Author Archives: Kaze
Summer Comiket 86 has come and gone. While for last Comiket, I wrote a personalized post about my first experience, this time I decided to take a more streamlined and general approach. Comiket, as most of you probably know, is the largest otaku convention in Japan, and subsequently, the world. With roughly 170,000 people attending each of the 3 days at the convention center Tokyo Big Sight, it makes Anime Expo and Otakon look small in comparison, with its lines, lines, and more lines. As such, it can be a daunting experience for a foreigner to try out, especially when one does not even speak the language. So if you are at all interested in eventually attending, here are some things to consider.
After much anticipation from fans, it has finally been announced that the Fall 2014 reboot of the Fate/Stay Night anime will be adapting the Unlimited Blade Works route. Since the adaptation will be done by everyone’s beloved studio Ufotable, there is little doubt and much hype about the quality to be expected. While UBW is an enjoyable story when done right, it did leave many fans disappointed at the lack of Heaven’s Feel, which, if nothing else, is most relevant of the routes as a sequel to Fate/Zero. That is, until the live stream announcement ended with a Heaven’s Feel movie trailer. Although a questionable decision as HF is much longer than UBW and thus hardly suited to be contained in a single movie, there is much speculation about the prospect of a series of movies. Ufotable has proven themselves capable of doing justice to Nasuverse adaptations, so hopefully they continue to meet fan expectations.
I’m not a dub fanatic, except when it comes to Studio Ghibli releases. The dubs for Ghibli films, even those not directed by Hayao Miyazaki, are always glorious, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya looks to be no exception. Headlined by Chloe Moretz, the release will also feature the voices of James Caan, Lucy Liu and, get this, DEAN CAIN. Very nice.
I’m frankly just looking forward to the film itself. I’m maybe as big of a fan of Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbor the Yamadas, Only Yesterday) as I am of Hayao Miyazaki, and it’s wonderful to know he’s finally directed another Studio Ghibli work. I can’t wait for the release stateside. It’s scheduled to hit theaters in the U.S. this fall.
Let’s double dip with the Ghibli news! You’d expect any Studio Ghibli film to top the Japanese box office upon release, right? I guess the new norm is that a box office hit for Ghibli is only guaranteed when it’s directed by Hayao Miyazaki, as the company’s latest offering, When Marnie Was There, came in third place during it’s opening weekend (July 19-20). It had to settled behind the latest Pokemon movie and Maleficent (really?).
This doesn’t bode well for the historic company. Marnie was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, whose last directorial effort, Arrietty, debuted in first place in it’s opening weekend. Ghibli’s previous release, the aforementioned Kaguya, took a heavy loss in the box office, even with Takahata at the helm. With Miyazaki retired (again), it’ll be interesting to see if the company can weather the storm, financially and creatively.
Alliance for Raising Children Sings “Let it Go” – Japesland
Okay, so this is hardly anime-related. However, it is Japan-related… and it is animation-related! Merely a few weeks ago, Japanese non-profit organization, Alliance for Raising Children, created a parody music video of “Let it Go” (something that seems to be all the rage these days, not only in the United States but also in Japan). While not important in the least, the video shows how some of the bigwigs were willing to put themselves out there and poke fun at themselves in order to encourage Japanese parents to stop stressing themselves out over parenting (and to hopefully improve the declining birth rate). Check out the strangely hilarious video below.
While I have hardly been impressed with the summer season, one of the few shows I’ve been enjoying is Barakamon. It follows the encounters of struggling calligrapher Seishuu (though everyone calls him sensei) with the residents of a rural island. As a perfectionist, he often worries about things which the residents cannot comprehend or relate to. Yet, it is this stark difference in perspective that allows him to learn about ways of life other than his own.
