I hate how expensive R2J DVDs are

I like Shoukoushi Cedie very much, which was surprising to me since I usually don't go for family-oriented shows unless a cute orphan girl is the protagonist, which, as it turns out, is the case often enough that I actually end up watching such shows frequently. Cedie proves though that it's not just traps and ludicrously optimistic orphan girls bereft of their parents by whom I can be moesaserareta.

Because I’m not an encoder I rarely need full DVDs. The only time I do is when good raws are not available. Sometimes I get DVDs that I never watch. Sometimes I’ll get the first disc in a multi-disc series, intending to decide if it’s worth it to get the rest only after watching the beginning. The trouble is that these DVDs sometimes sit around for months or even more than a year before I watch them, by which time the rest of the discs are often unavailable. Sometimes the rest of the discs are never available in the first place, such as with はいからさんが通る and キャンディ・キャンディ, neither of which ever had official Japanese DVD releases as far as I know.

I’ve got the first four discs of Shoukoushi Cedie. A nice bonus about the DVDs are that it’s one of the few series to have Japanese subtitles, which, other than subtitles in your native language, are about the most helpful thing in the world when, like me, you don’t speak the language in which the dialogue is spoken. All DVDs and Blu-ray discs should have subtitles in my opinion. I usually turn the subtitles on when I watch movies or TV shows in English, too. I just prefer being able to confirm what I think I’m hearing by reading it simultaneously. Either that or my English is even worse than I realise it is.

The problem is that I just can’t get the rest of the DVDs. I have similar problems with other shows that I’d like to watch, too. I want to watch 巴里のイザベル but I can’t find any DVDs. I can find it on Amazon, but the only two sellers who ship internationally on there, one with a new copy and one with a used copy, are charging JPY 30000 and 50000, respectively. The series is only 13 episodes. It should be about JPY 2000. Sometimes I see 13 episode series of relatively unpopular shows like this for JPY 500 on Yahoo! Auctions.

I wanted to watch さすらいの少女ネル very badly at one time. I looked at Amazon and saw that the only seller who ships internationally was selling a used copy of the DVD box for JPY 60000. That’s nearly USD 800. This is almost as ridiculous as the price for the Card Captor Sakura special Blu ray box set that came out recently. Yahoo! Auctions is a bit better, but I’ve only seen copies of the show on there a couple of times for JPY 10000 to 20000 and none of the sellers would ship internationally. With a proxy service I’d still be looking at USD 300+ for a lousy DVD of a feel good kids story based on a book I could buy for USD 2. Thankfully ARR released rips. I love ARR.

I was looking for at least two years for a copy of the 野ばらのジュリー DVDs. There’s only four of them. It’s a short series. Someone finally made them available, by the way, but this was another series I had considered buying because it was so rare in digital form. If I had, I’d be out JPY 49000.

These aren’t even World Masterpiece Theatre shows. Those are more expensive. They don’t release DVD boxes that contain the entire series for those shows; they release a “complete version” which condenses the entire series into only a few episodes. These are actually relatively inexpensive, but why would I want them?

One show that I’ve mentioned I really like before is 風の中の少女 金髪のジェニー which is loosely based on Stephen Collins Foster’s childhood and did not, I repeat not, make me drag my morose, inconsolable Sunggie-clad self out of my desk chair, and drape myself in a comforter as I groped about in the dimly lit room for my weeping companion teddy bear Sniffles because he knows the telephone number for the Tennessee Valley Authority. That most certainly did not happen.

I did cry when I saw the price the same Marketplace seller at Amazon who had the above items for sale was charging for the Jeanie DVD boxes: JPY 64000 and 59000 for volumes one and two. That’s 1579 dollars! Of course, nobody will purchase these items. It would be much cheaper to buy from sellers who do not ship internationally and use a shipping proxy in a case like this, but even if I did, I could expect to pay more than 200 dollars. Maybe that’s reasonable for some people, but it’s still too high for to make it practical for me.

There are other shows I want, too. They all cost too much money though. Proxy shipping services are impractical for low value items like DVDs, but I must either use such a service or pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars for these DVDs from the few sellers who do ship internationally.

