Monthly Archives: January 2007

Ginko, on the Mushi “Weeaboo”

With the licensing of Mushishi manga and anime, a slightly successful trend of animation in the west continues. Invariably when introducing people to Mushishi, comparisons are to be made with Kino’s Journey and other, episodic exhibits of theme and aloof travelers. The limited success of these shows here and there bodes well for this sub-genre’s vitality. Certainly if others to follow are of the caliber of Mushishi, I think we all are going to welcome them in open arms.

The magic of the show is subtle. But somewhere, somehow Mushishi accomplishes for me in what others have failed: that kept me entertained from start to finish.

It’s a bug. Sure, the anime doesn’t really explain how Ginko’s western wear play magic to the new viewer in setting their expectation of a fusion of settings. This is just another part of the whole experience of seeing the worldview-shattering introduction that later plays on the subtle heart strings in exploration of Ginko’s own story.

But unlike Kino (and like others like it), Mushishi has a more sustained theme going on. The traditional Japanese setting, the elegant yet thankfully fleeting reliance on character archetypes to get the story across drives the tone of each Mushi-struck heartstring from one episode to the next. It’s like playing Okami. Well, okay, maybe not, but the appeal may be the same.

And thus, the Weeaboo takes root in the space between the two halves of the brain, summoning from the twisting nether strange sensations that elate its host yet slowly reducing its host into a gaggling fanboy/fangirl. Sadly, such is not my condition after finishing watching all of it just yesterday; perhaps it’s just latent?

Post-script: sometimes the Weeaboo takes shape of a pair of thigh-highs. Prescription: finishing watching Kanon 2006, and Mushishi. I guess that means I won’t be cured for another 2 months?!

Back in 2006

I think I’m still not completely over with Simoun.


It’s just odd; so I have a copy of the second soundtrack to Simoun on my portable mp3 player, and I spend about 80 minutes listening to music on my commute daily. Normally I listen to a bunch of random anime pop songs mixed with other random songs, but yesterday I switched over to the Simoun stuff for some unexplainable reason. This was on my way in the morning.

Later that day I was at lunch with a colleague who I’ve known for some time, but mostly casually. I know he watched anime but isn’t much of a hardcore guy like many others who may be reading this blog. Conversation invariably turn towards anime, and he was lamenting on Busou Renkin, and so was I–I guess both of us was expecting more out of it than what it is. On our way out of the eatery suddenly he mentions Simoun. I was like ZOMG ANOTHER PERSON WHO WATCHES IT. What’s amusing is that he said the same things everyone who’s seen it in entirety has said: it’s fresh, original, unexpected; good art and music; pandering is a draw but something more lurks behind. Mamiina is a good girl. The soundtrack is really good.

In the greater scheme of things, I believe, looking back at 2006 is going to puff my expectation unrealistically for the current year. While I can’t say that 2007 has been “bad” already, 2006 was really a very, very good year for anime. Japan has to do better than Negima!? and Manabi Straight to match, and those two shows are already top notch.

OTOH, it’s also a matter of “when you’ve seen these shows” as all the great 2006 shows will be making their way to the English-language fan-sphere this year. Mushishi? Tsubasa? Paprika is coming out in 35mm. Plus Suzumiya Haruhi and Black Lagoon. My.

I can’t wait.

Manabi Style, or UFO Table Loves Me

I call it the intersection of “loli and heart.” And it’s more like this loli than that loli.

But for real, Manabi Straight is by-the-book UFOTable. In a way this is what I was expecting from Coyote Ragtime Show, but that one was “heart and cool” except it’s a lot more “heart” and UFOTable’s “cool” is a little passe and not 80s enough? We may love Mister and Angelica, but it just wasn’t Cowboy Bebop-like?

But yes, it’s signature UFOTable. If you haven’t seen Dokkoida then not only you should be ashamed of yourself, nor you know not what loli (and definitely sisucon) really is. I think the same probably can be said of the Norio piece that is Ninja Nonsense, except that was more Coyote than Manabi.

I’m an UFOTable fan. The point of this rant isn’t so much to explain why already by episode 2 (not even to mention 3) this is already blowing away all the other new shows this season, as much as to explain why I like UFOTable so. I like them mostly because, in as much as you expect something like Suzumiya Haruhi or Kyoani’s Kanon from Kyoani, I expect Manabi from UFOTable.

From an objective perspective, sure, it’s just a decent studio delivering what they promised its audience early on, even after stumbling at a few turns here and there, but it blows away all competition. It’s like a Gainax show, almost.

And like Gainax, not everything is a hit. They’ve came up short three times since Dokkoida, but it seems three times is what it takes to do a good enough job. It’s not to talk smack of Futakoi Alternative, but well, that’s a rant for another time. But I’m all about smack for Coyote!

