Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hirano Aya: Live Shows in Osaka, Tokyo

Hirano Aya had a live show in Osaka on Saturday, and will put on a similar show in Tokyo on March 15.

The Osaka show consisted of a musical quiz at the beginning, then a set of six songs and two encores. Reaction from a few attendees who posted on 2channel was mixed. A couple of people commented on there being some women in the audience.

Here are a slew of photos from Aya's blog. First are some from the performance itself -- (l-r) Aya and the band psyching themselves up for the show, Aya nervous, Aya made of light, the band: (click to enlarge)

Recently, I've been listening to Neophilia, MonStAR, and First Goodbye, and to the scat song from a Sumomomo Momomo CD, and I actually think she's very good as a jazzy pop performer, quite musical and rhythmic, and uses some of her seiyuu techniques to bring meaning. To me, the CDs are more interesting and enjoyable than most singers', even if she's not really a polished professional and I'm not sure she has the ability to do it live. I look forward to hearing more from this show and the one in Tokyo.

Here's the set list: LOVE★GUN, NEOPHILIA, MonStAR, (costume change), Love Song, forget me nots..., GLITTER -- encore medley (Breakthrough, Ichiban Hoshi, Bouken Desho Desho?, Kazeyomi Ribon, Ashita no prism, Yorokobi no Uta). Photos during and after the show:

"Princess Aya", as she appears on GyaO Midtown TV, and during make-up. The shirt apparently says "I'll teach you XXX":

At rehearsal the week before. I'm surprised to see the leaf on the yellow shirt:

Farewell to the cast of Eyeshield21, at a cast party after recording the final (146th) episode (l-r) ??, Irino Miyu, Aya, Miyano Mamoru, Yamaguchi Kappei. At the cast party after recording the last episode of Dragonaut, Gouda Hozumi, who played Nozaki, turned out to be a graduate ("OB" = "old boy") of Aya's school. Aya with the DVD for Hello Kitty -- Apple Woods Parallel Town, in which she does a voice. She and Uchida Yuya, who plays Nijuumensou, went to see Ohara Shinji, the mangaka of Nijuu Mensou no Musume ("Chico, Heiress of the Phantom Thief"), in which Aya will star starting in April. Aya says they had a very interesting conversation and got a lot that they can use in preparing to play their characters:

Monday, February 25, 2008

Video: Seiyuus Visit "true tears" Real-Life Setting in Toyama

Here's a video from YouTube showing the director and the main female seiyuu from true tears visiting the real-life setting of the anime, in Toyama Prefecture.

The video shows locations that are part of the anime -- the shopping mall, the shop where Ai-chan works, Shinichirou's house, the snowy streets and houses, etc.

Iguchi Yuka (Ai) says she was surprised and moved by seeing how like the anime the shop was. In real life it sells takoyaki (squid balls). In the anime it sells imagawayaki (sweet bean waffles). Director Nishimura Junji says they liked the feeling of pride in Toyama. The fact that the animation company has its headquarters there might also have helped.

In the video, Iguchi Yuka (Ai) is wearing all pale colors and has short, straight hair. Takagaki Ayahi (Noe) is wearing jeans and a dark jacket and has a dark face and very long ears. Nazuka Kaori (Hiromi) is tall, wears a dark jacket and light skirt, and has bobbed hair. Director Nishimura Junji is balding, with a beard and mustache. The video also shows the actual proprietor of the takoyaki shop and a representative of the mall.

Toyama is a prefecture (= state, province) on the west coast of Japan. The area gets a lot of snow, especially this winter. No wonder Hiromi is looking for "a town where it doesn't snow."

Here, from the true tears staff blog entry for last Friday, is a picture of Iguchi Yuka behind the counter of the takoyaki shop. The "customers" are Nazuka Kaori (left) and Takagaki Ayahi.

The animation company that is making true tears, P.A. Works (Progressive Animation Works) actually has its main headquarters at Nanto, in Toyama. Nanto is a district municipality taking in a number of towns and the land between them. The company also has offices in Tokyo, where the voice recording was done.

The video says that P.A. Works has assembled "young creators" from all over Japan to work in this quite out-of-the-way town. Since its founding in the early 1990s, P.A. Works has done subcontracts, mainly for Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell, Tsubasa Chronicle, Seirei no Moribito). This is the first full anime it has produced itself.

The video is a TV news feature, probably from Toyama television.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"true tears" Becomes Most Popular New Show on 2channel

The romance drama true tears has passed Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei to become the most popular new-season show on 2channel, the Japanese forum site.

true tears is on its 88th thread, having passed 87,000 posts. Zetsubou Sensei is on its 85th thread (84,000+ posts).

A little over a month ago, Zetsubou Sensei was 50 threads ahead, but true tears has captivated fans both on 2channel in Japan, and also on the international English forum site AnimeSuki, where it has 2417 posts and rising fast, just behind Spice & Wolf (2559). Minami-ke O-kawari is also very popular, but since its topic is merged with the topic for the original Minami-ke, its popularity is harder to measure.

On 2channel, threads have sprung up with names like "true tears -- godly anime" and "Compared to true tears, Clannad is a Worthless Harem Anime." And there is now a special thread for spoilers and speculation, as there is on AnimeSuki.

true tears is by far my own favorite show of the new season, too, with Spice & Wolf next. The voice-acting in both is superb. Comparative newcomer Takagaki Ayahi (Feldt Grace in Gundam00) as Noe is outstanding, as is Iguchi Yuka (Sakura in Tokimeki Memorial) as Ai. That Nazuka Kaori (Eureka in Eureka Seven, Cossette in Les Miserables) is excellent as Hiromi is no surprise. One other performance that steals the show for me is Takahashi Rieko (Neviril in Simoun) as the hero's mother.

Here are the current numbers of threads for all the new shows in the top 100 most recently posted about shows on 2channel:

true tears 88
Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 85
Spice and Wolf 27
Yattaman 21
Shigofumi 20
Persona 17
Rosario to Vampire 17
Hakaba Kitaro 13
KimiAru 12
Hakutenko Yuugi 10
Major 5 5
Noramimi 4
Ayakashi 3
Mnemosyne 2
Porfy no Nagai Tabi 2
Zenryoku Usagi 1

And here are figures for shows continuing from last October:

Minamike/Okawari 230
Shakugan no Shana II 167
Gundam00 150
Kimikiss 136
Bamboo Blade 78
Gegege no Kitaro 37
Rental Magica 20
Nougami Neuro 18
Shion no Ou 9
Ghost Hound 7
Mokke 5

Some shows are missing because they were not among the last 100 shows posted about.