January 16th, 2006


Finished series: Soukyuu no Fafner

We've finished watching Soukyuu no Fafner. My first episode review is here.

The adolescents of Tamiya island are in for a rude awakening: wha they thought was a peaceful island somewhere off the coast of Japan turns out to be an enormous floating fortress. Every adult has a 'day job', doing stuff like pottery or making tofu -- but when the need arises, they don their uniforms and descend into the bowels of the island. Long corridors connect mecha bays, command centers and even an underground jet runway!
It turns out that the world is under attack from an alien lifeform known as Festum. Festum can create mini-black holes (for lack of a better description), and seek to assimilate humankind.

During an attack from a Festum, Kazuki is brutally awoken from his idyllic dream, and forced to pilot a Fafner -- a mecha capable of withstanding the attacks of the Festum.

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The series is produced by Xebec, and the opening and closing theme are sung by Angela -- known for her rendition of 'Brilliant Road', the opening theme of Stellvia of the Universe (another Xebec series). The music throughout the series is pretty decent.
The animation is very well done. The difference between CGI and cell animation is hardly noticable -- the technique really has come a long way since the days of old.
In the first episode, there is talk of Fafners, the Siegfried System, the Cave of the Norns etc. I was hoping for a story that was inspired by the Norse sagas -- but that never materialised. It's like the writers needed a few cool-sounding names and just got a few from a book on Norse mythology -- and that's it. Perhaps it is for the best: who would want to name his mecha after a giant who slayed his own father out of greed?

Good points:
- Really interesting story and setup;
- Great animation and artwork;
- Inspired by Evangelion and RahXephon, but by no means a clone.
Bad points:
- I really can't think of any.

It's a mecha series, but it is not about the mecha. I think this one has something for everyone to enjoy. A 9.

MP4 video

It turns out that an MP4 video file is a tad too heavy for the MACH F to play without any hiccups. And it also turns out that MP4 files are surprisingly hard to transcode: they're not normal AVI files, so the usual tools like VirtualDub have no power over the evil spells that MP4 has cast.
Luckily, AviSynth can open any DirectShow source, and VirtualDub can work with AviSynth. And the transcoding into XVid is almost real-time.

It's been a while since I maxed out the three hyperthreaded gigahertzes my box has.