Friday, November 06, 2009

Fall Anime Popularity: 2channel vs. AnimeSuki

Darker than Black II Comparing numbers of posts on 2channel with numbers of posts on AnimeSuki, we see some differences in the reactions of Japanese and foreign animanes to the new fall shows.

But there is no difference at the top: in Japan, Darker than Black and Railgun are far ahead of the pack. In the West, it's Railgun and Darker than Black.

Some differences appear after that, though. On 2channel, Seitokai no Ichizon is the third most posted-about show, followed by Kampfer. On AnimeSuki, it's Kampfer followed by Sacred Blacksmith. In Japan, Blacksmith is ninth. In the West, SeiZon is sixth.

Fairy Tail is ranked very differently on the two forums, too: in Japan, it is way down around 18th place. In the West, it is seventh.

Kiruminzu
is pretty popular on 2channel, in tenth place. On AS, it has only three posts.

Sora no Otoshimono is high in Japan, in fifth place, whereas it is down in tenth place on AS.

There are other slight differences, but in general, the rankings are similar. Kimi ni Todoke ranks fairly high on both: sixth in Japan, fifth in the West. Very high for a shoujo title, it seems to me.

I don't know if one can draw any general conclusions. Maybe "otaku shows," with fanservice and/or animanga references, do a bit better on 2channel (SeiZon, SoraOto), while straight shounen-ish shows like Blacksmith and Fairy Tail, are doing better on AS. Those latter two both have female protagonists, it seems to me, too. And kiddy-oriented shows like Kiruminzu tend to do better on 2channel.

Anyway, here are the lists. Make of them what you will:

1. 2channel (~1000s of posts)
NOTE: Some shows are missing. The same series of threads often includes both the first and second seasons of a show. I have left those shows out. And I only went down to about the 100th most recently posted-about show.
Darker than Black II 70
Railgun 64
Seitokai no Ichizon 19
Kampfer 17
Sora no Otoshimono 15
Kimi ni Todoke 14
Nyankoi 13
Kiddy Girl and 12
Seiken no Blacksmith 12
Kiruminzu 11
11eyes 7
Bantorra 5
Sasameki Koto 5
Kobato 4
Letter Bee 4
Miracle Train 4
Trapeze 4
Aoi Bungaku 3
Fairy Tail 3
Kaidan Restaurant 3
Yumeiro Patissiere 3
Winter Sonata 2


2. AnimeSuki (number of posts)
NOTE: Approximate numbers for the top two shows.
Railgun 1900
Darker than Black II 1800
Kampfer 1127
Seiken no Blacksmith 826
Kimi ni Todoke 637
Seitokai no Ichizon 563
Fairy Tail 530
Kobato 500
Nyankoi 452
Sora no Otoshimono 345
Kiddy Girl and 341
11eyes 288
Letter Bee 246
NogizakaHaruka II 246
Shin Koihime Musou 223
Bantorra 212
Sasameki Koto 176
Trapeze 129
Natsu no Arashi II 111
Asura Cryin' II 110
Aoi Bungaku 84
Winter Sonata 81
Yumeiro Patissiere 44
Miracle Train 19
Kiruminzu 3
Kaidan Restaurant ? (no thread)

NOTES: I should just add here that we can't really regard these numbers as pure ratings of popularity. Sometimes people post about shows because they hate them, or because there are a lot of questions they need to ask.

And, of course, TV ratings in Japan present a very different picture, with shows for kids consistently at the top of the ratings. But I think 2channel and AnimeSuki are both used by a broadly similar slice of the anime-viewing public, in Japan or abroad.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Stereopony's Darker than Black II OP Reaches #4 on the Charts

The OP to Darker than Black ~Meteor Twins~ came out this week. At first, sales seemed disappointing: it entered the Oricon charts at #14. But on succeeding days, it has climbed to #8 and now #4.

EDIT: It ended its first week at #8, having sold 11,906 copies.

That looks to me like a song selling itself, rather than being sold by the anime it is associated with. Most anime songs enter the charts at the highest position they ever reach.

