Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Great OP by Utada Hikaru -- Last Friends TV Drama

It's sometimes said that anime songs are sung by seiyuu, by singers just starting their careers, or by singers on the downslide. And TV drama songs are by stars at their peak.

That rule of thumb may not always be true, but it is true of the good new drama Last Friends. Its OP, "Prisoner of Love," is sung by Utada Hikaru. The visuals are great, too, featuring the stars of the dorama: big-name stars including Nagasawa Masami and the wonderful Ueno Juri, who was Nodame in the drama version of Nodame Cantabile.

Last Friends is currently running fifth in the top ten drama ratings, with almost 16% of the audience in its 10 p.m. Thursday timeslot. That's higher than the top-rated anime (Sazae-san is at 14.4%), and five times the ratings of top late-night anime. For more info and to find out how to see the show, check D-Addicts. There is a full wiki here outlining the plot. Be prepared for plenty of angst.

Several people are blogging the show. You can find some entries on Anime Nano.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Return of Kano Yui -- Wagaya no Oinari-sama, ep5

Kano Yui was wonderful as Momoko in Sumomo mo Momo mo. One of the most hilarious performances I've heard. She even won a (controversial) seiyuu award for the role.

But since then, she hasn't had a really good role -- until now. It may or may not turn out to be a major role, but YunYun is funny and touching as Sakura Misaki in episode 5 of Wagaya no Oinari-sama, a show which is so far memorable only for its seiyuus, which include Yukana and Hayami Saori.

Now, it's not as if Yui (known as "YunYun") has completely disappeared since Sumomo. She is hosting four different radio programs right now, and has done voiceover for various TV shows, as well as having had minor roles in several anime. The most interesting of these have been as Momota in Himawari!! and as Karla and Pamela in Claymore. She is also in a seiyuu singing group called YumeYura.

Misaki in Wagaya is something like Momoko in Sumomo -- in love and scheming how to get her man. Not anywhere near as direct about it as Momoko, but just as comic. Yui uses a similar tight, quick, self-absorbed delivery in both roles.

Above, l-r: Yui with Katou Emiri, with Miyazaki Ui and Hirano Aya last spring, and with Ui again, this spring. Clearly, when she has a cold or flu, the beautiful Ui follows the sensible East Asian custom of wearing a mask to protect others.

YunYun in real life comes across as just as loopy as Misaki or Momoko, but there is actually a lot to her. She is an only child from a fairly well-off family, and lists her special skills as ikebana, tea ceremony, and koto. When she was 15, she won a script-writing contest on a radio show hosted by Koyasu Takehito, and her script was recorded as a drama CD.

At the same time, Katou Emiri (who also won a seiyuu award, for Kagami in Lucky Star) was one of her high-school classmates, and they played in the same band: YunYun on bass and keyboards, Emirin on drums. In fact, it was YunYun who suggested Emirin come along to see a seiyuu college, and they entered the college together. She is still good friends with Emirin, and also with Miyazaki Ui. She says she and Ui always seem to be on the same wavelength. That would be a far-out wavelength.

Anime News Network
Wikipedia Japan
Yui's blog
Yui's profile