Friday, May 11, 2007

Hitohira -- seiyuu info, with pictures

Here's a character/seiyuu page for the wonderful but neglected show Hitohira. In my opinion, Hitohira is in competition for best show of the spring season. It is cute, funny, and deep, with complex characters and involving drama. The voice-acting is excellent. The lead, Kimoto Orie, is good, and first-line pros Kawasumi Ayako and Yukino Satsuki are outstanding.

It is good to hear Miyagawa Miho again. She was Sahara in PetoPeto-san, which was made by the same staff as Hitohira. The "young" seiyuu in this show are not really that young, just relatively unknown. Miyagawa is 30 and Kimoto Orie is 28.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Touka Gettan -- seiyuu pics and info

I've made a characters/seiyuus page for Touka Gettan, with pics of the seiyuus of almost all the named characters, along with info about them and pics of their characters.

I haven't been able to find pics of Hayami Saori (Momoka) or Yamagata Satomi (Kikyou), so if anyone knows where to find them, please let me know. ANN claims that Yamagata Satomi 山県さとみ is the mangaka Yamagata Satomi やまがたさとみ, who among other things does yaoi manga. But I have my doubts.

And if you haven't heard, the official Touka Gettan staff blog confirms that the series will be 26 episodes long, and that it will continue to run "backwards" right to the end, with each episode ending where the previous one began. This bizarre arrangement is working surprisingly well for me so far. It is like a voyage of discovery -- into the past.

Touka Gettan -- episode 6 of 26

For the English wiki, I've been translating and expanding the Japanese wiki's pages for each episode. I thought I'd spend a few more minutes and put episode 6 into a blog post. There's another summary in the Subculture Anime Blog.

Ep6 is less mysterious and more comical than previous episodes. That disappointed me at first, but now that the J-wiki and a Chinese sub have helped me understand more of the dialogue, I see some moving moments, especially concerning the Butterfly Triplets, Kikyou and Juna.

From the Touka Gettan staff blog, we now know for certain that this is a 26-episode series. Perhaps we will keep going backwards in time until around episode 13, then go back to the moving scene on the station platform at the end of episode one, when Touka and Momoka met again, and go forward in time from there, with a new romance between them. In any case, there is now lots of time for this remarkable show to evolve.

From episode 5, we realize that Juna and Kikyou met 1200 years ago during Juna's raid on Kuukai's temple. They barely escaped with the dragon, and hid for centuries, sleeping under Fuu's protection. The Butterfly Sisters are dolls, probably brought to life by Kikyou and Juna. Now in episode 6, Kikyou sees ahead the disappearance of Juna, Fuu, and the Triplets, as she defends the territory from "spreading darkness." And we learn for sure that Touka really is one of her spirit dolls, too, as we saw in episode 1. Here's the summary of episode six:

-- time unclear; before the song festival --

SCENE1 morning long steps leading to the school
-Makoto and Momoka on their way to school

SCENE2 morning
-the Butterfly Sisters play beautiful harp music, then their harps turn to fans, then tea appears, then they decide to share the tea and the pot zooms up into the sky

Subtitle: "Butterflies"

SCENE1 continued
-Shouko drives her car dangerously up the steps. the sisters' teapot smashes into it and it careens into a tree, then continues
-Touka comes up to Momoka and Makoto, complaining about the ruckus, so early in the day

SCENE3 day  Ichinomiya Club HQ
-Butterfly Sisters receive reports, see that the lotuses in their pond have been picked
-Makoto, as Shouko's messenger, delivers a bag of lotus flowers

SCENE4 day Lotus Club HQ
-Shouko receives reports
---Shouko is head of the Lotus Club
-Makoto reports on her errand

SCENE5 noon school store
-Momoka and Touka buying lunch. he dissuades her from joining the long line-up to use the tasting booths.
-Butterfly Sisters and Shouko compete to get Momoka to eat the lunch they suggest
-Haruhiko's suggestion is adopted that there be a competition between them for best Japanese sweets. his suggestion that the prize be a kiss from him is ignored.

SCENE6 Ichinomiya HQ
-Butterfly Sisters fly around making sweets
-"It's still too early to go and play with the doll."

