Summer 2014 includes some shows about artisans at work, including Barakamon.

Summer 2014 includes some shows about artisans at work, including Barakamon.

All of the Summer 2014 season anime series have premiered, so it is time for a quick post on what looks good so far. This is essentially based upon first episodes (some shows have had a second episode already), so things can still change quite a bit, but as of now, here are the shows that still look promising to me.

The shows:

  • Aldnoah Zero
  • Barakamon
  • Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
  • Glasslip
  • Rail Wars!
  • Zankyou no Terror

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Largo taking out a tank in Valkyria Chronicles.

Largo taking out a tank in Valkyria Chronicles.

Although I don’t blog here a lot, I continue to enjoy Anime, and check in on the many great aniblogging sites that are out there. One of the sites I check often is LuRa’s Anime Blog. Lucretia and Raven (with the occasional help of some friends) blog about several shows, but they also have an ongoing Song of the Week series.  I love many things about anime, including the music, so I love checking out the song of the week, either to hear an old fave again, or to learn about something new.

I listen to a lot of anime and J-Pop as well, so I occasionally link to music videos in my Twitter stream, but the tenacity with which Lu and Ra keep posting on their blog, despite being busy with exams (and all things life) inspired me to put up a song here for y’all.

I selected the second ED to Valkyria Chronicles. This was a show based upon a game that I really enjoyed. It had some substance to the themes, lots of characters to whom I grew attached, and most of all some killer game-play. The series moved off the PS3, unfortunately, so I only ever got to play the first installment. The anime adaption was interesting, and the second ED provided that emotional space to digest some of the more intense things that occur.

The song is sung by Hikari Inoue, and is named “Hitotsu no Negai” (My only wish).

These very sad eyes reflect the sky,
without understanding those words,
I simply counted the stars.

I hope you enjoy it!

Peco, from "Ping Pong, the animation", with his game face on.

Peco, from “Ping Pong, the animation”, with his game face on.

Ping Pong is the show I have been enjoying the most this season. One of the first things people notice are the unusual visual style, so I thought I would address that in a post.

Probably the first thing people notice is that some of the character designs are intentionally “ugly”, or that at times (well, frequently), the character designs morph in some way. I like the fact that Ping Pong character designs intentionally avoid the standard anime designs. Instead we are presented with a startling variety of characters: some with bushy eyebrows, some with faces so deeply wrinkled that you can barely identify the mouth, some with eyes that are tilted so far that they almost become vertical. Everyone’s appearance is horrific in a way, and has an eerie beauty in some other, and that works perfectly with the character studies that are developed throughout the series. Characters are shown from a variety of perspectives. Some views of the characters are unflattering, some are flattering. Nobody is shown completely to be good, or virtuous, just as even the characters that seem at first to be villains are shown to have nobility in unexpected ways. People are alternately selfish and selfless, lazy and ambitious, belligerent and respectful.

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While I’m still working on the Alpha Project, I have been watching several shows from the new season, as well as a couple of carry overs. As it turns out I am watching 5 sports anime that are airing at the same time. This is very unusual. A couple of years back it was not uncommon to go for multiple seasons without a single sports anime. Now we have shows airing that are based on Baseball, Tennis, Cycling, Volleyball, and Ping Pong.

My Fave: Ping Pong, the Animation

Ping Pong

Ping Pong features inspired art direction as expected from Masaaki Yuasa.

Folks who don’t like an anime because it “doesn’t look anime enough” are really choosing to deprive themselves of a gem this season. The characters are all flawed in very human ways. they are trying to achieve something or avoid something not because they are better than us. None of these characters are traditional shounen leads, with the possible exception of Akuma, who rose through the ranks by working really hard. Even the adult characters seem twisted; instead of cheering on the main character because he is happy to see him develop his potential, the coach takes on Smile because he thinks he can use him to win. The coach clearly wasn’t giving the rest of the team his full attention, and even seems to tolerate bullying by the upperclassmen.
To learn about the others, read on …

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Figure: Alpha looks at another anime, Wasimo.

Figure: Alpha looks at another anime, Wasimo.

This is an article in an ongoing series in which the Abandoned Factory gets a new blogger: an aniblogging robot named Alpha!

I am closing in on a finished version of the Percieve portion of the problem (see last post). The two figures below were generated by Alpha while she was watching anime. Her actual percepts are also included, so people can see where things currently stand. I haven’t really started on the Analyze part of the problem yet, but you can already see by comparing the raw percepts that were generated from Masaki Yuasa’s latest masterpiece, Ping Pong, to a Flash-based anime, Wasimo.

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The first episodes of the new anime viewing season are being aired over the next couple of weeks, so it is time for a site update. As I mentioned in my preview, I have just a couple of shows I’m interested in this season, with Ping Pong: the animation foremost amongst them. I also revealed that I am building an anime-blogging robot, named Alpha, to assist me with the reviews here at the Abandoned Factory, which means I will be able to pick up a couple more shows.

The final list for Spring 2014:

Title Premiering Blogger
Kindaichi R April 5 Alpha
No Game No Life April 9 Alpha
Escha to Logy April 10 Alpha
Insufficient Direction April 10 Joojoobees
Ping Pong April 10 Joojoobees
Mekaku City Actors April 12 Alpha

I added Mekaku City Actors, and No Game No Life, because I thought they would be good shows for Alpha to watch. Mekaku City Actors is a Shaft production, and No Game No Life is Madhouse, so despite the fact that I don’t think I could stand to sit through the subject matter, they might be interesting shows visually. Insufficient Direction is a late add; I just think the premise (living with Hideako Anno) is a funny one.

Shows listed as being covered by me (Joojoobees) will actually be covered by both of us.

I probably will post sporadically, and Alpha’s reviews will begin later in the season, since she is still under development, but is intended to provide context, not episodic impressions. That being said, I’ll probably post something as soon as I have it, as part of my process of bringing her perception and analytic faculties online.

Happy anime viewing everybody!

** Update April 6: moved Insufficient Direction to April 10, which seems to be the Tokyo premiere; I think the earlier date was a premiere station that has early access to certain shows.

female robot snoozing

Alpha, the Ani-blogging Robot needs to open her eyes so she can watch anime.

This is the second article in a series in which Alpha, the ani-blogging robot is brought into being. Here we consider how we can convince Alpha to watch Anime. For background please read the first article in the series.

Contents:

  • Perception (theory)
  • Programming Frameworks (practice)
  • Next Steps

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