Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Golgo 13 Dub Talk, Kekkaishi Thoughts and Seconds

Hello and welcome to my mad mad little world of English dub love! Today, it's nothing but dub talk from a recent cast list to a show on Adult Swim to the fate of second seasons licensed by other companies!

Note to sub-lovers, we're all anime fans here. You're welcome if you're not a sub-elite (someone who thinks all English dubs suck/are evil) and please, comment if you want to! Only spam gets deleted on this blog!

First up, lets talk Golgo 13. Mania.com's Anime on DVD section has news on this license's dub cast, giving those of us who can't buy everything right this second (though we try and get credit card debt as a result) a chance to learn who will be the numero uno sniper of the anime multiverse.

The answer is: David Wald

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Some niche fans might recognize him from this completely under-bought project called Halo Legends where he voices the totally minor character of Master Chief. Not that anyone has even a clue what I'm talking about but Halo is a really underground game no one plays.

Don't worry if you've never heard of it or the actor or that fire is hot and trees are pretty. ;)

Full cast list for those who hate clicking linkies!

Voice actor credits:
Golgo 13 - David Wald
Dave - Chris Ayres
Quaid - Jason Carroll
Flannagan - T. Postlethwaite
Captain - Justin Doran
Regan - Rob Mungle
Campbell - David Matranga
Wayne - Andy McAvin
Manager - Mark X. Laskowski
Natalie - Taylor Hannah
Howard - Andrew Love
Loren - George Manley
With - Kalob Martinez, Donnna Hannah, Luci Christian, Shanna Lea


So it looks like Golgo 13 is going to have an interesting cast, sadly lacking in Hilary Haag though.

Next up for discussion, one of the few anime on Adult Swim, Kekkaishi!

When Kekkaishi got licensed, I pegged it as a shonen show that would be relatively predictable. Just a sit-back-and-enjoy-the-action kind of show. I'm currently enjoying the series' English dubbed run and I have to admit, I underestimated it a little.

Kekkaishi is actually a better show on some levels than I thought it would be. Personally, I kind of expected something Bleach-lite, lots of spirit fighting and some humor and not much else. However, while the show doesn't rank up in my Top 5 list of anime, it's actually got a feel to it that I really like.

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The action level is fine but what I really like about it is the humorous and unusual lead character. Yoshimori Sumimura, given voice by Vic Mignogna, is highly likable and surprisingly easy to relate to. His family and tradition obsessed grandfather drives him crazy, he only does his job as a kekkaishi because a certain girl also puts her life on the line to fight evil spirits and he'd rather be baking! (Heck, this show earns points just for that, the man has culinary talent.)

I like the dynamic that is in play with his friend and fellow kekkaishi Tokine Yukimura, played by Laura Bailey, the VA who got me into anime. Unlike some shonen fighting series, the hero is not unaware that men and women form relationships! Yoshimori actually likes Tokine and tries to show it and she actually appreciates his gestures. Sure, she's got some minor tsundere personality traits but mainly she's just unaware of what he's actually thinking most of the time. It's an interesting dynamic as both are technically rivals, Yoshimori's screwed up BADLY at his job in the past and doesn't seem to take it seriously and Tokine is so focused on her work that she can't seem to grasp signs from Yoshimori.

TVtropes.org says it needs more love. You might want to give it a shot. It's not exactly blowing it's genre rivals away but it's getting stronger and there are hints of something more to come. VIZ picked a surprise winner.

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Ah, English dubs. I love being able to truly immerse myself in a series through them. I'm sure Kekkaishi's DVDs will lack a separate signs/songs/onscreen text sub-tack like so many of VIZ's releases but at least I can enjoy the English cast to my heart's content.

Maybe I won't love everything about Golgo 13 but at least Section23 is giving me a chance to enjoy the series to the fullest by providing an English dub! At least they appear to still believe in English dubs, despite some rage-inducing choices.

Every English dub that gets made nowadays is a special, rare treat. Not every English dub is perfect, not every English dub is even necessarily good. They are, every one, important to the future and fate of the anime industry in my opinion though. So I am glad for them, even if they aren't all perfectly tuned to my tastes.

