Are you? Are you ready, my Tyrannical Toyboxers? Ready to get wet with a brand-new blast of mega-splashes and mega-smashes? A brand-new weekly tidal-wave of keionic lolitas, kryptonite rivals and nomadic roommates? With another drenching downpour of 100-plus pics? Haha, well, I guess you don’t have many choices, do you? Time to weather the rainbow-colored lightning, feel the ground-pounding thunder, or get out of the rain! But whatever you do, it’s time for another mega-cast attack to begin!
Part 1 of 3 > Kenshin, K-On & Modern Lolification
Am I seeing things? Or are anime stories featuring more and more high-school girls than ever before? After stumbling across and completing over 150 anime titles-or-seasons over the last 3 years, it definitely feels that way. Not that there’s anything wrong with teenaged girls. But perhaps too many? In too many stories? I mean, like the saying goes, too much of a good thing can~~ Kill it? Ruin it? Make it boring?~~ Wait-wait-wait. Forget I asked. Looking back in my past mega-casts, I already answered these questions with a speculative, “Yes, yes and yes.”
For instance, from my Blog 195, Part 1 (Propaganda, Pop Anime & Clannad):
You know where I’m heading, don’t you? As anime gravitates more and more towards commercially-safe “pop anime”, the view of its own culture tends to get skewed. For good or for ill. In American “pop music”, songs seem to reflect an idealized (or demonized) view of life, love and relationships. And American pop performers are both loved and hated for it. Likewise, in Japanese “pop anime”, shows seem to reflect an idealized or supernatural view of Japanese life, love and relationships. One might say, this view has evolved to the point where social concerns, such as xenophobia, misogyny and pedophilia are not simply down-played or over-looked, but often portrayed in playful comedic terms. As if Japan never had a problem with foreigners, women or young girls. We continue to see an endless string of moe maids, kawaii catgirls and lolicon character designs. And anime is both loved and hated throughout the world for it. So while this animated form of entertainment may not be feeding any political battle, one could argue that “pop anime” may still represent a defensive form of propaganda in a cultural war against other gradually-imported cultures. How Japanese life *should* be. How the Japanese *should* live. But like I said, propaganda or not, intentional or not, superficial or not, that’s the definition of “popular”, isn’t it?
Then from my Blog 197, Part 1 (Pop Anime, Otaku Power & Taro Aso):
Well, my Trendy Toyboxers, do you remember my mega-post on Japanese “propaganda and pop anime” two weeks ago? Coincidentally within the last week, Prime Minister Aso presented a curious promise to build the Japanese economy via the otaku industry! No joke!
So what do you think? Should we worry? I mean, if United States President Barack Obama ever proclaimed the benefits of building American “soft power” ~~ cartoons like “Superman” and “Batman”, comics like “Iron Man” and “Watchmen”, and the successful live-action film and music industries which have thrived from them ~~ as a major force in stimulating not only domestic businesses, but also the global economy, would we worry? LOL, who knows? President Obama isn’t Japanese, is he? Nevertheless, whether or not the world takes Prime Minister Aso seriously or less-than-seriously, the multi-billion-yen economic might of the otaku industry is nothing to sneeze at either!
Finally, from my Blog 204, Part 1 (Omens of the Otakulypse):
But is it still good? Is such exponential growth leading to exponential decay?
Hmm, maybe it’s just me and my imagination. So let me ask you this. Does anyone else see any signs? Does anyone else feel the four corners of the otakusphere beginning to vibrate, rumble and crumble? Perhaps the warning signs of an otaku apocalypse? Omens of an oncoming otakulypse?
Well, there you have it. The first four “Omens of the Otakulypse”. The spreading perception of twisted otaku by fellow otaku. A perception from not simply outside the otakuspheric community, but within it as well. Am I imagining things? Or are these the first few signs of things to come? I wouldn’t be surprised if the next few years witnessed the rabid rise of politically-driven witch-hunts which severely restricted the production (via higher risk and lower profit) of not only Japanese games, but anime, manga and figures as well. Saddened. But not surprised.
