A quick note. Angela has announced at their live today a new show of Soukyuu no Fafner will be released in 2010 and they will perform its theme song. ^_^
Studio Ghibli has announced their new film for 2010, "Karigurashi no Arrietty." Miyazaki Hayao isn't the director, though.
As you may know, NHK has announced that Misuku Nana to appear this year's Kouhaku Utagassen. Although there quite a few anime songs had been performed including the "Ponyo" song last year and Moonlight Legend more than a decade ago, she is the first ever seiyuu who formally invited to the national event. It reminded me of an old discussion among US anime fans; "Has anime become mainstream? If so, is it a good thing?!" What do you think?
I went to a small MariMite event today to celebrate the completion of the fourth season DVD. It was one of a series of events held in a few cities across the country. They hired one screen of a Warner cinema complex in Itabashi for the event.
I got my ticket in exchange of a postcard notification I had received at the entrance. But there were other things I got. A special illustrated postcard for the occasion wasn't surprising at all but a small piece of paper to urge us to buy popcorns and drink was. It told us that Ueda Kana and Ikezawa Haruna, who hosted the event, would eat some snack during the event and we should join them. ^_^;;; So I followed the order.
Well the event itself was very simple; they screened a digest of the fourth season and the two ladies chatted during watching it (so-called "audio commentary"). In a way I was lucky because my seat was far on the left and the ladies sat the chairs on the left during the chat to avoid the main screen. Apparently the event was recorded for a future DVD release and Kana and Haruna asked us to cut in to their chat. Their chat was as funny as usual but one thing which caught my attention was that, when the digest film reached the scene where Yumi told Sachiko that Touko had refused her offer to be her sister, Kana immediately wiped her eyes. She was Yumi at that time.
The best of the event came last. Kana and Rie recorded their duet version of Kumori Garasu no Mukou with a PV of Yumi and Touko. Apparently they swapped thier parts by Kana's suggestion so that Rie sang the lyrics which sounds like Yumi's phase and vice versa. It was really nice and I'm looking forward to its release.
I went to Akihabara for my regular shopping today and bought a few CDs. One of them was the new single of Kalafina, for which the clerk offered me an event ticket. I thought "Why not?" and he said "Then go upstairs quickly as it has already started." ^_^;; I had expected the event to be held a few days after the CD release as usual but it wasn't. So I went upstairs and arrived at the room just when the three ladies appeared on the stage. Without any talk, they began to sing "Oblivious." Then they introduced themselves. They said they were a little nervous as they were not yet used to these events. Yet event went on smoothly and two more songs, "Lacrisoma" and "Progressive," followed with various talks between them (they will have concerts at the end of the year and early next year).
To be honest, the sound level was too loud, typical to this kind of events, and spoiled their harmonious performance. Even so, as it was my first time to see them, it was a good experience. At the end of the occasion, I received a poster from and shook hands with the ladies along with other audience.
The autumn season for new anime started and their CDs have begun to appear in shops. Last Wednesday I went to Toranoana Akihabara to get some, including the OP theme of Nyankoi! The shop lady produced a box of lots and told me to draw one. Without thinking much, I pulled one and handed it to her. She checked it and said "Hey, you've won an event ticket!" I felt she was a bit too loud for a mere free event ticket but, again, didn't think about it so much. Anyway, although I cannot call myself a big fan of Yui, I like her songs and I had never seen her in person. So I decided to go.
The event was held at Saturday noon in a small live hall in Ginza. There were about 100 fans there and I've got a decent seat, the centre in the third row, Then I realized that there were a few people with five to ten copies of the same posters which were given to all those who bought the CD. I wondered why they had so many and suspected that perhaps I had been very lucky with the lottery. I was right. I found out later that people had struggled to get those tickets. For example, one blogger wrote that he bought 13 copies of the CDs to get two tickets for him and his friend (at the same shop as I did ^_^;;). Also some one put it up for Yahoo JP Auctions and it fetched Y33,000. @_@;;;
While we were waiting for the event in the hall, free brown drink was served. Anyway the event started on time and Yui appeared in the very costume she wore in the PV (the first pressing comes with a DVD with the PV). In case you haven't seen it, it is essentially a pink maid costume with cat ears and tail But such a short skirt on a slightly elevated stage... errr... you know... ^_^;;;; Not surprisingly she started her talk about the costume first. She said she had selected the costume as well as those for the other dancers in the PV for herself. Then she talked about the two songs in the CD. Apparently it was her first time to write lyrics of a theme song of TV anime, not games. As the potential audience is much, much larger, she felt pressurized. Besides she had only one day for it! She also talked about the anime itself, for which she contributes as a seiyuu as well (apparently the brown colour of the free drink was aimed to match the image of Kumaneko, which Yui does the voice). According to her, there are many ad lib performances by various seiyuu in the background and we should pay attention to them in addition to the main lines. After that she sang the songs.
