Anime no Omoide: Bubblegum Crisis

Anime no Omoide: Bubblegum Crisis

I’ve decided to resurrect an old series of posts called Boku no Anime no Omoide (My Anime Memories), discussing the various series and movies I’ve seen throughout my life that has had an impact on my fandom of this genre of storytelling.

BGCTitlesWay back in the days of my budding anime fandom, a dear friend of mine pulled me aside and said he had something to show me. It was called ‘Bubblegum Crisis,’ and he was positive that I would enjoy it. Now, of course, I had my doubts as to the veracity of his claim. After all, it was kind of a ridiculously absurd name and did not really pique my interest all that much. In response, he simply told me to ignore the name and try not to judge an anime based on the title. I was too tired to put up much of a fight, and after work we ended up at his place and settled in for an afternoon of anime watching.

Yeah, I was taught a rather valuable lesson that day. Had I gone with my instincts of begging off, I would not be the same person I am today. I think, along with many other early titles I watched, Bubblegum Crisis is a staple of anime fandom. At least, it’s a staple of my personal fandom. I’m not talking about the remake from Pioneer/Geneon in the late 90s, either. I’m talking about the late 80s produced original, where you could tell it was all hand-drawn and not computer-assisted. Along with classics like Urusei Yatsura, Choujiku Yosai Macross, Uchuu Senkan Yamato, Kimagure Orange Road, and many others, Bubblegum Crisis is a must-see for any anime fan out there. It’s a common frame of reference, a point of contention between fans over what constitutes a bad dub, and if you haven’t seen it, you’re punched right out of the conversation, I guarantee you.

BGCSyliaStringrayIn short, its summary is this: Four women battle against the out-of-control creations of the Genom corporation: one driven by revenge, one driven by boredom, one driven by excitement, and one driven by loyalty. Led by Miss Sylia Stingray, these Knight Sabers band together to crusade against the injustice of androids with too much power. Underground singer Priss Asagiri, Linna Yamazaki, and police data specialist Nene Romanova round out the group, wearing Stingray-designed hardsuits and kicking some serious Boomer ass through eight episodes of OVA goodness.

Can you sense my enthusiasm? Good.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this series. It delivers action, romance, drama, and a memorable soundtrack the likes of which has never been reproduced. Every character shows a level of depth that you really only got to see in much longer series. What a story like Crisis, it would take a series such as Full Metal Panic or Gundam much more than eight episodes to provide you with a clear background, and even then it took a sequel, Bubbblegum Crash!, to really screw the pooch. Which in a sense was an additional three episodes to the story, but you see how perfect the eight was? It really didn’t even need the full eleven, right?

Though… Crash had good music. What is it with all these series that are bad, but have kickass OSTs?

Not that BGC was any slouch in the OST department. Quite possibly the most recognizable set of vocal tracks in anime history belongs to this series, which includes the perennial Konya wa Hurricane and my personal favorite, Bye, Bye, My Crisis. The latter of which is just a fun song to chairdance to. Also, it took me forever to find the music in the pre-Complete Vocal Collection days. Essentially, the entirety of the soundtrack is an homage to the girl bands of the early 80s; specifically the overall sound and vibe from The Runaways, a band that was a huge hit in Japan in the late 70s.  I could write a full review on the music, itself, so I’ll cut myself short here. The bottom line is, if you haven’t yet watched this series, then crawl out from underneath your rock and get thee hence!

Character-wise, my favorites had to be Priss and Nene.  Priss is singing her heart out in the very beginning of the entire series, and you’re slowly introduced to the rest of the Knight Sabers.  But, I always felt that Nene got something of a bad rap throughout the series until the very last episode of the initial eight.  Priss was shown to be this ass-kicking woman of power.  Even Leon was unable to avoid her charms due to the sheer amount of confidence portrayed within the character.  Nene had a quieter strength that was often overshadowed by her fears.  In battle, she often tended to stay out of the way, or fire wildly while letting out a scream queen-esque shriek at the enemy.  In her own element of research, she showed her prowess, especially in “Scoop Chase.”

BGCNene&PrissThere’s even a scene where Nene is showing the police chief’s niece around in one of those Mini Cooper police cars, and she catches a speeding motorcycle.  A motorcycle that happens to be drive by none other than Priss.  The look on Nene’s face when she realizes that she’s just caught a member of her group and friend is priceless.  Given that the chief’s niece is watching with interest, she can’t just let Priss go.  Especially when Priss is taunting her to not give her that ticket.  Instead, she gather up her courage and issues that ticket, to Priss’ surprise and later anger.

Crisis’ writing did a great job of exposing not just the four members of the Knight Sabers, but some of the supporting characters as well.  Mackie, Sylia’s younger brother, gets his introduction in the first episode as being a bit of a creeper.  Later, he’s developed into a decent mechanic and even ends up with his own hardsuit.  I started kind of shipping him and Nene and I got a reward for that in “Scoop Chase,” where he refuses to leave Nene behind during a climactic scene.

