Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Small Step into the HD World

An early Christmas gift from my father arrived yesterday in the form of a Samsung Blu-ray drive for my PC. Since it came with PowerDVD 9, I was able to try out some HD movies on the system for the first time. TRON: Legacy is an exceptional visual experience, so I fired it up in the drive.

What a fantastic looking film it is in HD! While my monitor only goes up to 1680 x 1050 and is exactly between 720p and 1080p, it looked great. Just one problem. No way to do screen captures from PowerDVD and DRM prevents my usual utilities from working correctly. All I get is a black rectangle where the picture is.

Well, being the industrious and stubborn sort I looked for a way around this. While I eventually found one that didn’t cost money (for the moment), it is not the best solution because it involves backing the movie up as an MKV file. Some detail is lost on TRON: Legacy to my eye, but it seemed to do fine with Gammera: Attack of the Legion.

Click on the following for HD sized (1280 pixels wide):

Walt Disney Tron Logo

The Disney logo looks sharp here.

Rinnzler

Not as satisfied here, but scaling issues may be at work. Oh for a a 1080p monitor!

Gammera

The film looks grainy, but is miles better than I expected. HD is fun for examining the model buildings that are always destroyed in these films.

It is very silly that screen captures are not allowed. Do the studios really think we will sit and takes stills of every frame to recreate the movies?

I probably will upgrade the PowerDVD software but I am still looking for a better way to do screen captures. AnyDVD is what a lot of people use, but the price of 80 Euros is exorbitant! MakeMKV did an odd job with TRON and there are waves of block distortions going through every scene. Perhaps the DRM is the culprit.

So my first step into the HD world has been taken and I am liking it, despite the screen capturing issues.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Odds and Ends 11-28-2011

It is sale time across the USA and things are wrapping up with today being Cyber Monday. Sadly the one deal I was most looking forward to today was not as good as expected, so now joy for me. Especially since the back up deal I was eyeballing sold out by today. Instead I got a set of Ginsu knives at Newegg.

Wish I had the money to pony up for this refurbished Samsung 27” monitor. It is the single best deal I have found on Cyber Monday. Maybe somebody else will see it here and get themselves a nice deal.

I did score several Blu-ray deals from Amazon before Black Friday officially began, so I am not empty handed. 2001, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the 1990’s Gammera trilogy will be making their way here. It should be fun installing the Blu-ray drive when it arrives. While my monitor is only 1680 x 1050, it can handle the HDCP copy protection protocols and does better than 720p.

A friend of mine also gave me Fallout: New Vegas as a gift from a Steam sale, so that has been fun. Mad Max meets 50’s radioactive monster movies is how I would describe it. Taking out giant mutant ants is like being dropped into the movie Them, an old favorite of mine. You can even set them on fire like in the movie.

Watching the presidential primary for the GOP has been painful. Cain’s implosion isn’t as much from the false accusations but from the disastrous handling of nearly everything by his staff. He is badly damaged by this and it shows they are not remotely ready for taking on the well oiled Obama machine.

Meanwhile, delusional conservatives have convinced themselves that Newt Gingrich is a true conservative and electable. Both are false propositions and they need to deal with reality. I say that as a very conservative man. How they can rally around someone with the immense personal and political baggage that Newt has is beyond me.

“Anybody but Romney” is not sufficient to explain this madness. With Mitt you may not know what you are getting as far as worrying he’ll betray conservatives, but with Newt you are guaranteed that he will stab you in the back, front, sides, and then bite you on the ankles. Just because someone is good in debates does not mean you ignore his track record. We already have a raging narcissist in the White House and replacing him with another is not going to go well.

Yesterday was a lost day again. Being very ill I ended up sleeping through most of it. Having watched a bad movie for Turkey Day, I decided to start rewatching Stargate: Atlantis over from the beginning. Oddly enough it evoked a feeling of better times and that is somewhat discomfiting.

UPDATE on Herman Cain:

Put a fork in him, he is completely done. At this point it doesn’t matter whether or not he is guilty, there is only so much damage that can be taken. It is also a cautionary tale in regards to Gingrich. Once the media takes him seriously his multiple infidelities will get a lot of attention.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude

Being more grateful for things is something I am always working on and I find myself needing to more this Thanksgiving.  For some reason, ready reasons to be thankful are fleeing me at the moment.