Indeed. Seems like an evolving cocktail of idealized life-and-love, economic otaku-power, and an intensifying otakusphere, is stirring and swirling and spiraling through the modern “lolification” of pop anime. Not only that. We haven’t even touched upon the “lolification” of the hentai universe. Not that I planned to. Maybe next time.
Whew. Having said that, let’s splash ourselves with 2 more anime series I’ve managed to finish in the last 4 weeks: “Rurouni Kenshin – Season 3 (1997)”  and “K-On! (2009)” . Yup, a total of 28 completed anime titles-or-seasons so far this year!
Rurouni Kenshin – Season 3 (1997) . On 24 June, I completed my 27th anime title-or-season of the year. Season 3 (of 3) with 33 episodes. Wow. Building upon the 27 episodes of Season 1 (4 of 5 stars), and the 35 episodes of Season 2 (5 of 5 stars), the continuing tale of a repentant samurai among hoodlums and bandits follows his final paths through random obstacles and adversaries. While his clashes aren’t as breath-taking or death-defying as those in the previous season, they are still entertaining and electric. This time, the sword-slashing saga earns a solid 4 of 5 stars! Since I already posted a ton of soul-searching wallpapers back in Blog 197, Part 3 (Gundam, Tsubasa, Kenshin & Coil), here’s a romantic reminder below, haha.
K-On! (2009) . On 04 July, I completed my 28th anime title-or-season of the year. Original season with 13 episodes. Awww. Since many of us have already seen it, posted excessively-weekly reviews about it, fallen in love with it or plummeted into hate from it, I’ll go ahead and present my speed-review right now, lol. While exceptionally delightful, dazzling or dramatic short-seasons can only shatter a maximum of 4 of 5 stars, “K-On!” lazily but gently steals an amusing 3 of 5 stars. Awww. To reminisce, here are a few weekly stops along memory lane, hehe.
Here’s an Episode-1 excerpt from my Blog 196, Part 1 (Trends, Slaves & Shiny New Things):
Hahaha, wow! In the last few days, the brand-new high-school comedy anime K-On!, produced by Kyoto Animation (KyoAni), has stormed and flooded the otaku scene! Not only on Danny Choo’s website, but also on Sankaku Complex (NSFW)! While the premiere episode pinched all of the cute, clever and captivating points of a memorable “pop anime” series (not unlike KyoAni’s “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and “Lucky Star”), is “K-On!” really anything new or different from what we’ve all seen before? Hehe, probably not. But who really cares, right? As long as it’s cute, clever and captivating, lol.
Here’s an Episode-2 excerpt from my Blog 197, Part 1 (Pop Anime, Otaku Power & Taro Aso):
Hehe, tired of the endless posts and episodic reviews of “K-On!” yet? Ahh, the continuing power of market-powered pop-anime trends! I mean, it’s only the second week of “K-On!”. Does it make sense to review the first ten minutes of a two-hour film? Then the next ten minutes too? Then the next? Does a preview-review make sense when *everyone* is watching it anyway? Haha, just teasing!
@Mimi-chan: Yeah, I’ve mentioned on my blog that there seems to be nothing new. Each of them seems like clones of characters we’ve all seen before. But there’s nothing wrong with that! Nothing wrong with cute and cuddly! I’m just surprised at all the hype that this is something earth-shatteringly different. Simply because it comes from KyoAni? ^_^;
P.S. Due to a challenge, I just started “Akikan”. Haha, in just one episode, the over-the-top concept has already made me laugh out loud more than “K-On”!
Here’s an Episode-4 excerpt from my Blog 199, Part 2 (Mimi, Mio, Mugi & Miyuki):
Well, if you’ve been following my sidebar comments on the latest anime smash “K-On!” (2009) by KyoAni, you already have an idea of my paradoxical impressed-yet-unimpressed assessment over the last 3 weeks, hehe. Here’s a quick summary to refresh your anime-numbed minds, lol.
So while the series has been adorably amusing and memorably moe thus far, I still don’t sense the “earth-shattering” newness or understand the “mind-blowing” hysteria within the otaku community. Well, not yet, lol. If anything, the otaku-powered pop-anime mentality seems to be a forceful factor in fueling the fervor! So much so that one unexpected turn-of-events has been Mimi-chan‘s mind-lashing shift from rants to raves!
