Saturday, October 06, 2007

Patty and Misao at Oktoberfest

Lucky Star seiyuus Sasaki Nozomi (Patty, left) and Mizuhara Kaoru (Misao) had a good time drinking dark German beer at Oktoberfest (Tokyo version) on Saturday.

In Sasaki-san's blog, she says they became friends working on Lucky Star and went on a "date" Saturday. This is a normal way of referring to a girls' outing. Nozomi says she gets drunk after one glass of beer, but that Kaoru is a "sieve," meaning she can drink and drink and it doesn't affect her.

I can't help thinking: "drunken miko." Sasaki-san has worked as a Shinto shrine priestess (miko), and lists her special skills as "drawing, Kansai-ben (Osaka accent), and sacred dances."

2channel has recently discovered Sasaki-san's very active blog and her charming looks and writing, and her first thread on 2channel is beginning to be more active.

As one poster said, her blog "is worth reading." She's a college graduate with a gentle wit and a sharp eye. Other posters have taken to wishing her good morning or good night. They refer to her as Nozomin, often with a musical note added: のぞみん♪ One poster expressed surprise that she liked to drink so much. This is not the first time she has shown herself with a drink in her hand.

Nozomin and Mizuhara Kaoru have two of the three most distinctive voices in Lucky Star. Here's hoping that beer is good for the voice. Nozomin ended one post: "I love Germany."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lyrics by Seiyuu Morinaga Rika

On her blog today, tiny rocker-seiyuu Morinaga Rika 森永理科 posted some song lyrics she's working on. I liked them, and thought I'd make a stab at a translation.

Rika has been talking for months about the new single from her group function code(). It was just released a week ago. She says today that there are now ads all around the country and it may end up in the top twenty for the month. She says she has lots of work, both in anime and in music, and everyone is happy.

Rika was Ren in Kaze no Stigma, Mamiina in Simoun, and Souseiseki in Rozen Maiden, and will be Mako-chan in Minami-ke. She has her own style, a sort of goth-rock subculture style that makes a nice contrast with her 4'10", 82lb. frame. The Japanese lyrics are on her blog. You can hear some of her group's other music on their MySpace page.

Here are the lyrics:

a girl
facing despair
a swaying melody
my melody
a lovely name: "my melody"
with an impulse to live
in elementary school, the word "egocentric" was going around
in elementary school, the words "that's just what she's like" were going around
in elementary school, the word "pull" was going around
in elementary school, the word "snake" was going around
injured children
those who believe in misfortune
heart gone to an unknown destination
destructive behavior
do you have a dream?
deficiency of spiritual immunity
people's daily degeneration.

NOTE: I'm not certain of the translation of the word I have made "snake." The word habu, in katakana, can refer to a certain poisonous snake, or to the English word "hub." I wonder if it can mean "have," as well.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Blue Drop -- Off To a Great Start

Blue Drop is the show that I had the most hopes -- and fears -- for in the fall season. The first episode has fulfilled all my hopes. Now we'll see if it can maintain the high standard.

This is a drama with yuri undertones that combines school life and science fiction. In the first episode, the drama works, the animation works, the music works, and the voice-acting is outstanding. Real acting by experienced professionals such as Yajima Akiko (Crayon Shin-chan), Sawashiro Miyuki (Shinku in Rozen Maiden), Yukino Satsuki (Ai in Planetes), Nakata Jouji (Alucard in Hellsing), and others. I have made a characters/seiyuus page that gives pictures and descriptions of the main characters and their VAs.

The story is set in a world created by mangaka Yoshitomi Akihito (Eat-Man, Ray). The overall situation is an incipient invasion of Earth by a race of humanoid aliens, all of whom are female. The Blue Drop mangas are generally shounen/seinen comics involving yuri and gender-switching sex, and plenty of nudity, set on an Earth ruled by libidinous female aliens. The anime seems to be rather different, somewhat more serious, and it is set (so far) before the invasion has really begun.

(click photos to enlarge)

The protagonist, Mari, was the only survivor of a disastrous incident five years before on a small Japanese island. In the "incident" -- which was actually a battle with the aliens -- she lost her parents, and she lost her memory. She was taken in by her wealthy grandmother, who was concerned for her and decided to have her tutored at home. Now, five years later, she realizes that Mari must learn how to get along with other people, and sends her to a private residential girls' school.

The story begins as Mari is being driven to her new school. She feels -- quite wrongly -- that her grandmother is just getting rid of her. She does not want to go. As they approach the town where the school is, she sees a girl standing on a rock by the sea, surrounded by wheeling flights of terns. The dramatic and graceful image is seared into her brain. At the school, she is rather sullen with the head teacher, but the headmaster treats her well, aware that she is only just now beginning to attend school.

