October 2005

Audio cleanup?

While my Japanese class is going well so far (the pace is a bit slow, due in part to the overhead of community-college drop/add handling), I’ve found one serious annoyance: the audio CDs are crap.

There’s nothing wrong with the content; the material is presented clearly by native speakers, and the original mastering was well-done. Unfortunately, it was mastered for cassette tape, and the CDs were apparently converted from that format. How well was this done? Here’s a thousand words on the subject:

Situational Functional Japanese Audio CDs

That’s what it looked like when I loaded a track into Audacity. I can crank up the gain, but then the hiss becomes objectionable, and Audacity’s noise filter introduces some rather obnoxious artifacts, even at its gentlest setting. I’ll be using these CDs until March, so it’s worth a little time and money to me to get them cleaned up. Any recommendations for a good tool?

Toy time!

Coming soon to a home office near me: Dual dual-core 2.5GHz G5 PowerMac, with 4GB 533 DDR2 ECC SDRAM, 2x 500GB SATA HDD, NVIDEA GeForce 6600 w/ 256MB RAM. Add a Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard and a Microsoft Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse, and life will be good indeed. I suppose I’ll need a new set of speakers, too…

Coming soon after, a copy of Aperture.

Dodge Caravan

I got sent to Denver (okay, Longmont) for a few days to do some setup work for our office here, and the folks at Budget begged me to take a free upgrade to a minivan, to help alleviate their shortage of smaller vehicles.

Anyway, it’s got a gutless engine, poor sound insulation, and a whopping big blind spot when you’re merging, but otherwise it’s actually a pretty nice travel-mobile. Very comfortable to drive, plenty of room for adult passengers, and decent handling for its size. It’s no comparison to my Lexus RX-300, but still, a lot better than I expected.

Daphne In The Brilliant Blue, disc 4

Let’s recap. Disc 1 introduced a spunky teen heroine, ruined her life, set up a plot, and began introducing the rest of the cast. Disc 2 followed her through her new life and finished introducing the cast, tossing out the occasional plot crumb. Disc 3 was stuffed with plot crumbs like you’d stuff a turkey for Thanksgiving, not entirely to its benefit. All three were amusing and entertaining, with the exception of one infodump that’s badly delivered by a throwaway character.

In an ordinary plot-driven anime series, self-contained episodes that don’t advance the plot are often regarded as filler. Sometimes they contain important character development, but far too often they add nothing, not even decent art. With Daphne‘s scattershot approach to plotting, at least 10 of the 16 episodes to date would count as filler, so it’s either a terrible attempt at a plot-driven series, or the plot is just a backdrop for the comedy. I’d prefer the former, since they worked so hard at the beginning to make me care about Maia and her problems, but with only two discs to go, it’s not looking good.

Disc 4 is a plot-free zone. It’s fun even when it’s predictable, and includes just enough plot crumbs to keep you wondering if they’re ever going to tie things together, but that’s it. Judging from the fansub reviews, this trend will continue until episode 21, after which it’s wall-to-wall plotty goodness until the end. At least one reviewer thought the ending made up for the show’s flaws, so I’ve got my fingers crossed.

File under peculiar the fact that the box set for this series is sized for seven discs, but the series is being released on only six. My guess is that Geneon originally intended to put only three episodes on four of the discs, but market conditions and fan feedback led them to shrink it a bit. As good as the music CD is, it won’t quite fill the remaining space in the box, but I can’t really complain about a consistent 4-episode-per-disc release.

ADV cleans house

ADV is closing out a lot of anime DVDs. Some are older series now available in box sets, but a few are recent releases, such as the first disc of Yumeria, which came out less than three weeks ago.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”