In episode 4, sensei finds himself tasked with a demand to paint a boat’s name on its side, which as you might imagine is a bit different from that which a professional calligrapher is used to. He does not have his familiar tools and has no experience with the curved nature of the boat. First he wants to draft something and use it as a stencil, but the boat owner refuses as he wants something bold, unique, and not something so easily copied. He says there is no need for a draft and entrusts the rest to sensei. Consequently, he practices his strokes with the unfamiliar paint brush before approaching the real attempt, but then he suddenly remembers he forgot to account for the curved surface. He spends time inspecting it, contemplates more, and finds himself even more worried about starting. In response, Naru and friends, a few children who adamantly follow sensei around, start putting handprints on the boat (kids will be kids). As a result, he is forced to frantically start painting over the handprints and making large strokes to cover up the handprints. Before he knows it, he is easily accomplishing the task he was so worried about beginning. The result is something he never would’ve written without the handprints of children, and the boat owner is greatly pleased with it as well. The hardest part was taking the first step.
While I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the singing duo, I am nonetheless sad to see ClariS become merely Clara. Alice has reported that she is leaving the unit and singing as a whole to concentrate on her studies. The duo debuted with in 2010 with OreImo’s opening “Irony.” However, what exploded their popularity was Madoka’s “Connect.” Since then, they’ve performed several other songs all while keeping their real identity a secret – they have reported even their interest in anime is a secret from personal friends. Since they were only in middle school at the time of debut, that would mean right now is pretty important time with exams and preparing for university, so I must admit it to be a wise decision. Clara has not yet made a statement on her future plans
My anime fandom really began when Toonami was in it’s heyday with Tenchi Muyo, still one of my favorites, anchoring the block. In an exciting, but strange piece of news, Kajishima Misaki will help develop Ai Tenchi Muyo!, a new series planned as 50 5-minute shorts in an effort to boost tourism in Takahashi City, the Japanese locale in most of the series’ media. While it would be hard to find a fan who would like that the new episodes will be “short” format, there’s still plenty to be excited about – not in the least is that we can start theorizing and fantasizing about what the show will focus on. There’s plenty of artwork and wording from Kajishima and others to fuel the speculation of the plot, which frankly, can’t be any worse than what we saw in the 3rd OVA.
Although the upcoming release of the Girls und Panzer‘s tie-in Vita game is not recent news, the promotional videos (such as the linked one above, featuring voice actress, Mai Fuchigami) have really been rolling in this month in preparation for its June 26th Japanese release. Speaking as only a moderate fan of the series, I have been anticipating this release as I have been reluctant to join any video gaming tank action, mostly in the form of World of Tanks (but when anime girls are involved, who can turn it down?!). If you have any knowledge of the Japanese language and would like some practice, this seems to be a great item to import as the language skills necessary are lower than that of your standard Japanese RPG or other common import title. Regardless, be prepared for some fun “tankery” action on June 26!
Los Angeles’ annual anime convention Anime Expo will be hosting a Kill La Kill event, featuring the English dub premier, as well as several Japanese guests including writer Kazuki Nakashima, character designer SUSHIO, producer Yosuke Toba, and the voice actresses of the main females Ami Koshimizu and Ryoka Yuzuki. If you are a big fan of the series, you’ll definitely want to be there, although tickets may already be sold out by the sounds of it. For those who aren’t fans of the series, perhaps voice actress Ami Koshimizu will ring a bell as the voice behind characters such as Holo, Kallen, and Maou. Anime Expo will also be hosting guests such as Reki Kawahara, the writer of Sword Art Online, and Eir Aoi, who sang theme songs for anime such as Sword Art Online, Fate/Zero, and Kill La Kill.
It’s been just over 1 year since the release of Kantai Collection, or Kancolle, a browser game centered on moe anthropomorphisms of historical World War II ships. For those who still aren’t aware, it’s a simple game based largely on rng and micromanagement, leveling cute ship girls as you progress through maps. At the time of release, this game planned for a small player base – no more than few ten thousand. It was just meant to be an addition to the website’s other games. However, it didn’t take long for the servers to over-flood with new players, quickly surpassing its expected maximum and beyond. Registration had to be controlled through lottery admissions as new servers were opened one at a time (in fact, after some 9 months, new players still must pass through a lottery to play). Fan art exploded, official merchandise began to be created; manga and anime were started. It invaded everything: events, crossovers, collaborations, and more, and is often compared to Touhou, a fanbase which took years to establish. In this short year, KanColle has proven to be the most explosive fandom in otaku culture history.
