Another year is coming to an end. It has been an interesting one to me. Anyway I'll be away for my New Year holiday and please expect delays in my reply to your e-mails.
I've been watching "Ai yori Aoshi" on DVDs and found many of "previews of the next episode" are really well done. One for Eps.14, Makanai (catering), was so wonderful I couldn't stop laughing for a while ^_^;; Then I thought how they would be translated into English and other languages. I know puns and jokes are very difficult to translate as I used to do it a lot myself. I haven't seen much of US commercial releases of anime/manga but both of two series I watched closely to evaluate the translation (Crest of the Stars anime and Geobreeders manga) had some problems. I hope Pioneer (or their translator) will do better in Ai Ao than those examples.
Speaking of Ai Ao, "Aoi" turns out be the most popular name for girls this year. Just like "Sakura" a few years ago, I wonder if popular manga have some influence to parents in naming their baby ^_-
I'm back from Tokyo (well, I'm writing this in Shinkansen) and another visit to the Ghibli museum. It was just about a year ago since my last visit, when I had only limited time to enjoy it (if you remember). This time I got a ticket for 2pm entry and did spend more than three hours, including lunch at the restaurant. Tokyo had had an unseasonal heavy snowfall (well, "heavy" in the Tokyo standard) on Monday and the west part of Tokyo, where the museum locates, still had some snow. To my happy surprise, a small (about 50cm high) snow-Totoro stood in the court yard, which was really cute. *^_^* Inside, there were more changes than I had expected. First a new (third) film for the museum, entitled as "May and Konekobasu" was shown. It's a short (14min) sequel to "Tonari no Totoro" and apparently set a few months after the end of the film. In short, it's a story of May and a child Cat Bus (probably a son of "the" Cat Bus). It was great ^_^ One sad thing about it, though, is that Satsuki only appears in one scene with no line (as she is asleep).
Another big change was that the exhibition of Mononoke-hime was replaced with a new one about Laputa (Laputa and the World of Fictitious Machines). It's about the movie and these "old-fashioned" imaginary flying machines like Tiger Moth and the Flapters. It's made up with a short introductory anime and many pictures, references and models. Among them is a real scale model of a new ornisope, which Miyazaki designed. Unlike other museums, you can touch it; its wooden framework, clothed wings and wooden(!) cogwheels, too. Another thing is a very detailed moving model of the mine of the Slug Valley (where Pazu worked). In addition to finely made machines such as the lift, there is a tiny hole on the side wood panel of the model from which you can see Pom showing the flying stones to Pazu and Theeta. The hole is so small and inconspicuous I missed it first. Told by a note in the next room, I went back and looked for it without a success. After carefully reading the note again, I finally found it. I wonder how many people actually find it as no one else, except me and those who saw me looking at it, seemed to peep it.
Another thing I noticed were presence of quite a few foreign visitors. This must be the effect of the oversea ticket sales. It seems my own next visit will be with visitors from USA. ^_^
I'm getting busier and busier -_-;; Maybe it's time to give up anime entirely... if possible...
Bandai finally sent me the first DVD of Witch Hunter Robin but I have no comment on it until I find enough time to watch it ;_; They sent me with it a leaflet to show their upcoming shows. Among them, Stratos Four seems the most enjoyable. Given Mori Takeshi as the director and Yamauchi Noriyasu as the character designer, the show must be a nonchan-serving one ^_^;; On the other hand, the most interesting one is Wolf's Rain by the staff of Cowboy Bebop, including Kanno Yoko.
I recently watched Eps.13 Ai yori Aoshi on DVD, which I didn't on TV. After the ending came, of course, the trailer of Eps.14. It was hilarious ^o^;; I mean, the pun was perfect! I immediately thought how translators would work on it. As you may know, trailers are often much funnier than the anime itself because they have less restrictions (Goshougun might be the first of such examples) and I've always wondered how seriously translated these "extra bits" are in foreign releases. Any comment?
I'm back in Osaka. Those who have been waiting for my reply to his/her e-mail, please wait a little more m(_ _)m
I'm living with little anime right now and don't have much to write here ;_; The only new anime I recently watched is Rikujou-bouei-tai Mao-chan, which melted my brain totally ^_^;;
Also I had a chance to watch "Umi ga Kikoeru" again and loved it. Just like the sports festival episode of To Heart, what happens in the show is something other people will forget but those involved in it will remember forever. I'm very fond of such gentle anime focusing on a special moment of ordinary people. (Oh, does anybody have a copy of my old "butsu butsu butsu" page, BTW?)
Three totally unrelated stories...
First, to my surprise, Scrapped Princess is going to be an anime. I'm not sure if it is a good thing or not as I think it is a tricky series to be made into anime. But, now that they are going ahead with the idea, my main concern is who will voice Arffi-tan and, if she ever makes an appearance, Sin. How about Kawasumi Ayako as Arffi and Mizuki Nana as Sin? Whatever, I hope the author, rather than the anime producer, will decide it to his taste.
Second, I was watching Happy Lesson OVA tonight and realised that the ED song is made by Itou Kaoru. It was really stupid of me not to have noticed it earlier. He (? could be she) is the one who created one of my all-time favourite songs called "Far Away" for Mizukoshi Keiko (available in her album "Aquarius" (34TX-1059)). As you can see in my review, I liked the ED song so much but didn't know why. Now I think I've got part of the answer. In any case, "Far Away" is an excellent song, mellow yet powerful, and, if you ever have a chance, listen to it.
