Mawaru Penguin Drum: I need to pay more attention to plot details

Tee-hee: those things look like boobies!

I’ve watched episodes 07 and 08 and now I’m more confused than ever. Part of the problem is because I’m used to watching simple-minded school comedy shows and overwrought shoujo bullshit that demand little attention to be paid. This show is a big transition from those genres for me. I’ve actually watched one or two episodes twice now, but I still keep forgetting which characters are which and how they’re related. This really demonstrates the scanty limits of my attention span because there are neither very many characters thus far nor are the relationships particularly complex.

See? I can't even remember the name of this one, despite the fact that she's obviously a pretty important character

That said, the fact that I’m too feeble-minded to remember even the most prominent elements of the plot doesn’t stop me from looking forward to every episode. I mean, what the hell are these red ping pong ball things that the light-haired character is shooting at people? Is she like, turning them into zombies or something?

Zombies would actually be pretty cool. The last show with zombies that I watched was High School of the Dead, and that was less than completely satisfying. I just watched a show on the History Channel about Haitian zombies in which some self-styled “scientists” concluded that zombies are not only real, but they’re created by a very simple process of first feeding a normal person some tetrodotoxin that priests extract from a local type of fugu fish. If done properly, the person then becomes completely paralyzed, so much so that even western doctors can mistake the patient for a corpse. You then bury the person and, later, when the victim recovers, he or she will rise from the dead and be a zombie. Of course, the fact that the amount of tetrodotoxin that would kill a human, according to Wikipedia is a mere 8 micrograms, it seems rather unlikely that there will be any zombie survivors of this process knocking at my door demanding my scrumptious brains any time soon. But you can never be too careful, so I’ll still be sure to cover all my belongings, self, and home with zombie repellent.

The segments about Ringo make me hungry because she's always reminding me of the "Happy Family" dish with shrimp, chicken and beef from the Chinese restaurant here.

I liked all the new revelations recently, such as how Ringo is adopting for herself and fulfilling Momoka’s fate in her stead. The way in which these, by all counts, extremely dramatic, even sombre moments are recalled in flashback with a high degree of absurdity and even some inexplicable humour are really are out there, like the scene about remembering Momoka on Ringo’s birthday in which the mother is a kappa and the father is some kind of teddy bear. Then the house is suddenly underwater and the two get attacked by an eel that reminded me of the big scary eel in the Jolly Roger Bay stage in Super Mario 64 that I was scared of when I was younger.

This also goes to further explain her delusions about — or rather fascination with — Tabuki and “Project M”, which, in light of recent events, we’re lead to believe stands for “maternity”.

Ringo Oginome is really one of the more interesting characters in any anime in recent memory.

It was funny that what Ringo took for an invitation to a date actually had her end up going to watch the Curry Lady perform in her frilly Frenchy fairy tale story which Tabuki, of course, is profoundly moved by. Ringo’s imagination is as wild as ever. I like her imagining Curry Lady as a killer whale.

Stupid Curry Lady had to go and invite Ringo and Shouma to her frilly hoity-toity actor snob party. Poor Shouma gets ordered around by Ringo even at the party. What a cruel-hearted, malevolent, sadist of a whale she is, inviting Ringo to the party just to announce her stupid engagement in front of her. What are you trying to do, Curry Lady? Drive her to kidnap Tabuki? She’s liable to do it.

It does, by the way, look like I was correct about the Men in Black. They are up to something sneaky with those ping pong balls. Either that or the long hiatus has forced Don Draper to venture into the world of cartoons.

But the thing that really keeps me watching this show, besides the penguins, is the sheer weirdness of it all. There are very few shows in which miracle frogs are used to make love potion number 9 in a sauna.

gero gero

Then what’s up with that ending? Is Ringo no longer just your run-of-the-mill stalker but an actual rapist? That’s a pretty appealing thought, but it’s more in line with an eroge than a mainstream TV anime so I doubt things will play out like I started imagining them in my head…which is a bit unfortunate.

I love Hanasaku Iroha

Sixteen years old: still a bud...nonetheless the four main characters in this show have mastered the use of meaningful stares off into the distance. A girl's adolescence isn't easy da mon!