But the question is whether all this popularity is just a remarkably popular fad or actually the birth of a new fanbase here to stay. No one can really say either way, and the game developers are surely going to be playing a large role in that as one big mistake can ruin everything. Personally, I don’t see it ending for awhile, but I also don’t think it will have the longevity that Touhou has proven itself to have. As one of the many people trapped in its addictive gameplay, I must say one of its best features is the ability to play with constant breaks. Between waiting for your resources to naturally regenerate, ships being repaired from damage, or ships recovering from being “tired,” it makes breaks almost a requirement. Granted, if you are really hardcore, there are ways to get around it to still play 24/7, but you can still make significant progress without investing constant attention.
On a less technical side, its vast popularity no doubt truly stems from all the different ship girls. With over 100 girls, the art, personalities, and voices have enough variety that at least one will probably appeal to you. And with the marriage system in place, you can be sure all otaku are quite glad to marry their favorite girl(s) (yes, harem is possible too). Coupled with the fact the game is free for the most part, it is only going to get more popular for the time being. Regardless, in the end, it is a trend, and no matter how long or short it takes to die off, it will eventually lose popularity.
The idea of fads applies to religion, too. Of the many things said against Christianity, one of them is that Christianity was just a trend. Read the rest of this entry
The Hunter X Hunter manga will be returning from its hiatus this June. Of course, this is only the continuation of the cycle as the writer Togashi is infamous for never being able to write for very long. As such, it is surely only a matter of time before the next 2 year hiatus. Regardless, we will finally get a new arc started as the manga last left readers hanging with a rather large revelation. Meanwhile, the reboot of the anime has been doing an amazing job with the chimera ant arc. I am certainly glad to see one of my older favorites still getting a good amount of attention with new material for both the manga and anime, and the only thing I really hope for is that Togashi actually finishes it eventually.
Narcissu 1st & 2nd Released on Steam – Japesland
If there’s one thing that Kaze and I share as writers at Beneath the Tangles, aside from the obvious, it is our shared interest in the visual novel medium. And if there’s one visual novel (or kinetic novel, to be precise), that every consumer of the medium should read, it’s Narcissu. Although both Narcissu titles have been available in English for free (available here) for years now, they still have had yet to escape obscurity simply due to their nature as indie visual novel releases. As much as I tend to be a Japanese media “hipster” (if it’s popular, it can’t be good!*), the more exposure the Narcissu series can get, the better! Now being available on the West’s most popular digital PC game distribution service is a huge step in popularizing the visual novel art form, and it is something I am very excited about!
*Kidding, of course.
SNAFU Gets Second Season - TWWK
Anti-social male lead. Check. Popular but uptight and mysterious female protagonist. Check. Peppy female protagonist who likes the male lead. Check. OreGairu, or My Teenage Romantic Comedy SNAFU, broke exactly zero new ground when it aired a couple season back. But unlike the usual slate or recent romantic comedies, each week, OreGairu was fun and compelling. The three leads were written well, and so they avoided becoming bland or annoying. Hachiman, in particular, is a terrific character – a grump that we all like, more reminiscent of a dynamic character like Kyon than of <insert generic harem lead here>. When it ended its run, I hoped we’d get to see more, and thankfully, a second season of SNAFU is coming our way!
After 3 years of referencing an anime was in the works, we finally have some additional information and an official webpage. The director will be Tensho of Kiniro Mosaic and the studio will be 8-bit. The character designer remains the same as Watanabe Akio (most notably, you will notice a very strong resemblance between Yumiko and a certain Monogatari heroine). As a reader of the Visual Novel trilogy (working my way through the finale as of now), I am quite interested to see what approach the anime takes. While it has all the makings of another textbook harem, a well done adaptation would result in some very interesting topics to explore. Furthermore, even if it goes the route of a standard harem anime and tosses out all of the noteworthy parts, the comedy in this series can be pretty amazing, so I hope nobody preemptively labels this as another generic harem to ignore. In the end, it will surely depend on whether they intend to adapt the trilogy or only the first novel, so I will continue to keep tabs on further info.
