Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Burst Angel - DVD Vol 6 of 6

Burst Angel volume six is somewhat of a let down. Sure there is action and all that but the story just leaves something missing. At the end you kind of get the feeling that, okay, we knew all this was going to happen, but what about...? Perhaps there was to be more to the story and it was cut short. I don't know. It was enjoyable (i.e. not unwatchable) and the artwork was good for the most part. The CGI is fairly obvious but to too obtrusive. The characters are well drawn (even if their measurements vary per episode) but, they have no real depth to them. I left the show not really caring too much who lived or died and why.

All in all not entirely a waste of time but still not what I was expecting.

3 out of 5.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fletcher's Eye Surgery

Fletcher had eye surgery today in order to attempt to get his right eye open. He has a ptosis that keeps him from opening his eye very far and so he mostly keeps it closed. He's had this surgery once before with the final results being a scar and nothing more. Bright and early this morning we headed to Children's Hospital to try once again. This time, in the recovery room, we could see more of his eye as he awoke. It's hard to tell yet since there is some swelling and things need to settle a little whether or not this one will work but it is looking good so far.

I had to leave early to take care of some stolen check business but NeeNee said that everything went well on the trip back and that she left him at the Children's Center on the verge of lala land.

I'd like to thank everyone for their prayers.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Burst Angel - DVD Vol 5 of 6

Volume five of Burst Angel starts to pick up the overall pace of things and the story arc concerning the glowing brains. This DVD contains four episodes - episodes 17 through 20 and episode 17 has commentary on it with the English director, Monica Rial and Colleen Clinkenbeard.

The mystery of Jo deepens in Dueling Angels when she meets the pilot of another cybot face to face. The Immortal Classmate is a side step into a filler episode featuring Kyohei - who otherwise has no purpose in this anime so far. 24-Hour Strategy features the return of Takane Katsu from Osaka and deals with another mysterious brain that controls people through transmitted signals - including Takane. RAPT cruisers go wild in the episode Highway Genocide providing more clues to the glowing brains for the gang.

This DVD provides plenty of action and a lot less fan service that the previous volume. I am glad to see that a little is being done to further the story plot. I am a little leery as to whether or not there will be a satisfying ending to it since nothing much has been done to make me care about the characters so far. The mysterious super-girl (or other amnesiac plug-in) thing has been so many times it's getting old. Perhaps there will be big surprises in store - we'll see in the last volume.

Still a 3 out of 5.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Burst Angel - DVD Vol 4 of 6

Burst Angel Vol 4 - Hired GunVolume four of the Burst Angel series contains four episodes. The first episode is the finale of the three part Osaka ordeal. The second episode is a flashback episode which shows us to the first time that Jo and Meg meet. It is apparent that there is more to Jo than meets the eye but, since she has amnesia, who knows... The third episode is an excuse for fan service galore with the gang vacationing at a new swim retreat. The final episode on this DVD is the beginning of another story arc which sees Jo on the run. She winds up in an abandoned village ready to battle the metal demon...

Things are getting a little better story wise as we're seeing a building story arc here. The fan service, as mentioned above, is going a little over the top. I don't mind a little but the amount this shows is mostly embarrassing.

Still a 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Foundation's Triumph

Foundation's TriumphThe third book in the Second Foundation series ends with a fizzle. I don't really know what I was thinking about how these books should end. I especially didn't think that we would get a sermon on how every one must be alike in order to survive as a species. Regardless of whether or not the author truly believes this, the fundamental idea behind this is bad. I have to walk away from this series with the idea that humanity has been manipulated so much by Daneel and the robots that they can no longer take care of themselves as a whole. If they were left alone in the beginning, and no brain fever or chaos plagues (which in itself is ridiculous) would have manifested and humans would have grown on their own and at a much better pace. This is a disappointing story which accomplishes nothing other than to show just how fragile psychohistory is (compared to the original concept) and how dependant it is on human ignorance and pliability. Perhaps this is what Isaac Asimov had intended with his original stories. I don't know - I haven't read them since Junior High (some 25+ years ago) and after reading these don't really want to go back and re-read them either. They were worth the read but just not what I expected. They didn't match the greatness I remember from the original Foundation trilogy.

Burst Angel - DVD Vol 3 of 6

Burst Angel DVD Vol 3 - East Meets WestVolume 3 of the Burst Angel series (East Meets West) contains episodes 9 through 12. The first two episodes are stand alone stories and the second two are the first two parts of a three part story arc taking place in Osaka.

Pretty much the same ol' for these episodes but we get to see a little bit more about Amy and Kyohei in Uncharted Cyberspace. The fan service kicks up a notch in these episodes.

I have to admit that I liked the episodes in Osaka where all of the characters talk in a "Texan" accent. As I understand it, the Osakan dialect in Japan is considered about the same as the Southern dialect in the US. I usually don't like this idea in dubs because not too many voice actors do a convincing Southern or Texan drawl. The inside joke these episode display (I assume that's what this can only be) is what I find funny - and yes, the accents are over-the-top and horrible.

