Kolokotronis's Blog

July 1st, 2011
A quick note for one of those this-is-too-long-for-Twitter moments.

'why would age be a factor in whether a show is "interesting" or not?'

I'm not sure why this is surprising, as almost every anime fan is interested only in specific periods, even though many fans don't notice this fact about themselves (they're usually the ones who're only interested in the current season).

For myself, I've observed that I am (with exceptions) uninterested in anime produced from about 1995 to maybe 2003ish. That's a gut reaction, not a carefully reasoned heuristic. Why I have this reaction, I don't know -- a trend in animation or writing which I dislike? vaguely Oedipal revolt against older anime fans who extoll the period's virtues? Beats me.

Obviously a perfectly detached critic who hands down unchallangeable judgements wouldn't have periods they aren't interested in. But I think I'm better off not pretending to be one of those, because I've never met one and I doubt they exist.
Posted by Kolokotronis | Jul 1, 2011 1:46 PM | 0 comments
June 26th, 2011
An acquaintance asked for help deciding whether or not to bother reading Cannon God Exaxxion.

1. Cannon God Exaxxion is mostly a pretty throwaway power trip story about giant guns and attractive women.

2. Exaxxion itself is an odd mecha design, but (I think) pretty cool.

3. Lots -- probably the majority -- of the action scenes are powersuit fights rather than mecha fights. Though the powersuit fights are fun, and the handful of mecha fights there are were satisfying.

4. This is not a story with many nice characters.

5. It has a Zambot 3 approach to collateral damage.

6. There is moderate fanservice and a few fairly explicit sex scenes. One of which involves a couple who are quite young. (Understandably, Dark Horse cut the sex out of their releases.)

7. The one element most interesting to mecha fans might be what feels like Exaxxion's take on Mazinger Z's Juzo Kabuto. It's revealed fairly early on that the hero's grandfather, someone with the financial and scientific clout to give his grandson a giant robot, is a depraved, power-mad mastermind.

8. This is by no means a must-read, but I did enjoy it.
Posted by Kolokotronis | Jun 26, 2011 12:07 PM | 0 comments
August 27th, 2009
Anime Relations: Muteki Choujin Zanbot 3
Halfway through Zambot 3. This is depressing even when it's being heartwarming. Rare to see this sustained a focus on refugee experiences. The animation's also a bit depressing, because the designs are nice and now and then you see something that might look good with a budget. The titular Zambot has what I imagine those who are hip and with-it would call some sweet moves, too, though its Ultimate Final Attack isn't one of them -- and it's hard to enjoy the robot-violence in any uncomplicated way with Killer the Butcher around.

Oh yeah, and Keiko's mother is a Spartan.
Posted by Kolokotronis | Aug 27, 2009 2:26 PM | 1 comments
August 26th, 2009
So I've been reading the epic (I do not use the word lightly) shoujo action-adventure series Basara lately. It's great fun, though (and I'll let you decide whether this is a value judgement or just a statement of the obvious) it's no Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

One thing I've noticed is the rapid oscillation in the number of people around the hero/ine -- one minute she's surrounded by her comitatus, the next she's travelling with one companion, or facing some kind of trial alone. This is partly necessitated by the plot, I suppose, in that she's gradually falling in love with her greatest enemy, and situations have to be contrived in which they can meet in private and without knowing each other's real identities.
Posted by Kolokotronis | Aug 26, 2009 11:03 AM | 0 comments
August 7th, 2009
So I've recently begun reading Ellul's Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes and, as with New Demons, often some of the finest bits are when he succinctly summarises something that's useful to the main thread of his argument, but not directly a part of it. (I'm not really good enough at reading '60s French intellectuals to unpick a lot of his main points, because their delivery method is so odd -- to me.)

One of these succinct little summaries describes the modern world's 'instinctive popular beliefs' (as distinguished from thought-out, concrete 'philosophical notions') which unite the proletariat and the bourgeois: 'that man's aim in life is happiness, that man is naturally good, that history develops in endless progress, and that everything is matter.'

Comparing our period to past ones, I suppose you could say that the medievals would reject all four of those and that the classical world was divided on the first, second and fourth, and would've rejected the third.

(Incidentally, by 'the modern world' Ellul meant both the Eastern and Western blocs. He remarks that the remainder of the world is headed this way. I'm not sure whether that progess has finished playing out yet.)
Posted by Kolokotronis | Aug 7, 2009 5:36 AM | 0 comments
July 30th, 2009
(As usual, this post won't have paragraphs if you read it in Google Reader. Blame MAL.)