Lastly, during my regular shopping trip last week, I saw lots of people before a CD shop which had gone out of business about a month ago. Then I saw a sign "70% OFF!!" Yeah, they were selling all their stock (CD/DVD/VHS) at 70% off and I was too late... far too late ;_;
A local TV channel is now showing Big-O. As it is aired a very convenient time (0:40am), I've been watching it (yeah, I have recorded all the episodes when it was on WOWOW for the first time but didn't watch). Now I understand why some people are crazy about it and its music. It is an extremely carefully planned anime. The character/mecha design, use of color, music, spoken lines... everything seems to be cooperating to create the very atomspheric world. I've just ordered the CD single of the OP/ED songs and am looking forward to it ^_^
Today my favourite baseball team won the Japan series. All the players were happy and showed their emotion without any restriction, even those who are known to rarely show it. Their rare-seen laughter looks attractive... just like those of non-emotional anime characters.
Ever since the advent(?) of Ayanami Rei, emotionless girls have been pretty popular in anime. But most of the fans seem not to realise an important fact. Those girls who don't/can's show their emotion are attractive only because we, the audience, can see their hidden emotion. As far as I know, there has never been a single "very popular" character who without showing any sign of emotion "before the camera." They may remain emotionless before other characters in the anime but not before the camera (that is, the audience). In other words, it is very unlikely to find such characters in the real world "attractive."
If you have ever bought CDs from "used" shops, or shops who sell such CDs as bran-new -_-;;, you know these transparent sealable plastic bags. I'm just about to order these bags as I'm running out of them. It was only about three (or two?) years ago when I bought 400 of them. No wonder why I'm always short of money all the time ^_^;;
Just watched the first episode of Kiddy Grade. My impression is it's "Dirty Pair flavoured with Nadesico and Mito-Koumon, with a touch of AIKa". I think this is Gotou Keiji's first direction and wonder how he will manage the task, as this kind of "typical setting" reflects the director and/or writer's skill directly. The first episode was decent enough to make me keep watching, though. Oh, one thing about the episode. When Lumier was rather embarrassed with her waitress costume, I (and believe many audience) thought her uniform, which looks like underwear, is FAR more embarrassing ^_^;; One more thing; I am relieved at least he isn't doing the character design ^_- Kadonosono Megumi's design certainly has a feel of Gotou's but is much milder.
Also today I opened Takahashi Mikako's debut CD, which I bought by chance a few months ago. Although she hasn't made much appearance in anime, I really love her voice and acting as Kasumi in Hand Maid May. Compared whit what she is now, she isn't skillful at all in this CD but her unique atmosphere seems unchanged. I now feel very lucky to have got it through such a bargain (Y300 for a brand-new copy ^_^).
Speaking of debut CDs, regulars of this site may have noticed that See-Saw's first album has been listed as "My Current Favourite" for some time. As in Mikako's case, the CD has various "roughness" compared with their recent works but some of the songs are truly charming. Again I feel extremely lucky to have found this old CD for Y380 ^_^
Yay! I've just got a letter from Bandai Visual saying I can get one DVD from their selection free ^_^ This is one of what I was hoping to happen.
Speaking of BV, I finally watch "Sentou Yousei Yukikaze" the other day. It's cool. A really cool "episode". I mean the visual is amazing and the characters are attractive. If the story, too early to judge now, gets some nice ending, it would be a cool "series". I wish I could have gone to the preview on the big screen early this year ;_;
Now a different subject. We have quite a popular news show called "News Station" and they have within the program a VERY irregular series called "The Red Book of Endangered Items", which features those traditional items of Japan that are disappearing. Today it was about kappougi, a traditional cooking dress (I'm pretty sure this is NOT correct English). I've been meaning to write about this for last few weeks but failed (as usual).
As you know, "maids" have been extremely popular in the anime for last few years. All of them wear so-called "Apron Dress", a westernised one distinct from kappougi. Digiko, Sanada-san, Mariel, Kurumi, Ichigo, Wendy..., we can name numerous characters in it. Yet, Shia (Pita Ten) wears kappougi when she cooks for Misha and Kotarou. Shia is supposed to be a boke character and her wearing kappougi emphasises how much she is out of touch and makes her really cute ^_^;; Sadly this kind of cultural implications never gets a good translation but at least those who read this small page can look for characters in kappougi in various anime and its implication.
I said "I should paying more attention to the future release..." last time. I didn't... I didn't know Chobits Vol.7 (manga, not anime) was coming with a Limited Edition. I didn't know the deadline for preorder of the Full Metal Panic calendar was gone. So today I made a special trip to one of my "special" bookshops (their whereabouts are top secret, of course ^_-). Yay! The shop still had both ^_^
Well, a new season of TV programs starts tomorrow. This term seems pretty quiet, compared with the last April, when big names like "Chobits", "Ai yori Aoshi" and "Azumanga Daiou" started (Gundam might be big for many people, but not to me ^_^;;). What attracts my expectation most at the moment is Puchi-Puri Yousee (sp?). The combination of "Magical Girl", "Gainax" and "NHK" sounds pretty attractive. People who read this page may not know but the last of the three factor is very important to me. NHK would have enough money and time to keep Gainax (or its staff) on the track and the DVDs will be less expensive than anime from commercial stations. They collaborated once in the past; Nadia. Now you should understand why my expectation is high ^_^ Anyway, the first episode will be aired tomorrow.
I've just pre-ordered Laputa DVD Collectors' Edition. Just like Sen & Chihiro, I wasn't aware of the CE until yesterday. I should paying more attention to the future release...
The day before yesterday, I went to see a new anime movie, "Sen'nen Joyuu (Actress Millennia)." Well, it's not exactly "new" as it was created last year for some film festivals but it is finally released for ordinary theatres this week. It's written by Murai Sadayuki (Boogiepop Phantom) and directed by Kon Satoshi (Perfect Blue).