Good to be back home in New York. Our tap water really is the best. I got back on Monday actually. I didn’t realise Penguin Drum wasn’t airing today. Next episode airs on 08/18. Why they air anime so late at night is still a mystery to me. I shouldn’t complain, since it’s early afternoon here when it’s late night anime time there.

Moving right along though, Hanasaku Iroha is great. I take back everything I may have said about not caring for the premise. After seeing the first episode or two there were a couple of things that put me off, constituting big hurdles to enjoyment of the show, but once the show overcame them, its brilliance became clear to me. I couldn’t get past what I saw to be a half-hearted setup where Ohana ends up at Kissui Inn because of her irresponsible mother running away from her debts. That seemed unrealistic to me. The first episode confession event and Ohana’s subsequent minimal reluctance to leave Ko behind were also a hard pill to swallow. I also hated her grandmother so much that I didn’t think I could stomach watching more of the show. All of these roadblocks to enjoyment of the show were intentionally set up, almost as straw men, although I don’t like to use a term with such a negative connotation, just so that the show could proceed to obliterate them in its characteristc growing pains style and claim the mushy remnants of the viewer’s heart as its well-earned battle trophy.

You're mine now!

Nonetheless, I did continue watching it. It’s rare that characters are developed so subtly and skillfully that I can hate someone at first as much as I hated Okami-san and, by now, grow to love her just as much as I loved Yuina from the start.

Say what you will about Ano Hana — it was fantastic and made me weep some high value tears — but I may have to revise my previous assertion that it was the best of last season. Hanasaku Iroha has more episodes to work with and not only can afford to take a more subtle pace, but it benefits from it by allowing the intricate, analytical explorations of each character that are its great strength. All of the characters are so likeable and earnest, even Takako. Ohana though is, of course, impossible to hate, even more so as a little girl.

Her isshokenmei work ethic and spunkiness are, perhaps at times, overwhelming, but that’s all right, since not overdoing things is, itself, just one of the many lessons she is learning on her journey. That said, Ohana isn’t even my favourite character. She’s nice in a slightly typified take-on-all-comers genki na shoujo type of a way and there’s nothing wrong with that. To me though, she’s a lot less interesting than Minko and Yuina. Despite not getting most of her accents, it’s that quirk of hers and her ambivalence about her future that make Yuina the most likeable character for me, I think. I loved the episode in which the class had a filed trip to the ryokan in which her would-be-boyfriend Yosuke works and, in the end, she helps him clean the bath, proving herself to be capable of working only to later reveal to him that, though she doesn’t know precisely what she wants to do in the future, it should be something she enjoys, rather than working in the ryokan. Ah~ they’re growing up!

I really want her massage chair. It looks really nice. Too bad The Sharper Image went out of business. Whenever I used to go to South Street Seaport I would stop by The Sharper Image shop there and try out the massage chairs.


Minko, meanwhile, is probably the most interesting. If Tooru were the protagonist we’d call her a tsundere and character development would stop there. But that’s not the focus of the story, so her personality is allowed to be unraveled in a way that’s not constrained by the typical character archetypes of harem shows with male protagonists. She has a number of really nice facial expressions. Of course, the fact that she’s played by Chiaki Omigawa doens’t hurt either.

My only remaining complaint is that I still get Jiromaru and Enishi confused. One of them should have purple hair or something so the viewer can tell them apart.

Finally, Nako might be my least favourite character. This isn’t because there’s anything particularly disagreeable about her; it’s merely that I find her the least interesting. I still enjoyed the episode about her wanting to change her outward personality to more closely resemble her inner self that she displays at home, but I still think she’s somewhat more limited in the depth of development we’ve seen with her. She’s a pretty standard character type: the shy, nurturing (she cares for her siblings), large chested, introverted, poor with men, self-conscious, soft-spoken beauty. There’s nothing really wrong with hers being a conventional character type; it’s a staple precisely because it makes for a likable character with good potential for popularity. Saying that she’s the last on my list of characters isn’t really a bad thing since I love all four of them; it’s just that I think I’m least enthralled by her story. I think that, if not Ohana, either Yuina or Minko are captivating enough to be the protagonist, whereas with Nako, I don’t think she would be enough to keep me watching if she were the protagonist. She’s extremely likable as the supportive friend though.

