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Dorian, our cat with the telescopic neck and an uncanny ability to manifest over our shoulders when fish is on the plate, has recently developed an untenable habit of zipping in when Sif pauses mid-meal, and running off with as much of her meal as he can stuff in his cheek pouches. His other mutant ability, as it turns out, is food inhalation. You may laugh, but I have heard him eat raw steak with sounds of, "Schluuuuuurp! Schluuuuuuurp!" I do not know how you eat steak by inhaling it.

Sif, meanwhile, is tragically defenseless against Dorian's food ninja speed and surprising telescopic qualities. You think you've scooped him off the floor in time. No! In that split second it takes to cuddle him to your chest, he has hoovered up a quarter can of tuna mix off the tiles and will be chomping it down as quickly as possible in mid-air. Mid. Air. We have tried serving him his food separately outside (the most effective means), holding him while Sif eats (results in a lot of grumbling) and watching him while she eats (thoroughly ineffective -- he's too fast). Even with four small meals a day, I worry one or the other cat is not receiving enough food.

Sometimes I wonder if we were the right family for Dorian. He's so full of energy and curiosity. We like to sit in front of screens and read things. My lazy parenting is thankful that we recently received a Booda Ball (I believe this is somehow related to the igloo-shaped litter box manufacturers), essentially a ball with a snuff compartment on one side and a space for treats in the other. Filling the Booda Ball with treats and having him roll it round gives us respite. He is a good little ball kicker. Sif stops at being confused by the whole treat ball principle. She may have understood treats are in the ball, but lacking any will to hunt down the treats, is more apt to accidentally run into one of the treats Dorian has kicked out. I actually think she finds taking out treats and not feeding them directly to her is some form of punishment. Well, now she's asleep from watching him kick around a ball. (Spouse: "Supervision is exhausting.")

Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] mokie, I decided to give Coffee & Tea Exchange's Sassafras Delight Black tea a go. Now, Mokes did a rather informative review of this tea way back (I kind of used her as my test hamster, however well-meaningfully). I had forgotten she said the smell of sassafras in this was strong. I bought a ¼ lbs. bag of sassafras tea, and 1 lbs. bags of normal black tea, including the hearthfired bottom-of-a-wok smoky Russian Caravan. The box smelled like sassafras from the moment I opened it to the time the rest of my kitchen smelled like root beer before bed.

Smelling of root beer is great. I spent all afternoon running back and forth between the study (whose litter box smelled like death and taxes) and snuffing the sassafras. I'd forgotten I loved the smell of root beer. It's wonderful.

Mokes also warned about the tea being cinnamony and a little spicy. I was looking forward to it. (I like my chai heavier towards the cardamom and black peppers.) Topped my standard 2-teaspoon measure with hot water and half and half. No sugar. I was hoping I'd get the flavour of root beer float once the vanilla ice cream had melted in. It doesn't taste quite like that. But it does taste like root beer. There was no bite, just a pleasant nip of cinnamon in the back of the tongue. The milk and cream really rounded out that floaty sassafras flavour. Without sugar, it actually had a hint of natural sweetness, which is tempered by the natural bitterness of black tea. On a scale of 5, I would give the caffeine in this a 2, after a regular 2 minute steep. I might try it steeped a bit longer next time, to see if makes everything else more robust.

Is it a good bedtime tea? Well, I'll see if I'm still up at four.
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I predict that Darker than Black is going to be one of the "cool" shows this season -- the series clearly has high production values, an illustrious director, a Yoko Kanno soundtrack, pretty attractive characters, light but nice action and not bad OP/EDs either. Apparently, it's going all over the place in Japan. There is no doubt in my mind this will be licensed even before it's over. On a scale of dark though, I'd rate this a Gackt. My first impression of this is that it's got just enough gristle to keep me interested, but is probably a little too cool to be spectacular. I'm calling it my replacement Ghost Hunt. )
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I'd originally wanted to wait until I finished the whole series before I said something, but after the first two episodes, I had to talk about this title -- it's one of those shows that's just going to compel me to.