The film is not much publicised and only a single theatre in Osaka is showing it *only once a day*. And yet, to my surprise, the theatre was almost full with a wide range of people. I mean, I had expected less than half-full with very biased population ^_^;;
Anyway it is obviously a story about an actress. Fujiwara Chiyoko was a former film star during 50-60's but suddenly disappeared from the limelight 30 years ago. The story is told as her own memories in an interview with a TV producer, who has found out her whereabouts. The producer soon realises that her life was dominated by her search of an artist she met when she was young. As her talks goes on, boundaries between the present, the past and the world in her movies soon become hazy and the interview and interviewee (and a poor cameraman) travel across space and time.
Then what did I think of it? Well, the animation was excellent, in the good hand of Mad House. The music was fine, too. The story was... not sure. It wasn't boring in any meaning but rather confusing. People may call it a fantasy but, to me, a fairy tale seems to be a better word. You don't expect very solid and consistent story from fairy tales and what you expect from them is a one simple (often moral), yet sometimes obscure, message. So what the message here? Not sure ^_^;;;; It is, however, clear that there was an actress who has an eventful, sometimes very hard, yet wonderful life.
This movie reminded me of two anime. The first one is "Omoide Poro-Poro (Only Yesterday)" by Takahata Isao. Here the heroine goes to a countryside for a holiday and meets her memory when she was 10. The border between the past and present also gets hazy from time to time. The film is also more concerned about what the characters felt than what actually happened. But there is a big difference. In OPP, the part that carries the message is the present and the past is a spice to make the story better whereas, in SJ, the present is merely a tool of storytelling and the message is in what she has been doing. The other anime which came up to my mind was Card Captor Sakura ^o^;; It was probably just because Chiyoko, being an actress, appears so many kinds of costume.
A drama CD series of "Kishou Seireiki" (The Report of Nature Spirits) is being released at the moment. It is just about a year since I named this novel as one of my wish list to be made into anime. Although it is not really anime, the drama CDs are well written and performed and I'm very pleased with it.
For those who don't know anything about it, let me explain. It is a novel series by Shimizu Fumika with characters designed by Nanase Aoi (Seraphim Call) and about "Weather Spirits" in charge of controlling weather on Earth for healthy growth of life on its surface. If I put it into a few words without fear, it's a "Dirty Pair in VERY scientific fantasy" ^_^;;
The story is told by Millie, a spirit of Wind, who is in charge of the Far East with Yumemi, a spirit of Fire (note that Dirty Pair novels are written as stories told by Kei). They belong to the Weather Controlling Office of Heaven and tackle various difficult tasks one after another. Of course, two young girls (well, Millie and Yumemi are no young in our standard but they *look* 16 and 19 ^^;;) solving troubles may sounds far too common but what makes this series like Dirty Pair is the fact they are in charge of healthy growth of Earthian life "as a whole" and "in long term." So they (especially Yumemi) don't care about individual victims. A death toll of thousands is just "disappointing" to them and sometimes disasters are, to them, a necessity for the evolution of life. Also Yuri and Kei's passion for good-looking men is nicely substituted by Yumemi's (and Millie's in less extent) passion for good-tasting drinks ^_^;; In this world, all the spirits gain their energy from alcohol and/or tea and most of them prefer the former. Yumemi, a very powerful spirit, can happily drink a barrel (not a bottle) of whiskey and Millie, equally powerful but more rational, could also do so although she might not admit it ^_^
In terms of "scientific", the series is more persuasive than Dirty Pair. The author uses a lot of meteorological terms and his description about meteorology seems... err... detailed (well, I wish I could say "accurate" but I'm a layman here to judge (Can anyone check it? Hey, Marc, are you listening?). However, this might repel people who hates science/math.
As I said above, it was about a year ago when I named this novel. So what do I like now? "Violence Magical" is, AFAIK, the best series recently. It is an excellent parody of and far more cynical than "magical girl" shows (like "Slayers"). The "Prime Minister Noel" seems attractive enough although I've read only its first vulume. It is another series, like FMP, where a poor boy gets dragged about by his power girl friend (NOT girlfriend). Also recent novels by Nomura Mitsuki are a good fun. The story is a little too outrageous but the characters are very likeable and there are very touching moments in each of her work ^_^ If you like Sailormoon, you might like her novels.
Yet another typhoon is hitting south Japan. Oh well...
You may know some recent anime OSTs are released in so-called "tall-cases" (the DVD-size case). The OST 1 of "juuni kokki (The Record of 12 Kingdom)" is probably the most recent example. I've been wondering why they do this because I heard nobody strongly prefering it. Maybe I found an answer. Yesterday I was trying to tidy up my room (an impossible task ^_^;;) and putting DVDs into their boxes. When I put in the first seven Noir DVD in the first box, there was still some space left. So I stupidly put another in to find it was no far too tightly packed. After getting them out with some sweat, I read the note on the box. "Box for DVDs from Vol.1 to 7 and the fitst OST" ^_^;; As you know, the first press of Noir OST1 & 2 are in thin tall case. I quickly picked up OST1, which fit nicely the gap of the box. And it looked very neat ^_^ Then I found the Kanon DVD box is the same. It is supposed to store all DVDs and two OSTs (first press) and the special DVD. I now wonder if "juuni-kokki" DVDs will come with a biger box...
Another meeting in Kobe, after the big one in Geneva, is now over and I can sit back and write a little about my stay there. Actually I don't have much to say. As I said, my trip to Geneva was for meeting and I didn't have much time, apart from listening to lectures and talking to people. The only thing I did to do even remotely with anime was to visit the Museum of International Red Cross and Crescent. That's all... oh, no, I'm wrong. I did one more thing.