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Now on to something I think many of you have been thinking about. Funimation's recent refusal to license second seasons for several of their shows. I'm not going to go into the individual merits of each choice or even go down a list.

What must be said and what must be understood however is that this is a situation that will only continue to get worse. Right now, the Great Recession is upon us, the fansub leeches have tricked fans away from legal and revenue producing choices and new and/or smaller anime companies think English dubs are an unnecessary expense.

We know the truth. We know English dubs are valuable and important parts of the anime industry and critical to growing the fanbase. We also understand and accept that they can be costly.

Fans must step forward to improve the situation. We must educate ourselves about bootlegs and actively fight them, we must use the legal anime streaming and download services but most of all we must unite as English dub fans especially to demand dubs! How can anime fans accomplish this?

I have some thoughts on this but I must wait to see how my families problems and how my own situation comes out first. Still, if some random guy with criminal charges filed against him can get hundreds of dollars in donations to license and dub an anime (no one is 100% clear on the legitimacy of his intentions) then couldn't someone with a less dubious background actually get a few thousand?

Think and reflect upon this question: would you donate money to a group that was legally backed and partially funded by an anime fan or fans?

Your homework is to comment on this and tell me what you think! Could you trust a fellow anime fan or fans with your money if they had a legally set up company/trust/nonprofit for the purpose of licensing, dubbing and promoting anime?

Please tell me your thoughts, for I believe that as with politics, it is the people/fans who must act to right the ship of state/the anime industry.

By the way, I've got a certain bloody angel's DVDs on their way to me along with another big and recently dubbed series that is apparently selling well. (Who knows what shows I could be hinting at?) More info on them later! Reviews of them too!

Bye-ni!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Resting But Thinking. . . . SW Contest Update

Hello everyone! Richard J. here (no, really, I'm alive!) While my will to blog has been poorly affected lately, it's not like I haven't been thinking about what to do here.

Articles, reviews and general silliness on my part have all been planned. I'm hoping to also catch up on some things I'd planned to do in the past and just plain forgot to do. Basically, I'm going to try and start getting my act together more over the next few days. However, for a little bit longer, I'm going to try and rest myself up.

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For a while now, I've really been feeling down and worn. Sometimes I felt up and worked on this blog or posted on Mania.com's AoD forum or ANN or Funi's blog. Mostly, I've been really wasting time doing nothing of great significance. Well, I am taking swimming lessons but those are more tiring and a bit stressful. (I've been playing mindless games and over-eating a lot. Depression repression.)

Well, if I don't start doing something I'm going to go completely nuts. The heat is terrible, the family finances are barely holding up and a family member is in serious trouble that just won't go away. It's just so nice when people are punished for obeying the law and doing their job. (Yes, I'm quite bitter and damned angry. The unfairness is disgusting.)

I realize though that nothing is going to change unless I choose to act. It's a small step but I can at least re-organize my room and do more on this blog right? Those aren't Herculean tasks right?

So look forward to more from me. I'm still here.

And so is my contest! (Ooh, mood whiplash!)

When Strike Witches was licensed, I felt a personal call to anime fan duty. I openly supported the show because I thought it sounded interesting and vastly different from many of the shows being licensed at the time and, in a twist worthy of a pretzel, an off-hand comment about ANN's review staff not being capable of a review that didn't insult Strike Witches' fans, I received an offer from Zac of ANN to review it.

Now, for the price of FREE, you can own this series that I thought was pretty damn fun. Go to this blog post for details, click here for my ANN review or go ahead and enter the contest here! (Just give me your name and address please!)

Every entry counts! Even though you can't all win, you're all very important to me for having entered!

Bye-ni!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Ani-Father's Day! (Manga Style.)

Happy Father's Day! Master of procrastination and recently recovered from an illness (minor), it is I, Richard J., here to bring you another dose of Blog-o-rific fun! (Warning, do not drive while under the influence of this blog.)