Rating 3 out of 5.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tooth Number Two

Maddie's lost her second tooth last night. It has been loose for a while and she kept asking me to pull it yesterday. Each time it was just a little too tight to come out. Finally I told her I'd try once more before she went to sleep. When we tried then, it popped right out. Of course pulling a tooth just before bedtime isn't the best idea if you want your kid to go to sleep right away. Maddie was pretty excited and Mommy had to take pictures of everything. Finally we settled down and Maddie put her tooth under her pillow and faded off to sleep. This morning Maddie found a "gold dollar" under her pillow and was excited that she now has two "one hundred cents" for her two teeth.

If you want to see pictures and learn more, visit my wife's blog.

Burst Angel - DVD Vol 2 of 6

Burst Angel DVD Vol 2 - New TokyoVolume two of Burst Angel is entitled New Tokyo. This DVD contains episodes 5 through 8.

Things don't get a whole lot better here. There are two story arcs told in two episodes each. Apparently there is something to this glowing brain thing that the creature from the school and the flying bird both have in common. Apart from Jo noticing it, there isn't a whole lot more expanded upon in this area. I looks like these mysterious mutations will be the binding theme for the series but development is very slow at this point. It's still uncertain exactly what these girls are doing and why. I'm still a little unsure of what Kyohei's role is to be after such a fuss was made over him in the first episode.

The characters still are a little bland except for Meg who's ditsy-ness is shown more. I like the background music used in these episodes but I hate the opening theme.

Still a 3 out of 5 for now.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Burst Angel - DVD Vol 1 of 6

Burst Angel - DVD 1 - Death's AngelVolume 1 of Burst Angel (Death's Angel) introduces us to Kyohei Tachibana, a culinary student who wants to earn money so he can study in France to be a pastry chef. He responds to a flier for a job and discovers that there is more to his prospective employers that meets the eye. The four girls who hire him are Meg, Jo, Sei and Amy. They are freelance operatives who have taken on the task of righting wrongs in New Tokyo where everyone wields firearms. They will take on corruption both in the underground and within RAPT - the police force.

So far in this volume we see very little besides the a brief glimpse of each character's personality and a lot of somewhat mundane action. Kyohei is the typical weak and naive male character surrounded by several girls seen in a lot of harem anime (although there is no "romance" as of yet other than their love for his cooking). Sei seems to be the leader of the group since she drives the truck and gives orders. Amy is the brains of the outfit and can do almost anything with a computer. Jo is the brawn - she's quiet and tough and pilots the cybot. Meg is the ditsy one who always gets into trouble and has to be rescued.

At this point the stories are rather bland. I was hoping for a little more umph to start out the series but, as of now, I have little hope that it will be good. The artwork is okay and I do like the voice actors for the girls. I cannot stand the voice for Kyohei though. It sounds a lot like Spike Spencer but is done by Greg Ayers. It sounds completely different from his work on Spiral.

Rating for now is 2 out of 5. Hopefully this will improve...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Fletcher Won't Be Home Labor Day

It looks like Fletcher has C-Diff. He's been feeling bad for a few days now. One of the problems was solved by changing his ventilator settings back to what they previously were. This made him happier but he still has not been up to his standard "happy boy" attitude. My very insightful wife told me a few days ago that she thinks his stomach is hurting. I thought that it might be too but didn't think that it was the cause of anything since I think it usually hurts due to his hernia. Well, it appears that the labs came back and he has C-Diff which can cause stomach discomfort. My wife is right 98.7% of the time (which is better than Rush Limbaugh :). Because of this he's in quarantine for a while. That doesn't mean that we can't see him but it does mean that he cannot leave the unit and that we have to take extra precautions when around him.

We had planned on bringing him home for Labor Day and having the family over to cook hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill. We'll have to scrap that plan now but we'll get to do it some other time...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fletcher's Current Struggles

Yesterday Fletcher had a pretty rough time. When I got to the Children's Center he had been bagged three times and I had to bag him twice myself while there. He seemed to be in a good mood most of the time and yet, every so often and very quickly, he would start to high pressure and desat. I was under the impression that his trach was too loose which would cause it to move around and perhaps get blocked off. I could fit most of my hand between the ties and his neck. I asked the RT to tighten it and she did but I still noticed that whenever he turned his head to the left he got uncomfortable. I told this to Denise and when she was there he was having similar problems. The RT's didn't want to change out his trach saying that when they bagged him they felt no restriction. I may be weird here but, Fletcher had similar problems a while back - almost exactly the same symptoms. When they changed out his trach most of the problems went away. I don't really know why trying to solve this problem in the same way would not work. If nothing else, how could it hurt? Anyway, my wife had his trach changed out this morning after another bad episode. He had to have some poking and prodding done on him which didn't help matters with his mood. We've also asked that his Robinol be dicontinued since that can cause thicker secretions and also itchiness (he's scratching at his head like crazy now). Hopefully these steps will help him since he's mostly happy and doesn't act "sick". The tests that they did shows that he doesn't seem to have any bugs unless he has one of those "catchall" viruses that doctor say you have when nothing else fits.

Just a little info here about our weekend and a short rant about how well parents are listened to by "those who know things" in the medical field. If I am wrong about the problem then I'll admit it but, it still doesn't mean that every little thing we can do to make things right shouldn't be tried.