One evening I was walking on the riverside in the city centre and saw a Love Hina poster ^_^;; It was a comic shop with a large collection of Japanese manga along with American comics. I was surprised to see a wide selection of manga available, translated into French. I knew manga is pretty popular in southern Europe but didn't expect to see such a variety.
Back to ordinary subjects. I was watching the other day Kanon DVDs (yes, I bought them). I was wondering why I like this show... to be precise, whether I like this show or not. "The story is OK. The art quality is average. The character design isn't my taste, only the music is very attractive..." Then I thought it might be snow. Kanon is one of few anime which describes snow as something common. In most of anime, snow and snow fall are something special and, say, romantic. This is, I suppose, a viewpoint of people in Tokyo. For those who grew up in northern Japan, this is not the case. Snow is a daily thing (in winter, of course ^_^;;) and can be even annoying. The way Kanon describes snow certainly made me feel comfortable ^_^
I'm back in Japan. Those who are waiting for my reply to your mail will receive mails sometime after tomorrow. Just give me a decent night sleep for now... zzz...
I'm leaving for Geneva (not a holiday but work ;_;) and will be away for about two weeks. I have no idea how much net access I will have but it is likely to be a limited one at best. So please expect delays in my reply to all e-mails.
Visiting foreign countries, even if on business ^_-, is almost always fun. This is my second trip to Switzerland and I am looking forward to it. What I don't like, however, is the long flight. I used to be fine with it but it seems very tiring now. Oh well, I'm getting old...
A long journey, domestic or international, poses a problem to anime fans; video recording ^_^;; This time the problem is worse than usual as there is going to be a power failure on the day after yesterday by an electric work done to our flats. This could kill the timer setting of some of my video decks. So..., well, I know it's stupid but... I bought a UPS... ^_^;;; I feel really bad, really bad...
The latest volume (tankoubon) of the "Ai yori Aoshi" manga has just come out. As usual, nice art with an uncompromising amount of fan-service ^_^ As for the story, it turns out to be rather worrying. My favourite girl may disappear from the series ;_; I hope this won't be happen, like many other comedies...
A few days ago, I came across an old manga by Fumizuki Kou, the author of AiAo. As those who have read the AiAo manga should know, his style has changed considerably during the series. But this one is even more different from his current style. As you know, his characters are relatively "round" now but in this manga characters have a rather pointed chin and somehow reminded me of Utatane's works. As for they story, you will find the fan-service in AiAo very mild after reading this ^_- Oh, one thing. You'll find Lina's prototype in this manga, a Western-looking girl with the Hakata accent.
Last Sunday I finally went to see the new Ghibli film "Neko no Ongaeshi." In spite of the hot weather (36C -_-;;;), the theatre was full. I couldn't get a seat at the ground floor and had to go up to the first floor. I was a little surprised to see that the most of people paid the full fee (Y1800) when an advance ticket (Y1300) was much cheaper.
Anyway, let's talk about the movie. The show started with "Ghiblies 2". It is a comfortable short piece as a whole but what caught my mind was its technique. Obviously I'm a layman but felt the staff had a try, no many various tries on visual effects, just like Miyazaki did in Heidi. Especially the scene where young Nonaka-kun rides on bicycle in front of his girl's house was really interesting. It might be the answer how 3D CG merges to the fundamentally 2D world of anime.
As for the main movie, it's a fun movie, rather than an impressive drama. The story develops pretty fast and there are a lot of jokes, both obvious and hidden. I can recommend it to most anime fans unless you are after a grand-scale epic movie. In a way, it is the best (or first?) shoujo movie they made; two girls sitting next to me were kept commenting during the movie how cool Baron is ^_^;;
One thing I noticed is that unlike previous Ghibli/Miyazaki heroines who spoke really good Japanese, Haru and her friends speak far more like a real high school girl. If you compare her speech with, say, Shizuku's, it's obvious. I'm not saying they speak like real ones but they are at least closer. As a result, you may feel her more realistic.
One bad thing about the Ghibli films is that I have to buy three copies of movie booklets. One stay with me while the second and third will fly to UK and USA, respectively. Those who are responsible to this phenomenon should repent it now ^_-
I plead guilty. I spent too much money... probably...
Well, they were four old CD singles. So old that I'd never seen them before. So... I got them... through... auctions... Mandarake is a dangerous place after all.
Let's change the subject ^_- I've been trying to catch up with Pita Ten for last few weeks as it was one of those shows I recorded but never watched. I don't say anything about the story here but just want to say one thing. There is a young devil trainee called Shia in the show, who is way too nice to be a devil. She is a typical "shy, cute but out-of-touch" girl but she suddenly reminded me of another innocent-looking devil... Xellos ^o^;;; Just imagine how Lina would react if Xellos behaves like Shia. Shia under the skin of Xellos could be even more troublesome than Naga ^_^;;
I received the "Sen to Chihiro" DVD Collectors' Edition. It's a huge box for a DVD. Kids near my house were staring at the box when I came back with it ^_^;; The model of Aburaya is very well made and I'm pleased with it. Ghibli's new film "Neko no Ongaeshi" is already out now and I'm hoping to it soon (but theatres are really full...).
The ED song of Cheeky Angel has been replaced with a new one. AFAIK, these frequent change of OP/ED songs of anime series originated in Urusei Yatsura but my expreience tells it is more likely to have a negative result than a positive. A bad example where greed (of record comapanies) spoils anime, I suppose -_-;;
Another typhoon is approaching right now. Twice in a week. No more, please.
This July, I hoped for some light-hearted (brainless) comedy and two shows looked hopeful after the first episodes. G-on Riders and UFO Princess Valkyrie. Their second episodes, however, turned out be contrasting. G-on is by the staff of Hand Maid May and its first episode was pretty good (especially art-wise) but the second episode was rather disappointing.