Nana Mizuki released her 10th album on April 16th, so I’ll be doing a little review of it. Although I’m hardly a music critic and am obviously quite biased with anything involving Nana, so it will be mostly my own ramblings. I actually already made my predictions when the setlist was announced earlier, and I was right on about half of them. Also, it managed to top the weekly charts with zero competition. Ironically, her actual sales dropped significantly compared to her previous albums, which had to compete with some of the most popular artists, but she still easily picked up the top spot.
1. VIRGIN CODE
The album starts with a very disturbing sound to my ears. I may be the only Nana fan who thinks this but the very first few static noises that are essentially just background noise and ignored by most were very recognizable to me. It reminded me very distinctly of A World Where Nothing Happened from Little Busters! the track which sent chills down my spine when it played during certain scenes which were just so depressing to read. So it was a really bad way to start the album lol. Anyway, afterwards comes a pretty fast paced song, with a beat that almost never relaxes. Fast paced, powerful songs are what I love from Nana, and with this, one of my predictions was correct that this was would be one of the best songs of the album.
This song is sooo catchy with a lot of Engrish. I sort of felt like this was something I’ve heard from BoA but it also has quite a Koda Kumi feel to it. The Engrish may be jarring to some, but I honestly find it just irresistibly catchy. The major downside to this song is it doesn’t even reach 3.5 minutes, at a length of 3:18. That’s pretty rare for Nana songs. As a result, GUILTY ends up being a repeat of Get My Drift? from Rockbound Neighbors – both are incredibly catchy with a lot of Engrish but disappointingly short.
3. アパッショナート Read the rest of this entry
Hanamonogatari was announced to air as a 5 episode series after Nisekoi finishes. At 5 episodes, at least it won’t be getting the Neko Kuro treatment. This will bring a close to the adaptation of the 2nd season of the Monogatari series. The 3rd season of books is also nearing an end as the final pat of Owarimonogatari is slated to release early April, leaving only one volume left. However, if Nisio’s history with these novels is indicative of anything, we can probably expect several books, delays, and potentially even more volumes before the series really comes to a close. Regardless, the real question on all our minds is, of course, when will they give us Kizu?
I’ve still yet to watch the first live-action Rurouni Kenshin film, but I couldn’t pass up mentioning that the trailers for the next two movies, opening on August 1st and September 13th, respectively, in Japan, feature that bandage villain among villains, Shishio! I’m definitely excited to see the Kyoto Arc brought to life, as it remains my favorite shounen quest/journey/tournament arc in anime. And judging from the positive response to the first film, there’s high hopes that these remaining ones will deliver! Check out the trailer below:
A New Vocaloid Game… Without Miku! – Japesland
If you haven’t noticed yet, I am an unabashed Vocaloid nut. While I don’t have the time (nor, sometimes, the energy) to stay up with all of the popular producers or voice banks being released, I am always excited to see new Vocaloid announcements. Additionally, I have been hyped for months about the new Project DIVA game, F 2nd (which just released last Thursday and finally arrived at my post office on Monday). Needless to say, I was not expecting another company to begin a new Vocaloid-centric rhythm game any time soon due to the competition, but lo and behold, a game featuring one of my favorite Vocaloids was announced! If you are not familiar, I recommend checking out some songs using IA’s voice, particularly those in the Kagerou Project written by one of my favorite producers, Jin (Shizen no Teki-P). Imagination Forest is a good place to start, and I hope it gets you as excited as I am for this new release!
All 3 Nanoha seasons will finally be getting blu ray releases near the end of this year. While I do admit there are flaws with the show, I am still a huge fan of the series, so I greatly look forward to seeing this iconic series getting some nice animation upgrades. Granted, I am one of many fans who believe the movie adaptation of the first season is superior in every way, animation included; however, I will no doubt be re-watching the later 2 seasons when they become available. Of course, I recommend people to join me, as Nanoha A’s is pretty much the pinnacle of the Mahou Shoujo genre (another reason for my dislike of the Madoka fanbase, although the crossovers were quite amusing). There’s also a new movie in the works that’s supposedly coming out this year, but not much news on that front.
