Friday, May 22, 2009

A Great Day for Anime -- Haruhi, Eden, and Phantom

What a wonderful day to be alive and watching anime: three great anime episodes back to back. A new episode of Suzumiya Haruhi, a mind-blowing episode of Eden of the East, and a chilling episode of Requiem for the Phantom.

Suzumiya Haruhi: Bamboo-Leaf Rhapsody

There may be slight differences in the character design, and perhaps somewhat fewer hours spent on the animation, but this is still authentic Suzumiya Haruhi. Hirano Aya took a few scenes to get up to speed, but then we got the real goddess Haruhi: the lovable, pitiable, despicable irresistible force. This is what Aya can do. Listen to the strength and emotional nuance in her voice. (click pics to enlarge)

Ono Daisuke is so smooth it seems as if he never left the club room. Sugita Tomokazu is still our ironic everyman, following Mikuru ("so cute") wherever she wants. Gotou Yuuko is even more over the top than ever, but her rock-candy moe makes all men melt. And Chihara Minori remains the mistress of monotone non-acting acting.

The story carried us straight to the heart of Haruhi's world: espers, time-travellers, superpowers and an eternal sadness. As before, the show was more than the sum of its parts, leaving me emotionally uplifted and drained.

Eden of the East 7

Delicate emotions, mad action, intrigue, and a WTF ending that left the audience gasping for breath. I won't go into detail: watch the show, then check out some details in the AnimeSuki thread. (last pic may be NSFW when enlarged)

Hayami Saori keeps showing me that she is the rising seiyuu star, expressing full emotion with her small but incredibly beautiful voice. And veteran Igarashi Rei bewitched with her elegance as Shiratori Diana Kuroha, the Selecao who runs a model agency by day and by night snips off male members with a cigar cutter.

Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom 8

Hayamin has some competition from the just slightly older Takagaki Ayahi, who plays the taciturn assassin Ein in Phantom. Even with only groans and screams, she is subtly but intensely expressive. As she was in Da Capo 2 and true tears. Irino Miyu does a good job as Zwei, the gradually awakening apprentice assassin. And veteran Hisakawa Aya is chilling as the sleazy but wonderfully female Claudia. You could almost taste the pheromones coming through the screen.

This episode gave us betrayal, death, sensuality, hope, loss, outstanding background music, and the first real budding of a romance I can only see as tragic.

This great show is about the least-watched of all current anime, coming in at .3 and .9 percent of the audience over the past two weeks. By contrast, Eden has has audience shares of 4.6, 3.3, and a triumphant 5.0 over the past three weeks. No figures for Haruhi yet -- and there may not be for a long time, if the information flow remains the same as it was when the first series aired.

These are the kinds of shows that thrill me: great voices, great stories, deep emotions, good animation. Maybe I'm biased, but this seems like anime for adults, whether adults are the intended audience or not.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Spring Anime -- 16 favorite OP/EDs

Tastes differ, but for me this season is the best I can remember for enjoyable anime OPs and EDs.

I have only one way of judging: after several episodes, do I still keep watching the OP and ED or just fast-forward through them? I'm really listening for the music, rather than the words or the images, in most cases.

For anyone who's interested and can read some Japanese, there's a 2channel thread where people are posting which are their favorite OP/EDs. No totals yet.

Here, from YouTube, are my 16 favorites of the season. Not in exact order, since I'm not sure which I like best or least. I'm not saying these songs or animations are the "best" of the season, just that they are what I enjoy:

Phantom~Requiem for the Phantom~ OP
KOKIA: Karma

Guin Saga ED
Kanon: Saga~This is My Road

Eden of the East OP
Oasis: Falling Down

Eden of the East ED
School Food Punishment: Futurisic Imagination

Hanasakeru Seishounen OP
J-min: Change

Hanasakeru Seishounen ED
J-min: One

Asura Cryin' OP
angela: Spiral

Asura Cryin' ED
angela: Link

Pandora Hearts OP
Fiction Junction: Parallel Hearts

Shangri-la OP
May'n: Kimi Shinitamo Koto Nakare

Toyosaki Aki, Hikasa Yoko, Satou Satomi, Kotobuki Minako: Cagayake Girls

Hikasa Yoko, Toyosaki Aki, Satou Satomi, Kotobuki Minako: Don't Say Lazy

Souten Kouro OP
Tribal Chair: 909

Souten Kouro ED
Ogre You Asshole: Pinhole

Tayutama - kiss on my deity OP
Kicco: The Fine Every Day

Basquash OP
Eclipse (Tomatsu Haruka, Hayami Saori, Nakajima Megumi): nO limiT