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Perfume LIVE: a dream come true November 29, 2012

Posted by ayasawada in Music.
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Untitled (2012-11-24 13:41:42)

On Saturday night, something I never thought would happen happened: I saw my favourite jpop group live. And it was a miracle that I got to be there.

I’ve been a massive Perfume fan for 3 years. But living in London, I accepted long ago that I would probably never see any of my favourite jpop acts live. It’s rare enough that any of them play outside of Japan, let alone make it all the way to UK shores. And even if some do, all-female pop groups aren’t generally at the head of the queue.

I was therefore excited to hear the news of Perfume’s first “world tour”, but somewhat disappointed to discover that it was actually more of an Asian tour. I was due to be on holiday in Malaysia at roughly the same time period, but my hopes were dashed when I failed to secure tickets to any of the 4 gigs through the online ballots, which quickly sold out anyhow.

Shoganai, I thought. I was thankful to already be going to Anime Festival Asia (AFA12), with its 3 nights of jpop live goodness attached to the weekend (blog post to follow). Little did I know the best was yet to come.

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The lazy round up post December 29, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Drama, Film, Manga, Music, TV.
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I’ve been kind of slack with this blog over the last few months, a combination of work, life and lack of motivation. Two of the most frustrating things about blogging are 1) you really have to make time for it if you’re to do a decent job; and 2) unless you’re in the mood, everything you write will suck (yes, some would say everything I write sucks anyway :P).

The result is I have a stack of draft posts on stuff that I will never get round to finishing off. So in true lazy ass Christmas holidays fashion, I am resorting to a round-up. For better or worse, here’s some of the things I’ve seen and done over the last few months: (more…)

Perfume September 7, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Music.
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triangle

Perfume are a three-member Japanese technopop group from Hiroshima. I’d never really heard of them until their name cropped up in a few Jpop blogs I follow about a month or so before my recent Japan trip.

As it happened, my trip coincided with the release of their new album, Triangle, and, in my usual easily-persuaded-by-advertising way, I picked it up on my last day. And as it turns out, I love it.

Well, technically I don’t love all of it. Like a lot of my recent Jpop CD’s about half the tracks I’m ambivalent too (and a couple are a bit meh), but the tracks I do like I absolutely *adore* (and, unsurprisingly, they happen to be the previously released singles from the album). (more…)

Japan trip 2009: The otaku experience August 9, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film, Friends, Gunpla, Japan, Personal, Travel.
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Gundam and I, Odaiba, July 2009

Gundam and I, Odaiba, July 2009

So, I’ve written all about my Japan trip. But given the nature of this blog, it’s the geeky things you want to hear about right? ^^

Otaku highlights include the 1/1 scale Gundam in Odaiba, seeing Evangelion 2.0 in a Shibuya cinema (review to come in a later post) and discovering the ‘Akihabara of Osaka’ Den Den Town. (more…)

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

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Music, Video.
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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 ^^

Yui – Again April 28, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Music.
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Just mentioned this in my Spring 2009 anime post, but I love it so much it deserves it’s own post. After a surprisingly short ‘break’ from the industry, Yui’s back. The song is the first OP theme for Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood and is gorgeous! It’s the lyrics that speak to me most (included after the jump).

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Gundam 00 music March 15, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Music.
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gundam-00

Gundam 00 has been exciting, if a little disappointing with its constant deux ex machina plot twists. What I’ve really enjoyed though is the music accompanying it. The OP and ED themes have been outstanding, so I thought I’d write a little to showcase another successful Gundam/JPop collaboration. Videos after the jump. (more…)

Tommy February6 / Tommy Heavenly6: Soda Pop Daydream vs. Gothic Nightmare March 8, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Music.
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Last week I received a huge parcel from YesAsia: my Tommy boxsets!

Strawberry Cream Soda Pop and Gothic Melting Ice Cream. ドちらがいい?

Strawberry Cream Soda Pop and Gothic Melting Ice Cream. ドちらがいい?

I’ve been a huge fan of Tommy ever since Lonely in Gorgeous was used as the OP for the Paradise Kiss anime. Around the same time I fell for a song called Sayonara Summer is Over by a band called the Brilliant Green. Little did I know Tomoko Kawase was the voice behind both.

Here’s Lonely in Gorgeous.

So, Tommy just released two best of albums, one for the disco-pop Tommy February6 and one for the goth-rock-pop Tommy Heavenly6 (though surprisingly not on 6 February, Tomoko’s birthday). Both boast a hell of an album title: Strawberry Cream’s Soda Pop Daydream and Gothic Melting Ice Cream’s Darkness Nightmare.

Being a sucker for Japanese merchandise gimmicks, I ordered the deluxe boxset blu-spec CD and DVD versions of both.