SCENE7 day Lotus Club HQ
-Shouko makes sweets and licks the sugar-paste off Makoto's face
-the butterflies see them having fun

SCENE8 day
-Momoka is hungry, having only had a bento from Makoto, and sneaks the offering that the Butterfly Sisters have intentionally put in front of a Jizo to tempt her


-the Butterfly Sisters play with their "doll," Yurika, against her will, magically changing her clothes: bloomers, bunny girl, strange guardian figure, naked.
-Hibari, Tsubame, Suzume's eyes flash yellow, red, blue, respectively as they change the clothes.

SCENE10 night Kikyou's room
-three little spirit dolls turn their heads, and Kikyou asks them if they envy the Butterfly Sisters, then asks them to be patient
-"Their borrowed bodies have no future."
---the dolls into which the Butterfly Sisters changed in ep2?
---how do the dolls move if they do not have spirits in them?
-Kikyou: "The darkness is spreading, but this land must not be polluted."

SCENE11 bath
-Yumiko is in the bath
---she does not seem to have her cold
-Momoka is outside watching and is found by Touka. she has been sent by the Butterfly Sisters to make up for stealing their offering by bringing them the moon reflected in the water of the Kamiazuma house's bath
---perhaps related to the story of the 8th century Chinese poet Li Bai drowning by falling out of a boat trying to catch the reflected moon in his arms
-Touka sees the image of his mother as he looks into the water of the bath

--probably the next day--

SCENE12 day
-Momoka brings the cup with the water in it to the Butterfly Sisters. since the moon is no longer in it, they say she's lying. Momoka is confused.
-Touka says it escaped
-the Sisters, laughing, cast images of it here and there, suggesting where it escaped to. This confuses poor Momoka even more

SCENE13 3pm
-the sweet-making contest between the Butterfly Sisters and Shouko, judged by Student Council President Kikyou
-she says the Sisters' sweet is so good she feels as if she is merging with it
-she says Shouko's sweet is so good it brings her the true autumn
-she declares the Sisters the winners

SCENE14 evening in the school
-Shouko barrels angrily through the halls in her car and bursts out the end of the school in flames
-Kikyou says: "Forgive me, Shouko. I wanted them to win because they have so little time left."
---refers to their disappearance in the coming song festival

SCENE15 night  bath→Touka's room
-Touka fills a hot water bottle with water left from Yumiko's bath
-Kikyou appears and says it's cool this evening. Touka says that's all right, since he has the water bottle.
-Kikyou: "Because it's Yumiko's water?" Touka: "Am I perverted?"
-Kikyou, seeing Touka sleep: "Sleep well, while you can." Touka: "Warm. It gives me a strange nostalgic feeling. I can sleep."
-Kikyou: "The womb. He never knew it, but he longs for it. How strange."
-Butterflies: "He is a doll."

SCENE16 night
-Kikyou with a high view
-"I will also soon have sweet sleep."

SCENE17 night
-Juna in her and Kikyou's room

SCENE18 night by the sacred tree
-light descends and Fuu appears
---Fuu's first appearance?

"In the the the darkness."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hitohira 07

An excellent episode centred on the relationship between Nono and Mirei, the Drama Club president. Two fine seiyuu really acting: Kawasumi Ayako (Nono) and Yukino Satsuki (Mirei). This is the most I've liked Yukino-san since she played Ai in Planetes. Her crying in this episode is the best I can remember hearing.

Once again, this show gives us complexities of relationship and character, and deepening emotions. And subtle feelings of female friendship tinged with yuri. Summary begins after the first set of pictures.

Risaki is putting up posters for the Hitohira play, featuring a big picture of Mugi in the lead role. Mugi is freaking out but can't stop her.

During rehearsal, Nono is being hard on Mugi, telling her to put more feeling into it. As Mugi and Risaki go on, Katsuragi tries to get Nono to be gentler, but she says it's necessary. When Risaki complains that Nono is talking when she should be watching them rehearse, Nono says Katsuragi was sexually harassing her.

Chitose is mooning at a window somewhere, thinking beautiful pink hearts toward Katsuragi. Another Drama Club member tells her she should be practicing, and she says: Yes. You're right. I should go and do something about it, and rushes off to Katsuragi.

