This weekend I went to the first live concert of Savage Genius to celebrate their second album "Sora no Kotoba." Of course, they had made live appearance in a few previous occasions such as private live and free fan events, this was their first proper live... or it should have been so. Well, when the live started, I noticed Takumi's absence from the stage. Later Aa explained that he left Savage Genius for musical reasons and SG is now practically Aa's solo unit. Apparently the news had been announced before through their web site but I didn't know it. This strongly reminded me of the case of CooRie, where Osada Naoyuki left the duo to leave rino alone. At the same time it also reminded me of another, very different duo, Angela. They've been together more than 10 years even through their unsuccessful days as well as the recent Atsuko's health problem (I'm really looking forward to their next live).
Anyway, the live itself was a fun. I was on the front row (although it was the very edge) and could see Aa very well (of course, she must have seen me as well although she might be happy to forget it ^_^;;). The biggest surprise, apart from the news above, was Chino's appearance at the curtain call to perform Mighty Body together (yeah, I had wondered why Takumi's name was nowhere on the CD. Aa must be looking for a new scope for her as a singer).
I sincerely wish Aa will continue to do well as Savage Genius but will probably miss Takumi's melodious music a lot.
A few days ago Tokyo National University of Fine Art & Music announced that it would open a new graduate course for animation next spring. It is the first one of the kind among national universities. I had wondered if they would invite ABe Yoshitoshi, a graduate of the university, as a lecturer... but it seems they didn't.
Last Saturday, a day after ARIA the Concert, I went to the premiere of "Kara no Kyoukai." In case you don't know, it's an anime based on Nasu Kinoko's novel (again, in case you don't know, Nasu is a founding member of Type Moon and created Shingettan Tsukihime and Fate/stay night). The novel had attracted really dedicated fans and was finally going to be visualised as seven-chapter theatrical movie... well, it is shown only at one theatre in Japan and also limited to the late-night showing. So, you might be allowed to treat it as a pretty gorgeous OVA series.
Anyway the reason I went to see it on the first day (or night ^_^;;) was a small opening event by the director and main cast, including Sakamoto Maaya and Tanaka Rie. Advance tickets were sold out long time ago and I got mine through an auction. There are two showings per day (or night) and the event was held after the first and before the second one on the first night. It started at 10:30pm and the event was barely satisfactory; just a few words from the guests. On the other hand, the movie itself turned out be really nice. It isn't really my favourite genre but I enjoyed the movie enough to decide to see the next chapter in January.
I went to Animate Ikebukuro by chance next day, that is, on Sunday. It was a mere coincidence but they had a small exhibition of "Kara no Kyoukai." They were showing a digest of the film as well as a few rare items such as the original version of the novel (in doujinshi style published about 10 years ago). It seems Geneon is really trying hard to push the movie forward.
This evening I went to the Heaven... or ARIA The Concert.
The venue was the main hall of Nippon Seinenkan at the Jinguu Gaien. It started pretty early, 6pm of a Friday evening, and I arrived about 15 minutes before the start (the early start seems to have cause problems to many people, who came in to the hall after the event started). The first thing I noticed at arrival was a number of posters announcing the third TV series, ARIA The Origination. I hadn't known the date and channel of the new series but they seem to have been fixed. My attention then shifted to various merchandise available but, unlike many anime-related events, this one was very punctual and the shops (or the shopping stalls) closed at about 5:50. So I went in to the actual hall, which was pretty big with a capacity of 1360. My seat was reasonably good, 9th row near the center. The audience appeared to be a little older on average than those at typical anime events.
The curtain was raised and the live started with "Soshite Fune wa Yuku" by Choro Club with Senoo Takeshi. After the first tune, Hazuki Erino appeared to host the stage. She did a bit of introductory talks and more performance by CC with ST followed including "Aqua" and "Acqua Alta Biyori." IIRC they performed six tunes for about 30 minutes in total, which was far more than enough to send us into Neo Venice. Then Choro Club left the stage and my favourite Kawai Eri came in. She sang to Senoo's piano "Mangetsu no Dolce" in scat. Then Kubota Mina replaced Senoo at the piano seat... at this time I suspected that they were relaying the stage by changing only part of the performers at one time, which later turned out to be right.
Anyway Eri now sang "Coccolo" to Mina's piano. Then came the moment; "Barcarole ~A Cappella~" It vividly reminded me of the scene in Eps.11 of the first season where young Atena revealed her singing talent to Alicia and Akira. Mina joined the song with her piano in the second chorus to let us enjoy the same song in a different flavour. The song was more than enough to justify the cost of my ticket. ^_^
Then Makino Yui appeared to replace Eri to sing "Undine" and "Euforia" to Mina's piano, which were also really nice. Then Mina left and Round Table took the place to support Yui for "Symphony." The song was probably the only disappointment of the night as the sound balance was rather poor and spoiled my favourite song. Yet the appearance of Round Table change the mood a lot. The event had been very tranquil and peaceful but they brought more active atmosphere with them (which exploded with "Just for You"). Itou Rieko and Kitagawa Katsutoshi were certainly talkative (apparently the members of Choro Club are usually also talkative but remained quiet on the occasion for unknown reason ^_^).