Mari tries to get rid of the humble girl, Michiko, who is told to guide her to her room in the residence. But Michiko follows her and the ice is broken between them. Hagino, the queen of the school, comes to see her in her room. Hagino is a cool beauty who is an outstanding student, a top athlete, and a kind person. They greet each other warmly: Hagino was the girl by the shore, surrounded by seabirds. But suddenly Hagino seems to snap: her eyes turn to blue mirrors and she begins to strangle Mari on her bed. When Mari begins to scream, she comes out of it. Mari angrily tosses a pot of flowers at her, asks her what on Earth she was doing, and storms out.

Michiko eventually finds Mari by a lake on the school campus. Michiko tells her about her comparatively ordinary family, in contrast with the wealthy families of most of the girls at the school. You can see a friendship beginning as they walk back to the dorm. At dinner, Mari is introduced to everyone. Hagino comes up to shake hands with her, but Mari slaps her hand away angrily and throws a glass of water over her. A brawl breaks out, as Hagino's supporters swarm Mari. Mari breaks free, but a senior stops the fight and sends them all to their rooms.

That night, Mari hears something outside and sees Hagino sneaking away from the school. She follows her down to a foggy dock area. Mari watches Hagino stand by the shore, and is shocked when a monstrous vehicle with banks of flashing blue lights suddenly rises out of the water in front of Hagino. Hagino turns, and we can see that her eyes have again turned to blue mirrors. End of episode.

Director Ohkura Masahiko did the five-episode OVA Battle Fairy Yukikaze in 2002. It was the strong and psychological story of a pilot and his AI-controlled fighter aircraft, in battles with an invading alien force. The lead writer is Takahashi Natsuko. She has worked on many shows, including FMA, Marimite, Bleach, Gankutsuou, School Rumble, Jigoku Shoujo, etc., and was lead writer on Gakuen Heaven. She was actually producer of Aishiteruze Baby. The script itself is credited to the director and the mangaka.

It's not often we get a first episode with real characters, exquisite voice-acting, and nothing childish. Maybe they can keep this up. And there are only a few shows that I immediately watch again as soon as I have seen them once. For me, that category includes Simoun, Suzumiya Haruhi, Bokura ga Ita, Lucky Star, Touka Gettan -- and now Blue Drop.

I won't have time to blog any show this season, but I just wanted to alert people to the possibility that this might be a worthwhile show. The Simoun-Fans group is subbing it.

To be precise, the name of this series is Blue Drop -- Tenshitachi no Gikyoku (BLUE DROP ~天使達の戯曲~), which means "Blue Drop -- The Angels' Play" ("play" as in dramatic performance).

The show is animated by Ashi and BeSTACK, with 3DCG by Gonzo. Cast members yet to appear include Gotou Yuuko, Kawakami Tomoko, and Nabatame Hitomi, all as alien officers. Nonaka Ai plays a student.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fall Shows Start Monday -- Day-by-Day Lineup

The fall season starts with a bang with five new shows on Monday and seven new shows on Tuesday. Here is the lineup for the week (including shows that start later in the season). For more information, see full schedule with staff/cast highlights, and/or detailed previews.

- Chocomimi
- D.C. II ~Da Capo II~
- Bamboo Blade
- Kawaii! Jenny
- Sketchbook ~full color's~
- Bonoron ~Fushigi na Mori no Ii Tsutae (starts nov05)

- Kaiji
- Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro
- Suteki Tantei Labyrinth
- Blue Drop ~Tenshitachi no Gikyoku~
- Night Wizard
- Myself ; Yourself
- Mokke
- Genshiken 2 (oct09)

- Dragonaut: The Resonance
- Goshuushou-sama Ninomiya-kun
- Kodomo no Jikan (oct10)
- Nasu: Migratory Bird with Suitcase (OVA oct17)
- Tales of Symphonia - The Animation (OVA oct24)

- You're Under Arrest: Full Throttle
- Shakugan no Shana II
- Clannad
- Moyashimon (oct11)
- Ghost Hound (0ct18)
- Hidamari Sketch special (OVA oct18)

- Armored Trooper Votoms: Pailsen Files (OVA oct26)
- Kyo Kara Maoh! R (OVA oct26)
- Tsubasa Tokyo Revelations (OVA nov16)

- Sensei no Chommage ~Sengoku Gakudou Nikki~
- Tensai? Doctor Hamax
- Shugo Chara!
- Kidou Senshi Gundam 00
- ef - a tale of memories
- KimiKiss pure rouge
- Shion no Ou (oct13)
- Ichigo Ichie Koibana Tomobana (oct20)

- Maple Story
- Pururun Shizuku-chan
- Rental Magica
- Prism Ark
- Minami-ke
- Juushin Enbu - Hero Tales
- Koharu Biyori (OVA oct14)
- AIKa R-16: Virgin Mission (OVA oct14)
- Strait Jacket (OVA nov30)