Anime Composers

I don’t know why I write about this; perhaps because Anime News Network had that casual poll, or maybe I read a few blogs that talked about it. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve hit a dry spell and I always have a lot to say when the topic rolls to anime music. But perhaps more than usual what I have to say is a lot, and disproportionately a lot of that is baseless, subjective observations, unschooled in the normative language of the relevant arts. It doesn’t stop me.

I think everyone has to make some kind of decision, conscious or not, to make music a part of their lives. It’s not that you become a fan or anything, but much like drinking tea in the afternoon or taking a nap, it’s just something that has long been with human beings for a long time.

Let’s start with Joe. Joe Hisaishi is one of Japan’s most celebrated composers, not so much because of his Studio Ghibli works, but his soundtracks for live action films. It also helped that Beat Takeshi is one of those very liberated film types? Nonetheless, I enjoy his work in a very casual capacity. I think my favorite theme from him is Summer, from Kikujiro. I think Laputa‘s main theme (track 2 on the OST, or this image album) comes next, and I especially like this re-arranged version.

Friends and I call him by an endearing term, “Hesushi.” To mock yet another friend who’s a Hesushi fanatic, of course.

I think the first soundtrack musician in anime that I endorsed with money is Hayato Matsuo. I bet most of you have never heard of him, and his anime soundtrack career is a long but spotty one. I still really like some of his works, like Magic Knight Rayearth and Rescue Wings, but it’s fairly casual involvement here too.

One more before Yoko Kanno…I think Toshihiko Sahashi is the second person I gave money to as an anime soundtrack person. The instrumentals in Rayearth OAV was dark and dreary, but alone on disc it sounded actually thoughtful and it flowed well, and that’s what I bought. I think because he actually have a long list of shows that he wrote for–Tsukikage Ran, Smash Hit, Simoun, Gundam Seed, Gunslinger Girls and Full Metal Panic are just a few–I saw his name pop up here and there. It’s fresh in the mind. He kept up, too, with a lot of good stuff.

But of course, there’s always Yoko Kanno. I think it was love at first (few) listen; somewhere between Macross Plus and Escaflowne I was sold for good. But somehow I never figured out what was so great about Bebop’s soundtrack, aside from showing her diversity. I thought Macross Plus was already pretty darn good, even, at showing diversity. Yet nonetheless I bought a ton of Cowboy Bebop crap. It was the thing to do back then. I think I even got that one DVD with Seatbelts live. They put on a good show.

But we all know about Yoko Kanno, and Yuki Kajiura as well. I think I took a liking to her once I realized I was playing Aquarian Age TV OST over and over again, yet somehow this was before she got huge from doing .hack and what not. I think at some point I listened to her Shin KOR soundtrack, and found that while unremarkable, very solid and charming.

I think however Kajiura has that whole pop-synth aspect to her music which made it very enjoyable. To me the two YKs are most distinct between repeated listenings. I think I still can stand .hack OSTs and Aquarian Age OST repeatedly today, but OTOH I run through all of Kanno without any irritation. I’m not sure if that says anything objective… Maybe that is why I spend more money on Kanno?

That and Kajiura’s stuff is domestically available!

I think if you look at my collection you’ll also realize I’m somewhat a big Taku Iwasaki person. It’s actually not so true. I do enjoy his works but I’m fairly casual about it. Although, I think I like his Witch Hunter Robin works the best. The second OST is oozing with goodness… Any of you Oban Star Racer fans enjoy the music?

At any rate, I think I can continue on for some time, so I’m going to call it for now. People like Kunihiko Ryo deserves more than a terse blurb at the end of a random anime blog, but I hope at the least that gets you curious. I remember seeing him playing the piano during a demo reel for Emma @ AX2005. That was sweet. Studio Pierrot retained him for the project because they love his music so?

Welcoming 2007 with Love, in Pieces

No, this is not a Hidamari Sketch post, but it’s partly about that.

What’s heartfelt about Hidamari Sketch and its companion & competitor Manabi Straight is the honest appeal to something much more simple. No longer are we so concerned and focused on superficial but simply on what happens. Granted, we’re served up the same stuff, but it’s a zany one-two knockout combo. While still the jury is out on both of them and if these carry long-term sustainability, I feel they’ve gotten to the stage where finally they realize how to push the puni/moe concept.

Confession: I’ve been watching Mushishi lately, trying to catch up. It started in 2005, so I’ve had a long time to do that. It’s a good way to bring in the new year, especially since some of the episodes are very seasonal :)

And no one told me it has one of the best lolitwincest episode ever! It’s very funny and touching at the same time. If it had some irony at the end it’d be almost O Henry-like. Sigh, that would be all that took to get me watching on the get go, once I knew what kind of thing Mushishi is.

PS. Watch Catblue Dynamite if you get a chance!