Tuesday, December 23, 2003

It's an on-demand world... 

Turned on the TV yesterday and ecountered something really wonderful! Our local digital cable now supports on-demand programming. =) When we fell on some harder financial times a while back, we decided to drop most of the normal channels while keeping the Digital Plus pack. Lost stuff like Cartoon Network and MTV, but kept IFC, Sundance, TCM, TechTV, G4, MTV2, Fuse, etc. I've been pretty happy with that decision as it generally encourages me to watch slightly higher quality programming, movies without commercials, and an hour of good live televion with the Screen Savers each day. Now, I'm even happier with the decision, as on-demand is really cool.

They carry various movies, costing from $3-4 for normal, but that part isn't so big a deal for me. The nice thing is that they have quite a lot of various TV episodes, all of which are free. You can only get the stuff related to pay channels (like Showtime) if you already subscribe to those channels, but they a decent assortment of programming from other areas.

There is shorts related to something called Atom Films, there are random episodes from G4 and TechTV. There is various cartoons for kids. There was one with teen shows and other of programming all made by kids from around the country that I haven't check out yet. There was a selection of music videos, which was kind of cool. There was two free movies from Sundance Channel, etc.

You can probably tell that I'm leading up to something, right? We have programs from the Anime Network!! There was like 60+ episodes from various series in there, all totally free. It is all dubbed, but that's no different from any other anime on TV, and this time I can watch the stuff whenever I want to as well as pause, fastforward, and rewind. The vid controls are way at the bottom of the remote control which is kind of annoying, and every time I'm done watching a show, it kicks me out to the main menu, but I can deal with it. This is the same sort of feeling I got from DVDs versus VHS. It is just a world of convenience that opens up to you.

I don't know how often content gets updated for the various channels, but they seem to a pretty good job of labelling content, so that helps. For instance, all of the anime shows have the episode number right in the title. For some of the very continuity-driven stories that are up in the teens for episodes, I'll wait a while for earlier episodes to show up, but there was a fair amount of titles starting from the beginning, and some are episodic enough for it not to matter. There's a lot of stuff in here that I had some curiosity about but not enough to buy a DVD (like Sorcerer Hunters) and this will be perfect to check the stuff out.

So, what'd I watch? There was an episode of Babar on the testing section, and I ended up getting sucked into that. Partly nostalgia and partly that it was an interesting episode about if modern society is always all it is cracked up to be.

A FAQ episode of Screen Savers aparantly made just for on-demand. An episode of Icons on G4, focusing on Zelda. I have to say I like Icons a lot, as there isn't a lot of stuff out there on the history of video games. It is nice to see Miyamoto being interviewed. They also showed a really bizzare collection of Zelda games that most people don't know about that were made for CD-i but not by Nintendo. Amazingly bad animated cut scenes!

For anime, I watched the 4th episode of Mazinkaiser, of which I'd seen the first episode on one of the DVDs that come with Newtype USA. I have to say that I am really liking this series. It is pure retro cheesiness with a slightly more adult wink-wink perspective, but not really a parody either. Imagine Voltron but more cheesy and crazy and exhuberant. This particular episode was a beach type episode with of course much fanservice flying around, but thankfully done in a playfull humorous way instead of the creepy stuff in some series (not to mention retro character designs). Surely not a series for everyone as there is no real depth, but it is pure cheesy fun. Everything from the robots themselves to the male/female Baron Ashura to the evil bearded Dr. Hell, to the catchy theme song.... "In the FIRE CRUSH on CRUSH!"... "Don't wanna know why, everybody ready GET IT ON!" I think this doesn't classify as a guilty pleasure, what does?

What else... Watched an episode of King of Bandit Jing. A fluffy series about a good-natured (young?) expert thief and his bird companion (who can aparantly transform his body). No amazing substance in here, but it is pretty stylish and the world is fairly imaginative. This particular episode involved an island of musicians and a touch of romance. I haven't read the manga, so I'm not sure how well it'd do with lack of motion and color, but you could do worse than this for an episodic quirky all-ages show...

Also looked at an episode of Noir. I saw the first couple of episodes a while back and it seemed interesting and the music was great. I hear it gets fairly repetitive until a character named Cloe shows up, and luckily she shows up in the episode I tried. ;) Lady assassins, intrigue, dark pasts, blah blah. Won't change the world but can pass some time..

I took a quick peek at Colorful, a very odd collection of perverted shorts. A couple of funny bits, but the whole theme was a bit creepy and it isn't like there is any plot going on.. Not really my thing. It gets points for a cool female Japanese punk theme song, but that's about it.

A cool thing was Mom decided to watch some anime on the other channel, and saw two episodes Zaion and some Sorcerer Hunters. I haven't seen either yet, so I'll have to check them out. I also want to watch some Aura Battler Dunbine (classic fantasy mecha from the Gundam creator), Dai-Guard (giant robots meet dilbert), Excel Saga (have a couple of DVDs but haven't seen later episodes), Rune Soldier (they are in latter episodes, but it seems somewhat episodic, so I might give it a shot). I might check out Boogiepop, but I do have half the series on DVD, so I may just wait until I can get the rest. Princess Nine is great, but I already own it all (and I'm not even a big baseball fan generally). I'll probably end up watching most of the stuff availible with the time availible during the holidays. Then again, I have plenty of DVDs and comics I haven't gotten to yet that I should probably look at first. ;)

If you want an idea of what's on, here's the schedule for January.

So, this is really neat. I'm sure the novelty will wear off eventually, but I'm glad to finally get more interactivity in my television besides an online guide..

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