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Chiyo is just a ten-year old kid but she also happens to be a genius who's been promoted… all the way to high school! There she meets her new classmates and peers: a wacky bunch of colourful personalities. There's the hyperactive Tomo (think of a female version of Adnan Fakir who's just been injected with Tang) and her best friend, the calm and collected Yomi. Sakaki is the athlete of the class whereas Osaka always gets lost in her bizarre daydreams. And then there's Chiyo herself who's just absolutely adorable. High school will never be the same again for this bunch!

It's pretty unconceivable that an anime with no plot whatsoever can be so entertaining… but here lies indisputable proof of that: Azumanga Daioh is easily one of the cutest, quirkiest yet cleanest comedies you'll find!

Unlike other school anime (like School Rumble or Kare Kano), Azumanga doesn't rely on an ongoing story or complex character relationships to drive itself. Rather it does something unorthodox by chronicling mundane school events like exams and lunch breaks… and then injecting a large dose of hilarity into the proceedings.

The comedy in Azumanga is quite brilliant as well! It's a winning combination of absolute randomness and perfect timing with the jokes. The dialogue is also really funny and humour that's derived at the expense of the characters is even more so. Regardless of the fact that these jokes are reused throughout the run of the anime, they somehow never get stale; rather they seem funnier the second time around!

The characters play a crucial role here since all the wackiness is credit to them. Particularly brilliant is Yukari-sensei; I've yet to see a teacher so utterly selfish, arrogant and immature! Then there's Kimura-sensei who'll make you smile even if he just stares blankly into open space. (NB he's always staring… you'll get the point once you've started watching). The constant sparring between the characters is really entertaining and isn't too far removed from real life.

I can't explain it but whatever magic is woven makes Azumanga feel remarkably genuine and closer to the heart. That's probably why beyond the comedy this anime is truly wonderful.

The last episode of Azumanga Daioh is a beautiful testament to school life everywhere around the world! When it (school and this anime) ends, it does so with emotion. If you've graduated school, you'll really be able to empathise with the characters and there's this strong sense of lump-throated, teary-eyed nostalgia that the ending of Azumanga will evoke.

Despite such a wonderful premise, Azumanga isn't for everyone. The jokes are of a pretty unique nature and they will not segue with some people. If you don't find yourself laughing early on… you will fall asleep during the later episodes, trust me! Some portions also rely on knowledge of the Japanese school culture but it's still possible to enjoy the rest of it.

Azumanga Daioh is a pretty niche comedy with its unique brand of humour and unusual format. However, it manages to be effortlessly entertaining and it's one anime that you can watch over and over again!

E-mail, queries, flames and your credit card details can be sent to: chupaa.chups@yahoo.com

And yes, that's a full-stop after 'chupaa'. And yes, this is my RS e-mail address from now on.

There are thriller crime movies and then there are Martin Scorsese thriller crime movies. Distinction here is sets the two apparently same genres apart. The famed director is back after his last hit "The Aviator" (2004) bringing blood and mob mayhem to the screen in "The Departed."

The plot:
It is based on the sleek and sparingly short and brutal 2002 Hong Kong flick "Infernal Affairs." The plot is about bad guy, bad guy, and a few more bad guys which is far from as bad as it may sound.

Top-billed Leonardo DiCaprio plays Billy Costigan, a Massachusetts police academy cadet. Costigan's South Boston family is heavily associated with the mob which makes him dubious cop material but excellent as someone who knows the ins and outs of the underworld. Thus he becomes an undercover cop.

Other prime characters include Capt. Queenan (Martin Sheen) of the police force who doles out the orders. Queenan's number two, Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), gives Costigan a whole lot of grief as only a superior officer can to a rookie.

The rookies job here is to infiltrate the inner sanctum of Costello, played by Nicholson. Costigan works undercover for about a year but the toll of constantly lying to both sides takes its toll and starts to bug him big time. Now so far it sounds like a good cop bad bad guy movie. But then you have Costellos own mole implanted among the police. He is the stalwart-seeming Special Investigations Unit officer Colin Sullivan, played by Matt Damon. He is busy trying to learn the identity of the undercover rat while managing to deceive everyone, including his lover (Vera Farmiga), the state police department shrink, who's drawn to Costigan as well. What's a gripping plot line without wavering affetction of a woman?

The plot of the movie balances on the parallels of Costigan and Sullivan trying to flush each other out.

The verdict:
This is by no way a simple narrative story. Scorsese has taken the original which was shorter by 50 minutes and produced an improved and grandiose variation. Add to that ripping dialogue that goes very well for a movie of this ilk.

Take for example the following line when Martin Sheen asks DiCaprio, "Do you want to be a cop or do you want to appear to be a cop?" Could be a classic there ready for spoofs in Scary Movie 5.

The cast is needlessly brilliant. Nicholson relishes his role with his trademark theatrics seeming predictable and yet at the same time fresh. Nicholsons psychotic behaviour is what you look forward to whether he is playing a regular old guy or Batman viallain or a mob boss.