This is one of the ways copyright infringement by duplication via Internet can be rationalized. You may think it’s immoral to duplicate some DVDs without permission and then proceed to enjoy them for free. But then, when you see that it would actually cost around USD 500 for many of these series, some of which are unpopular and short, you may no longer think it so immoral. Shoukoushi Cedie is a Sekai Meisaku Gekijou series and has 10 volumes, each of which are about JPY 3000 for domestic buyers. That’d be JPY 30000 for a domestic buyer. If I used Shopping Mall Japan service I’d pay an additional USD 35 plus various other fees for an order like that, not to mention domestic shipping and international shipping, which is always expensive with Japan Post. On the one hand I understand that international mail needs to be expensive because the transportation, inspection, and other costs are very high for any type of postal system, but I’m used to USPS prices. I can send a book from New York to Guam for USD 3.50 and probably have it arrive in less than a week. 30000 Yen is about 400 dollars, plus 35 dollars, plus a few dollars for domestic shipping, plus about 30 dollars for international shipping, plus a few more dollars for other fees, and you’ve got a pricetag of nearly 500 dollars for used DVDs of a show from the 1980s. When I think of it this way, I can’t really think of duplication of such DVDs as immoral.

I’m happy that exams are over (but I quit anime again)

I'm a winner.

I quit anime again. Initially this was because I figured I’d be playing Skyrim right now but I’ve been embraced by one of my periodic waves of morality and decided that I will buy it instead. In keeping with that decision, however, I’ll now be waiting a year or so until the price decreases.

If I’m not watching anime or playing Skyrim though I have no real reason to keep writing anything. I never have anything interesting to say anyhow. I’m to media consumers as Takeru Kobayashi is to diners. I’m the least discerning viewer out there.

Calling someone a Type B anime viewer can have a pejorative connotation. I once maintained the delusion that I could claim to be a Type A viewer because I count series and films like Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments Lain, NHK ni Youkoso! and Satoshi Kon movies among my all-time favourites. But I can no longer delude myself about being a Type A viewer when I’ve also seen Okusama wa Joshikousei. I’m not a connoisseur, I’m a garbage disposal.

One of my guilty pleasures is watching Hoarders on television. This is a reality TV show in which camera crews and TV therapists exploit people who suffer from chronic disorganization and clutter in their homes. Some of these people are really hopeless nutcases who pose a danger to themselves and their neighbours, but others are just normal people who have too much junk in their homes. Part of the definition of a “hoarder” that the show employs is that, regardless of the type of item that the patient accumulates, it must be relatively worthless. Occasionally they profile people who do collect valuable items. They’re not hoarders; they’re collectors. I see an analogy between the behaviours of these people and my own omnivorous appetite for pandering, derivative, clichéd shows that rely on preexisting, done to death tropes rather than taking a leap and telling an interesting story.

If it weren’t for FTTH and my lack of ethics, I’d be the ideal consumer. I can easily imagine myself buying any Blu-ray with an attractive cover design, any video game with voice actors I like, and anything associated with a studio that produced a single franchise that I may have once enjoyed, regardless of how abhorrent their subsequent work may have been. I have no taste whatsoever. The only reason I can associate somewhat competently with people when they talk about anime masterpieces is because I watch everything. The principle of averages means that it’s inevitable that I eventually watch some gems with the kind of methodology I employ.

Having said that, I’ve stalled on one of the only two shows I’m keeping up with this season: Idolmaster. To my credit, I’m still watching the type A show, Mawaru Penguin Drum. The opening of this most recent episode reminded me of that famous painting which, proving to myself that I’m not a complete buffoon, I knew was by Seurat, though I had to look up the name,

This show is great, but I sometimes find that, rather than strain my head to try and construct some understanding of the overall plot, I just say to myself, “Fuck it. I’ll give the show the benefit of the doubt that it’s profound”. The more abstract an episode is and the harder the narrative thread is to discern, the more likely I am to be impressed yet the less likely I am to understand why.

