A few weeks ago, NHK's "Kaitai Shin-Show," which answers general questions about human body (and voiced by Hirano Aya ^_^;;), featured a somewhat obvious question, "why do we feel characters in anime really speak when their mouth movement is poor?" I had never thought there is a scientific reason behind it but apparently, when what we see and what we hear contradict, we, a week animal afraid of predators, accept the audio information rather than the visual one. It was a really interesting theory to me but I have to say that the gap between the visual and audio must be within a certain range for this theory to stand. For example, the mouth movement in the OP anime of the second season of "Rosario + Vampire" is so poor I feel uncomfortable to watch.
The discrepancy between voice and mouth in anime has always been a big issue. The first anime that impressed me in the context was "MA-WA-LE-MI-GI," a song in "Curtain Call," an OVA of Creamy Mami. If you have a chance, just watch it. You'll realise how bad the R+V OP anime is...
This morning I left Beijing and came back to Tokyo. The hotel I stayed was located in the Zhongguancun area, known as the Sillicon Valley of China (or Akihabra of China). The hotel was pretty new, probably opened for the Olympic games, and the room was really nice with, for example, a 42-inch LCD TV with a DVD player and a computer input. But there was one thing I couldn't understand. The bathroom is equipped with two yellow plastic ducks, just like the one Yuno (Hidamari Sketch) uses. I wonder if this is a common practice in China or it's just a strange idea occurred to the manager. ^_^;;
A few hours after I arrived Narita, I'm now writing this on another flight to Fukuoka. This is my first flight with the Japan Airline for some time and I was surprised to see the name of Tanaka Rie was not in the in-flight radio programs. She may have left after years of service. Instead Nishimura Chinami now hosts the Kids' program.
An article caught my attention recently. It reports that the North Building of the Higashi-Kurume Station of the Seibu Ikebukro Line is going to be demolished for renewal. The building is supposed to be the model of "Tokeizaka Station" in Maison Ikkoku. It's the nearest station to Ikkoku-kan and appeared in the manga quite a few time. I've never seen it and should visit quite soon. ^_^
I'm watching my favourite NHK program "Ke-tai Oogiri" (see the entry of 24 June 2006) and am surprised to see Mizuki Nana as the main guest, not as a reader of jokes. This position is almost always given to so-called "idols." Although she is good-looking enough to fill the position, I suppose the reason she was called in is probably because she is the heroine of Allison & Lillia," an NHK anime.
Here is another very interesting song from "Minna no Uta.
Having watched a repeat of a Saiunkoku Monogatari episode, I believe that Shuurei, who were happy to name Suou as "Tantan" because he had a figure of a racoon dog, has no right to accuse Seiran of knowing about "pink magazines." ^_^;;
Here is my latest stupid(?) expenditure. The agricultural organization of a rural village in Akita decided to promote their proud rice with an illustration by Nishimata Aoi. Otaku culture is attracting more attention from ordinary people. ^_^
I haven't updated this page so much this summer but I did a few anime-related things, in addition to watching "Sky Crawler" and "Ponyo." So here is the report on them.
Early August I went to "It's a Rumic World," an exhibition of Takahashi Rumiko's artworks to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Shounen Sunday magazine, held at a department store in Ginza. Naturally I walked up to the ticket booth to find there were two types of tickets, Lum or Kyouko, and I chose the latter. First a short (3min) anime welcomed us. It's a funny one where three of her popular anime, Urusei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha, are mixed together to make interesting match-ups. For example, Inuyasha thinks Lum is an 'oni' in the present world while Ranma pities Inuyasha, with his dog ears, as someone who fell in one of the cursed springs in Jusenkyou, like Shampoo and Ryouga. ^_^;; Ataru is very happy, of course, to see two cute girls Kagome and Ranma to their annoyance.. There was a phrase by Inuyasha to Ranma (boy), "you sound very much like me." ^_^;;
Then the main part of the exhibition began. A large number of colour artworks by Rumiko were on display with huge (roughly 60cm wide x 3m high) strips from memorable episodes between them (this style continued throughout the entire exhibition). Also the actual manga books as well as various translated oversea editions were also exhibited. There were also a small number of, yet very interesting, real (3D) items such as the signboard of the Tendou Doujou. This main exhibition was divided into a series of subsections. The first section was for Urusei Yatsura. As you know, this work was done when Rumiko was much younger. Perhaps because of this, her art style changed a lot during the series and we could follow the change as the illustrations were chronologically arranged. The next section was for Maison Ikkoku. They reconstructed the entrance hall of Ikkokukan and Kyouko's room in the real size so that we could walk in. Souichirou's dog house and Kyouko's bamboo broom just outside of the entrance were nice. ^_^ Maison Ikkoku is probably my most favourite one and looking at so many artworks, including the original drawings of the final episodes, made me really happy. Similar display continued for Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha, followed by her shorter works such as Mermaid Forest, One Pound Gospel, Fire Tripper and so on. At the end of the main part, there were a small video room and an OVA(?) of Inuyasha was being shown. I followed only the very early episodes of manga and I have to admit the development of the story surprised me a bit.
