Gundams I Have Known and Loved (or not)

I’ve had the Gundam franchise on my mind from playing Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn, and it has finally prompted me to finally begin watching Gundam Seed. So, here’s all the Gundam I have seen in my lifetime with very brief thoughts:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam – A true classic, and with good reason. Some fruity mech designs, but otherwise quite excellent. Its hard to believe it was actually cancelled – the ending doesn’t feel rushed.
  • Zeta Gundam – Another classic. Its a dark mirror of the original series and a personal favorite. I fansubbed the first half of the series in the pre-digital days, so you know I love that shit.
  • Double Zeta Gundam – Tomino developed this to kill the franchise, and it backfired spectacularly. This series is an absolute insult, and I was insulted. Once I saw Bright reduced to defending the Ahgama with oranges, I was fucking done. Only saw the first four episodes, will not ever watch more.
  • Char’s Counterattack – Great movie, but it requires you to be familiar with the events of the original and Zeta to get the full impact.
  • Gundam F-91 – Starts well, gets more compressed as time moves on. Could have been great as a TV or OVA series, but as a movie, not great. Intriguing, though.
  • Victory Gundam – Covered elsewhere in detail on this site. TL;DR version: Don’t waste your time.
  • Gundam 0080 – Another favorite. It leads you along for the first four episodes, and then shoves you off a cliff. Also features character designs by my favorite artist.
  • Gundam 0083 – Decent enough plot, decent enough action. Falls completely apart on the character level. Kou is boring as shit. Gato is a tin soldier. Why Nina has an interest in these two blockheads is a mystery – she comes across pretty dopey for somebody who is supposed to be some sort of genius. Can’t quite recommend.
  • The 8th MS Team – I could not get into this, because it retcons the UC universe WAY too hard to not be completely distracting. If the Federation had ONE team of Gundams, never mind EIGHT of them, the war would have been over in about a week.
  • G Gundam – I went in with no expectations of liking this, and my expectations were met. Bailed after two episodes, no interest.
  • Gundam Wing – Plenty of plot holes, plenty of plot armor, and Operation Meteor is like the dumbest plan ever. The series is carried by its characters, who are a fairly insane and colorful lot. Entertaining overall, but it isn’t the best Gundam series around.
  • Gundam X – The best intro to any Gundam series I have seen – VERY powerful. Unfortnately, it quickly pissed all of my good will away. Garoad is an awful protagonist. Once you get past the first six episodes, what little plot there was is out the window. This series earned its cancellation. I bailed after episode 8.
  • Turn-A Gundam – Beautiful soundtrack, amazing designs, unique steampunk-ish aesthetic. Unfortunately, there is, as near as I can tell after ten episodes, little in the way of plot, and the characters are all intensely stupid. People love this one, and I wanted to as well, but I do not get it.

Gundam Seed – First Impressions

Though I’ve been capturing LDs, I haven’t actually watched much anime lately. I decided to finally do a little catching up, and decided to watch Gundam Seed, finally.

I have watched the first six episodes, and I am quite impressed.

Server upgrades and whatnot has been upgraded.

Otakubell now has more RAM available to it – but that’s not why it was down for as long as it was.

Otakubell was running on Debian 7.x, which, while still getting the occasional update, is the legacy branch.  However, I was not keen on moving to Debian 8.x, because Debian 8.x introduces SystemD(icks).  Now, I don’t mind SystemD on my home computer (I run Manjaro at home).  But I don’t really like the idea of it being on a public-facing machine like Otakubell, because its too broad an attack vector.  Unfortunately, Debian was one of the last holdouts against the SystemD plague.  There’s still Gentoo and Slackware, but eh.

So, I tried switching to FreeBSD.  I had messed with in in virtual machines for a while first, so I was fairly confident at first.  But VMs will only take you so far, and as I got into the minutia of setting up the actual server, I realized I was in over my head.  So, I wound up wiping everything and installing Debian 8 after all.

I have also finally dumped MySQL in favor of MariaDB, because fuck Oracle.

You can expect all sorts of disconnects and instability as I continue to tweak and modify.