Other than the simply excellent storytelling and character development in this show, something in particular that I think stands out are the dreamy sequences. For example, in episode 10, the scenes in which Ohana was sick in bed with fever and kept having all sorts of crazy delusions were far out. It reminded me a bit of El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer, my favourite episode of The Simpsons, except her visions actually made some sense, pertaining to work, Ko, and Jiromaru’s story.

The metaphor used in episode 18 of the sea and land was cute but very effective and unmistakably Nakoppoi, with the sea representing Nako’s home life and inner face, while the land represeents her outer face that she displays in society and at work. The sequences where she was a mermaid and all the other characters were friendly little sea creatures (even Mame-jii!) except for Okami-san who was somehow still smoking, despite the serious impediment of being underwater were quite fun, yet still meaningful.

Ohana’s imaginings are really interesting and dreamlike too, such as in episode 19 when, in preparation for the cultural festival, she pictures Ko in waitress garb.

There’s just the right amount of comedy in this show to prevent me from falling into despair, as I’m prone to do at the slightest provocation. Tomoe is a source of much of the lightheartedness that this show props itself up on, as are Jiromaru and his literary creations, but I think the funniest moments come from Takako.

Her silliness is enough to lighten the mood when it’s necessary, but never crosses into the territory of slapstick or anything that will completely distract the viewer from the heavier themes of a given episode.

I think you could call this show “heartful” and not sound like an idiot.

I really regret being quick to judge this show when it started airing. On the other hand, I’m glad I didn’t listen to myself back then and drop the show. I would have missed out on, though it sounds ridiculously clichéd to say this, a moving story of the adolescence of four young girls and their, uhm, trials and tribulations as they learn to live and love. Ah, well, I suppose that’s why I always dodge the question when people ask me why I like things; I spout nonsense like that which makes it sound like the work in question is trash. Be that as it may, it’s a show overflowing with love and warmth and valuable lessons about growing up and the valuable moments in life.

Bwahhh~ I feel myself growing alongside them!

It’s one of those shows that I really feel like I should buy on Blu Ray to appease that guy in my head shouting about my abysmal internal morality imbalance I’ve racked up over the years from watching fansubs. I doubt he’ll win though. I’d spring for R1 BDs at R1 prices, not R2 though unless I could get ‘em at R1 prices, which is unlikely. Or should I even use DVD region shorthand when talking about BDs? the price discrepancy still exists so I guess they’re still useful designations, despite USA and Japan both being region A.

I’ve done some speed tests using Optimum Online

I’m on vacation with my family today and the place where we’re staying has Optimum Online service. I’ve never used this service, but I remember there were rumours several years ago about shit service and crazy policies about P2P throttling.

These are the same people who have a TV commercial that claims they are the only ISP in United States to offer 100MB/s service. Yes, they actually explicitly write “100 MB/s” in the commercial. There is no ambiguity in those units; they denote megabytes per second, not megabits per second. This is a blatant lie. OOL does offer 100Mbps (read megabits per second) in some service areas, but not 100 MB/s. They’re just doing that because they think that most people will respond to the capital letters and the exclamation point in the commercial, rather than the actual measurement, which is incorrect. That and the fact that they assume (probably correctly) that even the people who do realise that the usage of the capital letters makes their commercial a lie either don’t care enough to hold it against Cablevision or are in a position where Cablevision is the only non-ADSL ISP available.

But because of the rumours about insane throttling on all service tiers to low speeds as well as the false advertisements, I’ve always had a mild dislike for Cablevision in general and OOL specifically. I also think it’s stupid that the Internet service is called “Optimum Online” while the television service is called “iO”. Time Warner has a separate name for their Internet service and call it “Road Runner”, but at least they’re consistent about it; they call all three of their services “Road Runner”. Verizon also calls all three of their FTTH services — TV, Internet, and phone — “FiOS”. I don’t think Verizon even has a catchy name for their ADSL service; I’m pretty sure it’s just “Verizon ADSL” or “Verizon High-speed Internet”.

My point is that having two names is acceptable, but having three separate names is asking too much of the consumer. Most people can’t even answer the question “who is your ISP?” so asking a person to remember three names for the same company as well as which specific service each name refers to will just cause confusion. Plus “iO” is a stupid name anyway. It’s almost as bad as “XFINITY”.