The last part of the exhibition was a tribute to Rumiko from other artists. More than 30 manga artists/illustrators contributed one A4-size illustration of Lum (there were several who offered two illustrations). I had expected that the contributors would be mostly her fellow "Sunday" manga artists but I wasn't the case. In addition to expected ones such as Adachi Mitsuru (Miyuki, Touch, H2 etc), Fujita Kazuhiro (Ushio to Tora), Hosono Fujihiko (Gugu Ganmo etc), Aoyama Goushou (Conan) and Kumeta Kouji (Zetsubou Sensei), there were many from other publishers. The members included Houjou Tsukasa (Cats Eye, City Hunter etc), Yoshizaki Mine (Keroro Gunsou), Umino Chika (Honey & Clover) and Azuma Kiyohiko (Azumanga Daoiou & Yotsubato). The best one was, though, by Itou Noiji (Shana & Suzumiya Haruhi). Her Lum was so cute. ^_^ It's really a GREAT pity that these excellent contributions were not included in the exhibition catalogue. They should have provided at least their postcards or something for fans.
Later in August Kotoko's Mutant Dwarf Live was held at Shinagawa. In case you don't know, it's an annual event of her fan club and, unlike her usual concerts, much time were spent at the beginning for casual talk by her and supporting musicians. Her real concert followed that and she mainly chose songs which changed her career such as "Shooting Star", "Blaze", "Re-Sublimity" and "Hayate no Gotoku!" Of course, the live must end with upbeat kyun-kyun songs and the choice of the day was "I need magic" and "Special Life!" Her performance of the formerer was really impressive. As you may know, it contains lots of very fast phrases between the actual lyrics. I suspect they were separately recorded for the game track but she did it together on the occasion without any mistake.
My mission of the following day was to go to a small event of Takahashi Mikako for her recent album. To my surprise she appeared alone on the stage. In this kind of events, someone from the anime or music company hosts the show to make the talk keep going. But this time Mikako did everything by herself. She talked about her daily life as well as her songs for sometime and then sang a few songs from the album. We were given her photo with her autograph and shook hands with her as we left.
Moving into September, I went to Studio Ghibli's Layout Exhibition. The venue was the art museum where they had Oga Kazuo's Background Artwork exhibition, which attracted so many people (see my butsubutsu entry on 10 Oct 07). They had apparently learnt a lesson and the tickets of this year had specific date and time to enter on them, just like Ghibli Museum. Even so the venue was very crowded.The first thing we saw was a video of short interviews of Miyazaki and Takahata. I didn't know it but the "layout" system was kind of invented by Takahata to maximise the efficiency of anime production by making the most of Miyazaki's unparalleled talent. There were more than one thousand layout works on display from a variety of anime; all the Ghibli films including "I Can Hear the Sea" and "On Your Mark" and really old ones like "Heidi," "Lupin III," "Anne of Green Gables," "Conan The Future Boy," "Detective Holmes," One big surprise was very few (2 or 3) of "Kiki's Delivery Service" were on display and apparently they are all that exist now.
I attended at two small seiyuu events on the following Sunday. The first one was by Tomatsu Haruka to celebrate her first solo CD. Its main song is the ending theme song of the live-action TV drama "Here is Greenwood" in which she appears as Nitta Emiko herself. She said she was rather nervous as she had never experienced this kind of events before. Indeed she looked a little tense and made a mistake in one song. Yet she did a good job as a whole, IMO. She sang "Naissance" and "Unwind" from the album and shook hands with us to end the event.
