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.

Continue reading “Robotech”

new Earthsea trailer

Studio Ghibli has posted a new trailer for Gedo Senki online. Ged/Sparrow has a lot more screen time in this one. It’s wierd, but his boat is exactly like I imagined it. I still have no idea whether this is going to be a disaster or a masterpiece – possibly neither – but at least it is going to be pretty.

AICN also reports that a special preview of the film will be held July 7-9 in 17 selected cities. 20,000 fans will get invitations to the screening by lottery.

Caprica

It seems that there will be a prequel TV series to Battlestar Galactica. From what I’ve read of the premise, it doesn’t exactly look that enticing, set entirely on the planet Caprica and following the creation of the Cylons. The emphasis on “corporate intrigue” and “sexual politics” makes it seem less science fiction and more sitcom/drama wanna-be.

Only 50 years prior? Doesn’t that seem like a rather abbreviated timeline? Given that the Colonial society was built upon the Cylon’s labor, and then fought a long and bloody war after the Cylons sought freedom from enslavement, you’d imagine the time frame to be more like 100-200 years.

It’s worth noting that the last two minutes of the season 2 finale are available online – along with a very brief teaser for season 3. In it, the voiceover reveals that the Cylons intend to control humanity for our own good – to show us the Truth. The slave becomes the master. Given how easily the military could have simply taken over in the election between Roslin and Baltar, and Adama’s dedication (scroll down to last Q&A) to democratic ideals, there is a very stark contrast being drawn in ideologies.

full text of the press release for “Caprica” follows: Continue reading “Caprica”

Yahoo Babel Fish

Yahoo is now the host of the classic Babel Fish translation service, formerly hosted by Altavista. It now also supports Japanese!

For example, try: 七国山病院 (the CatBus sign from Totoro, courtesy of Steven). The Babelfish gives us “Seven national mountain illness institutes”. I noticed from Steven’s link that 国山 can be interpreted as “realm” and Steven also mentioned that 病院 (“illness institutes”) is actually hospital, so the sign translates as Seven Realm Hospital. The Babelfish isn’t capable of translating these compound statements and is more of an atomic processor on the individual characters.

Naturally, it also works in reverse: try “Seven Realm Hospital” and you get the output 7 つの王国の病院 which when I feed back into the Babelfish, turns out to be “Hospital of seven kingdoms”. Realm and Kingdom both get translated as 王国. What my point is, I have no idea, other than to probe the assumptions in the Babelfish engine. As a toy for gaikojin otaku like myself, it’s neat 🙂

Plus we must all bow to the universality of Douglas Adams. Just like 42, the Babel Fish has entered the mass lexicon. Have I mentioned that the Guide entry on the Babelfish, as related in the BBC Radio Scripts, is the most hilarious version by far? You just can’t beat the dry delivery of Peter Jones as the Book. It’s like comparing black and white to color television.

so many blogs…

I have been doing a fair bit of technology blogging over at my old blog these past few years. I wonder if this might not be abetter platform for it, however. Anyone have any interest in things like processor chipsets, new wireless and USB standards, hard drive specs, notebook technologies and whatnot? If so I might just move that kind of stuff here instead.

which sci-fi crew

Shamus already has dibs on Wash, so maybe I’d have to be the doctor brother guy:

You scored as Serenity (Firefly). You like to live your own way and don’t enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

I guess this is a hint that I really should watch the series.

Earthsea synopsis via UKL

via Don, a synopsis of the upcoming anime adaptation of Tales of Earthsea by Studio Ghibli. LeGuin herself was given the synopsis by the director. She writes,

Studio Ghibli and Mr Goro Miyazaki recently sent me the synopsis of their forthcoming film, Gedo Senki (Tales of Ged), which is to be released in Japan in July 2006. I asked if I might post the translation on my website, and was kindly granted permission. Any inquiries should be directed to Studio Ghibli, please, not to me, as I have no further information concerning the film, and of course will not discuss it until I have seen it.

— UKL April 21, 2006.

The film will apparently not be a retelling of how Ged came to be the Lord Archmage, but takes place after he has already become the great wizard of his destiny. There are familiar faces from the early stories, though.