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Jul. 2nd, 2015 08:46 am
[personal profile] jtniehof
April: Moon Shot, Black Star, Bright Dawn, PySide GUI Application Development, American Gods, Anansi Boys, Usagi Drop manga, Yurikuma Arashi, Kirameki Project, ETOTAMA, PUNCH LINE, Wish Upon the Pleiades, Kiminozo: Next Season, Gunslinger Stratos, Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, Plastic Memories, Re-Kan, Archer Season 4 and 5, Red 2

Moon Shot (Shepard and Slayton) (reread): The writing's awkward, heavy on Right Stuff musings on heroism. But the random detailed anecdotes carry the book: pranks played on each other and the like. Unfortunately I'm told it's not particularly accurate, perhaps from recall decades after the fact.

Black Star, Bright Dawn (Scott O'Dell) (reread): A favorite from my childhood that suffered from the twin weaknesses of not aging well and discomfort from cultural appropriation. The first person narrative voice is simplistic, almost pidgin, and I'm not sure which weakness that represents. This is a very, very simple book. But it's also a dog story, and an arctic story, with respect for both and reasonable craft: red meat for me as a kid, and I'm sure others will enjoy on that basis.

PySide GUI Application Development (Venkateshwaran Loganathan): Pretty well useless, essentially a list of classes, a few members, and their arguments. The examples are rote rather than illustrative: there's little sense of how a bigger application really hangs together. Qt design philosophy is mentioned (signals/slots interactions) but not explained. The more interesting and complex widgets are only described as views on a database: there may be some really cool MVC design in there, but it sure doesn't come out in this book. Examples are non-compliant with PEP 8 and PEP 20.

American Gods (Neil Gaiman) (reread): A little less disappointed this time around, although it's still four hundred plus pages of setup followed by two hundred pages of payoff. A lot of running around apparently aimlessly, with our POV character inactive (although ameliorated by Wednesday, turning this into a bit of a Watson-Holmes.) Honestly it feels like most of the front two-thirds exists as scaffolding to hold the "Somewhere in America" and "Coming to America" portraits. It's a remarkable thing in retrospect and gets the punch in at the end, but I think I am done and do not need to revisit.

Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman) (reread): I liked more than American Gods, and I liked it a lot more this time around than on the first read. It's a smaller fraction of a smaller book before it really gets going, and it's a pretty simple tale after the (attempted, at least) heaviness of American Gods. If you just want a straight character-driven adventure, this'll do.

Usagi Drop 1-10: I really enjoyed the anime, and the manga, while not quite as gosh-darn sweet, grabbed me nicely, even past the end of the anime story. It's really quite late in the game (end of volume 8, and 10 is side stories/flashbacks) that the poorly-kept secret twist comes up. From there it's a quick retcon (hinted at slightly earlier, but still feels like a serious retcon) and straight into ending with a thud. It's like Unita decided "yep, that's it, deal with it" and didn't even try to sell the change, or even show it (rather than telling). It by no means torpedoes the whole series, but it does rather color the whole thing (as evidenced by the sole subject of this writeup.)

Yurikuma Arashi: If you liked Utena in particular, and highly figurative mindscrews in general, this is worth a watch. It took a few episodes to figure out how to watch it: the plot's not straightforward or literal (largely from the fragmented way its told), but it's not entirely abstract, nor ignorable. Ultimately I think this show plays on the emotional level more than anything, wearing its heart on its sleeve, and effectively so. This is probably going to be a contentious one for years. Bears eat people. It's what they do.

Kirameki Project: Starts out pretty terrible, improves substantially after the first episode. There were shades of Dai-Guard in here, and I also appreciated getting the story from the perspective of all sides (without wasting time in retelling.) Good for a few laughs if you can spare the time and tolerate the fanservice, but not a standout.

ETOTAMA: I'm always a sucker for trying mythology shows, in any form (in this case just the loose zodiac connection), but this lost me as soon as it jumped into the Pok&eactue;mon fighting game in the back half of the first episode (despite the fantastic CG work there.)

PUNCH LINE: Although the premise sounded terrible, noitaminA shows always get a look, and a look was more than enough. There were some interesting bits that got swamped in panty shots. I suspect this show will be like Magical Girlfriend X: a possibly excellent show sunk for me by a squicky premise I can't get over. Down in one.

Wish Upon the Pleiades: Bland Gainax show (I haven't liked a Gainax show since Kare Kano....), out.

Kiminozo: Next Season: Oddly enough, for taking four OVA episodes to switch the ending around, two were used for flashback. Hard to tell whether those were meant to be canon for both paths or differences that pushed things onto the other path. No reason not to watch this if one likes the TV; contrariwise, despite the obvious budget, no reason to slog through the TV just to get here.

Gunslinger Stratos: Two episodes, eh. I think it fell victim again to "why should I care".

Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon: Two episodes, kinda close to keeping but felt like it was more interested in sitting in the same place. Definite Spice and Wolf similarities, with the tsundere goddess. Gave it two more episodes, and it just feels like "We have this generic fantasy setting. No, we aren't going to do anything with it."

Plastic Memories: Episode and a half. Basically wanted to see what was up with Isla and then move on from there, but it seemed apparent they were going to go for developing the relationship first and then take the whole season to build to the reveal. It just seemed that finding out something about the character was necessary to get engaged. Went out to three eps: It's just cliché. She's the robot girl. He's the guy. She's going to be tragic. He's going to fall for her. It doesn't really matter who they are individually.

Re-Kan!: Episode and a half, just didn't hang together as anything particularly interesting. Clearly a yonkoma series and the individual gags (such as they were) didn't flow into each other.

Archer Season 4, 5: I wasn't as down on Archer Vice as some -- it was a different sort of show, but pretty dang funny, and coming back to "norm" for S5 didn't really make it better/funnier. Although it's getting a bit same-y, and I wish they could find some freshness, it's not really repeating and I'm still enjoying every minute.

Red 2: I thought this was great fun and pretty much the same sort of ride as the original. It's maybe a little more slapstick, and the innocent bodycount a bit disturbing, but I don't get the more negative reaction. Just...watch for the hats.

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