Less than hour after Haruka's event, another one for Strike Witches started at a place nearby. Here Fukuen Misato and Nakai Erika appeared on the stage and talked about this scantly-clad anime. There wasn't much informative in the talk but Misato was funny in confessing that she recently had an occasion to wear her high school uniform for a cosplay event or something and, because she was alone in her room, she took off her skirts to see how those witches' uniform would look like in realty. She said she looked odd. ^_^;;; Also they revealed that the young soldier who tried to hand a letter to Yoshika in Episode 8 had a proper name at first but the director declared "Male characters don't deserve a name!" to make him nameless. ^_^;;;
Then in mid September I went to "The Autumn Lillian Festival" to celebrate the official announcement of the fourth season (third, if you count only TV series). The venue was Nihon Seinekan, where Aria the Concert was held last year. There were two stages on one day and I went to the first one. I arrived about 30minutes before the door opining but there were already a long queue and I failed to get some limited goods. The format of the event was practically identical as the Summer Festival two years ago (see entry of 12 Aug 06). It started with a voice drama about a sport meeting of Yamayuri-kai, a new original story where the Red, Yellow and White sisters as well as Touko.and Kanako (that is, the cast was Yumi, Sachiko, Yoshino, Rei, Shimako, Noriko, Touko and Kanako). It was far more comical than the usual TV and novel series.
After the drama, the eight ladies sat down and startled a talk show. Just like the previous event, they had been asked to bring a photo from their recent life. Kana showed a studio shot at a recording session of "a certain anime" where "four Roses and a camera girl appear" (I'm sure it's Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu while Shizuka proudly(?) showed her liqueur stock at home ^_^;; Then they talked about the new season of the anime and, just like Touko and Noriko two years ago, the anime design of two new characters were introduced; Arima Nana and Naitou Shouko. In case you don't know, they are candidates of the sister of Yoshino and Tsutako, respectively. Then unknown voice joins the chat through a loudspeaker. It was Nana. Ami asked the audience "Did you get who it is? The seiyuu for Nana is Nabatame Hitomi!!" The hall resounded with voices of surprise, joy and amusement. They called it "reincarnation" ^_^ Apparently Hitomi had participated in the audition just for a memorial but Konno-san loved her performance so much she was selected as Nana.
After that, they played some games in three teams according to their colours (Ami was in the White team), which were really amusing. The last game was 'tamaire' (throwing balls into a basket) and balls were with their autograph. So after the game was over they threw them to the audience. Hitomi was really impressive here because, while the other ladies were struggling to throw the balls far (Miki was especially bad and through backwards(!) twice), she managed to send a few balls to the upper deck.
After they had some rest (the games were rather physical and the ladies were very serious ^_^;;) the event ended with another voice drama, a sequel to the first one. This time Nana joined to make it even funnier with lines like:Nana: How were you?
Anyway it was an extremely enjoyable occasion and good news for you is that this event (the second stage) will be released on a DVD early next year and you should be able to taste the mood of the events. ^_^
About a week ago I went to a small event by Marble to celebrate their latest CD "Ryuusei Record". It was my second time to see the duo after their Christmas live last December. Kikuchi-san was as quiet and low-tensioned as usual but Micco gave me a very different impression. I'm not exactly what it was but she looked much more charming. Whatever, here is the song list of the day: "Aozora Loop," "Hummingbird," "Ryuusei Record," "Mebae Drive" and "Shiawase wa 365-nichi." The last one is from "Hidamarble" the forthcoming image album of Hidamari Sketch by the duo. They showed its cover art by Ume-sensei of Yuno walking before a poster of Marble. It's very nice. ^_^
BTW, I'd like to spend a few words about their Chsistmas live, which I didn't report then on this page. It has held a very small live house in Shinjuku. I arrived a little before the door opening and, as we waited in the corridor, I hear someone behind the door was rehearsing "Angel Gate." Of course my heart jumped,"Perhaps Nanri Yuuka is here as a guest!?" It turned out I was wrong when the door finally opened. The singer was a young lady called Yuki, who apparently had won an amateur singer competition or something hosted by Lantis and preparing for her debut. She was invited as an opening performer for the evening and sang "Silent Wing" and "Angel Gate." As you may have guessed from the fact she dared to choose songs of Misato Aki and Nanri Yuuka, Yuki was a pretty good singer. I'm looking forward to her debut.
