Wednesday, December 28, 2005

R2 Orgy December

Click on pics to enlarge:
Chitose Hajime's "Kataritsugu koto," the end theme from Blood +; below, Ah! Megamisama TV series DVD 8 with bonus postcard
The recently opened Yodobashi Camera building in Akihabara. Instead of taking the "Akihabara Electric Town" exit to go to the usual electronics stores, maid cafes, etc., you need to take the Central Exit.
Blood the Last Vampire (I either gave away or didn't get back my R1 DVD that I lent to a friend, so I bought the R2 version) and Ah! Megamisama Special DVD; it contains the last 2 episodes and a special episode unaired on TV. The AMG DVD also came with a postcard holder for all 8 bonus postcards.
The front side of the postcard holder
The backside of the postcard holder

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Jigoku Shoujo Ep. 13

Episode title: 煉獄少女 (Rengoku Shoujo: Purgatory Girl)

This episode focused on Hajime's investigation of Ai, her operations more than 50 years ago, a view of the end of someone's contract and the person's feelings toward Ai, and Ai's indirect attempt to express herself (or maybe even a plea for help?). Detailed summary (spoilers) below the pics:

First the pics (click to enlarge):
Tsugumi has another vision; Ai enters a used book store... is she looking for porno?
Ai's helpers wonder what the hell (pun intended) Ai's doing
Hajime finally finds the novel; the illustration shows the Rengoku Shoujo along with the main characters
Beware... the Rengoku Shoujo beckons you to hell.... (this is not quite Ai though....)
An old photo of the author of the novel (on the left) and his best buddy (in the center)
Ah, there's the Ai we know
The author of the novel, Fukumoto
An empty newspaper ad... the contents can only be seen by those who bear great enmity
The moment you put your request letter in the mail box, the Jigoku Shoujo appears
Fukumoto's Jigoku Shoujo shrine... a room full of Ai artwork
Ai sheds tears for Fukumoto because his candle goes out...
Ai's mysterious smile.... what does it mean?

Summary: Tsugumi has a vision of Ai going into a used bookstore. She sees a scruffy looking middle aged book owner and his parrot, a bookstore full of dirty magazines... and Ai's fingers brush against a certain book on the shelf. Hajime snaps her out of it, she relays what she's seen, and Hajime goes to investigate, thinking there's another Jigoku Shoujo case on foot. Meanwhile, Ai's helpers talk amongst themselves, wondering what Ai's doing. Hone Onna says they'll find out when the time comes... and hints that they'll have to deal with Hajime one day.

Hajime eventually finds the bookstore and with the help of an incredibly intelligent parrot (who seems to be able to have a sensible conversation with him and even speak for him), he finds the novel that Ai's fingers touched. It's a book called "Rengoku Shoujo" (Purgatory Girl). The book owner says the author's name is probably a pen name and directs Hajime to the publisher of the book.

Hajime talks to the publisher, who gives him the real name of the author, Fukumoto. He also shows him a photo of Fukumoto and the real picture that Fukumoto drew (he was an artist) of Ai. The pic of the Rengoku Shoujo in the novel was drawn by someone else because they thought it would look scarier and thus better for sales of the novel. The picture of Ai looks exactly like the Ai that Hajime's seen. The publisher also tells him that there was some tragedy in Fukumoto's life, as his wife had committed suicide and his best friend disappeared shortly after.

Hajime finds Fukumoto, who eventually tells him about Ai. First, he mentions the methods of contacting Ai. Ironically, he was told by his best friend on how to do so. There was a newspaper ad that was completely blank. Only those who had a big grudge against someone could see the ad. Fukumoto at the time couldn't see anything of course. But one day, he discovered that his best friend raped his wife (maybe... he didn't say, I just saw the pic and interpreted it as such). His wife committed suicide shortly after and Fukumoto felt for the first time in his life like killing someone... and he could see the message on the blank ad. The moment he entered his letter into the post box, he felt a presence, and Ai appeared behind him. His vengence was carried out shortly after. He tells Hajime about the condition that he himself had to fall to hell after his natural death, and that he bore the mark of hell on his chest.

