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Confessions of an AKB48 fan July 29, 2012

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film, Music, Rave.
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I love AKB48. This might not seem surprising for a self-confessed otaku and firm pop fan, but for the longest time I was dismissive of huge synthetic supergroups.

In my years of fandom, I was surprisingly unenamoured with the likes of Morning Musume, an odd mix of loli idols with constantly rotating members  — the extremity of what many dislike about the Japanese pop industry. When AKB48 came along, I thought, “Jeez, a group with 48 members — that really takes the biscuit”, then got on with my life.

What changed? (more…)

Battle Angel Alita (Gunnm) January 22, 2012

Posted by ayasawada in Manga, Rave.
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Evolution of Alita/Gally.In the early days of my otakudom, Battle Angel Alita was one of the most well-known titles. The anime adaptation epitomised the new wave of Japanimation that the then Manga Video was pushing: sexy heroines, gory violence, cyborgs and post-apocalyptic desolation. Over the years, I read more about the manga Gunnm, praised by sci-fi and manga fans as a classic and attracting further attention when James Cameron acquired up the movie rights. I picked up the first few volumes in thrift stores, eBay and (most recently) local libraries. This month I finished the whole of the original series. And it blew my mind.


Pluto May 6, 2011

Posted by ayasawada in Manga, Rave.
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It takes some balls to reimagine the work of the ‘God of Manga’ Osamu Tezuka, let alone his most treasured work. But if anyone can, Naoki Urasawa can. I’m hyperbolic at times, but believe me when I say this is one of the best manga, maybe even sci-fi, that I’ve ever read.

Pluto takes the most famous story in Tezuka’s Astro Boy (The Greatest Robot on Earth arc) and gives it the Urasawa touch, parachuting in a murder-mystery, thriller aspects and enough robot sci-fi themes to have Asamov frothing at the mouth. It is brilliant because it satisfies the reader on so many levels: aesthetically, entertainingly, thoughtfully. (more…)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica May 2, 2011

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Quite simply: STUNNING. There (sadly) aren’t many anime that really make you think these days, but this is one, and possibly one of the best.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica turns the cliched magical girl genre on its head and turned heads. With a splash of cinematic vision and a dollop of sci-fi concepts, studio SHAFT – who’ve impressed me before with the two Ef series — have really outdone themselves.

(Warning: Some SPOILERS ahead) (more…)

Kokuhaku (Confessions) (2010) March 13, 2011

Posted by ayasawada in Film, Japan, Rave.
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Confessions poster

A few weeks ago I flicked over the channels late at night and found Tetsuya Nakashima‘s Memories of Matsuko on. Unimpressed by the pseudo-Amelie wackiness of it all, the friend I was with sniffed at the nonsensical plot and overstylised visuals. “Where’s the substance?,” he asked.

With Kokuhaku, Nakashima finally answers such questions. It is simply outstanding; a film of profundity and raw emotion to match Nakashima’s undoubted visual flair. This is the film in which Nakashima matures, marrying beautiful slow-mo and overhead shots with a stunningly bleak colour palate to create an atmosphere and pacing that completely sucks you in. (more…)

Honey and Clover June 21, 2010

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Manga, Rave.
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I finished reading the tenth and final volume of Honey and Clover last week. Despite knowing how it turns out — the anime having followed the manga pretty closely — I was still in tears by the end. Honey and Clover remains one of the most lovely, most profound, most perfectly paced, elegantly drawn, wonderfully nuanced series out there and a real jewel in the shojo genre. (more…)

Clannad ~After Story Ep16 February 7, 2009

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Tomoyo and Nagisa ^^

Tomoya and Nagisa ^^

I normally wait until after I finish a series before blogging about it, but Clannad ~After Story Ep 16 so was so amazing I feel moved to write something about it right away.


The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008) January 5, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Film, Rave.
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I went to the ICA on Sunday to see a preview of the ‘oriental western’ The Good, the Bad, the Weird and boy was it excellent.

It’s a Korean production, big budget and extremely well shot. The plot builds on the basic premise of Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (of course) with three main characters mixed up in a complicated plot, this one involving a treasure map and riches in Manchuria. But it fills this out with a hint of political intrigue with it’s setting around the time of the Japanese Manchurian occupation and the clash of Korean, Chinese, Japanese and others in Asia’s equivalent of the Old West. That and lots and lots of stunning action scenes.