Venjuuuuuuuuns. Bluud. Cute Girls. What Purgatory Should Be. )
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So, one of my pet fascinations lately has been this animated series about a team of multi-denominational ghost hunters that seems slightly billed in the wrong genre. Ghost Hunt comes in a season peppered with ghost-busting shows. While it doesn't break the mold as an investigative show, it is a very well done show, and has a real added benefit of being one of the truly creepy ghost-related shows I've seen in a while. The story focuses on the Shibuya Psychic Research company, headed by teenaged wunderkid Shibuya "Naru" Kazuya. The team of parapsychologists he heads consists of a Chinese Taoist exorcist, a Catholic priest, a Shinto monk, a miko and two psychics. Each episode is seen through the eyes of Mai, Naru's secretary and a high school student who gets suckered into helping him early in the series. Almost every case is based in some kind of real parapsychological problem or case, leading to my incentive for watching this show -- the parapsychological geekdom and name-dropping harked back to one of my pet reading subjects as a puppy. As far as allusions to the outside world go, this show rocks.

I am raving about Ghost Hunt. )
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Feel So Bad are a combination of great people who on first listen sound like their music was run through a blender. They aren't an easy listen by any means, but they're not difficult to get into. Their sound of choice is hard, unforgiving, often very messed up rock. Masato "Pon" Yamaguchi, drummer on-board, has a driven, relentless style that will beat their songs into you regardless of whether or not you wanted it, and it's pretty much a given you will. (After a few songs, it's either you do, or you run away.) Bassist Masato Ohashi is there to complement Kurata Fuyuki's extraordinary guitaring -- every song has them at each other's throats, pretty much, though Fuyuki appears to outdo Ohashi on most counts, but just barely. Kawashima Daria has a voice that has the timbre of Melissa Etheridge, the angst of Marianne Faithfull and the creepiness of Patti Smith. Where she spits and growls, she's like a perpetually pissed off wildcat, but on the calmer side of F.S.B., she can be really smooth, like an old-time cabaret singer. The combination works. And I'm not complaining.

Review Under Here. )
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A whole bunch of disparate thoughts on an old subject. )

I've been able to find copies of Vol. 1-6 of Shinsengumi Imon Peacemaker (there is a newer release of the series by the Japanese publisher in only 5 volumes rather than 6 with covers more in line with PMK's), though finding Vol. 1-5 of PMK has been less fruitful. At least at prices that are not bad rather than somewhat disturbing. At most, I would probably be interested in Vol. 1-3 and 5 of PMK (Vol. 4 is interesting, though it's the lull in the storm). If anyone is reading this, and perhaps knows a good place to grab Vol. 1 and 4 of PMK (Japanese version), I appreciate the waving of hands.
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I do not understand high school romance anime. It seems to require some sort of extra genetic material I just don't have. My brain refuses to compute it.*

This was supposed to be a mecha show. I swear, looking at the promo shots, this was supposed to be a mecha show. And there are cool mecha in this show, in tiny pieces of airtime. I'll start with the mecha parts, because that gives me one thing nice to say about this. The CG is pretty seamless, especially for the very cool cloaking sequences. The very first (deceptive) mecha fight we see, of lead guy Sousuke's M9 taking down a chopper, rubs that in a big way, with the M9 shimmering out of a snow-covered woodland, complete with dramatic strings in the soundtrack and shiny explosions. In fact, the fights for this show are usually decent stuff. When it happens.

You see, Full Metal Panic has a nice name and all, but it's a high school romantic comedy. With love triangles, hackneyed dialogue, Big Boobed Girls with Anime-Coloured Hair (BBGwACH pronounced bug-whack; my preference for Bleach is partially based on the idea the lead girl is flat)** and the lot. It is so much a high school romantic comedy, in fact, I have to wonder why anyone even bothered with the mecha element.