Then Marble appeared on the stage. I took a seat, with a glass of beer, roughly at the center of the room. As there were only about 20 people in the small room, I could see them very well. They hadn't released many CDs then. So they performed almost all of the songs released so far with a few additional which were new to me. Between the songs, Micco talked (Kikuchi-san remained rather quiet ^_^;;) about various things, including how they met in a music school. After the live, their CDs were on sale at the bar counter. As they said they would give away their autographs to those who made a purchase, I bought a maxi single. Micco happened to come to the bar then and gave me a small imitation flower (something like you see on Christmas cakes) to me. The flower is still on my desk ^_^
As you may know, we heard very sad news today. Kawai Eri passed away on Monday due to cancer at the age of (only!!) 43. It was so shocking to me because she looked very well at Aria The Concert. But, apparently she had been in hospital since early this year. The news reminded me of the equally tragic and premature death of Okazaki Ritsuko. I don't think I can listen to Barcarole and other Athena's songs without tears for a while... ;_;
There was an interesting article on today's Asahi Newspaper. A report from a Governmental agency states there was a large increase of incidents where airplanes were hit by birds (so-called bird-strikes) at Japanese airports last year. Of course the Tokyo International Airport (aka Haneda Airport) suffered most by far as it is the busiest. What caught my eye was the ranking by the number of incidents per landings and taking-offs. The Shimojishima Airport took the second place after the Saga Airport... Get it? The Shimojishima Airport is the model of the Shimojijima Base in Stratos 4 and the reason why the girls had a chance of their first flight was the fellow Meteo Sweepers had been struck by birds. The plot wasn't so unrealistic after all. ^_^
Last week I went to a small event by Ranka Lee, or Nakajima Megumi, to celebrate her first single "Seikan Hikou." Entering the venue, I noticed the microphone was set at a rather high place. The reason soon became clear. She came in and started to sing the first song on a 'mikanbako' (a cardboard box for mandarin oranges) ^_^;; Anyway she sang a few songs, including the CM song of the Chinese restaurant, and talked about herself and the anime.
As you may have noticed, this site hasn't been updated much recently. I've been very busy, especially during June. But there were a few anime-related things happened during the month. First as all you know, the horrible indiscriminate killing happened in Akihabara. I was about to leave home to go there when the incident was reported on TV. Of course, I canceled my visit. It's really sad to see this kind of incident.
I received the first newsletter from the fan club of Hirano Aya. The newsletter itself wasn't outstanding in particular but it came with a birthday card with her real (not a print) autograph (I was born in June). I think many of her fans will feel this service alone is more than enough to justify the club's annual fee. ^_^
Speaking of my birthday, I went to a karaoke box on the occasion (the first time after about two years absence) with my friend, or 'kouhai,' who happened to be in Tokyo for an academic conference. We used to go to karaoke with other friends when we were in Osaka because he is an excellent singer as well as a nice guy. He isn't an otaku but apparently fell in love with "Triangler" and sang it in the original tune.
BTW, just in case you want to know ^o^;;, here is the list of what I sang on the occasion:
Finally on the following Sunday, I went to a Maid Café for the first time in my life ^_^;; A bunch of American students who's studying Japanese culture were visiting Japan and their instructor asked me to guide around Akihabara *including* a maid café. With no experience, I chose one of the big ones which appeared in Nogizaka Haruna no Himitsu. Anyway it's so busy we had to wait for nearly an hour to enter the caf&eaute; and it was... er... beyond my imagination. I felt just like when I went to the Takarazuka musical: "You should go at least once. And probably "once" is enough." ^_^;;
The new season of Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto started last night. It was pretty nice and the scene where Sora make snow to fall for Michiru reminded me a very similar scene in the second novel where Yume covered the entire town with snow in the mid summer for Nozomi. Really someone should translate the novel for non-Japanese fans.
One technical issue which caught my attention was the background artworks. They look so real I wonder if they are photograph-based, rather than traditional hand-painted works. It's rather difficult to tell the difference.
Having mentioned a few things, the biggest factor which made the episode touch my heart was Sora's mother's attitude on her daughter's departure. Probably she is so proud of Sora she didn't mind and tried to hide the loneliness to come to her. It reminded me of my own mother. When I left Japan for England, she was practically alone like Sora's mother as my father was in hospital after a stroke and she also behaved like that. Parental love is certainly universal.