Figuring out exactly what I am supposed to be most impressed by is too much effort so I sometimes skip the drawn-out post-viewing contemplation session and jump ahead to the part where I just give the show credit for saying something incisive, deconstructing some taken-for-granted assumption about the social world, or challenging my preconceived notions about some social construct, even without knowing which cornerstone of my worldview has just been shattered. It could be all of them for all it matters. Something is certainly being chipped away at. It just remains to be seen exactly what.

As for my vengeance driven experiment, I’ll go ahead and try to resume that next week. I couldn’t very well count how many people were using electronic devices while taking exams. Incidentally, I don’t know whether I should do a facepalm or be impressed at the security-by-obscurity tactic to prevent forgeries used by the City University of New York on their official department stamps:

One more thing: child broiler? What is that? a German fairy tale?

Working!! isn’t as boring as I thought when I initially tried to watch it

I tried watching the show when it aired originally but then I got distracted by something and dropped it. I kept current with the show back then for only about two or three episodes and then dropped it. I didn’t pick it back up again until now because I was under the impression that I had found it boring the first time I had tried watching it.

Since the BDs are out though and the second season is airing soon I figured I’d try watching it again. Everyone seemed to like it quite a bit so I thought perhaps something was wrong with me. My opinion of it has improved now that I’ve watched the whole series. It’s still not one of my favourites, but it’s not so boring that I have to read email or watch torrent RSS feeds or write a sub-par essay for school while watching it to keep from killing myself out of boredom. That may not sound like high praise, but I’ve been bored enough to feel the need to multitask even during shows that I like quite a bit, like Star Driver. It’s not rare at all for me to enjoy something and even find it pretty captivating but, nonetheless, still have my System Idle Process at about 50%. To reduce this number I browse eBay for good deals on things I don’t need or stare at progress bars, IP addresses, and hostnames in my torrent client until it’s down to about 10 to 20%.

Working!! is fast-paced enough so that my System Idle Process is at about 25% just by watching it. While it’s not quite ideal — there are still plenty of moments when I feel that a joke has dragged on for long enough — it’s not tedious enough so that I absolutely must multitask to make watching it bearable.

No matter how many times I see it, her haircut is irksome.

Taneshima is probably my favourite character, as I’m sure she’s designed to be. Her CV, Asumi Kana, sure does get that squeaky little girl quality in the voice right. My biggest complaint about the show though are those two thin strips of Taneshima’s hair that hang forward over her ears in a really unnatural and ridiculous way. This bothers me way more than it should, but I can’t help it. Hair just doesn’t do that in the real world! It’s as though she uses the same hair mousse as Goku but only in those two narrow strips of hair, which makes it even more annoying than when the entire haircut a character is consistently unrealistic or gravity-defying. That it’s just one small feature of her haircut that’s ridiculous is what makes it so aggravating.

An imouto in whose sewa the protagonist is habitually in is always a plus.

There are, of course, a couple of features of the show that automatically garner it points, such as crossdressing. Whether it’s men dressing as women or women dressing as men, this always improves the point ranking of a show in my scorebook, no matter how well or poorly the scene or scenes containing the crossdressing are executed. In this particular case, however, it should be noted that I thought the crossdressing was pretty well done, at least on the cuteness and humour metrics.


The show also receives points for the presence of a cute elementary school imouto who is responsible and caring beyond her years and cossets the protagonist like a child. Every protagonist should have one of these.

Androphobia also earns any work some automatic points. In this case, however, the androphobia is inextricably linked to the protagonist getting beaten to a pulp, which is frightening and detracts points. Though humourous to the extent that violence and injury are always funny, the viewer more or less identifies with Souta as the “normal” human male so it causes me to wince every time he gets beaten up. No harm no foul on this one.

But oh, look: RSS tells me that Hansaet beat the Japanese encoders again and episodes 12 of Penguins is out. Now to quit wasting time writing about this average show and watch that fabulous show. FTTH sure has made me impatient.

I enjoyed Fractale less than the first episode led me to believe I would

Although my knees are still shaking from the grandiosity and sexiness that is Utena, I figured I couldn’t dilly dally forever. The best thing to do to get yourself back into your typical rut after watching something that revolutionizes (no pun intended) your life like Utena is not to sit and ponder your navel, as you may be inclined to do, but rather, sally forth into something productive, like watching more TV. So that’s what I did.

