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Dated 11 March 2001: Originally posted "March 11, 19101"

Good news for you losers without DVD players - "Princess Mononoke" is now available on VHS. Buy this movie now.

Dated 19 March 2006: Ginban Kaleidoscope

Sakurano Kazusa
Sakurano Kazusa

After seeing it mentioned in the Animeslice blog, I grew curious about Ginban Kaleidoscope. This show is the very model of the AYAKO DOCTRINE at work. Mamiko Noto, Chiwa Saito, and the voice of Hibiki from VanDread also contribute to Ginban Kaleidoscope, if you need additional reasons to watch it.

The show seems to be a shoujo sports anime, but is heavy on neither shoujo nor sports anime idioms or cliches. Kawasumi Ayako plays the lead character, Sakurano Kazusa, an aspiring figure skater trying to make the Winter Olympics. She becomes possessed by the ghost of Pete Pumps, a Canadian stunt pilot who died in a plane crash.

Pete and Kazusa
Pete and Kazusa

I'm no fan of figure skating, even though I thought the Tanya Harding v. Nancy Kerrigan drama of yore was great entertainment of the highest order. Despite my ambivalence to figure skating, I found Ginban Kaleidoscope pretty interesting, if more for the verbal gymnastics than anything else. Hearing Ayako's English outburst in the first episode sold me on the show, and her brief conversation with Mamiko Noto in English was icing on the cake. I should note that Mamiko speaks in Russian in Ginban Kaleidoscope, although she doesn't have nearly enough lines.

Thanks to the ever-welcome Ayako Kawasumi, I didn't miss Mamiko's presence much. Ginban Kaleidoscope is a surprisingly dialogue-heavy show, featuring lots of banter between Kazusa and Pete. I can't exactly claim this is Ayako's best work, but it is a good part in that it affords her the opportunity to do quite a bit of ranting, which I can't get enough of. Ayako Doctrine adherents can't afford to overlook Ginban Kaleidoscope. Seriously, it has Ayako bitching people out in English, Mamiko speaking Russian, and peculiar mix of background characters regularly speaking thickly-accented semi-Engrish and fluent English. What's not to love?

Sakurano Kazusa
Sakurano Kazusa

Ginban Kaleidoscope is a short 12-episode series with a heartful, realistic ending. Well, as realistic as you could hope for a show about an Olympic-level Japanese figure skater possessed by the ghost of a Canadian pilot. I didn't have any objections to the ending (significant in that the majority of anime series seem to falter with regard to their endings), and I found the series to be an enjoyable and engaging diversion from more heavy-handed, serious fare. For example, the "waitress" episode was cute (although I would have liked a "maid" episode as well as a nod to Ayako Kawasumi's automatic maiden sweetness in Mahoromatic), and seeing Kazusa grow to accept Pete's presence over the course of 12 episodes was satisfying. Perhaps as one final compliment—I would have liked more episodes; Ginban Kaleidoscope left me wanting more.

Dated 3 July 2006: Gunbuster

Gainax Gunbuster splash page
Gainax Gunbuster splash page.

From the Best-News-I've-Heard-All-Day Department: Bandai has given full power to its inertial canceler and finally revealed that it holds the North American license to Gainax's fully awesome six-episode series, Top wo Nerae, better known by its English title: Gunbuster.

Gunbuster

I'm glad someone rescued this title from the Manga Entertainment tar pits, and nigh on ecstatic that it was Bandai. I can't think of any other company to which I'd rather entrust the Top wo Nerae license.

Dated 14 February 2007: Everything I know about women I learned from Bing Crosby

She may be weary.

George and Miyuki

Young girls they do get weary

Dominic and Anemone

Wearing that same old shabby dress.

Asuka

And when she gets weary

Dominic and Anemone

Try a little tenderness.

Miyuki and George

It's not just sentimental.

Asuka and Kaji

She has her grief and care.

Minmay and Hikaru

And a word that's soft and gentle

George and Miyuki

Makes it easier to bear.

Dated 3 April 2007: To Heart and Full Moon wo Sagashite DVDs

To Heart and FMoS DVDs
To Heart and Full Moon wo Sagashite DVDs.

Welcome to the End Times. I hold in my hands Full Moon wo Sagashite and To Heart DVDs. There was a time when I was certain these two shows would never be licensed and released in the United States. Now I don't know what to think.

I have to conclude that any show is now fair game. Who knows? I believe even Kokoro Toshokan, Pitari Tenshi, and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou may be licensed one day soon. Hope springs eternal.

Look, there's even a Region One Di Gi Charat DVD. The ORIGINAL Di Gi Charat with the fucked up licensing issues!

And To Heart had terribly degraded masters. Right Stuf faithfully restored what they could get. (Also, M-LOCK DVD case!) It's a lot of work for a show with no plot where essentially nothing happens. (But damn if it ain't good.)

I'm serious. Don't be at all surprised to see R1 Maria-sama ga Miteru DVDs one day. I should take a preemptive screen shot of Yumi making one of her surprised faces in anticipation of such an announcement, to tell you the truth.

Oh, and for any potential readers with enough swing to convince Bandai, Geneon, or FUNimation to pick up new properties, add Futakoi Alternative and the Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha series in the queue, please.

Dated 9 August 2007: THE AYAKO DOCTRINE

Kawasumi Ayako
Kawasumi Ayako.