Fukumoto said he tried to forget about the mark and his eventual journey to hell by engrossing himself in work, then going on some kind of zen like training, then gambling his life away, then trying to help out humanity in small ways like picking up litter; but in the end, he couldn't forget that his fate was to suffer an eternity in hell.

He shows Hajime his room dedicated to Ai... the room is full of artwork he had drawn and painted of Ai. His last work is a mural on one of the walls and he makes the finishing touches on it. He says that thinking of meeting Ai once again was the only thing he was looking forward to. "What?" says Hajime, "But she messed up your life!" "No," answers Fukumoto, "the one that messed up my life was my best friend. I heard that he carried around a gun; should I had tried to take vengence myself, I would have joined my wife quite soon. No, I'm thankful to Ai." "Just what the hell is she, the Jigoku Shoujo?" "She's not human... or maybe she was once a person. There are records speaking of the Jigoku Shoujo in the Edo period... but it probably goes back to the Azuchi-Momoyama period." "Why did you decide to write about the Jigoku Shoujo?" asks Hajime. "It was probably her will, not mine," says Fukumoto, "She wanted to tell her story to someone." "Someone?" whispers Hajime, "who?" "That's right," says Fukumoto, looking at Hajime, "You."

Then Fukumoto feels some pain in his body... the mural of Ai begans to shed tears. Fukumoto looks at the painting and says, "Are you crying for me?" His candle goes out and he passes away. He finds himself lying on the ferry with Ai. "We finally meet again... you haven't changed a bit," says Fukumoto. "Do you think I'll meet my old friend?" he asks. Ai smiles for a second, then says, "Hell is a big place." End of story.

Why did she smile? It was creepy! Was it just poor animation/artwork or did it mean something sinister? Ki ni naru!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Blood + Episode 12

Episode title: 白い霧にさそわれた (Shiroi Kiri ni Sasowareta: Invited by the White Fog)

Warning: contains spoilers:

Saya and elite Red Shield combat members go after the mysterious cargo deep in the jungle. Meanwhile, it seems Solomon and Karl (the Phantom) go way back. They meet (along with Van Argeno) to inspect the cargo... which seems to be a person... perhaps a yokushuu or a vampire named Diva (or Riva... couldn't quite catch it) who is asleep. And Kai has a semi-successful rescue attempt to free Riku and Mui, who are in the same mansion area that the evil doers are at.

As Saya and co. get close to the compound, a bunch of red cloaked children start humming a freaky tune; they are responding to a song that Riku, Mui, Saya, Haji, Karl, and Solomon all can hear. The red-cloaked children go out and confront the Red Shield members; the kids turn into mini yokushuu and all hell breaks loose. Saya, unnerved by the song, the violence, and flashbacks to the past when she went on a rampage, starts to lose it. At one point, one of the Red Shield members tells her to fight because she's all they got (since their bullets only slow down the yokushuu and can't really kill them). However, she's really in the deep end, and the show ends with everyone in dire straits.

The next episode's preview shows Saya in combat mode (thankfully) and it looks like there's some bad-ass yokushuu to fight her.

Pics (click to enlarge):
Kai puts a little scare into Riku
This photo dates back to 1920... who's the woman in the photo, I wonder? Saya? Diva?
Inspecting the cargo
Chibi yokushuu!
Saya's out of it

Japonica Logos: Kanji; Answers

These are the answers for the questions on the "kanji origins" edition of "Japonica Logos."

Question 1: The kanji for dove/pigeon: 鳩「はと」is comprised of 九 and 鳥 because the "on" or Chinese reading of 九 (9) is "ku"... which basically reflects the sound the dove/pigeon makes. See the pic below:
Question 2: The kanji formed from the image of two people (the second one upside down) form the kanji 化 (か、け、化ける「ばける」), which means "to change," basically. The second person is upside down, like in death... it's kind of like life and death. I believe for Tarot cards as well, the major trump card "Death" represents change.
Question 3: The image turned into the kanji meaning "to mix": 交 (こう、まざる、まじる、etc.). The image is like how we put our hands to our knees, join the knees together, switch hands on the knees, bend the knees outward, join the knees again, switch hands on the knees again, etc.
Question 4: This one was tough, but let's look at the concept again: a man in ancient China of 3000 years ago is walking through an untraversed plain, holding a head in his hands: the head represents tax or tribute from an enemy village; he walks through an untravelled before plain... in other words, he's creating a path or road, and thus forms the kanji 道 (どう、みち: road).