Some time ago, when I watched the first episode of Fractale I noted that it seemed pretty watchable, or something to that effect. Well, as it transpired, I ended up stalling on the show until just now. I stayed current for only about two or three episodes until I got distracted by exams or another show or Clippy the paperclip or something. I watched the rest of the series today and was a bit disappointed. I thought it was going to be nice slice of life story. The first episode really sent me back to the first time I watched Yokhama Kaidashi Kikou many years ago, reviving a warm, moist, squishy feeling in my chest.

But no, that suishiness was all a lie, a nefarious plot to lure in people like me who don’t read plot synopses before watching shows. This show just had to turn out to be one of those things where the fate of the world hangs in the balance and there’s guns and killing and fighting. I hate strife. What’s with all the strife in anime these days? If the Fractale system had been working properly then everyone could have remained in that blissfully dull haze they were in and the show could have just remained at that nice, easygoing pace of the first episode that so misled me.

Many viewers would be familiar with the story from the manga because they’re not illiterate like me. If they were, they’d have known that the viewer basically ends up rooting for a group of fucking terrorists. Clein complains about that repeatedly, but in the end, he’s a terrorist too. I liked him in the beginning, but eventually, I couldn’t keep rooting for him. Phryne is likable enough, I suppose, but she’s a pretty flat character. I suppose that can’t be helped with her role as the “body” half of the “key”. If she’s nothing more than an empty shell then maybe I should be happy she’s lacking in depth; maybe I’d be disappointed or feel that it was too jarring if her character were more developed. I doubt that though. I think it would make the show more captivating. She’s certainly nice to look at though. Nobody can deny that that helps make more tolerable a boring character about whom the best you can muster up are lukewarm feelings.

『ウテナ』の冬芽のように「俺のハートに火を付けた」って言えるほど面白い性格じゃないが、やや魅力的なキャラクタです。

I suppose it’s my fault, as usual, for watching a show without knowing anything about it beforehand. This is the modern day equivalent of channel surfing and watching whatever happens to be on blindly. When I was a kid I’d sometimes choose a random number and tune to the TV station that matched or was closest to that number if there was no exact match. If that’s the level of refinement I have when it comes to determining which media to inhale, then it serves me right for being frequently disappointed.

The best part of the show is the music, particularly the Irish vibe of the music for those shots of landscapes, like the rolling hills and grass being blown in the breeze. Best of all is the Yeats song that serves as the closing theme. It is misleading though; that song just reinforces the initial impression I got from the first episode that this would be a nice, calm, battle-free slice of life anime.

Perhaps I’m a bit of an extremist

but Shoujo Kakumei Utena is the greatest show ever made.

On a kick I went ahead and watched the whole series in several days. I had started watching it several times before, but never got past the episode 12 to 15 area. The currently airing season is boring except for Ano Hana so I wanted to finally watch one of the various shows I had been meaning to watch but never finished. That meant I would either watch Oniisama e, Versailles no Bara, Sailor Moon, or Utena. Since watching any of those four shows would be a major time investment I knew I had to think carefully. Like everyone else, I loved Star Driver for inexplicable reasons, so when I heard about Ikuhara Kunihiko’s new project, Mawaru Penguin Drum, which will be airing in July, I knew I had to finish watching Utena before that. It didn’t hurt that I already knew that the show was ingenious, having watched the first dozen or so episodes in the past.

Now I’m neither a smart nor sophisticated person, so perhaps I’m at a disadvantage as a viewer. I know there were many references that went straight over my head. I had to look on Wikipedia to find out what a “Santa Maria della Consolazione” was. Nonetheless, I think this show hints at some universal truths which, if I could distill the material down enough to uncover them, would prove enlightening.