The two AD Police detectives, Leon and Daley, even get a lot of screen time in working things from their angle.  A lot of their cases end up intersecting with the Knight Sabers, so the stories often show things from their perspectives.  Leon’s unabashed interest in Priss is used as a comedic premise and foil, respectively.  Daley is an interesting entry in the story because he’s openly gay, which I hadn’t really seen in an anime up until then.  I enjoyed his obvious flirting with Leon to see his reaction.

Bubblegum Crisis’ story is told and retold over the course of several series.  Beyond the original series, there was the aforementioned sequel (Crash!) and a prequel (A.D. Police Files).  Pioneer/Geneon decided to do a reboot/retelling in Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, which was far less impressive and focused far more on the drama than the comedy.  It, too, had a side-story called A.D. Police (known as A.D. Police: To Protect and Serve in the US).  And then back in 2003, there was an in-universe OVA called Parasite Dolls, which focused again on the AD Police.

Next Time on Anime no Omoide: Macross!

12:00am 2016-01-01

This is a response to the Daily Post’s prompt: Stroke of Midnight

Where was I on New Year’s Eve? I was home.

The last couple of years, I’ve been keen to stay home an celebrate the new year privately with my wife and my best bud and roommate, Shon.  It kind of works out because I don’t get any invitations to go anywhere anymore (I must’ve pissed off too many people or something), as I used in the past.  So, we’ll stay up to midnight, alternate between Univision and KRON-TV.  Univision because Spanish Television is far more interesting than any of the major media outlets (ABC, CBS, NBC, etc) and KRON because it is the last remaining local coverage of the San Francisco fireworks left on the air.  Univision’s ads for their programming is also entertaining as hell, and it makes me want to brush up on my Spanish so I can follow along.  Not to mention, the women on Univision (and Telemundo) are hot as hell.

This year’s San Francisco fireworks were pretty impressive; it looks like the city really went all out this year.  San Jose, on the other hand, had nothing.  When I was a kid, they used to do a huge party in downtown with the big black bowler hat coming down on top of the clock tower (I’m assuming as an homage to the ball dropping in Times Square) but I guess no one wants to pay for that anymore, so the city doesn’t do it.  That stopped happening a while back, actually.  The only city in the Bay Area that does any kind of major celebration is San Francisco.  Oakland, given their distance from the city, probably lets SF pay for their show and then everyone goes to Treasure Island for a front-row seat.  I know that it was mentioned that this year, it was an unusually clear night, so the fireworks weren’t obscured in the slightest.  Even through the shitty cameras of KRON, you could see how awesome they must’ve looked from the ferry building.

In years past, I used to host a huge NYE party with all of the friends that were around back then.  We had built up a gamers’ paradise tradition back in 1994, where we would hunker down at someone’s house and play games all night.  In those days, that usually meant bringing over your Pentium PC, or an N64, or your PlayStation (original).  My buddy, Ken, had his house in San Francisco overlooking City College with this huge balcony.  With the lack of visibility toward the bay, we couldn’t see any fireworks, really.  But we all brought food (I usually cooked), shared a lot of laughs, took breaks watching anime or sitcoms, and enjoyed the company until the wee hours of the morning.  As time went on, we lost touch with some friends, made new ones, but the parties continued through until around 2009, when we decided to do a trip down to Disneyland for New Years.

Disneyland is a whole other ball of wax.  It is crowded as hell.  In order to make it into the park, you need to arrive at the opening of the gates at 9am and then be prepared to hang out in the park all the way to midnight.  Disney’s California Adventure is a great alternative, though, and it also happens to be the one part of the park that serves alcohol.  If you’re looking to ring in the new year with a flute, then you have to go to DCA.  2009 was the first and best year we did Disney.  We went again in 2012, and it SUCKED.  It was so packed, you could not move anywhere by the time you got to the Hub (the big circle in the center of the park).  Kiss any semblance of personal space goodbye, because you were shoulder-to-shoulder with perfect strangers.  I kept my hands in my pockets, and sure enough, someone kept trying to reach in to grab my wallet… it was a pickpocket’s dream.

People were getting trampled as we were trying to get the hell out of there and over to DCA, because I knew that it would be far less crowded.  Sure enough, you could breathe over there.  After that, I think Julia and I made it clear that if we should happen to be down at the Disneyland Resort for New Year’s in the future, we would choose DCA over Disneyland.  A lot of fun, less people, you could get on a lot of the rides.  The only drawback is that after the New Year is rung in, they shut down DCA and force everyone to either go home, go into Downtown Disney, or take their chances back in Disneyland.  We went back to the hotel, obviously.