Naturally Yui left the stage and I expected Nino to appear. But unfortunately she was unavailable today (apparently she's abroad) and her message via telephone was delivered to the audience. So Yui came back to the stage to sing "Natsumachi" and "Rainbow" for Nino. Near the end of "Rainbow" Erino appeared and joined the song. Then two ladies were about to sing "Just for You" but Katsutoshi stopped it. He must have failed to cope with(?) this peaceful -or quiet- concert and urged the audience to stand up and jump around... so we did ^_^ This song was the only thing which made me feel "oh, this *is* an anime event." ^_^;;;
Then Yui left the stage for sure this time to leave Erino and Round Table on the stage. It was easy to guess the next song; "Ashita, Yuugure made" the ED song of the OVA. Then Senoo came back to the stage to replace Round Table to finish the concert with Erino's "Smile Again."
Of course none of the audience left the theatre and we brought them back. This time Sonorous came to the stage with Choro Club to sing "Nanairo no Sora o" (to be honest I had to wonder what they did if there had been no encore). To my surprise, the live version of the song gave me a far better impression to me than the one in the OVA. Sonorous left the stage and a surprise guest was called in, Satou Jun'ichi the director. Because he entered the hall from the rear entrance, rather than directly appearing on the stage, and he was about passing through right next to me, I put my hand forward to shake hands with him. It was kind of funny to see quite a few people followed my example before the director finally reached the stage. ^_^;; He talked about how this live event was realised and about the third TV season. Then the event closed with seasonally appropriate "Santa Claus no Sora" by Choro Club and Senoo. In its second chorus Eri joined to add her voice; here the three key factors of the ARIA music performed together. Do you want anything else?
After the concert was over, the shops at the entrance re-opened. I bought a few things but what surprise me was to see Round Table at their shop selling the goods personally. Unfortunately all the CDs were gone and only one S-size T-shirts were left by then. So I couldn't buy anything but exchanged a few words.
To share my happiness, I *might* be able to hold another free draw in January where winner(s) will get the maxi single CD of the OP song of the third TV season WITH Makino Yui's autograph. So keep an eye on this page if you're interested.
I recently read the fourth volume of a novel series, "Choukoujo Sara (Steel Maiden Sara)." It was its title that caught my attention, when the first volume came out last year, because it was an excellent parody of "Shoukoujo Sara (Little Princess Sara)," an anime in the World Masterpiece Theatre back in 1985 based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's "Little Princess."
Of course the novel has nothing to do with the children's classic apart from various names. Anyway in this love comedy, a high school boy in Miyagi Prefecture in the near future Japan fell in love with a beautiful girl who helped him get out of a trouble. She turns out to be the president of the Student Society at his school but oddly enough she also fell in love to him even deeper (up to here it's pretty close to "Mamoru-kun ni Megami no Shukuhuku o"). Then he finds out she is one of three exceptional robots (the other two are her friends, Lavinia and Becky ^_^;;) who carries a Hodgson Drive, which enables the girls to carry real personality (just like the Otome Drive in Saber Marionette J). The mystic Drives are target of various groups, who attack the girls with their own robot girls, including the March Sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy ^_^;;)...
It's really a good fun. ^_^ Anyway, while I was going through the Wikipedia entry for Burnett's novel for actual spelling of the character names, I realised "Soukou no Strain" was also its parody. I wonder how I had missed such an obvious thing...
The result of the draw back earlier this month is that the Clannad booklet goes to Sakabadger and Oga Kazuo postcard sets go to Zeebu and catsspat. Please give a few more weeks to ship the items off to the winners.
Totally a different thing. Do you know 'itasha'? Back in February (I think), I saw a car decorated with Nanoha images and items in Akihabara. It was so perfectly done I at first though it must be a promotion vehicle by the anime studio. Then closer look suggested it was done by a fan (I mean, not quality but there were a few things that professional people would do). So I sent e-mails to my friends about it but failed to convey its real quality until I found this blog entry a couple of months later (the author of the entry says he saw the car on 30 Apr). Anyway I learned the otaku term 'itasha' for the first time then. It usually means "Italian cars" ('ITAria no kuruma (sha)') to ordinary people but it means "painful cars" ('ITAi kuruma (sha)') like the Nanoha car to otaku. Since then, the term has been taken up by various sites, including major newspaper, to receive wider (?) acceptance. ^_^ I haven't seen the Nanoha car recently but there are others, including one for "Happiness!" wandering around Akihabara even now. ^_^;;
Among the anime started this month, one of the positive surprise so far is "Mokke." I didn't know anything about the original manga but the anime had been very enjoyable. It reminds me of "Gakkou no Kaidan" so much. Young sisters (well, it was a sister and brother in GoK) in a rather rural city defend themselves from Japan's traditional supernatural beings... The fact mischievous Izuna in Eps.2 was voiced by Nakao Ryuusei, who did the whimsical Amanojaku in GoK added to it. ^_^ Of course, there are differences. In GoK, the basic concept was simply good versus bad, while supernatural beings are really natural existence, not necessarily evil. So the story is more philosophical in Mokke.
