Monthly Archives: September 2007

Naoki Satou FTW!

Listening to the new El Cazador soundtrack reminds me how Yuki Kajiura can hit left and feint right. But after doing it so many times, I no longer care about the feinting as much as how she does it. And oddly enough she only impressed me once since Aquarian Age TV, in Mai-Hime. I still don’t quite get why people get so riled up about her .Hack or Xenosaga, for praise or scorn.

But listening to Naoki Satou? It’s totally like a 10yr old listening to John William for the first time. And so far, every time. It’s not that he does anything really original or anything like that, but ever since I first heard him through X TV‘s soundtracks, it feels at first so powerful, that like Kajiura’s earlier works, the music drives the imagery by itself. We don’t need anime or animation to tell a story, if it’s going to be like that.

But unlike MADLAX’s “lol still pan + YAMANI” nonsense that lots of Kajiura fans like, different directors did it differently with Naoki Satou. X was probably a more conventional take about sweeping destinies crossed in a forest of revenge, much like Noir. And the musical presentation came across similarly. But not so in Eureka 7.

Eureka 7 was the place where I first took a good and hard look at his stuff. It was incredible at times, but yet it left a weak impression. Maybe it has to do with how musically Eureka 7 was all over the place, or maybe because the direction was trying to tell a story about people instead of trying to present a moving slide show with a nice soundtrack. The soundtrack albums themselves were epic enough but it didn’t quite give off that orange, legendary glow.

It is much like The Heroic Age. The two soundtracks for the show that are out now helped me understand a bit better what I’m experiencing. As far as music in the show goes, unlike E7, Heroic Age was mostly typical of “lol grand space epic” sort of thing. Some of the main themes and pieces that are repeated on the soundtrack got a lot of prominent use in the show. Some of the music stood out but it wasn’t remarkable. Yet listening to the soundtrack themselves tells a different, similar, but much more engaging epic. The music definitely does not go all over the place like E7 but yet listening to the album arrangements was just a delight.

In fact, it makes me sort of sad that so much of the great stuff from the second OST is just obscured by the silly show, and sort of wished that a show with slow-moving space battles and lofty racial politics can afford some stillness and sing us a few new tunes. The key is in the arrangement, I guess.

The Heroic Age has fast moving space battles as well, so that might be what’s taking up all the sound space? Maybe Naoki Satou needs to write for the next Simoun-like show. That’ll be beyond legendary.

Nice School Days


Trying to make sense of School Days is easy. I think the guys doing this adaptation already knew they have a winning case of source material on their hands. Ignoring the whines of people who thought “the game was better” I think the anime is probably as good as it could come while incorporating as much as possible, of the bombs of joy and LULZ that the game was renowned for.

But I think I feel like talking about how it relates to Elfen Lied and Higurashi a lot more, because those shows apply similar plot mechanics to evoke emotional responses, and both achieved (or failed to achieve) those goals in ways that shed light as to why School Days was so good.

For time’s sake I’ll make this short. Two main points.

Sympathy. For a lot of people it’s much easier to sympathize with a bunch of high school sluts sleeping around and a guy who knows not love but only of the mire of selfish desires he is stuck in. That’s something counter-cultural folks have been preaching for decades since the 70s, religious or otherwise. But seeing it in anime is a bit of a refresher simply because, hey, you’d think this wouldn’t appeal to the otaku segment. But sure enough, we are all human and we can sympathize with Makoto, Sekai, and Kotonoha, in their foolishness. Needless to say, that’s already a case for the win when you compare settings: a couple youngsters living in an abandoned shrine-like mansion taking in random naked people who NYUUS? Or being transferred to the boondocks, going to a school with 1 classroom from grades K to 12, and having your life terminated every 5 episodes then reset?

Believability. The gruesome death quotient for Americans is probably higher than most other viewer demographic. American entertainment glorifies violence, but that’s not to say no one else does; it’s just a matter of making a point with said violence versus mere glorifying it, as a societal norm. In all three cases, violence is NOT glorified. In fact, in Higurashi one can make a case about the violence being a device for parody. It certainly seems comical, at times, for Elfen Lied and School Days. Instead, violence is, in turn, to draw emotional response from people either who deserves the wrong end of a sharp, pointy object or to demonstrate some kind of plot-oriented balance in terms of theme, or to illustrate or symbolize some thematic concept (like lost innocence). I guess that doesn’t speak so much as to why it’s funny, but it certainly can be if you’re in the inappropriate state of mind (ie. one that is more in tune of watching for violence per se–what’s usually required in enjoying violence, rather than extracting the reason behind it). The absurdity in all three cases is astronomically high, but School Days spend a good 11 episodes to set that up for you, so it is, at least, the least incredible of the three. Elfen Lied would likewise be well-served with violence if the show’s main schtik–that slice-of-life/slice-of-death tension–wasn’t so abused to oblivion so early on. Or maybe alien with invisible, stretch hands just seems a little too weird for suspension of belief. You pick.

So, yeah, School Days is a job well done, although it is definitely not something you want to recommend to people who watch anime purely for cutesy harems OR lol blood gore violence vampires.

The Nice Boat thing is just bonus material, thank you Japan!

On This Rock, Kamina Builds His Church

Simon from Gurren Lagann shares similarities with Simon Peter of the Way. YA RLY.

You can read about Saint Peter here. Shimon indeed.