Love Hina - DVD Vol 6 of 6

The final volume of Love Hina contains the final four episodes (21-24). Extras include a character profile for Haruka and some anime previews. This is a wrap up (more or less) of the story. In the end, all questions are apparently answered in one way or another, or so it seems. Since there are two movies and an OVA series, there is obviously more to it.

As for this series, it was a fun light-hearted anime. It ended in a good way. I enjoyed the animation and character design very much. The dubbing was done well except for the voice of Mitsune which was just too "country" sounding. The opening and closing theme songs were good and really matched the tone of the show in their own ways. What I didn't like is the over-the-top violence. It's just gets irritating after a while when someone (usually Naru) smacks Keitaro into orbit or through several walls. I also thought it was funny how many times she hit Keitaro that everyone gasps when she raised her fist to her little sister. I guess you can only hit certain people and make it funny...

I still have to give this a 3 out of 5 though. I enjoyed watching it but this is not one that I will probably rewatch later.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Love Hina - DVD Vol 5 of 6

Volume five contains episodes 17 through 20. The extras include a character profile for Kaolla and some previews.

Love Hina - DVD Vol 5Things are wrapping up for the series. This disc contains stories about a haunted island that Keitaro's friends take the girls to in order to help him get with Naru - they also have some ulterior motives of their own. The Summer Festival arrives and, with Keitaro and Naru not speaking, Keitaro spends mostly with Shinobu. Kaolla's "big brother" comes to visit who looks just like Keitaro (but more suave and debonair). He must take a bride and wants Kaolla to be his wife. In the forth episode on this disc we finally get to see who Keitaro made his promise to so many years ago about Tokyo U (or so it seems)...

The story continues with the wacky antics and it feels as though we're getting to know the characters better. What will happen next? So far I have no clue and that's one of the things I like about this anime. Rating 3 out of 5.

Friday, August 24, 2007


The wonders of the Internet... I've just been browsing through YouTube, something that I've known about for a while but have never really looked at. I just rented a DVD from one of my favorite bands called Marillion and so I decided to look for a video on You Tube that I could put here.

I first found out about Marillion in 1985, the summer after my first year of college. I had heard Lavender on the radio and my best friend Jon had Misplaced Childhood on tape. From that tape I thought that the name Kayleigh was really cool. So much so, in fact, that I named my first daughter Kayleigh - spelled the same way. Anyway, here is a video of that song from YouTube for your viewing pleasure...

Love Hina - DVD Vol 4 of 6

This DVD contains four episodes (episodes 13 through 16). The extras are a "Making of" video about the English version featuring Wendee Lee and character profiles for Mitsune and Sarah.

Love Hina - DVD Vol 4Volume four of Love Hina continues the story on a little bit. The crazy van driver from an earlier episode that almost ran Keitaro down is back and we find out that he is Naru's old high school crush. His adopted daughter Sarah McDougal is introduced also. Mitsume tries to save Naru's feelings by keeping her away from Seta but since Keitaro works for him that becomes more and more difficult to do. When Naru finally does meet up with him again, Keitaro thinks he's got everything figured out and tries to do the the "brave" thing and step aside. This is an enjoyable anime, funny and way over the top.

Oh well, the soap opera of Love Hina moves on at a bearable pace. I should have the last two DVD's this weekend to wrap up the series and then it's on to the two movies and Love Hina Again.

Rating 3 out of 4.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Love Hina - DVD Vol 3 of 6

Volume three contains four episodes (9 through 12) and the extras are an interview with the director and a character profile for Shinobu.

I don't know what I thought this show was going to be about. I guess maybe I had more in mind something like Azumanga Diaoh but this is not like that. We are taken out of reality on many occasions is a world that more resembles Ranma or something like that. Episode 9 was a mystery episode in where everyone was looking for the missing rent money. Episode 10 started in with the "magical girl" thing where Kaolla was somehow able to grow older by looking at the red moon (which stayed full for several nights in a row). In episode 11 Naru suddenly becomes an idol singer. In episode 12 Motoko has to dress like a girl which causes her to loose her kendo abilities - and just at the time when the dreaded mecha turtle attacks.

Half way through and I'm still not too sure where this is leading except in the endless cycle of mayhem and hijinks.

This is still a good anime but not what I was expecting. Rating 3 out of 5.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Love Hina - DVD Vol 2 of 6

Love Hine - DVD Vol 2The second volume of Love Hina gets zanier and funnier. I appears that Naru and Keitaro are getting closer as strange things happen when they take separate trips to Kyoto. The rest of the girls, thinking that they might be contemplating suicide due to their failure to get into Tokyo U, take off to find them before it's too late.

More strangeness ensues when Keitaro competes with Kentaro for a date with Naru to Never Land. Then a dream sequence episode with Motoko which has quite a few jabs at Japanese cliques with a magical girl sequence and a song similar to Mothra's summoning song among others.

Extras on this DVD include Keitaro's song book which include the lyrics and a clip from the "Legendary Hot Spring Turtle" song and a character profile for Motoko.

I don't usually give half ratings but, since this is creeping up to 4, I'll give it a 3 1/2 out of 5 (for now).

