Just back from Angela's end-of-year live and feel rather tired as it went on for more than three and half hours. This was their first one with a hall with proper seats but, as all of the audience stood up, it didn't make too much difference. ^_^;; Well, maybe. As you may know, they showed a video during the intermission in their previous lives but they did some performance (Akiko as a dancer and Katsu as a magician) this time, making the most of the bigger size of the stage.
I think no one here wants a detailed report about what happened. So I pass some of their words about what will happen on to you (a) their new album "Prhythm" is coming out 15 Mar (b) to celebrate it, they are going to have their first live tour at Sendai, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and Tokyo. I need to get a ticket soon ^_^
Well, as some of you might have been expecting, I did get a giveaway thing. This time it's a wrist band (is this a proper English word?). If you want it, keep an eye on this page early next month.
I went to see a musical "Les Misébles" this evening. You may think it has nothing to do with this site but Sakamoto Maaya played as Eponine. ^_^
The theare was full (somewhat surprisingly most of the audience was women) perhaps because it was the last one for the guy who played Jean Valjean. I had an excellent time; it was a great performance and my relatively good seat (the right edge of the four row) help a lot as well as I could see expression of players very clearly. I hadn't known the story very well (sorry, I'm REALLY bad at classic literature) but their songs dragged me into the show. One thing I noticed, though, was all the songs were probably written for English lyrics and the Japanese lyrics didn't sound right at some places. Of course I have no intention to blame the translators and it simply showed how difficult their task was.
Maaya? Sweet and sexy. ^_^;;; Her "On My Own" alone would have been enough for the price of the ticket ^_^
At the curtain call, the players threw tiny bunches of flowers to the audience and one of them came toward me. I kind of automatically grabbed it and the realised I'm staying at a hotel tonight, not being able to keep the flower very well. So I gave it to a lady sitting next to me ^_^;;
BTW, I bought a spare copy of the pamphlet (with a few photos of Maaya) and will have another giveaway draw early next month.
Yesterday I went to an event of ALI Project to promote their latest album, "Kamigami no Tasogare." About 100 people gathered for the occasion. Most of them were male but there were quite a few women who stood out in Arika-like fashion ^_^;;
My main reason was literally to see what kind of people they are as I had never seen them in real. To make it short, Arika-san's impression was just what I had expected. Say, I'd rather call her Arika-sama rather than Arika-san (do you understand? ^_^;;). On the other hand, Katakura-san gave me a very different impression; he seemed to be a very "mild" person.
They talked about various things and answered a few questions from the audience. What interested me most was what they revealed about "Mitsubara Teien" (Track 6 of the new CD). This is the ED of MariMite but with lyrics. Katakura-san said this was what had been planned originally but "circumstances" changed it into the instrumental version. Arika-sama was much clearer, "Apparently the original author didn't like the lyrics." ^_^;;; They also said a similar thing happened to the OP as well and it was the only song so far that "ALI Project" sang whose lyrics wasn't by her.
The event ended in about 40 minutes and, as usual, we were allowed to shake hand with them. At that time, I said to Katakura-san, "I'd love to hear your music for a slapstick comedy anime." His answer was "Oh, I'm pretty good at that kind of music but saddly they don't give me such a job these days." ^_^
BTW, Katakura-san said they will be very busy next year, releasing CDs almost every month in the middle of the year. He refused to give any specific name of the shows he's going to work for but it made me think "Perhaps a new Mari Mite series!?" After I came back home, I checked the Mari Mite official page to find, "Yes, it is!!!!" Yay!! ^_^
Yesterday I heard about a new Ghibli film, planned for next summer. News of "a new Ghibli film" usually excites me unconditionally but, this time, I'm not sure about it...
Yesterday I was in Osaka. I went to Nipponbashi in the afternoon and popped in to Animate. There I found quite a few people queuing up for something. It turned out to be BRACE;d was coming to the shop to promote their OP song for Karin. So I bought my second (! ^_^;;) copy of the CD to get a ticket of the event.
It was a really small event. The shop doesn't have a space designed for such and used a corner of the shop to welcome the duo. Anyway they appeared and, as in usual events, talked about the song and themselves. What interested me in their talk was that Miki is the same age as Karin and her sister is as cool as Anju. Also a regular exam is waiting for her on Monday. Apparently she is an ordinary student who has problems in some exams (such as mathematics). So I, as a teacher, said to her to do her best in her exam because creating an exam is as troublesome as having it ^_^;;
As many of you must know, Japan's royal Princess got married last week. The marriage itself has nothing to do with this site but I've heard two interesting things. The first one is her wedding dress. It's a very simple white and a friend of her is reported to have said it's taken from that of Claris in Lupin III "Castle of Cagliostro." Apparently the princess was a member of a manga club at her junior high and high schools and a keen fan of Miyazaki anime. So it is not totally outrageous guess, I think.
The second one is far less obvious and you may call it my wild imagination ^_^;;; Anyway this kind of event is a very good opportunity for mass media, including TVs, to report untold episodes of her private life. One of them shown on a TV program caught my attention. The princess is much interested in birds and worked at Yamashina Chourui Kenkyuusho (The Yamashina Institute for Ornithology). She met a girl of her generation who also loves birds during her holiday away from Tokyo. Their relationship grew big enough for them to visit each home (that is, the Imperial Palace and an ordinary house in an rural area) more than a few times. Earlier this year the princess phoned her to ask if she could visit her house again. The girl happily said "yes, off course," but then the princess meekly added "Would you mind if my parents come with me?" You can imagine what a panic the girl and her ordinary parents were sent into ^_^;;;; Both her father and mother said they were so tense they hardly remember anything during a few hours stay of the Emperor and Empress in their house.
This sweet episode somehow reminded me of Yumi's parents when they met Sachiko (and her father) for the first time. The Fukuzawas are well off but they know they are nothing compared with the Ogasawaras. So Yumi's parents do a few silly things on the occasion ^_^ BTW, the name of the princess is Sayako, exactly the same kanji and reading as Sachiko's mother ^_^ Also, if you haven't read it in the novel, she used to kind of adore Sayako on her days at Lilian. ^_^
I'm in Sapporo, Hokkaido now (that's the reason for recent lack of update). Of course, my WMP has been playing "Kita e" by Four Seasons again ^_^ As the song claims, this is a wonderful place to enjoy seafoods such as kani (klub), hotate (scallop), ikura (salmon roe) and hokke (a kind of greenling). BTW, the name of Kuroda Kazuya's "Shimahokke" is taken from this fish.