In fact, under this light, “Akikan” isn’t earth-shattering either, lol. It may be outlandishly nonsensical and skin-baringly hysterical, but one could categorize it as another “high-school magical-girl fish-out-of-water comedy” manufactured from the ever-addictive pop-anime assembly-line! Hehe, right? But that’s okay. Whether it’s new or old, memorable or forgettable, entertainment is entertainment!
Here’s an Episode-5 excerpt from my Blog 200, Part 2 (Can Any Anime Really Be Stupid?):
Finally! After four weeks of being fuzzily amused by the cute-and-cuddly high-school-girl comedy “K-On!”, the fifth week finally lifted the series to “Lucky Star” wonderment! And do you know what did it? Do you? The teacher! The hilariously passive-yet-powerful Jekyll-yet-Hyde character of Yamanaka Sawako-sensei! Sawako-sensei was the missing ingredient! Reminiscent of the powerful-yet-pitiful anime shop manager, Anizawa Meito-san in “Lucky Star”, haha. Yes, indeed. Episode 5 of “K-On!” finally redeemed the series, lol… But to be clear, the series was *never* stupid.
Then again, can any anime really be stupid?
Of course, let’s not forget Angry Mimi-chan’s diverse reactions, ranging from her Episode-6 post “Good Job Mio-On! I Approve!!!” (08 May 2009) to her Episode-9 post “Why Why Why Do You Like K-on?!?!?!?!” (02 June 2009), hahaha. Nevertheless, to celebrate the heartfelt conclusion of “K-On!”, here are 39 of the biggest and brightest wallpapers I can find, ranging from a respectable 1200px resolution to a monster 6500px resolution!
For this first batch, I chose those wallpapers which depict the original-anime artwork as much or as closely as possible. Yeah, I guess I’m a purist that way, lol. So for the first wallpaper, ahh, here’s “afternoon tea time” with Mio-chan (left), Ritsu-chan (center-top), Tsumugi-chan (right) and Yui-chan (center-bottom). Based on the corner text, this appears to be the original artwork.
Haha, cute V-signs by the gang. Again, the corner text seems to point to original artwork.
Here’s a smaller version without the corner text.
This time, a different background. The sunset lighting doesn’t match, but it’s sooo pretty.
Yui-chan checking out Mio-chan’s fingers, lol.
Time for some broom-guitars and eraser-drums!
Awww, a cute break between rock sessions. This seems to be the original composition.
Then here’s the close-up of the above.
Ahh, the sky’s the limit!
Wow. Whether or not this rendered ocean is part of the original artwork, the splashing and lighting effect is incredible! Feel free to enlarge this scene!
Now, in this close-up, the background is slightly different, so maybe this one might be the original.
Ahh, another beach-time close-up.
Yet another beach break! I love the air-tube lighting! But Yui-chan’s left hand isn’t so pretty, lol.
Haha, another session of broom-guitars! If you look closely in the lower-left corner, someone did a poor job of painting over the original text. At least, that shows it’s the original art, lol.
Yet another example of poor painting over the original text. In this case, I had to clean up a bit of white text in the lower-left corner of blue sky.
Aww, Mio-chan in “moe” mode, lol.
Oops, wait, I meant Azusa-chan in “moe” mode, lol.
A-ha, a bit of text in the upper-left corner suggests original artwork! Meanwhile, Yui-chan, Ui-chan, Azusa-chan and Mio-chan take another break to go shopping.
Awww, the responsible Ui-chan caring for her careless sis Yui-chan.
Time for two more supporting-cast members! Tsumugi-chan is joined by Nodoka-chan, while Ritsu-chan is joined by Sawako-chan. There’s just something about glasses, isn’t there?
Ah, another original shot of the five-gal J-pop band, lol.
Got yukata? Got taiyaki? Happy Belated Tanabata (07 July), everyone!
Haha, another heated snack attack! Looks like original artwork to me! Damn, 5800px!
Here’s a slightly smaller 3300px version without all the cool text, lol.
Whoa, a monster 4100px wallpaper featuring the “moe-maid” girls and Sawako-chan.
Here’s a slightly smaller 1900px version with header-and-footer style!
Wow, a massive 6400px wallpaper with the original text! Got cat ears?