Massive assault launched on my front page today – a whole lot of IPs from all over the globe tried to hax WordPress all at once. They failed. Thanks, Mod_security! Thanks OWASP!  Thanks Marco Gatti for assembling current builds for Debian Wheezy!  (


I am currently going through post-convention depression.  That pretty much means it was an awesome convention.  I enjoyed it more than I’ve enjoyed any Otakon in a decade.  I want to go again next year.  Here’s a quick summary of what I watched:

  • Rail Wars 1-3:  Student trainees join the Japan Railway Security Forces.  Its okay.  Probably wouldn’t seek out more of it, but I didn’t mind it.
  • Re:Hamatora:  I watched one and a half episode and bailed.  I have been hardcore watching anime for almost 25 years, and I can say without hesitation that this is one of the most incoherent pieces of crap I’ve ever attempted to watch.  Seriously, fuck this show.
  • Argevollon:  I only saw the first episode, but it seems to be a fairly stock mecha show.  I’d certainly be willing to see more of it to see if it develops into something beyond stock.  The mech designs reminded me of the old PC game Total Annihilation.
  • Sailor Moon Crystal 1-3:  A delight!  Sailor Moon Crystal takes everything wrong with the original Sailor Moon TV series and fixes it.  The original series had a lot of padding, this cuts all of that out.  The artwork is much closer to Naoko Takeuchi’s original manga style.  The only flaw, and it is a minor one, is that the opening theme is not the least bit catchy, where the original theme was.  I might have liked, perhaps, a remake of the original opening theme as well.
  • Dramatical Murder 1-3:  I had never even heard of this one until I saw it, and was pleasantly surprised.  This one is set in a really cool cyberpunk setting.  Its about a guy who does deliveries for a junk shop who gets sucked into a deadly game of cyber-duelling.  Afterwards, I noticed a few people dressed as characters from this series, so I guess this is just a series that I missed somehow.
  • Akame Ga Kill 1-3:  A young man comes to the imperial capital to join the military, but finds the capital is a corrupt mess.  Instead he winds up joining a group of assassins who specialize in terminating corrupt officials for rebel forces.  It seems fairly good.
  • Kill La Kill 1-6:  The fact that I watched six episodes of this should tell you a lot.  What it should tell you, and what I will tell you now, is that this is amazing.  This anime is a masterful blend of action, drama, and comedy.  It is set in an unusual setting.  It is presented in an insanely hyperkinetic retro style.  There is nothing here for me to not like.
  • Le Chevalier D’Eon 1-3:  Conspiracy and mercury-filled zombies in pre-revolutionary France.  Highly-detailed artwork too.  Pretty good stuff.

Panels were a more mixed bag.  We went to four of them.  Two of them were garbage, because the panelists were awful.

  • A panel called “Psychology of Anime” spent the first EIGHT MINUTES (as confirmed by the panelists themselves) just fucking around and joking with each other.  This may have been mildly entertaining if they were actually funny – they weren’t.  It was painful, but we were kinda stuck deep in a large crowd.  There may have been fifteen minutes of content.  Kiril used the opportunity to take a nap.  I wish I had too.
  • We bailed quickly on a panel called “Anime and the 1980s” when the fumfering panelists mumbled “Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs” 4-5 times in a row after showing us the intro to the same, which ended with the text “Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs.”  I mean, literally, they took turns doing that, and a handful of other meaningless words in-between.
  • We had MUCH better luck with Jed A. Blue’s two panels:  “Postmodern Anime” and “Break the World’s Shell.”  The latter is a quote from Revolutionary Girl Utena and was about apocalyptic anime.  I really felt like I learned stuff in those panels, and Mr. Blue actually knows how to speak and make a presentation.  I’ll give away the most valuable thing I learned:  Utena is heavily influenced by, and quotes, the Hermann Hesse story “Demian.”  I watched all of Utena and found it fascinating, but I couldn’t tell you what the hell happened in that show.  Maybe I need to read Demian!

Toto at the Keswick Theatre

Last night my friend and I saw the band Toto at the Keswick Theatre, right outside Philadelphia.

Maybe a year or two ago I got a random-ass text from my friend, asking if I had ever seen Toto in concert. I had not, I really only knew their bigger hits (Hold The Line, Rosanna, and Africa). I texted him back to say no, and why, were they coming around and did he want someone to go with? But no… he just heard Africa at a party and though it would be amusing if I had seen them live.

So then I began looking into Toto’s other music. I listened to a number of their albums.  I won’t go full Patrick Bateman here, but in summary:  They had some other good songs which I added to my mp3 collection. But most of Toto’s music is, to me, fairly bland. They are brimming with technical ability, but they suffer from being jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

Anyhow, they launched a 35th anniversary tour.  Though a lot of their music is kinda meh, they have more than enough to sustain a long concert after 35 years.  My friend wasn’t available to see them in Philly, and I thought our chance was lost.  But luckily, their tour has been so successful they actually came back around, though this time to a lesser venue outside the city.