Good work for a teenage all-girl rock trio from Okinawa. Here is the live-action version of the song, Tsukiakari no Michishirube ツキアカリのミチシルベ "Guided by Moonlight":



The group formed in Okinawa in 2007. Vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Aimi (front, below) is from Okinawa and just turned 19. Bassist Nohana (left) is from Nagasaki (Kyushu) and just turned 20. Drummer Shiho is from Okinawa, and just turned 19.

The group was discovered in 2008 after appearing on a Tokyo FM radio station, and was signed by Sony's gr8 records. Their first single was Bleach ED17, "Hitohira no Hanabira."

In 2009, they have had a string of singles and one album: "Namida no Mukou" (Gundam00 II OP2), "I Do It" (written by another Sony artist, YUI), "Smilife" (Yatterman theme song), and album "Hydrangea ga Saiteru." And they did a song for a TV commercial for Lipton's.

Four of their releases have reached the weekly top 20, with the Gundam ED at #2 and their album at #7. In a year and a half, they have gone from high school to rock stars.

The group's leader is Aimi, who writes their songs, sings lead, and plays lead guitar. She is a tiny bundle of energy, at 148cm (4'10"), and describes herself as stubborn and naive. In her official profile, she says she likes running, cats, and manga. Asked what she likes to eat, she replies: "Food." What would she like to try doing? "Skydiving."

Photo below: (l-r) Shiho, Aimi, Nohana.


Bassist Nohana (right) says one of her favorite expressions is "cellphone-dependent," which she is. She says she is extremely shy, but asked what she'd like to try doing, she says: "Playing live in the Budokan." That is the big arena in Tokyo that only very popular acts get to play.

Drummer Shiho (left) says she herself is dark and introverted, and has a fear of heights, but likes to charge forward recklessly.

Here they are in a live TV performance of their Bleach ED, "Hitohira no Hanabira":



Here is the PV.

And here is the PV and a "making of" video for their song written by YUI, "I Do It":



YUI actually went to the studio in Okinawa to work with them. Hey, it's a holiday, too. And her music and theirs are similar.

Discography:

Singles
  • "Hitohira no Hanabira" (ヒトヒラのハナビラ, "A Single Petal") (November 5, 2008) - (Bleach ED 17)
  • "Namida no Mukou" (泪のムコウ, "On the Other Side of Tears") (February 11, 2009) - (Gundam00 season 2 OP2) #2 on weekly Oricon chart (60,096 sold)
  • "I do it" - collaboration with YUI. (April 22, 2009) #13 (9,603 sold)
  • "Smilife" - (August 19, 2009) - (Yatterman theme song) #20 (5,665 sold)
  • "Tsukiakari no Michishirube" (ツキアカリのミチシルベ, "Guided by Moonlight") (November 4, 2009) - (Darker Than Black 2 OP)

Album
  • "Hydrangea ga Saiteiru" (ハイド.ランジアが咲いている, A hydrangea blooms) (June 17, 2009) #7 (22,879 sold)

Hard to say how well their new single will sell overall. It missed the big initial sales that tie-up with a more popular anime can bring, so it probably won't rank very high on this first week's charts. But perhaps its sales will sustain for a while, unlike most anime tie-ups.


Links

English official site
Wikipedia
Japanese official site
Japanese Wikipedia
YouTube search
Oricon rankings page (Japanese only)

Here is the animated TV version of the OP for Darker than Black 2:



For those who read Japanese, here is a transcription of Aimi's lyrics for the song, "Tsukiakari no Michishirube" ("Guided by Moonlight"). From this Japanese blog.

Sorry, no full translation. In general, the lyrics are from the point of view of someone, probably a student, who is leading a very same, sad life and doesn't know which way to go. In the end, she is guided by the moonlight breaking through the clouds, shining on her way ahead, and knows the answer is within her and she has to keep moving forward, painful as things may get, becoming stronger.

