AKB0048 First Stage: Dreams, Performance & the Machine

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Japan’s idol industry, and AKB0048 First Stage [Satelight, 2012] is kind of the perfect review of everything I find enchanting about the system and everything I find terrifying and troubling about it. Like many anime shows that heavily feature music, I seriously believe in the unitive and uplifting abilities of music and, perhaps even more than just music itself, performance. Having been a part of a show choir for three years in high school and one year in college, the similarities between idol performances and show choir performances have always struck me. (Don’t know what show choir is? Here’s a video of a nationally renowned high school show choir from California.)

So, the trouble comes when I have to compare the affection for the past and resonance with my own experience generated by these shows to the dark side of the industry such shows sometimes tackle, but often gloss over. But before that, have some tunes!

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Something Cute: Vocaloid Does Alice in Wonderland

So, I know this video is over three years old, but I haven’t shared any music around here lately and I really like this video. Featuring vocals by a cast dubbed the Vocaloid All Stars, the video chronicles Alice’s (Miku) 11-minute adventure through an alternate version of Alice in Wonderland in musical form—the musical is titled “Alice in Musicland.”

There’s actually a pretty impressive range of music styles contained within this video, and for someone who loves musicals (like I do), it’s a pleasant blend of two different artistic mediums I enjoy. The video, too, done in a sort of paper puppet animation style, is pretty adorable.

I’m not claiming this is a brilliantly insightful artistic endeavor, but it’s light, cute, and fun to watch. If you like musicals or Vocaloid, give it a shot. It just might brighten your day!

A Couple Songs from fhána

I don’t think I’ve hidden the fact that fhána is my favorite anisong band I’ve encountered in my time watching anime. Their sound is just one that really appeals to me. I’ll probably write a post on my favorite anisong bands/singers sometime, but for now I just wanted to share a couple songs they’ve recently released.

1. “Kotonoha Breakdown”

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Tari Tari Review

There are a lot of things that could be said about Tari Tari, almost all of them good. A simple series, it knows itself well and is comfortable being just short of spectacular. For a viewer such as myself, who has had intimate experiences with music, Tari Tari speaks a little more deeply and touches just a few more emotions than it would for someone who’s never done music before. This isn’t to say that Tari Tari can’t be enjoyed by someone who isn’t hugely into music; it certainly can be. But as someone who spent his high school years happily singing in multiple choirs, the events that the characters of this anime go through ring very true to my own experience.

For Tari Tari‘s ranking, check out my ongoing rankingsTari Tari  gets a very solid 7/10 from me. Read on for the full review!

Tari Tari Title

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Fall 2013 OPs: “tiny lamp”/fhána

Each season, it’s a dogfight for the title of best OP. With numerous songs coming out with each new show, it can be tough to wade through all the sounds to distinguish what’s really good, what’s bad disguised as okay and what is truly mediocre.

Rising above the morass is the OP for the seinen anime, Gingitsune. By fhána, the band responsible for The Eccentric Family‘s lovely EP last season, the title of the song is “tiny lamp.”

Driven by lead singer towana’s beautiful voice, “tiny lamp” is quintessential fhána, mixing pop rock with electronia and adding in effects like bells. Just watch the video, because its tough to really describe their sound. All I can say for sure is that their brand of pop rock unique enough to separate them from the mob this season, although they’ll have tough competition from shows like Beyond the Boundary and Log Horizon.

“tiny lamp” is available for purchase worldwide on iTunes.

Review: Kyousougiga, Episode 00

It’s generally against my philosophy on reviewing shows to do any sort of review after one episode (other than drops), but Kyousougiga‘s episode 00 is something I just couldn’t let go by without saying something. After Crunchyroll so graciously picked up the show a few episodes in, I gave it a shot out of boredom, knowing nothing about the plot, characters or anything else. I could try to describe the episode, but it’d be better for you to just watch it. Click the picture to take off on 25 minutes of excellence.



In case you need more convincing, allow me to highlight the strengths of this episode. Continue reading

“in the rain” by keeno, feat. Hatsune Miku (Dark)

As it’s been raining and drizzling outside all day, I’ve spent today in my room doing homework and listening to music, which really is not as lonely as it sounds (denial?). However, considering the weather, I thought it would be appropriate to share this beautiful tune.

It’s been a while since I found a Vocaloid song that made me say, “Oh, I want that,” but when I heard this track, I immediately went out and got it. Featuring the darker toned Hatsune Miku, “in the rain” takes full advantage of the lilts that seem to populate Vocaloid songs. The moments when you can tell that it’s an electronic vocal, not a human one actually add to the song’s laid back, peaceful charm. The title really tells you all you need to know about the track. The instrumental backing, featuring piano, synth and guitar, rides secondary to Miku’s gorgeous melody and captures perfectly the mood of standing in a peaceful rain.

“in the rain” clocked in at number 7 on Tower Records’ weekly anime song rankings (if you want to see the full list, go here). It is by the producer keeno. Enjoy the music and have a great Saturday!

Servant x Service OP: Contender for OP of the Season

Currently working on a trio of posts defending commonly criticized elements of Sword Art Online, so while I’m working on those, enjoy this contender for the best OP of the summer 2013 anime season.

It’s from the show Servant x Service, and is appropriately entitled “How May I Help You?” by Ai Kayano, Mai Nakahara and Aki Toyosaki.

EDIT: I should also mention that the new OPs for A Certain Scientific Railgun S and Attack on Titan have not been released (or, at least I haven’t heard them yet), and I expect good things from fripSide and whoever is doing the AoT OP.