Oh....those reviews I promised....
Given the below mentioned trips main purpose was to watch foreign cartoons and that the heading at the top of this page includes the word "Anime" (and since I tried this once before) I think I'd better post some reviews.
This JASFA meeting was remarkably suck free but two series really stood out for me.
Planetes or perhaps Planet ES (the title of this Japanese Cartoon is in Cyrillic.(!?)) Involves the travails of a group of astronauts with the unenviable task of collecting orbital debris that might endanger the substantial orbital infrastructure of 2075.
The hopelessly underfunded sweeper division of a large multinational are headquartered in a former storage area on the lowest (highest gravity) level of a dual wheel spacestation.
This crew of the 30 year old tug "Toybox" must deal with the scorn of all the 'cool' astronauts as well as obsolete and worn out equipment. The show strikes a near ideal balance between drama comic relief and humanity.
The animation is excellent and the technology and art direction are awesomely realistic. As orbital debris are a real problem, even today,the basic premise of the story is far from contrived.
The only gripe I have is with the female lead who is remarkably annoying. She has a special angst field that is in many ways rather selfish. Nevertheless, the protagonists are all very likeable.
The manga, which lacks the female lead is available from Tokyo Pop it is also very realistic and has very much the same 'feel' as the anime.....though in the Manga, the crew of the Toybox are a small independent business adding a bit of entrepreneurial desperation to the mix. The addition of the teenage girl and the subsumption of the crew into a large corporation must say something about marketing trends and perceptions of what's PC in Japan....note that the female characters (like Fee, the captain of the ship) that are in both versions are quite admirable characters...the young protagonist seems to be there just to be a steryotypically feminine (?) element. Nevertheless, both versions rock.
***** 5 carbonaceous chondrites
Last Exile is another really cool sci-fi series, though as it is Steam-Punk it is more accurately described as fantasy. This series which is highly reminiscent of Myazakis Laputa (one of my favorit films)is set in a world straight out of Verne, Wells or even E.E.Doc Smith.
A future as Verne might have forseen it has two young courier pilots trying to make ends meet by taking the odd delivery job and hoping to win the pod race...err...van ship race.
Their own sense of duty and good heartedness lands the two plucky capitalists an especially dangerous job that may well rock the foundatins of their world.
Rather similar in a many ways to such things as Captain Harlock this series is really enjoyable with engaging and likeable charachters. WARNING!!! Don't hit story on the above link...it contains spoilers other than that it is a really good promo site.
The dub in this series is well above Pioneers norm, yet another thing in its favor.
##### 5 tesla coils