Saturday, November 30, 2019

November Cycling

On the summer bike starting at 2089.6, and ending at 2216.8 for a total of 127.2 miles (YTD 1879 -- just about level with last year), in a rather miserable and wet month that wrote off a number of possible rides. 2000 miles for the year still remains plausible, even though the weather is being colder than last year, if we keep getting crisp dry weather.

I should be able to manage the bulk of that on simple routine trips into town, but the final total will depend how much daylight between Xmas and New Year gets spent on doing the pruning and cutting back in the garden that will need doing this side of the new year if the weather stays cold.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

October cycling

On the summer bike starting at 1999.3, and ending at 2089.6 for a total of 90.3 + 0.7 off-meter = 91 miles (YTD 1752). The weather stayed mild all month, but was generally windy and wet; and feeling under the weather for a spell mid-month generally meant no wanting to go out on two wheels.

Despite the collapse from last month, I'm still ahead of this time last year, though; and still aiming to beat 2000 miles for the year again.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Anime roundup '19Q3

Summer season was a least a bit better than Spring.

I dropped Sounan desu-ka after the first episode, as it just didn't engage; and what is it about anime original passion project shows with 2D mechs? I dropped Granbelm after episode 5, a full twenty minutes of screaming and beam-spam, as a failure by the usual criterion -- the visuals were pretty enough, but for all that it was full of sound and fury, it seemed a tale told by an idiot. After an interesting teaser, with retro Escaflowne/RayEarth vibes, it turned out to be some weakly motivated tournament/knockout arc thing; and as a fight to the last one standing, in episodes, it didn't even reach the levels of likeable or love-to-hate amongst the combatants that Magical Girl Raising Project managed.

Wishy-washy doormat-like pinkies who aren't in the know are becoming a cliché for lead character in magical girl like the average blank slate black haired schoolboy in pretty much everything else; and so are their mysterious companions with long black hair.

By being much as expected, i.e. hamming up the overpowered anti-hero title character, and going full-on "Don't make me angry; you wouldn't like me when I'm angry." Accelerator was just harmless time filler.

From the backlog, I caught up with last year's Symphogear AXZ, which managed to avoid the lows that GX plumbed, perhaps for lack of quite such a degree of front-loading, too; then ploughed into Symphogear XV, which was much of the same, but had the virtue of delivering a reasonable end to the franchise.

And at the top of the list, of course, is Dumbbell nan kilo moteru?, a competent adaptation of the source material as a "cute girls and machos do muscle things" title. It started off adapting verbatim, but after the half-way mark skipped forwards, so that rather than being at the end of the season, the Hamnold Classic was at the 2/3 mark, so it could bring in more of the out-of-gym events (but not the girls' American road-trip).

There may be a few bits where the animation shows slightly questionable form (e.g. the demonstration of half-squats above has a foot placement that would end up in falling over backwards, and the bench press shows an incomplete range of movement), but the main change in the adaptation is the toning down of the fan-service (gone are the crop-tops with underboob, for example).

Since I ended up watching this over a meal, no, I didn't join in with the post-credits exercises.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

September cycling

On the summer bike starting at 1829.7,and ending at 1999.3 plus on the winter bike from 16402.1 to 16431.4, for a total of 169.6 + 29.3 + 7.3 off-meter = 206.2 miles (YTD 1661). The weather stayed mild all month, but generally windy, and closing with some much needed rain. I did try one long ride, but had to call it off short when one of my pedals jammed about 15 miles out, and I had to limp home.

Abbotsley ornaments

Replacing the pedals was less traumatic than I had feared; and the new ones, having broad flat surfaces with a sand-paper texture are much more comfortable and sure to ride than the old ones with narrow metal teeth for grip.

old and busted

the new hotness

If I could loosen the pedals on the winter bike, I'd be replacing those too!

Sunday, September 01, 2019

August Cycling

On the summer bike starting at 1659.8,and ending at 1829.7 plus on the winter bike from 16362.6 to 16402.1, for a total of 169.9 + 39.5 = 208.6 miles (YTD 1455); this despite the weather being windy, and wet for the first half of the month, turning very hot over the Bank Holiday weekend.

I only managed to fit the one fun ride in, and that only 26 miles, out to Barley and across to Ickleton in the warm weather before the Bank Holiday weekend; still the best month since April, and second best of the year.

