Friday, 16 May 2014

bryn who?

More mini anime reviews today.

I'm doing my best to catch up with the ones I'd not watched from this season, but there's quite a few!

Brynhildr in the Darkness

There's a particular type of show I have no easy terminology to summarise.  A good example of it is Freezing and it sort of involves physically torturing or causing excess pain to characters.  A bit like torture porn, but not actually with torture.  In the case of freezing this was also wrapped up in fan-service, and Brynhilder has a smattering of this too, but it's more like this is a cross between a fairly generic instant girlfriend / harem show and that over-the-top cruelty show.

It's not a blending that really works.  The normal anime pap stuff is unremarkable and the nasty pain stuff is excessive, so it feels like two separate shows have been cut together.  It also doesn't help that the show's humour is of the silly & fan-service varieties.

You end up with this weird thing of flipping between a generic high-school anime with stupid silly gags (or tits gags in later episodes) to moments of nasty pain and suffering.  One moment the hero will be cracking gags about how the heroine can't do times tables and the next she'll be leaking blood from every orifice and clearly having a very bad time of it.

I dunno - it all just feels quite poorly put together.

No Game No Life

No Game No Life is a bit of a weird show.

I would say it's definitely gown on me compared to my impression from the first episode.  In the first episode the hero came across as quite an arsehole, to be frank, and I was very doubtful as to whether I would continue.

My issue was he was quite annoying, tbh - he was very arrogant, and for no real reason.  He was also a NEET, along with his sister, and if I have a continuing criticism it's that it does pander quite a lot to anime tropes.  There are some big chunks of fan-service, for example, which I don't mind specifically, but it is the sort of thing that mires the show in the predictable.

However, it's also very good at undermining this stuff.  The failing in the first episode is that it didn't really use that trick at all, so the guy was just an arsehole.  It wasn't until the second episode that it poked fun at him.

However, even though I've enjoyed it more, I still have some issues.  The whole thing seems a bit pointless - I don't really know why they're doing what they're doing.  Also things can be quite inconsistent - one moment they're giving a big speech to hundreds of people, the next they're being all agoraphobic about going outside and there being "too many people".  I also find the colour palette quite jarring - it's like having an acid trip in a candy factory - though I can see what they were trying to achieve.

Baby Steps

This is actually a sports anime, though you wouldn't be able to tell from the title.  I've found in the past I often enjoy sports anime more than the sports themselves, generally because they often treat the sports in an odd way.

In this case, the basic idea seems to be that the main character is able to improve through the use of analysis - he sort of works things out and can then implement various strategies or techniques once he's worked them out.

Now that makes the anime quite interesting, but it means it veers off into a bizarre world where the decades of practice that real tennis players need in order to reach professional standards can essentially be circumvented by someone who can remember what shots a player tends to use most often.  Yeah, it's a bit odd.

But a particular redeeming feature is the main character, who's actually a bit different from the usual high-school main character type and you do end up rooting for.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

that's a bit more like it

I'd lost 4 pounds at this week's weigh in.

I therefore now weigh 20 stone 10 pounds, which is good.  If I can keep on the right track I should at least be safe in terms of the new clothes I've ordered for Canada.

I've got all the clothes I've ordered so far and have only had one failure in terms of fitting, which are some boxer shorts.  I will admit I'm a bit finicky when it comes to the fit of boxers, as I prefer them to be loose (that's the reason I switched from Y-fronts, after all).  However, the terminology used to describe boxers often doesn't help with understanding the fit.

So these I ordered turned out to be tailored for a tighter fit, but even bearing that in mind they were too tight and I would have had to send them back anyway.

I've not ordered all I need, but I wanted to try some stuff on before ordering more.  Sizes can get a bit tricky when you're in the super-large category, as what one company means by 4XL doesn't necessarily tie up with what another company means, as the boxers show.

Anyway, I wasn't entirely surprised at the loss - the last couple of weekends I think the numbers were a bit inflated by circumstance (retaining fluids from drinking and some sluggish-ness in my digestion.  This isn't to say I hadn't put on weight, but I think perhaps I hadn't put on quite as much as the numbers suggested.

That's not entirely unusual - everyone's weight fluctuates naturally, though for normal size people the fluctuations probably wouldn't show up on a regular scales.

I've scaled my expectations down and am now basically hoping I can get below 20 stone 7 pounds before the holiday.  Any more is a bonus.

I should note that I've done something to my foot that is causing me some problems.  I've done a classic bit of self-diagnosis and all the symptoms line up with something called Plantar Fasciitis (  This basically means I've damaged the big mass of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot (it acts like a sort of cushion/spring).

Of course the only real treatment is to rest... which is hardly an option right now and will be impossible in Canada :/.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014


Well, it was Eurovision this last weekend.