The box sets are a mirror image of each other: one goth and one pop depending on your taste (I love both, but definitely swing more toward pop Tommy ^^). The goodies include: the best of album featuring a couple of new bonus tracks (like Unlimited Sky, the recent Gundam 00 insert song), the DVD with all the singles’ music videos, a set of clear plastic sleeves with the single covers printed on them, a school-themed photobook, a sheet of stickers and the standard booklet of lyrics and credits. Best of all is a lovely ring binder with a metal embossed plate, in keeping with the whole high-school student theme. And there’s a big box to put everything in.

God knows what I’m actually going to do with all this stuff (keep it in the box on a shelf NRFB no doubt ^^;) but it’s nice to have and a must for any Tomoko Kawase fan.

The albums themselves are great. As a best of, it’s obviously all been heard before but it’s great to hear all the singles in a big long playlist (even the full ten minute Hallowe’en weirdo version of Lollipop Candy Bad Girl).

Gallery after the jump.

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Asobi Seksu live @ ICA, London February 22, 2009

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Asobi Seksu live at the ICA, London

Asobi Seksu live at the ICA, London

Asobi Seksu came to town this week and I jumped at the chance to see them live, especially since it was a live review that introduced me to their music in the first place.

It was a great gig. The band clearly likes playing in London (Yuki Chikudate: “It’s like our home away from home. Just don’t tell New York!”) and the ICA is a nicely intimate venue for a mixed audience of electropop aficionados, Nihonjin and (most likely) otaku. Compliments to the lighting too, which was very appropriate, from the extreme red at the start (see photo above) to the slightly excessive use of strobe lighting for the head-banging tunes at the end.

Asobi’s songs are extremely atmospheric and translate well live, even if some of the songs do border on noise at times ^^; (as Yuki Chikudate herself said during the encore “We couldn’t leave here without making a racket!”).I have to admit, I’m not totally familiar with all of Asobi’s songs yet. Their debut album (Asobi Seksu) was the only one in my music collection until the gig (picked up their new albums, Hush and Acoustic at Olympic Studios, there though). Disappointingly for me, they didn’t play my two favorite tunes, I’m Happy But You Don’t Like Me and Umi De No Jisatsu, and it was that dream pop energy that first attracted me to their band (that and the Japanese connection ^^;). But I was happy to discover more from their archive and the new stuff from Hush, which was only released this week.

Performance-wise, Chikudate, James Hanna and their support are great to watch. They get heavily into the music (particularly the heavy parts!) and are pretty dynamic on stage. And yes, Yuki Chikudate is also ridiculously cute in person. Small, cute Japanese girls are always alluring and you can’t help but coo when she sways about, bundling her hair in her hands. Of course, she also knows how to straddle a stool and knock sixes and sevens out of the drum kit, but some would say that makes her the perfect woman!

Listening to the new albums in more detail, for me, there aren’t any songs as outstanding as my two faves, but the Acoustic album, recorded here in London, is really lovely.  Chikudate’s voice reminds me a lot of Bic Runga at times, and the acoustic melodies really suit her. Thursday and Urusai Tori are probably my picks from that. Here’s Thursday:

From Hush, I do really like Me & Mary:

Overall, Asobi are growing on me more and more with every listen. They’re unlikely to go really mainstream, which is somewhat to my relief, as I look forward to more gigs like the ICA one in the future.

Ayaka January 12, 2009

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Sing to the Sky cover

Sing to the Sky cover

Over the last year or so, I’ve been listening on and off to Ayaka, a Japanese songstress, for want of a better word. But it wasn’t until last year, with the release of her second album, Sing to the Sky, that I’ve really become a fan.

I first came across her in 2006 when Omni over at Random Curiosity took time out from anime blogging to highlight one of her PVs. Her first album, First Message, soon followed. She has a really clear voice and a superb range of vocals, which are of course demonstrated in a range of ballads. But whilst those are nice, she also has more upbeat clap-along type songs.

I used to listen to Ayaka on and off, but have really rediscovered Sing to the Sky after starting the Zettai Kareshi drama (more on that when I finish the series). The ending theme is Ayaka’s ‘お帰り’ and it’s a really sweet song, though it opens a little oddly with what sounds like bagpipes (!). The song is about returning home (hence the title) to the warmth of someone who loves you. Yes, it’s as wholesome as it sounds and I love it ^^.

http://www.mediafire.com/?fdziuzfzmh3

Yes, I’ve finally figured out how to embed tracks into a post.

Anyway, the rest of the album is similarly good. The first two tracks, ‘Power of Music’ and ‘愛を歌おう’ always lift my spirits and are on my early morning playlist. ‘今夜も星に抱かれて’ is a sweet, relaxing tune a little like お帰りbut more subtle. ‘Why’ is also a great, positive tune, though an odd choice to accompany the PSP game Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core if you ask me.

I’ve pretty much been listening to Sing to the Sky on repeat these past couple of weeks. Its great rediscovering albums after a while. If you get a chance, do give some of Ayaka’s songs a listen.