Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hirano Aya's First Album Breaks In At #2

Young Jump photo featureHirano Aya's first album, Riot Girl, has broken into the charts at #2 for its first day, with sales of 4333 units.

, by Tube, is #1, with sales of 7500; and Kimaguren's Zushi is #3, with 4200.

The cut Riot Girl (video) was chosen as the ED for a new anime music TV show on TV Tokyo called Anisong Plus, which shows every Monday night at 2:30 am, and started on July 7. (mouseover photos for captions, click to enlarge)

What else has Aaya been doing lately, you ask? Even if you don't ask, I'll tell you.

She had two days of live performances with her Zettai Karen Children cast-mates at the summer World Hobby Fair in Tokyo last weekend. She is one of a small group of top seiyuus working with Exile in an anime built around that top Japanese pop group. And she is starting her second movie-dubbing job, the 2005 family space adventure Zathura.

Aaya on stage at World Hobby FairThe Zettai Karen group of Aya, Shiraishi Ryouko, and Tomatsu Haruka performed mini-lives on Saturday and Sunday at the summer World Hobby Fair. This is a big show of figures and models held twice a year in Tokyo. In her blog, Uryocchi (Shiraishi Ryouko) commented what great legs both Aaya and Haruka have. They will also appear at the Sapporo version on July 21.

And on Monday, the new anime Exsamurai エグザムライwas unveiled to a select crowd of 1600 Exile fans. The anime is a kind of future samurai feature, set in "Roppongi Hell City" in 2718, with characters based on and played by members of the group.

World Hobby FairExile is one of the most popular Japanese pop groups, with seven members, all male, and numerous top hits since 2001. The anime is produced by Hiro, the group's leader, and directed by Abe Yuuichi, the director of Gundam Evolve, SD Gundam Force, and the Prince of Tennis live-action movie.

Aya was impressed with how many people were in the audience. Another league up from her own popularity as a singer. She and Takeuchi Junko (who is also in the anime, and plays Naruto in Naruto) were there. Miyano Mamoru is also in the anime. There is a preview episode (without Aya) on Nico Nico Douga. The anime will be included with an Exile album to be released 23 July. The Exile members' voice-acting was surprisingly not horrible. Not great, but not horrible.

Takeuchi Junko and Hirano Aya, with Exile and director AbeThis week as well, Aya begins work dubbing the 2005 US feature film Zathura. She voices Kristen Stewart's character, Lisa. "Two young brothers are drawn into an intergalactic adventure when they, their elder sister, and their house are magically hurtled through space because of the board game they are playing." This is only her second dubbing job.

And Aya is all over the magazines this week. A highly-anticipated photo feature in Young Jump Weekly comes out today. She's also in Seiyuu Grand Prix, Voice Newtype, Animedia, Pick-up Voice, Up to Boy, and Free Paper right now.

She continues as a seiyuu starring in the wonderful Daughter of Twenty-faces and the forgettable Zettai Karen Children, and also with a role in Macross Frontier, as Meena.

LATE NEWS: Aya has posted pics of a little guerrilla marketing she did this morning, making a tour of Akihabara shops, signing displays and encouraging sales. She was at Asobit, Ishimarusoft, Animate, Gamers, and Toranoana, where she climbed into the window and signed show-window displays -- then was photographed from outside by passers-by and by the staff. In her blog, she thanked the store staff for their cooperation and apologized to the stores she didn't get to.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Daughter of Twenty-Faces -- ep13 summary

Star-Crossed has a good post on this episode -- that is, one I agree with, lol -- but he/she didn't give a full summary, and I have one I made for a forum, so I thought I'd just post it here, with some screencaps.

This show continues to blow every other spring show (except maybe Macross Frontier) completely out of the water, for me. Summary first, then some comments.


NJM (Nijuumensou = Twenty-Faces) and Ken have a motorboat and follow White-Hair and Chiko. Their boat isn't fast enough to catch up. WH takes Chiko on board a big zeppelin. She tells Chiko: "Isn't it beautiful? This is the place of your death." The zeppelin is supposedly for publicity for a film -- the film they were making on the island, when the director was killed -- and they are letting people on board for a celebration. WH watches NJM and Ken board the airship and is pleased they have fallen into her trap.

The guests are given wine to toast the event. It is poisoned and they all die, coughing blood, except NJM and Ken, who didn't drink. WH reveals herself to them and disappears. Ken wants to chase her, but NJM says she's his, and he has other work for Ken.