One thing I need to do is stop comparing my life to that of others around me. It will come up short 99% of the time as far as achievements go, so letting go of that benchmark would help a great deal. But that is easier said than done, so it may be a few more years before that happens.

Perhaps I should write some things out and hope to actually feel them a little more tomorrow.

Some things to be grateful for, in random order:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Heat
  • Electricity
  • Indoor plumbing
  • The Atonement made by Jesus Christ
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Music
  • Art
  • Sunlight
  • Books
  • The Internet
  • Cats (depending on patience levels)
  • B Movies (Perfect for sick days)
  • Gunpowder
  • Kind words (even if they embarrass)

Well, I got farther than I thought I would, given the headache I’ve had most of the day. It is a start, at least.

I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving and remembers what the holiday commemorates. From articles in the papers, a lot of people are not feeling the spirit due to economic problems. The pilgrims would look at what most of us have and think us wealthy beyond belief. So please, find some things to give thanks for!

Monday, November 21, 2011

To the Future… AND BEYOND!!!

I have no idea why I typed that title, but there it is. Working on posts for the future is the topic, it beats me what the “beyond” is all about.

Zulu is up for my next movie review and is currently in the first draft stage. Being a beautiful film, I took far too many screen captures and culling them too too long. There will be two companion reviews of the soundtrack, one right away and another to come later. Any excuse to play John Barry composed music is a good excuse.

It looks like I will be getting an early Christmas present of a Blu-ray player for the PC, which means redoing the screen caps for TRON: Legacy and the making of lots of wallpaper for my desktop. With Zulu out in an affordable and apparently brilliant Blu-ray, I will have to get my hands on that sooner or later.

Captain America: The First Avenger will be reviewed in the near future in DVD and Blu-ray. That will be easier than usual, since I have the in-theater review to work off of.

I will be starting reviews of one my three favorite animes of all time, Area 88. Besides Studio Ghibli’s movies, this TV series helped convince me that the format can produce legitimately good material. It has a film noir feel about it without being visually noir, strangely enough. It certainly is grim material, being a story about mercenary pilots fighting and dying in the skies over a fictional Middle East country in the 1980’s.

Sorting all my DVD’s into alphabetical order has shaken up what I planned to review yet again. The desire to tread down less seen paths is strong and that means my more obscure titles will get some attention. But do I dare review The Lord of the Rings movies as well? If nothing else, they would be good exercise in shortening reviews which is something I need to work on.

I am still working up the courage to review the worst movie ever made. Being one of the few in the world to actually watch the entire thing, I dread seeing it again.

Health 11-21-2011

Well, all in all that was a lost week. This year has been hard enough that I found myself surprised to be taken down by intensification of my CFS symptoms rather than a complication on top. Ironically, that may be a sign of improvement.

On to the new week.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Health 11-17-2011

Yesterday I was sure today was going to be a good day, one where I would get things done and be productive. Reality, however, disagreed with me once today arrived. The crossword puzzle was a warning, taking sixteen minutes despite being painfully easy. But Audiosurf went well so it looked good. Ah well.

No major health issues to report, other than the fatigue was bad from the beginning and even typing this out is difficult due to spacing out.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Numerical Uncertainty

Or how you never know what is really going on around the Web.

For my personal amusement, I have had Google Analytics running on this blog site for some time now with only a brief lapse of a couple of days when I changed over to the newer template. Thanks to things like NoScript and other blockers of content, I can never be sure how accurate the visitor stats are, but it does give me a rough idea of who, what, and where.

Being a tiny fish in a vast blogosphere, From the Sidelines’ stats are nothing to brag about. Still, it is interesting to me what gets looked at since I do not flog the blog in dreams of gaining wealth and fame. This blog has been up for over five years now, something that surprised me when I went back through my posts a little while back.