On the other hand, a negative shock to me is Rental Magica. I've seen two episodes so far but it seems there are many changes from the novel. The biggest one is that apparently Kuroha is "visible" in the anime. If so, I'm afraid it will change her character fundamentally, which is bad to me.
Speaking of change in character, I didn't like the way the anime staff changed Anies and Julio in the second season of "Zero no Tsukaima." They were almost different character. I always wonder how the creators of the original novel/manga feel about such changes. I suppose most of them are polite enough not to say anything bad but there have been cases (such as "Rurouni Kenshin," "Asagiri no Miko" and "Maburaho") they *kind of* spoke up. Of course, the ideal situation would that the original creator gets heavily involved in the anime production as in "Card Captor Sakura." But I suppose that is something not easy to do reguarly.
Just have a look at this page. This site by Asahi Newspaper invites readers to submit their proud bentou (box lunch). This excellent one is by a mother for her daughter (2nd year at elementary school) for a school excursion. Don't you think it's simply wonderful? The green part of the main Totoro is pickled leaves and Makkurokurosuke is meet balls decorated with baked sesame seeds. The mother says, the morning was exhausting enough to kill the rest of her day. ^_^;;
A few weeks ago I went to an exhibition of artworks by Oga Kazuo. In case you don't know him, he has been involved in the background artworks of many anime and probably is best known as the art director of Tonari no Totoro. In fact, the exhibition's title was "The man who painted Totoro's forest."
The exhibition started back in July and I was planning to go early but, having a rather busy summer, forgot about it completely. As it was to end at the end of September, I hustled myself on a Sunday afternoon to the museum but was welcomed with a sign to say "180 minutes to enter." @_@;; Well, I have to admit I had forgotten the power of Ghibli. I had expected mainly anime fans to be there but most of them seemed to be ordinary people, that is, non-anime fans. "180 minutes" was long enough to repel me and I meekly went home, without joining the queue. Then I took a day from the work next Thursday and had another try. And this time the queue was shorter... yeah "80 minutes to enter" ^_^;;; I hadn't expected such a long queue for an art exhibition on a weekday's afternoon. Anyway, this time I joined the queue and waited patiently.
It was about 60 minutes later that I was finally allowed to enter the venue. The first corner was his pre-Ghibli works such as "Samurai Giants," "Gamba no Bouken," "Ashita no Joe 2," "Kamui no Ken" and "Youjuu Toshi." I didn't know his career very well and these works somewhat surprised me.
Then the main part began. Yes, the Ghibli section to show so many works he did for it. According to a staff lady there, there were about 500 artworks on display. To be honest, it was so crowded it wasn't easy to enjoy this part. Yet, beautiful illustrations of Satsuki and May's house didn't fail to bring back the memory of the film and my visit to the real-size replica at Expo 2005 Aichi. At the same time, the sheer amount works made me really regret not to have come here earlier and several times. So Any Ghibli fan would have loved the space so much.
The exhibition then continued to show his non-anime works, which were mostly new to me. I might hunt down and get some of the in the future. We were guided to upstairs after that, where more interactive things to enjoy. For example, there were several background works by him enlarged to the "real" size so that we could take photograph in front of them as if we were in the film. We were also given a Toroto origami. ^_^ There was a corner where they explained various techniques of the anime camera-work, such as "panning" and "multi-stage." Of course, I knew them but ordinary people (I mean, non-anime fans) seemed to be very interested.
The exhibition ended with a shopping area for various goodies ^_^;; and I had a really nice time. ^_^
I had two postcard books, specially made for the occasion, to give away (sorry the exhibition book was too expensive and heavy). Also I have one Clannad movie booklet, too. So, as usual, if you wish to join the draw, send me an e-mail with "[St NHT] Entry for Draw" as the subject. The main text must contain your (a) name, (b) nickname, which will appear on this page if you win, (c) address, (d) e-mail address and (e) the item you want. The deadline is 20:00 (JST) 22th Oct 2007 (only one entry per person). Again as usual, please note that, as this is a free draw, I can't take any responsibility for mail troubles etc.
I went to watch the Clannad movie yesterday. It was like the Air movie; enjoyable enough but didn't impress me enough to purchase future DVD release. Yet there was one interesting thing you won't probably get on the DVD. You know, every theatre shows a short footage about etiquette about watch movie in theaters (such as "don't record the movie" and "switch off your mobile phone" etc). This time they made a special one for the theatre I went to and it was narrated by Tomoyo (Kuwashima Houko). I've seen such specialised announcement by seiyuu at many live events (such as "Suzumiya Haruhi no Gekisou") but never for theatrical movies. I wonder if similar announcement was made for other theatres and, if so, Houko did it, too, or other seiyuu took the place. I might go to another theatre. ^_^
Recently BS Asahi canceled an episode of Touka Gettan without much explanation. I thought it might be because of the murder case I mentioned in the last entry as the show can quite bloody. But it seems the real reason was that the episode was unacceptably (to TV Asahi) erotic. Well, it seems, ever since that episode of Princess Nine, the director is determined to challenge regulations/censorship of TV stations. He created you-know-which episode in Green Green and Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito was quite... err... sexy, too. All I hope is he won't be expelled from the TV anime world.