But I did some speed tests here and they’re consistently good. I was tempted to test some bittorrent downloads and I did for about 10 minutes but I soon started to feel guilty, seeing as it’s not my connection or anything. It was just a linux ISO though so there’s really nothing to feel bad about at all. It looks like these people have the 15Mbps/2Mbps plan. I was able to download at 1.4MB/s on the linux ISO but the speed soon dropped to about 200KB/s and remained stable. I’m sure that’s not throttling though; it’s just a bad configuration on my side, I think. I was curious to see how long the speeds would be sustained, but I really felt too self conscious running a torrent client on a stranger’s connection so I closed it.

On the other hand, I was able to download consistently from my FTP server at home at about 1.7MB/s, even while it was busy seeding ~1000 torrents. This is why FiOS is so great. While they don’t explicitly allow you to run any type of server from a residential connection, there’s nothing stopping me from running an FTP server. I ran it on port 2121 just to be safe, but on dslreports I read that they don’t block it even if you do run it on port 21. My IP address at home barely ever changes either. It’s a bit like the Earthlink connection I used to have, where running any sort of server was formally forbidden but, in practice, even port 80 was open and I could host a tiny website for years, without having to change the DNS information more than once or twice a year since the IP address always stayed the same.

Verizon don't seem to care that I use my full bandwidth 24/7. Who needs to pay for hosting when FiOS residential service is this fast?


My conclusion from today is that I wouldn’t mind terribly if I had to live somewhere in which Cablevision was the only ISP. The channel guide menu on the STB is a bit slow to respond, but I bet this is because it’s an old SD STB they have here. This is the first time I’ve ever used OOL or seen iO TV, so I wouldn’t know if the Scientific Atlanta 4200 is still being given out on new installs or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if newer boxes have a firmware update or something with a nicer-looking guide. This guide is faster to respond than the guide on the HD STBs from Time Warner Cable that I had, but slower to respond than the Verizon FiOS STBs I currently have. The selected line on the guide moves less than one second after you press the up or down arrow with this iO TV STB, whereas with the TWC boxes I had it was at least one second or even slightly more between the time the user would press a button and the time the selection bar on the screen would actually move.

I succeeded in making a two-desktop wallpaper in Debian

Those Tea Party jerks are just a bunch of IRL trolls. I can hate them 'til the cows come home, but I can't deny that successful troll is successful. I get enough amusement out of listening to the warm bodies on the TV express exaggerated concern over where the country is going and what it means for families like yours, like that irritating stooge Diane Sawyer. Incidentally, my two least favourite people on television were Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer, so all I need is for the latter to drop out too and then I won't have to worry about breaking my hand on my TV screen anymore. I really hope Michele Bachmann becomes President so that she can resign and get a reality TV show where she and a cast of LGBT Wiccans must compete for Red socialised health care while paying high taxes to fund regulatory agencies that extend common carrier laws to FTTH providers and reduce the terms for patents and copyright.

No, it’s not about taxes, it’s about my cake-themed wallpaper. KDE has support for setting a different image as wallpaper for each desktop for people with multiple monitors, like me. Gnome doesn’t. So you have to either use a tool like nitrogen to set separate images as wallpaper or make a composite wallpaper yourself. I tried nitrogen but it doesn’t work with Nautilus. You either have to run Nautilus with the –nodesktop feature turned on or use something other than Nautilus altogether. I don’t like either of those options. I did actually try using –nodesktop with OpenBox and nitrogen but even like this I still had problems. The desktop wallpaper would flicker like crazy. If I were prone to seizures I’m sure I’d be quite angry right now if I weren’t dead.

So I gave up on the seizure inducing nitrogen and decied I’d go ahead and hide all the Gnome panels, move the cursor to the corner of the screen so it wasn’t visible, and take a screenshot of the two images next to each other. I’m now using that as my wallpaper set via the Gnome Appearance menu. This is a very irritating way to manage wallpaper, but meh, it’s better than using an entirely different window manager just to get a purely cosmetic feature like wallpaper working the way I like it. It’s not ideal, but acceptable.