Gt Chishill mill

Monday, August 05, 2019

F# under the covers XVII -- Code reuse loopiness

For some level of complexity and size, the F# compiler is happy to say "I've already done something like that, let's jump back and do it again!" putting an apparent loop into iteration-free code. It's not a common thing -- I've seen it exactly once the the FSharp.Core v4.7 library --

        match t1, t2 with
        | SetEmpty, t2  -> add comparer k t2 // drop t1 = empty 
        | t1, SetEmpty  -> add comparer k t1 // drop t2 = empty 
        | SetOne k1, t2 -> add comparer k (add comparer k1 t2)
        | t1, SetOne k2 -> add comparer k (add comparer k2 t1)
        | SetNode (k1, t11, t12, h1), SetNode (k2, t21, t22, h2) ->

The IL for this contains the expected forward conditional jumps from the match to the cases, but the second SetOne case preps the k2, t1 arguments then jumps backwards into the middle of the previous case, and exits after completing the shared call structure.

 IL_0029: ldloc.2
 IL_002a: isinst class Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTree`1/SetOne
 IL_002f: brtrue.s IL_0055

 // item2 = t2;
 IL_0031: ldarg.3
 IL_0032: stloc.0
 // item = setOne.item;
 IL_0033: ldloc.1
 IL_0034: ldfld !0 class Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTree`1/SetOne::item
 IL_0039: stloc.3

 // return add(comparer, k, add(comparer, item, item2));
 IL_003a: ldarg.0
 IL_003b: ldarg.2
 IL_003c: ldarg.0
 IL_003d: ldloc.3
 IL_003e: ldloc.0
 IL_003f: call class Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTree`1 Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTreeModule::'add'(class [mscorlib]System.Collections.Generic.IComparer`1, !!0, class Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTree`1)
 IL_0044: call class Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTree`1 Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTreeModule::'add'(class [mscorlib]System.Collections.Generic.IComparer`1, !!0, class Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTree`1)
 // (no C# code)
 IL_0049: ret

 // item2 = t1;
 IL_004a: ldarg.1
 IL_004b: stloc.0

 // return add(comparer, k, item2);
 IL_004c: ldarg.0
 IL_004d: ldarg.2
 IL_004e: ldloc.0
 IL_004f: call class Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTree`1 Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTreeModule::'add'(class [mscorlib]System.Collections.Generic.IComparer`1, !!0, class Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTree`1)
 // (no C# code)
 IL_0054: ret

 // item2 = t2;
 IL_0055: ldarg.3
 // item = setOne.item;
 IL_0056: ldloc.1
 IL_0057: ldfld !0 class Microsoft.FSharp.Collections.SetTree`1/SetOne::item
 IL_005c: stloc.3
 // (no C# code)
 IL_005d: stloc.0
 IL_005e: br.s IL_003a

This provided an interesting exercise for the branch-chasing algorithm in AltCover (inspired by the one in OpenCover), which hadn't anticipated a backwards leap inside a sequence point, and went off into a spin until told to look for ret and similar termination points.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

July cycling

On the summer bike starting at 1480.8,and ending at 1659.8 plus 2 off-meter, for a total of 181.0 miles (YTD 1246). Up on last month, partly due to a longer bike-ride at the start of the month, north to Earith and around the edge of the fens; the very hot weather for a few days and then rain after knocked out a couple of days' business rides.

Earith town sign

This one pushed the limits to the north, just a little:

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Anime roundup '19Q2

What a thoroughly dead season.

I tried Senko-san, but when the MC commits code like this

it's clear that he doesn't deserve a fox-loli mother-wife. One episode left me wondering how many sarariman in danger of succumbing to karoshi watching this will be tipped over the edge knowing that they won't be thus pampered when they get home.

From the backlog, Kemikurusa was a more serious attempt to bottle the KemoFure lightning, but it turned out very stodgy, even if there's just enough "WTF is going on?" to keep some interest. The overall low light levels don't help visually, and Kaban's Wakaba's constant "ooh!"ing and "ahh!"-ing get old very quickly. In all, mostly harmless, dragged down by a not-Kaban who pulls plot-convenient chemlixa-magics as needed, and a ham-fisted reveal near the end, before they arrive at what could be Japari Park. It's sad when the best of the follow-ups to KemoFure is a series of doujin strips by Quick Waipa that are doing the real KF2.