White-haired demon on the operating table getting her superbody

Meanwhile, NJM has found WH in her cabin. We find out that she was a researcher working under him and they were in love. At a certain point, however, NJM decided that their work on super-weapons was wrong and decided to burn the lab down. She was shattered, since the lab was what brought her together with him. She continued to get operations to give her the super-body she now has, despite the incredible pain it caused her, in part because she instinctively felt he would praise her for her devotion to research, as he did before. But he ends up calling her a "monster."

She asks him why he chose Chiko instead of her, and he says he didn't choose Chiko, Chiko chose him. She asks what would happen if Chiko didn't exist, and starts to plunge a knife into a large suitcase beside her, as if Chiko is in it. He shoots her dead. But when he opens the suitcase, he finds that the real (naked) WH is inside it, not Chiko, and he has been conversing with a fake. She says that Chiko is in the sky, like them -- and we see that Chiko is trussed up and hanging from a rope beneath the zeppelin. And the expression on her face is viciously angry. Great image, like her expression when she started after WH in ep12.

Ken finds the many bombs WH has rigged to destroy the airship. He starts defusing them, but there are too many.

Meanwhile, Akechi has shown up in the cavern and gets the fat detective, Tome, and Shunka back to shore. Then he takes off to find Chiko and NJM. He realizes they must be in the zeppelin and with binoculars he sees Chiko dangling there.

'I am the Daughter of Twenty-faces'

WH wants NJM to go back with her to the way things were, and to join her in death. While NJM and WH fight, with WH gaining the upper hand, Chiko remembers the gang, how the Skipper said never to give up, how Muta said it was useful to be able to dislocate your joints sometimes, how her fighting trainer said her strong point was her lightness rather than the strength she doesn't have, and how the plump guy said when you are tied up, you try to release one finger at a time.

Chiko gradually works her way out of the ropes. Just as WH is about to kill NJM, she appears in the cabin behind her. WH is shocked she got there, but Chiko says, with pride: "I am the daughter of Twenty-Faces." She picks up a gun and is about to shoot WH, but NJM stops her.

The fight continues, and WH gains the upper hand over both of them. She is about to kill Chiko, but NJM says she has him, Chiko isn't part of this. Then WH (conveniently) dies from her body-modifications just as she is about to kill NJM.

NJM takes her body to the exit ramp, walks down it and lets her body fly off, falling into the ocean. Chiko comes down the ramp to embrace NJM and ask him to let her be with him always. He is replying to this carefully when explosions rock the ship, and they are thrown off into space together. NJM pushes Chiko back onto the gangway, where Ken comes up and catches her. NJM asks Ken to look after her as he sinks out of sight. We see WH's body underwater, with her thoughts that she is alone again -- then she realizes that NJM is coming too, and is happy.

Next week is still in the airship, as Ken tries to pilot it to safety. We see Chiko in a hospital bed, so she survives (duh).

Can NJM survive? If this were reality, no, but in this show, you never say never. He may have found a parachute before he entered WH's cabin.


A number of scenes really hit me. The expression of pain and hatred on Chiko's face as she swung there under the zeppelin. The romantic scene between NJM and WH when they were researchers together. NJM walking away from her through the flames. The brief but intense and creative fights in the cabin. The scene of White-Hair on the operating table. The way her body lightly flies away when NJM lets her go from the ramp. Chiko with a gun pointed at WH, saying "I am the Daughter of Twenty-Faces."

There were two great screams: Chiko's when she saw NJM falling toward the sea (Hirano Aya), and WH's when she was being operated on (Tanaka Atsuko). I was also struck by how much Satou Rina (Shunka) sounded like Hirano Aya in her brief scene early on. The seiyuu are learning from each other.

I thought the CG zeppelin worked well with the 2D backgrounds.

This show continues to give us the gift of minor errors by the protagonists that lead to disaster. Ken didn't tell NJM and Chiko about the coming explosions right away when he saw them. That might have allowed them to avoid being thrown off the steps. Chiko rushed up to NJM on the steps and embraced him, meaning that neither of them was holding on. These are amazing people, but always with faults.

My understanding has been that the first half of this series would be based on the manga, but that we would get anime-original "detective girls" stories in the second half (or so). I'm glad to see that we will have at least one more episode to get Chiko back to safety, rather than ending an arc at its crisis.

I just hope the new episodes will have as much oomph as the ones from the manga have had. How many times do you see a roomful of extras just suddenly offed like the guests were on the ship? How often do you see people dangling from aircraft and performing Houdini acts to get free. How often do you see one of the main characters keep appearing to die? And how often do you see the kind of determination -- portrayed in animation and voice-acting -- that Chiko shows here? And how often do you see such a vicious enemy, or feel such sympathy for her?