That's the best image I could find. Well, no, actually, it's the first image I could find, which makes it the best. Click on the picture to go to the actual page.
That is a Japanese boxed lunch, a bento box. It has a picture (made out of something edible, I suspect) of a cartoon character on it.
Look closely. It is a rabbit, in a ballerina dress and tiara.
This is ありがとウサギ, the "thank you rabbit."
You could be forgiven for thinking it is, well, not exactly the most appealing character ever. You wouldn't be alone. The character was the subject of discussion on 2chan as to just how unappealing she, or it, was. This included the obligatory improved versions.
But anyway, why? If you were in Japan, watching TV, any time after the March 11th quake, you know. This is why:
Immediately after the quake, there were no commercials to speak of. Slowly, the commercials returned, or rather, some commercials returned. The one linked above and a small selection of others from AC, all safe, inoffensive messages about being nice, were the only commercials, repeated sometimes three or four times in a row to fill air time. People actually complained that the "A~ C~" tune at the end was getting on their nerves, and the commercials were changed to remove it. You can find some pretty funny remixes on the tubes (and a lot of really stupid ones) if you look. None of them would make any sense either.
Everybody has seen this commercial, hundreds of times at least, in the last month and a half. It's to the point where seeing something like that almost makes me feel nostalgic, or maybe a bit sick. The idea of eating lunch with that damn rabbit on it is just...
Anyway, now I've explained. And it still doesn't make any sense.
So, Serenity. I haven't had a lot of time to watch TV in the past decade or so, outside a steady diet of Japanese comedy specials, so I never saw Battlestar Galactica until I bought the DVDs, and I never saw Firefly at all.
One of the few good things to come out of my recent two month "business trip" to Kanto, is that I sometimes have the time (and technology) to sit down and watch a film. First was Monsters (evaluation: Good. Pretty. Worth watching.), and Moon (evaluation: Fantastic. What thinking Sci-Fi films should aspire to.) This weekend, it was Serenity.
In short, this is a good film. It's a good film for fans. It's very different from Moon or Monsters, more like a bigger version of a TV show than a film. It was definitely entertaining, packed with action, very fun to watch. No regrets there. Still, this is not a movie that wil really stay with me. It didn't think any deep thoughts. Unlike Moon, I won't be lying awake at night thinking about it (unless it's to puzzle over some of the things I mention later). But, then again, you could say a lot of things about other, lesser movies, using sentences that begin, "Unlike Moon."
There were a few problems. The setting is an almost barely believable backdrop for a space-kung-fu-pirate-western that visits a different earth-like planet or two every week. It's perfect for episodic fiction. Too perfect. There was also the way the hero too conveniently acquires superpowers at climactic moments. The guy was run through with a sword, but he coughs a bit and gets on with business. And hey, it just happens that the favorite Vulcan nerve pinch of the villain doesn't work, because our hero had those nerves moved.
There was the dialogue. I understand that Joss Whedon is loved for his dialogue. I can see why. He does have a talent for it. On the other hand, maybe he should rein in that talent from time to time, or turn it in a different direction, because most of his characters sound like, well, how I imagine he sounds. They're all waiting, all the time, for the chance to launch a snark-missile into the conversation. Yes, it's funny, but it also sounds wrong when it comes out of the mouth of almost every character, in almost every scene. It's not terrible. Like I said, he's good at this. But it did, on balance, work against the film, I think.
One of the few things that I do wonder about the film even now, is how it was supposed to fit in with a TV series. Was it the climactic ending? Overall, it seemed good for that, but I wonder how River Tam fits in there. Was she a super killing machine in the TV series and the rest of the crew just never noticed until the movie? Or was this a prequel, in which case the funny pilot guy who gets impaled in a (largely successful) bid to make us think that maybe the major characters are actually in danger, was actually a minor character instead of an equal to the other, unkillable, crew members.
In spite of these, and another few nits I won't pick here, I still recommend it, at least for SF fans. It's fun, and maybe that's all it intended to be, which isn't so bad after all.