Media Review: Battle Fairy Yukikaze (2002) – profound animated show with the best depiction of modern aerial combat still!

Promo image from Bandai

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 stars means it’s truly exceptional, worth special consideration.


Although certain genres of media are more predisposed to profoundness, usually the very sober, certain obscure animated shows from Japan (‘anime’) are as well. In fact there’s a correlation between absurdity and refreshing departure from the stereotype of anime, and they merit a nuanced appraisal.

However, esoteric foreign language shows are more difficult to assess and one might be tempted to pick an easier exemplar for their first review. Not me! My personal preferences have always leaned towards more challenging content and so here I embark.

Battle Fairy Yukikaze (戦闘妖精雪風, Sentō Yōsei Yukikaze) is one of the greatest ‘diamonds in the rough’ that I’ve ever seen.

Originally released as an ‘Original Animated Video’ (OAV) in 2002 by Bandai Visual as a lavish showpiece for an anniversary celebration, and given an excellent english dub somewhat later by Bandai’s North American subsidiary, Yukikaze suprisingly remains the foremost reference work for animated modern aerial combat. It quite literally has the best rendered depiction of any publicly available animation. Yes even as of 2021. It was based on a novel that was briefly popular in Japan and sunk into obscurity after.

I could write several essays on the technical merits of the show, both in style and in conetent, though I will leave that to the real experts. Of course as there hasn’t been a real high intensity conflict involving modern jets the idea of what is ‘most realistic’ is somewhat vague. But a good rule of thumb for judging any on screen depiction of combat is whether the motion and inertia of every actor is correctly portrayed. For aerial combat especially, G-forces and their attendant effects are rarely done right.

To be clear the premise is quite absurd, the main opponents are shapeshifting creatures on another planet. But somehow the animators managed to give the scenes a more realistic weight than even the latest blockbusters.

Below is one of the more memorable combat scenes in the japanese original. An english language release is also available, but not on youtube.

As of writing the series is available for free in certain regions on Tubi. The usual retailers carry physical copies for a reasonable price.

Review: Dyson Lightcycle Morph

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Useful, with unavoidable flaws

Really cool technology and design with a few annoying downsides, perhaps a replacement+ for your halogen lamp

Major merits

Very snappy magnetic action, perfectly smooth, also fun!

Painless setup

Heavy base that will absolutely not shift around

Color temp., brightness, and motion, automation

App not even needed for most functionality


Minor merits

7.5 W USB-C charger

No WiFi – one less smart thing to worry about securing

very minimal branding, can be easily covered

Minor flaws

Colour rendering slightly less than halogen lamp equivalent

No detailed lighting specifications available

Cheap black plastic base underside

External power adaptor

Major flaws

Bizzare warranty and service scheme in Canada – 2 years only, compared to 5 years in the US – only spare parts available are the power supply and cable

Black components on the otherwise all White/Silver colour option that also add a functional flaw -overheating of the lamp seperator/cover – be careful not to touch it after a long session!

Too easy to trigger touch controls accidentally

Summary thoughts

Dyson tries really hard to be the Apple of small home appliances, they get close in certain aspects but in other ways fall quite short. For example, the cheap black plastic, that add an otherwise easily avoidable functional flaw to the lamp, which also replicates the major downside of the halogen lamps its designed to replace, is really indicative of something go wrong with their design process. Why was this kind of decision made? to save a few pennies on the BOM of a luxury lighting fixture? And touted to last for 60+ years no less… Perhaps Dyson will improve on these shortcomings for the next model.

Product Review: September Accessories

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ extraordinary

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ exceptional, has avoidable flaws

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ reasonable, has unavoidable flaws

⭐️ ⭐️ mediocre, significant drawbacks

⭐️ consider something else

Purchased myself, reviewing for merits

Airpods Pro Case

Catalyst

USA

$29

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Waterproof. Surprisingly works well. Convenient loop. Very deep red. Excellent details such as a thinner area above the indicator light to allow for clear viewing, unnoticeable when off. Excellent fit. Molding lines visible around circumference. Reset button difficult to press, a bit too mushy. Must take off when pairing due to top flaps covering reset button. Overall a good value for money.

Leather Lanyard

Sleepy pup

USA

$15.95

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

High quality full grain leather with natural finishing on inner surface. Good size and extra wide. Comes with nice metal latch. Handsome silver mirror finish bolt anchoring the strap. Negligible colour transfer when new. Ages gracefully. What more could you ask for?