Hope you had fun guessing!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Shakugan no Shana 12

Episode title: ゆりかごに花が咲いて (Yurikago ni Hana ga Saite: A Flower Blooms in Yurikago)

Basic stuff: Kazumi confronts Shana over their feelings for Yuuji and our nasty brother and sister tomogara lay a trap for Shana. See below for a more detailed summary (spoilers).

Pics (click to enlarge):
This week's new eyecatch
Shana is blown away by Kazumi's words
When it comes to matters of love, Kazumi's got the "eye of the tiger"
The way these two cling to each other creeps out Shana
He may look wimpy, but he carries a big sword
Shana's hurt, but not down
A bit tied up...
Going for a big flame attack
Is this it for Shana?

Summary: Kazumi awakes early, mired by her thoughts about Yuuji and Shana, and she decides to walk her dog. However, she sees Yuuji and Shana on top of a hill and realizes that they have some kind of bond. At school, she relays her fears and frustration to Hayato, who lays into Yuuji during lunch about playing with people's feelings. But Kazumi tells him to stop; that she didn't ask him to do this, and runs off. Later, Yuuji and Hayato talk, and Yuuji asks if Hayato likes Hayato. Kazumi is berating herself for being an idiot, then sees Shana. Shana asks why she ran off. Then Kazumi said it's unfair; she says, "you like Yuuji don't you? It's unfair that you don't have to say anything but can stay by his side always." She asks if Shana has ever told Yuuji that she likes him; well, she'll tell him that she likes him. "No," says Shana, but Kazumi says she'll tell him that she loves him. "But I too l-" starts Shana, but they get interrupted by the magical field created by the tomogara. Shana's furious that this "battle" was interrupted, and she goes off to fight the tomogara.

Meanwhile, Tanaka and Sato ask Marjorie if she's going to fight the tomogara, but she says that they're not after her, so she won't. But they keep bugging her and she begins to give in. Shana tells Yuuji to hide, because these tomogara are so strong, he could get offed in a second.

Shana faces off brother and sister tomogara pair Sorato and Tirieru. They tell him they're going to take her sword, Nietono no Shana. They start fighting, and Shana fights with great power, but the pair are extremely powerful. She manages to slash Sorato into smithereens, but he reforms in a few seconds. She realizes that the source of their power is elsewhere, grows her flame wings, and goes off in search for their power source. Meanwhile, Yuuji decides it's better that he try to do something instead of just hiding and runs toward Shana's direction. Shana flies high above the city and she sees a giant flower (like a sunflower) in the middle of the city. Shana sees this as their power source and sends a flame slash to destroy it... but the Tirieru laughs; apparently, Shana's fallen under a trap; a magical circle appears around her and Shana screams in pain. Later, she's shown suspended in air by the plant tentacles of Tirieru and the magical circle that trapped her. End of episode.

Comment: I like the dual battle; the love battle and the supernatural battle.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jigoku Shoujo Ep. 12

Episode Title: 零れたカケラ達 (Koboreta Kakeratachi: difficult to translate this one... Literal translation: Spilled people who talk to each other: Liberal translation: "Fallen Confidants")

Basically, there's a girl named Akane Sawai who has withdrawn into her room and won't go to school. Her young homeroom teacher, Yoshiki Fujisawa, comes to her house every day, banging on her door, pleading for her to come to school, but to no avail. Akane feels the only person that understands her is her email friend, who shares her feelings. She's sick of the persistency of Fujisawa, and with the agreement of her mail friend, enters his name into the Jigoku Shoujo site.

After Fujisawa is once more pressured by his superior, he goes to Akane's house and talks to her. He tries to convince her to come to school, saying that she may get to understand her feelings better if she interacts with others; and to this she blurts out that he can't understand her feelings, and asks if he isn't just doing this because if she doesn't go to school, he'll just look bad. It's touched off a nerve and he yells out, "If you know how I'm feeling, then don't ask! Don't think you're so special in your situation! But apologizes immediately after. After an awkward silence between the two, he says that she's right and that he was only thinking of himself. He gets ready to leave, but gently says that he'll come again, and she shouldn't worry her mom too much and should try to go to school. This moment of honesty seems to have touched Akane and she follows him out of the house and watches him leave.