One thing that fascinates me is how Google Analytics and Blogger’s stats do not quite line up. Let us take a look at the top posts past month, October 16 to November 15, for comparison. Blogger is first, then Google Analytics:

Bleach Season 1: The Substitute, Episodes 1-2
Jul 26, 2011   
149 106 Pageviews

CITIZEN KANE (1941)
Jun 22, 2011   
132 102 Pageviews

Howl’s Moving Castle
Nov 25, 2009
106 80 Pageviews

Gojira (Godzilla 1954)
Nov 25, 2009
80 26 Pageviews

Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003)
Dec 18, 2009, 2 comments
61 30 Pageviews

Battle of Britain (1969)
Jul 22, 2011
56 85 Pageviews

Bleach Season 1: The Substitute, Ep. 2-3
Jul 28, 2011
43 44 Pageviews

Smallville: Absolute Justice Review Part 1
Sep 13, 2010
40 39 Pageviews

Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidora (2001)
Dec 9, 2009
39 36 Pageviews

Only Yesterday (1991)
Dec 3, 2009, 2 comments
34 29 Pageviews

So there are some very large discrepancies between the statistics gathered. One pattern I think I am detecting is the blocking of Google scripts by people concerned about their privacy. All of this makes me wonder how in the world the advertising rates can be calculated for websites.

Note: Blogger doesn’t list the home page for some reason. Google Analytics does and says it was visited 87 times for third place by its stats. It also has a whopping average time of 5:18 spent on it. Yes, that is five minutes and eighteen seconds. In 2009, the average time spent on a web page was 56 seconds. Something is very screwy with that number, methinks!

Now for some fun if probably inaccurate stats for the past year (12 months) from Google Analytics:

2,304 Visits

1,816 Absolute Unique Visitors

3,927 Pageviews

1.70 Pages/Visit

67.45% Bounce Rate

00:01:05 Avg. Time on Site

77.82% % New Visits

Browsers used to visit:

1. Firefox 1,120 48.61%

2. Chrome 511 22.18%

3. Internet Explorer 389 16.88%

4. Safari 205 8.90%

5. Opera 41 1.78%

6. Android Browser 11 0.48%

7. Mozilla Compatible Agent 11 0.48%

8. Playstation 3 5 0.22%

9. IE with Chrome Frame 3 0.13%

10. Opera Mini 3 0.13%

Firefox is still on top after all these years, but Chrome is gaining. Internet Explorer is fading fast.

Visitors came from 78 countries and territories:

Visits

I looked at that and I suspect that is a fair representation of Internet penetration across the globe.

What does it all mean? Well, not a lot but one thing that I have confirmed is that pop culture dominates the Net. Also, most of my hits come from people doing image searches, something I rarely do these days. That intrigues me.

I am pleased to report that the Citizen Kane review is one of the most hit pages on the blog. Battle of Britain is slowly climbing up and thanks to the Philippine aviation buffs at timawa.net Thirteen Days got a lot of attention. Bleach becoming hit so often is quite a surprise, since I would have thought reviews of it are done to death and images from it are abundant on the Net.

The biggest surprise is how popular the Smallville: Absolute Justice review has been. There are a lot more Justice Society of America fans out there than I ever suspected. It is nice to see those 1940’s comic book characters still getting some love seventy years after being created.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Smart Procurement: USMC Buys British Harriers

I had seen rumors of this, but this is the first confirmation I’ve run into. This is a great deal and gives the Marines what they want and need rather than forcing more F/A-18 Hornets on them. Having forward based aircraft is important to close air support due to the benefits of having very fast turnaround.

Since the new used Harriers will be rebuilt with U.S. hardware, I have to wonder if they plan to use the radars from the retiring Hornets to make some of them AV-8B+ configurations in the future. It is probably being considered but we will have to wait and see on that.

This is a wise investment for the Corps and I am pleased to see the U.K.’s folly being salvaged in some way.

UPDATED:

It looks like the Harriers will only be used for spare parts according to this report. If correct, it is a sad end to some still very useful airframes. It is still a smart move by the Marines and protects their AV-8B’s from being taken out of service.

Computer Insecurity

It was true in past decades that you could rely on brand names to guarantee quality, but it was always touch and go in the personal computer world. It has gotten far worse and one product I used to use and highly recommend has gone very bad. Lavasoft’s AdAware used to be a front line weapon against malware. Now it is owned by people who made their money scamming people online. The most galling fact about this purchase is that they used to falsely sell AdAware!