Next year, I don’t know where I’ll be to ring in 2017.  Maybe someone will put together a party and toss an invite, or maybe I’ll just be home again.  Either way, I hope that it’ll be the end to an amazing 2016.

Happy New Year!

The current cap logo of the San Francisco GiantsWelcome to 2016!

Beyond the fact that this is an even-numbered year and I think it’s time that the Giants emerge victorious as the World Series Champions, I’m also going to be turning forty in June.  So, while the Giants are duking it out in the National League West in the heat of the summer sun, I will (hopefully) be celebrating with friends and family to usher in the new era of my life…

MIDDLE AGE.

Holy shit, it’s weird to see that in writing.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2016 holds.  I’m going to try and put more thoughts down in this blog, which has been pretty dormant for a number of years. I’m hoping to put in some time and some discipline to seeing how far I can get.  I’m going to be following a list of daily prompts courtesy of WordPress.com’s Daily Post.  I’m kind of ignoring today’s prompt to do the setup on this renewal.

I’m not looking for any interaction, either.  I mean, it’s cool if someone wants to comment, but mostly I’m just going to use this to express myself a little and talk about shit that interests me.  Y’know, the usual typical self-absorbed garbage that makes up most blogs.

Enjoy, and happy new year!

Picking Up The Habit

Well, I’m going to try and pick up the habit of blogging, as I used to in the past.  I’m not sure if I can keep it up, but I’m going to give it a try.  So, stay tuned for more content coming soon.

The Soylent Project: An Introduction

The Soylent Project: An Introduction

I’d been reading about a new meal replacement system that attempts to replace the need for hunting and gathering by reducing the core components of what you need to survive into a powder form.  One of the writers at Ars Technica also wrote about his experiences with this product, named Soylent.  According to the advertising and the daily journal, all you needed to do was add water and some pre-packaged oil and you have a liquid meal ready-to-eat.  I went to their website back in July of 2014 and decided that I would try it for a week to see if I could stomach it (pun intended, sorry).

I visited their site to place an order and I didn’t realize how backed up their shipments were.  It looked like that for the $70 I paid out, I might not receive my first shipment until late September.  That’s no trouble, really.  After all, it wasn’t as though I were dying of hunger.  I just pushed off my plans until September.

And then September arrived and still no Soylent.  I received an email saying that they were tremendously backed up and that shipments were being sent out to current subscribers to their product.  New subscribers (myself) would get lower priority.  Made sense to me; after all, if you’re already on the plan, then you would need to have priority over people who aren’t.  This required me to have some more patience, though, as they projected another 10-12 weeks (4 months) before I would see my first bag of food-powder.

In between then, I flew to the United Kingdom on a work assignment and returned in late December to find my first shipment of Soylent waiting for me.

Therefore, I begin this project with this shipment and hope to report on what it is doing to me over time.  To properly introduce my vitals, I am rather obese (330 lbs) for my height (5 feet, 9 inches).  I’m not looking for this to be a silver bullet, but I am interested in simplifying a way to eat healthy in order to maximize the exercise program I’m going through.  For reference, I am switching off cardio and weight-lifting every other day with the following routine:

  • Day 1: 40 minutes cardio, 5 minutes cardio cool down.
  • Day 2: 20 minutes cardio, 20 minutes weight-lifting, 5 minutes cardio, 20 minutes weight-lifting, 5 minutes cardio cool down.

I will continue to post under this category and tags to track my progress.

Weekend of Frustration

Weekend of Frustration

 

Last Friday, I ordered a RAM upgrade for my gaming rig.  I built it about two years ago and thought I was styling at 8 gigs, but since I had opted to buy an upgrade for my wife’s Mac mini, I figured that I could use another 8 gigs to bring me to 16.  I ordered both of our upgrades off of Amazon, since I had a gift card that needed burning.  I expected it on Tuesday, but they delivered it on Saturday morning, to my surprise and elation.  I did what anyone would do; I installed the RAM, ran CMOS and saved the new memory configuration and then rebooted it.

When the machine came back up with a listing  of 16 gigs and launched into Windows, I was pretty confident that I wasn’t going to have any troubles.  Unfortunately, after about ten minutes of use and the launch of various programs that I start up every day, I was met with the following BSOD:

BSOD

Close, but this is from Windows XP. Also, mine specified different files.

It dumped out into the BSOD and then came to a halt, long enough for me to get down the specific STOP code, which I was partially familiar with.  I did what any good tech would do… I rebooted into safe mode and started working on it.  I ran the various checks and utilities, I reset the page file size to reflect the new RAM total (for the record, take your pagefile off of system-managed, and set it to 1.5 times your physical RAM).  And then I rebooted again into normal mode.  I got a different BSOD complaining about IRQ not being equal, which kind of raises the ol’ eyebrow.  At this point, I was getting a little concerned and feeling my frustration level rise.  What if Amazon shipped me out some bad hardware?