Speaking of the show, it has been a good fun. Eps 14, where it was merged with Yami-Bou, was especially enjoyable. Also it might be interesting to know Shimizu Ai and Yamamoto Maria wrote the screenplay for a few episode. I knew Ai likes writing (see the entry of 20 Mar 06; I found the doujinshi afterwards) but had no idea about Maria. I don't know how much help they received from professional writers but their stories were not bad. ^_^
Earlier this week there was a horrific murder case in Kyoto, where a 16-year-old girl killed her father with an hand axe while he was asleep. Sadly this violent incident prompted the cancellation of the last episode of "School Days" in most of the TV stations as it contains a violent scene by a young girl. Toukai TV also canceled an episode of "Higurashi no Naku Koro ni" for a similar season. This reminds me of postponement of "Full Metal Panic" after September 11. Japanese TV stations are very sensitive about this kind of trouble and anime seems to be their easy target. That is, other shows like dramas and movies do not get canceled as easily. Well, after all, we anime fans are still "minority."
In Nagasarete Airantou Meimei had a kappa friend called Toono-san. I'm sure you all know what is kappa but wonder how many of you know where the name "Toono-san" came from.
Tono (this is the official spelling but in hiragana it is 'to o no' which I usually use in this site) is a small rural city in Iwate Prefecture. It is known in Japan as "Homeland of Kappa" and the city's mascot character is a kappa (you can see it at the bottom of the official page). Of course, the kappa folklores spread all over Japan but what make the city or the area special is a famous book called "Tono Monogatari" by Yanagita Kunio. He is regarded as the father of the Japan's folkloristics and the book is what made him famous first. In spired by Someday's Dreamer (Yume was born and grew up there) I read it sometime ago. I had expected it to be a folkloristic research report but I was completely wrong. It's a collection of folklores recorded from the local people without any interpretation. So it's very simple and basic yet strongly tells what Japanese people believed before influence of the Western culture. The fact that Tono is in a mountainous region, rather than a flat one, might have added its mood as such life includes hunting as well as farming. BTW, it was interesting to find a story about 'mahou' (magic) in it. ^_^
The book has been translated and published in English as "The Legends of Tono" and, if you're interested, try finding and read it (Amazon says it's out of print, though).
Araki Hirohiko, tha manga artist famous with his "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" has done the cover illustration of the prestigious sceientific journal "Cell" this week. Just have a look. ^_^
I watched two movies last night. The first one was "Vexille," a new 3D-style animation. It was just to kill time I chose the film (I didn't have an advance ticket) but it was far better than my expectation... visually. Compared with "Appleseed," the improvement of graphic is obvious. Except texture of the human (if you know what I mean) skins, which looked like soft vinyl used by some figure, the visual effect was really impressive. The story was interesting enough, even though it may not be outstanding,to keep me watching. Overall it is a good action movie on the big screen and I thought my money was well spent.
The second one was Kiddy Grade. It's a three-part "director's cut" series based on the TV series. In contrast to Vexille, this one was poorly made. The new additional part was very cheaply made and I had to wander what the director was thinking to ask more money from fans for this. -_-;; My money here was poorly spent this time. But it ironically highlighted how high the quality of the original TV series.
Well, let me talk about something rather old. Back in mid August I went to Kotoko's live at Shinkiba Studio Coast. I suspect she had set up the time and place so that fans away from Tokyo could attend (you know, it was the last day of Comike and Shinkiba is only two stations away from Tokyo Big Site). I was late to arrive as usual and there were already, say, about 1000-1500 fans there. I stood at the back and was barely able to see the stage The live started with an armature(?) band, covering several Kotoko's songs for about 20 minutes. Then Kotoko herself appeared on the stage.
The "main dish" of the live was the fans' favourite songs. They had asked fans to vote for their favourite songs via her fan club and the top five were performed on the day. The result was (1) Fatally (2) Onaji Sora no Shita de (3) Unsymmetry (4) Allegretto ~Sora to Kimi~ (5) Lilies Line. As Kotoko hinted on the stage herself, the choice seems a rather maniac. At least they didn't match my top five. Yet I was more than happy to be there as I could hear my favourite Imaginary Affair early on the occasion.^_^ BTW, the reason I hadn't talked about this live before is that Kotoko specifically asked the audience to keep the list of the top five secret until the tour finished. Now that the one at Sendai is over, the information is now open. ^_^
It was held in Ebisu and I arrived about 90 minutes before the event to pick up my ticket because, unlike big events, we were allowed to pre-book tickets by just sending an e-mail without any payment. So I had to be there and pay to confirm my ticket before it went for open sale. There were two ladies at a small desk (yes, NOT a ticket booth) at the entrance to sell tickets and I noticed something interesting. It seems the pre-bookings were accepted by the web sites of the two singers independently. So the two ladies had two lists to check. One list was a proper computer print-out (something you would expect at a big anime con). On the other hand my name was not on it but a small (B5?) piece of paper and hand-written. So the former must be for Yuumao and the latter for Saori. It was kind of funny to see the difference of the two artist. Oh, I must state here, as a former vice-president of the Calligraphy Club of TU, the hand-written list was really well written.