When she gets to the Drama Study Group's room, she peeks in and sees that Mugi is actually acting pretty well. She knew she had that voice, but now there is something different. So she realizes she had better practice herself. Mirei, the Drama Club president, is coming to find her, but when Chitose sees her, she gets down on the ground and apologizes profusely and says she will get back to work. Mirei is embarrassed and her anger defused.

Nono is waiting in the school doorway for the rain to stop and remembers the day she brought her resignation from the Drama Club to this door, wanting to apologize to Mirei for leaving the Club, but feeling she had to keep acting, which Mirei wouldn't let her do. Katsuragi offers her his umbrella, with the intention of sharing it. She says it would be a bother and rushes off into the rain, saying the rain feels good. Katsuragi complains to himself that she doesn't understand people's feelings. Mirei comes up and says Nono is just unreasonable and does her own thing, that he should give up on her. Katsuragi says: "So should you." This takes her aback. "What do you mean?" she says. He gives a non-answer and rushes out into the rain, leaving her his umbrella.

The next day, Mirei and the Drama Club are getting ready for the festival. They are missing a blackout curtain. Meanwhile, Nono is lamenting that the Drama Study Group doesn't have one. But Risaki produces one, which she took from "a certain place." Mirei goes to her Club's storeroom to look for it. She has trouble opening the door until she realizes the door was unlocked and she locked it. Once inside the storeroom, she puts two and two together and realizes someone else is there. And she realizes it's Nono.

Mirei tells Nono that her obsession with continuing to act is not going to work, that they won't succeed with their play. Nono says they will. The two get into a little fight with rolled up posters as swords. Mirei falls over and pulls Nono down on top of her in one of the nicest little romantic pile-ups I can remember: quick, with a brief flush when they realize how close they are to each other.

They decide to leave, but neither can get the door open. they realize that no-one is going to come to the storeroom soon and let them out. Mirei shouts, saying she's an actress and should be able to rouse someone. Aren't you embarrassed? asks Nono. Mirei says that an actor doesn't get embarrassed. Nono decides to shout, too. Mirei is worried that it might hurt her voice, and softens to her real feeling of concern for Nono, with her hands on Nono's shoulders. Then Nono really does lose her voice. She writes that on a pad of paper to tell Mirei.

Meanwhile, Mugi wonders why it's taking Nono so long just to return the cape and goes to the Drama Club room to find her. She imagines Nono and Mirei having a knock-down, drag-out fight. She finds out where they are and rushes off.

Back in the storeroom, Mirei is crying over Nono losing her voice. Nono writes: It's nothing for you to cry over, is it? Stop fooling around! shouts Mirei. Why do you you have to act? she weeps. Nono remembers how lonely she was and how Mirei got her into acting and gave her this wonderful world, saying how much fun it was to become a self that is not yourself. She remembers Mirei holding her hands to calm her, as she held Mugi's hands. There's a nice, somewhat suggestive shot of their bags on top of one another while they are working through a script. Then we see Nono about to quit out of a feeling of inability, exactly the way Mugi was about to quit, and Mirei saying: Okay, quit, and go back to your lonely world.

On a cold day after rehearsal, Nono felt her throat and Mirei thought she had a cold and they walked home together sharing Mirei's scarf. She remembers Mirei unzipping her costume to measure her for altering it. Then she remembers the day she told Mirei she might lose her voice. Mirei felt it was her fault for inviting Nono into the Drama Club. She said Nono should stop and look after herself, but Nono refused. Mirei made it an order, as Club president. In the present, Mirei says she did it because she was worried for Nono, but Nono then left her. The Goddess of Spring costume from episode one is sitting there in the storeroom beside them.

They remember the day Nono brought her letter of resignation from the Club. Mirei was shocked and unhappy, but said Nono had to rest and could come back when she was better. Nono said she wasn't going to come back, that her high-school life was half over and she wasn't going to wait, she was going to do it herself.

Back in the storeroom, Mirei is crying and saying: What's wrong with me being concerned for you? Do you hate me that much? She laughs bitterly that Nono isn't that good at making friends. Nono writes that she has a friend. Mirei thinks she means Katsuragi. Nono writes that it's Mirei. Mirei cries. Nono wipes away her tears. They embrace.

Mugi comes up outside and sees them embracing and hides. She thinks how hard everything must have been for them, being friends, and loving one another ("love" doesn't imply anything except close friendship). Then she sneezes and they hear her and Mirei calls for her to let them out quickly and get someone to help Nono because she's lost her voice.

