A beautiful mind

Is Baltar hallucinating his vision of Six after his escape from Caprica, or is she real, somehow? Watching the season 2 finale and now catching up on the mini-series has given me insights that I don’t know I’d have had, had I seen it in broadcast order. I will, however, approach the issue from within the standard chronology.

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Han shot first

A long time ago, on a blog far away, I called for a boycott of Episode III.

And how the Empire trembled!

However, though convinced of the righteousness of my cause, my resolve began to waver.

Well, to make a long story short, I’m not Mahatma Gandhi, ok?

But it seems that the mere existence of my boycott threat – however short-lived – ultimately attained the desired goal. For behold, I claim total victory:

In response to overwhelming demand, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release attractively priced individual two-disc releases of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Each release includes the 2004 digitally remastered version of the movie and, as bonus material, the theatrical edition of the film. That means you’ll be able to enjoy Star Wars as it first appeared in 1977, Empire in 1980, and Jedi in 1983.

This release will only be available for a limited time: from September 12th to December 31st. International release will follow on or about the same day. Each original theatrical version will feature Dolby 2.0 Surround sound, close-captioning, and subtitles in English, French and Spanish for their U.S. release.

All has occurred exactly as I have forseen.

Han shot first

Battlestar Galactica: The Mini Series

I grabbed a torrent of the series pilot and have finished about half. Even though some aspects of the plot are thoroughly spoiled for me, having been watching regularly since Pegasus in episode 2, it was gripping and fresh. I haven’t been this excited about television sci-fi since Deep Space Nine and Babylon-5 – and Galactica has already surpassed both.

The best thing about watching the pilot was how it underscored many of the relationships whose dynamics I’d inferred by the end of season 2. For example, father-son tension between Bill Adama and Lee Adama was always a subcurrent which I’d really only glimpsed – Bill mentions that trust was something of an “issue” between them in an offhand comment, or Apollo is genuinely gobsmacked at his promotion. You could read the love in Apollo’s eyes and hear the pride in Bill’s voice and you wonder, as I did coming in mid-season, what deep emotions are being tapped here? What events were they whose powerful closure I am witnessing here? It’s as if I stumbled onto something private and intimate, and regular viewers of the series were part of that intimacy.

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lechers

Steven mentions how the series Azumanga Daioh was utterly ruined by the presence of Kimura, a middle-aged male characer whose sole function is to be the resident lecher. I haven’t seen the series and given the negative reaction Steven had to it (and the negative comments by others), probably won’t bother.

But what is interesting is a comment that a Korean friend of mine made when watching Haibane Renmei. Anime is popular in Korea and my friend spoke enough Japanese to be able to follow the sub. Her reaction to seeing the character of The Master (Kana’s boss) was immediate and visceral – “that guy is a pervert!” Surprised by this, I asked why, and the answer was simply “perverts in anime are always drawn like that.” Apparently it’s the small eyes, the semi-baldness, and the cylindrical head silhouette.

Looking at screen caps, the Master does resemble Kimura, and also resembles Councillor Furusaki from Someday’s Dreamers. What to make of this I don’t know. Haibane Renmei is as sexless a series as you can find, and Someday’s Dreamers was every bit as warm and serene as others have noted. Yet, the character archetype in question is indeed always associated with young girls (Kana and Jessica for The Master and Furusaki, respectively). Is there some cultural subtext here?

Robotech

I just don’t know where to begin when talking about Robotech. I first saw it in college – during final exams week of my first year, in fact. It astounds me that I even passed my exams, let alone maintained a decent GPS, given that I spent all my time that week in the dorm TV lounge with my stack of bootleg VHS tapes. I’d set alarms to go off half an hour before my exams and race across campus to take the exam, and then come straight back like a moth to flame. Food was pizza delivery and cokes from the machine across the hall.

Come to think of it, perhaps my daughter has inherited some of these bad habits…

Anyway, the story was amazing and still holds a unique appeal over my imagination. If you’ll pardon the pun, Robotech was the protoculture for the otaku culture of today, here in America. It legitimized animation as a mature storytelling medium.

And the visuals! the bridge bunnies. Captain Gloval aghast as the antigravity drives tear loose from the ship and go on their merry way. Khyron and all his infinite insanity. The Dadedalus maneuver. Lisa. Roy’s heroism, Rick’s infatuation, and also that other character, M. what’s her name, you know. Whatchamacallit whoever. The return to Earth, the Ontario quadrant disaster. The final assault, and New Macross City. And of course, the SDF-1 – magnificent. Only the Starship Enterprise rivals it for sheer nobility of design.

Of course I am a fan of the first arc most, the Invid arc least. But the character of Dana Sterling is easily my most favorite character in the entire series. And that’s the real point of Robotech – the characters, and the peoples. Many mecha series focus too much on the technology, but Robotech used its technology like a stage and spotlight – mere foils for the chaacters that inhabited and used them. Not to say that some pieces of technology didn’t acquire personality in their own right – SDF-1 being obvious, but also Skull-1 and Dana’s tank. But even if Robotech arose from three rather average anime series as source, the sum was much greater than the parts, and that’s the mark of true anime.

UPDATE: For Steven the bridge bunnies below the fold.

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