At 18:30, the room was opened. It was pretty small and there were two rows of chairs near the stage and an open space behind them for standing. By the time I was allowed to come in, all the chairs were already occupied but I found five chairs on the right-side wall near the stage. There was a bag on the one nearest to the stage to show it had been already occupied but the other four were available (I thought so at that time. But the one nearest to the stage was, I later found, apparently took by a member of Yuumao's staff. So these chairs might not be for us. Yet at least no one complained about it ^_^;;). Of course, such a seat is not good for acoustics and the narrow angle to the stage isn't nice for a big stage. But it was so close to the small stage I didn't mind. Also, as the curtain at the side of the stage wasn't closed properly, I could see Yuumao dressing up. ^_^;;; Anyway there were about 100 people there including a few girls.
The first half of the live was by Saori. She was as usual with her big guitar (well, the guitar was ordinary but her guitar always *looks* big ^_^;;). Then the second half was for Yuumao. It was the first time for me to see her (apart from some photos) and she was very different from what I had expected. She was far more energetic and, in one song "Take Out!!," she asked not only us but also "her mistress" Itou Shizuka, who were on the upper deck with, I think, a bottle of Corona ^o^;;;;, to join to sing together.
After Yuumao finished her part, the two ladies came back to the stage to perform together, that is, Saori with a guitar and Yuumao with a piano. The first song was Mou Sukoshi by Saori with Yuumao's backing chorus. They then changed the places for the second song Kimi no Tame ni Dekiru Koto. What made their performance special to me was my location. As I said, I was on the right wall near the stage. Yuumao was on her piano on the left edge of the stage whereas Saori was on the middle right of the stage. So I was probably the only one, except that Yuumao staff, who could enjoy them literally together. In my view, Yuumao was singing just over Saori's shoulder and seeing the two singers synchronising to each other was really excellent. Yes, it was a wonderful evening.
Looking back, I feel as if the two singers live in different worlds. Yuumao in a big music industry and Saori on street. Not only the issue about the guest list mentioned above, how they make up and how they dress were very different. I'm not talking about good or bad, but such difference is certainly interesting.
There was an interesting article on the Asahi Newspaper website. According to it, the Police Authority of the Shimane Prefecture has introduced "Sister System" for their woman officers, where young officers are personally assigned to a senior one who will take care of her over various issues. Doesn't it remind you of something? Yeah, the Souer system of Maria-sama ga Miteru. I wonder if the senior one hands a rosary (or a rang badge) to her "younger sister." ^_^;;
I was watching Eps.10 of Romeo x Juliet the other day and was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favourite, but not so famous, paintings was used in the show. It's one of the two paintings on the wall of the hall of the brothel where Tybalt and Juliet visited to hide themselves. The original is by a French woman and I made a special effort to see it when I went to Texas for AnimeFest last year. Here is the link to the museum's page for you to make a comparison. ^_^
I forgot to mention one thing about Shinkai-san in the last entry. Apparently showing of his work at theatres isn't the end of a project for him and he is always concerned with the DVD release. So he creates the booklet himself to a ready-to-print status. If you bought the R2 DVD, please enjoy the booklet, too. ^_^
Let me switch the subject to another event I recently went to. It's one to promote Circus by Fiction Junction Yuuka. Those who bought the CD were allowed to enter a draw for the event and there were about 100 to 150 people. Fortunately my ticket has a very young number and my seat was at the very centre of the front row. ^_^
It started with a video show (about 30 minutes long) of their live back in February, which was nice to me because I couldn't go to the live (it was invitation only and my entry failed in the draw). Then Yuki was called to the stage to start the talk show. She, with a Victor producer and the show host, talked about the CD and the live. Then a video message from Yuuka, who weren't available on the day because of the preparation for a theatrical play, was shown. After that, Yuki answered to questions written on the entry forms of the event draw. There were a few really interesting ones. Asked "Who is the most influential musician to you?" she named Mike Oldfield among many as some who really made her want to become a music writer. Another question was "Which is the most difficult for you, lyrics, music or arrangement?" She had no hesitation to say "Lyrics." ^_^ It seems she is a melody-driven person and lyrics are so powerful for her to change the meaning of the melody she had intended. She said it was a reason to use the Kajiura language (as in Noir) to minimise the impact of the lyrics to her melody.
At the end of the event, there was a draw in which four of the audience would win a strap for mobile phones, made by Yuki herself. I was really excited for a moment in vain as the family name of the fourth winner was the same as mine (you know, the family name comes first in Japanese). Leaving me in grief ^_^;;, the event ended with the full-length PV of "Romanesque"
Last evening Akihabara was very busy. I didn't know any reason for it but, even as a Friday evening, it was really crowded. I went to Yamagiwa Soft to pick up new CDs but the queue for the payment was so long I gave up and went to Animate. There they were restricting people. @_@;; When I went in to the shop, I wasn't allowed to go to the 7th floor (for DVDs and video games) as it was overcrowded. I went to the first, second floor and basement for some books/magazines to find they were also very crowded with the loooong queue I'd never seen in this shop before. I spent only a few minutes there but by the time I came back to the entrance, they were not allowing anyone into the entire shop. If I had to give any reason for this, yesterday was the release date of the "Suzumiya Haruhi no Gekisou" DVD and the "Little Buster" game. But I had absolutely no solid idea of the true reason.