The first half of the movie in particular seems to be a string of actions scenes, but impressively director Kim Ji-woon doesn’t allow the characterisation to suffer. You do learn a little more about our ‘heroes’ and their way of life as the film goes on, even if they are only as three-dimensional as an action-oriented Western will allow a character to be. In terms of the action, I was blown away by two sequences in particular: the opening train robbery (particularly the one-take follow of Yoon Tae-Goo as he heads for the front car and his target) and the shoot out in Ghost Market, with the unbelievably cool Park Do-won swinging around on ropes, shotgun in hand, picking off bad guys, whilst Yoon Tae-Goo wanders around with a diver’s helmet on.

Those two sequences were exquisitely choreographed and paced, and like the rest of the movie beautifully shot. The cinematography and framing really hit home as well, as I watched the end credits accompanied by still shots of the movie. And the music was superb. Ending felt like a little bit of a cop out to me, after building to the shoot out I was hoping for, but overall I enjoyed the film immensely.

I really can’t emphasise how cool this movie is and urge any fan of action or Asian cinema to see it. It’s my first pleasant surprise of the cinematic year and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see a Kim Ji-woon film. I’ll be seeking out A Bittersweet Life and A Tale of Two Sisters over the next few months.

Macross Frontier OST2 Nyan Tora. October 9, 2008

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Music, Rave, Video.
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Nyan Tra Cover

Nyan Tra Cover

Is it Nyan Tora. or Nyan Tra? In any case I’m moved enough by this OST to write my first post in months.

Nyan Tora. is the second OST for Macross Frontier, an anime with which I was a little disappointed at the end, but which nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed and who’s music I can’t get enough of. Indeed, Macross F is responsible for getting the non-pop star related anisong back on top of the Oricon charts.

I’ve been listening to the first OST, Nyan Furo, on repeat for months. I’m a big fan of May’n’s vocals (What ’bout my star abd Diamond Crevasse ranking amongst my all time favourite songs) but something about Megumi Nakajima really touches my heart, which is weird since I definitely prefer Sheryl to Ranka :p

Anyway, loved the first OST but Nyan Tora blew my head off. I’m a nut when it comes to catchy ridiculously upbeat anipop and Nyan Tora has some of my favourite songs from the series. Northern Cross and Seikan Hikou I’ve already been listening to the singles for but I’ve been waiting aaages for the full versions of Ranka’s Ai Oboete Imasu Ka and Anata no Oto –a  song so ridiculously sweet and catchy I fell in love as soon as I heard it. (Warning, saccharine anipop warblings coming up)

I’ve said it before, but thank God for the Net. It’s a miracle we can dl Japanese music within hours of it being released in the mother country. Of course, I’ve got the actual CDs already on order. What do you take me for, a pirate? ^_-

Great anisongs are what keep me going in life. Yak deculture!

XOXO December 9, 2007

Posted by ayasawada in Rave, TV.
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Gossip Girl cast

Put down your remotes, this is the show of the fall season. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s another Josh Schwartz/Stephanie Savage effort.

Gossip Girl is The OC for the East coast. From here on its New York not Newport that’s in. The similarities are there of course: cast of impossibly rich pretty people, troubled social queen, spoilt best friend, kid from the wrong side of town, cool parents with a lot of shared history…. multiply that by six and that’s Gossip Girl. Move over Carrie Bradshaw, it’s the Upper East side teens who make us heart NY now. Move over Julie Cooper, we’ve got Blair Waldorf, Chuck Bass, and all the mom’s and dad’s of the Upper East Side to hate now. Dan is a smarter, more adorable Ryan and Seth , Serena is a more interesting Marissa. Nate is everything Luke should have been.

Gossip Girl is breathtaking with a Manhattenite’s pace. It’s everything I fell for in The OC for back in the day, but on crack. Schwartz and Savage have taken the melodrama of a teen novel series and molded it to fit their winning formula. Great music, grand locations. There are character twists all over the place; evil one minute, vulnerable the next; shallow one episode, complicated in another. Keep the audience guessing, that’s sort of The OC way, but done better. Is it the cold snap of the east coast that gives it an edge? The harsh light of a chilly day, away from the warm Californian sunshine? But in true OC tradition, the thanksgiving episode was awesome.

The question is, is Gossip Girl going to do an OC and burn through all it’s bright ideas in one lightspeed season? The inconvenient writer’s strike will hold them back a bit at the least. Have Schwartz and co learned their lesson? That’s one secret they’ll never tell. You know you’ll love it. XOXO