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February 2017
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Something to Do: Movies

We get a couple of very different movies this week. The gritty near future dystopia The Girl with All the Gifts, based on the novel by the same name from Mike Carey, is a story of spoor crazed zombies and human experimentation. On the other hand the fantasy Rock Dog is about a Tibetan Mastiff who wants to play music rather than guard sheep. I know which one I will be watching; how about you?

Something to Watch: Discs

This week we get Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio, a delightfully twisted look at comic book superheroes that may be my favorite Doctor Who Christmas Special. We also get the 2014 remake of the 1946 French classic La Belle Et La Bete or Beauty And The Beast, which one reviewer tagged as 50 Shades of Fur.

In Anime Noragami Season Two: Aragoto minor god Yato is still broke, still shrineless, and now fighting for his life as major war goddess Bishamon hunts him down. Even more life threatening, Assassination Classroom Season Two: Part One brings the next 13 episodes of this entertaining series. While I really like Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water, the release of Blu Ray 3 puts 5 episodes on a disc and charges the price of a complete series for them, so I will stick to the streaming service version. Ultimate Otaku Teacher: Season One, Part Two brings the next dozen episodes of this humorous and offbeat slice-of-life for the socially inept home. Re-releases in more affordable bundles this week include Freezing Vibration: The Complete Second Season in an Anime Classics edition (generally around or just under $30), and Unbreakable Machine-Doll in a S.A.V.E. edition (generally right around $20). Machine Doll is the complete series plus the 6 OVAs, which make it a very good deal.

Hello Sleepwalkers

Hello Sleepwalkers has a new mini-album that came out this week, and the first track is the song Sundown from that release. After that is Rollin and New World, also both from the new release. They have another recent mini-album called Unplugged Demos full of acoustic tracks, but I couldn’t find any of them that had permission set to stream in North America.

101 Astronomical Events in 2017

The folks over at Universe Today have put together an eBook called 101 Astronomical Events in 2017, and made it absolutely free. It includes a lot of good skywatching events for the year, but the centerpiece of the observations is the Total Eclipse of the Sun that will take place on August 21st. That will be visible from the majority of the continental US and Canada, and should be quite the show. If you want to find out exactly what time it will be happening where you are, you can go to Xavier Jubier’s Interactive Solar Eclipse Map, and since it is fairly complex you may want to Read The Help File over at Eclipse2017.Org.

SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival 2017

The SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival 2017 entries are still open, and will be until March 21st, which is also their deadline for VR Theater entries. So you still have a bit of time to submit your projects to the gathering, which will be held from July 30th to August 3rd in Los Angeles this year. Yes, the competition can be daunting; after all, these are most of the folks doing serious VR and Animation work on the planet. But if you have something that you are proud of and willing for others to see, this could be the perfect venue for you to put your work in the public eye. And maybe it might be you standing on stage and accepting the award this year.

Avengers: Infinity War

A short featurette about the next Avengers movie, with a bit of the thinking behind the franchise, and maybe a spoiler or two.

Learning Japanese

Tessa Violet gives us her take on gaining skill sets that have a serious learning curve, in this case the Japanese language. The bottom line is recognizing when your performance at a given task isn’t the performance at all, but just the practice you need to graduate to the next learning plateau. After that, a cover of one of the songs by the band she is currently being the warm up act for on her first tour of England.

Something to Do: Movies

The choice this week is obvious: The Great Wall took 1,700 years to build and was over 500 miles long; so just what was it built to defend against? The Western mercenaries came to buy the latest super weapon, gunpowder, but one of them found a war worth fighting. This is where you will find me this weekend, enjoying this joint Chinese/US production.

Something to Watch: Discs

In western releases, Arrival looks like the most interesting genre offering, with Alien spaceships touching down around the globe. It has been nominated in at least a couple of categories for every major film award going, with a total of 8 Academy Awards nominations alone. As near as I can tell The Crash is genre only by virtue of the line “set in the near future” in its advertising because its hackers are not nerds, but I suppose I should mention it comes out this week as well. The non-genre film worth mentioning is London Town, about growing up in the 1970’s London Punk scene. Check that that is the topic when you see it on the shelves, or you might end up watching another movie with the same name about a washed up comic trying to make a comeback in Vaudeville.

Anime brings us Busou Shinki: Armored War Goddess, A story about a gamer and his four 6-inch-tall combat androids, and yes, it is a comedy. Comet Lucifer is also a comedy of surreal proportions with the fate of the world ultimately at stake. Persona 5 the Animation -The Day Breakers- is a single 24 minute episode running just under $40, so I will not be recommending it. Particularly because I don’t know what it is about, and haven’t found it streaming on any of the North American services, nor on Daisuki, a Japanese anime consortium who stream directly to the US. We do get One Piece: Collection 18 this time around, though.

I want to make special mention of The Mystic Archives of Dantalian, where real works of literature combine with a supernatural world to create the backdrop for a series of interesting mysteries, whodunit style. The series came out in 2011, but first streamed to North America last year, and it looks like this will be its first disc release for the US and Canada. Finally, in Nobunagun our protagonist’s school trip is interrupted by a monster attack! A clandestine government agency arrives to battles the army of monsters, using possessed weapons. The spirits possessing those weapons belong to famous historical military figures, mostly generals, warlords, and shoguns. This one is coming out now in a S.A.V.E. edition, so you should be able to pick it up for under $20 if you shop around.

ONE OK ROCK: American Girls

I have been ranting about how good ONE OK ROCK is since 2011, and they have gotten nothing but better since then. I finally had the chance to see them live on October 6th, 2015, in a tiny little club in a major East Coast city, and unlike most bands I have heard they sounded even better live and in person than they did in the studio recordings. That was the same tour when everyone in the US became aware of them, so I don’t need to rant any more, or even speak, really. Here are two of their best recent tracks, American Girls (pretty much the opposite of Guess Who’s American Woman) posted on February 1st, and We Are posted on January 6th.