In the new season of Lyrical Nanoha, Ueda Kana voices Hayate. She has established a place in me as "seiyuu for kansai-ben characters," which had been a stronghold of Hisakawa Aya. Starting with Yumi in a few previews, she performed excellently as Mikan (Gakuen Alice) and Hatoko (Petopeto-san). The "original" is still showing her strong presence in such a role as Haruko (Air), though. ^_^
Pani-Poni Dash! continues to entertain me (ignore my earlier comment ^_^;;). As the show contains tons of parody deeply based on Japanese culture. In recent episodes they copied two very well-known TV ads and I wonder how many of you got the joke. The first one is the very first scene of Eps.18 sung by Mesousa. This is a parody of this. It was first aired back in 1962 and, as this pharmaceutical company hosted a very popular comical quiz(?) TV show, almost everybody in Japan knew this song. The other one is used near the end of Eps 20 and performed by Himeko. This is a parody of another TV ad with a long history. The song is probably *the* most famous CM song in Japan and the gigantic tree became so popular Hitachi has created a web site dedicated for it. Of course, you can watch the actual film which the Pani-Poni scene is based. What wonders me, though, is that no credit is given in the both cases even though the music is identical to the original. I felt it's kind of unfair...
Today I went to Shibamata, a town in eastern Tokyo. It is a very famous place because "Otoko wa Tsuraiyo," probably *the* most popular film series in Japan, is set in the town. It's pretty close from where I live but I'd never been there. Some of you may have been to Asakusa, a similar traditional place, but Shibamata is less touristy and has the feeling of true "old Japan." Anyway what prompted me to this visit was an episode of Pani Poni. In Eps.13, Himeko and Kurumi eat a gigantic senbei. Its shape is taken from Tora-san, the main character of this film series, and I wanted to eat it myself ^_^
As the weather was fine, I decided to walk to the town. It was a pleasant stroll on the bank of Edogawa (see the OP sequence of DearS) and I reached the town in less than an hour. It was were very busy with many elderly tourists, probably keen fans of the movie. What entertained me was all those small shops on both sides of the narrow main street, offering traditional foods and goods. They looked so attractive, I bought far more things than I had planned. Of course, I didn't forget to get the big senbei! It was a very nice way to spend an afternoon ^_^ Oh, the senbei is fragile as any other rice crackers and it is impossible to eat it as Himeko did ^_^;;
October is coming to its end and I should be talking about new shows started this month. But, I've been busy and watched only few of them. Yet the best so far is no doubt Aria. I hadn't known too much about it (that is, I knew of the manga) but someone reading this page said to me it's one of his most hopeful of the season. So I had a go... and it turned out to be excellent ^_^
Starting with the wonderful OP song, those comical and adorable characters supported by high-quality artwork are definitely my cup of tea (I really love the "deformed" version of the characters ^_^). Hazuki Erino is a new face to me but her voice and acting reminds me of Hirohashi Ryou as Rakka in Haibane Renmei. Also Oohara Sayaka as Alicia is perfect ^_^ And I shouldn't forget to say Satou-san is really good at this type show, isn't he? In fact, there are many people in the cast and staff who worked in his Kaleido Star. The only bad point of the show is, though, that it makes me really regret that I couldn't visit Venice during my trip to Italy in August.
Another piece of news(?) is that I found out the cast of Karin, which will start next week. The original manga is my favourite and I am hoping the anime to be good, too. They had a large change in the cast from the drama CD, though. I'm not sure how it will work out but at least Hisakawa Aya as Fumio is a good choice, IMO. This is one of her recently "mother" roles, following "Air" and "Gokujou Seitokai," and the image of Fumio, very slender, certainly resembles Aya ^_-
If you are familiar with Japanese general news, you may have heard of a company called Livedoor, a very aggressive internet portal-site company led by a rather arrogant chairman. Now it's offering a new loan scheme to otaku, called "Moe Loan." As you can see at their website, they chose Poyoyon Rock (the character designer of Popotan) to create an image character. I don't need any extra cache right now but it's kind of attractive... ^o^;;;
I went to a small Hachikuro event to see "real" Takahashi Mikako a couple of weeks ago. She's cute ^_^
The R2 DVDs of Negima are being released. When the anime started, I didn't think I'd buy the DVDs but a few episodes persuaded me otherwise. My favourite episodes include obvious ones such as Eps 15 (about Ayaka's brother) and Eps 19 (about Sayo's past). In addition to those, Eps 16 is my favourite. More precisely speaking, it's not the entire episode but Yue's fast and long monologue when a magical copy of Negi tries to kiss her. Here she shows her tsukkomi spirit at the full throttle. She lists all the possible reasons to deny this irregular happening as a proper tsukkomi character. Then she for a moment switches to make a boke comment two times by saying "Because we both are so short?" and "I didn't know a man can look so serious..." But then she doesn't lose any time to make tsukkomi to her own words. ^_^ I loudly applaud Kuwatani Natsuko's excellent performance here.
I've just watched the last episode of Kamichu! It started nicely and ended excellently, too. ^_^ It's one of those series where you can't find an answer to a question "Which episode is your most favourite?" So, if you've been with this site for long enough to know my taste and you think your taste is close to mine, you MUST watch it ^_^
I have to say, though, I wonder how Miyazaki Hayao would have cooked this story, especially Eps.1. You know, the episode is an introductory one for the series but has all the element needed to complete a story. I'm sure he can expand it into a full feature film.
BTW, Angela's whistles go to "The Spatula" and "j1m0ne" and "dasgood" gets the Mezame book. Please wait a few more weeks for your prize.
Just came back from Angela's live, their first one in Osaka. As usual, the venue was full and they sang a lot of songs, staring with "Fly Me to the Sky" and "I Get to Burning" and including a new song "Tsubasa."
I don't go into the details but restrict myself to some points specific to this particular event.