The last part was janken games for goodies. The first prize was four posters which I mentioned above with her autograph. As I'm not particularly good at this game, not surprisingly I lost in the first round. The second prize was two special golden posters with her autograph. This time I survived the first and second rounds and there were still quite a few people standing. Fortunately I won the third round and began to feel a bit excited. Then people's voice got gradually louder and Yui, on the stage, was looking at me. I didn't realise because my seat was near the stage but apparently the third round was very tough and I was the only survivor! Yay! With the event ticket as well as the special poster, I must have used up all my lucks last week and need to be very careful to avoid unlucky mishaps for a while. ^_^;;;
There was Angela's live "Angela Live 2009 Land Ho!" yesterday at Shibuya AX. My ticked number was reasonable but, because I arrived just before the start, I had to stand at the far back in the hall.
The stage format was much simpler than their annual concert; that is, they only had a base and a drum to back them. Later Atsuko explained that it was intentional to try if such style would give them more "flexibility" in their concerts. Of course, the fact this is a tour to go to several cities in Japan while the annual Circus is a single event in Tokyo must be another reason.
Anyway they mainly performed songs from the album but there was a new song "Alternative" Well, nothing special to report here except one thing. Speaking of the album title "Land Ho!," Katsu said to Atsuko they will "reach a new continent(s)" in the near future. Although he refused to reveal any detail, maybe he hinted that they will have oversea concerts or their CDs will be released in other countries.
There have been two anime which I *unexpectedly* enjoyed.
The first one is "Sora no Manimani." Its charm, at least in part, is its careful depiction about astronomical facts. As you may know the anime is backed up by a telescope manufacturer as well as an academic organisation to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009. I do not go into details here but the ED animation is a good example. There are four versions of it corresponding to the four seasons. Not only the clothes the characters ware, the constellations you see in the sky are adjusted for each season. I really feel I made a big mistake in choosing my career...
The other is Kanameko. In this case, the main attraction is its location; it is where I work. For example the small park where Kana and Mika had an imaginary bicycle race in the last episode is very very VERY close to my office. ^_^ Actually you can see the conical slope on which the girls chatted is visible in Google Earth (the two animal riding-gears(?) are too small to judge if it is not discernible). Also I got a notice just today to announce that one of the building shown in the episode is going to be demolished to build a new one to warn possible noise and inconvenience to neighbours, including me). Just like DearS, which was set in where I live, locations can be an important extra yet important factor to me. ^_^
The second season of Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu has started. As you know, Japan recently elected a new prime minister and, looking back, Mr Asou was not a prime minister when he appeared in the first season and yet failed to remains so for the second season. How short-lived, as usual our prime ministers... ^_^;;
Anyway, unlike his predecessor, Mr Hatoyama isn't a manga/anime fan. But he did go to watch Summer Wars just before his inauguration. Although he made a compliment about it in interviews, I'm not sure if he really appreciated it or not. The movie was really nice IMO and I can highly recommend it for all of you. The movie has been a decent hit in Japan as a general film (not anime-specific) and it should be noted that its success must be partly helped by heavy promotion campaigns. Mr Hosoda's last film "Toki o Kakeru Shoujo" was hardly advertised and started with only a few theatres. But it gradually attracted more and more people to make a big success (see the entry of 5 Aug 06). I think he is one of the strong candidates to succeed the world of Miyazaki and Takahata.
Hello from Shanghai, China. Guess why I'm here? Of course, to witness the total solar eclipse. All I hope now is fine weather tomorrow! ^_^
There was a small event in Akihabara yesterday to promote the OP and ED songs of the new OVA of "Utawarerumono." My expectation was pretty high because I had never seen Suara or Uehara Rena. The venue was a small room and about 100 fans were there. First the two ladies talked about the songs, of course, and what caught my attention was Rena's Kansai accent. Later I found out that in fact both of them are from the Kansai area and Suara, who started the event with the "standard" Japanese, gradually revealed her true language, probably got carried away by Rena. ^_^;; When Rena said she was very surprised to be offered to sing a theme song of such a popular anime I could not help thinking of a lady would have sang it if she had still been with us...