It looks like Malwarebytes and Spybot: Search & Destroy are the go to programs now. I’m waiting for the release of the gold version of Spybot 2.0.  These days I do not rely on such programs as much, mainly due to using OpenDNS to filter addresses and Firefox with AdBlock Plus and NoScript to further keep bad links out. While I don’t surf “bad” sites, there has been a growing trend of hacking big websites and ads. So nobody is safe right out of the box.

Thanks to my precautions, I do not get much malware found on my system, if ever. It has been years since I saw anything other than the odd suspicious cookie.

Still, it is sad to see what happened to AdAware. If you do not stay up to date on what is going on, the possibility of being at the mercy of con artists, thieves, and other evil doers increases greatly.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fortune Telling?

I just arrived home from a gaming session of D&D and while we were goofing off and ignoring the DM, I pretended to auger a fortune from a bowl of left over Halloween candy.

“You will have a short and painful life,” I predicted to one of the players.

He replied, “Did you say a short and painful wife?!”

Best line of the evening, by far.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Health 11-12-2011

Helping out on the move cost me three weeks of reduced activity so far. The usual infections are back and I am hoping to beat them down by the beginning of next week, which is probably optimistic.

H2O2 therapy is back at two doses a day and the results are like flipping a switch. More alert, the bowels better behaved, and a little more energy. It looks like this level will have to be maintained for months to come. At least I am getting faster at drinking the stuff.

Finally got my store of contacts laid in and I have to say I love the bifocals. While pricey, they are worth it to be able to breath! I switched back to a smaller font size on my pocket PC’s eBook readers too, so less scrolling needed.

Squid Girl Episode 6, Season 1

What happens when you mix a Kamen Rider spoof, higher math, and a love quadrangle?  You get unadulterated silliness of course! Episode six goes exclusively for the laughs while portraying the battle between Squid Girl and everyday life.

Squid Girl Main Title[2]

What’s a Squid Doing in a Hero’s Show?

Squid Girl 06 Hero ShowSquid Girl 06 Noh Mask Rider

The madness begins with a spoof of children’s traveling shows that mixes Noh theater with Kamen Rider  to create the twisted Noh Mask Rider. One has to applaud the warped mind that came up with this and that mind belongs to Masahiro Anbe, the creator of the manga. Imagine combining Shakespeare with Sponge Bob Squarepants and you get an idea of how wrong this is.

Squid Girl 06 Laughing at the ShowSquid Girl 06 Backstage

I cannot blame Squid Girl for her reaction to the show, for I find the whole concept hilarious too. But hey, the kids like it and there is a place for everything I suppose. The appearance of the villain gets her attention, for he is Demon Squid and he is out to punish humanity for mistreating the oceans!

Now where have we heard that before?

Soon she is rooting for the villain and the cast of the show are afraid they will have a riot on their hands. The diminutive blond in particular shows an inappropriate coping mechanism as things spiral downward.

Squid Girl 06 Demon SquidSquid Girl 06 Noh Mask Rider Anya

A costume theft, adoration from the crowd, and radical deviations from the script ensue. You know it cannot end well…

Is Studying for the Fish?

Squid Girl 06 Eiko Freaks OutSquid Girl 06 Math Genius

Eiko may be the voice of reason, or at least normality, but when confronted with an implacable enemy she begins to crack. I speak of mathematics, of course. Noticing her outbursts while studying, Ika-chan can’t understand why the high schooler is having problems. To Eiko’s shock and dismay, it turns out she is a squidding genius!

Squid Girl 06 Eiko EruptsSquid Girl 06 Worship

Neither one of the girls handle this revelation well. Some very creative imagery reflects their inner emotions and thoughts, which are all a tad insane. While I can remember some frustration with homework those many moons ago, I don’t recall have a psychotic break over it. Nor did I have delusions of grandeur like Squid Girl, who thinks she has found her ticket to world domination.

Squid Girl 06 Genius Shows OffSquid Girl 06 Eiko Evil Smile

It is one thing to be a math genius, it is another thing entirely to use it in the real world as our feisty hybrid finds out at the beach. But what is Eiko scheming and why does she have that evil smile on her face?

Is This Gilly Love?