So I went back to the town to do my shopping but the situation was almost no better. Animate wasn't restricting to us to get in but the queue were equally long. Unfortunately the queue became longer at Yamagiwa Soft and I asked one of the staff for the reason. He seemed to be bewildered himself with this flux of people but suggested that this was because the first volumes of a few anime DVDs were released on 25th and 27th. So I asked him "What's the best seller among them?" He said "Suzumiya Haruhi no Gekisou." ^_^;; My guess wasn't too far away.
A different thing. Last Saturday (21st) I went to a small event to promote the DVD of Byousoku Five Centimeters. It was essentially a short talk show by Shinkai Makoto. Well, the talk was long enough, though, to reveal a few things. What impressed me most was how real the description of the Tanegashima Island in the second episode. Many things which I had though "fiction based on reality" was really "real." I'd love to visit the island but it's not easy at the moment. ;_;
After the talk was over, Shinkai-san handed his autograph to everyone, shaking hands and exchanging a few words. When it was my turn, I asked him why he was Angela's live (see the entry of 29 Mar 05). Apparently he knew someone at King Records who knew Angela very well. He said they had a sushi dinner together once. I wish I'd been there, too. ^_^;;
Just before I left the venue, I asked someone from Comix Wave about the American release of the movie. His answer was that "the contract has already been made and we are leaving the matter to their care." That was kind of expected but he added "It will be available in quite a few countries." ^_^
In Eps.10 of Nagasarete Airatou (the rain-day episode), Suzu sings a song about rain. It's a classic children's song called "Amefuri Otsuki-san." I wonder how many of you noticed that the melody of the second chorus is different from the first one. This is an extreme example but many classic children's songs from the same era tend to do the same because of Japanese. As you probably know, the Japanese language used the "pitch" accent rather than the "stress" accent like the most of Western language and high and low of vowels in a word can change its meaning. That is, the melody may mislead meanings of lyrics. Some of the composers from the era were trying to incorporate Western music theory without such "side-effect" and came up with the idea of modifying the melody flexibly to match the lyrics. This effort is mostly ignored these days and there are many songs which are "incorrect."
Today's big news was the acquisition of Mag Garden (a manga publisher known for "ARIA," "Binchoutan" and "Eremetar Gerad") by Production I.G. This isn't particularly surprising as the anime/manga industry isn't really healthy these days. More M&A might come soon.
Today I went to Ayane's first solo concert. The venue, Shibuya Eggman, was rather small and packed with about 300 fans. The concert started with a series of short words from her on screen (imagine presentation with PowerPoint) and funniest thing was she called Shibuya "Away" because her "Home" was Akihabara ^_^;;
Then she appeared on the stage but, to be honest, I was rather disappointed with the venue. There is a big pillar at the centre, which means part of the room was "blind". Also the stage was so low it was extremely hard to see the singer from the back of the room.
She mostly chose songs from her latest album "Archive Lover." Accordingly some of my favourites like "Kizuna" were omitted. One thing surprised me was, when she sang "Orange", those core fans with Cyalume changed their tools to orange ones. So the room was filled with orange lights ^_^ I'm usually not keen on Cyalume
In the middle of the event, Inoue Nana and Shikura Chiyomaru appeared as guests. Although I didn't know Nana is a close friend of Ayane. Then I realised something. I could see Nana's face much easier than Ayane's. Yeah, it wasn't because the stage was too low but Ayane was simply short ^_^;; Anyway Nana sang "Romancing Story" with Ayane.
The live went on smoothly without any mishaps. But Ayane became a little too high during the curtain call. Apparently it suddenly occurred to her to take photograph of the fans to show on her blog. She asked to bring her mobile phone to take her photograph with us. So you might be able to see my hand on her blog. ^_^;;
Miyazaki Aoi, who voiced Yume in Someday's Dreamer, announced her marriage with an actor today. ^_^
I'm in Sendai now for a meeting here. It's the biggest in the Touhoku region (I can't remember any anime/manga set in the city). I don't have anything special to write here except that I found an excellent CD at a used CD shop today.. ^_^ I'll go back to Tokyo tomorrow and am hoping to catch the "Hayate" super-express and listen to KOTOKO's new song on it. ^_-
The Golden Week has gone. I didn't do anything special but did a few anime-related things, as you can expect. First, I bough another (yeah, the fourth) HDD/DVD recorder. This one can handle HV programs with two TV tuners built in. I did think about getting a BluRay one but concluded it's still too expensive.
The second thing was going to a musical show "Angel Gate." It's nothing to do with anime except that Nanri Yuuka played the heroine.
The venue was the New National Theatre in Shinjuku, I had never been there but it was quite impressive. The theatre was about 70-80% full and I could see a wide range people. It seems Fuji TV, a sponsor, had invited quite a few people who had entered a draw or something. Well, the show was a little disappointing. Probably because of Fuji TV, it had two musicians who had little to do with the storyline. Also many of those "invited guests" I mentioned above appeared unaccustomed to watching musical and the reaction to the actors and actresses was a bit poor.