After, she contacts her mail friend, saying her feelings are mixed and now doesn't know what to do. Her mail friend shares similar feelings, by coincidence. The next day, Fujisawa is surprised to see her come to class. They talk to each other during a break. Someone calls him and he goes out for a moment. She takes the opportunity to send a message to her email friend and see's his keitai (cell phone) buzz. She sends another message and it buzzes again. She picks up his phone and sees the messages are from her. He returns and asks what she's doing. She in turn asks if he knew all along that she was "Anemone," but he says he didn't. Eventually, they sort things out; this was his only way he could talk about his feelings; she says that his words saved her. She says she's sorry, but she'd entered his name into the Jigoku Shoujo site. He seems excited and asks if she's seen the Hell Girl. She says "yes," and he asks what she was like. She says that Ai looked kind of forlorn. He asks if she could send him to hell; that he was tired of it all and wanted some relief. She seems to understand the pain he was going through, and though she thinks about herself going to hell, decides to pull the string.

Fujisawa finds himself lying on the boat to hell (no torments). He asks Ai if he's going to hell this way. Ai says, "do you know what you did?" She makes him look at an image of Akane sad in the upper world. She says that by sending him to hell, she'll also fall to hell, wandering for all eternity. She hears Akane saying, "I'll see you later in hell, my teacher."

Later, Hajime (he had been to that school as a guest speaker and had met Fujisawa) learns that the teacher was reported missing. As he's sitting in the car with Tsugumi, he says, "what a shame... he seemed like such a fine, upstanding, serious teacher." But Tsugumi goes into a trance again, and says, "is it okay like this, that hell becomes heaven?" In Ai's garden, the grandma replies, "it's okay, if they regard it that way. You don't have to think any further than that."

Thoughts: this episode was concentrated greatly on the main character and the target; there was no appearance of Ai's helpers. Ai seems to be disturbed by feelings of injustice and sadness, but her grandma doesn't want her to think about things like that... just do her job like a robot. The artwork on this episode was pretty good too; the scenery of their secret spot and the facial expressions, especially the eyes, were well done, I thought.

Next week's episode look interesting... Tsugumi has a vision, but it's not of the present, it's about the past... something that happened 50 years ago.

Pics (click to enlarge):
Akane Sawai is withdrawn into her own world
This week's target: homeroom teacher Fujisawa visits Akane at home to try to convince her to come to school
Akane can only talk to her mail friend; Akane's handle is "anemone"
A secret spot treasured by both Akane and her mail friend
Akane discovers something shocking
Enma Ai reveals the sad truth
Tsugumi has a vision
Ai begins to wonder about the state of things
Next week: Hajime speaks to an old man that seems to have some kind of connection with Ai

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Japonica Logos, Kanji Origins

December 13th's Tamori's Japonica Logos featured origins of kanji.

As many know, kanji began as a pictographic writing system developed by the Chinese around 3000 years ago. As as example, the kanji for "big" (dai: 大) comes from the image of man with his arms and legs outstretched (see pic below), while "turtle" (kame: 亀) comes from a depiction of a turtle's head, shell details, and tail (see pics below).

Other examples include how different graphemes are joined together to give meaning. The kanji for the fish "iwashi" 鰯 joins the kanji for "fish" (gyo/sakana: 魚) with "weak" (jaku/yowai: 弱) because the fish became suddenly weak when taken out of water. The kanji for "butterfly" 蝶 joins the kanji for "insect" (chou/mushi 虫) with "leaf" (ha: 葉) because it looked like two leaves flapping. (Pics below):

Question 1: Why is the kanji for dove/pigeon 鳩 comprised of "9" 九 and "bird" 鳥?

Question 2: The pic below shows an image of two people, but the second person is upside down. What's the kanji that was derived from this image?

Question 3: What kanji was derived from the image below? (The guests on the show was told to try to duplicate the image using their bodies)

Question 4: What kanji was derived from this concept/image? In ancient China, a man is walking through an untraversed plain or prairie; in his hand he's holding a human head?

Answers will come on another day. ^_^