This is the full version of the lyrics, as in the first video on this page. The OP only takes its lyrics from the fifth and sixth stanzas, with the moon shining on the way ahead, and makes no mention of ordinary life, so there is nothing that wouldn't apply to Suou, the show's protagonist:

ツキアカリのミチシルベ
DARKER THAN BLACK -流星の双子-のOP

答えのない毎日が
ただ過ぎていく時間が
これから先どうなるのだろう?
わからない・・・

闇よりも深い夜の孤独に
惑わされていた
だれかに今気づいてほしい・・・
ここから逃げ出したいから

窓から見える朝焼け
部屋に鳴り響く音
アラームに起こされて
薄暗い中 家飛び出すよ
カバンの中には
何も変わらない平凡詰め込んで
そしていつもの場所へ

だれかが言った言葉が
気になって 惑わされて
争いたくなんてないから
何も言えない
夢や理想はあるけれど
気持ちばかり先に行って
現実がずっと後ろから
ボクを見てる

ねぇだれか教えて
みんなそうなのかな?
今日が幸せなら
それでいいと思えるって
幼いころには
確かにあったよ
夢を追いかけた
でもそれも遠い記憶

答えのない毎日が
ただ過ぎていく時間が
これから先どうなるのだろう?
わからない・・・
ツキアカリのミチシルベ
雲を越えボクに届け
進むべき道を照らしてよ
今日がどんなに壊れそうでも

何があっても
何があっても
信じてたいから
あの日の遠い記憶 呼び覚ますから
忘れないでね 胸に刻みつけ

答えは自分の中に
必ずあるものだから
あきらめないで
強く生きることをやめないで
悲しすぎて
前に進めない時でも
共に悩み歩んだぼくらに
風は吹く
どこまででも

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Fall 2009 Anime -- brief opinions, a few episodes in

Darker than Black 2 After one episode, so many shows seemed enjoyable. After three to five, the list has grown shorter.

This is all just personal opinion, a combination of judgment and instinctive preference. Read at your own (and my) risk. (mouseover images for captions; click to enlarge)

Still watching:

Darker than Black 2 -- Hanazawa Kana is just outstanding in this slightly gentlified second series of the dark sci-fi adventure. She has taken her voice-acting to a new level. This is the show I am most eager for every week.

Winter SonataWinter Sonata -- I'm sold. Great music. Great images. Great story. Fantastic characters. A high school tsundere who seems real.

White Album -- A huge edifice of uncertainty and suppressed emotion is about to come crashing down. Whether it will all make sense as it does is still uncertain, but the complex spiderweb of feelings and events is a painful joy in itself.

Seitokai no Ichizon -- The show this season about which there is the most intense disagreement. For me, it is a hip, smart, hilarious and humane self-referential comedy with great characters, total absurdity, and moe to spare.

Yumeiro PatissiereYumeiro Patissiere -- A show aimed at elementary school girls that manipulates its memes with complete assurance, creating warm sentimental emotion.

Tegami Bachi (Letter Bee) -- Charming fantasy. Excellent voices. Wonderful direction by a newcomer who makes each episode just fly by.

Aoi Bungaku -- The source material is so strong that even when they change it around, it's still powerful. At least through the first four-episode story. Almost too strong. I can sometimes hardly bear to watch.

Seitokai no IchizonSasameki Koto -- Has now gotten rolling with the bizarre yuri comedy of the manga. The tall karate-expert loves her best friend, who gets crushes only on cute girls -- and now on the cute trap who loves karate girl. Get it? And the yuri wolves are out, too. Takagaki Ayahi (karate girl) and Saitou Chiwa (cute wolf) are both outstanding.

Kimi ni Todoke -- I love the manga, but I'm not sure whether to praise the slow delicacy of this show, or to express impatience. Maybe it's the "I've read the manga" syndrome. I haven't decided whether Noto Mamiko is perfect or is overdoing it, baking a cake that's so sweet you can't taste the flavour. But Sanpei Yuuko and Sawashiro Miyuki give award-worthy performances as Sawako's friends. And the character design and backgrounds are excellent.

White AlbumTo Aru Kagaku no Railgun -- Well-made girls-with-powers comic adventure fantasy. More enjoyable than Mai-HiME, for me.

Sora no Otoshimono -- Redefines ecchi. Famous for the ED featuring flocks of flying panties. Humor that is nutso without quite reaching the level of the absurd. Hovers on the brink of abandonment, but I can't resist Hayami Saori's voice.