I watched the lastest PV of Kotoko for Special Life! and couldn't stop laughing. I'm very sure both Eiko and Mami are extremely envious. ^_^;;
About two weeks ago (sorry for the late report v_v;;) I went to Shimamiya Eiko's concert. Because I missed her "Acoustic Evening" last year, it was about one and half years since I'd been to her live.
It was held at a small live house in Harajuku (I walked the Takeshita Street for the first time for about 20 years ^_^;;). The venue was rather small. Its capacity is supposed to be 400 but I felt it's much smaller. As usual, it was full by the time I arrive. I saw more women than before (later we found out there was one American in the audience).
The live started with "Scheherazade" and "Aoi Kajitsu," followed by "Gudou no Hito." Naturally she sang mostly songs from "Hikari Nadeshiko." I skip the main part here, which ended with "Ai no Uta." Then the first encore was done with "Unmei no Hana" and "Ginga no Ko" and the second one was, of course, with "Egao o Misete" where I waved my arm very much ^_^
Her performance was really good, enough to satisfy my high expectation. In addition to her songs, her talk was also entertaining. One example was a short story about her colleagues. She said the PV of "Hikari Nadeshiko" was taken at Shiretoko in February, where she had a hard time because it was very cold. Apparently her fellow singer called "K-wada Mami" took her own around the same time, too, but at an even a colder location, Souunkyou. Eiko told us "She said it was extremely cold. If you watch the PV close enough, you can tell she's almost in tears." Then another fellow singer of hers, "K-toko", heard about these stories of the two ladies and apparently declared "I won't write a 'cold' song!!" Eiko predicted K-toko's next song would be about "sunshine" and "blue sky" etc. ^_^;;
She also made two announcement. First, she will have a live in Taiwan in September. Second, she will have her first "dinner show" probably near the Christmas. She asked the audience to save money for these occasions and I must follow her instruction. ^_^;;
As I mentioned before, I bought a new Blu-Ray recorder last month. During its initial set-up procedure I saw a channel I'd never seen. It was a local UHF TV station of the Kanagawa Prefecture.
The major TV stations in Japan broadcast on VHF but it doesn't mean VHF is the major force in anime. So-called regional UHF network is very important to enjoy anime. As a Tokyo dweller, my local CATV only supported Tokyo MX, which isn't very keen on anime, on their digital channel and I had to rely on poor analogue Chiba TV to enjoy many anime. But this time the new recorder could receive not only Tokyo MX but also Chiba TV, TVK (Kanagawa) and Tele Tama (Saitama), too! It *couldn't* be because of the recorder so I rescanned the channels with my old recorder and confirmed the four channels were available on that machine as well. So the CATV company must have changed their policy recently. Whatever, this puts me an excellent position to view anime on TV. ^_^
While watching anime on various local UHF channels, I noticed they are not necessarily the same in quality. For example, D.C. II S.S. is shown on TVK as the infamous "super-frame" whereas Chiba TV shows it as the full-size squeeze. Druaga is shown on Tokyo MX and BS Nippon TV as full-size SD whereas Tele Tama broadcast it as full-size HD. I didn't know there were so much difference and now have to be careful to choose the best channel. Of course, I have no complaint about it. ^_^
Recently I learned (I know it's VERY late) a new anime series of Mahoutsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto (Someday's Dreamer) will be aired this summer. Apparently it's a new story set in Hokkaido, following two story arcs in Tokyo (Yume) and Nagasaki (Nami). I'm really looking forward to it. ^_^
I forgot to mention here but I went to a concert by Hirano Aya last month. The tickets were given to some of those who bought her three CDs released last year and I was one of the fortunate ones. As you may know, she is one of the hottest, or perhaps the hottest seiyuu, and the organiser must have worried that some tickets would go on for net auctions and had warned the guests to bring their IDs. Indeed they thoroughly checked our IDs (driving license in my case) at the entrance. I had never experienced such tight control in anime-related events before but this apparently happens quite often these days, especially at ones organised by Star Child.