First, about the difference in the atmosphere I felt. It seems the Osaka audience is not as loud/energetic as their Tokyo counterpart. I think it is not because of local characteristic, though. It's likely to be simply because they are not used to their live and how to act in it. The duo had prepared for the occasion with two special things aimed at the Osaka audience. As you know, Atsuko often sings a bit of non-Angela songs (such as Scramble) in acappella. This time it was 'Rokkou Oroshi' (the official anthem of Hanshin Tigers) and it wasn't "a bit" but in full. And of course, most of the audience show no hesitation to sing along ^_^ I'm sure there were more people there who memorise the song than who do so "Asu e no Brilliant Road." Another thing they did is a balloon launch(?); a special long balloon was given to each of us and, after inflating it, we launched into the air at the same time. This is a well-known ritual held in Koushien (the home stadium of the Tigers) before the bottom of the 7th inning.
Second, the mothers of Atsuko and Katsu were among the audience. Apparently it was the first time for Atsuko's mother to see her daughter performing in public (Katsu's mother seem to often attend events). So it must be something special for the mother and the daughter. For the record, Satou Tatsuo was also there *again* ^_-
Third, at the mid interval, a short video clip of their trip to Toronto. Of course they went there to attend a con but most of clip was about their having fun at various places, mainly Niagara. I went to Toronto and Niagara about 15 years ago and so the clip brought back the memory from those days ^_^
But the biggest surprise came at the very end. When the live finally came to an end after three hours, Atsuko started crying. Apparently she has been suffering from some sort of voice problem all the summer and could hardly sing even in September (I *had* thought her voice was not as clear as usual at high tone for the first few songs tonight but the feeling disappeared as the live went on). She hadn't been sure if she could go on with the live and the mental pressure and agony must have been enormous. She had put a brave face during the occasion but couldn't keep her tears back when she did it through. I suspect she was not satisfied with her own performance tonight completely but at least she seemed to be a happiest lady, seeing huge support from her staff, especially Katsu, and all her fans in the hall.
BTW, as in any live events, Angela's CDs etc were sold at the venue. Again as in such case, some extra were given to those who made some purchase. I rarely buy on these occasions because the fact I like an artist much enough to go to his/her live means I already have all his/her CDs commercially available. Yet tonight was an exception. I decided to buy their live DVD which came out last month as I hadn't got one. They said "a free whistle is given to those who made purchase worth more than Y2000" (in case you don't know, a towel and a whistle are must items for Angela's live). I thought a DVD is enough to qualify me for a whistle but I was a little wrong. They meant "a free whistle per purchase of Y2000." So I ended up with three free whistles. What does this mean? Yeah, I've got two to give away ^_- I also have a copy of the official booklet of "Mezame no Hakobune" which I bought at Expo 2005 back in May. So if you want to enter the draw, send me an e-mail as usual with EITHER "[St NHT] Mezame no Hakobune" OR "[St NHT] Angela Whistle" as the subject, according to your choice. The main text must contain your (a) name, (b) nickname, which will appear on this page if you win, (c) address and (d) e-mail address. The deadline is 20:00 (JST) 23rd Sep 2005.
Let me talk about what I'm recently *reading* (not watching or listening). I'm too lazy to look for good new novels for myself these days and mostly following suggestions I get from my friends.
One of such is the "Suzumiya Haruhi" series by Tanigawa Nagaru. It's a light-hearted science fiction about Kyon, a poor high school boy, whose life gets utterly unreasonable/illogical because of his classmate, Suzumiya Haruhi. She is extremely energetic person with almost no respect to common sense. To make things even worse, she has a super-human power which can make the world as she like although she isn't aware of it herself. It's very well written and characters are attractive (Nagato Yuki is lethally cute *^_^*). The best one might be the fourth volume, "Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu (Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi)", where the heroine disappears from the world. The seventh volume have just come out and an anime is being planned. I hope the anime will not destroy this wonderful novel.
Another one is the "Kotenbu (The Classic Club)" series by Yonezawa Honobu. It's kind of a mystery where a high school boy and his friends solve small mysteries in their school life. Unlike Conan or Kindaichi, all the troubles/mysteries they face are something ordinary high school might get involved. The author has done a wonderful job in this "finding mysteries in commonplace setting". There are only there books from it right now and I've read the first two, "Hyouka" and "Gusha no End Roll". I have to hunt for the third one but it seems to be out of print -_-;;
JFYI, high level of understanding of Japanese is needed to enjoy both series (especially latter) unfortunately.
Hello, I just came back to Japan and very tired after a looooong day (I've been up for more than 30 hours now) -_-;; I had a really good time in Florence, though. I even encountered at the meeting my former colleague I hadn't seen for ten years! And I ate wonderful food throughout ^_^
MariMite-wise, I managed to squeeze a few things which the girls did in my schedule. The best one was the visit to the Tilting Tower of Pisa. To my surprise, I also got the very odd feeling of skewed gravity while I went up the narrow staircase, just like they did. I had thought the tilting weren't big enough to cause such effect. Well, we, human, are easily deceived by our own eyesight after all. In the novel the girls climbed the tower up to where the bells are but didn't make the very top of it as they were too scared. This particular space was where I felt least safe as its centre area was a little (a few steps) higher than the edge, which brings the safety fence on the edge lower as much in terms of your view. In fact the very top, which they didn't dare to go, seemed far less scary even though it was very narrow. And the view from the top was really nice ^_^
I bought quite a few things as souvenir for my colleague/parents etc as well as myself. As expected, my search for Firenze senbei ended as a complete failure as Yumi and Shimako's ^_^;; Nor I could find "sha-pen (mechanical pencil)" decorated with marble paper, which Yumi bought for Touko and Kanoko. The closest thing I could find was ball-point pens with similar decorations... Does anyone want it?
Greetings from Florence, Italy ^_^
It's my second visit to this beautiful city; I spent a weekend here about 15 years ago. This time I came for a business meeting and will not have much free time. Yet I should be able to enjoy its rich culture and excellent food.