The next day, Nono's voice is fine. Mirei gets mad at her and they rush off. Katsuragi says that's how they always were. At the end, Nono says to herself that she still has a lot of uncertainties, but for Nono's sake and for her own sake, she is going to keep working hard toward the play.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hirano Aya -- Big New Project?

There were a couple of interesting comments in Hirano's Aya's blog today.

First, she just did her last recording for Death Note. She said it made her sad.

Second, she and her manager (she now has a woman manager) went to karaoke together to discuss a "big new project." She gave no details but said she would talk about it later. I'm betting on a year-long NHK anime gig, but that's a total guess.

It might be the second season of Haruhi, but that's not going to happen until after Clannad, so not until next year.

What I'd like it to be is Aya starring in a live-action version of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu.

The photo was taken after the Death Note session. It's the second time I've seen her with something from a Tully's coffee shop. Seattle meets Tokyo.

Lucky Star -- interview with Endou Aya (Miyuki's VA)

There's an interview with Miyuki's VA Endou Aya 遠藤綾 on the Lucky Star official site.

The most interesting comment for me was about Konata, comparing her to eating dried squid: "The more you chew on her the more her flavor comes out." I also enjoyed Endou's comments about how she approached acting Miyuki.

Asked what she thought of the comic when she read it, she laughed and said: "It was ordinary." She went on to say that nothing really happened. No-one even used magic. But the descriptions of ordinary events were great. She didn't normally read 4koma, but she just raced through this one. There were silly bits and funny bits, and it reminded her of her own school days. She could sympathize with all the characters, not just Miyuki.

Asked about Miyuki, she said she was tricky. She would do things for people, give them information, would be someone you'd really want for a friend. But she could do horrible things with a smile, too, so you wouldn't want her as an enemy. And she was so moe you could never win against her.

Asked if she resembled Miyuki, she laughed that she wasn't tricky. She said she was quiet like Miyuki in high school, but maybe the stormy seas of life had changed her. She wasn't clumsy (dojikko) like Miyuki. She didn't have her general knowledge, but had learned things from her in anime. At school she always did her homework at the last minute, unlike Miyuki. But like Miyuki she was afraid of the dentist.

What did she think about when playing the role? Miyuki gives a calm impression, and had to played with adult grace. But at the same time, she had to get across that she was a high-school student like the others. She couldn't be completely oblivious or dreamy. When she was giving explanations, she just had to give the explanation. When she was being clumsy, she just had to be clumsy. The cast did a lot of ad libs, but there seemed to be very few places where it made sense for Miyuki to ad lib. She was going to look greedily for opportunities in the future, she laughed.

Asked which character she liked, she said Konata. "It's like eating dried squid: the more you chew on her the more her flavor comes out." You're always thinking: what's she going to be like this time? Kagami seems like the most grown-up, but really she's the most dependent and the one most likely to cry. Those moments are really good, she said. And Tsukasa's naive conversations with Miyuki are so cute.

What were your thoughts watching the anime? "I really enjoyed the comic, but it's wonderful to see the characters moving around," she laughed. "Although it's just ordinary life and nothing happens, the words just keep bubbling along and I never tire of watching the amusing performances. The hair color and the uniforms are so colorful, too."

What about the OP recording session? "It was so high-tension, like rap, that at first I thought I'd just forget about Miyuki as I sang, but I kept thinking things like 'this is how Miyuki would move her tongue.' It was really enjoyable. Except that I could never memorize the words (laughs). Watching such a high-tension opening always makes me think I want to do my very best. The ending is also high-tension. I really enjoy it."

What about Shiraishi Minoru playing the Shiraishi Minoru character?
"As for the character, he really tries hard, doesn't he?" (laughs) "It will be interesting if he ever has a conversation with Miyuki." Shiraishi Minoru himself gives a feeling of: 'Well, now let's all work hard together.' (laughs) "I haven't known him long, but he really seems like a nice guy. In order to relax the atmosphere, he came to the first recording session in a maid's outfit with a mini-skirt. But recently he's been wearing normal clothes (laughs)."

Here's my characters/seiyuus page, which has some info about Endou Aya.