The hall was absolutely packed by fans, mostly men. ^_^;; It was more like an "event" than a concert. The first half was her talk show with a comedian who apparently a keen anime otaku and the audience was entertained by various things. Then the second half was a short live, where she performed the six songs from the three CDs mentioned above. I don't go into the details here but there were two things worth reporting here. The first one is that she had just received Seiyuu Award for Best Actress for her role as Konata in Lucky Star. She said in her talk show that she had thought of declining it because she thought she was too young for such an honour. But eventually she accepted it, thinking it's an honour awarded not only to her but also to the cast and staff of Lucky Star. The other thing I want to mention is that so-called an intro-guessing quiz (tell me what is right English word for this), where she had to guess which song of hers was played with a very short (perhaps less than a second long) part of its beginning. Of course, she could tell all of them but she could dance to many of them, too. Those who watched the DVD of Haruhi live can surely tell, she can dance very well. I knew that. But she told us she was very quick to memorise how to dance for each song and remember it quite well for a long time. I have to say she is talented. ^_^
I went to Arai Akino's live again last week. This time it was a joint concert with Sasagawa Miwa and held at Akasaka Blitz in Akasaka Sacas, a recently-opened complex. I only knew of her name but her songs sounded familiar. Anyway I was surprised to hear she lives in my hometown. I tend to assume popular singers live around Tokyo but she turns out be an exception, like "I've" ladies, who live in Sapporo.
Anyway Miwa sang for about an hour and Akino appeared on the stage (to my disappointment, there was no "joint" performance by them). I suspect Akino didn't feel at home as it wasn't her solo concert; she didn't talk as much as she usually does. Her show also lasted for about an hour and then my happiest moment came at the end. She said, "The next song is the ending song of an animation called Aria." Yay!!! She introduced the anime to the audience, at least some of them have no interest in anime, and described it as "Every week, nothing happens... just like Sazae-san" ^_^;;; She told us that the director (Satou-san) had said to her "Although this is an ending theme song, please make it sound like a new beginning." This is exactly what she achieved, I think. Whatever, I really enjoyed the live performance of "Kin no Nami Sen no Nami." As you may know, Akino shows kind of PVs during the songs at her concerts and she did so for the song, too. It was an interesting one, featuring a gondola. ^_^
The "Spirale" CD with Yui's autograph goes to Yuki Kanou.
Last week was a very bad week for me. I fell on a slope on a rainy day and injured my shoulder pretty badly (luckily there were no broken bones). Then I lost a credit card... BUT there was a really good thing on Friday, I had a lunch with ABe Yoshitoshi (of the Haibane fame). Of course, he wasn't my guest: I was just aiding a foreign visitor who were meeting to him. So I minimised my interest yet managed to sneak a bit of it between our conversation (sorry, Frenchy ^_^;;). Fortunately he remembered me from AnimeFest and it wasn't difficult for me to talked to him. I can't say much here but it was interesting to hear about how he creates his characters and that he didn't like drawing/painting when he was small. He also proved his status as a gadget mania by producing an Air Mac from his slim bag and using a seemingly rather old digital camera with a detailed explanation why it is his choice. One surprise was that he lives very close to (probably less than 300m away from) where I used to live when I was a student. We chatted about the past and present of the area. ^_^ It might visit the town again soon after decades of absence.
I'm back in Japan now. The trip to China this time was so busy, rushing through three big cities, there was nothing related to anime, except that one student we met at a Shanghai university said he liked Miyazaki's "Laputa" very much. ^_^ Otherwise the most memorable moment was a short ride on the linear-motor car to the Shanghai Airport (430 km/hr was really fast).
There have been two pieces of sad news last week. First Saiunkoku Monogatari (anime) ended. I felt it rather abrupt because a new scope of the story, with Tantan and Seiga, has just started. Well, I suppose NHK don't want to repeat their failure of "Juunikokuki" (Story of Twelve Kingdoms). All I can hope is that a third season will start when enough amount of the novel gets accumulated.
The other was the end of ARIA (manga). It's sad... really sad. In an interview following the manga, Ms Amano didn't deny the possibility of the sequel but didn't sound it's very likely, at least in the near future.
Anyway the last scene was where Akari talks to a new member (of course, a "pair") of the Aria Company, probably a few years later, with an almost same comment with which Alicia had said to Akari. This is roughly what I expected; continuation of life, that is, "Whatever may happen, life goes on." Probably to reflect this, the cover illustration of this issue of Comic Blade is Akino, Alicia and Akari *in their days* together.
Aria is one of those "daily life" anime. Although the setting is unrealistic, what happens to the characters in every episode is pretty realistic. Probably the most important thing in life for ordinary people is passing "life" from their parents to their children. In a way Alicia successfully passed the genes of the Aria Company from Akino on to Akari, who will probably hand it to Ai. The title of the last BGM track of the first soundtrack CD echoes the same sentiment, I think.
