Wednesday, November 30, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Revolutionary Girl Utena

Revolutionary Girl Utena

Official Sites: English
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video [Free]: YouTube

If you have paid attention to HD's Twitter feed on the side or read my post earlier in the year, you'll know that I am a very big admirer of the classic 1997 TV anime Revolutionary Girl Utena. Nozomi Ent./Right Stuf is, too, so they have been releasing the series across three superb box sets over the course of this year, remastered and featuring much of the same extras from the Japanese release. So with the release of the third and final box on December 6 (which, like its JP counterpart, includes the theatrical film remake!), Nozomi is commemorating it--and drumming up additional interest--by streaming the first twelve episodes of the series (comprising the first box set, "The Student Council Saga") on their YouTube channel.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 6

<--To Fate/Zero, Ep. 5 | To Fate/Zero, Ep. 7

Fate/Zero, Ep. 6 - "Night of Stratagems"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

After back-to-back episodes of superlative animation, Ep. 6 is, understandably, less-than-impressive-looking in Fate/Zero's weakest visual outing, thus far. However, do not mistaken that critique as an indictment on the episode as a whole, which, in spite of a return to its more talky ways, was still a good one that managed to flesh out a few more of its characters. The episode even starts right off the bat with it when we are treated to Irisviel channeling her inner Initial D by drift racing on a spiraling mountain road (complete with CG car), and nearly giving Saber a couple of heart attacks along the way (I'm sure her situation last episode was far more safe). It's a pretty jarring way to introduce an episode following all of the serious, dire action in the previous two, but it was funny in its unexpectedness and humor.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

:boxing: ...It'll Do (Definitely), Part 4:: Pacquiao vs. Marquez III

A causal, or perhaps even a non-fan, of boxing could tell you that the biggest match to be made in the sport is between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. It is plastered all over the place whenever either name is mentioned, as they are both considered at the top of their craft, and there are fewer mountains for either to climb. However, reality is reality, and that fight has seemed more "pipe dream" than "dream match" with every passing month and every bout both have that is not with one another. Yet, in spite of this, there is still one contest to be held that comes as close to that mythical summit as any other: a third fight between Manny Pacquiao and the one person who one can legitimately claim to have his number--archnemesis Juan Manuel Marquez.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

:boxing: Joe Frazier (1944-2011)

I never grew up during the 1970s, so I perhaps cannot fully comprehend or appreciate what it was like to live during that great era of boxing, long considered its "Golden Age". It and the sport's defining moment came with "The Fight of the Century", the first meeting between the then-undefeated likes of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Having never lived during that period in time, I cannot measure its impact racially, socially, politically, or just in comparison to the greatest sports stories of the day, firsthand. As with many things in history, there are only three things you can rely on to get as accurate a picture of the past as possible: that which is recorded, that which is written, and that which is experienced first-hand (and, subsequently, recalled).

This past Monday, the man known as "Smokin'" Joe Frazier passed away, a man revered by his peers, scribes, and fans and acknowledged by all and history as one boxing's all-time best. Even though I lack an intimate connection to the figure, much like a child would when looking up to their favorite player or an adult in admiration of one thought to be better then they, there are still accounts from all of those individuals, the poetic prose from the fingertips of writers, and, most importantly, archival footage to see with my own eyes and form my own experience with.

It was through those avenues that I was able to observe the impressive prowess Frazier possessed, the life-and-death struggles he contested in the ring and the struggles of a different kind outside it, with the damaging ridicule Ali flung his way (even when Frazier helped him out financially), having to live in the shadows of his and others, and with his financial struggles post-career. Without a doubt, he was a great, tough, tenacious fighter that, in spite of his present recognition (particularly due to the aforementioned trilogy), deserved more than what he has gotten, and, by many accounts, was also a good human being. There is some comfort in knowing that he and Ali had reportedly made up recently, and at least in death, he was warmly embraced and commemorated by so many for the impact he had in life and in culture. I may not have been around during the height of his career, but it is certainly not hard to see just how good he truly was.

Rest in peace, Joe Frazier…

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 5

<--To Fate/Zero, Ep. 4 | To Fate/Zero, Ep. 6-->

Fate/Zero, Ep. 5 - "Scream of a Mad Beast"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

Picking right up from Ep. 4's endpoint, Rider/King Iskander makes his big impressive entrance onto the battlefield, with a reluctant Waver in tow. He tries to get Saber/Arthuria and Lancer/Diarmuid to acquiesce their roles in the Holy Grail War and serve his cause instead, but neither of the two are amused by his proposal, particularly Saber, being a king herself and wanting to liberate her Britain, not become a vassal for another ruler. Waver's yelping at the situation leads to Lancer's master (Kayneth El-Mellchoi Archibald, aka his teacher) to finally show his face to chide him for his theft of his original artifact and make some big-chested threats of death and doom towards his way. Rider, though, is quick to retort over his former Master-designate's own cowardice with his hiding in the shadows to avoid being attacked, and expresses pride in having a Master that is not afraid to be by his side on the battlefield, which sends Kayneth seething with indignation.