That’s both the worst problem about the show and its greatest strength and why I felt like crying on more occasions while watching this show than I would have expected: everything seems important and profound but the viewer never knows why that’s the case. I don’t want to use words like “Kafkaesque” to describe the show because I’ve not read enough of Franz Kafka’s work to talk about him or compare his style to Ikuhara’s. But when you read something that everyone’s read like The Metamorphosis, you keep saying to yourself, “Yes, this Kafka guy is saying something very adroit here about society or the human condition, or something like that. He must be. I wonder what it is exactly?” It’s like that. You’re moved but you don’t really know why. I’ll make no pretense of understanding anything that happened in the show. I will recommend this show to everyone I meet, but if they ask me, “Well, if the show is so great, why don’t you give me a plot synopsis?” I’d be at a loss. Let’s see, there’s a mysterious student council that secretly manipulates the whole school, something about the End of the World, duels, roses, princes on white horses, and arena rock. Sounds like a masterpiece, right?

Well, it really is. A good strategy to secure the viewer who is hanging on the threshold between “keep watching” and “drop” is to open with a bit of the meromero factor: i.e. make them turn to mush. That’s what this show does and it does it well. I wasn’t on the edge, but if I had been, introducing Utena to the viewer through the fairy-tale narrative of her meeting with her prince and vowing to become one herself following the deaths of her parents as a little girl, juxtaposed with scenes of her cleaning everyone’s clocks in basketball sends the viewer head over heels for her immediately. The viewer sees her in her boys uniform immediately, sees her get chewed out for it, sees her popularity with the other girls and hears her called “like a boy”. Introductions are accomplished succinctly. From here on out it’s a beeline for the surreal stuff that the viewers who weren’t on the fence came to see in the first place.

This is where it gets confusing though: within the first ten minutes of the show. It stays that way too. What’s all this “bara no hanayome” stuff? Who is Anthy and why is she “engaged” to Utena? I don’t know how to describe the feelings or thoughts that went through my head the first time I saw the stair climbing scene to the duel area and heard the theme “Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku”. Every time thereafter that this imagery was repeated, however, it never failed to give me chills.

Again, it’s a mysterious effect that this show, the repeated imagery in particular, has on the viewer. The viewer starts to think, “Hmm, could it be, after all, that this show is…formulaic?

No. Well, not in a bad way, at least. I watch House on TV. House and Utena are two very different shows, but they have one important aspect in common. House starts at 8:00 pm. At around 8:30 Dr. House and his team think they’ve figured out what the ailment the patient suffers from is called and how to treat it. Of course, the viewer knows that they are wrong; there’s still 30 minutes before the show ends so he can’t be correct yet. At 8:48 House is in the middle of some unrelated task, stops, stares straight ahead, gets a funny look in his eye, the music changes and the viewer knows he’s figured out what’s really wrong with the patient. This happens in every episode but it doesn’t make the show any less fun to watch. Utena has this effect on the viewer as well, but it’s done in an even more satisfying way that in House.

In Utena the episode begins and we have some background story about whichever character is getting a turn in the spotlight today. The apprehension builds throughout the first half of the episode. Perhaps there are a few moments of comic relief, but the trend is mounting tension. In the second half the main conflict builds until it reaches a critical mass at around the 17 minute mark. At this point the silhouette “kashira kashira” chorus appears and says something that, like all of the allegorical and symbolic elements of the show, is both germane and yet somehow completely abstruse and never quite as decipherable as you’d like it to be

At this point your chest is tight, your knuckles are white, wrapped around the arms of your chair and your heart is beating so quickly you feel it’s about to burst through your ribcage. Just when you can’t take it any longer you see the forest behind the school, “Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku” begins to play, the familiar imagery comes out and you experience an unsurpassed catharsis.

This is all well and good, but what is the show about? Of course, I don’t really know. There are some prominent themes and maybe the case could be made that is has a continuous plot, but I can’t adequately encapsulate it in words. There are a lot of well-known anime motifs in this show, one of the most recognizable being the student council. They’re elite, they’re pretty, and they’re powerful. There’s also a characteristic absence of adults. Akio is an adult, I suppose, and there’s the teacher who scolds Utena for wearing a boys uniform, but adults don’t play much of a role in the overall story. In fact, I think that’s one of the themes. The prince that Utena looks up to tells her not to lose her nobility even when she becomes an adult. Akio loses his nobility when he becomes an adult. He seemed like an alright sort of person as a youngster. He saved Utena, didn’t he? Were the writers taking a page out of Wordsworth and saying that adults=bad, unimaginative, selfish creatures who have lost sight of the valuable things in life along with their sense of wonderment and innocence? Bah, that’s what happens when you think about any single phenomenon in the show; you thing you’re getting somewhere understanding the significance, the “message” behind it, but then things get muddled and you don’t know what’s allegory, what’s sarcasm, what’s satirical, what’s metaphor or what’s reality anymore. Perhaps adults just don’t understand. It’s even in the song. 「これ以上話をしてもあなたには見えない。昔の話にすがる大人には言い訳が似合う。」ってところ