Then they answered a few questions from the audience. For example, the photos of both CDs were taken together in the Tottori Sakyuu (dune) and their costumes, which look very different, were identical except the colour and how they wore it (I didn't notice it). After that, the ladies performed the two songs, which was a nice surprise as the event had been announced as a talk show. ^_^ The event ended as they talked about their future plan (Suara will release a new full album soon), followed by handing autographed posters to the audience.
Other recent news;
I went to a planetarium this evening to watch a program entitled as "Rainbow in the Starry Sky." I had been meaning to watch it but couldn't find spare time for it but, as it was to end this weekend, I made a special effort. Why? Because it is hosted by Sakamoto Maaya. ^_^;; This 50-minute program claimed itself as "a healing show" to offer very relaxing time to audience. It consisted of various images and (not necessarily scientific) stories related to rainbow narrated by Maaya, accompanied with her songs and soothing music. If you've ever been to a planetarium and know her voice and songs, just imagine what it is like. Yeah, it was really nice.
In fact, this is the second such program; the first one was "30 Minutes Night Flight" in 2007, for which she released an album. Stupidly I wasn't aware of it and couldn't watch it. So I couldn't afford to miss it this time. ^_^;;
BTW, the show included previews for new programs. One of them was another "healing show" hosted by Mizuki Nana. Also Kuwashima Houko will recite "Night of Galactic Railway." I suppose I don't have to tell you what I'll be doing in July. ^_-
Last weekend Angela had some promotion campaign over their latest CD. First they had a free live at "Funsui Hiroba (the Fountain Square)" of the Sunshine City in Ikebukuro (Apprently the venue was when they really wanted to be years ago when they weren't so popular. So Atsuko declared "Yet another dream of us has come true"). I arrived about 30 minutes before the opening but the Square was already full of people and I had to go to the second floor to get a place with a rather poor view of the stage. About 10 minutes before the actual opening to check the stage and equipments but it was already as entertaining as their usual live. ^_^ The real live was for about 40 minutes and they performed five songs including the two new songs. Also they revealed three pieces of nice news; (i) they are invited to Animelo Summer Live in August (ii) their new album "Land Ho!" will be released on 9 September (iii) they will tour 6+1 cities in October and November (the reason why it's "6+1" rather than "7" is the last city will be decided by fan votes through their official web site). All of them were good news to all the fans there, of course ^_^ There were lots of shoppers around the Square enjoying the Saturday afternoon and I hope some of them were also entertained by the performance of the duo.
On Sunday, they had a series of small "events" at four(?) shops in Akihabara and I managed to get a ticket for the second one. There were about 150 fans and this time our seats were determined by draw. Mine had a surprisingly good number "4," the front row just in front of (or 2m away from) Atsuko (each row had 12 seats) ^_^ Anyway it started and apparently they were doing different things at each shop. In this one, they mainly talked about how they made the songs and PV. The most interesting one was two hidden messages in the OP song (Katsu had brought his MacBook and Atsuko sang to it to record and then he played it backwards). Although they didn't sing, I had a very good time.
Imawano Kiyoshirou, a very famous rock singer, passed away yesterday. If you are an aged anime fan, you may remember him as the singer of the theme songs of the legendary OVA Prefectural Earth Defence Force.
My big surprise today was a newspaper article which said Azuma Kiyohiko would re-started his manga Azumanga Daiou in a new monthly magazine. I didn't find any other source to confirm it, but it would be wonderful. ^_^
Speaking of Azuma-san, ABe-san was talking very high of his another work "Yotsuba to!" I haven't read it but it's been on my list to read.
I'm back in Tokyo. After Tomonoura, I visited Kurashiki. My main purpose was Ohara Museum of Art, which holds an amazing (in the Japanese standard) collection of western paintings (you can see some of them at their web site). The city is also known for their old streets and houses, including the special area around the museum. A funny thing was that there were a pair of swans in the creek of the area and there names are Yume and Sora. I wonder who named them. ^_^
Kurashiki is in the western Okayama Prefecture. Just in case you don't know, the region is probably better known among anime fans as "the holy place of Tenchi." Names like Sasami, Washuu, Kiyone, Mihoshi, Souja and Achika are derived from places in the area (I didn't have enough time to visit them, though).
My destination today was Tomonoura. It's a very small village on the coast of west Hiroshima but has a long history as a port town like Onomichi. The village is also blessed with beautiful landscapes and had been reasonably well-known. Yet it suddenly became very famous last year, as you may know, as the place where Miyazaki work out a basic plan of "Gake no Ue no Ponyo." I don't think either Ghibli or Miyazaki has ever officially admitted the town in the movie is based on Tomonoura, but there are a lot of hints and resemblances to suggest it I have to admit I hadn't known the town or its relation with Ponyo until newspapers reported a local conflict over a plan to reclaim the land by filling in the bay to create a new road. That is, the scenery might be lost forever in the near future and, thus, I added it to my itinerary of this trip.