Speaking of Aria, I went to Arai Akino's concert last evening, hoping to hear "Kin no Nami, Sen no Nami." Unfortunately she didn't sing it but the concert itself was excellent. It was held at a chapel and she was only accompanied with a guitarist and a violinist. The simple setup suited her style very well, IMO, and I enjoyed her songs, including a few old ones from Please Save My Earth. Also it was really funny that she confessed that "Mikazuki no Shidai" (A Bed of the Crescent Moon) had just popped up in her mind when she was playing Dragon Quest. ^_^;;
Hello from Beijing, China. I've been here in this country with very limited access to the net. So please forgive me not to have replied mails I received recently. I'll do so after I return to Japan this evening.
About the ARIA draw, someone told (or complained) me that I hadn't clearly mentioned where entry mails should be sent. Well, true. So I've decided to give another week for those interested in the draw (I'm about to leave Japan and cannot do much for a week anyway). The new deadline is 20:00 (JST) on 6 Mar 2008. Send your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org ^_^
I went to see the third chapter of Kara no Kyoukai last week. It remains very bloody and really excellent in the art. Yet there was one thing I felt unnatural. It's lack of mobile (or cell) phones. Precisely speaking, it's not their fault as the show is set in the late 90's when such phones were less dominant than now. Yet, as the anime would be fine even as a contemporary show mostly,
As we all know, small misunderstanding about when and/or where has been a key of many stories. Godai and Kyouko's first date in Maison Ikkoku is a good example and the latest novel of Maria-sama ga Miteru also uses it (the author talks about the issue in the postscript). I have such, well not that romantic, an experience. Long time ago I was waiting for a lady who was a friend of my friend at a station. We were supposed to meet at a staircase near the exit but she didn't appear. If it was my friend, I left there in 30 minutes but it was someone I didn't know, I felt obliged to be patient and waited for three hours in vain. Then just before I was about to leave the place, she turned up. The thing was I was waiting at the bottom of the staircase while she was at its top ^_^;;;;
But such misunderstanding rarely happens these days, thanks to the mobile phones. It is certainly convenient but perhaps less romantic? ^_^;;
I was writing a report for my work this afternoon and had to check the exact date of a certain event. So I switched on my PDA, which told me Iwao Junko's live would be held this evening. I had completely forgotten about it! (This isn't rare. In fact, I missed her concert last year after buying a ticket and the same thing happened for Kotoko's live last December). So I finished my report quickly and left home. ^_^
The venue was STB 139 (Sweet Basil 139) at Roppongi. I didn't know anything about it but it turned out be a dining live-house (well, probably a wrong English term), where we could enjoy food and drink as well as music. STB apparently adds special drinks and dishes according to performers and there a few Junko Specials on the menu today. I then understood why the "door-open" time was 1.5 hours before the real open time; too late because I arrived only 10 minutes before the show. So I gave up about real dishes and ordered "On Bossa" cocktail, which is inspired by her latest album "Anime on Bossa."
She appeared on the stage in a blue-green dress, appropriate for "Basil," and the live started with "Koko ni Iruyo." It was the first time I saw her since I went to her concert in Osaka about 10 years ago. She hadn't changed much and her clear and gentle voice quickly brought me to her world. The acoustic sounds (there were no electronic instruments) were really cozy, especially a glass of beer in my hand (as you probably know, many live concerts of anime and seiyuu tends to be very loud and I don't like it; I want the sound level where I can hear lyrics clearly). She mainly chose ballads like "Watashi ni Kaerou" and "Sakamichi," which, I think, matched the occasion.
She sang and talked for more than two hours without break. There were a few special guests, including Aiso Haruhi and Saitou Neko, who contributed to this special evening. Yes, I had an excellent evening.
This season seems to be a good one for anime. There are quite a few interesting shows started in January. The best one is, of course, Aria the Origination. There is no need for me to say anything about it except its art style. The OVA "Arietta" was quite different from the TV series in style, which is closer to the original manga. Then "Origination" is back to the anime-style. It doesn't matter much to me, though, as I like both styles.