The first thing I did when I got on the plane from Tokyo to Milan was to check JAL's kids' program on the in-flight audio program. Tanaka Rie is still co-hosting it ^_^ They usually have anime songs for small children but there were two songs this time which made me rather interested; "Forever..." by Savage Genius and "Oto-Melody" by Takahashi Mikako. It was nice ^_^
Then, after having some sleep, I decided to read a guidebook. As I had been very busy before this trip and couldn't prepare for it very well, I thought reading one during the flight might be helpful. Well, the book I chose turned out to be far more helpful and enjoyable than I thought; it is called "Ciao, Sorella!", the 17th volume of MariMite novel ^_^;;;; In this story, Yumi and others go to Italy for their school trip. It became, not surprisingly, an eventful trip, including reunion with Rosa Canina.
I've been feeling as if I'm following partly what they experienced. They took a direct flight from Tokyo to Milan like me. They flew to Rome from there while I headed for Florence. So it was a fun to see the area for transit passengers at the Milan airport after reading how the girls spent their time there ^_^ Also the description of their hotel rooms matches mine pretty well. Both of us must stayed at "typical" Italian hotel.
The girls toured through Rome, Florence and Venice in seven days while I'm stuck in Florence for 10 days. Yet I'm hoping to visit a few places, following the footsteps of Yumi and others.
Roma manjuu or Firenze senbei, please.
- Ogasawara Sachiko in "Chao Solerra!"
Some of you may have noticed the lack of updates this month. I've been very busy and will be so for another week or so. Those who are waiting for my response to there e-mail, please give me a little more time m(_ _)m
There was the annual firework festival of my local district this evening. It's the second biggest of such festivals in the Tokyo area and attract about a million people every year. I enjoyed it from my room, which is fortunately reasonably located (about 1km from the launch site) ^_^ This is one of very few which the district can be proud of and I was sure it would be featured in DearS. But it didn't...
Firework festivals are one of the "must" entertainment of summer in Japan. Another one, for at least small children in Tokyo these days, is Pokemon ^_^;; Yes, the Pokemon train is running again this summer. This year's trains runs on the Yamanote Line. So I don't think I will see it.
Speaking of Pokemon, it was made into official post stamps back in June as the first of "Anime Hero/Heroine Series." The second ones have just come and feature Gundam. I'm sure quite a few people here would be interested. ^_^
One of a few things that recent shows brought to my attention is their location. Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo is set in Hagi while Kamichu! takes place in Onomichi. The location Petopeto-san might be Oomagari in Akita. Often I like such anime that happen in a small city in countryside probably because they remind of my own childhood.
Of course there have many such anime (say, "Omoide Poroporo" and "Asagiri no Miko") but this time both OwMS and Kamichu have the name of Film Commission of each city in their ending credit. It seems those local governments finally realised the potential power anime have. If so, that's a good thing ^_^
I'd like to make a pilgrimage to these "holy" cities someday ^_^
UK people may be aware that Japanese golf player called Fujita Hiroyuki is doing his best right now at the Open. Can you see Akari, Shiho and Multi in the gallery? ^_-
It's already more than half way through July. As I said in the last entry, "Kamichu!" has been the biggest positive surprise among the new shows. Yet there are some other shows I've watched and here are my impression based on the first one or two episodes.
Quite a few new anime have started in July. I've seen some of them, among which "Kamuchu!" is the best!! When I watched Eps.1, it reminded me of "Whisper of Heart" and Eps.2 reminded me of "Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi." Of course, the pairing of Masunari Kouji and Kurata Hideyuki means the anime is far more comical than Miyazaki's but it really has an excellent combination of attractive characters, nostalgic setting and good story-telling. The fact that I used to be a Toudai Shoken Fukubuchou might be an extra reason for my liking this anime ^_-
Today Japan Rail East has revealed the prototype of their new-generation Shinkansen (the bullet train) and it has neko-mimi (cat ears) on it!!! I wonder if they will dare to make the cabin attendants wear neko-mimi and maid costumes ^_^;;
This report is going to make quite a few people envious and some people excruciatingly so... At the end of May I went to Expo 2005 Aichi.
I wasn't interested in it too much at first but, as my colleague who is going with his family in August talked about it to me, I got "persuaded" to go myself although I'm sure he didn't have such intention at all. I spent full two days there (I mean, 12 hours x 2 ^_^;;) and had a much better time than I had expected. Although there are much more things I can write about it, I limit myself to write things related to anime/manga here. Perhaps because anime/manga is now widely recognised by ordinary Japanese people as Japanese culture that is accepted in the West, there were many places where you can find something to do with anime.
The first anime-related thing I found was the Mitsubishi pavilion. Its main show is a short film called "If there hadn't been the Moon..." and depicts a hypothetical Earth dominated by dinosaur-like animals like Jurassic Park. To be honest, the movie itself was a bit cheap but I was glad to know the introduction was by Sakamoto Chika and the music was by Ooshima Michiru.
The next one is 'Mezame no Hakobune (Ark of Awakening),' produced by Oshii Mamoru, at Dreaming Mountain. I joined a queue to get a ticket and successfully got one for showing of a few hours later. When I came back, I was asked "Which type of the ticket do you have?" I didn't know there were two types of tickets; "Arena" and "Slope". It seems I was lucky to have the former because it means I could watch the show on the floor, which is covered with plasma display panels. Those with "Slope" tickets stood on the spiral slope surrounding the arena. The show was very Oshii-ish, no more and no less. More than a hundred of monster statues wearing a gear of warriors (his favourite motif, isn't it?) surrounded the audience on the floor and the music in somewhat an ancient Japanese style by Kawai Kenji were used throughout. I'm sure most of the audience had no idea what he wanted to tell.
The next interesting thing was "Grand Odyssey" hosted by the Mitsui-Toshiba pavilion. As soon as I got in, they took a photo of my face with a special 3D scanner and converted into a CG, so that it could be used in the movie. That is, I was one of the cast of the movie which I was going to watch a few minutes later. Of course it wasn't the only charm of the show. The story was well-written by Murai Sadayuki (Boogiepop Phantom etc), the prop was designed by Syd Mead and costumes were by Murata Renji (Last Exile). The characters, including me, were voice by a gorgeous list of seiyuu like Mitsuishi Kotono, Oohara Sayaka, Hiyama Nobuyuki, Tsuru Hiromi, Takashima Gara, Masuda Yuki, Sakurai Takahiro, Ikeda Masako, Hayami Shou, Tamagawa Sakiko... I enjoyed it very much ^_^
Another interesting thing, at least to me, was unmanned buses running within the venue, one of the high-tech transport methods you can use when you're too tired to walk. What funny was that, although the buses were operated completely automatically and unmanned, they did have a driver's seat like an ordinary bus and a doll of Morizo, one of the two official mascots of the Expo, sat there ^_^;;; It was so surreal and reminded me Nadesico, where a few crew on the bridge did a similar thing to escape from their duty.
