Mark Bradford

Scientist, technologist, dad, Tae Kwon Do instructor, roller derby announcer, occasional voice and stage actor, wizard of the Surly Dinosaurs, etc.

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So, an update on the shows I've actually been watching lately -- some current, some a bit older.  (I'm completely up-to-date on, well, none of them, 'cause ain't nobody got time for that.)

I've been watching One Piece with my 9-year-old, because pirates.  Up to episode 19, of... nearly 700.  Gonna be a while.  I actually watched somewhat past this point once before, and it's entertaining, if prone to too-drawn-out fights.  We're also watching Keroro Gunsou (Sergeant Frog to you).

Almost finished with Nisekoi, at least the original 20 -- I understand more is in production.  Which is fine with me because I'm enjoying it.  Sure, the love triangle/quadrangle/whatever trope is unoriginal, but well executed.

No Game No Life is turning out to be a fantastic show.  Color palette is kinda garish, but the plot is quite unpredictable.  Three episodes to go. 

Continuing to crank through Fairy Tail.  I had originally pegged this as kind of a magical One Piece clone, and it clearly owes a debt, but it's got an enthusiasm of its own.  I've seen over 100 episodes now, but there's plenty to go!

The Fruit of Grisaia and TRINITY SEVEN... don't have too much to recommend them.  Dunno whether I'll finish 'em out.  Celestial Method is more intriguing, and Akatsuki no Yona has a good story starting.  I see that it will have 24 episodes, which is good 'cause it'll need 'em.

SHIROBAKO, being anime about making anime, is pretty meta, but as someone who's hovered around the fringes of acting and production, it rings true.  Similarly, as a semi-serious musician in my high school days, Your Lie In April (which gets my vote for best of this season) resonates pretty strongly.

I've liked what I've seen of Rage of Bahamut: Genesis and In Search Of the Lost Future, which is to say the first three episodes of each.  I particularly like the art style in Rage of Bahamut.

Finally (for now), I'm watching Knights of Sidonia on Netflix.  Gol dang.  Intense stuff.  I understand another season of that is being made, which is good because I don't foresee much wrapping up in the three episodes left in Season One.

11/30 '14 4 Comments
I can't watch Knights of Sidonia unless it uses the Muse song (which, yes, is spelled differently, but c'mon, it's Japanese.)
It doesn't use the song, or the video for the song, alas. Good show anyway.

And yup, 672 episodes of One Piece as of this moment. But Case Closed has 758 and counting!
Mark Bradford 12/1 '14
Man, Doctor Who just hit 800 episodes at the end of last year's season, I think. And that took 50 years!

I got an invite to use Google's new Inbox thingy the other day.  If you haven't seen it, it's a layer over Gmail that bundles messages into thematic groups and lets you deal with them in large batches.

It's an interesting notion, though it doesn't exactly match the way I've been using Gmail (which is to use the Priority Inbox, and strive to keep "Important and Unread" clear while letting stuff accumulate in the rest of the Inbox).  Still, that's something that could be managed over time.

The showstopper I encountered was when actually composing a message.  It doesn't include the per-sender-address signatures defined in Gmail.  I waited literally years​ for Google to add that feature, I'm not going to give it up now.

11/6 '14 3 Comments
Ugh, I hadn't noticed (I only use signatures these days on my work account, and I use the same one there regardless.)

Leave feedback! I'm definitely pointing out missing things as I go -- for example, I couldn't mail to a a contacts group. Very bad; I had to pull up Gmail to send mail and it's going to happen on a regular basis. I left feedback. There was something else, but it slips my mind at the moment.

Generally, though, it fits my use patterns pretty well. I can certainly see it won't for others. I love the snooze feature with a great love, though; much like "don't show this to me until X" in todo list managers, which has become an essential feature to me (and my sanity.)

Ultimately I think it's for people who're already using their inbox as a todo list, which I do.
Oh, I left feedback. :) I also left feedback about the fact that Inbox doesn't have the spambox-clearing functions that regular Gmail does. I'll keep an eye on it.
Mark Bradford 11/6 '14
Ah yes, that was the other thing -- I sent feedback about how it's a pill to check spam for false positives. I need to send them another one about how the formatting in compose doesn't include fonts, specifically the ability to change a section to non-proportional. I was sending a technical email, you know, and...

I've checked in on more of the shows for the new season, so here are some first impressions.

Celestial Method seems like it has potential, aiming for the "dramatic yet cute" segment.