Monday, August 20, 2007

Love Hina - DVD Vol 1 of 6

Love Hina - DVD Vol 1Volume one of Love Hina contains the first four episodes. This anime is somewhat wacky and so far entertaining but not overly funny. The story revolves around a boy named Keitaro who, as a child, promised a girl that he would get into Tokyo University with her when they got older. She moved away and he cannot remember her name but plans on keeping the promise just the same. So far he's failed twice to pass the entrance exams. Down on his luck and needing a job, his grandmother comes to the rescue by deciding to retire and leaving the management of her apartment up to him. What he doesn't realize is that the apartment is an all-girl's dorm and his employment there is anything but welcomed by the tenants.

So far things are starting out like your standard harem anime - wacky but enjoyable. The artwork is pretty good and the character designs are nice. There is over-the-top violence as well with Keitarou getting the brunt of it. Not one character stands out yet except for the NeiA_7 look-a-like Kaolla who is pretty funny.

Extras on this DVD include Keitaro's sketchbook and character profiles for Keitaro and Naru.

So far I'll give this a 3 out of 5. Hopefully this will get better as I've read a few good reviews of this series.

Fantastic Children - DVD Vol 6 of 6

The final volume of Fantastic Children contains the last four episodes (episodes 23 through 26). The extras on the disc are previews and an extra ending which is a good addition to the finale of the series. All of the components of the story culminate in a satisfying ending but one that is predictable from early on in the series. My rating of 3 out of 5 holds to the end as I liked the show but probably would not re-watch it - a good rental. One of the disappointments to the story was Detective Cooks. He really didn't have a role in the end. I can only guess that his and Alice's characters were only there to give background of the other characters for our benefit.

Fantastic Children DVD Vol 6

Fantastic Children - DVD Vol 5 of 6

Fantastic Children DVD Vol 5This volume contains four episodes (episodes 19 through 22) and no extras save for some previews. In this DVD we see much of the story come together as Tina's fate and Dumas's plans are revealed. This volume slowly works toward the climax of the series and much information is learned. The pain of all of the characters and their decisions are shown and the tragedies that have led up to where they are now. A good story maintains itself but with nothing extraordinary to really set it apart. 3 of 5 rating.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Treble Makers

Yesterday Fletcher performed at The Children's Center in the Treble Makers concert. This is an annual performance that the kids do there. This year the theme was Oklahoma celebrating the 100th anniversary of statehood. Fletcher played the drums for "I've Been Working on the Railroad." He was not in the best of moods and when he got up in front of everyone he decided that he didn't want to play. I was fun watching him though. He did a little clap when he first got up there which was cute. His mother, sisters and I were there along with both grandmothers and a few friends. Afterwards, NeeNee was interviewed by Channel 9 New which was pretty cool. If you want to see some pictures the go to my wife's blog - she has some there.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fantastic Children - DVD Vol 4 of 6

This DVD contains four episodes - episodes 15 through 18. There are no extras other than previews.

Fantastic Children DVD Vol 4The story in this volume takes a turn as Helga (Tina) starts to remember her past lives. She starts by remembering Seraphine her previous incarnation and then moves on to Christine the one before that. It is not apparent whether she begins to remember her past on Girishia or not but the story moves on into that past as well. We learn about that planet and the benevolent king and his daughter Tina. All seems happy at the palace except that there are machinations by the king's brother to take the throne. Seth and Solan vie for the hand of Princess Tina and when Solan wins out, Seth concedes to him but still vows to protect her. One day a bomb meant for the King explodes and gravely wounds Tina. She dies but not before the King orders his scientists to reincarnate her using the Zone that they've discovered. They do and also place an Orsel weapon in her at the King's request. When his brother discovers this he attempts to use her against the King but things get out of hand and she starts destroying everything. She badly injures Seth but Solan calms her before going too far.

The story goes more into sci-fi mode as we learn the histories of the white-haired children and what they are doing on Earth. Things are getting a little more exciting and a little more depressing as things progress. I'll still have to give this a 3 out of 5.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Blog Layout Change

OK, so I've changed the look of this blog. I was getting tired of the old template as it appeared that every other blog I visit uses the same one. So here's the new look. I'll probably change this on later too but, "so it goes."

Fantastic Children - DVD Vol 3 of 6

Fantastic Children DVD Volume 3Volume three contains four episodes and no extras other than previews. The story starts to build in the first three episodes as all of the groups (except for Cooks and Alice) come together. The fourth episode on this disc (episode 14 overall) is a recap episode with nothing new in it. I have to say, I hate recap episodes and wonder why anyone includes them into the story other than for filler. That aside, it looks like the story will start to get more interesting from here on out now that we know who the white-haired children are and why they were looking for Helga. There is still a bit of mystery behind the Zone and what Dumas' role is with it.

More than half way through the series and it's still looking pretty good. Still a 3 out of 5 for now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Foundation and Chaos

Foundation and Chaos by Greg BearI've finally finished Foundation and Chaos by Greg Bear. I started this book a while ago but had to interrupt reading when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out. Then I went on a tangent and read The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow. I made up my mind to finish this book before I started on The Children of Hurin and thus I will have to wait until I get to the third book in this series.

This book (and the series) has been interesting so far but the subject matter is not what I'm in the mood for at this time. I thought it would be having just read a hundred or so light-reading Doctor Who books.