Finding positive father figures in anime can be hard, due to so many missing fathers and Gendo Ikari wannabes, but there are some good ones out there. Unfortunately, my favorite is only in manga format right now! Still, it would be a waste to not use him just because of a minor technicality. (Heck, I'll even tell you whose voice I think would work well with him if an anime was made and got an English dub!)

So let me introduce you to Mr. Koiwai of the distilled happiness and sunshine manga Yotsuba&!

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Why is Mr. Koiwai a great father? While overseas he found himself taking care of the odd girl and ended up adopting her, which alone makes him better than many people who turn a blind eye to children in need. Further, he brought her to a wonderful neighborhood where Yotsuba made friends immediately with the Ayase family (especially Ena, the youngest sister) and the tomboy Miura. Mr. Koiwai might seem like a slacker but he does work hard to provide Yotsuba with a happy home.

Mr. Koiwai provides Yotsuba with a new life that we can only guess is considerably better than how she lived before. Every day is an adventure and a smile. While he might not be the perfect parent, there's never any doubt that loves his rambunctious daughter and all the odd things she does.

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In terms of parenting skills, Mr. Koiwai can be a bit unorthodox and sometimes he even seems irresponsible. In the first chapter of the manga, he lets Yotsuba explore the new neighborhood alone. While that might seem unthinkable to us, it's actually quite safe for kids in Japan and the hyper-awareness of "stranger danger" in the US is out of proportion considering the actual statistical analysis of the threat. (Besides, Yotsuba escapes Fuka quite easily when she remembers her father's warnings about strangers!)

Mr. Koiwai can act like a big kid himself, taking on the persona of Boxer Man for instance, but really, he's such a wonderful example of a loving father. Personally, I feel that fathers aren't often portrayed well in the United States (Homer Simpson clones and over-bearing dominators abound) so I adore the affectionate way he indulges his daughter's odd but lovable nature. Unlike some parents, who treat children like programmable robots, Mr. Koiwai lets Yotsuba be herself.

So many times in the manga, from her playful antics to learning how to do important tasks in life, Mr. Koiwai always lets Yotsuba be Yotsuba.

And perhaps letting a child be herself is the greatest act of good parenting possible. It's no wonder Yotsuba cherishes her father the way she does.

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Mr. Koiwai takes his bundle of joy and innocent happiness on all sorts of adventures too. Trips to the pool, a totally not fun ranch and even to Fuka's high school. When he isn't taking her himself, he's signing off on another family friend to take Yotsuba somewhere wonderful, like when Jumbo takes her, Ena and Miura on a cicada hunt. (Yotsuba brought a lot of happiness to the Ayase family home that day!)

It's plain to see that Mr. Koiwai loves his daughter. Even though she can be quite the handful at times. Yotsuba reminds us all that our parents, especially our fathers, often deserve a little more love and respect than we give them. Her father represents many of the things that make fathers worthy of that love and respect.

The combination of loving father, slightly flaky nature and occasionally wise parent mixes wonderfully in Mr. Koiwai. That mix is why I personally think that John Burgmeier would be a great choice to voice the character if he were ever animated. There's something about his voice that I think would really jive well with Mr. Koiwai's calm attitude. Mr. Burgmeier has a way of sounding silly yet wise at the same time, as when he voiced Shigure in Fruits Basket that really fits with how I feel about this character.

Plus I think he could easily emote just the right tone for those rare instances where Yotsuba goes a little too far with a prank or genuinely puts herself in a dangerous position. Those few moments where Mr. Koiwai actually has to punish her seem loving in a way too.

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Sometimes she draws on his face while he sleeps. Sometimes she forgets to buy what he sent her to the store for. Sometimes she unknowingly puts her own life in danger. However, one thing is always certain with Yotsuba and her father. There is always love there. Nothing can break the warm bond they have that forms the core of the joyous manga that is Yotsuba&! I can't imagine the series without the combined father and daughter hi-jinks or the simple sweetness of their bond.