I watched the first and last quarters of Beatless, a show that fuses magical girlfriend and magical girl, in a mix of Chobits without the sexuality meets Nanoha with the intelligent devices being the humanoids. In a world where humanoid AI assistants are common, MC becomes the owner of Lacia, one of five special super-intelligent AI girls. when he encounters her in a dark alleyway, and has to take responsibility. Stuff happens like Lacia becoming a renowned fashion model, and a bunch of anti-AI fanatics (backed by a couple of the other special gynoids) taking down an experimental AI politician, then trying to kidnap Lacia (excuses for some Zap! Pow! fight scenes). More stuff happens, which I skipped, and it all turns into a race to get down into the bunker where one of the real super-AIs is housed, and we find out quite how super-intelligent they aren't when the bunker contains warehouses full of different models of household appliances that it needs to examine in order to be able to instruct the everyday household robo-servants in how to use them. Big fight scene, all the special AI girls are terminated, and the bunkered super-AI is rebooted. Life returns to normal.

If only the series had actually bothered to use its premise as more than a fig-leaf for magical-girl fights it might have had some potential. As it was. not only was it more than usually economically illiterate in all the character speechifying, it was clear that nobody involved even understood the premise. The "ara-ara" onee-san household assistant was cute though, and I'd like to place an order for one.

Fune wo Amu made a pleasant change as a series with adult characters facing mundane challenges in the world of work, and a romance that consists of one episode, the couple meet, the next they ride a Ferris wheel together, and then the episode after, they are married. Apart from that, if the series is indeed true to the level of office automation in 21st century Japan, it's a bit of an eye-opener.

In other news: a glimpse at the possible future of anime distribution came with a series that published direct to YouTube with subtitles, each episode after the first available free for a week. A pity it was just a hose/foot-fetish short series.

And NGE/EoE came to N*tfl*x with a new Khara-supplied and rather literal translation that caused an immense amount of controversy, especially amongst the majority of the audience who didn't realise where the new translation came from, and imputed an agenda to the streaming service,

such as in this scene.

What fun!

Monday, July 01, 2019

June cycling

On the summer bike starting at 1330.8 and ending at 1480.8, plus 17.6 on the folding bike, for a total of 167.6 miles (YTD 1065). Down again on last month, because from a promising start, the weather turned wet and/or humid for a couple of weeks mid-month, so a number of the rides to the gym were replaced with working out at home.

Steeple Morden Aerodrome Memorial

I did get one decent ride in at the start of the month -- ironically, on World Bicycle Day -- heading out through the Mordens, then Potton, Sutton and Gamlingay. All well within the bounds previously set, but in parts on roads I'd either not ridden before, or at least not in that direction.

Friday, May 31, 2019

May Cycling

On the backup/winter bike, starting at 16308.2 and ending at 16362.6, or 54.4 miles plus the summer bike starting at 1201.5, ending at 1330.8. or 129.3, for a total of 183.7 miles (YTD 898). Down on last month, partly because no #30daysofbiking, partly because partly due to weather (being the rainy season, as much as we have one), partly due to fewer and less distant pub trips. Wanting to transport plants also meant that a couple of garden centre visits were done by car.

The one long ride I did was 40 miles to the Reach May Fair and back, which reminded me how I don't like cycling in groups, when I amble along at 10mph and everyone else is only doing 7-8. As the ad hoc bike parking was being overwhelmed by demand, I just watched the opening ceremony and got out while I could still get to my bike, and ground the 20 miles back into the expected headwind.

And of course, at this time of year, there was the usual plenty to do in the garden, keeping the unwanted suppressed and planting out this year's annuals.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April Cycling

#30daysofbiking happened. On the backup/winter bike, starting at 16245.7 and ending at 16308.2, or 62.5 miles plus the summer bike starting at 1021.1, ending at 1201.5, plus 4 miles off-meter or 184.4 miles for a total of 246.9 miles (YTD 714). That's better than any month last year except August, and 50 miles more than last April, as drier, and at times warmer, weather led to cycling to the gym more and as far as the Red Lion several times.

The first half of the month was chilly, with consistent Easterlies, and by the time the unnaturally warm and dry Easter weekend arrived, the garden was calling, countering the lure of the open road; going to the Golden Lion at St Ives -- this time with a strong headwind on the way home instead of flooding -- was the only really long ride; but I did manage a spin for fun in the warm weather on the first, and a country ride to the tip in the run-up to Easter.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Anime roundup '19Q1

For the first time in over a decade, there were a dozen new titles this season that I felt like trying.