Although this CD has "the theme song" by Kajiura Yuki, it wasn't used (it was played during the intermission). I wonder if the song was used in the original version or it has always be an image song of the play. I also had to wonder what it would be like if Yuki write an entire musical show. ^_^
On the last day of the GW, I went to watch the Dengeki Movie Festival; three movies based on the Dengeki Novels. The first one was Shakugan no Shana. I thought it would be a side-story or something but it was a re-make of the Furiagune story arc (that is, the earliest part of the first novel TV series). In fact, I think they used actual footages from the TV series in the earlier part. Then the story a little diverts from the TV one. The art quality was high The ending and insert songs by I've ladies were perhaps the best thing about the anime.
The second one was Kino no Tabi. Here Kino and Hermes come to a "perfectly healthy country" where people live a seemingly perfect life, except mysterious and incurable disease which affect a small proportion the people. Kino and Hermes meet a young girl, one of such patient, and asked to bring a present to her friend who lives out of the city. This seemingly simple request reveals the secret of the city... It was nicely written and directed and I'm sure all the Kino fan would like it.
The last one was Inukami! It was very silly. I mean, silliness is one of the charm of the novel but this was went a little too far, IMO. Too many elephants. ^_^;; Also the art quality is not so good. It was more like a TV special rather than a theatrical release.
So, Kino was the best of the three in terms of their performance against my expectation. Oh, the really *best* thing was a very short introductory anime shown at the beginning. The heroes and heroines of the three anime, in the SD (or 'chibi') style, decide to go to watch a movie and happened to choose the same one. It was pretty funny. For example, Shana and Youko praise each other for beating up their own boyfriends (Yuuji and Keita). ^_^ Also the movie theatre they went to was actually the very one that I was in. ^_^;;
Just came back from Tainaka Sachi's live in promotion of her first album Dear... Unlike seiyuu concerts, the audience, about 30% of which was women, were ready to listen to her songs, rather than dance to them with Cyalume ^_- Fortunately my seat was on the second row and I could enjoy and the men:women ratio was something line 7:3.
The live started with "Kimi to no Ashita," the ED song of the final episode of Fate/stay night. The most of the songs were from the album and other singles she had released, but there were two exceptions. The first one was "Kimi wa Mikazuki" (You're a Crescent Moon). Apparently she really had hard time to decide whether to include it in the album but she didn't in the end. She said she would keep the song as a live-only song at least for a while. The other one was "Itoshii Hito e," the ED theme song of a new NHK anime "Seirei no Moribito." The best of all was "Disillusion" and "Kirameku Namida wa Hoshi ni," performed with her own solo piano. They sounded very different from the album version and was really nice. ^_^
During the en call, there was a surprise for her; the staff gave her a birthday cake and a big bunch of flower for her Her birthday is actually the 30th.
Today Mainichi Newspaper had an interesting article. Apparently a toy shop owner in Hokkaidou failed to pay his tax and the local Tax Office seized the stock toys of the shop. Then someone of the Office noticed there were old 'bishoujo' figures from dating games of 90's (such as Tokimeki Memorial and Sentimental Graffiti) among them and put them up for auction. Consequently the figures were sold at much higher prices than the Office expected. ^_^
This afternoon I went to a small event of Atsumi Saori to promote her first album from Lantis. It was my second time to see her in person but the she didn't talk too much at the live two years ago. So it was practically the first time for me to hear her talk about herself and her songs. Even though she talked a reasonable amount, her quiet voice and shy way of speaking reminded me of Arai Akino a little.
As you know, many of her songs are about young people struggling in a big city. She said they were mostly based on her own or her friends' experience. This and her gentle personality are probably the basis of the warm atmosphere of her world.
Yesterday passing away of Ueki Hitoshi made big news here in Japan. He was one of the most popular and influential entertainers/comedians in Japan during the 60s and 70s and remained popular as an actor afterwards.
He was so popular you can see his characteristic jokes in anime and manga even now. Of course, his biggest impact is "Irresponsible Captain Tylor," which is the direct parody of his film (remember that his full name is Justy Ueki Tylor?). Whatever, we have lost another big figure of the Showa era.
One of the shows I'm watching recently is Manabi Straight. It's fast and comical. Also it reminds me of my young days. ^_^;;
I used to be the head of the School Society, just like Manabi. As in many anime (MariMite, Full Metal Panic and Strawberry Panic), the Society Office (seitokai-shitsu) was a unique space, having some independence from teachers in tightly-regulated Japanese schools, and the members who gather there certainly had more to enjoy than other students could.
Looking back, I was somewhat like Manabi. I was simply trying to make my school a better place for us, with ignorant enthusiasm. Just minor things such as letting us to bring playing cards to school during winter, when snow covers the play ground completely. Fortunately we had a very understanding teacher like Shimojima but there were teachers who saw what we did as movement against them. So I put our idea forward quietly so that the teachers would have the minimum occasions to say "no" to the our plans. I thought I did a reasonable job in the end as no teacher really complained at us. But a few months after my graduation, my mother saw the School Master, who said "Has your son tamed down at his high school?" ^_^;;
Today I went to "Suzumiya Haruhi no Gekisou," a live event of the Haruhi series. The ticket was extremely hard to get but I had been determined to go this one.
