Another busy week…

So another week has gone by without me posting anything here other than my pre-entered, twice-weekly quotes. So let me go back for a very quick recap now that it’s Friday–sheesh

Starting with last Friday, I had a wonderful Japanese Tea Ceremony lesson in Westhills. This is something that I have wanted to do for a very long time because it fascinates me. Sadly, after giving it some thought and in light of upcoming expenses and events, I won’t be able to give it the commitment necessary so I’m putting it off until 2012.

Last Saturday I spent the day in Anaheim at the So Cal Smackdown wargames convention where I ran two of the strangest Boxer Rebellion/Siege of Peking games I’ve ever seen. It was a lot of fun/work and each side won a game. Through the miracle of eBay Second-Chance Offers, I was able to sell my PS3 to the next highest bidder (the winner flaked) who actually lived in Anaheim and came to pick it up at the convention site in person. On the way home I had a lovely dinner at The North Woods Inn (yummy!). The rest of the holiday weekend I spent recovering from the convention (I’d practically lost my voice), working around the house, Sunday dinner at my sister’s as usual and then Monday doing Audio recording work.

I did receive and watch a new anime Blu-ray disc for a series that I thought was incredible: Night Raid 1931. Set in Shanghai and Manchuria of the 30s, it was a fascinating look at the early Showa period and Japan’s expansion into China ending with the creation of the Manchukuo puppet state. The animation–particularly the backgrounds and settings–was spectacular, the story and characters were all great. This is another of those anime that is so rich in content and “jumping-off points” for further study that it has quickly become one of my favorites (just like Mirage of Blaze did for similar reasons). I can always tell a show connected with me when as soon as I finish it I want to go back and immediately watch it over again! If you’re a fan of historically-based series, then this would be a no-brainer for you to pickup, and it’s gorgeous on Blu-ray with an excellent English dub. This is another review that I really hope to get to very soon; in the meantime, click these links to see the ANN Encyclopedia entry, the entry on Wikipedia and a good review on ANN.

So now I’ve got to get ready for a big meeting today at work, then I’m leaving early for my first cortisone injection in my knee. Hopefully that and some physical therapy will make me feel better and be able to limp along (literally and figuratively) until the end of the year when I hope to have saved up enough money for my surgery.

Catching up from Last Week

Hello again!

I had quite a lot going on last week, so fell off the blogging wagon, so to speak. I’m starting Monday off fresh by recapping a few of the things I did and some updates on what’s going on.

First off was my trip to the Orthopedic surgeon following my MRI results. The bottom line is that the ACL tear is apparently too insignificant to worry about right now and might mend itself. The meniscus tear, however, is real and the only true way to fix it is with surgery. However, while I save up for those costs and will hopefully schedule it for the end of this year, the doctor suggested I could try cortisone injections and/or physical therapy to alleviate the pain and strengthen the surrounding muscles in the meantime. I’ll probably be starting that very soon.

Weight loss for last week was just over 2 pounds–yahoo! I’m slowly moving in the right direction.

Last week was the final chance to watch the classic anime Nobody’s Boy Remi on Anime News Networks’ streaming service; their license expired Saturday.

A true classic that deserves to be seen...

What an incredibly moving show. It took a lot out of me as I spent the week marathon-viewing all 51 episodes, and I’m glad I had my box of tissues handy–it was an emotional roller-coaster. Based on the novel Sans Famille (or Nobody’s Boy in English) by Hector Malot, it is probably the ultimate in heart-wrenching tales of a poor boy’s trials in life until he ultimately sees all his trouble and sacrifice rewarded in the end. I honestly think that I cried at some point during every single one of those 51 episodes from joy or sadness–or both. Unfortunately, at the moment you can’t legally find it to watch–a true shame, I think. (There was one hopeful blog post from Justin Sevakis on ANN that as they move their streaming to Hulu, he will “strongly suggest” that license owner TMS put it up there for people to continue to enjoy. Fingers crossed…)

In 2007 ImaginAsian entertainment released the series on print-on-demand DVDs and I had been purchasing them. But I screwed up and missed discs 5, 6 and 8, though fortunately have the others and the series case. ImaginAsian and their novel Print-on-demand releasing are now defunct and even secondhand copies seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth. If anyone reading this knows where I can find either the three discs I’m missing or a complete set, PLEASE let me know. I’m definitely going to have to write up a review someday.

So there you go–all caught up. I’ll try to sit down and put some intelligent stuff up here again during the week. I’ve got several reviews in the works, just gotta get around to finishing them…

Summer Wars Goodies

I love anime and manga, but in general I’m not really a collector of all the other “Character Goods” and ephemera that go along with the stories. I do have a few figures, art books, pencil boards and so forth, but it never really caught on with me–it mostly seemed like a lot of extra clutter just taking up space and costing me money that was better spent on purchasing the actual shows.

However, every once in a while something catches my eye that I really want. This year, it was stuff from the incredible movie Summer Wars and specifically two items: a limited edition Hanafuda card set from the show and the newly released figures of Ikezawa Kazuma and his OZ avatar King Kazma.

Continue reading

Anime: Katanagatari – 刀語

Last Saturday, I took the train to downtown LA and visited Anime Expo—something I haven’t done since the last time it was held in Long Beach. To tell the truth, I wasn’t feeling all that great and only ended up staying a couple of hours. It was a madhouse in the expo hall (I bought a one day, exhibits only pass) but I managed to get what I was most looking for: the limited edition set of Summer Wars Hanafuda cards from FUNimation.

But importantly, I discovered what has turned out to be a great new anime: Katanagatari – 刀語. With its truly unique style and fascinating story, I think it is destined to become one of my favorites.
Continue reading

A Sad Announcement…

Japanese voice actress Kawakami Tomoko-sama has passed away after a long illness at the all-too-young age of 41 (that’s younger than I am…). As with most voice actors, she had voiced dozens of anime and other roles over the years and her many characters are familiar to any true-blue otaku. I am particularly sad about her passing because she voiced the role of Hikaru Shindo in my all-time favorite anime, Hikaru no Go.

My thanks go to her for her life and work, and my prayers, sympathy and condolences to her family and friends.

Kawakami Tomoko-sama

Read more at Anime News Network.