It was indeed a small village and most of the tourist places were in a walking distance. There were many very obvious things about the movie except a large number of Ponyo posters but a bay with a cliffed point and a small dockyard certainly reminded of the movie. Of course, there were many nice things besides Ponyo and the view from a small shrine halfway up the mountain (especially after about 20 minutes of tough walk) was very beautiful. ^_^ The village is pretty easy to reach by public transport and I certainly recommend you to visit it if you have a chance (before it may change).
I'm in Onomichi, a small yet very historic city in west Japan. I don't know how old the city is but one of the temples I visited today is supposed to be founded back in the 7th century. It has attracted so my writers and film directors and inspired them.
To me, the town is the place of Kamichu! ^_^ I visited various places including the two shrines on which Matsuri's shrine (Raifuku Jinja) was modeled and took the small ferry which Yurie uses every day to go to school over the channel. And there are so many slopes in the town! I can understand why Matsuri complained about them. ^_^
One of non-anime TV programs I enjoy recently is "Begin Japanology." It's a weekly bilingual program of NHK to introduce various aspects of Japanese (mainly traditional) culture for foreigners. The program is organised and presented so well even I, a native Japanese, can enjoy it. If you have a chance to watch it, I highly recommend it. Just to add, they used Kawai Eri's "Santa Claus no Sora" from "Aria" as BGM in a recent show. ^_^
I've been too busy last few weeks to do anything anime-related and very interesting...
Today I saw a very witty advertisement at Animate. It declared the cancellation of the second season of °»Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu.°… I thought °»Really?°… Then it went on to announce °»a new anime series°… of Haruhi. I'm not sure if it's just a joke or it implies a big change in the staff and/or the cast.
Speaking of advertisement, do you know one by Taisei Corporation? I saw it on TV by chance about a month ago and since then tried to record it in full HD, which wasn't easy. The problem was the company only used so-called °»spot CM°…; that is they did not sponsor any specific programs but aired the CM almost randomly to suffice daily programming of various TV stations. It took two weeks but I finally made it and I'm a pretty happy man now. ^_^
I was watching a sport news program on TV just a moment ago. It was reporting the press conference of Iguchi Tadahito, a baseball player who has come back to Japan after four years in MLB (White Sox & Padres). The thing is they chose the main theme of Strike Witches as BGM. I wonder how Iguchi-san would feel if he finds out what the anime is like. ^_^;;;
I had two surprises last week. The first one was an announcement that Cowboy Bebop will going to be made into a live-action film with Keanu Reeves. I wonder who will be Faye... Of course, the trickiest one is Ed. I'd love to see the real version of him. ^_^
The other surprise was Official Fan Book of "Akaneiro ni Somaru Saka." I saw it for the first time at K-Books a few weeks ago. It looked very nice but the price was very high (something like Y8000) at K-Book. So, as usual, I went my secret shops but couldn't find it. Then last week I found one... in my room. ^_^;;;; Apparently I had bought it before I saw it "for the first time" at K-Books. Unfortunately this isn't a rare event. I tend to buy CDs and artbooks without thinking much when I liked them. There have been many occasions where I found items in my room which I had thought I missed or which I just bought (again) believing I hadn't got one. ^_^;;
Happy New Year. I'm back in Tokyo now, to find New Year's Cards from Angela, Hirano Aya and surprisingly Yuumao ^_^ (not personally,of course)
I've just watched the first episode of the new season of Maria-sama ga Miteru. The main part was pretty good but I want to say a few words about the OP and ED. First, I was a little surprised to hear Yumi's reading of the opening phrase. It's exactly the same as previous series but Yumi sounded much lower or composed as if to show she has grown up. The OP song and animation (given the lyrics such as "let's go to hide a treasure box," the sequence is probably taken from the St Valentine's event) seem a little too pop to me... for the anime. The previous OP had more emphasis on elegance and I don't think Shamako wouldn't run around like that. Also the ED animation containd too much "yuri" image. Probably the main feature in this season is the relationship between Yumi and Touko, which is an excellent story, IMO, and there is no need for "yuri" factor, don't you think?
BTW, I have a couple of the latest Lilian Kawaraban (just an A3 fryer) to give away. If you want one, send me an e-mail as usual way.