Roving Thoughts archives


Why I didn't continue my Project 365 this year

After doing Project 365 (where you take at least a picture a day for a year) from 2008 through 2013 (cf), I decided to not continue it on into this year. Since Project 365 is what got me into photography in the first place, I feel like writing a little bit about why I didn't continue mine. Ultimately there are two major reasons for it.

The first reason is that I'd become more than a little bit tired of going out into grey days and bad weather in order to get a picture. Having done this for six years I think I've more than proved that I can do it if I want to; I just don't want to any more, especially since on bad days Project 365 easily turns into a grind. By the end of 2013 I was really tired of it and I think it showed in my photography on such days.

The other reason is that I want to genuinely experiment with some things, for example black and white photography (I have a vague plan to spend at least a month shooting only black & white in order to train myself to see good B&W pictures). The problem with real experimentation in the context of a Project 365 is that if you are really experimenting and trying to learn something new, you can fail totally and spectacularly and wind up with no usable pictures for your project for that day. Project 365 half-encourages experimentation, but it's safe experimentation, experimentation where you're pretty sure that you'll wind up with a usable picture even if it's not spectacular. I want to do more wild things than that (and I don't want to do two rounds of photography in a day, one focused on a Project 365 picture and then another on the real photography I want to do).

Also I have to admit that I've spent basically every day since January 1st 2008 carrying a camera around and thinking at least a little bit about photography, and I'd like to see what it's like to not do that (and especially what it's like to routinely bike places without my camera bag on my back). The results so far is that it's liberating and I sometimes miss taking pictures.

(I'll see how weird it feels to bike without a camera bag when the weather is actually biking weather.)

photography/Project365WhyNot written at 19:52:08; Add Comment

Checking in on the Winter 2014 anime season midway through

It's time for the usual midway check in on my early impressions of this season. I don't think that this is a really strong season so far and it also feels kind of odd to me; despite watching a reasonable number of shows I've wound up somehow feeling that this season is a slow one (perhaps because many of the shows I'm watching are packed into the weekend with basically nothing coming out during the week). This is tempting me towards probably unwise ideas, like say trying to get into the frequently praised Hunter x Hunter.

(A less ambitious version would be giving Gundam Build Fighters a try.)

Things I'm still watching:

  • Sekai Seifuku - Bouryaku no Zvezda: This is being generally fun and funny with periodic additions of pointed commentary and weirdness. As I hoped it's playing the absurdism straight but not seriously and managing to be surprisingly charming in the process.

  • Witch Craft Works: This was a surprise midseason pickup after I read enough praise of it to push me over the edge. I have to tell you that what people say about it being entertaining is true; it doesn't aspire to being deep but it is both funny and clever. Part of the enjoyment for someone like me is watching it thoroughly invert the usual gender tropes of this genre in all sorts of ways.

    So far the Tower Witches are never not funny.

    (One of the reasons the show is genuinely funny is that it doesn't overplay its hand with jokes. There's no standing around extending the joke or repeating it to make sure you got it; the show brushes over the joke and moves on.)

  • Noragami: The execution continues to be very well done and the twists of the story are reasonably surprising and interesting (Nora's story was not was I was expecting and is in some ways worse and sadder). Hiyori is the clear best character of the show and is really what makes it.

    (One sign of quality execution is that Hiyori has more than one out of school outfit. Sometimes she has more than one in a single episode.)

  • Seitokai Yakuindomo season 2: It continues to reliably hit my funny bone and in fact makes me laugh on a regular basis.

    (I admit that I'm watching this somewhat slowly, as there's no plot anticipation or 'what will they do next' to make watching it feel urgent.)

Perpetually on the edge:

  • Space Dandy: This show is more or less the humour equivalent of a decently well done action show. If it sounds like I'm making excuses for Space Dandy it's because I am. Overall I feel that the show is much better at the small stuff than assembling it into an interesting and compelling framework.

    (To be unkind, this is much more Kids on the Slope than Cowboy Bebop.)

  • Robot Girls Z: It turns out they got a new joke or two for the second episode. It's probably amusing enough for me to finish it (so far I've seen one of the three sections of the second episode).


  • Nobunagun: My gut is unenthused about this and I've learned the hard way that I should trust it. I think the problem is that I'm just not that interested in any of the characters or what's going on. That the show keeps doing crazy things can only carry it so far.

    (I'd say that the show's low animation budget is showing but to be honest it did right from the start. I was just willing to overlook its use of style to cover the lack of actual animation in the early days.)