Wrapping things up from the backlog, Frame Arms Girl remained a harmless fluffy series of toy commercials masquerading as Pantsu Witches meets Angelic Layer to the end; and ClassicaLoid S2 was just more of the the same sit-com, including another reboot/reset ending point after the big story finished.

On the rewatch front, it was long enough ago that I'd forgotten most of the actual story in Dennou Coil (as opposed to the "Illegal of the Week" sequence), so it was like watching it from fresh and it was still a delight. That moment, though, when you realize that Searchmaton is using Grid Fixer Beam (it's super effective!). Real Drive got left behind in the new season rush, probably indefinitely.

Added from the backlog and completed, Hoozuki no Reitetsu S2, which delivers the same deadpan humour as before, only this time with more Evangelion references.

Of the continuing titles, JoJo Vento Aureo has ended up far enough down the queue to count as dropped, but Index III was entertaining enough in its ideas, if not in the bursts of chuuni nonsense, for me to follow to the end.

And speaking of chuuni nonsense, Boogiepop (2019) has that in spades, at least enough to have lost out to the competition and be backlogged.

More thoroughly dropped were Virtual-san Looking, after checking that, yes, it does do Evangelion references, and The Promised Neverland, which I'd tried, despite being a long running shonen, because it was a noitaminA slot series -- alas, it looked too much "jaw, jaw", and not enough "war, war" to to be worth it. Also, dishonourable mention for Kemono Friends 2, which failed the 3-episode test for being merely a cargo cult version of the original (and I hear very bad things about how it turned out in the end).

The most disappointing title of the season was The Price of Smiles, which started off with a couple of strong episodes before making a controlled descent into terrain with its stupidly naive pacifistic punchline. It was with wry amusement that in the epilogue, I saw that the protestors against what had been done were shown as Yellow-Jackets -- how very contemporary!

Surprises of the season were Girly Air Force, which delivered some jet-fighter action with only a minimum of harem antics (he says, damning with faint praise) albeit with an open "read the LNs" ending; and Endro~!, a "cute girls do JRPG adventuring" series with a great deal of heart, some RPG cliché gags that actually made me chuckle, and a surprisingly well done ending after the Hero's party have their fated final confrontation with the Demon Lord.

In the "mostly harmless" tier for the season, Grimm's Notes was the expected fairy-tale (with a generous interpretation of the term) fluff; and Pastel Memories provided the otaku in-jokes and parodies, sufficient that the second episode ("Is the order a rabbit an eel?") got pulled after the show aired for being rather too close to the original.

Being stuck in a run-down Akihabara when not actually entering anime parodies, PasuMemo made an innovation by having the ED sequence stand in for the obligatory beach episode (Anime girls with hips? What is the world coming to?)

As expected, My Room-mate is a Cat provided cute cat moments as a stray adopts/is adopted by a hopeless socially anxious shut-in, even if Haru does come over rather too solicitous of her person when we see things from her perspective.

In total contrast, Magical Girl SpecOps Asuka was actually one of those 80s Hollywood action flicks about some ex-cop/marine/special force/CIA-guy being called back from retirement to save the day, just with some mahou shoujo frosting. Indeed, it was self-aware enough to make some appropriate movie references in the interrogation scenes. And when your mascot critter goes all in with flak jacket and John Woo style dual wielding, you can be sure we're not in PreCure now.

At this point, you realise that dodos cannot fly

And topping off the season, The Magnificent KOTOBUKI delivered way more dog-fighting action than I had expected, in a sort-of Western that was more than just the Cowboys-and-Indians/Pony Express sort of story I'd been expecting. But then I should have realised that this was from the same director as GaruPan, so of course there'd be urban warfare sections as well. The 3DCG for the main characters, rather than just the aircraft, took a bit of getting used to, but once accustomed, was entirely fine.

And that leaves the short anime titles Mini-Toji and Manaria Friends as potential fillers for what is looking like a quite barren season upcoming.

Friday, April 05, 2019

End of an era

Sometime near the start of 1995, I finally got with the program, and got myself a 14k4 modem and a Demon Internet account.

Years passed, ADSL arrived, Demon became Thus became Vodafone. Then a few weeks back, notification that their ADSL offering was being retired, but there was no equipment in our local exchange to simply translate to fibre-to-cabinet. So I've had to uproot all the SOHO-style home network with its static IP to another ISP and dynamic IP.