Watching when and if I have time:

Fairy Tale -- Well-done shounen comic fantasy adventure, with Hirano Aya in her next big role. But not my thing.

TrapezeTrapeze (Kuuchuu Buranko) -- Beautiful, brilliant, and bores me. I'll keep trying, but there's something arch and superficial about it. Or perhaps that's just me, lol.

11eyes -- Enjoyable supernatural adventure, but I don't find myself making time for it. Maybe it's my aversion to monsters.

Tatakau Shisho - The Book of Bantorra -- Also decent, set in a strong, dark world, but the weeks seem to slip by with new episodes unseen.

Miracle Train -- Episode one was okay, but I haven't yet felt the urge to go back and see what sort of girl the bishies help next. Too many good shows, too little time.

Kampfer -- Having abandoned all pretense to plot and character, we are left with fanservice alone.


Bye-bye:

Kimi ni TodokeKobato -- I enjoyed the cuteness of the first two episodes, but have been bored silly ever since.

Seiken no Blacksmith -- I liked the first two episodes more than many people, but this is not interesting enough to warrant the time to watch it, for me.

Anyamaru Tantei Kiruminzuu -- Popular with the Japanese "family" TV audience, and completely uninteresting for me.

Kaidan Restaurant -- See above. These two shows have the highest TV ratings among new anime.

Tegami BachiNogizaka Haruka no Himitsu 2 -- Having enjoyed the first half of the first season, I watched two episodes of this second season...and quit forever. Can't keep pressing the same button.

Kiddy Girl and
-- The worst show of the season. The animation is okay. What is being animated is of zero interest, period. How low have you fallen, Gotoh Keiji? Uta~Kata was a wonderful show.

I realize some shows are missing here. Those are shows I just haven't watched enough of -- yet -- to judge.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Hayami Saori & Yoshida Hitomi: Sora no Otoshimono OP -- 2versions+

Blue Drops: Yoshida Hitomi (left) and Hayami Saori Last spring, young seiyuu/singer Hayami Saori 早見沙織 was teamed with Tomatsu Haruka and Nakajima Megumi, as the group "Eclipse," for several songs in Basquash.

Now she teams with Yoshida Hitomi 吉田仁美 (left), as "Blue Drops," for the OP to Sora no Otoshimono. Hayamin stars as Ikaros in the show.

Yoshida-san is a 25-year-old stage actress, singer, and seiyuu, and her work here is outstanding. As is 18-year-old Hayamin's. They both have accurate voices and musical talent and skill. They are more like professional singers than seiyuu/singers.

To me, their work is a step up from Eclipse. It certainly is more suited to the clarity and subtlety of Hayamin's voice.

The maxi-single comes out tomorrow: the SoraOto OP Ring My Bell, and another song, Soba ni Irareru dake de ("Just to Be By Your Side"), which was the ED for episode one. Available from CDJapan and Amazon Japan.

There are three versions of each song on the disk: a version with Hitomi singing lead and Saori singing back-up; a version with Saori singing lead and Hitomi behind her; and also the usual instrumental "karaoke" version. The Hitomi version of the OP is used in the anime, and the Saori version on the anime's radio show.

Here are brief samples of both vocal versions of both songs. I prefer the second song, but first here is the Yoshida Hitomi version of Ring My Bell:








Now the Hayami Saori version of Ring My Bell:








Hitomi has a real country-pop voice, to me. Her version has more verve. But Saori has one of the most beautiful and interesting voices I know. It gives me shivers.

Here is the Hitomi version of Soba ni Irareru dake de:








And here is the Saori version:








Saori's warm tones enfold me. But Hitomi gives the song a nostalgic edge that has some of the flavor of a post-war French ballad. Together, their voices just soar.

This is the kind of musical company Hayamin deserves to keep. Hayamin is more than just a seiyuu who sings. Musically, she has something special to give. And so does Yoshida Hitomi, it seems to me.

In interviews, Hitomi says she envies Saori's "mature" voice. Saori says that the smiling energy of Hitomi's voice always makes her smile, too.

They chose the name "Blue Drops" from a short-list of three given them by the record company (Columbia Music Entertainment): "Blue Drops," "Tsubasa" ("wings"), and "Arutaaberu" (I don't know what this last one connotes).