Hatehatehatehatehatehatehate. )
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It has been a long time since I've watched this series. I will probably never forgive Gonzo Animation for what they did to at least three of the manga they adapted for the tiny screen. But in many respects, Peacemaker Kurogane was still the best adaptation they ever did. I gave up on it, two years ago, after a slew of filler episodes and the mismatched plot destroyed my faith in anything by this company, indeed, any swordfighting drama, for a good long time. Even so, the filler episodes made sense, and the characters never stepped out of context like other more unfortunate adaptations, Chrno Crusade and Fullmetal Alchemist being the first two that spring to mind with a vengeance. And ultimately, it will be this series that reminds me why my first love is swordfighting drama, and why even now, it is this genre that keeps me watching.

Watching Elegant Predators Tear Each Other Apart. )
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I have a low tolerance for shows I can't get into within the opening minutes. It's not that I expect opening sequences to be great all the time, within reason. The most recent example being Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge (Perfect Girl Evolution), where both the anime and the manga were similarly ugly as sin -- but the humour survives as a testament to what happens when the Ring girl in her well gets her own shoujo manga. That is, I tend to expect a show with a damn ugly opening sequence to have something worth speaking about in terms of the story even more than other shows. I have yet to find all that many shows that question this snap judgment. It is a snap judgment. In the way I trust my instincts to tell me if a story is lousy within the opening lines, I trust the same instincts to tell me if a show will make me run away screaming by the way the opening sequence pans out.

And that doesn't happen here, or at least, in not enough of a proportion to justify itself. After one and a half minutes of flowers, bright colours and a blatantly girly soundtrack, we open with five unconscious girls delivered home in the wee hours of the morning by the men in black. One of the cars the girls are traveling in gets attacked by zombies and crashes. The next morning, the NYPD (yes, it's set in New York, where everyone speaks Japanese) find the body of the girl from the car that was attacked in the woods. They figured she committed suicide, but note that this is the fifth time this month they've found a girl in that condition. So far so good, right?

Read more... )
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The Show

The Stuffing )

The English

The Languageness )

The Music ('Cause an anime about rock music should not have a soundtrack that sucks.)

THE NOISE! )

Whaddaya know, I was able to finish this review without having touched the manga once. Yay me!
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Neurotic Pummelling Fangirlism Inside )
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In between sleeping, spacing out and looking sad, I spent my first two weeks of vacation watching movies. These are the leftovers.

Fearless )

Ashura-jo no Hitomi )

Shinobi ~Heart on Blade~ )

School Daze )
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There are movies I think I seem to walk into when I need them most. All About Lily Chou Chou is at once a kind of emotional voyeurism as it is a criticism of emotional voyeurism. Anyone who indulges in media, the reason we watch movies, read books and listen to music, is in it for the emotional value. It's a form of emotional vampirism. It's a brief interlude in our lives. But we don't come out of it different people, even if we'd like to think so. Musicians put up their feelings for show. Records are out there to make money. The face we put up for other people is a lie.

Lily Chou Chou is the deconstruction of Hoshino: middle school student, head bully, small-time pimp and hardcore Lily fan. Offline, he terrorizes his classmates, blackmailing one into prostitution and arranging for the rape of another. Throughout, he is a silent spectator, handing down orders but never dirtying his own hands, watching other people in their worst moments, but never participating in anyone's downfall directly himself. Online, he's Blue Cat, the shy new member of a Lily Chou Chou BBS run by Lilyphillia.

Something with spoilers, something blue. )
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I was kind of warned about this one. Oh, yeah. Pretty boys in period costumes? With swords? Growling at each other?

Why, I don't know what to say, really. )
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I'd been wondering why there was a carriage popping out of nowhere last week. Just skimming through, so I can get to the next episode, y'know, the one with swords and people in period swordfighting wear...

Read more... )
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