Monday, January 23, 2006

Lemon Angel Project 01-03

With several negative reviews already out there, it's time for someone who likes this show to speak up.

People say they find Tomo's voice "annoying." This is the word often used by people who don't like the high and drippy Japanese female voice. Lots of us like that kind of voice, however. Now, I can understand why some people who like, say, the voice of Nanami in Lamune (seiyuu: Gotou Yuuko) might still not like the voice of Shihono Ryou, who plays Tomo in LAP. Her version of the voice is far from the most professional around. It's strange, breathy, cracking...but I find it full of emotional force. Ryou-tan is 14, a swimsuit photo idol turned TV personality and now singer and seiyuu.

The story is Glass Mask meets yuri fanservice. The band called Lemon Angel Project suddenly stopped appearing, and now producers are forming a new version of the band. Our heroine is an inexperienced amateur who is a surprise addition to the auditions. You can guess how well she does at the crucial moment. The plot may not be terribly original, but it does have some original aspects. (spoilers follow)The fact that the first LAP band was a computer program is original. The fact that episode three's climax is a knee to the groin is fairly original. And the resonances between the career of Saya (the harsh beauty with two red-brown ponytails) and that of Ryou-tan herself is pretty striking: in episode 3, Saya works to free herself from the evil head of the company that has been producing soft-porn DVDs of her but has never let her become a singer. It makes you wonder about the men who produced Ryou-tan's own swimsuit DVDs. (spoilers end)

The voice acting is not by first-line pros, except for Koshimizu Ami, who plays Saya (also Nadja in Ashita no Nadja, Tenma in School Rumble, and Nina in Mai-Otome). Some of the other girls in the band are apparently played by the losers in the auditions for the role of Tomo. But not much anime voice-acting is at the level of Kawasumi Ayako, or even Yahagi Sayuri (Karin). And the directness of amateurs sometimes conveys a realness that makes ordinary pros sound artifical (I always say).

What the show does have, in my opinion, is good emotion. Tomo's feelings are always near the surface, and the emotional transformation of Saya works for me.

Episode 3 features half-clad girls grabbing and poking each other's soft bits, so if yuri fanservice offends you, this show is not for you. And if you want all your seiyuu to be polished (even boring) pros, or if you are driven crazy by that sappy little-girl voice, don't even bother.

images from episode 3:




Some of the credits: other seiyuu include Kadowaki Mai and Shimizu Kaori. The director Chiba Daisuke 千葉大輔 is directing his first full show; he directed episodes of Canvas2, Last Exile, Koi Kaze and Gakuen Alice. The character design is by Watanabe Yukari 渡辺 由香里, who did key animation on Haibane Renmei and various animation work on Nausicaa, Niea_7 and HandMaid May. The chief animator is Yamakawa Kouji, who did key animation on Haibane Renmei. The art director is Miyamae Mitsuharu 宮前光春, who was art director on Natsuiro no Sunadokei, City Hunter, World of Narue and W~Wish.

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Yeah, many negative reviews.

Tomo's VA has got lot of attention. I think it's not that awful. It took some time to get used to it though.

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