Squid Girl 06 Grateful NagisaSquid Girl 06 Tormenting Nagisa

In the final segment, Nagisa takes a starring turn after nearly drowning. Saved by Goro, her gratitude gets mistaken for something more by Eiko. Meanwhile, Squid Girl continues to torment the paranoid surfer girl since she is her “favorite prey.”

Squid Girl 06 Eiko Teases GoroSquid Girl 06 Goro Brainwashed

Eiko does her part to fan the flames of misunderstanding in the hopes of generating a soap opera at the beach. Actually, most of the misunderstanding is on her part as she reads just about everything wrong. This does not help Nagisa’s precarious state of mind one bit as she worries about the squid invasion and Goro.

Squid Girl 06 Love TriangleSquid Girl 06 Eiko's Imagination

Ika has her own worries about the situation brewing and soon a romantic farce breaks out. In the end, it looks like Nagisa’s prior observation about everyone being weird is turning out to be true. Will any of the relationships work out?

Thoughts

Squid Girl 06 End Title

This is a particularly good episode in the series and left me wanting more, which is aggravated by the delay of the second set of DVD’s until December. Cultural satire is the focus of the stories and they have a nice edge to them rather than being soft on their targets. Kid shows and soap operas are such universal fare throughout the world that the humor translates out very well.

The math story is also a winner, but mainly due to the imagery which is amongst the most creative shown to this point.

Bonus: Noh Mask Rider

Squid Girl 06 Noh Mask Rider Title

The first segment is a classic in the series and still has me amused as I write this.  Capping off the lunatic story is the opening title sequence for the Noh Mask Rider show complete with theme song.

Squid Girl 06 Noh Mask Rider OriginSquid Girl 06 Noh Mask Rider Rage

The overwrought lyrics are hilarious, especially the origin ones. Ridiculous amounts of emotional angst centered around the superhero character makes for a fantastic lampoon of the genre. I would love to see a Noh Mask Rider OVA one day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bleach Ep. 12: A Gentle Right Arm

While featuring the duel between Ishida and Ichigo, the real stars of this episode are Chad and Karin when a plague of Hollows attack Karakura Town.

Bleach1 Main TitleBleach 12 Title

After revealing himself to be a Quincy, an extinct race of supernaturally gifted humans, Uryu Ishida challenged Ichigo to a duel at the end of the previous episode. Insulting the carrot topped team worked like a charm and with his temper rising, he agreed. If there is one thing Kurosaki can be counted on to do, it has to be rushing headlong into things without thinking.

Bleach 12 Hollow BaitBleach 12 Tatsuki

Condescending and acid tongued like a proper villain should be, Ishida explains the rules of the duel. The one who kills the most Hollows in 24 hours is the winner and proves his superiority. Quickly he initiates the summoning of the monsters and makes some pointed remarks about Hollows being drawn to humans with spiritual abilities that set Ichigo off running. But not is all it seems, as Kurosaki has misunderstood what the Quincy was hinting at.

Determined to protect his sisters at any cost, the substitute Soul Reaper has failed to notice that his closest friends have all begun to spiritually awaken too. For instance, poor Tatsuki now sees ghosts the way Ichigo did in the beginning and it is annoying her to distraction. But the boy is clueless to all this going on around him.

Bleach 12 KarinBleach 12 Hollow

It is Karin that Ichigo is most worried about and sure enough she can sense something is wrong while playing soccer with a group of boys. Though it is more accurate to say she is intimidating them more than playing with them. It is clear she will be playing a big part in the episode, which is a welcome thing. Karin is one of the better characters in the series and isn’t seen nearly enough.

Bleach 12 IchigoBleach 12 Rukia

Her older brother slaughters Hollows on the way to her regular hangouts. One of the better Hollow battles to this point is a highlight of this episode, with Ichigo taking on three at once in a very fluid piece of choreography. While he is occupied slashing his way through Karakura Town, Rukia is still trying to get more information out of Urahara at his store. But her cellphone/Hollow detector won’t stop going off and its display is starting to look like an old video game…

Bleach 12 IshidaBleach 12 Chad

With methodical precision, Ishida destroys Hollow after Hollow for a count far beyond his rival’s. There is more to his story and it appears that will be revealed soon. While scores of monsters rain down upon the town, Chad finds himself seeing something in the sky. This idling in the street irritates his starving musician companions for a comic break in the action.