On the other hand, Eps 2 of UPV was better than I expected. Given the authors, Kaishaku, and set in a sentou, I admit there is an excess (or enough, whichever you agree ^_^;;) amount of fan service but it was enjoyable. The mood is closer to Taruto than Kurumi. Also having Tsukimura Ryouei as the chief writer can't be a bad thing. I hope it'll become a good show. The music reminded me of that of Corrector Yui and I was right; both are by Kawai Kenji ^_^
If you're an anime fan, you must know what 'sentou' (public bath) is. There have been many anime and manga which extensively used this setting. The most notable one is Nia_7 but there are also Geobreeders, Urusei Yatsura, Mahoromatic, Brigadoon, Maison Ikkoku, Chobits, Cyber Team in Akihabara, Nadesico, Hand Maid May, Eden's Boy... Yet this one has got, for the first time AFAIK, an official backing. If you look at the ending credit carefully, you'll find a name of National Public Bath Association ^o^;;
Still recovering from the aftermath of World Cup and death of Chloe ;_;
Well, it's July now, time for some new anime. It seems I, not living in Tokyo, will miss some of them. Never mind. I can at lest watch the one I wanted to see the most. Saishuu Heiki Kanojo (She, the Ultimate Weapon). It's a big hit manga by Takahashi Ken serialised in Big Comic Spirits. I've just watched its first episode and at least for this particular episode, my thumb is up, strongly UP! I hope the series will continue well.
BTW, Hayashibara Megumi's new album is out. I'm yet to open my copy of the DVD/CD edition but was lucky to see its ad on TV. It is a parody of Cowboy Bebop and really entertaining. It is very good of King Record and Victor (and Bandai Visual?) to let this cross-label parody to happen ^_^
Chloe... ;_; Why? ;_;
We are just having a thunder storm here. It's not unusual during summer but it seems a bit too early this year. Although the curtains of my room are drawn and the windows are shut, I can see the lightenings and hear roar through them. Besides I can *feel* the vibration when the thunder hits somewhere near my place. And I'm listening to the OP/ED of .hack//SIGN.
I have to say this is the best time to listen to these songs, or most of the music by Kajiura Yuki. His music is very powerful and tense and fits extremely well such a stormy night. I should put the Noir soundtrack on the player after this...
I've just received the Comic Gum Original Mahoromatic DVD and am watching it now. It was a DVD offered to the readers of the manga magazine that carries Mahoromatic. The contents are pretty typical to such DVDs; talks by seiyuus, interviews of the staff and compilation of best shots. So nothing exciting particularly but I was a little surprised to hear Kawasumi Ayako had to make up the tune of most of Mahoro's humming songs on the spot (the lyrics are taken from the manga, of course).
Looking back, I was a very comfortable anime series. As the producer puts it in the interview, a nice combination of cuteness and sorrow, the key of the manga, was achieved very well by the director. The animation quality and music were excellent and the story was kept consistent. I was a bit worried about the casting at first but it turned out to be I was wrong. Takada Yumi as Shikijou and Sanada Asami as Chizu especially were great! Shikijou's over-reaction and Chizu's "Wooooo!" are such a fun ^_^ Now that the second series is coming, I'm really looking forward to it.
I've just got an invitation to a shareholders' preview of "Sentou Yousei Yukikaze." I'd love to go but it's in Tokyo on a weekday ;_; No chance. I wish they would have had, say, a small room here in Osaka as well... Maybe next year...
This may be old news but I just found out a few days ago. Sega and Shinchousha, with others, will introduce a new weekly manga magazine in US in October. It is called "Raijin Comics" and carries titles such as "City Hunter", "Slum Dunk" and "Fist of Northern Stars." It will not be sold at comic shops but delivered directly to subscribers. The magazine also has articles related to anime and games. I won't buy it, of course, but am interested in success/failure of this magazine on the other side of the Pacific.
My impression of two recent movie and a novel.
The first one is the new Patlabor movie, WXIII. I went to see it the day before I left for England. It was pretty interesting. Despite the fact that I had had only little sleep the night before, the movie kept me awake throughout. In this context, my thumb is, yes, up. But I can understand criticism I hear over the net as well. First, there is no reason for this movie to be a Patlabor movie. I know the story is based on the manga but the members of the Patlabor team (Noa, Azuma etc) makes little appearance. In fact, their appearance had only negative effects, IMO. It would be frustrating for Patlabor fans and confusing for non Patlabor fans. The labor battle near the end also looked out of place. Second, some people have said it is trying to mimic the mood of Oshii films without success. I'm not sure if it is intended but the movie has some features characteristic to his work. Yet, he himself told us how different his style is by the short comedy film, Mini-Pato.
The other one is the éX-D (Ex-Driver) movie I saw last week. I arrived at the theatre just before the start of the movie and, when I found my seat, I heard a very typical announcement, such as "please do not smoke in this theatre". I wasn't paying much attention to it but its final sentence turns out to be "Thank you for your attention. I'm Endou Lorna." Yes, the announce was made specially for this movie. Nice, isn't it? Anyway the short feature, "Nina & Rei, Danger Zone," was shown first. This is set a few years before the OVA time when Nina and Rei were at the front-line ex-drivers (that is, before Lisa and Lorna joined the team). I won't give you a story but it would have have made a very good TV episode. Being a big fan of Neya Michiko, it was an automatic "thumb-up" to me ^_^;;
Then the main movie was shown. Here it's on the OVA timeline and Souichi, Lisa and Lorna go to USA for a racing competition among the ex-drivers from all over the world (so no other regular members of éX-D appear). The story is OK and guest characters are attractive enough yet there was nothing outstanding in it. In other words, it didn't go beyond the mark of "a better (in art quality) and longer version of OVA)." If you like the OVA, you'll like it, too. If not, just don't bother.