Here’s the same one without the text. LOL, notice the forgotten “25” in the corner?
Now, for this second batch, I chose those wallpapers which not-as-closely depict the original artwork, but still just-as-fondly caught my eye or heart. Awww. Can’t forget Yui-chan flying out the door! Nice vector work!
Another impressive piece of vector art!
Somehow, I don’t seem to like the name bubbles or flying musical symbols, lol.
Wow, amazing design and perspective! But shouldn’t the reflection line up straight?
Another clever concept! Nice design!
Lovely vector art! Although the girls lack depth or weight or shadow against the grass.
Nice simple style! But perhaps too simple or flat. And 1200px is too small, lol.
Ah, another nice neon design! Again, the background is too flat, lol.
Wow. Lovely use of black, white and color! Striking!
Awww, while not in the style of the original anime, an impressive monochromatic design!
Finally, here’s a “notable” derivative based on the monochromatic design above, lol.
Whoa! That was a pretty wet-and-wild ride along memory stream! Although some of you might be asking yourself, “Why is he spending so much time celebrating a 3-star anime?” Yeah, that’s true, you might have a point. Nonetheless, it was still a fun ride through “modern lolification”, haha. Besides, I did the same thing with “Chaos;Head (2008)”  when I gave it 3 of 5 stars too, lol.
Part 2 of 3 > Smallville, Krypton & The Daily Planet
Smallville – Season 8 (2008). Splash! Smash! From the world of Japanese high-school girls, we crash into the rippling planet of American live-action superheroes! On 03 July, I completed the 8th season of “Smallville”, with 22 episodes. Wow. While I didn’t watch the 1st season when the show first aired in 2001, ever since I was exposed to it in 2003 or so, I’ve been a solid fan and have seen every episode of every season, lol. Consistently, 4 to 5 stars each season! So what about this latest 8th season? I’d have to give it a less-than-bullet-proof but heroic 4 of 5 stars! Probably due to the departure of Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum). Oddly, or perhaps, not so oddly, the most emotional episodes featured Lana’s brief return as Clark Kent’s (Tom Welling’s) long-time ex-girlfriend. Spectacular. To celebrate, here are a stack of high-resolution images and promo shots from Season 8 and earlier.
Ahhh, the signature opening title of the show!
Extra! Extra! The brilliant cast of Season 8! Feel free to enlarge the high-res shot!
The gorgeous Lois Lane (Erica Durance) and the superhuman Clark Kent (Tom Welling).
Once again, the mild-mannered Clark Kent (Tom Welling).
The breath-taking Lois Lane (Erica Durance).
The tireless Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore).
The fiesty Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack).
The carefree Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley).
The enigmatic Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman).
Lastly, the fierce Davis Bloome (Samuel Witwer).
Another shot of the cast of Season 8.
Now here are a handful of promo images from (I believe) Season 6. Once more, the superhuman Clark Kent (Tom Welling) and the gorgeous Lois Lane (Erica Durance).
The sultry Lois Lane (Erica Durance).
Clark Kent (Tom Welling), Lois Lane (Erica Durance) and Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley).
The striking Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and the devious Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum).
The mesmerizing Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk).
The luminous Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk).
That’s all for “Smallville – Season 8” (2008), my Tenacious Toyboxers! I can’t wait for “Season 9”, haha. Just like “Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2” (2008) two weeks ago, it’s nice to watch some live-action sci-fi to take a refreshing break from the endless string of high-school anime, lol. Most refreshing.
Part 3 of 3 > Lisa, Moving Out & Materialistic Destruction
Destruction! Obstruction! While nobody should have to apologize for postponed blog posts or delayed blog comments, let me just say that this past week was an exercise in professional pressure! In other words, getting all of my technical documentation ready for the major software release on Tuesday, 07 July, meant having it completed by Thursday, 02 July (since Friday, 03 July was the observed holiday for Saturday, 04 July, or Independence Day in the U.S.). So the holiday weekend of 04-05 July was a welcome break. So to speak. Why? Because my roommate (and ex-sis-in-law) Lisa picked this particular weekend to start packing all of her crap~~ oops, I mean, belongings~~ from my entire house. Yup, in preparation for moving in with her newest boyfriend, lol. Yup, after 18 months, she’s moving out! So to capture and commemorate this blessed event, here are (I believe) 49 shots of Lisa’s weekend packing, lol.