Bleach 12 Dark Rip in the SkyBleach 12 Invisible Threat

But that rift in the sky is all he can focus on and when a Hollow drops from the sky his priorities change. Just one little problem – he cannot fully see the monster! Showing discretion, the large teen leads the creature away from the crowded shopping district.

Bleach 12 Chad Protects KarinBleach 12 Team Effort

That would have been brilliant, except he leads the Hollow straight to the playground where Karin is! Surprisingly, the two work well as a team when he tries to protect her, but a mere human can’t expect to take on a Hollow. Even a human as impossibly tough as Chad.

Bleach 12 Chad and GrandfatherBleach 12 Chad's Arm

Another glimpse into the half-Mexican’s childhood shows how much he took his grandfather’s lessons to heart and in true shonen style it fuels his resolve to protect his friend’s little sister. A punch, a flash of light, and an explosion of energy follow as the gentle giant finds his own supernatural power. When the smoke clears, his right arm has undertaken a mysterious metamorphosis.

Bleach 12 Chad's PowerBleach 12 Uncool

The battle continues and Chad shows how cool he is, though not everyone is positive about him being cool. It is a highly amusing moment and shows why Karin gets some of the best lines in the series.

Bleach 12 Orihime

But the danger continues for Ichigo’s family and friends as the Hollows continue to rampage.

Thoughts

This episode is a deft blend of comedy and action while throwing in some character development for Chad, Karin, and Ishida. Finally all the images from the opening sequence are explained and one would guess that all the main characters have been introduced. That person would be in error.

Bleach 12 Opening

Things are only just beginning to get rolling, I am pleased to say.

A Gentle Right Arm is a good example of Bleach’s ability to blend action, drama, mystery, and comedy into a satisfying whole.

Odd and Ends

After having to come up with new titles to posts all the time, I decided to reuse this particular title for my more trivial posts. Recycling is good, or so they say.

Raccoons are nasty, vicious, and unsanitary critters despite the washing food thing they do. We have been afflicted with a rarity around here, a stealthy raccoon. Multiple times I have entered the bathroom to see its tail in the cat door as it silently escapes after raiding the cat food in the kitchen. Hopefully, the new smaller cat door will keep it out. It is also elusive once outside and hunting it down has been a futile quest.

What does the English custom of tea have to do with computer history? More than one would think as this article on LEO, the first business computer, shows. I would have thought a bank would have built the first one, but reality is wonderfully stranger than fiction.

After becoming dissatisfied with the quality of screen captures from VLC, I have switched back to WMP12 for the time being. I probably need to do more research into setting on VLC, but so far I have been unable to get it to use the ATI videocard’s built in deinterlacing that is superior to the software options. At least the Bleach screen captures will look better from now on.

With Call of Duty: MW3 and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim coming out in the same week I am very grateful not to be a hard core gamer. Game prices are ludicrously high at release these days and often you are paying so that the bugs will be fixed for the bargain hunters later on. Class me as one of the bargain hunters. Only Mass Effect 3 has me tempted that way and it isn’t due to March. More time to build up resistance, right?

Watched Will Penny thanks to Netflix last night. What a great movie. I think it is one of the few to really portray what it was like to be a cowboy and that ending was perfect. Anybody who thinks Chuck Heston couldn’t act needs to watch this film.

Is Episode 4 of Squid Girl season 2 the funniest of the entire show? It has to be of the second season so far. The first part focusing on learning English is hilarious, but the other two segments are top notch too.

For those who have given up on Bleach, now is the time to try it out again. The current arc is worth checking out and Episode 342 is where to begin. Even if you have read the current arc in the manga, a lot of fleshing out and expansion is being done, apparently with the creator’s involvement.

I am hoping to take advantage of the Metropolitan Opera’s live HD broadcasts to theaters in the near future. Unfortunately, I was not able to go see Siegfried from the Ring Cycle when it ran last week. Faust is the next one up that interests me, so we will see.

