Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mizuki Nana, Hirano Aya to Star Together in "White Album"

Mizuki Nana and Hirano Aya will star together in White Album, an idol anime to air beginning in January 2009.

The anime is based on a PC game of which a PS3 version will also come out next year. The story involves Yuki (Hirano, in red), a new idol whose career increases the distance between her and her boyfriend. Rina (Mizuki, in white) is already a top idol, and the show will follow the evolution of the relationship between the two.

The story is set in 1986, during the Japanese "bubble" period. The economy was about to reach its peak for a while and then crash.

This is being billed as a "dream battle" between the two seiyuus. Here's hoping it brings their fans closer together, rather than driving them even further apart. No doubt the producers expect a bonanza from character CDs.

Since their singing styles are so different -- Nana's is much more polished and Aya's rocks more -- I look forward to seeing whether the music producers can make this combination work. The same goes for their acting styles, with Nana's more conventional and Aya's more idiosyncratic and harder for other seiyuus to blend in with. Here's hoping this will be a fruitful combination rather than a disastrous one.

Seven Arcs (Nanoha, Sekirei) will be the company in charge of animation production. Director will be Yoshida Taizou 吉田泰三, who did key animation on Eureka Seven and other shows, and storyboarded and directed several episodes each of Nanoha StrikerS and Otogijushi Akazukin, but who is a first-time director here. Music by Elements Garden.

Here is a Japanese site describing both the game and the anime.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hirano Aya's Riot Girl #6 For First Week

"Really!!?
Oricon weekly ranking...#6!!!?
( ̄□ ̄;)!!( ̄□ ̄;)!!( ̄□ ̄;)!!
Party!!!
That's so great, everyone!!
Thank you ゜+。(*′∇`)。+゜
The first album in my life at #6...
It's thanks to all of you.
And the staff worked so hard.
Really, thank you so much."

-- from Hirano Aya's blog this morning

I've now had a chance to listen to the album a few times, and I like it. I'd like to have seen unnamed world on it, but I basically like all the new material and most of the old.

She doesn't have a "pretty" voice, but there is actually a lot going on in the way she phrases and inflects the lyrics. And she can rock.

My own favorites on the album? For You, with its swinging energy and emergent melody. The sad joy of Yorokobi no Uta. The way Aya's voice matches the grinding force of the music in Harmonia Vita. And Aya proves, contrary to my expectation, that her voice can handle a ballad in Hoshi no Kakera. Even Aimai Scream/My Ice Cream is cute, and really gets rocking toward the end. And I've always liked Neophilia and Maybe I Can't Goodbye. But my favorite Aya song remains the Uma Kamen theme from the third Sumomo mo momo mo character CD. About the only song on the new album that I don't much enjoy is the title track.

Want a hug? I think she's in the mood to give them today.

The comparatively high placing of this album does have something to do with this being a week in which none of the top acts released albums, as j1m0ne has pointed out, but I think Aya will take it, anyway.

Hers is not a style of singing -- or a quality of voice -- that can appeal to fans of more mainstream acts like Mizuki Nana or Chihara Minori, but I personally play more Hirano than either of them.

Just as j1m0ne, in her full review of this album, complains about the accompaniment overpowering Aya's voice, that's how I feel about the treacly, overblown arrangements favored by Nana-chan. The music of those two singers, both more skilled and popular as singers than Aya is, tends to bore me. Tastes differ. Whether Aya can sing as enjoyably live as post-processed, however, is another matter, as j1m0ne says.

Here is the Lantis page for the album. Here is amazon.com. The new rankings haven't yet shown up on the Oricon website, so I am trusting that Aya got correct information. Here is a fuller listing from 2channel:

*1 41,251 KimaGuren
*2 40,866 GReeeeN
*3 38,764 TUBE
*4 29,925 Koi no Uta
*5 29,303 Ayaka
*6 22,919 Hirano Aya
*7 21,969 ELLEGARDEN
*8 21,128 B'z
*9 20,690 ORANGE RANGE
10 14,502 Ketsumeishi

j1m0ne says that Hirano should be aiming to get a final total of 25-30,000 in sales to be in the same range as major idol seiyuu like Tamura Yukari or Horie Yui. With almost 23,000 units sold in the first week, she's well on her way to at least that number.

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Shows -- 2channel Popularity

It's hard to judge, since totals for earlier seasons of the same shows may be bumping up their numbers, but it looks as if Strike Witches and Slayers Revolution are the runaway most popular new shows on 2channel. Zero no Tsukaima may be up there, too.

Strike Witches has over 44,000 posts. I suspect some but not too many of these were for the original short OVA. The nearest after it is Slayers Revolution at 26,000, and some of its posts may have been for the original series, too.

The same goes for Zero no Tsukaima, at 174,000 posts. It had two recent popular seasons, so it's just about impossible to tell how many posts it has this time, since old threads are deleted from the public servers. Hidamari x365 has 81 threads, but many of those are also probably for the original season.

Of shows we can be fairly certain of, Sekirei has over 7000 posts; Telepathy Shoujo Ran and Tetsuwan Birdy Decode have over 6000; and Koihime and Someday's Dreamers~Summer Skies~ have over 5000.

Looking back at last season, it looks as if Code Geass R2 and Macross Frontier are the most interesting to 2channelers. Of the 817 threads (i.e., over 816,000 posts) for Code Geass, there are records indicating that almost 400 are for the current season. Macross Frontier has 274 threads. Of other spring shows, Zettai Karen Children is running first, at 34 threads, with Blassreiter surprisingly close behind, at 31. Soul Eater has 26 and ToLoveRu has 25.

Of course, these numbers are for otaku-centric 2channel. Actual TV ratings tell a far different story. According to Siegel_Clyne's posts on AnimeSuki, the top new show there is Antique Bakery, followed by Telepathy Shoujo Ran, which airs on Saturday mornings. For the spring season, Net Ghost Pipopa and Zettai Karen Children are the most watched.

Despite the fact that I am a big fan of Hirano Aya, I don't have much use either for Zettai Karen as a show or for her performance in it. Just shows how wrong I can be, lol.

Anyway, here is the raw 2channel data. Maybe you can tease more info out of it. The numbers are the number of the current thread for each show. Threads are closed when they reach 1000 posts.

shows with previous seasons
Code Geass R2 817
Macross F 274
Zero no Tsukaima Rondo 175
Yes! PreCure 5 Gogo 162
Hidamari Sketch x365 81
Strike Witches 45
Slayers Revolution 27
XxxHolic 2 22
Angelique Abyss 2 8


spring 2008 shows
Zettai Karen Children 34
Blassreiter 31
Soul Eater 26
ToLoveRu 25
Real Drive 22
Wagaya no Oinarisama 17
Kyouran Kazoku Nikki 16
Blue Dragon Seven Dragons 14
Nijuumensou no Musume 12
Nabari no Ou 10
Allison to Lillia 9
Golgo 13 9
Itazura na Kiss 8
Candy Boy 7
SA Special A 6
Kaiba 5
Net Ghost Pipopa 4
Chi's Sweet Home 4
Onegai My Melody Kirara 3
Kyou kara Mao 3
Ikkitousen Great Guardians 3

summer 2008 shows
Sekirei 8
Telepathy Shoujo Ran 7
Tetsuwan Birdy Decode 7
KoiHime 6
Someday's Dreamers 2 6
Natsume Yuujinchou 5
Nogizaka Haruka 5
Ryouko's Case File 3
World Destruction 3
Mission E 3
Blade of the Immortal 2
Ultraviolet Code 44 1