Friday, April 25, 2008

Hayami Saori to Appear Live

Brilliant 16-year-old singer/seiyuu Hayami Saori 早見沙織 will be appearing in what I think is her first live event next month in Tokyo. She will sing the Wagaya no Inari-sama ED and there will be a talk portion of the program.

Also appearing will be Hitomisora (Yoshida Hitomi and Izumikawa Sora), who do the OP. The OP single will be released on 14 May and the ED on 28 May.

There is an application form on the official site for people who want to attend the 17 May event. One hundred names will be chosen.

There continues to be a steady trickle of posts in Hayamin's thread on 2channel. And it is on 2channel that they have decided to give her the nickname "Hayamin." People see her as making progress in her voice-acting and as already very accomplished in her singing. Her soft-voiced portrayal of the strange Kou in Wagaya is quite riveting. For me, she and Yukana are the only things of much interest in that show.

She may also be appearing in a new show this summer: Sekirei, an ecchi comedy from the director of Nanoha A's, Nanoha Strikers, and Inukami. The cast has not been announced, but some people (including me) think it's her voice in the promo video, playing Musubi, a miko who seems to drop from the sky onto our hero and move in with him, and whose large breasts are often uncovered in the promo video.

Perhaps I"m Enterprises is rolling out its "secret weapon."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nijuu-mensou no Musume -- ED PV, 2channel, Hirano Aya

Through two episodes, this show is firing on all cylinders for me. As a poster on the Japanese forum 2channel wrote, it uses modern techniques but gives a retro feel. As another poster wrote, it is refined rather than showy.

As usual, there is a range of opinion on 2channel, but the great majority of posters like the show. The main thing they have against is that it is on TV too late at night (2am or later), when it seems to be a show more suited to daytime broadcast. One poster says that if it keeps on as it is, it will be a classic.

Various people were moved by the two strong quotes from Nijuu-mensou himself, "Twenty-Faces," the phantom thief. The first, that his "daughter" Chiko should "watch, listen and think for herself" to discover what work she should do. Chiko did just that in ep2, as well as thinking what Nijuu-mensou would do in her situation. The second quote, said to the Chinese woman in ep2 (beautifully played by Kigawa Eriko, who was Maeter in Eureka Seven), was to ask if, like him, she had ever decided to devote her life to someone, or ever thought back with shame on her sins.

This appears to be a simple crime adventure, but it is a deeper show than that. And for me, Aya and Uchida Yuya (Nijuu-mensou) give performances that convey appropriate depth of thought and feeling.

Aya's performance comes in for more praise than blame on 2channel, which is unusual there. One poster was surprised that she was "not annoying." Another pointed out that the ubiquitous anti-Aya forces had been toned down by her good performance. Some people think she's wrong for the part, others that she is showing her range. Another said that she seems to be feeling her way into a new area. I agree with that. I look forward to hearing how she conveys Chiko's maturation.

I personally think the OP and ED are among the best this season. The OP by 369 (YouTube) gives me a great feeling combining anticipation and melancholy. Aya's ED simply rocks. One 2channel poster wanted to replace both songs, and I just cannot understand that opinion for the life of me. Chacun à son gout.

Here is the PV of Aya's ED, unnamed world, from YouTube -- complete with looong legs and lollipop (?!). I think it may sell a few CDs. (lyrics here): NOTE: The full PV has been removed from YouTube. Here is the preview version...

The CD was released Tuesday, and came in at #19 on the charts on its first day, lower than I would have thought. But I did not expect it to be very high. This kind of actual rock is not what the otaku audience seems to like, as some 2channel posters pointed out. The excellent B-side, Maybe I Can't Goodbye (YouTube), with Engrish lyrics by Aya herself, is even less to otaku tastes, with its Nirvana-like intro and pace. And Lantis has only just now released the full PV.

And to be honest Aya is still not at the level of many pro singers, either in skill or in fame. Sakamoto Maaya entered the charts on the same day at number six. But this is Aaya's best music to date, in my opinion, and she shows real promise as a rock singer, rather than a ballad singer. I especially like her combination of seiyuu voice dynamics with rock drive. However, I am clearly not in the same mental universe as most fans of anime music, since I still find Mizuki Nana's music skillful but boring. My favorite OP/ED of this season is Hayami Saori's ED ballad for Wagaya no Oinari-sama (YouTube). Hayamin is the Next Big Thing, in my opinion.

I've taken a look at a few chapters of the manga, and for me the anime improves on it in character design and other ways. Here is a comparison of Nijuu-mensou in the two (click to enlarge):

And here is the underground vehicle:

The anime makes small changes in details of the plot that to me make it flow better. For instance, Chiko's trick of using bottles as rollers to move a heavy case is not in the manga, at least at that point, so in the manga the captain changes his mind about her based entirely on her having been poisoned, rather than on a combination of that and her resourcefulness.

Well, it could still all fall apart, but I don't think it will. The quality of direction, art, and acting in the first two episodes suggests to me that they have a good idea what they are doing, and can keep it up.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Nijuu-mensou no Musume -- French Poem from OP

In the OP animation of the so-far excellent new anime Nijuu-mensou no Musume is a poem by Paul Eluard, a French poet of the first half of the 20th century. I think it expresses something of the theme of the show. You can see part of it in the background of the publicity image at right. Here is my attempt at a translation, followed by the original French poem.

Good Justice

The warm law of humans:
From grapes they make wine,
From charcoal they make fire,
From kisses they make humans

The hard law of humans:
To keep themselves safe despite
War and misery,
Despite the danger of death.

The sweet law of humans:
To change water into light,
Dream into reality,
And enemies into brothers.

A law old and new
That continues to perfect itself:
From the bottom of a child's heart
To supreme reason.


C'est la chaude loi des hommes
Du raisin ils font du vin
Du charbon ils font du feu
Des baisers ils font des hommes

C'est la dure loi des hommes
Se garder intact malgré
Les guerres et la misère
Malgré les dangers de mort

C'est la douce loi des hommes
De changer l'eau en lumière
Le rêve en réalité
Et les ennemis en frères

Une loi vieille et nouvelle
Qui va se perfectionnant
Du fond du coeur de l'enfant
Jusqu'à la raison suprême.