It's taken a couple of days, but it all (internal servers, externally-facing servers, DNS, general net access) seems to be working now.

And 20 years on, the fibre that Cambridge Cable laid to the village in 1999 has never been built upon either, so we don't even have fibre-to-premise as an option.

Update, 7-Apr: Outbound mail from my domain names is still not working.

Update, 7-Apr, later: Outbound mail, this time via my domain registrar, might be working now.

Update 14-Apr: Finally after 10 days, I think I may now have the mails from my cron jobs being handled properly by Google (SPF passing and getting to the correct folder).

Sunday, March 31, 2019

March Cycling

On the backup/winter bike, starting at 16060.0 and ending at 16245.7, or 185.7 miles (467 YTD); the best month since September, and much better than last year in more clement weather. No long spins just for pleasure, but Friday lunches moved back to the Red Lion, and the chance to take the pretty way there.

The season is now getting to the point where the garden will be calling on fine days, despite the lure of the open road. But having managed the #30daysofbiking 4 times in the last 5 years, I'll be wanting to do that again too.

Friday, March 01, 2019

February cycling

On the backup/winter bike, starting at 15903.7 and ending at 16060.0, or 156.3 miles; the best month since September, despite being a short one.

Rather than being the month of winter as all the forecasts were suggesting, the weather was hinting spring all month, culminating in a high pressure event from the Azores that made for the first T-shirt cycling of the year, and with firm going on the bridleways, more like after Easter. Being dry, that also meant no other weather induced interruptions to cycling.

In the garden, I could at least attempt to make a head start on the chickweed, and get to clearing out that awkward corner near the shed, which had become overrun by nettles of all kinds during the autumn. And I got to mow the lawn twice!

Also, with being so dry, the soil was looking parched and while that meant easier to get to a good tilth, I'd even started recycling the bath-water to keep the patch where I'd sown the spring broad beans, as well as watering the patio planters and the sunny beds nearby.

Friday, February 01, 2019

January cycling

On the backup/winter bike, starting at 15778.6 and ending at 15903.7, or 125.1 miles; slightly down on last month but more than last January, even though none of the rides were further than into town (no gratuitous miles gotten in on New Year's Day). Going to the gym a lot, rather than to the pub at most once a week, made the difference (I didn't quite do a dry January though).

That the weather continued mild really up to the last third of the month helped; but even then, bright sub-zero days that make the bridle-paths passable also encouraged me out of my nest. On the down-side, the garden has still really not shut down for the winter; so I'm just having to do the new year pruning anyway; though the dry weather has meant that the vegetable beds were not a quagmire when I dug them ahead of the first proper frost.

In the gym, with a lot of stretching, I'm slowly managing to get the bar further down my back for squats, thus increasing the load bearing area, and hence the amount I can bear to carry. And also being more loosened up, I can get to the squats earlier in the set, and walk off the fatigue before getting on the bike to come home.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

I like this recipe

A couple of months back, I'd got a freshly baked and still warm baton from the local shop, and had the idea of thickly buttering it to accompany a bowl of soup -- only to discover how not like butter the "light" spreadable that was in the fridge tasted in bulk, being 2 parts of rapeseed oil to 3 of butter. Looking for alternatives was disappointing, as the commercial spreadables are all much the same, being seed-oil margarine mixes, even the ones boasting that they use olive oil.

Fortunately, the internet came through, with this recipe for a home-made butter/olive oil spread.

It does need translating from the American units -- in round numbers it comes to 180g oil for a 250g block of butter. Choose a salad-grade extra-virgin oil, because you will taste it in the finished product (which is part of what makes it so good!). The butter needs to be soft enough that you can cream it but no more -- only a few seconds in the microwave if you get it straight out of the fridge, just enough that it's soft. Melting the butter is -- well, you know how melting and then cooling butter works; the resulting mix turns out somewhat green-ish in colour and doesn't work quite as well.

Assuming the butter is just right, you can start stirring it with a hand blender, and then add the oil. When it's all mixed, it will have a custard-like consistency and appearance, and can be poured into a suitable container to put in the fridge. Leave it a few hours and it will solidify, but be spreadable. In use, it melts somewhat more readily than the commercial greases e.g. on a freshly toasted crumpet; and you won't want to leave it out of the fridge when not in active use.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Blogger infelicty I just hit

Entering the string %00 in the editor like this .Replace('\', ), gives a nul in the page which isn't returned to a %-escape when editing the entry, so I had to use %00 instead to achieve .Replace('\', %00).

