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Koshien July 17, 2011

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Among my many ambitions is to visit the hallowed ground of Koshien Stadium in Osaka, home of arguably Japan’s most famous baseball team: the Hanshin Tigers. I finally achieved this last month.

I can’t really say I’m a baseball fan. It’s not shown in the UK so I don’t really understand the rules, yet alone the complicated stats and tricks that make it fascinating. My real reason for visiting is what it represents: a dream, or rather the goal of a dream. Every year, Koshien hosts the finals of Japan’s National High School Baseball Championship, and it’s that dream is immortalised in numerous baseball manga and anime, not least the works of Mitsuru Adachi. Having become a fan of Adachi-sensei in the last few years through Touch and Cross Game, a trip to Koshien represents a pilgrimage of sorts to me. (more…)

K-ON! Gekichuka Shu Album: Ho-Kago Tea Time August 6, 2009

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As previously noted on this blog, I liked, but wasn’t blown away by K-ON! as a series and was somewhat disappointed by the music scenes. That’s not to say I didn’t like some of the songs though.

A few weeks ago a K-ON! mini album was released. K-ON! Gekichuka Shu Album: Ho-Kago Tea Time is a really short compilation of the four insert songs from the series: Curry Nochi Rice, Watashi no Hochi Kisu, Fude Pen ~Ball Pen~ and Fuwa Fuwa Time (the latter having been released as a single already. And yes, the song titles are slightly embarrassing ^^;)

I have to say, since I got this I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. I still find Fuwa Fuwa Time catchy, but not incredible, and Curry Nochi Rice isn’t really that good a song. But Watashi no Hochi Kisu and Fude Pen are out of this world.

Hochi Kisu in particular gives me goosebumps every time I hear the opening riff, particularly on the live version. I guess it reminds me of that dreamy moment in the series when Azusa walks in to the hall and hears the band playing for the first time (see video below). It’s just got a wonderful high-school nostalgia feel about it and is incredibly mushy, particularly with Yui’s (Toyosaki Aki)  moe vocals.

Fude Pen ~Ball Pen~

So while I am still taken aback at K-ON!’s popularity amongst the otaku community (the amount of merchandise I saw in Japan was eye-popping) I’m not completely immune to K-ON!’s charms ^^

Spring 2009 anime choices April 28, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Drama, TV, Video.
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The new Japanese TV season kicked off a few weeks ago, and there’s plenty to choose from. Other life commitments (shock, horror!) have restricted how much TV I’m able to keep up with these days, so of this season’s anime, I’m prioritising the following:

Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. As if I wasn’t going to watch this. Not only a retelling of one of my favourite anime series (and a supposedly more faithful to the manga apparently) but featuring a (fantastic) new Yui single as the OP. Four episodes in it looks gorgeous, though with plenty of deja vu and that stupid American voice over the eyecatches (which sticks in my head >_<). Expecting the plot to start hotting up soon.

K-ON! A Kyoto Animation slice-of-life tale of four high school girls? I feel obliged to watch this. Three episodes in thus far and it’s charmed me enough. Plus I can’t get the ED out of my head.

Eden of the East: First ep blew me away. Lovely comforting character designs by Chica Umino and a really intriguing storyline. Can’t wait to see how this pans out. Great OP and ED sequences too, and, bizarrely, an OP by Oasis. Never thought I’d see the day.

Those are the three I’ll be making the effort to keep up with. I kind of also want to watch Cross Game — mainly ’cause of the Mitsuru Adachi factor — but while the first ep was entertaining, I’m not sure it grabbed me enough. On the other hand, Touch (which I’m still in the middle of watching :P) was a slow-burner, so maybe this is something best marathoned later.

Hatsukoi Limited also intrigues me, but I haven’t gotten around to watching any of it yet, and chances are I won’t get a chance to now. I still have to finish Toradora and Ef ~A Tale of Melodies from last season after all.

Drama-wise, I’ve two episodes into the live-action adaptation of Mei-chan no Shitsuji from last season. Not quite sure what’s just started airing. Any recommendations?

Rie Fu – Romantic November 24, 2008

Posted by ayasawada in Music, Video.
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Romantic cover

Romantic cover

Along with the new Yui album, I also ordered the first press of Rie Fu’s new single.

