Architectural Office

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I promise, this is the last photo I post today, taken while I was testing my new camera. This is an architectural office, located along Kanda River. They usually keep it open like this, making it look like a cafe. It was Craig Mod, of Chin Music Press, who showed me the place a few years back, and introduced me to some people there. Craig said that he did in fact mistake it for a cafe the first time he spotted it, and went in and sat down, waiting to make an order…

Daddy’s Got a Brand New Camera

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I got a new camera today. My old one, a Canon PowerShot A95, had been giving me trouble for about a month now, often times not responding properly, and it finally stopped working completely a couple of days ago — the real sad thing is that I only realized it as I was being given a tour of Swatch Group Japan’s Nicolas G. Hayek Center in Ginza by one of the architects who contributed to the project, Keiji Ashizawa, including views from the top.

After doing some research, I settled on the new Canon IXY Digital 810 IS (the Japanese version of the Canon PowerShot SD850 IS). For a while I’d been thinking that my next camera would be a Lumix, especially for the Leica lens, but the Canon I ended up getting kept showing up highly recommended on review sites, and it seemed to offer all of the features I wanted. When I last bought a camera, I wanted something that offered a lot of manual functionality, but over the 2 and half years that I used the A95, I noticed that I pretty much never used the aperture or shutter speed controls. The only thing I’m really going to miss from my A95 was the LCD that you could flip open, which is how I always took shots. Surprisingly, Canon has eliminated that feature from the entire PowerShot line (only some of the more expensive prosumer models have it).

One of the nicest surprises is that this new camera can act as a great voice recorder, with no limit on length (just the size of your memory card). I tested it quickly, and it’s so much better than what I experienced with the iPod and iTalk combo, which means I might just start doing some Tokyo Boy podcasts again.

Another great feature I’ve been having a lot of fun with is the photostitch mode. What you see at the top of this post, a section of Kanda River, can be better viewed here.

A Second Look at the Spring 2007 Anime Season

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Back in April, when the last season of anime started, I promised I’d post some thoughts on the series that I started watching. Well, bad blogger that I am, I never got around to doing it, but I figure I can still share a few words on what I’ve been following, since the ones I really did like are all continuing with a second season (meaning past episode 13).

  • CLAYMORE: This has actually turned into my favorite of the bunch, and I’m the first one to admit that I’m really surprised by that. I usually don’t go for stuff with monsters, and I’m not particularly attracted to fantasy settings, but there’s something about this series that had me locked in after only 2-3 episodes. I think it’s the main character, Claire, and the interest I found in her development throughout, as well as the episodes that were devoted to an extended flashback. Even my wife, who doesn’t care at all for this sort of stuff, as been following along.
  • SEIREI NO MORIBITO: Another fantasy show, this time with a Japanese-style fantasy setting, and again, another series that my wife also latched on to. In fact, I think it’s because she showed interest early on that I stuck with it, and after the slow start, it’s turned into a truly terrific series. My wife enjoyed it so much that she quickly picked up and read the book it’s based on, written by an anthropology professor. We both look forward to each new episode, and my wife says that the second book (there are 10 in all, but this series only covers the first one) is as good if not better.
  • DENNO COIL: I only recently started watching this one, from the start though, since at first it wasn’t something I thought I’d be interested in; the character designs looked too childish, and I just figured that the show would be as well. But this is one hell of an interesting concept, with kids using net-like abilities to “hack” around their world, confronting virus-like creatures and guardians. The Ghibli-style character designs have even grown on me, and I absolutely love the main character’s little sister, Kyoko. Unchi! It’s another show that I find myself watching with my wife every week, and I’m a bit surprised that I’m currently following two shows that air on NHK (SEIREI also airs on NHK).
  • BLUE DRAGON: I’ve already mentioned in my game column how much I love this show, as well as the game its based on, and again, this is something that my wife has also been enjoying. If you’re a fan of Akira Toriyama’s work, you’ll definitely like this. Yeah, I know Toriyama only provided the character designs, but the whole show has the same wacky feel as stuff like DRAGONBALL, and it’s a joy to watch. I do realize that it’s not for everyone, but if you like fun adventure stories, then do give it a try.

That’s the stuff that I actually stuck with. I watched the first 10 episodes or so of DARKER THAN BLACK, but stopped because I lost interest (an interest that was never really that huge, even from the start). I watched maybe 6-7 episodes of THE SKULL MAN, but that too couldn’t hold my interest. I really liked how it started, with a retro mystery-like feel to the show, but then it sort of turned into something else. I gave up on MOONLIGHT MILE after 3-4 episodes. I was really excited by the sequence we see in the opening credits, which I’m assuming happens later in the series, but what we had to endure until then was just too painful to watch. I watched REIDEEN until episode 5, but that was mostly because it started before all those other shows, and I really wanted to watch something. In the end, it didn’t feel special enough to bother with. I think I’ve covered most of what I watched last season, and for this latest season, the only show I sampled was DEVIL MAY CRY. One episode was enough.

One other series I would like to mention that I watched recently — it came out last year — is THE MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZUMIYA. Absolutely amazing. This is probably the best series I’ve watched since MONSTER, and before that SAMURAI CHAMPLOO. I was so into it that I watched all 14 episodes in 2-3 days. From the ballsy first episode — I don’t want to ruin it, but let’s just say that I’ve never seen anything like it, especially to launch a show — to the out-of-order sequence for all episodes, this show is not afraid of trying new things, and is probably the most exciting and out-there show since FLCL. Don’t let the fact that, on the surface, it comes of as an average high-school comedy fool you, it’s so much more than that, and I was absolutely ecstatic when I found out recently that they will be producing a second season. Must-see.