I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying is short (3-minute episodes) and funny, squarely targeting the more grown-up anime-watching crowd (and no, that's not an oxymoron).

I haven't been able to watch the entire first episode of Wolf Girl and Black Prince because the comedy is cringe-inducing, similar to Watamote.  (Not as in bad, as in wanting to shout "NO don't SAY THAT augh you said it" at the main character.)

CROSS ANGE and Akatsuki no Yona both seem to be going for the Gritty Drama segment, and both are well-made enough that I'll be checking out more episodes.

At first The Fruit of Grisaia seems like it's going to be this season's That Show, but it actually seems to have some traces of plot under the surface, so I'll watch some more.  TRINITY SEVEN looks like a better candidate for That Show, to the point where I haven't felt inspired to watch the entire first episode.  We'll see.

Probably not going to continue watching Terraformars​; guro really isn't my thing.

10/14 '14 2 Comments
Christ, there's so much.

I just remembered another one we saw that we absolutely loved: Ebichu the Hamster. So god damn sassy. Hilarious.
Sean M Puckett 10/14 '14
There are some highly entertaining and/or bizarre series of 5-minute (or shorter) shows, like Panda-Z and Damekko Doubutsu.
Mark Bradford 10/14 '14

I've now wrapped up most of the shows I've been watching from the most recent season.  (Sailor Moon Crystal continues, and I have to catch up on Aldnoah.Zero, which is pretty intense so I tend not to watch it casually.)

Hanayamata matched my expectations pretty much exactly: cute, fluffy, entertaining.  Sugary almost to the point of irritating.  No particular need to watch it again, but a good counterbalance for more serious stuff.

Rail Wars tried hard to balance Dramatic Action with fan service.  Almost made it.  I definitely preferred the episodes that were more focused on action; the light-hearted episodes tended to slide toward the gratuitous.  I don't regret watching it, though — it was still much better than Momo-kyun Sword (which I abandoned 5 minutes into the first episode).

Sabagebu! was completely absurd and over-the-top, but dammit, it made me laugh, and that's really all you could hope for in a show like that.  Don't try this at home, kids.

I very much enjoyed Glasslip, which was something out of the ordinary.  Inasmuch as it was playing around with alternate realities, I couldn't definitively tell you how the story ended — but that's par for the course in Japanese storytelling, so I'm taking that in stride.

I've already started a few shows from the next season, so we'll see how they shape up.  Karen Senki is a computer-animated short-episode show aiming for the same balance as Rail Wars, I think.  Terraformars had a pretty brutal first episode; some people are complaining about it having been censored, but I don't mind if they dodge some graphic violence.  And Denki-Gai got off to an entertaining start, I hope it can keep it up.

10/4 '14 9 Comments
Thanks for these Anime reviews. I've fallen out of the habit since the early 90s era of Bubblegum Crisis, UY, AD Police and so on. Netflix and Crunchy Roll have huge selections now, and aside from (still) slowly grinding our way through FMA recently, and Monster about five years ago, we haven't watched much.
Your reviews are quite helpful. Do you maintain a sort of "best of" list or other catalogue?
Sean M Puckett 10/5 '14
I feel I should add that Sturgeon's Law still applies and there are even more terrible shows out there. :)
Mark Bradford 10/5 '14
I'm hardly an anime fan at all, so for what it's worth, the new version of Sailor Moon (Crystal) is pretty good and fansubs exist basically immediately as new episodes come out. Caveat: I really liked the original (not the American dub, though, it changed way too much and was just annoying.)
I haven't been in the fansub game for years. It's being simulcast on Crunchyroll, which is where I watch it.
Mark Bradford 10/5 '14
No, I'm not at all systematic with my reviews -- I just sometimes have the hankering to put my impressions out there. :) My watching time ebbs and flows and there's just no way I can keep up, even with shows that are widely acknowledged to be good. I certainly have my own favorites, though.

If you're continuing to check out newer stuff, you've no doubt heard that Cowboy Bebop is excellent (it is), and I really liked Durarara and BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad. The amount of anime available now compared to the '80s and '90s is simply staggering, though, and there are plenty of other great shows out there.
Mark Bradford 10/5 '14
We did get to Bebop, in fact the soundtrack is on permanent rotation. Yoko Kanno is one of the most talented musicians of our generation. Also Evangelion (yay), and Afro Samurai (eh). Oh also FLCL, which was interesting. Oh, shit, and also Mnemosyne which could have been much better than it was. I guess we have been watching quite a bit. It just doesn't stick unless it's great.
We also get turned off by excess fan service. I don't mind attractive leads but if they're spending more of the effects budget on jiggle than anything else ima pass.
Sean M Puckett 10/5 '14
I liked Samurai Champloo, you might consider that. I never watched the second season of the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya but the first season was great. And Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is a more recent show on Crunchyroll that I enjoyed. The Eccentric Family was also good, very Japanese.

