Monday, November 17, 2003

I haven't been sure what to think of this weekend's news. There's a lot of back-and-forth in Iraq, but overall the security situation seems more under control than it did last week. Stryker's Iraq Blog is full of reports of captures by both Coalition troops and Iraqi Police, even, notably, one by mosque police in Najaf.

On the other side of the ledger, we have this announcement about an acceleration of transfer of power. It's highly alarming on the initial face of the announcement, but if you dig deeper, they're talking about implementing an American-written interim constitution for the period while they're drafting a proper constitution. This seems to be a definite improvement on the majority-rule constitutional assembly the Shi'ites were pushing. I don't know, I can't tell if it's a good or not.

Yeah, not the most riveting of posts, eh? Things are quiet in Bellefonte. The grey iron skies of November have descended upon us. If the weather holds true to form, it'll be like this for weeks of sog and chill. Our very own yearly Slough of Despond. I think I prefer snow, high winds, and the dramas of bittercold winter to this half-light half-life half-world waiting.

I bought & read Prachett's new novel, Monstrous Regiment. I don't know why, but I assumed that it *wasn't* a Discworld novel, and was somewhat disappointed when it turned out to be one of that scruffy crew. I don't really hold anything against the Discworld novels, but I think I've read *enough* of them, and I'm ready for something else. Oh, well. At least the novel contained a very minimum of Sam sodding Vimes, who is my very least favorite of Pratchett protagonists.

I finished watching Orguss II. I had been waiting more than nine years to finish that one - ever since Dave Fleming showed up at Otakon 1994 with two episodes he had fan-subtitled, and asked us to wedge into the schedule. Manga Entertainment bought the license a good many years ago, not more than a year or two after that showing, if I'm not mistaken. Sadly, Mangle wasn't big on the subtitled releases, and I could only endure those same two episodes in the dubbed version before giving up on the enterprise.

Orguss II was a six-episode OAV series from the brief golden age of OAVs, from roughly 1986 to 1993. These were the years that saw both money and talent pour into the market, floating on the very last gushes of the bubble-economy. Afterwards, what was left of the money went into videogames. The talent either followed the money, went into TV, or got a life. But for that brief period, interesting artists collaborated on some damn interesting shows.

Orguss II isn't exactly a success. It's dragged down by the license it's tied to - a mid-Eighties "real robot" TV series of middling quality and little interest. When the story eventually rolls around to the alleged point of the show, things get both weird and dopy. But the setup, the stuff that goes on before the plot shuffles out onto stage - that stuff is fun. People worry about money; the good guys are corrupt, cynical, and opportunistic; violence has a graphic and sudden cost. Orguss II's creators had a very pulp, moralistic sensibility. I have a deep respect for what they do around the edges of the story.

It would have done better as one of those 13-episode TV series they make these days out of this sort of story. The six-episode OAV format crimps the story, forces it into a rattling haste that doesn't help matters. On the other hand, most modern 13-episoders are not nearly as worldly-wise or clever as this one was. Perhaps there's something about the TV development process that sucks all the life out of the new shows. Or maybe it's just that the talent is still stuck in videogames.

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