Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Tag Archives: Vocaloid

Second Anniversary

Marlin-samaTwo years ago, I announced that I was starting an anime blog. Based on my previous attempts to share my thoughts with the world up until that point, I wasn’t optimistic that this would be anything more than a temporary diversion that I would abandon after a few weeks. But here I am not only still going strong, but expanding the scope of my projects to greater and greater objectives.

I set out to make my voice heard in order to counter the mainstream opinions and give anime fans a chance to think about not what they like, but why they like it (and often why I don’t).  To all my readers, I won’t say that I couldn’t have done it without you—because I most certainly could have.  But the journey wouldn’t have been nearly as fun and interesting without you.  And for that I say thank you.

I’d like to take some time now and reminisce about some of the high points over the past two years and do a “greatest hits” list of posts I enjoyed writing and/or others enjoyed reading.  So I invite you to make yourself comfortable as I take you on a journey that started back in summer 2011…gosh it feels so much longer. Has it really only been two years?  Read more of this post

Black★Rock Shooter (review)

Final impression – not a second wasted (10/10)

Winter 2012 (8 episodes) (TV series)

It’s the first day of junior high school and Mato Kuroi decides she’s going to be friends with the gloomy girl who has a funny name, Yomi Takanashi.  The two soon discover they have a shared love of a children’s storybook and it looks like they’re going to get along great.  But when Yomi’s spoiled, childhood friend Kagari butts in to push them apart, Mato isn’t going to just give up accept this bleak turn of events.  She makes it her mission to liberate Yomi from Kagari’s possessive personality.  But doing so will have greater consequences than she knows.  In another world, the girls’ voiceless souls are fighting their own, very real battle with life and death on the line.  And when the results of their battles become reflected in the real world, it’s going to change the course of their lives in ways they cannot possibly anticipate.

Quality in writing is often not about a story’s content, but about how well that story is told.  Sometimes the best plot is the simplest and Black Rock Shooter tells a fabulously creative adventure about the subtleties of relationships and how the most well-meaning intentions can have unexpected, unintended consequences.  It’s a wonderful metaphor about allowing ourselves to be close enough to our friends that we can fight with them honestly and without inhibitions.  We must accept that we occasionally hurt people and that we are hurt by others; how we deal with that pain shapes our character and the ultimate fate of our relationships.  Balancing this emotional drama between real people and their actions mirrored by their duplicate selves locked in gallant combat is a poetic dichotomy flooded deeply with incredible metaphors.  Kana Hanazawa is perfect in her role as Mato Kuroi, depicting her exceptional personality and growth from naivety to strong, determined young woman.  But what’s most amazing about Black Rock Shooter is that it probably would never have existed if it wasn’t for the Vocaloid song by the same name, popularized by casual anime fans who wanted to know the story behind the music.  For something so spectacular to come out of simple fandom and not from a novel, manga or video game is truly remarkable.

Black★Rock Shooter Ep. 1

Initial impression – a rough diamond

Winter 2012 (8 episodes) (title synonym – BRS) (more info)

And so begins the anime that was inspired by a Vocaloid song.  The first episode is showing excellence, but comes with quite an emotional roller coaster; leaving me only slightly optimistic about the tone of this series.  It would seem that with only eight episodes they’re rushing content and a slower revelation of this anime’s darker elements would have been better—allowing more time to set the mood.  That being said, there’s still an air of novelty around the concept of our inner psyches engaging in epic battles as we experience the tumultuous drama of our daily relationships.  The art style is also trying something unique with reality looking plain and somewhat unrefined; switching to a sharper and edgy theme when the action starts.  The talent of Kana Hanazawa greatly adds to the depth of the composition, which is going to be a necessity to pull off the range of feelings Mato is inevitably going to experience.  At its core, Black Rock Shooter is an experimental anime that’s breaking new ground and it’s off to a promising start.

Anime of the Week 1/8 – 1/14

Anime of the Week – Another
The impressive attention to detail, an atmosphere so heavy you can taste it and mystery tantilizingly enticing combine into a superb episode 1.
January 9 Kill Me Baby Ep. 1 Initial impression – not as bad as I thought it might be http://wp.me/p1Gaby-eX
Amagami SS+ Ep. 1 Initial impression – a surprise present for fans of the first season http://wp.me/p1Gaby-f2
January 10 Zero no Tsukaima F Ep. 1 Initial impression – you already know if you’re going to like this show http://wp.me/p1Gaby-fc
January 11 Shana III Ep. 13 I’m sad to see one of my favorite villains come to an end, but he faced his demise with conviction and a fullness of peace.
Another Ep. 1 Initial impression – spine-tingling beauty http://wp.me/p1Gaby-fi
January 12 The iDOLM@STER Ep. 19 Takane isn’t my favorite character but she is very cool and smooth. 961 Pro is a cheesy villain, but he’s fun to hate.
Brave 10 Ep. 1 Final impression – unpolished and childish shounen (4/10) http://wp.me/p1Gaby-fm
January 13 Guilty Crown Ep. 13 What was with this episode? Is it over? That can’t be. There’s still 11 more episodes left but it feels like the end.
Vocaloid The Daughter and Servant of Evil http://wp.me/p1Gaby-fs
Persona 4 Ep. 13 This was a fun episode that gave the anime some individuality that will help separate it from its video game roots.
January 14 Senki Zesshou Symphogear Ep. 1 Initial impression – action, music and variety http://wp.me/p1Gaby-fF
Symphogear Ep. 2 I’d very much like to know more about the enemy they’re fighting. What are the Noise and what are their objectives?

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Vocaloid – The Daughter and Servant of Evil

Click the image to watch a fan-made music video of Daughter of Evil with English subtitles.

I came to an interesting realization last night that I think is worth discussing. Generally speaking, most people nowadays are not fans of opera or musicals. This I think is a good generalization that doesn’t have much room for dispute.  Singing out a story has fallen into the realm of a super-niche audience in an era when people prefer to have a plot presented to them with simple prose.  But the important questions is why people don’t like opera or musicals.  I think I’ve figured it out and the reason is because the music they play at these venues is horribly dated and out of fashion.  As a kid I loved listening to golden oldies about the old west and Charlie Daniels telling horror stories accompanied by the fiddle. If they played genres that people enjoyed listening to I’m willing to bet opera would start to make a resurgence.  I think of Avenue Q’s success as a more modern example to justify my claim.  Now, how does all this relate to anime?

Click the image to watch a fan-made music video of Servant of Evil with English subtitles.

I’ve been a fan of Vocaloid since the leek spin meme gained popularity a few years ago.  Last year, I really started to get excited about Vocaloid when the 39 Live Event in Tokyo was posted to YouTube and became a sensation.  I recently watched the Vocaloid videos Daughter of Evil and Servant of Evil sung by the Kagamine twins and it’s an exquisite example of blending story with music (an approximation for what I think of as a modern opera). The theme of darkness and out-of-touch nobility is complimented by some harsh, synthesized tones that remind me of something out of central-European royalty. Starting the story with Rin’s point of view sets up a selfish and dislikeable perspective that results in a good feeling of satisfaction and justice by the story’s end.  But when we see the story again from Ren’s point of view, it’s clear that this tale has two sides and you begin to realize that maybe your quick judgment on the first song may have been premature.  It’s a fantastic dichotomy that really gets the listener to think in ways that may be uncomfortable.  It’s an amazing accomplishment for something deceptively simple and easily overlooked. If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you check it out.

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