Here are other shows I like;
I mentioned about a possible new draw after Aria The Concert last December. I have secured Yui's autograph (a real one, not a print) and can give it away with the single of "Spirale". So, as usual, if you wish to join the draw, send me an e-mail with "[St NHT] Entry for Yui 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 and (d) e-mail address. The deadline is 20:00 (JST) on 6 Mar 2008 (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.
January is over. I've been busy and didn't do anything special about anime, except viewing the second chapter of Kara no Kyoukai. The series appear to be very successful. I read a newspaper article that every single showing of the first chapter was full, including the standing tickets. So anther cinema joined to show it recently. I have to say, as I said before, the anime is a little too bloody to me but attractive enough to keep watching.
They said they would show all the seven chapters in seven months. When I watched the first one, I thought it would be very difficult to keep producing the anime with such high quality. It seems I was right and they postponed the third chapter for two weeks. It will be shown this weekend.
As you may know, Ms Sakuraba won the Naoki prize! It's excellent but I hope this doesn't mean the end of the "Gosick" series.
One of the TV program I saw during the New Year holiday was Sekai Satoyama Kikou by NHK. It's a wonderful show to depict people in Finland, Poland and China, who keep their tradtional life to live *with* nature. The program was excellent itsel but the music certainly added to it. I was sure, as soon as I heard it, it was by Kajiura Yuki. I have to say it was outstanding and wish a soundtrack CD will be released. In the meantime, you can taste it via an NHK's website.
One of the novel series I regularly follow is Gosick by Sakuraba Kazuki, which is a mystery set in a fictitious European country in early 20th century. Anyway, there was a surprising piece of news last week; Ms Sakuraba was nominated for the Naoki Prize, one of the two most prestigious literature prizes, along with the Akutagawa Prize, in Japan. AFAIK, this is the first time someone who writes so-called light-novels became a nominee for the two prize. The final winner will be announced in a few dasy.
Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu (Happy new year!)
On 29th December, I went to Angela's annual winter live. As you may remember, it was cancelled last year due to Atsuko's poor health. So it was their first live for 20 months.
The venue was the same hall in Shinjuku as two years ago and it was almost full, with nearly half of the audience being women. The curtain was raised and the live started with "Gravitation." The first part of the show was very quick. They hardly talked between the songs, which were unusual for them. Instead after every two or three songs, other performances such as comic acts by clowns and solo plays by musicians were inserted. I wondered if it was to give Atsuko some break. But Atsuko told us that the idea was they were going to the past through a treasure box (the title of their latest album) and those breaks were used for them to change costumes which they used to use. I hadn't noticed it except the brown coat she wore for "Shinjuku Rhapsody."
Then the live moved on to the "present" part where they did new songs in the album. But it didn't last long and the final song ended in less than two hours from the start. I thought it was rather short for their live and was convinced that it was for Atsuko's health. Well, I was wrong, probably, as "Angela's live is long after encore."
Anyway we tried to call them back to the stage but it was Domestic Love Band who answered our call. ^_^;; I saw them for the first time and both Aiko and Z-GATZ looked pretty cool. They performed a few songs and left the stage. Then Angela finally came back to the stage. Well, everyone except Atsuko appeared in Angela T-shirts, typical style for encoure. Atsuko appeared a little later in a gorgeous white wedding dress. She spoke to the audience, "Sorry to use this occasion for a personal matter but I've got married this year. I wanted to tell you all directly." She didn't tell anything about her groom, except that it's not Katsu. ^_^;; Katsu explained the situation a bit and they declared Angela would continue as what they had been.
The announcement was a bit of surprise but not a total one to me. Two days earlier Katsu mailed to all the members of their fan club that he was planning to surprise Atsuko by stopping playing in the middle of a song and asked us, the audience, to keep singing with her. The song he chose was "Peace of Mind" and I memorised the lyrics accordingly on Friday night, when I realised the lyrics were very indicative of wedding.
Anyway she then received congratulations from two of the main staff of Music Wonder Circus with bunches of flowers, followed by video messages from Star Child seiyuu such as Horie Yui, Nonaka Ai, Shiraishi Ryouko and Hayashimara Megumi. Then came the song. She started to sing "Peace of Mind" and you could feel everybody was preparing the moment. And near the very end of the song, Katsu and the other musicians stopped playing, as promised, and we took over with our voice. Atsuko looked a little bewildered but managed to keep singing. It was a very precious moment for us, as well for Atsuko hopefully.