Finally, I finished a novel "Vandread the Extra Stage" today. The Vandread novels by Mori Takeshi, the director, had always been entertaining and informative and this one didn't betray my expectation, either. It is an assortment of short stories from various time and space of the Vandread world, such as "How Barnet joined the Magno family and became a close friend of Jura", "What Gascogne was doing after her attack on the enemy's mother ship" and "What happened after the end of the Second Stage." If you can read Japanese, I'll highly recommended it to you. Also, there was an interesting comment from the author. He says "the world of Vandread isn't over." So we may be able to see another series some time in the future.
Here is the list of the most popular title at this site in April, measured by the number of visits to each index page (xxxx_index.html).
(Card Captor Sakura should have come somewhere around Yui and Love Hina but is excluded as Geocities seems to have lost all the information about the page late April ;_;)
This is just for your information and I won't comment on it ^_^
One thing I noticed in my trip to England, as well as one to Dan Diego in January, is the amount of anime songs used in the inflight radio. I flew with Japan Airline in both occasions, who, as you may know, were behind the production of Porco Rosso. Anyway here are some examples,
I'm now watching Azumanga Daiou. The comic double act of Nyamo and Yukari has been bothering me for some time; it somehow sounds VERY familiar to me. Then I've just realised the pair, Hiramatsu Akiko and Hisakawa Aya, were Arisa and Kyoko in Nukunuku ^_^ Although their characters are completely opposite this time, it's a nice feeling to see the pair again after a decade of their first serious double act ^_^
Now I'm back in Japan ^_^ I spent most of my two weeks in England to see my old friends there.
One of very few anime-related things I did was a visit to Hay-on-Wye. As some of the R.O.D fans may know, this tiny village on the Welsh-English border is famed for its variety of used book shops and where Yomiko visits with Wendy at the beginning of novel Vol.3. I had expected most of these shops are for very old and rare books but I was wrong. You can find a really wide range of books there. With a VERY beautiful countryside scenery around it, it must be a heaven for bibliomanias. BTW, I didn't see any absent-minded Japanese girl with long black hair and thick glasses nor a blonde girl in a maid costume ^_- Of course, I didn't forget to spend a couple of hours in the new British Library to see the Gutenberg bible (if you know what I mean).
Another place I visited was the Royal Armoury in Leeds. This is a relatively new museum and houses various arms, old or new, Eastern or Western. The display was well-organised and I spent quite a few hours there. What does this have to do with anime? At the top floor, they have a simulated shooting range of West Yorkshire Police where you watch the video and shoot *if* (not when) someone produces a firearm. So you need speed and accuracy in judging the circumstances as well as in shooting itself. Anyway the electronic model gun was a Glock 19, Sousuke's favourite. I can imagine he would achieve perfect result. Me? I was pretty bad ^_^;; Just for the record, I did better with a rifle simulation in which I was classed as "Marksman". So I'm more like Kurz than Sousuke ^_-
I'm going to England for about two weaks and will have no or very limited access to the net. So please expect some delay in my replies to all e-mails.
Just a short note before going to bed ^_^;;
Azumanga Daiou TV turns out to be a great fun! (You need to have certain taste(?) to get the joke, though). It's closer to the original manga in the mood than the movie and Sakaki-san (or Asakawa Yuu) is SOOOO CUTE ^_^
But there is a big problem in the character design. The front view is really good but the profiles aren't. I hope they will correct this....
Recently I bought the new Takada Akemi artbook "Now or Never." It's bloody expensive (Y12,000) and I'm afraid of opening it. Stupid, isn't it? ^_^;;
It's April, time for new anime. There are quite a few which might be interesting to watch. I was glad (or relieved) to know that Chobits and Azumanga Daiou will be shown here in Osaka (Chobits will run about a month later than in Tokyo, though). Tanaka Rie is reported to voice Chii, which could be interesting. On the other hand I was disappointed Ai yori Aoshi and Tenchi GPX are not going to be aired here. I hope AyA will get the time slot of Kanon, which ends in about two months. Speaking about Kanon, I have to confess that I'm still watching it (Mai's too cute to ignore^_^;;). In terms of the music, I really like the ED song, which somehow reminds me of that of Dai-Guard. I heard the maxi single will be released in June and am looking forward to it ^_^
Recently I watched Hanaukyo Maid-tai again and noticed two scenes not appropriate for Konoe (who else should I talk about? ^_-). First is her very first appearance. She greets Tarou, her master, from the top of the ramp, which seems very rude given her samurai-like character. The same thing can be said to the scene where Taou and the girls go to an onsen inn. She thinks the room is too insecure and shabby for the Head of the Hanaukyo but Tarou insists he like the mood. So Konoe gives up and sits down on a wooden part of the floor, avoiding the tatami mat. This may look like a humble thing to do but the place is closer to tokonoma and, therefore, a very "high" place. I suspect the director or continuity drawer was too young to know Japanese tradition. This is a very good example for non-Japanese audience not to believe everything in anime as a true Japanese culture.
Today I saw a much better anime film that what I saw yesterday. It's "A Tree of Palme." It was showed in a relatively small theatre and surprisingly the audience was pretty wide range. The word "Nausicaa" used in the advertisement may did the trick.
Anyway, written and directed by Nakamura Takashi, it's an interesting film to say the least. Ignoring the story, the film has the mood of Nausicaa and Laputa; people look primitive but there are weird machines everywhere. Strange animals, plants and monsters reminded me of those in the Rotten Sea of Nausicaa. A pendant of blue illuminating stone also looked familiar.