Amazingly though, where it can be hard to find any parent, let alone one so understanding and positive as Mr. Koiwai in any series, Yotsuba&! has more great fathers!

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Asagi, Fuka and Ena's daddy works hard and is rarely seen. His eldest daughter and wife, in the rare dark humor moments of the series, act wistfully like he's already passed on! Still, he's kind when there and loves his family. He gets shoulder massage coupons from Ena (one of which he plans to keep until the day she gets married!), laughs at his daughter Fuka's silly jokes and recognizes that his daughter Asagi clearly takes after her mother. He's got things together better than Koiwai too.

Jumbo's dad runs a flower shop and actually believed his son might have snagged Fuka as a girlfriend. (Plus he complimented her beauty, clearly Jumbo's dad has good taste.) He thinks quite a bit of his HUGE son and they work well together. Plus he gave Yotsuba a ton of flowers! He's only normal big but he's got a HUGE heart.

Well, that's it for this blog posting. Tune in next time for more of my rambling. I'll try to speed things up a bit too. Between the heat and the random thunder storms that kill the power, plus a recent minor illness, I haven't felt like working too much on this blog. I'll try to get things together more soon.

For now, I hope all of you with good daddies got a chance today to say "thanks" to them. For everyone else, remember the good example of Mr. Koiwai and try to bring a little sunshine and understanding into someone's life. Who knows, maybe you'll inspire someone to be a better person.

Bye-ni!

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Anime Review: Eureka 7

Anime Review # 005
Title: Eureka 7
Release Type: 2 Anime Legends Complete Collection sets

After a long week of technical difficulties involving digital cameras, Photobucket refusing to upload and raging storms killing the power right as I get to work on important things, an anime review is finally getting uploaded! Blog Navigator Richard J. here, ready to fill you with my evil. Also, taking a different approach to reviews from previously, let me know if you prefer the old way or this new way.

Since Bang-Zoom! dubs may become a thing of the past, I decided to review one of their works that didn't really get the praise it deserved early on. Eureka 7 is a 50 episode opus from studio BONES, the animation company best regarded for their work on Fullmetal Alchemist and the recent Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood series. Honestly though, if you've never heard of BONES before now, you've missed out! The series director for Eureka 7 is Tomoki Kyoda, who has worked on the Halo Legends OVA. Dai Sato provides the series composition and scripts a dozen episodes. (Oh and he worked on the scripts for episodes of a very niche series called Cowboy Bebop, which I'm sure you've never heard of at all.)

The Plot Synopsis:



Eureka 7 is a series with multiple co-existing plots that are interwoven into a whole that is satisfying though at times confusing. On one level, there is the story of young love blossoming between Renton, a boy who thinks his life sucks, and Eureka, an almost emotionless member of the renegade Gecko State organization. The Gecko State as a whole is involved in a war to protect and establish contact with a species of intelligent life that the government wants to exterminate, this adding the plot of war and government conspiracy. On top of these plots there is also a solid element of philosphy questioning the meaning of life, love and what it means to be human.

You will, however, be forgiven if you don't catch all of that on the first watch through or even understand half of what characters say before 2/3rds of the episodes have been watched. Most unfortunately, in order to streamline the series early focus on young love and mecha action, the overall plot is sometimes left as unexplained as some of the character's back stories.

The Packaging:



Eureka 7 was previously released by Bandai Entertainment USA in singles format but for this review, I watched and own the Anime Legends sets. Here's a peek at the covers!

Here ar the two sets side by side. The imagery in many ways mimics the series shifting in focus to larger issues than Renton and Eureka's bonds.

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This first set's cover gives a certain laid back feeling. Don't be fooled.

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The Nirvash Type 0 seems a tad imposing but really, it's just a big surfer looking for a good wave. Also a badass killing machine when necessary.

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Oh look, the back covers are kinda bland.