A lot of viewers seem to call this a “yuri” show. I don’t know about that. I’m going to have to watch the series again one day for a better perspective, but I don’t think that lesbianism is such a big theme of the show itself. I think that viewers certainly like projecting lesbian themes onto the show and interpreting things as confirmation of those projections, but I just don’t see much of it. I think that what people are viewing as lesbianism is more about the seeming rigidity of gender role mores contrasted with the actual fluidity of gender identities and roles that constitute a continuum, rather than a dichotomy. The relationship between Anthy and Utena is not really lesbian. There’s nothing in the show that can’t be interpreted symbolically. In one of the songs played during some duel or other there are some lyrics referring to the anima and animus. I think it’s more useful to look at Anthy and Utena in these terms, respectively. The idea that Anthy and Utena are two sides of a single character is also conveyed, to some extent, in the bed they sleep in in Akio’s apartment and when they lie down in it, their silhouettes first melting into and then moving past each other. Of course, that’s about as far as I got in my thinking on my first complete viewing of the series. If I try to go any farther, such as wondering, “What is the show saying about gender? Is it saying the categories into which we assign people, without consent, are too inflexible? too proscriptive?” I end up losing track of my thoughts. One thing that’s made abundantly clear is that these categories do shape our social interactions and have consequences that are not always immediately apparent. I think this bit is symbolized by Anthy, Bara no Hanayome, being trapped in that sword-filled prison-ish thingy

Of course, if Anthy is the girly one and she’s imprisoned, as it were, doesn’t that mean that the show is making a normative statement? Don’t you then have to interpret her imprisonment as an indictment of Utena for not being “girly” enough? Of course, the show is certainly not saying that — all of Utena’s qualities are celebrated, both “feminine” and otherwise — but the anima/animus symbolism might lead you in that direction, which is just another reason why this show is so confusing. You can read anything allegorically, but even when you do, different people will come up with different allegories. I will watch this series again and I’m sure I’ll come up with some completely different ideas.

Speaking of watching it again, I will probably buy the DVDs. I’m poor and fundamentally a pirate; I rarely buy DVDs, especially anime. I don’t like buying R1 DVDs because I feel like it’s not much better than buying those Malaysian DVDs with English, Chinese and Malay subs. If I’m going to buy a DVD or Blu Ray I’ll buy the Japanese release. I buy media on disc not because I will watch from the disc — I rarely buy anything I haven’t seen — I buy it because I like it and will proudly put it on my shelf, rather than in a box in a closet, like I do with all the rubbish shows and movies I’m embarrassed I own. That’s why I feel conflicted about buying the new R1 DVDs that came out on June 7. But the Japanese DVDs are just absurdly expensive, even as far as Japanese DVDs go. If there are going to be three box sets of Utena released here in NA and each is about USD 40 it means I’ll be spending quite a bit of money for something that I only want to own as a symbol of how much I like the show. Still, I do sometimes buy multiple physical copies of novels if I like them enough. In other words, this is not completely out of the ordinary for me. I’m still not sure though that I want to spend up to USD 120 on DVDs of a show that I already have on an HDD. I probably will though. I’ll feel guilty if I don’t. At least I already own the R2J DVD of the movie so I won’t feel tempted to buy that over again.

This show is not as deadly serious as it can feel sometimes. There are moments of comic relief in most episodes and there’s even an animal mascot, Chu-chu.