But the story is different. It's a Pinocchio in a harsh world. The main plot is a trouble involving the three worlds, the heaven, underground and surface but the real theme is how to give and accept love. In this context, it's perhaps closer to Disney than Ghibli (of course the staff would say it is close to nothing ^_^). As I don't want to give any heavy spoiler, I won't go to any more detail.
In terms of technical quality the animation is excellent (Digimation did the CD part) and music is powerful. The voice performance is also wonderful and the story was interesting on the whole. Some of the plants and creatures are literally fantastic (Bola The shop manager of Di Gi Charat, BTW ^_^;;;).
Yet it didn't reach the class of masterpiece in my mind as there are a few points which I didn't like. Like Pinocchio, Palme is very immature at first but, too me, he was *too* immature and rather annoying. Of course, he mentally grows up during the movie but the process is not very persuasive. If he had started to show the sign of growing-up much earlier in the file, his change would have been more powerful. Popo, the heroine, didn't made any positive decision by herself until late in the story and seemed a little too passive to me.
BTW, they were giving away cels to the audience today. Yes, to everybody. Most of people there are probably not anime fans and I'm pretty sure their cels go to dust bins soon or later ;_;
I did a quick search last night to check which theatre would show the upcoming Patlabor movie to buy an advance ticked. During the search I found that another anime is being shown here in Osaka. It's called "Shamu-Neko (The Siamese)," which I had never heard of. So I went to see it today.
In short (very short, that is), it's a Dirty Pair by Monkey Punch, set in Tokyo rather than space. Not enough description? Maybe not. But there's no problem because it's not worthwhile. There have been some movies which disappointed me (notably Utena and Escaflowne) but I can't remember when I last time saw an anime movie this bad. The script was poor written and the directing was even worse. The animation quality is that for a TV show even in the best scenes. When the situation is so bad, even the gorgeous cast (Hayashibara Meguni, Koyama Mami and Ikeda Shuuichi etc) cannot save this movie. It's sad. Really sad...
Well, I hope I can say something positive about another anime movie tomorrow?c
Ooops, it's three weeks since I last wrote something in this page. I've been very busy and haven't watched much anime ;_;
As many of you probably know already, about two weeks ago Avex announced that they are going to test the market with copy-protected CDs. It's a sad news. Now we cannot play the CDs on Mac nor make personal "Best CD". Of course I understand that Avex, as well as other record companies, are losing a lot because of pirate mp3s but I think this kind of measures which restrict legitimate owners of their CDs in how to enjoy them should be the last resort. At least I am unaware that Avex has ever done any serious hunt-down of mp3 sites and their owners. Maybe I should buy a share or two of Avex and ask questions to them ^_-
Another sad news I had recently is that my main CD/DVD shop is going to close later in April. I had suspected that they were having a problem and thus it wasn't a big surprise. Yet it's a sad news. I wonder if this has anything to do with those digital piracy, too (although it is unlikely). In any case, I now have to find a new shop to give $1K of my money per month ^_^;;;
Lastly I have made a small list of symbols shown on the back of Japanese CDs. If you're interested, check the "User Guide" page.
Today I went out for an unregular shopping tour and bought a few CDs, including FMP's OP and ED songs and Sakamoto Maaya's new song. Both are excellent and their pages are already up (Technically speaking the street date for Hemisphere is tomorrow but never mind it ^_-). I honestly hope the ED of FMP comes up in the list of karaoke boxes...
I had an interesting experience as well. In one shop, which deals with both new and used CD/DVD, I found a used set of seven single CDs of Happy Lesson (including a not-for-sale one). The price was Y3000, which I thought very good. Then I found the same set on a shelf just below it with a price tag of Y7000. I asked a clerk what was the difference. He looked confused (and embarrassed) and answered "probably the date of purchase" ^o^;; You know which one I bought ^_-
BTW, I've got a question and, if anyone can give me a good answer, it'll be appreciated (well, it is questionable if I should ask a question in my "hitorigoto," of course ^_-). Anyway, browsing the statistics of this site, I recently found a very large number of hits for the Corrector Yui section. For example, its index page got 1063 hits in January, which is nearly 20 times more than in November. If you compare it with other supposedly popular show, the oddity stands out; Love Hina (438), Card Captor Sakura (363), Angelic Layer (267) and I My Me! Starwberry-Egg (304). What's going on?
The first part today has practically nothing to do with anime but, if you like many anime listed on this site, you might be interested ^_-
After coming back from US, I flew to my hometown to stay with my parents. One day we visited an onsen town nearby and stayed at a hotel overnight. If you don't know, what onsen is or what a wonderful thing it is, you cannot call yourself anime otaku ^_- Starting from Tenchi and Love Hina, you can list a numerous number of anime which feature onsen; 801TTS Airbats, Geobreeders, Battle Athletess, Outlaw Star, Fruit Basket, Happy Lesson, Maid in Hanaukyo... Anyway, as soon as we arrived, I went to the hotel's outdoor bath, located just above the seaside. It was an unusually warm and fine day (my hometown is a very snowy region) and I could enjoy beautiful sunset over the horizon. Then after nice dinner (and wine ^_-), I went back to the bath about the midnight. This is in a way the best time to enjoy the outdoor bath as all the other customers are in bed (or drunk ^_^;;) and I can have it all to myself. Just guess what is like to enjoy a hot spring where all you can hear is the sound of water and all you can see is the starry sky.
Now back to anime business. To catch up with the world I brought about 20 DVDs with me for this trip to my hometown (they are just *part* of unopened DVDs I own ;_;). One of them was Mahoromatic and I loved it. The first thing which caught my heart was the OP song; I really love that type of songs (give credit to Masuda Toshio). Then the deformed Mahoro-san in the OP, especially when she is stitching, is too cute to resist (this shot has duly become the background image of the Mahoromatic section on my computer ^_^). Story-wise it was Eps 3 that hooked me. That is, the presence of a nice girl other than the heroine and very sorrowful (hidden) circumstances behind a very cheerful (and comical) character. What else do I need?