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The Reasons It Rocks:



In terms of it's English dub, Eureka 7 can be a bit uneven in places but it takes advantage of a truly talented cast of VAs. Taking the male lead role of Renton is Johnny Yong Bosch, a frequent actor in Bang-Zoom! productions though not the role originator for this series. (No, he didn't do anything nefarious to steal the role, in fact JYB had to deal with some bias against him early on due to a bad rumor about him!) His performance as Renton works surprisingly well, despite sounding quite whiny early on. There are subtle changes as the character develops, especially as he takes up his famous father's work. The female lead is played by Stephanie Sheh, who routinely proves why Hollywood's desire to cast her as "Asian Best Friend" is beyond idiotic. Eureka begins as a virtually emotionless character (and flashbacks show her even less emotional in back story) who's inability to understand her own emerging feelings towards Renton causes enormous problems for the Gecko State. She is the most important character in the entire series, for reasons that remain unexplained and unclear for far too long. The changes in her vocal performance as Eureka mirror the dynamic development of the character.

Backing up the two major leads are a group of powerhouse VAs in secondary roles that are nearly as important as the leads. Crispen Freeman brings an imposing sternness to the role of Holland, the leader of Gecko State, a man who knows all the answers but rarely shares any of them. Until his back story is explained, you will be forgiven for thinking he's a jerk at times. Supporting him is Talho, played by Kate Higgins. Talho's role in the series is Holland's support and Renton's surrogate older sister. She's filled with resentment early on and constantly pushes both Holland and Renton to be better people. She and Holland could almost be seen as the adult versions of Renton and Eureka from a certain point of view.

Acting as antagonists to Gecko State are Kim Strauss, who is simply menacing as Dewey Novac and Kari Wahlgren, who is brilliant as Anemone. Where Dewey Novac operates as the looming menace to Holland and a disturbing mastermind behind a plot that threatens the very universe in which the series takes place, Anemone serves as a twisted mirror reflection of Eureka. While both VAs perform brilliantly as villains, sometimes outshining their heroic counterparts, Wahlgren's Anemone is a performance that alone makes Eureka 7 a show worth owning in my humble opinion.

In terms of plot and production, Eureka 7 is solid overall. The animation is just beautiful, creating a unique world that is filled with unusual creatures, a unique phenomena called Trapar Waves that allow for surfing mecha and character designs that are all special in their own way. The series features a world with a surprisingly well-developed system of culture, politics and physics. The plot provides opportunities for action and intrigue as well as tender moments of love.

However, there are some weak points.

The Reasons It Sucks:



There are three major issues I have with Eureka 7. They are, I feel, issues that could be of importance to you too.

First, there are three children in the series who, once introduced, remain present and important throughout the series.

They are, frankly, very annoying. While children in everyday life can be annoying at times, generally they aren't quite as irritating as these kids. In at least one episode, their complete lack of ability to comprehend the seriousness of their actions puts the Gecko, the ship the character live on, in jeopardy. In other episodes, their pranks against Renton escalate to what might easily be called cruel levels.

If you are like me, you may be a little too pleased when Eureka slaps one of them. The series would have been better off without them or at the very least, should have removed one of them since only two get proper character development.

Second, the English dub can trigger a sense of sadness when you listen to it. Bob Papenbrook, who plays the role of Ken-Goh for most of the series died from medical complications before completing his role. His replacement, Kyle Hebert, while a fine actor, is noticeably different sounding, which also creates a tonal dissonance from the previous performance. It is easy to tell the difference, which only reminds you of why there is a difference. There are also problems with the flow of lines due to some restrictions on the translation and dubbing process.

Finally, Eureka 7's plot suffers from a lack of viewer information. In the beginning, the plot focuses on Renton's desire to protect Eureka and prove himself worthy of her, while barely hinting at the larger story. There are numerous character interactions, events and lines of dialogue that simply make no sense until much further in the series, when Holland and Eureka's full back stories become known. There are also certain characters, such as Greg "Dr. Bear" Egan, who do nothing but spout what upon first viewing may seem like utter gibberish.

This series benefits tremendously from repeat viewings but that means the first viewing can be tiresome at times as the viewer asks "okay, what did that mean?" repeatedly before being rewarded with clarity.

