Goodbye, 2008 – and thank you.

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In my corner of the world, 2008 is on its last legs. A few hours more and calendars will be turned, countdowns will cease and the streets will explode in a riotous frenzy of celebration. (I hate that part – firecrackers and me don’t mix.) As I write this, our kitchen is a hive of activity with vast quantities of fresh produce being processed into a midnight feast worthy of the occasion. Once more proving that not everyone is born with the right to sing in public, the family across the street – including one evil child with a voice that could’ve blown out the windows in President Bush’s limousine – is busy massacring popular songs on a karaoke machine while everyone within a quarter mile of their garage cringes in silent horror. From somewhere in the distance, a few early birds have begun to loose volleys of fireworks to welcome the new year, and the acrid scent of gunpowder starts to suffuse the cool evening air.

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A different kind of street art

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Aha! Found one! Kyon, drop that stupid sign and bring out the camera!

Fed up with being an anime otaku? Need a new outlet for energies previously spent ogling seiyuu in the streets of Akiba? Well then, may I suggest manhole covers?

A writer for the Mainichi Shinbun recently did a piece on a new mashup site that allows Japanese manhole cover hunters to share photographs of their prey with the rest of humanity (whether the rest of humanity likes it or not). Images are grouped by geographic location using a Google Maps background. Not surprisingly, the largest concentrations are positioned over the Kantou and Kansai regions, while the Really Big Northern Island gets absolutely squat.

This oddly fascinating hobby has little chance of prospering in my corner of the world, where manhole covers are as plain as heck (and are routinely pilfered by thieves on the prowl for scrap metal), but it appears to have found fertile ground in the domain of the World’s Last Emperor. In Japan, people take their manhole covers very seriously indeed, which is good news for the rest of us as it gives us yet another pointless endeavour to waste our lives on.

So if you suddenly find yourself in Japan with a camera and absolutely nothing better to do, walk whilst keeping your head down and – provided you don’t get run over by a runaway soba cart – treat yourself to a free tour of one of the world’s largest (and most underappreciated) art galleries. And do it in Iwate Prefecture, if you can; judging from the photo archives that place needs more love from manhole maniacs.

Diego’s winter anime viewing list

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The winter anime season is ALWAYS AWESOME. Not convinced? jpmeyer lays out the facts, and j1m0ne has a few choice words on the matter.

So, now that we’ve established the fact of the awesome winter season’s sheer awesomeness, I’m pleased to present my complete viewing list for this awesomely awesome season.

  • Zoku Natsume Yuujin-chou
  • But Diego, Diego! How can you possibly go through this list and keep up with ongoing series? Fret not, my friends. Word on the street is that the Big Scientist Guys who control the world’s clocks are adding a whole second (!) to 2008, which means that I’ll have more than enough time to burn through the backlog accumulated from the fall and earlier seasons – leaving me with a clean slate for the awesome winter season.

    Bring it on, I say! Bring it on!

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    2008: The Year of the Taiga

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    Aisaka Taiga.

    She’s rough. She’s tough. She’ll eat you out of house and home and won’t even thank you for it. But hey, we all love her anyway.

    And that’s why 2008 is her year.

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    ADV’s Shinkai Makoto DVD Collection (pre-review teaser)

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    Here’s an opinion-free, just-the-facts write-up on ADV’s two-volume Shinkai Collection (US version), which includes three animated films from noted Japanese director Shinkai Makoto. I will post a separate review for each of the collection’s two volumes on Wolf Hurricane within the next few weeks.

    The three films included in this collection are – with R1 release titles in parentheses – Hoshi no Koe (Voices of a Distant Star), Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko (She and Her Cat), and Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho (The Place Promised in Our Early Days).

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    Last Exile (re)licensed by FUNimation

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    Anime News Network reports that FUNimation Entertainment has acquired an R1 distribution licence for the 2003 animated series Last Exile. The entire series was first released on R1 DVDs in 2003/2004 by the defunct North American division of the Japanese home entertainment producer/distributor Geneon Entertainment.

    According to the Last Exile page on FUNimation’s official website, the series will be (re)released in 2009 (no precise date was given).

    Note: The wallpaper shown above can be downloaded from the official website prepared for the series’ original 2003 R1 DVD release.

    This year’s stocking stuffer: Acer’s Aspire One netbook

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    In our Boxing Day special, Diego treats himself to a shiny new present.

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