Romantic is totally unlike her other songs, with Rie’s vocals mixed with synthetic beats and no clear beginning, middle and end. It’s essentially quite a modern track and a step away from the acoustic ballads she’s known for, though apparently it’s a cover. Here’s the video:

It’s a perfectly amicable song, very dreamy, and does grow on you after a few listens. But it’s not really  outstanding and I certainly don’t love it as much as her last single, Home, which was typically catchy, though so wholesome you could have made brown bread out of it.

The B-sides on Romantic though, are typically good. In fact, I totally love the second track, In the airplane, which mixes Rie’s upbeat vocals with some modern harpsichord (I think) for a really catchy, sunshine of a song. I want to upload it here for you to listen to, but haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet ^^; (need to ID a place to host audio files). UPDATE 22/2/09: Here’s the song. Enjoy!

Pre-Parade (Toradora! OP) November 3, 2008

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Music, Video.
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This week’s song-I-can’t-get-out-of-my-head is Pre-Parade, the OP theme of the new anime Toradora!,

The song is sung by the three main female seiyuu’s, Kitamura Eri, Horie Yui and Kugimiya Rie. It’s a good fun, catchy number, not to sweet and fluffy but capturing that crazy but sweet anisong dance vibe that makes stuff like Bouken Desho Desho so popular.

I really like the lyrics, which are pretty much about the main character Aisaka Taiga, constantly gearing herself up to confess her true feelings,  saying the wrong thing and subsequently beating herself up about it. I also like the (mild, but typically Japanese) use of an English word and its Japanese pronounciation to mean two different things — in this case the ‘Pre-Parade’ and the ‘Preparation’ (or ‘pre-pare’ if you were to shorten it in Japanese) of confessing and (hopefully) getting a good response.

Anyway, it’s ridiculously catchy and I’ve had the chorus cropping into my head at many inappropriate moments (usually in meetings). The anime is pretty fun too and growing on me week on week ^_^

English translation after the jump, taken from Words of Songs. The kanji and romanji lyrics can be found there. (more…)

The Softbank Dog has an iPhone October 28, 2008

Posted by ayasawada in Japan, Video.
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Picked up from Kirainet. I want one (both the iPhone and the dog).

Vampire Weekend October 27, 2008

Posted by ayasawada in Music, Video.
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Is your bed made?
Is your sweater on?
Do you want to
Like you know I do
Like you know I doooooooooo

I went to see Vampire Weekend at the Forum in Kentish Town on Saturday night. It’s not every week one of my favourite bands plays 20 minutes down the road from me.

Actually they’ve only recently become one of my favourite bands. I woudn’t be into them today if it weren’t for my friend Kerri raving about them in the pub one night. Kerri has good taste and I was looking to “get back into English music” so I thought why not?

I’m glad I took the chance. As it turns out, they weren’t English after all, they’re from New York (much like the Strokes and Asobi Seksu, who I also love) but at least the language is right.

Vampire Weekend are what my friend Jenni terms ‘disco indie’. That quirky, semi-70s indie sound of guitars, hooks and catchy beats. Being a pop lover, what really gets me is how good a mood it puts me in whenever I hear their music. Like good zeitgeist tunes the lyrics seem semi-philosophical whilst not actually making a whole lot of sense much of the time. But the riffs are so damn great. I defy you not to sing along to Oxford Comma, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,.. heck, the whole album.

They were really great live. Lead singer Ezra Koenig comes off the epitome of a really nice guy. Decently spoken, decently dressed (as one would expect of a bunch of Ivy League graduates), polite and full of enthusiasm. And Chris Tomson gets really into his drums. Largely, they play just like they sing on the album, but it’s still great to hear the (little bit of) banter in between tracks and hear those riffs live.

Anyway, highly recommended. Here’s A-Punk.

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!

The Tower of Druaga ~the Aegis of Uruk April 6, 2008

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The buzz in the anime community is over Gonzo’s decision to put a subbed version of its latest anime on YouTube and Crunchyroll. I tend to find Gonzo anime a bit hit and miss, but you’ve got to applaud them for entering the 21st Century and doing what so many international fans have been yearning for. Is this the future? I hope so. Good on you Gonzo!

The anime itself is pretty entertaining, though I’m a little confused as to what it’s about. It seems like a fantasy RPG-type anime (which I’m usually not a fan of), but the first ep is a really funny parody of said genre. The OP sequence also features a typical Japanese high-school type scenario, hinting that this is all in an RPG. Or is it? I’m intrigued enough to keep watching, particularly if Gonzo continue to put it out there for free.

Happy Birthday to you you September 26, 2007

Posted by ayasawada in Music, Personal, Video.
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