Basically some sightseeing around Queenstown and some between trip housekeeping. Oh and I saw Watchmen.
The first day was occupied with laundry and obtaining a replacement set of cleats for the sandals. I did ride the gondola though which spaetlese will be happy to know. I also saw Watchmen which I think is a good adaptation but I'm not sure if it makes a good (or even rewatchable) movie.
Today I did a halfday 4WD safari around Queenstown with a vague Lord of the Rings flavour. The guide pointed out several areas that had, with some CGI alterations, been used as locations for various scenes. It appears that most of the mountain ranges in the movies were various versions of the Remarkables. Most locations were adjusted to some extent or another - this river was shallow enough for horses to handle but that river had the right surroundings, etc, etc. Highly amusing to hear.
Back to Wanaka tomorrow and I am not riding back up the Crown Ranges again. 5Km past Arrowtown and I'm catching the elevator.
I've just been hiding underneath airconditioning doing as little as possible for the last week or so.
Part one of ARIA the NATURAL arrived complete with a cute Aria-shacho vinyl figurine and a very pretty colour booklet for the episodes. Oddly, the makers went with a 5th extras disc rather than spreading them out across the 4 discs for the 13 episodes as they'd done for ARIA the ANIMATION. Go figure.
DVI cables rock - switching from the VGA to the DVI seriously boosted the resolution on the separate monitor. Or, rather, boosted the visually comfortable resolution.
Now all I need to do is work out a way to connect the laptop to the amplifier. Unfortunately there are several generations of connectors between them. My Denon amp is still a nice piece of kit but I have had it for almost 10 years now and the connector panel on the back reflects that.
( Comments with some spoilers... )
On the way home I discovered that Canberra has been invaded by thousands of kids for the Pacific School Games. On the approach to Dickson I pulled up to a set of lights as some Japanese girls were crossing the road and I collected a "Sugoi!" from one of them when she saw the trike. :)
The eponymous October Project album is a thing of haunting beauty. Mary Fahl's glorious vocals bring these songs of love, loneliness and loss to life and sink these songs into your soul and mind.
Whilst there are no songs I would call bad it is inevitable that some are stonger than others. The standouts to me are Bury My Lovely, Ariel, A Lonely Voice, and Wall of Silence. These songs in particular almost demand to be played again.
To catch the moment I've been looking at history as it was and a history that never was.
First, I've been watching the superb Ken Burns documentary of The Civil War and will finish it sometime this week.
Then, tonight, I watched the final episode, "Tomorrow", of The West Wing*.
( A very little cut for a very tiny spoiler )
*I note with amusement that Wikipedia already has a section on "Parallels to the 2008 Presidential Election"
The Primas interview mentioned that the actresses all received complete sets of the manga when they were cast in the roles. It is clear from the discussion that this is not normal practice - apparently "buy your own" and/or photocopies seems to be more common.
It struck me that this may be why, to me at least, ARIA the ANIMATION has such a soul. The creators of the anime were seeking to capture the spirit of the manga and wanted the cast to share it before the recording started.
And it started me wondering: what other little things did the creative team do behind the scenes that I'll never see, never know about, but that nevertheless contributed to that sense of wonder that, in the words of one of the Primas, "heals the soul"?
However for a non-spoilery amusing coincidence check out the cover art here and leecetheartist 's userpics here.
And since it is talk like a pirate day: Arrrr!
The story is competent enough, the characters reasonably believable, and I enjoyed it whilst I was watching it. Having said that the almost-obsession in anime and manga with the definition and limits of humanity makes this a well travelled road, and one that is hard to truly impress with.
Worth a look but probably not a keeper.
*Apparently the term for this is "the uncanny valley" although I note that the theory is subject to a considerable degree of criticism.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is the best of the three Reel Anime releases I've seen thus far.
A reasonably thought-provoking story of time travel on a personal scale that in many ways recalls Groundhog Day, with engaging characters and a gentle romance.
As with The Vision of Escaflowne, the heart of this movie is about personal responsibility and maturity. As such it is well grounded in the characters and this provides the strength of the movie. Recommended.
EDIT: Added link to a spoilery wikipedia page. Turns out to be something of a franchise/sequel with the implication that one of the supporting characters in this film is the main character from the original.
The standard of the individual shorts is generally high, and I think I liked the first segment Have I got a story for you the best, but overall doesn't really work as a movie. There are recurring characters (other than Batman), with recurring voices, and a degree of connection but not enough to form an actual plot.
Worth seeing but not spectacular.
And although visually impressive in places it is a deeply flawed film.
When you consider that the original heart of the Appleseed manga was deeply human characters (even, or especially, Briareos) the CGI becomes part of the problem - the features are so close to human that the often less than human movements of the characters becomes alien and repelling. This is particularly a problem with Deunan Knute in several scenes, but several characters from the manga ended up losing their selves in the CGI. Two of the most convincing characters were (I think) inventions for this movie which isn't a particularly good sign.
Add in a story that frankly isn't all that clever or original and you end up with something that is no more than OK. I bought the original OAV recently, I suspect that on a rewatch I'll be rating it somewhat higher than that.
Granted that it may be unfair to dismiss this variant after only one game but it just didn't seem to work as well. I think that both of us definitely prefer the WWI variant and I'm not all that likely to buy more of the WWII version.