January 2018 news

January 2018 gwern.net newsletter with 3 tech/philosophy essays and links on genetics, AI, biology/medicine, Bitcoin, linguistics, Touhou, and 2 anime reviews. (newsletter)
created: 21 Dec 2017; modified: 27 Aug 2018; status: finished; confidence: log;

This is the January 2018 edition of the gwern.net newsletter; previous, December 2017 (archives). This is a summary of the revision-history RSS feed, overlapping with my Changelog & Google+; brought to you by my donors on Patreon.

Media

Nonfiction:

Film/TV

Animated:

• Kurozuka (one of the most unusual fictional treatments of Minamoto no Yoshitsune & Benkei to date, and a further unusual integration of Noh drama & twisting of the Kurozuka legend into a vampire story. The animation is nice, something of a throwback to Basilisk and Ninja Scroll and 80s-’90s OVA styles. The repetition of the rather MacGuffin-esque plot is unfortunate but necessary for the viewer to identify with the protagonist and experience the full horror - I would definitely say this benefits from lack of spoilers, so the suspicions can gradually dawn on one and one can enjoy some of the deliciously weird sequences. Some reviewers are confused by the end, but I think it’s clear enough what is going on, who is the mastermind, what their ’twisted love is about, and how Kurozuka falls into the immortality/time-dilation subgenre of horror.)
• Flip Flappers (a colorful take on yuri-esque mahou shoujo, Flip Flappers starts off with a strong visual imagination and fun animation, but the pieces never gel. The various worlds never form as interesting a commentary as the witch-domains in Madoka did and come off as largely random, and the fetch of the week format fails to make the two protagonists interesting or convincing friends: Cocona remains a boring stick-in-the-mud while Papika never rises above manic pixie dream girl stereotypes. The backstory is dumped at the end, and I have never seen a more shameless, comprehensive, or unoriginal ripoff of Nadia/Neon Genesis Evangelion/End of Evangelion before - I did think Kill La Kill went a bit far in homaging EoE but KLK brought a lot to the table & was still its own anime. The predictable battles-mean-friendship ending is based on too much sketchy nonsense for me to even bother trying to understand it or appreciate its half-hearted gestures at having an emotional impact. If I had watched only episode 6, an unusually hard-hitting depiction of senile dementia, and episode 8, a colorful and fun ’80s cyberpunk Tron-esque confection homaging classic robot anime, I would have thought Flip Flappers was an excellent anime; but I watched the others.)