I did enjoy learning about the formation of the Second Foundation and of how robots figured into it. It's been a long time since I've read the Foundation and Robots books by Asimov so I can only remember the basics about these books. You don't have to know much about them to enjoy these books though since they do well as stand alone stories.

The story in this book takes place in Hari Seldon's later part of life. He is arrested and placed on trial for treason. A crux point for humankind is entered and the outcome will determine whether or not Hari can use psychohistory to minimize the downfall of the Empire. This is a good read and I'll rate it a 3 out of 5.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Lost Tooth / VBS

Last night Maddie lost a tooth... Her first loose tooth! I got a text message while I was watching the Bourne Ultimatum with my Dad that she had a loose tooth. Evidently this was very emotional for her and her mother as they ran the gamut between happiness and crying. Last night Maddie had been messing with it so much that it was hanging on by a thread. After her Aunt Kristi tried a few times with a washrag to pull it, she finally asked me to try. I pulled it and there was much rejoicing, and a few tears from her mother. Last night she didn't go to sleep for a long time as she anxiously awaited the Tooth Fairy (or as she calls it her Fairy Godmother) to come. Fortunately she awoke before I left this morning so I could see how excited she was with the shiny dollar left behind.

Maddie with a Loose Tooth
Maddie showing off her loose tooth

Maddie with a Missing Tooth
Maddie showing off her missing tooth (one day later)

Please note that the gap on top is not a missing tooth, just a gap - in case you're wondering :)

Last week our church had Vacation Bible School and Maddie and her Friend Lauren went. NeeNee taught the Bible Challenge and Maddie has yet to figure out that she cannot hang all over her when she's trying to teach the other kids also. It is funny to watch but frustrating at the same time. Kayleigh helped out in one section at VBS also. I don't have a picture of her in a beard or as a leper but here is a poor quality pic from my phone of her anyway. I think this was the night that she was making the dove land on Jesus' head.

Kayleigh at VBS

Fantastic Children - DVD Vol 2 of 6

Fantastic Children DVD Volume 2Fantastic Children Volume 2 builds on the story arcs started in volume 1 as they begin to come together. We get more background on the children from Detective Cooks as he heads off to investigate new clues with Alice. Meanwhile, Tohma helps out Helga and Chitto and his mother brings them into their house. The children discover that Helga is one of them and start to search for her not knowing that she's run away from the orphanage. Gherta is before the council at GED and we find out that they have discovered a new dimension - possibly the dimension after death - and are wanting to anounce the discovery and put the country they work for on the map technologically. Cooks's leads take him and Alice to GED where they are captured.

A few questions are answered in this DVD raising many more.

Extras include nothing more than previews for other series and a clean closing.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Fantastic Children - DVD Vol 1 of 6

Fantastic Children DVD Vol 1Volume one of Fantastic Children contains the first five episodes of a 26 episode series. The mystery of the series is being built in this volume as we really don't know a whole lot about what's going on. So far there are at least four different stories running. One having to do with the white-haired children spanning from 1859 to 2012; a second one with a young boy named Tohma and a young orphan named Helga; a third dealing with Detective Cooks who is investigating missing persons which leads him to questions about the white-haired children; and fourth about a company named GED.

So far there is plenty to keep you guessing about what's going on. There is not yet a whole lot to like about the characters though. Tohma is okay, Chitto it a brat (besides his name sounding like a snack food) and Helga is annoying. None of the white-haired children are seen enough to really relate to yet but you do feel that there is a sadness to them - which I'm sure we'll discover later.

So far plenty of mystery keeps this interesting and yet slow pacing is causing me some problems. Perhaps I'm just not really in the mood for this type of series yet again. Hopefully that will all take care of itself when the story unfolds more.

Extras on this DVD include a few previews for other series and a clean opening.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Grenadier - DVD Vol 3 of 3

Grenadier Volume 3 - Touch and GoGrenadier volume 3 was a good ending to a lighthearted fun anime. This was enjoyable as long as the suspension of disbelief factor was turned on high. The ending battle between Rushuna and Tenshi's double was really rather good. I have to agree with what the director said on the commentary though - it was too short. It reminded me of the fight scenes in the movie Equilibrium. All-in-all a good break from the more serious anime I've been watching.

This DVD contains four episodes and has commentaries on each one. Also included is the "In The Meantime" Theater again. A making of documentary is included about the director of the show as well.

Overall series rating: 3 out of 5.

And now on to Fantastic Children...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sea of Shadow

Book Cover for The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of ShadowI just finished The Twelve Kingoms: Sea of Shadow written by Fuyumi Ono, translated by Alexander O Smith and Elye J Alexander and published in the US by TOKYOPOP. I had to get this book after watching the anime. Unfortunately there are several more volumes - none of which have been published in English yet. I seem to always get myself mixed up in series that take forever to finish.

Anyway, the book goes into better explanation of the world of the Twelve Kingdoms than the anime did as one would expect. It also has no references to Sugimoto after Yoko leaves Japan or to Asano in it at all. This is fine with me since those characters were just tedious in the anime. This story deals primarily with Yoko and her coming to grips with her new role in a strange world. She starts out as a young girl who doesn't want to upset anyone - a people-pleaser. While trying to make it in her new world, she becomes disillusioned with all those around her to the point of not trusting anyone. She becomes cold and uncaring to others. Eventually she looks within herself to discover who she really wants to be and is finally able to make the hard decisions that she must.