Sometimes a show that looks dubious in the service department at first shapes up -- such as Kiddy Grade, for me at least. More often, though, you can quickly tell it's gonna be one of Those Shows.
Mark Bradford 10/5 '14
This has nothing to do with your anime, I fear, but: if you don't follow Sean Puckett, you might drop by his feed to look at his "The cure that kills" post and chime in -- you've been around a few days and I think your insight could be valuable to the discussion.
THREAD DERAIL er um I mean I'll drop by.
Mark Bradford 10/4 '14

I want to write a roundup of some of the anime series I've been watching this season, but I have a couple more episodes to watch first.  As prologue, though, a recap of my history with anime.

Like many enthusiasts around my age, my first exposure to anime was completely unwitting.  Speed RacerBattle of the Planets, and especially Star Blazers were cartoons that were just a bit different from the usual after-school fare, and in particular Star Blazers' continuing storyline set it apart.  (I was a little too young for Astro Boy, and a little too old for Robotech and Voltron.)  It was some years before I found out the reason behind that, though.

One of my college roommates was heavily into All Things Japanese, studying the language and owning shelves full of untranslated manga.  He introduced me to Miyazaki films and Bubblegum Crisis and Urusei Yatsura and other shows that would now be considered classics, but I didn't quite catch the bug at that time.  (He's pretty much gone native by now, living in Tokyo for many years, married with kids.)

A few years after that, I moved out to get married, and after a while learned that my wife was going downstairs to watch Sailor Moon in the mornings.  "Oh, well, if you're interested in that stuff, we should watch some of the real anime that Jim told me about," was my take, and I started renting shows from the Video Station in Boulder.  That was my doom.  I wound up finding the Denver Anime International club, many of whose alumni went on to start and run Nan Desu Kan, which just held its 18th convention.  (I run the Main Events room there and I'm the emcee.)  I've also wound up learning a good chunk of the language; I still wouldn't call myself fluent, but I can carry on halting conversations when the need arises, and I can pick up a lot of subtleties that aren't reflected in the subtitles as I'm watching.

So, yeah, I'm an anime geek, and my sons have wound up watching quite a bit with me as well.  This has been made much easier (for better or worse) in the last couple of years, since discovering Crunchyroll and the surprisingly large anime holdings on Hulu.  Feel free to chat me up about it if you like.

9/27 '14 3 Comments
Sailor Moon is real stuff. :-( Although it occurs to me you mean the dubs, probably, so fair enough then. (As you know, I'm okay with dubs in principle, but those were quite bad.)
Yes, the broadcast dubs. And I'm watching the current Sailor Moon Crystal remake, so no disrespect intended. :)
Mark Bradford 9/27 '14
As am I. :-)

This is where I'm supposed to answer the question "Who the devil is this guy?", right?  The answers are not too different from what they were five years ago, kinda different from ten years ago, noticeably different from twenty years ago, and so on.

I live in Colorado, as do at least a couple other guys with my name.  I'm the one who also announces roller derby under the name "Brad Example", and if you see the name "Squiddhartha" online, unless it's referring to a west coast band, it's probably me.  I'm an IT manager who still occasionally gets his hands dirty mucking about with code, at a major national scientific research institution.  Happily married for 20 years, with sons in 4th and 11th grades, plus a sweet-tempered basket case of a pit bull and a giant fluffy white brat of a cat.  My wife teaches kids to swim, including itty-bitty babies.  I also help out at StarFest and Nan Desu Kan, two Denver-based cons.

I'm a life-long science and technology geek, with particular interests in astrophysics, aerospace, and paleontology, and also languages.  I'm an atheist and what would have once been called a moderate but by modern standards is a liberal hippy freak.  If any of that bothers you... sorry.  (Note: not actually sorry.)

That's the nutshell version.  You wanna know more, stay tuned.

9/25 '14 2 Comments
11th grade!
Terrifying, ain't it?
Mark Bradford 9/25 '14