Graded It For You:



Despite it's flaws, Eureka 7 is a solid series that is highly entertaining. It seems to meander at times but most of those moments are actually important character developing incidents or plot-relevant events that only seem unimportant. The English dub is solidly cast and well-performed, though a few issues hurt it. This is a series that you should consider adding to your collection. My grade is. . .

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Where can you buy this one? Robert's Anime Corner Store, TRSI, Amazon.com and Best Buy all carry it!

Oh, the sets actually have the same number of discs as the singles, with all the content, so you are not missing out by picking up the collections. See for yourself!

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Wow, that's a lot of discs to take up so little space. That's it for this review. I hope you've enjoyed reading this and that you'll let me know if this new approach to reviews works better for you. Also, I hope you'll forgive the delays this week. Normally I'm just a lazy bum but this time, I really was having problems. At least one more review is coming soon plus several articles.

Bye-ni!

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Strike Witches Contest Update: Proof and Request

The heat of Summer burns my resolve to ashes and leaves me barely able to function. Especially with a camera. Richard J. here, letting you know that delayed reviews will be forthcoming soon, once I've had a chance to re-take some pics. (Wow, the first batch looked so clear while I was half unconscious from sleep deprivation!)

Today, let me first give you a bit of photographic proof that, yes, I am quite serious about this contest:

BEHOLD!



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Yes, gaze upon yee mighty and despair!

Or salivate with anticipation at getting one of these FREE ANIME BOX SETS for your very own! If you haven't entered the contest yet, you've got until July 4th! Click here and E-mail me your name and address! Some of you have already done so or informed me that you'll be abstaining since you've already got this series (maybe you'll be more open to the next contest?) but I'd still like to add some more names to the pot.

Just a reminder, here is the Contest Disclaimer and Baseline Rules:
Although highly unlikely, I reserve the right to cancel this contest at any time. This contest is open to any person with a mailing address, prizes will be shipped anywhere! Winners' names will be posted here at Blog Of A Heretical Dub Lover but mailing addresses will be provided only to professional postal staff of my choice. No one else will be told.

Winners' addresses and E-mail addresses will be erased once the prizes have been shipped. Non-winners' names, E-mail and mailing addresses will not be given out to any one and will be erased when the winners have been confirmed. Non-winners will not be contacted, spammed or harassed in any way. I am not interested in ordinary humans! I reserve the right to retroactively add new rules in the unlikely event that they become necessary.

One entry per person/mailing address.


And the sets are still REGION 1 DVDs, though I will ship internationally. (Yeah, how many contests are open to all nations! I am the man.)

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Okay, you can stop laughing.

Now, a personal request: If you know any anime websites or fan-groups that might be interested in promoting this contest, blog or Strike Witches in general, please contact them and share this blog post with them. I'm a bit shy of the idea of trying to self-promote this blog since I'm clearly a total amateur but I know how much people love contests.

Also, feel free to comment more! Some of you are regular commentators (love you guys!) but I want everyone to feel free to comment on anything I post. If you think I'm a moron, post it! I won't delete any comment unless it is spam. Which, sadly, has popped up twice so far, usually with racial slurs thrown in for fun and profit. Why do people make spam bots just to spew vulgarity?

Too bad we can't deploy the Witches against the spamers.

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Still, you can join Yoshika Miyafuji and all the girls of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing by just clicking this link and entering my contest! Wow, do I have a one-track mind today or what.

Well, I've still got some pictures to re-take for reviews and some article ideas to consider, the heat to deal with and too many off-line problems and responsibilities to struggle against (my family's serious problem is still not resolved, though the outlook seems to be improving) so I'll end this post today with some words of wisdom I found on the Internet:

You do not greet Death, you punch him in the throat repeatedly until he drags you away.

Fight on English dub fans! And consider having the Major join your side.

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Outside she's laughing, on the inside. . . .

*Edit: By suggestion, here's a link to my review on ANN of Strike Witches. (By the by, I'm going to ask if I could do some more reviews for ANN soon so hopefully, this one won't be my one and only.)


Bye-ni!