I kinda knew it was this weekend, but also kinda forgot about it.  I dunno - it's difficult to explain.

Anyway, the point is that this year it was actually quite good, in terms of both song content and the presentation.  The Danes won it last year and they'd basically built the stage in an old dock in Copenhagen.  And it was actually quite decent - the last few years there's been a bit of a trend for one-upmanship, particularly as it's gone to a few of the new Eastern European Nations.

However, the show here was fancy without being overblown - I mean, it was big scale, but the scale was pretty much in the audience: the stage itself was a reasonable size and a fairly basic space.  They'd make it swanky with some clever screen and various bits and pieces.

I also thought the hosting was pretty good.  The Danes had clearly embraced the silliness of the show over the years, but not gone so far as to take the piss in a nasty way.  Indeed, I thought the level of humour overall from the hosts and the pre-filmed pieces was about right.  There were a few bum notes, obviously, but overall it worked - I particularly liked the "13" song.

Graham Norton seemed less impressed, but then I guess these things are subjective.  He poo-poo'd several songs I quite liked and seemed more impressed with songs I thought were a bit naff.

And speaking of songs, the standard this year was really high.  It was a genuine song contest for once, with quite a few songs that would have been worthy winners.

The British entry was reasonable - it was a relatively interesting song structurally (possibly too much so for Eurovision) and was well performed.  It picked up a smattering of votes, but was obviously almost totally ignored by the Eastern Block voting.  But then that's hardly surprising, given the political issues.

There was actually quite a bit of boo'ing for the Russians, which was a bit unfair on the girls who sung.  And the Russian one wasn't a bad song.

There were some duffers of course - the French entry was bobbins, for example.  Poland's entry was too close to being the "sexploitation" it was clearly trying to parody - if you look it up online there's an English version and you'll see what I mean, and seeing it, it was a bit surprising it wasn't performed in English as without that it just came across as a "votes for boobies" song on the night.  And they were nice boobies, I will happily admit, but the fact it was ironic was rather lost.

The winner was a bit of a mixed bag for me.  I get that Eurovision has an appeal for what might be regarded as minority groups, and the winner this year was a man in drag... with a beard.  It's therefore not unreasonable to suggest that it picked up votes purely based on a sort of "positive discrimination".

However, I think that would only really work as a point (and it wouldn't have won) if it hadn't genuinely been quite good as well.  How can I put it?  I think it would have been up there as a real contender if it hadn't been for the man in a skirt thing, but I don't think it would necessarily have been the runaway winner it was without that.

Monday, 12 May 2014

spanish gp

I almost didn't watch the Spanish Grand Prix.

Not because I didn't want to, but my PVR unfortunately had a funny turn when I started watching it on delay and I had to turn the box off and on.  This obviously killed the recording, but because it was during the build-up stuff I started recording anew and did get to see the race proper.

My PVR has been playing up for a little while, tbh.  I have been expecting it, as the hard drive is getting quite full and it's gotten a bit flaky when I've had that before.  However, the weird thing is that I've actually started clearing some of the older stuff, so there's now more spare space than I've had in a long time, yet the problems have only really just occurred.

I've started clearing things down due to Canada - I need at least 50% of the hard drive free to make sure I can record everything, and it's been about 90% full for a while now.  I've mostly watched recent stuff, but have delved back for a few wildlife documentaries that were on ages ago: Africa and Wild Arabia, both of which are excellent, obviously.  I'm going to do my best, but I've a feeling I may sacrifice a few things.

I'll also set my BT box up as a back-up, although that's proven to be quite flaky in the past too and failed to record stuff.

The grand prix itself was okay.  It was relatively quiet for long stretches of the race, and they seemed to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time, as just about every overtake was shown on replay.

The end of the race was a lot more exciting, as Rosberg was a bit quicker than Hamilton and was chasing him down.  If there had been a few more laps he may have overtaken him, but in the end it finished just in time for Hamilton to take the win.

The Mercedes is clearly way better than everyone else.  Red Bull and (to a lesser degree) Ferrari have pulled some ground back as they seem to now be on a similar level or better than the other cars with Mercedes engines, but the Mercedes team clearly has aerodynamic advantage as well.

So at the moment it's a bit like a two-formula championship, with Mercedes on their own, and then everyone else.  But it's good that Rosberg and Hamilton are able to race (both in terms of being allowed to and ability-wise) as it means it stays interesting.  One of the big problems when you get a dominant team is that either one of the drivers is way better or the team make a driver number one, so the races can get quite dull.

I mean, I'm sure if the others suddenly catch up Mercedes will start issuing orders for them to stay in position to maximise points, but at the moment it's working well.