Finally the biggest thing of all to me was "Satsuki & Mei's House." As most of you have probably heard of, it is a re-creation of the girls' house shown in the Totoro movie. I must say I was extremely lucky to get this ticket because only 800 people are admitted per day whereas the Expo attracts roughly 100,000 people every day.
The house was located in the forest area, away from all other pavilions. As we walked down the footpath towards the house, the first thing I found was the bus stop of 'Inari-mae'. An expo attendant kindly offered to take our photo with it and I made a good use of a black umbrella which I *happened* to have in my bag ^_^ We were a little too early for the admission to the house and so decided to walk down the footpath further to a small tower where you can have a good overall view of the house. You can visit the tower without a ticket for the house, BTW. That is, this is the best place to go if you cannot get the ticket.
Eventually we went back to the gate and waited a little. First we were given an entry pass, a small leaflet and Yomiuru Shinbun, a newspaper linked to Studio Ghibli, of exactly 50 years ago (so I've got one for 25 May 1955). I thought it's a good way to prepare for the time trip ^_^ The visitors were then divided to four groups of about 25 people each. Two groups are ushered to the house at one time; one explores the inside while the other enjoys the outside. Later the two switch the places. Our group went inside first, where a few attendants welcomed us. We had been told not to take any photo within the house and so I had expected lots of "Please do not touch" signs but the reality was completely opposite. We were allowed, or strongly advised ^_^;;, to touch lots of things. That is, we could open all most all the doors, store cases, closets, cupboards, drawers of desks... A lady staff even told me smilingly, "Do open it!," when I was looking at Satsuki's red school satchel in my hands. In in there were text books, a kanji notebook (do you remember?), pencil case... and some of them had "Kusakabe Satsuki" written on them ^_^
It's really like treasure-hunting; we found the girls straw hats in a closet and wore it ^_^; In the kitchen we found the girls' lunch box. And everything was real. I mean, they somehow gathered all these items of 1960's from somewhere and used in the house. It was an exquisite experience to someone like me who remembers that time (well, I don't remember 60's but early 70's).
Sadly we were only given less than 15 minutes to explore the house and then changed places with another group. The treasure-hunting was now going on outside of the house to find a half-rotten pillar, a well with a hand-driven pump, a bucket without its bottom... Even the ventilation hole, where small Totoro's went in, were reproduced properly. Because we were allowed to take photos there, I took many. But I couldn't take so many because there seemed to be many things to do far better than taking photos.
(well, my words fail me here to bring the real excitement I had. If you are a fan of "Anne of the Green Gables" and actually visited the Green Gables in Prince Edward Island, please imagine an extreme version of it. In Green Gables, there are many items, such as a broken slate and a half-empty bottle of raspberry cordial, which are only but greatly appreciated by fans. This house is like that but goes much, much further)
Anyway after another 10 minutes or so, we had to leave the place. I can now understand why they limit the number of people admitted so small but YET I wanted to enjoy the place for much longer time, say, at least for two hours. Even so I had to say it was one of the most enjoyable 30 minutes in my life ^_^
The concert book of Arai Akino goes to macorna. Congratulations! ^_^
Recent surprise(?) is Futakoi Alternative. When I watched Eps.1, I had no hope for the show and couldn't tell what the staff wanted to do. But it has become much more serious and better recently and I am now looking forward to the next episode. My "Choice of Season" remains Emma, though ^_^
My home PC is finally fixed now. So the Arai Akino giveaway is now restarted and its new deadline is 6pm on 4 Jun 2005 (JST).
While the PC was out of order, I did a few things. I'll write about the biggest one next time. The second biggest one was a live show of Atsumi Saori to celebrate the first anniversary of her debut. Unlike ones by Angela and Arai Akino, which were held at a large hall for more than 1000, its venue in Kichijouji was tiny, with capacity of less than 30. It wasn't an event only for her; she hosted it with three other women singers as a "Lady-Only Night." She came up as the third singer. My first impression was; "she's tiny." Anyway she was accompanied with two musicians, Gotou-san (guitar) and Fujimoto-san (percussion). As both of them had joined the recording of Biidama, they called themselves "Biidama Brothers" ^_^ As you can imagine from her songs, the combination of the two acoustic guitars (she played one herself) and percussion was excellent for the occasion. She sang quite songs mainly from her recent album and didn't fail to insert chats between them (Fujimoto-san seems very talkative). Happy time went fast and finally she ended her session with her debut song. With a very cozy and friendly atmosphere and a can of beer in my hand, it was a wonderful evening ^_^
Bad news. My PC at home is now refusing to boot. In the worst case, I've lost a lot, including all the recent mails. So I have to postpone the Arai Akino give-away for sometime. My apology to all who have already sent in thier entry. Also there will not be much of updates on this site until the PC is fixed (or new PC is acquired... somehow...).
I've been to Arai Akino's live this evening. It was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her debut.
The venue was the same as Angela had one a few months ago but, not surprisingly, the mood was very different. The average age of audience looked about 10 years older than Angela's and men/women ration seemed roughly 50:50. When the concert actually started, the difference is far more evident. The first song (a modified version of 'Kooru Suna') was somewhat upbeat but that was as upbeat as the event could go. I had known about her only through her songs (that is, I hadn't read her interviews or listened to her radio programs so on) but her character seemed what I had expected from her songs.
The concert went on, with songs mainly from her recent album but she also sang old ones such as "Ningen no Kodomo." As you probably know, her CDs use lots of multiple recordings of her voice and she brought a young singer for the chorus part. This lady has a voice like Maaya and was very effective in combination with Akino's voice ^_^
Being far less talkative than Atsuko and Katsu ^_-, she ended the concert with "Nijiiro no Wakusei" just under two hours. As expected, she came back to the stage for an encore and sang three more by herself; two to her own piano alone and one in acappella. I found most of her songs are best in such simple styles.