The venue was Ohmiya Sonic Hall with a capacity of a little more than 1000, I guess. It was supposed to start at 4pm but special booths of merchandises opened a few hours earlier. By the time I arrived, there are a large number of people already in front of the entrance. They were generally more active and noisier than those I usually find at seiyuu lives. It took some time for me to be allowed to get in the hall. The concept of the event is Kitakou-sai, that is a school festival of Kitakou, Kyon's highschool. So all the shops selling various goodies were small stalls ('yatai') as you see in Japanese traditional festivals (also, as I found later, the stage was also set as the event stage of the Kitakousai). There were quite a few people who were cosplaying and there was a one particularly MEDATU girl. She was cosplaying as a bunny Haruhi and I have to admit she looked really nice. ^_^;;
The event started with a cheerful voice of "How are you everyone?" and usual guidance (such as "no photo, please" etc) by Tsuruya-san. Then the curtain was up. Although I had though it would be a live concert because of the 'gekisou' word, it turned out the first half was something typical to anime-related events. The main cast (all the SOS gangs plus Tsuruya-san, Kyon's sister, Asakura Ryouko and Kimidori Kimie. Taniguchi and Kunikida were hosting the talk) talked about the anime and the characters they voiced, with Ishihara Tatsuya (director) and Ikeda Akiko (anime character designer). I skip the detail about this part but one thing interested me was Matsuoka Yuki talking about her performance as Tsuruya-san in Eps.0, that is, Asahina Mikuru's Adventure. In this episode, there is a scene where she laughs for long time continuously. She said, as Tsuruya-san's expression changes gradually during it, she laughed in several ways to match it and, when her long laughter ended, all other seiyuu and staff in the studio applauded her with clapping hands. ^_^
Then a short play followed. It's about the SOS members at their club room. I have to say the script was poor, compared with, say, that of the MariMite event, the performance was funny enough.
After a short break, the second part, a live concert, started with Gotou Yuuko. She appeared in an apron dress as an maid but, off course, her skirt was MUCH longer than that of Mikuru. ^_^;; After that other seiyuu came to the stage one by one and performed their character song. Aya performed the two songs from the "School Festival" episode as she played the guitar just like Haruhi in the anime.
The best thing came the last, though. The last song was "Hare Hare Yukai" by the three heroines and they danced to it just as in anime. I could have imagined that Aya and Minori could handle the song but Yuuko, the eldest and least agi??? just like Mikuru. I suspect there weren't really singing and the recorded vocal part was used but it didn't spoil it at all. I was really really impressed. This one song was more than enough to justify the cost of the ticket for me.
The event ended here but, of course, everyone was asking for en core. The three girls came back to the stage with ?? and Daisuke and performed the TV-size version of the ED song again. This time the actual anime ED was shown on the screen behind them, too. When the song is over, all the remaining seiyuu came back to the stage and tried to make some comment to the fans. But Aya, the first one, bursted into tears after only few words and could not continue. I suppose she had so much in the event as well as the series, relief to have finished the event let her emotion go. So the other seiyuu took the charge. Minori couldn't say to much, either, so Tomokazu came to help to say "Hey, everyone, here is a message from Yuki!" Minori just added "Daisuki (I love you all)" in Yuki's monotonous whisper-like way and it was lethal. ^_^;;;; Yuki's "I want to sing that (ED) song, too! But that dance is impossible for me!!" was memorable, too. Aya couldn't recover from tears to the end. Instead she made a cheerful comment as Haruhi via PA system *after* the curtain fell. I suspect it hadn't planned originally but was made to make up with her failure to make a proper comment on the stage.
The event was certainly one of the best anime events I know. As the DVD release is being planned, you should be able to see it soon. (Haruhi was shouting that the profit of the DVD release will be used to make "Nagato Yuki no Gyakushuu", a sequel to "Asahina Mikuru no Bouken" ^_^;;;).
Yesterday was the premier of Shinkai Makoto's new movie, "Byousoku 5 Centimeters." Shinkai-san had supposed to make an appearance on the first day, so I had booked my seat and went to see the movie.
Shinkai-san and some staff, including Tenmon, appeared before the movie and talked about it. Because it was before the movie and very short, there wasn't so much informative.
The movie itself was yet another beautiful one just like "Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho [The Place Promised in Our Early Days]" but, story-wise, it is not as good. Well that's my first impression. The movie consists of three parts and I thought the first was very sweet. Then I was a little confused with the second part as its relashionship to the first wasn't very clear to me at first. And I had a big problem with the third part. More precisely the way it ended... or... the way the main character reached his conclusion was a little too abrupt. Of course, I might have missed something very important and, after seeing it again, my opinion may change completely. Anyway when the movie ended, I thought "this is a story about a boy who ruined his youthful days because of a pretty girl in short." ^_^;;