As with anything - the book is much better than the show. It contains most of the story from the anime told in the Shadow of the Moon, Sea of the Shadow chapters. The only problem I have is how long we'll have to wait between volumes and whether or not all volumes will be published. I want to find out how it all ends - something that the anime failed to do.

I give this book a 4 out of 5.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Grenadier - DVD Vol 2 of 3

I watched the second volume of the completely outrageous Grenadier this weekend. It's an enjoyable story so far but entirely over-the-top. We're getting a little more character development and a new character joins the main cast, Mikan. The episode pacing picks up a little also.

The trio of travellers begin their journey back to Tento to discover why it is that Tenshi has issued a warrant for Rushuna. They meet up with a few Juttensen (Tenshi's guards) on the way.

This DVD volume contains four episodes and two shorts in the extra titled "In The Meantime" Theater which are rather funny. It also has commentary with the Japanese actors for each of the four episodes.

So far I still rate this a 3 out of 5.

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 10 of 10

Finally finished the Twelve kingdoms anime with the tenth volume. 45 episodes, whew, one of the longest anime I've seen. Unfortunately, it didn't end. Way too many open plot threads, the main one is the resolution of Tai's leaders and Sugimoto's role. Anyhow, it was very enjoyable and has made me get the first volume published in English. Now I must wait patiently for the rest to be published...

The Twelve Kingdoms DVD Vol 10 - Reverie

Friday, August 03, 2007

Grenadier - DVD Vol 1 of 3

Grenadier DVD Vol 1 - Service With a SmileI've been waiting on the final volume of Twelve Kingdoms to arrive from Houston and in the meantime I got the first disk of Grenadier "Service With a Smile". This is quite a departure from the seriousness of the anime I've been watching lately. This volume introduces us to Rushuna and her travelling companion Yajiro. Rushuna is a gun expert and Yajiro is a ninja. She has been asked by her sensei Tenshi to travel around and teach that people don't always need to fight. She believes that the best way to win a battle is to take away the other person's desire to fight - mainly with a smile... When this doesn't work, she is very proficient with her weapons as well - to an unimaginable degree of accuracy. Her reloading technique is unique as well - one you would have to see to believe.

So far the stories have been building on the world the characters live in with little character development. We have seen a little of Rushuna's past learning from Tenshi and we also discover why it is that Yajiro fights with a sword and not with guns. The second and third episodes are a two-parter that introduces Clown. He has an agenda which has yet to be revealed. In episode four we learn a little bit more about Tenshi and the fact that Yajiro doesn't like her. It is questionable at this point if there is a connection with Clown and Tenshi but it looks likely that there is.

All in all this was is an enjoyable anime so far if for no other reason than it's a departure from other types of series I've been watching recently. So far I give it a 3 out of 5. Due to the fan service I wouldn't recommend this to younger audiences.

Extras on this DVD include a pre-production show aired in Japan before the series was released. Also included is a textless opening song and alternate versions of the opening and ending theme.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Kayleigh's Home

Kayleigh's home from her vacation in Mississippi. Her grandparents brought her home on Friday and we were all glad to see her! She's gotten quite a bit darker with all the swimming she's done. She had to go straight away on a mission trip the next day. They brought a friend of her's named Marley home with them and she went along also. They spent two days helping others here in the city.

Maddie couldn't contain herself she was so happy to see Kayleigh. I'm sure she bugged her a lot but she was just so happy to see her big sister.

We all got to go to the Children's Center to see Fletcher and he was happy to see everyone also. It's great to have the whole family together again, if not in the same house, at least in the same city :)

We all went to Bricktown and rode the boats and I have to admit that things have changed quite a bit since I was there last - about three or four years ago.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 9 of 10

The Twelve Kingdoms DVD Vol 9 - AtonementThis volume ends the long running story arc A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn. There are no extras on this DVD other than previews.

The three separate stories of Yoko, Suzu and Shoukei come together with a very good resolution. I really enjoy the rich fantasy world that has developed over this anime - so much so that I went out and bought the first volume translated into English the other day by Fuyumi Ono.

I understand that the anime did not end the story since the series of novels had not been finished at the time. Hopefully I will not be too disapointed by this fact when the tenth volume arrives. I will also be looking forward to the next six books when they are published.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fletcher Achievements

Yesterday Fletcher moved down to one liter of oxygen from the two he's currently on. This lasted less than a day but it is a good sign that he's continuing to improve.

We have been working with him on the parts of his face - you know - eyes, ears, mouth, nose, etc. He's been real good on the nose and ears for a while but, yesterday was the first time he pointed to his eye when I asked him to. I thought that this was pretty awesome.

Another thing my wife told me is that he ate about 25 cc's by mouth. She is going to try and continue this each day and feed him herself when she can. It would be great to get him more practice eating by mouth!