Anyway I have one concert program to give away (sorry, there is only one as it's pretty expensive (Y3300)). It's like a A5 notebook and autographed by Akino. So if you want, send me an e-mail as usual with "[St NHT] Arai Akino" as the subject. The main text must contain your (a) name, (b) nickname, which will appear on this page when you win, (c) address and (d) e-mail address. The deadline is (POSTPONED!!!! See Above).
What I learned recently...
1) She the Ultimate Weapon is going to be made into a live action film. Maeda Aki will play the heroine Chise.
2) GDH (or Gonzo) is making a new anime for a US cable TV. That is, they will create anime for US directly rather than via the Japanese market.
The GW is over... ;_;
Just watched the latest episode of Koikoi Seven. It's painfully funny and I'm sure it brought tears to the eyes of some of the staff ^_^;;;;
Yesterday I received an invitation to a preview of the new Gundam movie. I hadn't even known such a thing was in make ^_^;; Of course, it's free but I wonder if I, not a Gundam fan, would enjoy it...
Finally does anyone have the NA (R1) DVD of Ai yori Aoshi? If you have those for Eps 13 and 14 AND enough free time to answer my question, please let me know.
I got around to watch DVD Vol.1 of Air at last and had a good laugh at the gorgeous parody of Kanon ^_^ I wonder how much they spent just to cast this single episode. You don't see too many anime to hire KM, HY and IM at the same time just for a joke. ^_^ This reminded me of Hayashibara Megumi in the Nadesico movie.
More than half of April has past. As usual there are many new shows. I've seen relatively a few. Among them, the best one to me is "Emma". Of course, I'm biased towards shows set in UK ^_- but the calm way of storytelling is certainly attractive. Touma Yumi as Emma is another big charm, too ^_^
PS: I recently bought Digital Tony. It's........... nice ^o^;;;;;;;;
I'm watching Ultimate Girls right now. Obviously it's mostly an visually fan-serving show but there are a lot of parodies of other shows. Of course, the basic concept is a parody of the Ultraman series (in that context, "Ultimate Girls Goes to West" should have been a proper two-episode story ^_-) but you can detect other shows related to the director (Corrector Yui) and Furuya Tooru (Gundam, Sailormoon, Kyojin no Hoshi etc). How much can you get? ^_^
Speaking of parodies, it had taken me about six episodes until I realised the OP anime of JINKI is a parody of that of the first Gundam. It was a fun to watch them side by side (my TV set can take two inputs at the same time). ^_^
Do you know "Danwashitsu Takizawa"? It was mentioned as the holiest place in the otakudom in the preview for Eps.10 of Genshiken (I had known of this tea room but it was the Genshiken comment which made me realise its significance). Sadly the tea-room chain closed at the end of March. So we had decided to make a tour to visit its main shop at Shinjuku on 30th. And it was full ^_^;; A lot of people apparently came to say farewell.
After waiting for about ten minutes, we were finally seated. The interior was old-fashioned with Japanese flavour. No, it's not traditional Japanese style as you might imagine. It's that of, say, 60's when Japan was trying to import café culture. Very busy and far from silent but I felt some sort of tranquility. It was amazing to find this kind of place at 30 second walk from the JR Shinjuku Station. It is a great pity this café does not exist any more...
Totally a different thing. There was a small event to promote the OP/ED songs of Starship Operators today, with Mami and Kotoko as the main guests. It was a little disappointing, though, as there was no live singing. Yet it was my first time to see them and I think I got to know their personality better..., I think. Of course, the fact I shook their hands must be enough to make many of you here envious. ^_-
The venue was Shibuya AX and much larger than O-East, where they had a live last December, but absolutely full. Perhaps because schools are in their spring holidays, I saw more of younger fans. I got a ticket of a seat on the first floor (the ground floor is so-called "all standing" (anyone can tell me proper English word for it, please?)) and had expected a sizable audience up there as well. But I was wrong. It was small and majority of the seats were reserved for guests, leaving only 20-30 for ordinary fans. As usual, there seemed to be quite a few seiyuu there but, again as usual, I wasn't sure of anybody. But this time I did recognise three non-seiyuu people ^_^ Shinkai-san and the producer(?) of Comix Wave, who I saw the other day at the "Kumo no Mukou" event. And Satou Tatsuo, the director of Nadesico and Stellvia (he and Angela seem to appear at Sakura Con next week). There was another who looked rather familiar but I couldn't who he was.
Shibuya AX is located near the Yoyogi Park, where Angela used to do "street live" apparently. So they talked about their unknown days and were very grateful about their success since then. That reminded me of many musicians I had seen on they to AX from Harajuku Station. I wonder if some of them will have their dreams come true like Angela... Well, maybe I shouldn't talk about contents of the live itself any further as it will be released as a DVD from King Records in a few months (perhaps in US as well).
Watched Iriya Vol.2. They've changed a lot. They've even changed some timeline. It remains enjoyable to me but I wonder this shortened and modified story might be very confusing to those who haven't read the novel. Doesn't the cat in Asaba's shoes box seem too abrupt? As I feared (in the entry of 18 Jan), the sequence where he opens Iriya's "love letter" lasted only a few seconds. I think the novel was better converted into a TV series of 13 episodes.
Yesterday I went out to watch the Air movie. I didn't (and don't) know anything about the game or the TV series but the director's name caught my attention. So I bought an advance ticket back in January but couldn't find time to go. As the theatre had announced that today was the last day of the movie, I escaped from my office earlier than usual. Anyway the movie turned out to be an absolute tear jerker ;_; and reminded me of Shiori's story in Kanon, which I happened to watch again previous night. You might be able to have some feel of the movie if I say that Shiori was kind of "saved" in the end but Air's Misuzu wasn't. In that context, Makoto's story is closer to this movie. People at Key love tragic stories, aren't they?
Now I'm allowed to reach my goal, right?
(Kamio Misuzu from "Air")
PS: Y1500 for a think booklet is way too expensive!!