As some of you may have gathered from a recent blog entry, I've been living in King's College, Cambridge for a month. It's been an interesting time. The university's a very nice place, though of course I have to add that it can afford to be nice because -- compared to other British universities, at least -- it's pretty rich. Being based in a specific, geographically limited college working environment with a relatively small number of other people does make a qualitative difference to life: the day is longer, because you spend less time travelling, and it's much easier to find interesting conversations at the bar. And of course the university's facilities, chief among them the (legal deposit) university library, are excellent.

While at King's I've spent a lot of time in the college Chapel, because its architecture and stained glass windows fall slap-bang into my period and literary interests. The stained glass is one late-medieval/early modern narrative set, with the exception of the west window, some odd restoration works and a light in the fourteenth window (and most of the glass in the side chapels). Because it took so long to put in, the art style of the glaziers changes as the sequence progresses -- and because the Reformation happened while the lights were being glazed, by the time you reach the second quarter of windows you find Mary being de-emphasised and little touches like the High Priest at Jesus's trial being a dead ringer for the Pope.

Thankfully (because we all need light relief) the Chapel can be pretty funny when it isn't being sublime. There's a hilariously ghastly organ screen, modelled on a triumphal arch, which Henry VIII had put in (it has 'HA', for Henry and Anne Boleyn, on it -- oops!). There's also the fact that it's far, far too big. I think Henry VI, who had the planning and initial building work done, imagined that King's College itself would be a bit bigger, and I also think he was a bit bonkers -- anyway, it rather dwarfs the rest of the College, and since it's supposedly a chapel rather than a full-blown church it doesn't have many architectural complications, like a cross-shaped floorplan; it's basically just a giant holy shed.

(I also attended Evensong at the chapel and climbed up one of its spiral staircases, through its roofspace and out onto the roof, but there's much less I can say about doing those things except that they were cool.)
Posted by Kolokotronis | Jul 30, 2009 4:27 PM | 0 comments
June 4th, 2009
Theory: the West, as we think of it here in the West, might best be considered a movement rather than a place. Not only does this remove the problem that nearly everywhere is west of somewhere, it also fits our (imagined -- I've no idea if this is historical, and I suspect it isn't) idea of the progress of civilisation's cockpit, from Mesopotamia to Asia Minor (and Troy, which is supposedly where our translatio imperii starts), to Greece and Rome, to the area that is now France, and the Holy Roman Empire, to the Netherlands, to Britain and then to North America. Weirdly, this still works if the cockpit moves to China in the next century or so.

(All of the above requires that we carefully forget a lot of things -- the Eastern Roman Empire and Russia, North Africa and the medieval Middle East, and so on. I'm not suggesting that this is good or accurate, just that it's amusing.)
Posted by Kolokotronis | Jun 4, 2009 6:12 AM | 4 comments
May 30th, 2009
I was passing near the Barbican yesterday, so I dropped in to St Giles Cripplegate, where Milton is buried. The memorials are relatively unostentatious: there's a bust on the wall, and a statue, but not a big or a prominent statue. London had lovely weather yesterday, so it was quite sunny inside the church, and an organist was practicing some kind of light, slightly jazzy tune. As a whole, it lacked the cold austerity you might associate with the man, and I thought that was nice.
Posted by Kolokotronis | May 30, 2009 1:57 AM | 1 comments
May 21st, 2009
The Lib Dems (Britain's third party) are keen on proportional representation. Cui bono? The Lib Dems, of course: at the moment, they don't have much of a hope of regularly affecting government policy, but PR would make coalition government much more likely.

Although they don't argue for it on those grounds: they argue that it's fairer. They have a point. The trouble is, I fear that coalition governments aren't as good at governing and, after thinking about it, I came to the surprising discovery that I think good governance is more important to me than fairness.
Posted by Kolokotronis | May 21, 2009 3:24 PM | 1 comments
May 15th, 2009
I went to the cinema to see this today. It was a good laugh, worth the price of admission. I may even acquire a DVD copy when it's cheap enough, as it feels like the Westminster-watcher's 'mates + beer' movie.

As satire, it was agreeably pessimistic. If anyone had redeemed themselves in some heartwarming climax it would've failed.
Posted by Kolokotronis | May 15, 2009 4:04 PM | 0 comments