The crowd was interesting.  The theatre was totally packed.  Most of the audience appeared to be my parent’s age.  There were a few others our age, like maybe 5% of the audience.  But these geezers were… I hesitate to use the word “dancing.”  “Flailing” might be a good word.  There were a few people out in the aisles dancing and everything.  Rather awkward to see, but they were into it, so good for them.  But God, these people also could not sit still!  I don’t mean the dancers, that’s the good kind of not sitting still.  I mean assholes were constantly getting up and walking in and out, which at the tightly-packed Keswick means everyone ELSE has to get up to let them out.  Aside from bothering everybody else, walking out in the middle of a performance like that strikes me as disrespectful, especially if you just want to get more beer.

The band played it on.  The band got down like a Magikist.  The crowd roared like a lion.  The jam session whipped the camel’s ass.

The sound was kinda muddy.  If I didn’t already know the lyrics, I wouldn’t have figured them out at this venue.  And it wasn’t the most visually dynamic show I’ve ever seen… not nearly as entertaining to watch as Gary Numan or Dead Can Dance.  I knew a lot of the songs they played, but not all of them.  I was a little disappointed they didn’t play “Stop Loving You,” but oh well.  They didn’t have an opening act, and they really didn’t need one.  Instead they played “Rosanna” as the second song in their set.  That surprised me, but it makes sense – that right there IS the opening act.  There were some fairly amazing guitar and piano solos throughout.

In short, the concert was good, but not great – right in line with Toto’s whole musical output.  Overall, I’m glad I got to see them.

Anyhow, here’s somebody else’s recording of (most of) Hydra from the show:

Oh yeah. Tytania.

I never really wrote up any sort of final review of Tytania.  And its been like over a year since I watched it.  HURRRRR

I was pretty irritated with Irresponsible Admiral Fan Hyulick at first, but once you get a few episodes in, he begins showing more depth than that – thank goodness.  And he does have an arc.

Overall, I enjoyed Tytania.  It has elements in common with LoGH, but it distinguishes itself.  It doesn’t really “end” so much as it “stops,” but the original source material was, and is, unfinished as well.  Oh well.

Recent downtime

Otakubell went offline on my birthday (yaaaaay), 7/3/14, due to a security breach.

When you run a server on teh interwebs, there are hacker bots trying to break into it continuously.  Like, literally at all times, from every corner of the globe.  When I first moved from shared hosting to a VPS, I made sure I secured it as well as I possibly could.  And I guess I did a moderately good job, because it took almost two years before a break-in finally occurred – or, at least, before a break-in was noticed.

I’m fairly sure nobody broke into the shell, or the SFTP, those were nailed firmly shut with a 2048-bit RSA key.  But it appears a combination of bots finally brute-forced my Postfix password, and began using it as a spam relay.

I had fail2ban configured to ban IPs that attempted to access Postfix – but it only banned them for a month or so.  Clearly this was insufficient.  I also didn’t have a super-long password, and I never changed it.

Once ANYTHING is compromised on ANY computer system, you have to nuke the entire thing from orbit – its the only way to be sure.  I had no way of knowing what else had been compromised, and I wasn’t about to take any chances.  I wiped the entire system and used the opportunity to upgrade to Debian 7.5, which I had put off for far too long anyhow.  I had a recent backup of site data, so very little was lost, if anything.

There will probably be more downtime, as I am still performing various upgrades and tweeks. went offline for a few hours last night because it ran out of memory – I need to tweak my Apache2 settings a bit more, it seems.

Squeeze me ’till I’m Wheezy

I set up my server running Debian 6 (Squeeze), but it was nearing the end of its life at the time.  But Debian 7 (Wheezy) wasn’t ready at the time.  Now Wheezy is out.  I’ve made a few shots at a smooth upgrade – but it was a failure.  It broke email, and it broke web pages – you know, the two things I set up for.

I did successfully get a fresh install of Wheezy with web and email working in Virtualbox, so that’s a good sign.  I’m thinking at this point I might back up all of the data (compressed, we’re talking 3gb of web file and 8gb of database, plus a few hundred megs of email), wipe the entire server, setup up Wheezy fresh, and reinstall the data.  But boy is that shit ever time-consuming, and I do not have time right now.

Hotline Miami hurts my back.

I am having a ball playing Hotline Miami, but this game is making me feel old.  After an hour or two the top of my back, right below my neck, is totally stiff and sore.  Man.  Its still worth playing, so far, but it has to be in smaller doses, I think…

I have the same problem with this game as I have with the Hitman series – unless you are some sort of wizard or have read a walkthrough, there’s no way to know what to do without a lot of unrealistic trial-and-error.  But at least Hotline Miami is quick about it.  I found the one Hitman game I played to be a drag.

Now that I think about it, guard behavior isn’t terribly realistic in Hotline Miami either.  But I’m going to guess they toned it down a bit, because its already fairly tricky.