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 8 of 10

The Twelve Kingdoms DVD Vol 8 - AllianceThis volume of the Twelve Kingdoms kicks into a higher gear. We have the three main protagonists, Suzu, Shoukei and Yoko slowly drawing together. Neither Suzu or Shoukei knows what the new Queen of Kei looks like (and neither do most of the citizens of Kei). Yoko continues to learn of the curruption in her kingdom and also comes to realize that she is the cause of some of it through her ignorance. Suzu and Shoukei both flip flop independantly toward believing in the new queen and blaming her. The highly derranged Asano continues to make his presence known. Thinking that all of this is a game he teams up with the evil lord Shoukou. This thinking drives him to do some terrible things. Suzu and Shoukei find themselve in two different factions working toward the same goal. Both factions are hoping to catch the new queen's attention. Little do they know that they already have it. This DVD ends with a rather big cliffhanger.

There are no extras on this DVD other that a few previews for other anime.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 7 of 10

The Twelve Kingdoms DVD Vol 7 - ReflectionVolume seven is better in that there are some intersting developments happening now. Asano is back and obviously worse for wear. Yoko has trouble understanding what she is to do as a ruler and so wants to understand the people better first. Suzu journies to find Queen Kei so that she will have someone to talk to that is sympathetic to her plight. Shoukei meets up with Rakushun and they also journey toward Kei. I like the way that things are coming together here. Also, especially with Suzu and Shoukei, I like the character development. These two start with goals that are oposite to one another and then switch their feelings toward Queen Kei. What Shoukei originally sets out to do, Suzu takes up as her goal but for a different reason. Yoko is also being plagued again by the vision from her sword.

There is still a summary episode but this one is done better in that there is still story development going on.

There are no extras on this disc other that DVD previews.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 6 of 10

The sixth volume begins the A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn story arc. We basically see three stories being told at once here. One involves a girl named Suzu who came here about 100 years ago and has been serving as a handmaiden during that time under a ruthless mistress in Sai. Another deals with the daughter of a horrible king in Hou named Shoukei. Her parents were dethroned and killed and she was exiled. Yoko's story continues as well as she has her official crowning ceremony in Kei. Suzu hears of this and sees hope that she may be able to talk to her and get home. Shoukei hears of this and is filled with hatred toward her in that she's got everything that she once had.

As Yoko learns of how her kingdom works, she is faced with making decisions that will effect lives. She also must deal with the dead scabbord that begins to pull at her mind again as well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 5 of 10

The Twelve Kingdoms Vol 5 - ForgottenThe fifth installment of the Twelve Kingdoms is four episodes long and the extra on the disc is an interview with one of the character designers for the series. The series has now become a little tedious. The final episodes of the Sea of the Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth. We see more exposition on the life of Taiki and his chosing of a king and then more history of the world of the Twelve Kingdoms. The story line needs to start building toward something in my opinion. Maybe we'll see some of this in the next installment. Still a good story but a little lacking at this point.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Cover for Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsThis has probably been the most anticipated book for me. I have had to wait for books before - especially with the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant which were published no sooner that 18 months apart. I really couldn't wait just after I finished Half-Blood Prince but the excitement settled a little. Then The Order of the Phoenix movie came out and then, before you knew it, the seventh and final book was to be released. About mid-week I couldn't wait. I didn't camp out or anything but I did go to Wal-Mart Saturday and got me a copy. I finished it Sunday night (Monday morning actually) and I will say that it had a very satisfying ending. I will also say that almost everything I predicted in the sixth book turned out how I thought it would.

I'm not going to spoil anything for those two or three people that read this blog but, I will apologize to my wife the being in another world for a couple of days.

After reading the epilogue I felt satisfied with the series as a whole. J K Rowling, while not writing a masterpiece in my opinion, has finished a nicely woven story that was very entertaining. That's one of the most important things. I have read books I considered masterpieces and that I could put down for a day or two with no problems. J K Rowling has a gift that is not too common in writers, the ability to make you want to read the next chapter at the finish of each one. Regardless of the climax, I consider a book to be good if this is true. A good ending is an added bonus and this book had that as well.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 4 of 10

The fourth installment of The Twelve Kingdoms changes tracks a little. Now that Yoko has been chosen Queen of Kei, she must travel with Keiki to Mount Hou to make it official. Once there she is treated to a story about Taiki, a kirin born in Japan. Sugimoto, now in Japan, follows a boy named Kaname Takasato and qustions him about his apparent familiarity with the Twelve Kingdoms.

The Twelve Kingdoms Vol 4This DVD spends most of its time focused on the past when Taiki was born in Japan and then brought to Mount Hou at the age of ten. The story is told to Yoko by Youka, the lady that helped teach Taiki, and Keiki who also helped.

Yoko is in this very little and most of this DVD emphasizes the differences of cultures in the two worlds. We know that Taiki left Japan at age ten and returned a year later and we also see some of the things that have happened to him in that time. The problem is that Sugimoto knows him as an older boy that doesn't seem to remember anything about being "Spirited Away". As we learn about his past and his searching for a king of Tai, we are also in the present day Japan learning about him from Sugimoto. Mostly these episodes are historical at this point but I'm sure more time will be spent with Sugimoto later.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 3 of 10

The Twelve Kingdoms DVD Vol 3I just finished volume three of the The Twelve Kingdoms. This four episode DVD wraps up the first segment of the story: Shadow of the Moon, Sea of the Shadow. I have been pleased so far with the story. I have always appreciated it when writers are able to build a world that has it's own rules and laws and can do so believably and with a depth of history. This is also one of the main reasons I liked Banner of the Stars so well. I also find myself liking the characters in this story so far. Yoko makes some tough decisions taking on responsibilities that will cause her to miss her old life while Sugimoto also grows up some.