Yet another MSBuild-on-Linux back-slash gotcha

Another variant of a known family of such issues, encountered as AltCover issue #49, the interesting tale of what you get when your MSBuild sets a task array parameter with


and the value of AltCoverAssemblyExcludeFilter is the-|xunit\.; surprisingly, the answer is


There isn't even an explicit ItemList in sight, and yet the '\' still gets interpreted as a path separator and "helpfully" *nix-ified. Doubling up the '\' via .Replace('\','\\') ahead of the split doesn't escape the character -- you just get a '//' in the output, nor does escaping on the command line as the-|xunit%5C..

For the moment, with no obvious MSBuild level fix, I'm working around this by doing .Replace('\', %00) and then converting the NUL back inside the custom MSBuild task.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Moving on from G+

With the G+ sunset brought forwards to April, time to move my microblogging -- which is what I actually used G+ for, rather than the community aspects -- to proper microblogging sites, plural for redundancy.

So you can now find me on the Twitter (@stevegilham1) and Gab (@stevegilham), and maybe more later.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Anime roundup '18Q4

The quarter opened with some new shows that made me think "Come back, Captain Earth, all is forgiven!".

RErideD released the first four episodes all at once, so I watched the first three.

On the plus side, it has ABe character designs, the ghost of which can be seen from time to time in one of the girls. However...

The villain of the piece is a total stereotype of the evil arms manufacturer profiting from war, like out of the inter-war period. As to the main plot, it's like no-one on the creative staff has ever noticed Windows Update, even though it's reasonable that none of them have ever been in day-for-day release slip panics when late show-stoppers are found. When things kick off, the MC, having fallen down an ill-placed shaft, decides to climb into a coffin-like thing to hide from pursuers who are trying to kill him. Then the assassin next sent after him seems to conceal anti-tank rifles about her person, and ground-attack aircraft with implausibly low stall speeds in her hammerspace.

Not quite absolutely dropped, as it was almost so bad it's good. But it's way down the backlog, if ever.

The next early title had been fairly promising as a "cute girls do..." series from the PV -- and even if it was a mobage tie-in, then so was the excellent Toji no Miko. Alas, despite the success of many of the "cute girls do cute but unusual things" series, and a wacky premise really not that much worse than GaruPan's was, Sora to Umi no Aida just crashed and burned.

I had been prepared to ignore the dubious physics and might have forgiven the MoTW generator ecology of the artificial water-moons used for space-fishing, but had not been expecting a CGDC[whatever]T where the MC turned out to be such an obnoxious little brat, nor one where they were doing assertive grrlpower things incompetently. On top of which, the mobage tie-in elements were done in an overly ham-handed fashion.

As a comedy, it was even more un-funny than the running gags in Planet With, and as a "cute girls do unusual things", it made HaiFuri look like a masterpiece. A wretched waste of a couple of the minor characters, who looked like they might be promising for the CG bit, but in all, dropped like a colony after the first episode.

From the backlog, Animegataris was purely fluff, but it turned out to be very meta fluff, including things like a very knowing discussion of the 3-episode rule in the third episode.

I had expected Konohana Kitan to be mostly "cute gay fox-girls do cute gay bath-house things", perhaps trending towards Hanasaku Iroha (kemonomimi edition) as newcomer Yuzu gets introduced to life working at a hot-spring inn, that just happens to be located across the border from the waking world. Instead, the whimsical out-of-folklore (or urban legend) elements dominated, to make a charming little series all in all. Recommended.

Gifu Dodo : Kanetsugu & Keiji is a pretty good "Manly Sengoku notables do manly things" title, so long as you are fine with the style of having the major characters -- the occasional grotesque amongst them -- towering over the lesser folk, in a manner akin to high-level characters in One Piece. That given, it does make for a great, albeit, ahem, larger than life, historical fiction, complete with the perfect excuse for some manly tears.

The title can be slightly misleading though -- not in the series being about the Path of Dignified Righteousness, but in the way that Keiji vanishes from the tale (except in the scenes when we return to where the two are reminiscing about the things that happened many years before), after the half-way point recap episode.