Tape Dispenser

Poppin

USA

$10

⭐️ ⭐️

Looks great and changes are a breeeze, pop-in pop-out. However the tape comes loose when pulling at any angle other than horizontal due to the design’s weak grip on the roll. Inconvenient to use. Excellent weight however, stays firmly put. Cutting blade is sharp. Comes with a sticky rubbery foot that covers the entire bottom, a surprisingly fancy and expensive feature at this price point.

Magnifying Glass (2x)

Carson BugView

USA

$10

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Excellent high clarity optical glass. Milled aluminum feature. Fun to look at and look through! Extraordinarily good optical characteristics at this price point. Handsome deep green. Minor gap at connector. No glass coating from what I can tell, so it scratches easily, though how much can you expect for $10? Neat manufacturing details label with plant name, model number, batch number, and location, in this case Shenzhen, China. Novel on a mass market product.

Book Review: New Larousse Gastronomique (1981)

Review guidelines

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ extraordinary

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ exceptional, has avoidable flaws

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ reasonable, has unavoidable flaws

⭐️ ⭐️ mediocre, significant drawbacks

⭐️ consider something else

Purchased myself, reviewing for merits

Culinary Encyclopedia

Larousse

France

out of print, newer editions available

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

A fascinating encyclopedia of traditional cuisine, primarily focusing on french cuisine though comprehensive enough to cover all major culinary references in reasonable detail.

This copy is the 1981 fourth impression of the 1977 English translation of the 1960 edition printed and bound in Italy and filmset in the UK.

Purchased from a local store in Toronto sometime in the early 2000’s.

Although some aspects certainly do date this book the photography remains marvelous, as you will see.

Culinary encyclopedias are quite rare nowadays and the online ‘replacements’ are nowhere near as well designed as this book.

High quality paper is used for the colour images with the rest of the book using paper similar to the Oxford Dictionary of English, and about the same size too!

The most interesting aspect would have to be the layout of the pictures that are interwoven throughout the book in a tasteful way. Quite unlike the modern practice of bunching all the colour pages together in one inconvenient spot, as interweaving increases labor costs.

Haven’t found any typos yet though chances are there would be some in a book this size. Shown below are the best colour plates.

Product Review: Nike Epic Phantom React Flyknit

Review guidelines

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ extraordinary

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ exceptional, has avoidable flaws

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ reasonable, has unavoidable flaws

⭐️ ⭐️ mediocre, significant drawbacks

⭐️ consider something else

Purchased myself, reviewing for design merits

Running shoes

Nike

USA
$150

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Easily the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. Quite substantial cushioning for something so light. Flyknit is an engineering triumph from the folks in Oregon. Even the amount of effort put into something as simple as the decorative stitching is deeply impressive.

This very avant- grade colour scheme was surprisingly still available on a discount. Doubly so as sophisticated, likely expensive, pigments and dyes were used to get the colours right, making this a rare treat.

Notice how the orange plastic surround on the heel is colour matched exactly with the logos on the insert. Considering the vastly different substrates they are applied on and the vastly different wear regimes this is certainly the most impressive usage I’ve ever seen on a product in this price range.

Plus there has been no noticeable fading or deterioration after several hundred hours of walking about and a wash. In fact the only visible wear outside of the sole is the Nike logo tip peeling a bit, probably from rubbing friction at the tip end.

A textbook study in material selection.

The fit and finish is almost Apple like in its precision. With the notable exception of some glue sticking out from beneath the tongue end. So close Nike.

The stitching is really top notch for a shoe, maybe not quite at the highest levels of textiles like Hermès yet still worthy of praise considering barely anyone will ever carefully examine this part of the shoe.

Notice how the weave is symmetrical about the rear vertical axis. Clearly whoever worked on this really wanted to get things right.

The font and typography shown here is also surprisingly edgy for a mass market product.

Even the black plastic has a very nice matte finish with 3D curvature. Probably injection molded with some excellent finishing treatment.

And the neatest part is the delightful texturing and patterning of the upper body. Totally unnecessary functionally yet delivers a novel charm that conveys the emotions and futuristic avant-garde language of the product very well.

It’s like wearing a piece of futuristic art. Nike’s sneaker design team nailed the integration of function and form.

A possible improvement would be using an even lighter material for the sole. Though it’s already so shockingly light compared to conventional running shoes that going back would be like wearing boots.

There are quite significant performance benefits to even tiny weight savings, as professional runners know. Mechanistically, this is the same reason as why lighter wheels on a sports car make a big difference in handling performance. Lever momentum, etc.

Of course the functional performance is excellent too. The oversized heel provides excellent stability and the moldable nature of the fabric contours itself to an exact fit with the foot. And without any laces or accouterments it is much simpler to use in everyday life. The dual pull tabs are a thoughtful addition.

I have become convinced that this is the new paradigm in shoe design. A laceless and ultra lightweight future.