This archive has some stupendous photos from the heady days of high performance flight including shots of the A-12, YF-12, SR-71, XB-70, and X-15 among others. Man, the Valkyrie was a beautiful aircraft.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Squid Girl Episode 5, Season 1

Another identity crisis due to mistaken identity, the perils of inkvading high school, and a surprising final segment start off the second disc of set one. The usual laughs and insane situations are there, but don’t be surprised if you come away with a tear in your eye rather than a smile after watching this episode.

Squid Girl Main Title[2]

Are You from Planet Calamari?

Squid Girl 05 Eiko and CindySquid Girl 05 Alien Spotting

Proving that the previous episode’s mild fan service was no fluke, the first third starts off when an impossibly proportioned blond in a bikini enters the Lemon Beach House. We can tell she is a great beauty because all sorts of sparkles emanate from her hair as it waves in slow motion in the sea breeze. Well, that and the male customers completely lose their cool at the sight of her.

Immediately sizing her up as a foreigner, Eiko panics. Once again showing her sadistic streak, Chizuru forces the teen to wait on the newcomer. It soon turns out that Eiko’s command of the English language leaves much to be desired.

Luckily for her, the blond is fluent in Japanese and is here for a very specific reason. It seems there are rumors of an alien having been sighted at this location. Now who could that be?

Squid Girl 05 Cindy CampbellSquid Girl 05 Angry

And so Cindy Campbell, M.I.T. graduate and alien hunter extraordinaire joins the cast of loonies. Squid Girl is understandably rather upset with being called an alien and even more so with Cindy’s nearly Sanae like desire to haul her off to a laboratory. Not only does the American look good in swimwear, she is a true mad scientist – and mad scientists don’t take no for answer.

Squid Girl 05 BrainwashingSquid Girl 05 ET

Is our tentacled protagonist really a Squiddian invader from outer space?  Can Squid Girl find her way back to normalcy? And just what is normalcy for her anyway?

Want to Join a New School of Fish?

Squid Girl 05 Eiko in School UniformSquid Girl 05 Military Crawl

One of my favorite things about Squid Girl is how everyday events become  epic adventures for our blue tressed heroine. If you were wondering if her adoptive family had lives outside the beach, wonder no more. Summer vacation is over and Eiko proudly dresses in her school uniform. After some confusion over cosplay, Squid Girl demands to come along. Rebuffed, she sneaks into school anyway to do some reconnaissance like a proper inkvader.

Squid Girl 05 TypingSquid Girl 05 PA Microphone

Exploring all the empty rooms she can get into, it becomes clear to Ika that this is a military training facility. Why they even have a place to take care of the wounded. It is a perfect base to stage her takeover of the surface world from! Or at least that is how she sees things.

Squid Girl 05 HorrorfiedSquid Girl 05 Frightened Class

Violence, hostage taking, and PA announcements lead to a potentially deadly situation. Can this be peaceably resolved or will the inkvasion finally begin in earnest?

Who’d Like a Pet Squid?

Squid Girl 05 Eiko in the RainSquid Girl 05 Mini Squid Girl in a Jar

The final segment is a big change of pace and is original to the anime. I do not want to give too much away, but the nearly dialogue free story shows a deft touch while tugging at the audience’s heartstrings. It all begins with Eiko finding a mini Squid Girl in a jar on the beach one rainy day.

 Squid Girl 05 Tentacle TestSquid Girl 05 Mini Ika Hungry

What follows will be familiar to anyone who has raised a pet, especially if they have wooed a feral kitten.

Squid Girl 05 Snail RidingSquid Girl 05 Adult Eiko

This story shows what heights the animators are capable of rising to as what should be a simple overdose of cute becomes something deeply touching instead. It was so popular that two shorts were done starring Mini Squid Girl for the Blu-ray release in Japan along with figurines.

Thoughts

Squid Girl is a light hearted series that occasionally will surprise with sharp insights or genuinely sweet moments. It is the latter that you will remember from this episode. It is something of a sucker punch and all the more effective for it.

I have to praise the English language voice cast again. They have done a bang up job and I also have to give the dub writers a hand for how they rewrote the scene between Eiko and Cindy. It was cleverly handled.

This and Episode Six are the only episodes on disc 2 and for some reason the same extras from the first disc were repeated. I have hopes that the second set coming out later this month will have the Mini Ika Musame shorts on them as they are very cute.

Squid Girl 05 End Title