I haven't read the original manga and cannot tell how much of this should be attributed the manga and anime, respectively. Whichever, I hope the show retains the same quality till the end.
BTW, while I was watching the show, I could help compare Mahoro-san with another android Kawasumi Ayako voiced; Melfina ^_^;;; Imagine poor Suguru to have a maid who is totally incapable of domestic chores... or Gene to get told off, "I don't approve of H things!!" ^o^;;;
Now other news... As I had pretty hectic weeks recently, I couldn't pay much attention to the new TV series and, in fact, missed to record quite a few of them. One of the very few show I managed to record and watch was Kanon. If you feel down, this is just for you. It may not cheer you up but the 30 minute dose of the overcute show is certainly enough to damage your brain cells and you won't feel down (or anything else ^_^;;). I didn't think the anime was great but have a strange feeling that I might get addicted to it soon...
Just to say hello (to who?) from rather cold San Diego. I expected much warmer weather here but it turned out be even colder than in Osaka. And it hailed yesterday! @_@ Apart from the weather, things are going smoothly and I'll return to Japan tomorrow.
First, I'll be away for a while, including a week in San Diego, and probably have only a limited access to the net. So I won't be able to reply e-mails. I should be back on the net in about 10 days.
Last week I went to see the Inuyasha movie. I had bought an advance ticket but hadn't had enough time to go to theatres until the very last day of the showing.
The story isn't outstanding (OK to good level, that is) but does flow smoothly, apart from the first few minutes used to introduce the show to those who doesn't know Inuyasha much. The animation quality is on the other hand high enough to be different from the TV series (Sango is cute ^_^). The cast is also good and, in total, I enjoyed the movie very much. It wasn't expensive, either (lower than the Sakura Wars movie), which was another good point. One little disappointment was there weren't any merchandise for sale on the spot.
Vandread The Second Stage ended last week. Looking back, it was an excellent sequel to the first series. As everyone knows, many TV series are very short and leave a lot of questions even when the series is over. This is inevitable under the current market situation, IMO, and is acceptable as long as some sort of clear ending is given to the main story. Yet it is very nice to see a sequel like this which answers most, if not all, of them. Also the second series is much better than the first in terms of character development. A problem of the first series to me was the characters didn't really grow. In this series, however, most of characters grows up during the series. My favourites episodes are one Eps 3 (about Bart and Shirley) and Eps 11 (Bozam's return to Nir Vana).
BTW, there are six volumes of Vandread novels by Mori Takeshi himself. The storyline is the same as the anime series but they offer some extra information which isn't explained in (or is hard to recognise from) the anime. I can recommend them to those capable of reading Japanese.
Another TV series which ended recently is Fruit Basket. Its ending was excellent, too. As the manga is still running, the last few episodes are anime-original and turn out to be another testimony of the director's talent.
I don't think many would agree with what I'm going to say but the anime reminds me of old children's novels like "Anne of Green Gables" and "Polyanna." Let's compare it with Vandread and many other shows. As I said above, the main character of Vandread (Hibiki) grows up through all the troubles he faces during the series. On the other hand, the heroine of Fruit Basket (Tooru) practically remains what she is in the first episode (that is, unrealistically nice). The key of the show is her influence over the characters around her. In other words, the charm of these heroines is their consistent positive attitude that can soften the heart of people around her (Hatori in FB and Marilla in AoGG are the best example). Personally I think such stories attract ordinary people like me, who can never be Tooru or Anne, by giving a hope to be Hatori or Marilla.
Just a note. I watched the first episode of Full Metal Panic!
It looks promising but the OP would have been better with the
instrumetal music used in DVD Vol.0, IMO. I'm happy with the
OP song as a song but wish they kept the OP music and kept vocal
for the ED only (like the Seikai series). My FMP site is up now;
it is still much under construction but, if you are interested,
I've finally got a 2002 Full Metal Panic but it turns out to be very disappointing. First it's bimonthly (that is, six sheets rather than twelve) and, even more importantly, there is only one Tessa! Give me more Tessa!! ^_^;;
During the new year holiday, I wentto see the Kadokawa anime movie. They were giving away a few goods (postcards etc), which was quite nice ^_^
The first one was Azumaga Daiou, based on my favourite manga. To be honest, it was a disappointment; it's way too short (less than ten minutes?). It was so short they even didn't have movie booklet for it ;_; At least the seiyuu fit the characters very well and, as a new TV series is reported to be coming, I hope they keep the cast.
The second one was Di Gi Charat. This one is just about what you expect from Di Gi Charat; sequence of pure non-sense. It was nice to see Digiko's parents. As an Usada fan, I'd be happier if there had been more nice scenes of her.
Then follows Slayers Premium. I had been worried a little about the new character design, which is closer. I didn't like it when I saw some images on magazines but they didn't look strange in the film. The story is typical to Slayers. Lina and Gourry come to a village and get into a trouble with demons. There is nothing surprising but you can enjoy the good old world of Slayers as all the major cast, Lina, Gourry, Zell and America as well as Xellos and Naga make appearance ^_^
The last one is Sakura Taisen (Sakura Wars). It seem you need to have watched the second OVA series to understand the story *completely* but it didn't matter too much when I had only watched to the TV series. The story was OK-to-good but I was impressed with its art quality. It would please most of lovers of steam-retro. This might be a bad news to many of you here but this movie, with so many night scenes, is one of those that should be watched in theatre, rather than on TV screen (Laputa is another example). I should also mention the music was good, too.
As a whole I can happy to say my Y1400 was well spent ^_^