By contrast, Sengoku Collection, which I picked up on the strength of a random mention from some /a/non, recommending a few specific episodes, not only starts out with the premise of historical characters from the Sengoku Era turning into girls, but was also a very early mobage tie-in to boot. As such, it had no business being as good as it in fact turned out to be in the end. It does take a few episodes to find its feet -- I would say that episodes 7 and 8 are the first ones where it definitely surpasses being "Cute Sengoku Generals Do Cute Things" fluff, and in the final third there are several simply excellent episodes.

By managing to keep the game elements down to a simple "collect the plot tokens" visit by Cute L'il Devil Nobunaga at the end of some of the episodes, it gave a strong How-To that more recent titles could have benefited from.

If only they had not made Naoe Kanetsugu constantly look like a "kawaii uguu!" escapee from Kanon (2002) in her few appearances (this was most especially jarring when juxtaposed with Gifu DoDo's depiction of same -- contrast the pink-head below with the sake drinker above).

Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou (~ Modern Magic for Dummies), a series from the IRL rather busy season of Summer '09, also takes a little while to find its feet and get past the "forced ecchi" elements of the first few episodes before settling down to be a reasonably amusing magical girl comedy.

Meanwhile autumn before last's Long Riders turned out to be the cycling anime I'd been looking for when I was watching Minami Kamakura GHSCC -- cute university students from a few miles further north and west of Kamakura do cute cycle touring things that are somewhat closer to what I do for amusement (though I find I hit a hard barrier going much past a 100km day at my usual ambling average speed of 10mph). As a leisure cyclist I enjoyed it, with the cute girls who'd leave me in the dust being a bonus.

The one Q4 show I have finished was SSSS Gridman. This started out in a somewhat uncertain manner, with some dubious (lack of) animation in the very first episode -- long still frames with maybe lip-flaps or pan/zoom fake motion, and the possibility that the budget had gone on making CGI kaiju, and Gridman himself, look like actors in rubber suits.

By the closing straight, it had resolved as a solid show, and, in the end, one where they did manage to stick the landing, staying within the previously established Gridman context (no sudden sub-Gainax aliens reveal/into space finale this time), and resolving the central conflict they'd set up. Plus, having stumbled upon the live-action series on the way to the final episode, I could see just quite how many call-outs there were to just the first Gridman episode alone. And they managed to get a snatch of the original OP in there as well.

My initial reaction was, of course, "Shinjo Akane"? Did you mean "Shinji Ikari"?

Where there were some dangling threads, they are the sort of things just worry the completists (apart from whatever hints we're supposed to derive from the ED sequence, any of the specifics leading up to the start of the series. What was Yuta (supposed to be) doing at Rikka's in the first place before losing his memory? Even if that was that little world booting up, with all the Repli-Compoids equipped with their proper back-stories, what scenario set-up did Gridman displace? Was it a fumbled love confession that sent Akane into the computer world in the first place? And if so, to whom had it been addressed?), being at best somewhat tangential to the main story. Definitely one of the better story-endings (as opposed to ones that are simply "see our continuing stories in the manga/LN/..." pauses) for an anime that I've seen in quite a while.

On-going, JoJo Vento Aureo is just more JoJo, and if it weren't for that meaning continuing "puzzle this out" stand battles, would probably have been dropped already on the usual "who are these people and why should I care?" grounds. As it is, it may go into the backlog (ahead of RErideD, though) at the end-of-quarter special (recap?) episode.

Index III, a series where I'm coming abroad several stops down the line, is a real curate's egg of a series. There are clearly several good ideas here, with a magical Europe (and magical England in particular) that come off really rather well, unfortunately interlarded with out-of-place dollops of chuuni nonsense (and not just the fan-servicey bits). On balance though, I'm intrigued enough to continue with this.

From the backlog, I'm currently on Frame Arms Girl, a toy commercial that is Pantsu Witches meets Angelic Layer, and ClassicaLoid S2 which is more of what S1 provided.

Re-watched -- Rocket Girls still cute, RahXephon somewhat more coherent when not watched one DVD at a time as it was released, but still rather "meh!"

Re-watching -- Real Drive by half-way suffers a bit from knowing where it's going, so less mystery/wonder and more being irritated by some of the characters, by contrast Dennou Coil is still good, at only a few episodes in.

December cycling

I ended the year at 1021.1 on the summer bike, or 128.1 miles for December or 2008 for the year, with more cycling than expected in a continuing mild month. Which mild weather means that the garden still hasn't shut down properly yet -- I even mowed the lawn once.