So it’s not a surprise that on this rock (does the term Cathedral Terra make sense to you now?) Simon builds Kamina’s church? But before people jump to conclusion about Jesus, let’s talk about Simon Peter some more.

For many scholars Peter is one of the most interesting disciples Jesus had out of the original 12. Some of them consider Peter being the spokesperson for the 12, and at least in the New Testament he was a leader of the early Church. We see him most notably when he gave the sermon at Pentecost with the baptism of the three thousand.

But he was not that sort of a man as we could possibly imagine with the brand of Christianity as you and I experience today. Much like Gureen Lagann’s Simon, Peter fished and lived humbly as a fisherman off the Sea of Galilee. He was a little rush-headed and oddly shy at times. Unlike Simon he wasn’t really a great fisher either (as Simon was a driller). But like Simon, Peter had a brother who told him of the good news.

In contrast, Gurren Lagann’s Simon isn’t likely one who would jump to cut the ear off someone; decidedly he was much matured after 7 years since he parted with Kamina. The transformation is also seen with Simon Peter from his moment of denial with the reconfirmation with Christ after the resurrection.

Am I stepping out a little too far with this bit of analogy? Maybe, but far from it be Gainax’s bag of tricks to pull punches from Christian lore. There are quite a few of the superficialities that make sense once you connect the dots. Much of the Gurren-dan can be paralleled with Jesus’ disciples. The transformation of Kamina City under Rossiu’s rule and his eventual redemption may be a little bit out there, but talking with the evangelicals today that might resound a little louder with them.

But is Kamina Jesus? I don’t think I’ll go that far, especially because there are just too many key dissimilarities. But his death was much less meaningful than his resurrection, even if only in spirit.

Previewing Seasonal Remedies

Maybe I’m just a weirdo, but somehow it’s not until I started to read j1m0ne‘s preview post that I realize this is exactly the next-season-preview I would like to read. Uh, I guess I also dig hawt and cute and cool voice actors as well?

And there’s nothing wrong to be superficial about what you like in anime. It helps to be superficial at this point in the life of an anime series because we just don’t really know much beyond the PR that we see, unless you have some insight into things that others can’t see upon first glance. While we may all be looking at book covers and judging the contents within, I found what j1mone is doing more like reading the author and telling you who’s done which work in the past, without really saying much about the show itself. It’s just less guessing and more actual useful information. It helps to go beyond this a little and connect the dots, but not quite this far.

But it also got me thinking: is my taste in anime so superficial now? I know for some time it was shallow to begin with–not only was I after the episode-by-episode experience over some satisfaction behind following a good story, I was much more concerned about acting, direction and music rather than plot, characterization and themes. Well, I talk about all six things all the time still, so I don’t know. Certainly a good story is no more important than having good acting (you’d think this ranks way higher with most people?) and direction. A fanciful setting is great but only if the show would take advantage of it. And humor is really a personal, eye-of-the-beholder thing. And of course if it’s an ugly, still-panarama, it will still get dropped. Maybe.

Sadly so few of those things can be figured out weeks in advance, unless there was an advance screening (hi CLANNAD?). I guess I’m just articulating, again, why I find seasonal previews unhelpful.

Well Done, Mikan; the Mystery Continues?

Mikan loses to Konoka by 6 votes in round 2 of Saimoe 2007. She joins her crew in the heaven of lost moeliciousness, having an beerice cream.


According to this post on 2ch, foreign votes affected the outcome since Konoka got an extra 59 votes, sealing the deal.

And I bet most of those 59 votes are cast by people who speak English. Or not? At first glance, that data just concludes how foreign votes (IP not originating from Japan) pan out to, as I’ll cut and paste below:
0543 0400 0143 41.17% 37.59% 56.08% 26.34% 近衛木乃香@ネギま!?
0537 0453 0084 40.71% 42.58% 32.94% 15.64% 稲森光香(みかん)@がくえんゆーとぴあ まなびストレート!
0239 0211 0028 18.12% 19.83% 10.98% 11.72% 沙英@ひだまりスケッチ
In other words, out of the total 543 votes, 143 of Konoka’s votes originates outside of Japan. That could simply means people in Japan are voting from non-Japanese IPs, so it is inconclusive merely through that as to which demographic contributed to :3-chan’s loss.

A look at the by-the-hour chart of vote allocation, we get a better picture–Mikan held a comfortable lead at first, but it slowly went away until the end of polls, where she was upset. If we take the presumption of average internet usage–that Saimoe and its kin of tomfoolery take place during the night (8pm-2am) rather than during the day, we can see that Japan (and maybe Korea and Singapore and China and other locations with people interested in Saimoe) is still chiefly to blame for the downfall. It’s curious, as well, because Mikan had a demanding lead right off the bat, and it’s unlikely the same demographic had two different sways so drastically different.

Perhaps that means there are two divisive faction on 2ch when it comes to Saimoe–the people who keeps up with anime and people who do not? The latter is likely who votes early in the day (but near the end of the contest) and the former can stay up and watch those late-night shows, and vote on Saimoe as it begins the next day. But we don’t have to go that far…

The western fanbase failed–the shrinking lead during the eek hours would suggest as much. In the 12-hour gap between 5am Japan time and 5pm Japan time we see Mikan’s lead erode from 70 to 42, and that would’ve been peak hours for Europeans, all the Americans, and more.

It still smells suspicious, however. Ah well. It just means today the sun shines a little dimmer compared to tomorrow.