And Scorsese directs with visual cues taken from his past movies as well as a few new surprises. Similarly here too you will be looking for the old trademark shots and other tricks which are just as fresh several times over. Many times Scorsese not-so-subtly cranks up the volume on the background music whenever violence is about to explode. And there are several scenes of brutal yet short and stylised scenes of violence. Whether you're a fan of Scorseses work or not is far from the point here. You still sit back and revel at the drama that unfolds as a riveting pace.

The car you see in the pics is something called the Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina less formally, “the Glickenhaus car.”

The longer you stare at the picture the more bad-ass and pumped it looks. So take a short break from reading this and look. It's a beast, restless on its haunches.

A car as magnificent as this can only be more interesting when it has a story of the conception that is full of intrigue and artifice.

You take an already accomplished supercar and then you sit back and wonder what it could become. That's the case here as it is first and foremost a one-off Enzo-based Ferrari. Of course, you could think about it all day but for something to roll out in the three dimensional world you need a client, preferably one with enough money to drown in quite literally.

In walks the prince
In walks Jim Glickenhaus, 56, a guy who pays in taxes what we dream of earning someday. Car nut with a huge collection of priceless classics, he owns a Wall Street investment firm. His garage includes several racers including a 1947 Tipo 166 Spyder Corsa, the oldest Ferrari in existence. And he is a proper car nut because mind bogglingly he drives these cars on the street, regularly. And that's all we need to know about him. After all, you see the centre page taking up space to show the car, not the buyer.

'Old' history
What you see in the picture is a modern realisation of Ferrari's voluptuous 1967 330 P3/4. It is arguably the most beautiful sports-racing car in history as well as being one of the rarest. Only three P3s and P4s were ever built. Plenty of replicas exist today. The racers were designed to win endurance events at Le Mans and Daytona against its ultimate nemesis the Ford GT40. In 1967 24 hour Daytona, three of these cars finished in a 1-2-3 victory. Of course, in Le Mans, the Ford GT40 dominated but the prancing horse remains way too beautiful. You can understand why someone would want to build one again with all modern material. And also the simple fact that this guy CAN. Period.

The courtship
Designer Castriota's first drawings of the new car evoked the P3/4. But the design began evolving away from the retro P-car toward an original design that looked forward while also looking back. And Glickenhaus wasn't sure he liked it. But seeing the new drawings, his son, Jesse, and daughter, Veronica, loved them. (Wouldn't you like to argue with your dad about the styling of a secret one-off Ferrari?) Glickenhaus took his kids' enthusiasm seriously. Maybe the car should be more than a homage.

After some loud conversations with Castriota, they agreed. In a Beverly Hills dealership, they tracked down the last unsold Ferrari Enzo in the world for $650,000 plus. Still in its factory shrink-wrap, it arrived at Pininfarina, and the carbon-fiber Enzo bodywork was stripped away. (Need new-old-stock Enzo body parts? Call this guy)

The wedding night
The entire P4/5 design was executed electronically a virtual reality. CAD schematics electronically mated the Enzo tub with countless new carbon-fiber P4/5 pieces, each with its own virtual file. Most amazing of all, begun in September 2005, the entire project took well less than a year.

For months, Pininfarina and Glickenhaus kept their secret. Not even Ferrari knew! It wasn't until five months into the project, in January 2006, that Pininfarina invited Ferrari representatives to see the full-size model. They were stunned. Inevitably, some will say, “Here is the car Ferrari should have built.”

Vital stats for the geeks
The modern P4/5 is a rolling history of Ferrari-racing DNA 333SP nose, F1 cockpit profile, 512S rear window, 330 P3/4 NACA side ducts, white-enameled F1 exhaust tips protruding from the back (don't go putting that in your Corolla).

And in Pininfarina's moving-road wind tunnel, the P4/5 proved to have more efficient cooling, higher downforce, and better balance than the Enzo, combined with a 0.34 coefficient of drag. So you see, an ultimate car is in reality never an ultimate car.

With its stock 650-hp Enzo V-12, but only 2645 pounds to haul (versus the Enzo's 3262-pound curb weight), P4/5 acceleration will be demonic. Testers (lucky buggers) took a stock Enzo to 60 in 3.3 seconds [C/D, July 2003]. With the P4/5's low weight, it will be in the very low threes. Similarly, with a taller gear, Pininfarina estimates a top speed of 225 mph. At least.

This is an aggressive project for Pininfarina one that took a risk-taker like Glickenhaus and about four million bucks (US dollars).

Happily ever after
In the end, Ferrari welcomed this unique car into the fold as a fully badged Ferrari. Under the skin, of course, its VIN is indisputably a Ferrari Enzo's. When a kid puts a wing on his garden variety Corolla, it's still a Corolla ditto the P4/5.


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