did in calling out an enemy above. It really felt like a kiai or a sonic projection using chi gong: manipulation of air and energy production in the body. It’s things like that that make me want to read the novel, to see if any additional details or instructions were given.

Girls Cosplaying

January 19, 2014

http://cavemancircus.com/2013/11/20/tribute-girls-cosplay-properly/?utm_source=crowdignite.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=crowdignite.com

This isn’t so much a “tribte” to girls that do cosplay right as an excuse for people to collate pictures of hot (moe) or cute (kawaii) girls in cosplay.

But I’ll take it. It’s a good compilation, no matter what the original reasons were.

Mushishi: Anime Impressions

January 13, 2014

I saw the special Mushishi OVA they released this season and it was amazingly good. Slow, portrait based story telling, utilizing ancient or traditional Japanese setting craft. The fact that it is also a life and death drama appeals to my current tastes as well.

These are initial impressions, I might write a full review later on once I finish the series.

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/mushishi

http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/mushishi-tokubetsu-hen-hihamukage

Narcissu Steam Greenlight Campaign

November 10, 2013

 

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=191616515

 

I like the video. This was one of those freely translated and released by the copyright owner, which somehow found its way to Western hands.

 

Most people can probably get an idea of whether they’ll like the visual novel by their reactions to the Japanese song.

A Greenlight is something Steam uses to gauge interest in a product, and if there is enough they will put resources into listing it. Steam is an online digital distribution service mostly for downloadable content and PC games. As it also serves as a chat, message, and website, a game listed there will receive a lot of ancillary support as well as advertisement to a broader audience and market. A broader audience and market is something visual novels need to create, if the subject matter is going to succeed here in the US.

Battleship Yamato: Star Blazers

November 3, 2013

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starblazers_(TV_Series)

I didn’t realize these two titles were related until someone told me the details of Star Blazers and I recognized it as the same plot in Yamato.

The opening song, for the launching of the ship, is fiery.

Is an orchestral arrangement.

They recently re-made the series http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/space-battleship-yamato-2199

If you can’t find the English spelling, use the Japanese spelling Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199.


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