It has been a long time, but many months ago, someone requested I write a post on Bungaku Shoujo. I have a rather unique relationship with this series, as although it only has a movie and a few OVAs, those were enough to spur me to buy and read the officially translated novels, and I’ve become quite the fan of the series (note that as someone who was already tired of hearing Hanakana’s voice by 2010, Touko is the one role I absolutely adore from her). Aside from Zaregoto (which Del Rey dropped, arguably a good thing), Bungaku Shoujo is the only series I have actually followed official light novel translations for, and its final volume was recently released this past January, unless they choose to translate the side stories too (I sure hope so), though I’d be equally thrilled if they picked up Mizuki Nomura’s latest work.
I’ve pondered a lot about how to tie this series to Christianity. Interestingly, the problem I had was there were just so many things that can be said. Bungaku Shoujo can be classified as a simple romance drama, and the movie shows just that. It is a well done adaptation of the 5th novel and manages to be simple enough that previous knowledge is not required but still maintains the drama of the novel itself. However, while I think the movie is as good as can be for a standalone, it does not do the story justice. In the previous four novels, we meet characters with dark secrets and heavy burdens that are simply not detailed in the movie, making the characters seem far more bland and simple than they really are. The novels are great at detailing such serious topics while balancing with happy moments and comedic relief, slowly developing the characters, all mixed together with classic literature references. So although at first glance the series may appear to be nothing more than a nice romantic drama, the themes and topics it explores have all sorts of serious and potential religious discussion. In the end, I decided to address only one aspect of the climax of the series, which the movie does not cover. Who knows, maybe I’ll write on other aspects later.
Konoha Inoue is a seemingly ordinary high school student who carries a big secret. He once published a bestselling novel under the penname Miu Inoue through a story he submitted to an amateur contest on a whim. Unable to handle the expectations the world had for the genius middle school “girl” and rumors spreading about the mysterious author, as well as a certain incident, he suffered greatly and entered high school with no desire to ever write again. And yet, he finds himself caught and dragged around by his upperclassman Amano Touko, a book girl who loves books so much she eats them (and nothing else). Together, they are the only members of the literature club and every day, she requires him to write her “snacks.” As much as he proclaims to hate writing, he finds his life is more enjoyable than he thought possible.
However, his happy days spending time with Touko are not fated to last. Read the rest of this entry
Considered by many to be one of, if not the best anime of all time, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is getting a new anime. It is emphasized that this is not a remake but a new adaptation, meaning we can expect things to be different this time around. However, anything different from the masterpiece of the original is probably going to be a mistake. I don’t expect this to be an improvement, let alone even on par with the original; however, having watched the series twice and with the intent to re-watch more in the future, I’ll give it a try to make a fair judgement. If nothing else, maybe this will spark some interest in the original series that although old, is no doubt the pinnacle of truly epic anime.
Although the Mekakucity Actors anime is not terribly new in terms of its announcement, it has continued to gain attention as continuous updates, particularly in the area of voice actors/actresses (seiyu). The anime releases this spring season, and it is of particular excitement seeing as it is the next step in the Kagerou Project that began with two Vocaloid albums by (my favorite) Vocaloid producer, Shizen no Teki-P (Jin). Since then, several light novels and manga have also been created as part of the series, culminating in Shaft’s anime follow-up.
The critical reception for The Wind Rises has been excellent so far. Though it doesn’t rate as well on Rotten Tomatoes as Spirited Away or Ponyo (really?!) did, it matches Howl’s Moving Castle and has received excellent reviews from some of the country’s most respected critics. Peter Travers writes, “It’s a big story, and in this landmark film Miyazaki is up to every demand. Sit back and behold.” Of course, I didn’t need to hear all this buzz to get excited about the film, as I’m a pretty die-hard Miyazaki fan. I’ll be in the theaters tonight watching!
The singer ELISA will be attending Seattle’s Sakura-Con on April 18-20, her first performance in North America. ELISA made her singing debut with ef’s opening song Eurphoric Field in 2007. She quickly gained popularity with it and was invited to perform at the following Anisama Live, the largest anime concert in Japan. Since then, she has performed theme songs for anime such as Hayate, TWGOK, Railgun, and Valvrave, although she did take a hiatus at one point. I have actually followed ELISA since her debut, so while I’m not a huge fan, I am pretty excited about this. She does try to interact with her fans, and her English, while not great, is definitely above average for Japan. I recommend anyone in the area to take the chance to meet and hear her and show her some support.