Hitomi said that she wants to do more work together as Blue Drops.

Yoshida Hitomi has a continuing role as Miura Haru in Hitman Reborn. Her other anime roles have been few and minor -- in Koihime Musou, among other shows -- but she has also appeared in 18 stage plays and three films, as well as doing TV ads.

Hayami Saori broke into voice acting at 15, as Momoka in Touka Gettan, and has played Kou in Wagaya no Oinari-sama, Musubi in Sekirei, Saki in Eden of the East, and Ikaros in Sora no Otoshimono. Aliens, goddesses, and priestesses seem to be the roles she is given.

When the duo was getting its name, I wonder if anyone concerned ever thought of the fine yuri science fiction anime from a couple of years ago, Blue Drop. Probably not. I would love to see Hayamin star in a sequel -- as an alien, of course.

links:
Hayami Saori Anime News Network
Hayami Saori hashihime blog post
Hayami Saori jp.Wikipedia (Japanese)
Yoshida Hitomi Anime News network
Yoshida Hitomi jp.Wikipedia (Japanese)
Yoshida Hitomi blog (Japanese)
Japanese interview features: one two

Extra:

Hayamin was on Hiyama Nobuyuki's radio show last week. (He has played numerous well-known rules, such as Guy in GaoGaiGar, Balmung in .hack shows, Madarame in Genshiken, Kashiwagi in Marimite, etc.)

The fast-talking Hiyama eventually let Hayamin get a word in edgewise, asking her various questions:

If you were an animal, what animal would you be? A chick.
What food do you like? Boiled gyouza (jiaozi, Chinese meat dumplings).
What do you like to do on a day off? Go shopping.
What kind of person do you admire? Adoptive parents.
If you weren't a seiyuu, what would you like to be? A piano teacher or art teacher. Something in the arts.

In her recent interview on Mako's TV show, spread over two weeks, Hayamin said she has played piano since she was four. She has learned swimming, and tennis (how appropriate for her character in Love Plus). But she is not that athletic, and piano is the one thing she has kept up. She took jazz-singing lessons in the same class as her mother.

She cooks a bit, making dinner sometimes, and making sweet things like pound cake and waffles (her family recently got a waffle iron). But she only does more complicated sweets, such as Valentine's chocolates, with her mother's help.

Monday, November 02, 2009

fripSide's Railgun OP PV, with seiyuu Nanjou Yoshino

I've been enjoying the OP to To Aru Kagaku no Railgun. The happy, energetic music suits the show so well.

But I didn't realize that seiyuu Nanjou Yoshino 南條愛乃 is now the voice of fripSide until I saw the PV:



I was one of a vanishingly small number of people who liked her character Koko in DC II: Da Capo II. I think lots of people liked her as Maria in Canaan. She plays a character called Maya in Railgun

I did know that she herself was quite attractive (see photos below), with rather unique features. But I had no idea she could sing like this. Not that what she does in this song is that complicated, and not that her voice may not have various electronic assists here, but it really works.

fripSide was formed in 2002 by female vocalist/lyricist nao (now aged 24) and male music producer sat (Yaginuma Satoshi 八木沼悟志, now aged 35). They were a fixture in the doujin music world until 2006, when they joined the Visual Art's agency and started doing game music. In 2008, they did the Koihime Musou OP "flower of bravery."

In March of 2009, nao announced that she was leaving the group. In July, Nanjou (now aged 25) was announced as her successor. Nanjou doesn't have that certain something that nao did, but still sounds good. I look forward to nao's rumored solo career.

Japanese Wikipedia compares the group to I've, eufonius, and Elements Garden. It says their music is based in techno and J-pop, but that sat's keyboard work introduces elements of Euro-beat and trance.

Here is the fripSide PV of "flower of bravery," with nao and sat:



You can search YouTube for lots more of their music.

Here are some photos. Mouseover for captions, click to enlarge:




















links:
fripSide Wikipedia page (English)
fripSide jp.Wikipedia
fripSide home page
Nanjou Yukino jp.Wikipedia
Nanjou Yukino home page
Nanjou Yukino blog
Nanjou Yukino ANN (English)