The only problem I have is with episode 13. The explanation for the hunting down of Joei is done too quickly and we don't get to see exactly why Yoko feels as she does at the end of the episode when she's talking to Sugimoto.

Also, episode 14 is a filler episode in which Yoko and Rakushun talk about the events that have happened in the previous 13. If I were watching these weekly as they were broadcast then that would be fine but, watching them on DVD in succession made this a redundant story. It did put all of the information we've learned so far about the Twelve Kingdoms together in a nice neat package though.

I should have the next DVD arriving soon and can't wait to see how the next segment, Sea of the Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth, will turn out and who that mysterious boy that Sugimoto met back in Japan is.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 2 of 10

Twelve Kingdoms DVD 2 - EmpressI just finished the 2nd DVD of The Twelve Kingdoms - Empress.  I have enjoyed the story so far, it has a real epic feel to it (as I supposed it should being 45 episodes long). This DVD contains episodes six through ten. I rented these from NetFlix because I wanted to get into a long episodic anime.  Anime News Network has these rated very high also.

These episodes start out with the survival of Yoko after Sugimoto beats her in combat.  Kourin stopped her from killing her.  She's lost Asano in the conflict and finds herself nursed to health by a giant rat named Rakushun.  He tells her she needs to get out of Kou and into the kingdom of En.  They set out together.

On the journey, Yoko is plagued by visions from Aozaru who continues to cause her doubts and fears to take over.  She finally overcomes this to make her way to En with a troop of entertainers.  Once there she meets up with Rakushun again and, with the help of a local teacher, a kaikayu, gets more information on the world in which she's found herself.  She is introduced to King En who believes that she is the rightful queen of Kei.

These episodes do a good job of keeping you entertained and at the same time answering just enough questions to make you want more. The history and setup of the 12 kingdoms is interesting.  They are apparently based on some Han-era Chinese mythology that I know very little about.

There is also a lot of character development in these episodes as we see a swing from selfish, evil Sugimoto back to a somewhat sympathetic charcter and then to a hopeless, honor bound lackey for King Kou. Yoko also follows the prodings of her visions to become a non-caring person out for her own survival into a caring and compassionate person who wants to believe in people because that's her choice.

I am calmly awaiting the next installment.

Monday, July 16, 2007

This Ugly Yet Beautiful World

This Ugly Yet Beautiful WorldI finished This Ugly Yet Beautiful World last night.  This is a twelve episode anime that I rented from NetFlix.  I rented it first off because the title seemed interesting.  It also has a closing theme sung by Yoko Ishida - she sings the opening themes for Ah! My Goddess and I like her voice. Anyway, it was an entertaining series although fairly weak in places. The story was interesting but the execution was a little slow and the ending was slightly weak as well. It was left open to interpretation though.

I would suggest renting this series because it was fun even if it's not a masterpiece.

A Trip to Mississippi

Well we just got back from Mississippi.  We took the girls to see Kayleigh's grandparents in Clinton. We had to leave Fletcher here and spent a whole three days without seeing him. It was tough but we had a good time while we were there. When we got back we went straight to the Children's Center to see the happy boy.

Maddie did well on the trip, better than I thought she would after being cooped up in a van for nine hours each way. The portable DVD players we took with us helped in that area :) Kayleigh is spending a couple weeks with her grandparents so we left her there. We're gonna miss her...

We had a great time but we're also glad to be back home.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Foundation's Fear

I have just finished the first book in the Second Foundation Trilogy authorized by the Isaac Asimov Foundation titled Foundation's Fear by Gregory Benford. I got these three books from my Dad who picked up a few books that were being thrown out somwhere.  I was reluctant to read them because I liked the Foundation Series and the subsequent books Asimov published tying in these with the Robot Series.  I finally broke down and read the first one and was mildly surprised.  I enjoyed it.

These books are stories that take place during Hari Seldon's life and deal with his development of psychohistory.  This book in particular deals with his pre-Minister days leading up to his appointment as First Minister of the Empire.  This book shows us some of the interworkings of Trantor and the political struggles there.  The worries about the Empires fall and what can be done to prevent it.  It involves Daneel from the Robot books also as we learn a little (very little) about the pre-Empire days.  I would recommend reading this for any true Sci-Fi fan.

I have started on the second in the series: Foundation and Chaos by Greg Bear.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

No MRSA for Fletcher

We got good news Thursday. Fletcher has had two MRSA tests come back negative. He has had MRSA for 15 months. It has been in his lungs and now it is clear which means he should be having fewer problems. He's also being weaned off of some of the steroids that he's been on and this is a slow process. He's been on them for a long time and so they have to give his body the chance to catch up with making them on it's own. He has been crankier lately and we think that that's the reason. He's a tough boy though and should be able to handle it.

Here is a picture of Fletcher and me at home on the 4th of July.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I've Got a Blog, WooHoo!

So I've broken down and started a blog. Since my wife and daughter have one here (See NeeNee's Blog and Miss Kayleigh in my blog list), I decided I've got to have one also. I am not so sure what I will put here but we'll just see as we go along.

See ya...