Here’s Lisa at her makeshift workstation.
A wider perspective with her old wedding dress in the foreground.
A taller perspective with her old wedding dress in the foreground.
Heyyy, Guiness, old buddy!
Yup, Guiness the Menace in a state of disarray, lol.
Don’t ask me how, but she’s wearing her underwear inside-out!
Hmm, I’m not sure if she’s checking Facebook or printing out packing labels.
Ah, just another day in the life of xJAYMANx, lol.
Guiness’s new soccer-ball toy is awesome!
But not as awesome as my plaid shorts!
Guiness the Menace in a state of confusion, lol.
Guiness, you shall fail.
Guiness in a state of epic failure, lol.
Ahh, aren’t you glad you don’t have to suffer this destructive scene in brilliant color? Enlarged?
Yup, sepia is genius. Genius, I say!
Haha, Lisa just can’t help the spotlight. Even if it’s in a junkyard heap.
Junkyard Heap, Pose #2.
Junkyard Heap, Pose #3.
Junkyard Heap, Pose #4.
The amusement of watching someone else pack, haha.
LOL, Guiness the Menace in a state of boredom.
Lisa in a state of confusion?
LOL, gotta love Guiness’s bandana neckerchief!
Guiness in a state of rest and relaxation, lol.
Hey, what’s going on?
Ahh, another example of the monochromatic brilliance of sepia?
Monochromatic Brilliance, Pose #2.
Monochromatic Brilliance, Pose #3.
Lisa begins to widen her path of materialistic destruction, lol.
Cool. So to speak. One of my favorite compositions of the night. Love the lighting! Enlarge it!
The last shot of Saturday night, 04 July. Although technically, she finally gave up at 1am, lol.
Argh. The first shot of Sunday morning, 05 July. The junkyard heap is still there.
A repeated shot with brighter background lighting.
Whew. Materialistic Destruction, Scene #1.
Materialistic Destruction, Scene #2.
Materialistic Destruction, Scene #3. Reverse angle.
Materialistic Destruction, Scene #4. Reverse angle. Love the sepia!
Lisa finally begins to dismember the stand-alone fabric closet, lol.
Ah, the stand-alone closet. A bitter reminder of her last boyfriend?
Dismembering the closet like dismembering her last boyfriend, lol.
Will the dismemberment ever end?
Gahhh, too many parts and pieces!
As long as you don’t stab yourself by accident, Lisa, lol.
Endless Dismemberment, Pose #7.
Endless Dismemberment, Pose #8.
Are we there yet?
Heyyy, Guiness! Don’t slobber all over Lisa’s doll! Awww.
Awww, Lisa forgives you.
Finally, my newest glass-desk setup. Just added the new lower-tier keyboard glass and higher-tier Figma glass yesterday. So shiny!
Whew, that was exhausting. The clutter. The noise. The Guiness, lol. And I didn’t even do any packing or moving myself. Argh, only 2 days done, probably 5-7 episodes to go! Help! Oh well. If you’re curious or interested, here are some previous photoshoots of my desk area back in my Blog 178 (December 2008) and Blog 169 (October 2008). Sepia not included.
Well, my Ticklish Toyboxers! Another week has come and gone! Another mega-cast, another mega-splash! I hope you didn’t get too wet with the brand-new tidal-blast of keionic lolitas, kryptonite rivals and nomadic roommates, haha. I hope you didn’t get too drenched with the downpour of 100-plus pics. In any case, let’s thank the rainbow-colored lightning, the ground-pounding thunder, as well as the gleaming guest-starring girls who graced my mega-cast! Thank you, Yui-chan, Mio-chan, Ritsu-chan, Tsumugi-chan, Azusa-chan, Ui-chan, Nodoka-chan, Sawako-chan, Kaoru-chan, Lois Lane, Chloe Sullivan, Tess Mercer, Lana Lang, and Lisa! Are we there yet?
Till next broadcast. Peace. Out.
Got yukata? Got taiyaki? Happy Belated Tanabata (07 July), everyone!