September 11th, 2006

haiku

Finished series: Gun x Sword

We've finished watching Gun x Sword. My first episode review is here.

Gun x Sword tells the tale of Van and Wendy, who are both after the man who has a prostetic claw instead of a right hand. Van wants to avenge the death of his bride, who was killed by Claw-man. Wendy's brother was abducted by Claw-man, and wants to bring him back to the town of Evergreen. As for the title of the series: Van has a belt that can turn into a sword, and Wendy is carrying her brother's gun with her.

They meet in Evergreen, where the people have been besieged by 'Lucky', a bandit who is after the money in the town's vaults. Van stumbles into town, looking for food, and is (unwillingly) drawn into the conflict. Somehow he manages to piss off Lucky, who then summons his armor (a mecha) to take the bank by force! This in turn pisses off Van, who summons his armor Dann from orbit, and proceeds to beat the crap out of Lucky.

Wendy and Van are two completely different characters. Wendy wants to do what is right and proper, while Van is like a child who has only one single goal: killing Claw-man with his own hands. When they meet Ray, who is also after Claw-man, he and Van immediately clash (though of course you know they will have to cooperate later on in the series -- that's just how things work).

The series is an odd mix, really. The first half chronicles the travels of Van and Wendy across the planet 'Endless Illusion', following Claw-man's trail. This part is quite episodic, even though there are some recurring characters (such as the aforementioned Ray and Carmen99) -- every episode, there is a new city/village/situation to take care of. The 'villains' are all quite amusing, such as the baron with the prehensile mustache or the queen of the swimsuit kingdom. Often, Van summons Dann and administers some violence to the evil-doers. Think Cowboy Bebop, only funnier.

Only in the second half of the series does the plot kick in. Van and Wendy get to meet Claw-man, and they are swept up in his Grand Plot. Collapse )

The characters is where the series really shines. There is the core cast of Van and Wendy, supplemented by a supporting cast that doesn't appear every single episode. And the throw-away characters which appear only for a single episode are all amusing.
Animation-wise, there is nothing wrong about this series. The designs are nice, detailed and unique, while the animation is quite fluid. Mixing CGI and cell animation doesn't give any problems either. There is very little stock footage, which is a plus as well.
The opening animation has a nice trick to it. We see outlines of the characters, but the outlines of the characters we haven't met yet stay opaque -- that's a pretty cool way to keep track of your progress into the series.
The music is nice as well, and evokes a genuine wild-west feeling.

Good points:
- Animation is good;
- The cast of characters and their interactions;
- The crazy and fun ideas the writers came up with.
Bad points:
- The second part seems to drag a bit.

All in all, a good series with a nice mix of action and character-driven plots. An 8.
King of the world!

Recoding fansubs

Since the MACH F's CPU is not equipped for (realtime) decoding H.264 and/or AAC, there is a host of fansubs I can't really watch on my dedicated media player machine. I have written before about this.

Obviously, this will simply not do.

So I have taken to recoding .mkv and .mp4-fansubs into plain vanilla XviD's with MP3 soundtrack. On our TV there is no discernable drop in quality, and often the files are even smaller in XviD too.

But it's a lot of work, what with finding out which tracks to extract, extracting and converting subtitle and audio tracks, etc. So I wrote a program that does this for me. It processes all .mkv and .mp4 files, calls auxillary programs for file info, tract extraction and track conversion, and results in a nice jobs-file for VirtualDub. All I have to do is to copy it, and let VirtualDub do its magic!

I love being able to tie several things together to make my life easier. As they say in the world of Perl programmers: laziness is a virtue.