Origins of the Ayako Doctrine: Circa 2002, with J.C. Staff riding its recent successes of Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar and the Azumanga Daioh anime, members of the Something Awful anime forum developed the J.C. Staff Clause (i.e., an anime produced by J.C. Staff should be watched), and invoked it when speculating about the quality of unreleased shows.

Kazusa
Ginban Kaleidoscope.

As an aside, "J.C. Staff Clause" itself likely benefited from its name's similarity to the "J.C. Crew," a band of Internet miscreants with ties to Something Awful's forums. But I digress.

Yuki
Princess Nine.

Later (likely 2003) a member (probably ricequeen) of the channel #raspberryheaven or its offshoots applied the J.C. Staff Clause reasoning (an anime by J.C. Staff will be good) to his fervent devotion to the seiyuu Kawasumi Ayako, bringing the "Ayako Clause" to the #raspberryheaven vernacular (and effectively adding the clause itself to the Raspberry Heaven common law).

Miu
Piano.

In 2004, a participant in #marimite, Evirus (yes, that's right), unilaterally determined that the principles defined by the existing variants of the Ayako Clause, as practiced, constituted dogma: THE AYAKO DOCTRINE.

Chikane
Kannazuki no Miko.

The Ayako Doctrine simply dictates the following axiom:

Any anime featuring Kawasumi Ayako should be watched.

Note that the Ayako Doctrine does not claim every anime featuring Ayako Kawasumi will be good, nor does it dictate that these anime must be watched to completion. The Ayako Doctrine merely compels the viewer's consideration, reasoning that her presence can only be positive. Ergo, ceteris paribus, Ayako anime should be prioritized over other shows.

Fuu
Samurai Champloo.

So ordered.

Dated 2 September 2007: What we need now is more Azumanga Daioh

Sakaki, Kagura, Osaka, and Tomo
This is not a Danbooru breast-comparison chart.

I'm re-watching Azumanga Daioh again. This time I'm leaving my ADV DVDs on the shelf, and just watching the Triad fansubs—partially because of ADV's "MISS SAKAKI" faggotry, but also because I find it entirely too inconvenient at the moment to swap DVDs and cycle through pointless menus, etc.

Tomo, Yomi, and Chiyo
Tomo, Yomi, and Chiyo.

E/N Warning: I originally watched Azumanga Daioh during an especially demanding time. I didn't really have time for, well, anything...but I sacrificed sleep to watch episodes of Azumanga Daioh because the show always made me laugh my ass off.

Sayaka
Sayaka from Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo.

As an aside, those of you who really enjoy the music in Azumanga Daioh are encouraged to give another J.C. Staff series a try: Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo. It's a vastly underrated series, which suffers because it didn't capture the attention of a better-known fansubbing group, and because its initial episodes are a little overt with the fan service levels. Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo is no Azumanga Daioh to be sure, but it is amusing enough, and the background music is very similar.

Osaka, Chiyo, and Sakaki
Osaka, Chiyo, and Sakaki.

Actually, I ended up marathoning Azumanga Daioh before I finished writing this entry. My original review still stands. I don't think I even have much to add, except perhaps this:

In light of this year's fervor over Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, it is important to remember the tremendous fanbase devoted to Azumanga Daioh during its prime. That Bandai enjoyed great success with its The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya launch compared to ADV's Azumanga Daioh failure is at least partially attributable to the degree to which ADV fucked it up.

Haruhi
Haruhi.

Certainly the timing of the sales and the expansion in the market itself over the years contributed to the differences in the two North American releases, but it should be obvious to fans of both shows that ADV's stumbles marketing Azumanga Daioh coupled with the MISS SAKAKI-type curiosities seriously cost ADV a tremendous opportunity. I'm not going to break down the differences point by point, but a large one to consider is Bandai's (at least tacit) willingness to embrace (and market directly to) fans of the show who had already seen it via downloading fansubs or streaming YouTube—a sharp contrast to ADV's doctrines.

Yukari and Nyamo
Yukari and Nyamo.

Think of it as the triumph of Web 2.0 mumbo jumbo versus the old and busted obstinate way of doing things. ADV, like everyone else, knows fansub-watchers buy DVDs. Think of it this way: Every series offered with a "collector's box" edition of the set's first DVD is obviously geared towards people who have already watched and enjoyed the show. Who else would buy the collector's box edition of a show they had never seen? Wouldn't it make more sense to offer the collector's box with the last DVD? And yet, although ADV will grudgingly acknowledge the inspired-by-fansubs market exists, it won't (or at least didn't) embrace it.

Tsuruya
Tsuruya.

Osaka
Osaka is actually a genius. I swear.

For neophyte anime fans who are only still reading this because I mentioned The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, you should also watch Azumanga Daioh because Tsuruya's seiyuu, the megas-talented Matsuoka Yuki, also voiced (the vastly different) Osaka.

Dated 21 September 2007: Needs more HD Macross

Hikaru
Hikaru Ichijyo.

I am geeking myself up for the new Macross by watching Macross Flashback 2012, like, every day. (Listening to it, really.) If you haven't seen Flashback 2012, it's basically a half-hour AMV featuring Minmay songs and video clips from Cho Jiku Yosai and Do You Remember Love? (Mostly from the latter, it seems.)

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