about the talking fish

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Writer. Wheelman. Occasional DIY mechanic. Walking collection of hang-ups. Hopeless romantic. Old-school. Analog soul in a digital world. I am all of these things and more.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The trouble with being different is...

"...despite every positive aspect, it's all too easy to highlight something negative."

Autocar UK wrote this on their road test of the Mazda RX-8 around four years ago. The RX-8 is a convention-bending car: it's a coupe but comes with four doors, has no B-pillar, seats four people, and to date is the only production car powered by a Wankel rotary engine.

So what are the negatives? Well, no B-pillar means its bodyshell tends to flex more than its competitors, which detracts from ultimate handling. And while the twin-rotor Wankel develops 228 BHP from 1.3 liters of displacement, it's got precious little torque, requires frequent oil changes...and let's face it, rotary engines were never fuel-economy champions.
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The same can be said of "Turn-A Gundam," which I finished watching just this morning. Gundam as an anime franchise is known as a space war opera with cool-looking giant robots and lots of action. Turn-A doesn't fit in this mold at all.

A post-apocalyptic story with great emphasis on surviving with 20th-century technology and peace negotiations between the Earth and the Moon, it's the most akin to a Hayao Miyazaki movie out of all the Gundam TV series. Let's face it, you don't expect hulking robots to act as bridges and save cows---oh no, you'd expect them to beat the mechanical crap out of each other. And speaking of robots, the mobile suits in Turn-A are as far removed from a traditional Gundam as they come, as they were designed by American Syd Mead of "Blade Runner" fame. Mead's design of the Turn-A Gundam has a distinctive upturned crescent beard---enough to have Gundam fans crying sacrilege.

The tradition set by other Gundam series prevents others from appreciating "Turn-A Gundam" on its own merits. Yes, it's almost Miyazaki-like in pace and tone; that doesn't mean it's a bad series. If anything, "Turn-A" is the series that places the most emphasis on the characters---from front-line soldiers to the civilians to the politicians behind the conflict. It certainly drags at first, and its weirdness won't endear it to many, but "Turn-A Gundam" is proof that the franchise was at one point a human story, not simply a tool to sell kits and merchandise.
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I wonder if the same rule applies to me. I wonder if I am so different from other people that they don't even bother to look for anything positive; all they see is the usual unfavorable first impression I make.

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