There are couple of what can only properly be referred to as gag episodes. Luckily, they all focus on my favourite character, Kiryuu Nanami. Even these episodes are surreal and, though they are sufficiently different in mood so that the viewer takes them in a different light from the rest of the episodes, there’s still something very affecting about them. The episode in which Nanami, so entranced by what she mistakes for a fashionable brand name, prances about sporting a cow bell, ultimately turning into a cow in mind, body, and even speech is, admittedly, pretty silly, but I enjoyed it.

Nanami is my favourite student council member, followed by Jury and Miki. Jury should have gotten another episode. The only opportunity the viewer had to get to know her intimately were the episodes about the fencing captain Ruka. On the other hand, Miki was featured prominently in several episodes and so was Nanami. The cutest bit of the whole series for me was the episode in which Nanami believes she has lain an egg and secretly cares for it. I nearly melted when she realises that she can’t ask anyone for advice because it’s possible that all the other girls have already been laying eggs for a long time and that she, laying her first egg at this stage, would be made fun of as a late bloomer.

Ahhh ~ why can’t I have an imouto like Nanami?

I loved this show. They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to. Although my head is still spinning from the enigmatic plot and symbolism, one final thing that I can say with confidence is that the music is every bit as important a part of this show as the artwork, dialogue and voice actors. It’s got one of the most distinctive sound tracks of any show I’ve ever seen and, although I mentioned that the song “Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku” gives me the chills, many of the other themes also give me the goosebumps. The song called “Akio car” on the soundtrack is just great. This is the song played during the scenes in which Akio is driving that freaky sportscar, showing people the sekais they nozomu. Hearing it makes me feel like I’m in that strange, dark, streetlight-lined roadway that seems to continue forever but never gets anywhere. I’d buy the soundtrack collection as well if it weren’t USD1400.

I’m not sure I have anything more that I can coherently express in proper sentences about the show at the moment, so here are some more pictures of scenery and Nanami:

I just watched “Aoi Hana” and I have one major gripe

But first some background information.

It’s the day after the New Year so I had all the time in the world to pursue my various recreational interests. I was in a shoujo-ai type of mood today, so I first finished watching Sasameki Koto, which I had began watching again yesterday after stalling on it since I watched the first few episodes when it was initially airing. It was all right. In fact, it was pretty decent.

kazama ushiokazama ushio

When I was a little kid and we had two kittens, I always had this fear that I would kill one or both of them by hugging it too hard and breaking its neck or spine or something. You know the feeling: that one where something is cute to the extent that you need to squeeze it harder than you really ought to and its brains come out through the eye sockets, which are empty because the eyes already popped because of the immense pressure caused by the hug? Well, that’s what’s going on with that Kazama Ushio character. The achievement of that effect on the viewer means the art directors, casting people for voice actors, writers and, of course, Takamoto Megumi, the voice actor herself, did a real bang-up job there. Cheers to pushing the envelope on cutesy, huggable characters. Who knows how far we can go?

I did find myself growing bored occasionally. I liked Akemiya the trap though.

So I went ahead and watched Aoi Hana, expecting more or less a similarly structured deal. That is, a yuri harem type of setting with generic high school girl archetypes (i.e. sporty girl, bungaku girl, miko, etc…). That’s more or less what I got, so I have no complaints there.

The problem, and maybe I’m crazy here, is that I thought that the main voice actor who played Manjoume Fumi could not possibly have been a worse fit for the role.
aoi hanaaoi hanaaoi hanaaoi hana

She sounded more like one of those meek, princessy type characters. The tall partner in these yuri deals are supposed to have a much, much deeper and even-toned voice. Everybody knows that. Like Utena. The short one is supposed to be the more timid one. Granted, the Fumi character was hella meek, but she never once appears like a character with such a high and whiny voice. Tall characters are simply not supposed to sound like that.

There have been plenty of successful meek, tall characters who have not had squeaky, whiny voices in anime history. Just look at Sakaki.

sakaki

Much less do meganekko have voices like that! Every time she spoke I cringed. And not so much because I thought the CV was doing a bad job or anything, it’s just that the voice so completely clashed with the character and the body language assigned to her.

This really ruined my day. Thanks a lot, Mr. Casting Director for stealing away my smile. Now how will I get it back?