DIMMs Bad

3 of the 4 DIMMs failed a majority of the tests.

I downloaded Memtest86 at Josh‘s recommendation, and I find out that there’s a forked project called Memtest86+, which will now allow me to use a flash drive to install it and use it to boot up in.  I run it, go to sleep that night and wake up to the screen you see at the right.  Yeah, that’s a fuckton of errors, folks.  Covering addresses for three (that’s right, THREE) of the four DIMMs that Amazon shipped me.  They failed six of the ten total tests per pass, on three separate passes.  I was absolutely livid over this.  Because, it’s not like I went over to a brick-and-mortar and picked up bad hardware that I can drive and return to in order to get a replacement or a refund… I have to RMA this box of DIMMs back to Amazon and wait for them to receive it via UPS Ground, first.

Also, it was well after 2am on Sunday morning, so I was screwed until Fry’s opened up at 9am.  I took out the RAM, put in the original DIMMs, rebooted.. and Windows worked like a champ.  No errors or BSODs.  At least I had a working machine to play with until the sun came up over the horizon.  Which I did, because nothing alleviates frustration than tearing others a new asshole on Tribes for hours on end.

I was at Fry’s only two minutes after they unlocked the doors.  Now, under normal circumstances, flagging some poor working schleb over there is kind of a crap shoot during their prime hours.  They usually ignore me unless I stare someone down, or go to the desk and ask for assistance.  However, when you’re the first person in the store, it’s like you’re a celebrity.  I was walking through various departments to get to the computer component area and sales staff were all over me, asking me if I needed help.  I guess they were all looking for that first commission of the day or something.

So, I made it to the right area.  I was looking at the DIMM prices for the one I wanted, and within ten seconds, I had one on me asking me if I needed help.  The thing about Fry’s is, never ask these guys for advice.  Never.  If you go in knowing exactly what you want, take down the Fry’s PLU number and then say, “I want one of ######.”  They’ll go right to their computer, print out your little receipt so you can take it to the cage in customer service and buy it.  If you don’t know what you want, then call a friend on your cell, look it up on Wikipedia, Google for it, do anything except ask these chuckleheads for advice.  They don’t know shit about shit, other than making a sale.  They will smell your lack of confidence and jump on you like a starving man at a free all-you-can-eat buffet.  Anyway… I got the DIMMs and picked up a couple of cans of compressed air to I could clean out the case, then left the store to return home.

Don’t get me started on the bitterant, either.  That shit is nasty.

Old Ram

The old set of RAM, the original 8GB I had installed.

I replace the RAM again, go through the whole thing.  I clean out the case, which desperately needed it.  As soon as I bring up the computer, I get a BIOS checksum error.  I go into the CMOS, save the new memory configuration and reboot.  Same thing, checksum error.  It’s Award BIOS, I use my laptop to find out how to correct it, and it turns out that I never activated the backup recovery option when I installed it.  To make matters worse, I’m running Revision 3 and the site says they’re up to Revision 11.  Another RAM swap back to the original, I download the new Rev and apply it using the Windows flash utility.  I restart the machine, the computer gives me ten short beeps and it shuts down.  I restart it again and launch into CMOS, this time it seems to load fine.  Save the config, restart.. ten short beeps and it shut down on its own.

Fuck!

I try restarting it, and it comes up, but it freaks out over the configuration.  So I just reset the whole thing, delete it and flash it back to default.  I don’t bother to save any of the old configuration files.  It comes up again, this time with the full Gigabyte full-screen advertisement about the board.  I jump into CMOS and reset the boot order, all the normal stuff.  Get rid of the quick-load screen, I want to see POST, damn it!  Finally, I got it back in order, I shut it down after I confirm it can load into Win7 without difficulty.  I put back in the new RAM, just to be sure, and the same thing happens again.  BSOD in Windows.

New RAM

The package the new RAM arrived in.

Now, I’m thinking I have two bad sets of RAM and I’m about ready to drive back to Fry’s and replace it with a new set.  Something in the back of my head tells me to try it one more time.  I let it reboot, and I get three short beeps and then it shut downs.  I go down the hall to let my wife know that I might be heading out to buy a new motherboard when I hear the Windows 7 startup sound chime in.  While I was out of the room, it turned itself on and successfully started up.

I think it heard me.

It was running fine, now.  I logged in and started doing some stress-testing, using HeavyLoad and DXDiag.  HeavyLoad managed to get me to 75% RAM utilization and 100% CPU before I stopped it.  DXDiag ran the little floating box test and I had no problems, there.  I sat back in my chair, completely flabbergasted by the sudden development.  Then again, given my long history with Windows, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.