Akamatsu Ken did it again in tonight's "Negima!" ^_^;;
I finally watched Vol.1 of Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu. It turned out to be not as bad as I feared, as far as Vol.1 is concerned. There are lots of omissions and changes, of course, but they are not absolutely essential for storytelling. Preorder for Vol.2 has been made ^_^ I hope it will continue so like MariMite; the anime is enjoyable enough and the novel is even better ^_^ One thing is certain; I'm very glad that this novel was converted to an OVA, rather than a TV show, because it *needs* some nudity and lots of blood ^_-
Another new show I recently watched is A!MG TV (yeah, I know I'm far behind... I've been too busy this year). One of the problem of A!MG is that the mood changed a lot earlier in the series (I'm talking about the manga, not the anime). It started as a pure comedy and, therefore, Belldandy was a trouble-maker as well as a trouble-shooter, which made her very charming. Her aspect as a trouble-maker was taken over by her sisters when Urd and Skuld joined later (especially by Skuld). As a result, Belldany was, say, purified to become a unrealistically nice lady to repel some fans.
So, as I was watching Eps.1 to find the TV series follows the original manga pretty closely, a certain phrase caught my interest. It is a phrase by Belldandy used in the manga but not in the OVA. It's rather colloquial and the OVA staff probably thought, at that time, it wouldn't suit the "purified" Belldandy (it's something Yumi would say but Sachiko would NEVER say). Inevitably I watched Eps.2 with all my concentration ^_^;; And... she did say it this time. Yeah, the TV series has got my thumb up (at least so far) ^_^
Last evening I went to Tiaraway's first concert held in Yokohama. As expected, the venue was full of men ^_^;; The ratio of women was less than 5% but there was a section on the first floor where the mood is very different. Some of their fellow seiyuu seemed to be there (along with Lantis/Scitron staff). As it was quite distant and I'm not very familiar with seiyuu in their real figure, I couldn't tell who they were (Shimizu Ai might have been one of them).
Yuuka seemed pretty tense at the beginning. While she was singing, she often kept her eyes half closed or looked at a distant point as if she was singing to herself whereas Saeko was obviously watching the faces of the audience as if she was singing to them. Apparently this was Yuuka's first "live" and she had been almost in panic and ready to leave the place until the very last moment before the opening ^_^;; (In another word, Saeko behaved proper as a "big sister" ^_^) BTW, it was the first time for me to see Yuuka. I was a bit surprised. Yet, it's not surprising (sorry for this stupid English v_v;;) because the media such as DVDs and magazines about seiyuu carry only part of what they really are. After a few songs, Yuuka seemed settle down (or "has come back to this world" by Saeko) and the concert went on smoothly. But I was a bit disappointed with the sound (or mixing?) in general. As you know, this kind of place puts much emphasis on the drums and base but it didn't suit their style at all.
Anyway they sang most of their repertoires, including two solo songs before their Tiaraway days. After a bit more than two hours, they ended the live with "TWO:LEAF". Of course, no one left the place and the duo came back to the stage... and announced that Tiaraway was going to split at the end of the concert (I wasn't particularly surprised, though. Well, I bought the ticket for this concert at a very high price for the fear that this might be their last one as well. They started as a fix-term project. Their first album was more like their best album. And the DVD which came with it had a section named "History of Tiaraway." So there was enough circumstantial evidence). Saeko did the most of the talk during this. They didn't give any specific reason for the decision but said it was decided some time ago. But they did say, once they performed as a duo, they wanted to produce a full album and a concert at least (which reminded me of Yamato Nadesiko). As they pointed out later by themselves, it was a little ironic that, while the two ladies were trying hard to hold tears back during the announcement, the staff used as the BGM a *musical-box version* of Omoide Good Night, whose lyrics goes like this;
Look, the dream we used to share
is still here before us
Days with smile and days with tears
Because all of them are shining,
I say farewell to you, with a smile if I can,
"Thank you and Good-Bye"
So they chose "Your Shade", which was their official debut single, to end the concert. There is a Japanese phrase, "me ni yakitsukeyou to suru (to try to burn (the image) into one's eyes)." I found myself doing it during the song. I wanted to remember every monment of their performance.
The song ended but, not surprisingly no one left the place and the duo came back again. This time Yuuka mainly talked about her thoughts over her days as Tiaraway but became too emotional to continue at one point whereas Saeko was struggling to hold her tears back with limited success. Yet, over all, they remained reasonably cheerful perhaps because there is nothing negative about the decision. One of the band members said, "I'm very grateful to be here for this special occasion of your new departure." Yes, I felt in the same way and it is probably the best way to put it. It was an opportunity to celebrate their new start. I was fortunate and am proud to be there.
They finally finished the evening and the history of Tiaraway with "Usual Place," where Tiaraway really started more than two years ago.
Something very rare happened yesterday. I had a HUGE luck in a game to win something @_@
There was an event to celebrate the release of the DVD of "Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho" and Shinkai-san and Tenmon-san came to give a small talk show. The organizer said that they had two copies of the manga of "Hoshi no Koe" to give away after autographed by the two... among the audience of more than 100 ^_^;; So, typical in such events, the winners were to be decided by a janken series against Shinkai-san. I'm really bad at this kind of thing and, as expected, I got eliminated at the first round. The second round reduced the number of the audience still "alive" down to around 10. So they went for the third round to eliminate more... in fact all of them ^_^;;
The organizer decided to start it again from the beginning to give everyone another chance. And in this second match, I survived three rounds which reduced the "live" audience just down to two. This is the first time I won something after janken for decades... ^_^;;;;
Anyway the anime is now licensed for the NA release and most of people who are reading this page should be able to watch it soon ^_^
I've just ordered the additional lyrics cards of the "Negima!" character CDs, again wasting a lot of money... I can never be rich... ^_^;;;;
Recently I've been watching again the MariMite DVDs and finding out new things. One of them is the full meaning of the preview of Eps.4 of the second season. It's a parody of the famous comic trio, Kashimashi Musume. I had thought they were referred to because Yumi, Yoshino and Shimako were also a comical trio and stupidly missed the key phrase 'Gokigenyou' completely v_v;; The phrase is one of those which you hear very often in anime/manga/novels but rarely in the real life. But Kashimashi Musume always ended their performance with it (although you may now call comedians 'real life'). In case you don't know, BTW, Sachiko's 'iikagen ni shinasai!! (I had enough of it!!)' is in the Kansai accent to show she is part of the joke ^_^
Speaking of 'gokigenyou', I bought a doujinshi by Kaishaku about their own work, "Kannazuki no Miko" a few weeks ago. In its very first page, they talk about it. They had apparently suspected its use in the show would remind of MariMite too much (just as I did ^_^;; See 13 Oct 04) but decided to go ahead with it because, even without it, it would have been inevitable for some people to make a comparison between the two shows. But what caught my attention most was the fact that Kawahara Izumi's "Warau Michael" was included in their list of examples where the greetings are used. It's always nice to find your fellow soul ^_^
PS: I've just found out that "Warau Michael" is going to made into a live action film!! @_@
Today's big (to me) news is that Studio Ghibli goes back to an independent company from Tokuma. I wonder if they will go public in the near future...
