Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 16 November 2012 00:00
Considering how we’ve all been concerned with pretty serious business for the last couple of weeks, I thought I’d do something on the lighter side this time and discuss anime, or Japanese animation. My experience has been that most people over the age of 25 are only dimly aware of what anime is and would actually like to know more about what their children/grandchildren/etc. are into. Hey, if I had a nickel for every time someone said, “Oh, you watch anime? I don’t know what that is, but my kids are crazy about it!” I might even have an entire dollar.
However, instead of trying to provide any sort of Anime 101-style overview, a questionable endeavor at best, I thought I would provide some information on some of the weekly shows that happen to be airing on Japanese television right now. Keep in mind this isn’t any sort of favorites list, this is only shows that are currently airing in Japan that I happen to be watching. From this sampling, you may start to get an idea of why so many people find these cartoons uniquely appealing; original Japanese titles, if applicable, are in parentheses.
Polar Bear Café (Shirokuma Café): Just like it sounds, PBC is about a business-savvy polar bear who owns a café and the daily lives of his customers, most of whom are also zoo animals. Regular customers Penguin and Panda sip café mocha while they try to arrange a romance between a shy zookeeper and the waitress, a human named Sasako. Meanwhile, a childhood friend of Polar Bear named Grizzly owns a nearby bar, where predators like lions and tigers come and reminisce about the days when they used to hunt with impunity, before they had kids and mortgages to worry about. Recently, a boy band made up entirely of porcupines made its debut. Surreal and charming in the extreme, the slice-of-life approach of the series always somehow keeps it grounded.
Space Brothers (Uchuu Kyoudai): In 2025, after dreaming of becoming an astronaut for his entire life, Japanese astronaut Hibito Nanba sets off for the moon on a NASA mission. His older brother also dreamed of being an astronaut, but abandoned his dream as unrealistic and became an engineer instead. However, after a sudden layoff, 32-year-old Mutta wonders: Is it too late for him to become an astronaut too? And if Hibito beats him into space, can he perhaps reclaim his big brother pride by being the first to go to Mars? More reminiscent of Apollo 13 than Star Trek, Space Brothers presents the kind of optimistic vision for the future that we don’t see much of these days; it’s as refreshing as it is frequently hilarious. Notable for being one of the few anime that takes place largely in America (although everyone inexplicably speaks Japanese anyway.)
Sword Art Online: One of the three, count ‘em, three shows airing this season about becoming trapped in a videogame. Though wildly popular, SAO is controversial among fans because while it provokes interesting questions about the role of increasingly immersive digital worlds and their capacity to replace real life interaction, it’s marred by wildly inconsistent writing. Still, warts and all, it has some very nice animation and is usually worth a watch.
Girls Und Panzer: A story about a group of upper-class young ladies who learn to pilot WWII-era tanks, because as everyone knows, “Tankery” is the pursuit of a true lady. Epic tank battles against other girls’ schools are held in the streets, and if a local business happens to be destroyed by an errant blast, no worries; insurance covers it! This title took everyone by surprise, because it was expected to be a lazy show that focused on cute girls to pander to male viewers (something all too frequent in anime) yet it’s somehow more entertaining than it has any right to be. Watch out for the bright pink tank.
Hidamari Sketch: A group of high school girls live across the street from their school at the Hidamari Apartments, a complex known for attracting eccentric students from the art department. A cute slice of life show that’s about 20 percent more entertaining if you are, or have ever been, an art student. May cause you to spontaneously go out and buy sketchbooks and chocolate danishes.
I’m out of space and I haven’t even mentioned My Little Monster, Say I Love You or Robotics;Notes—oh well. Needless to say, I don’t watch much American television these days. I just don’t have the time.
Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
With kids today obsessed with all the latest electronic gaming gadgets — the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, and the like — you’d think that the comparatively antiquated concept of pushing a piece of plastic along a sheet of cardboard would be eschewed by your average teenager; however, judging by the crowd of kids at the Massapequa Public Library’s Board Game Café, this actually may not be the case.
Young Adult Services librarian Peter Cirona, who created the Board Game Café at the library’s Central Avenue branch (in addition to a whole host of other young adult programs), said that it’s a great way for kids to socialize and play some classic board games in a fun and friendly environment.
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
On Feb. 27, parents in the Levittown, East Meadow, Massapequa and Farmingdale school districts came together for an informal pannel discussion on the New York State Education Department and the implementation of the state Common Core Learning Standards. Panelists included New York State Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt, Jeanette Deutermann of the Long Island Opt Out Facebook page, and former public school teacher David Greene, who came to the Farmingdale Public Library to talk with local parents about key concerns and questions with the curriculum.
Outspoken parent and founder of the Long Island Opt Out movement, Deutermann, delved into some of the factors behind what led to the state’s adoption of the Common Core, and how the state education department cites High School graduation rates as its reasoning behind the curriculum.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:47
One of Major League Soccer’s top front office executives has many fond memories of growing up in the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL). Bill Manning, the President of Western Conference champion Real Salt Lake and the club’s field, Rio Tinto Stadium, played for the LIJSL Select Team from 1979 to ‘83 as well as the Massapequa Soccer Club from 1972 to ‘83.
Manning’s Massapequa teams had virtually the same players from Under-10 to Under-19, but kept changing their name depending on who their coach was. He played for the Massapequa Flying Dutchmen (coached by Kurt Knoblauch), the Massapequa Bugs (Dick Roche), the Massapequa Cosmos (Jerry Lyons) and the Massapequa Bulls (coached by his father, also named Bill Manning). The Bulls might have lost in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) State Open Cup finals to B/W Gottschee in overtime in 1983, but his teams won the LIJSL division championship in 1974, ‘76 and ‘79 plus the Long Island Cup in 1980 and ‘83.
Thursday, 27 February 2014 10:58
If the games were played on paper, Massapequa would’ve had no shot. The Chiefs faced a tall order last week playing Elmont, which boasted a 12-3 record and four premier scorers. They gave a tremendous effort, but ultimately had their season cut short, 69-62, despite Alex Cosenza leading the scoring with 29 points.
“I can’t ask for anything else from these guys,” said Head Coach Matt Voigt. “I am so proud of them. I applaud their efforts,”