In shows carried over from last season, both KILL la KILL and Log Horizon are still doing excellent work. Both have reached the point where stuff is really starting to happen and Log Horizon especially is coming through in all sorts of interesting ways. If I ranked them here they would both come before anything from this season, with KILL la KILL first.

anime/Winter2014Midway written at 17:20:38; Add Comment


My memorable anime from 2005

See the initial 2000 entry for the full background. I'm doing this based on the show's start date and memorable is not the same as either good or significant. Date information comes from Wikipedia and Anime-Planet. As before I'm mostly listing shows in alphabetical order instead of trying to come up with preference order.

Standouts (in order):

  • Mushishi: Better people than me have written lyrical appreciations for this quiet and beautiful work. It is about a lot of things but most of all it's about people; it simply explores them through the marvelously fantastic.

  • Honey and Clover: This is one of the handful of ordinary life shows that I like, and in fact I pretty much love it. It's the characters and their interactions that make Honey and Clover, but the art and the direction is pretty good too. One reason the show works so well is that it's set in university and has reasonably mature characters and even actual adults.

    (My heresy is that I've never finished watching the second season because I found the ending of Honey and Clover itself to be perfectly satisfying. Someday I'll fix that.)

  • Noein: This had some great science fiction concepts and excellent animation mixed in with an art style that can sometimes be offputting, characters that sometimes irritate people (while at the same time often being great), and a complex series of events that can be hard to follow. I wave my hands. I loved it when I saw it and I remember it fondly even now. It has any number of stunning moments, including a number of fight scenes.

  • Shakugan no Shana: Regardless of what came after it, the first season of Shana was an excellent show that I look back on fondly. It has all sorts of good characters, a collection of disturbing antagonists, a number of interesting and sometimes creepy concepts, and pretty good animation and action. It's also one of the few action shows with a girl as their primary protagonist, which is a refreshing change.

Ordinarily memorable (in alphabetical order):

  • Air: This has the distinction of being the only Key-based show that I've ever liked, and at that I much preferred the odd modern age segments to the much more standard-fantasy ones set in the past. It's possible my opinion of it would drop if I ever rewatched it, so I'm unlikely to ever do so.

  • Fairy Musketeers Akazukin OVA: This had an interesting concept with a bunch of kick-ass characters but unfortunately is not exactly a complete story. Although the subsequent TV show has more depth, I never really forgave it for turning Akazukin herself into basically a moe goof (the OVA Akazukin is competent and outright dangerous; the TV series one, not so much).

  • Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid: TSR is basically the payoff for all of the character and plot development throughout FMP. We got to see any number of people flower and do cool things, especially Chidori.

  • Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu: Bittersweet but touching, this was a quiet little OVA series that managed to be periodically spectacular, sometimes funny, and surprisingly realistic (in ways that are spoilers to discuss).

  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's: This is where the Nanoha series really hits its stride and becomes excellent. Everything clicks, from characters through the multi-layered plot.

    (Note that yes, it still has those questionable transformation sequences and it's still a magical girls show primarily aimed at otaku, not actual girls.)

  • Sousei no Aquarion: Although it involves giant robots and sometimes they do crazy things, the show actually has a solid plot, story, setting, and even a set of characters that I rather like (because, among other things, they're interesting people going through interesting conflicts).

Honorable mentions for shows that were fun but nothing more:

  • Black Cat: A decent adventure and action series with some nice characters. I am sort of underselling this show here, but.

  • Gun x Sword: Underneath a bunch of other things I remember it as having some reasonably interesting things to say about people being driven by revenge. I don't think they were novel things, but at least it was trying.

  • Zettai Shonen: This was, well, weird (and deliberately so, and successfully). I remember enjoying it and thinking it was good but in practice I can't really remember any details, which means that listing it here is sort of a guilty reaction.

As before this is not all of the 2005 shows that I've seen, but the other ones don't make this entry for various reasons. Also, I probably should include Jigoku Shoujo here since I have very vivid memories from trying to watch it.

Want to see:

  • Eureka Seven: This has been repeatedly praised as the great show that Eureka Seven AO isn't in the end.

  • Kamichu! (maybe): On the one hand I watched a few episodes of this and liked it quite a bit. On the other hand I've heard that it decays by the end.

At this point I will mention that Aria also aired in 2005. I've never watched it but a lot of people praise it highly.

anime/Memorable2005 written at 17:32:35; Add Comment

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