Gakuen Alice is a school comedy for young kids. Two heroines, Mikan and Hotaru, are a typical manzai or boke-tsukkomi pair. Perhaps because of the previews of MariMite, Mikan in the kansai accent really reminds me of Yumi ^_^
Yumeria is one of those shows whose DVDs I bought long time ago but never found time to go through. It started as an OK show but developed nicely. Kuroda Yousuke rarely betray my expectation since "Piece of Heart" ^_^
Futatsu no Spica was aired in NHK Stellite BS2 some time ago but its repeat has just started on NHK Educational. It's a story about a girl who dreams to become an astronaut. Eps.1 shows how tragically her mother dies when a rocket crashed in the middle of their town after its launch failure. It's the harmonica tune used as a key melody of the show... ;_; There seems to be a little problem with the art quality but I trust Mochizuki Tomomi's talent.
I've just finished reading Vol.11 of the MariMite novel, which means that I've caught up with the anime series. Again, I have to say the novel is better.
When I watched the second season of the anime, it gave me of an impression of being rushed. I was right and the novel has more than the anime. For example, we can get to know more of Kei and the verbal battle of Kashiwagi vs Yumi and Youko in the car are far more entertaining and we can get to know more of Kei as well. Also the way the anime ended was kind of frustrating, leaving me a lot of "?". But the novel has made Sachiko's attitude in the later episodes are more understandable, too. Besides, Yumi seems more matured in the novel than in the anime. She cries in her room in Eps.12 and the anime shows it as if she can't help it. But the novel describes that she chooses to cry, as a symbol of her recovery process. Also, the fact she learns how to handle Touko better in the last episodes is more emphasised in the novel, hinting her potential to be Rosa Chinensis.
Not hearing of any immediate plan of the third season, I'll move on to Vol.12 soon ^_^
Can I say I have no regret in my life if I die now? No, I will regret. Because I must see you to say how much I need you.
(from "Parasoru o Sashi te")
I've been reading the novels of "Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu" (currently in the middle of the third volume). It's a great fun ^_^
It's a story about Asaba Naoyuki, a high school boy who lives in Sonohara, where a big and very secretive military base resides. The base is kind of the frontline against "the North," which is hostile to the Japan/US coalition (it may sounds like "Kumo no Mukou"), and is very famous among UFO otaku as a hot spot of UFOs. Asaba and Suizenji Kunihiro, his senpai in the newspaper club, are also interested in it when a transfer student joins Asaba's class. It turns out that she, Iriya Kana, lives in the base...
Most of things happen in the peaceful high school and around it and are pretty comical (the eating battle between Iriya and Akiho is one of the funniest novel I've read ^o^;;;). But it is strongly hinted at various places that very serious and perhaps inhumane things are also going in the base and Iriya is definitely at its centre. This gap somewhat reminds me of Eva. In fact, three of the main characters have their counterparts in Eva although they are less serious. Asaba is rather passive and indecisive but enjoys his life in his own way unlike Shinji. Iriya is mysterious and emotionless but that is because she tries to hide her emotion rather than she doesn't have any (like Rei). Akiho is aggressive and loud but not as insecure and self-destructive as Asuka.
The more I read the novel, the more concerned I get about the forthcoming OVA series. Novels are generally more difficult to convert into anime than manga are, IMO. Besides the story of this novel relies less on what happens than on how characters react, especially mentally, to it. For example, the author uses eight pages to describe Asaba's mental process after he finds a letter from Iriya in his shoes box until he actually opens it. I wonder how they will handle these "mental processes". Let's wait and see, I suppose.
"Kaze no Toorimichi" It's just a very small piece of work but really nice. All Ghibli fan should watch it ^_^ (if possible ^_^;;).
Happy New Year to everyone! ^_^
At the end of the last year (29 Dec) I finally went to Angela's live. It was very cold evening as snow had been falling all the day. The venue was the same place where CooRie had one back in September but the audience was quite different. This time there were a lot, say up to 30%, of women probably Katsu's fans. Of course, the tickets were sold out and the hall was packed with fans.
The event started with "Shazai Joukyou" and my first impression was that both Atsuko and Katsu looked much more attractive than on various photographs I'd seen, probably because of their liveliness. Atsuko's cheerful expression especially appeared to add her charm.
They seemed to know how to entertain their fans better than many seiyuu. For example, they had a draw to give away various items and they did it big lottery wheels ^_^ BTW, the first prize, given to two, was invitation to a bowling date in the New Year with them. The winners, two girls, must have been extremely happy (I would have ^_^).
During the intermission, a video footage of their trip to USA was shown. It included what they were doing during Otakon in Baltimore and after in Washington DC and New York. As it was only a month ago when I visited DC myself, some of footage looked rather familiar ^_^
They finished the concert with "Shangri-La" and performed about 20 songs, including two new ones which will be released in late January and one old one which they apparently sung a lot during their "indy" days. They also sung a bit of <a href="Ojikan/ojikan_op_cds.html"> Oshiete Ageru as well as Scramble as a joke, which was a fun. The most impressive one to me was, however, an acappella version of Shangli-La Atsuko did to tell the audience how to dance/whistle to the song. So, it wasn't a proper song but her voice in acapera was so nice, I wished she did the full song.
Anyway, the event was a really great fun and the ticket price, Y4200, seemed very cheap. BTW, if you ever have a chance to go one in the future, I'd advise you to take enough 100yen coins (and a towel) with you ^_^;;