Monthly Archives: August 2011

Redline’s Hype Gap?

Talking to our Blu-ray pushing buddy on twitter, I feel like spinning this thought out a little more:

@muhootsaver_7:  Why do some ppl think REDLINE is “hyped”? If the worst comment about the movie is “bland storyline but still a great eye candy”…

@omonomono:  because some people say it’s the best thing ever (not disagreeing)!

@muhootsaver_7:  BUT IT IS. Jokes aside, I don’t think it’s overrated if not underrated. Haven’t felt this satisfied after a movie for a long time

@omonomono:  Anytime when someone expects to like the show they’re going to see due to “word on the street” and ends up disliking it…

Just to be clear, we’re talking about the Madhouse-produced animation flick REDLINE, or Redline, and not the 2007 live action movie. And there is strong evidence that there is hype, even if it is not very wide-spread hype.

Basically, I’m wondering if there is a hype gap. I’m thinking given the lack of dimensionality of Redline’s modus operandi, the filmmakers were likely only caring for a narrow segment of animation fans. Perhaps in 1995 that would overlap with most animation fans in the west, but certainly not by 2005 standards, let alone 2011 standards.

Having not yet watched Redline (saving this cherry until when the time is right), I can’t say if my assumption about dimensions apply or will the animation be so viscerally communicative in which it can bridge the differences between any open-minded viewer of itself: so vastly different people can come together about it. So I won’t make any assumptions about that for Redline. And it is well-given that any works of modern entertainment of big enough viewership will have its detractors.

But isn’t the obvious answer, rather, that Redline is what is commonly called an art film? Twitch compares it to Mind Games. And Mind Games is no blockbusting pleaser either. And it’s almost a shared virtue that the mainstream audience just don’t dig art house fares. I would almost say that Redline’s particular penetration in certain segments of the west is probably just as big of a testimony of Redline’s obvious qualities mixed with the nature of how that particular fandom has developed from ages ago, during the era when “japanimation” is synonymous with gratuitous sexuality and violence.

I mean, speaking of sales figures, how are we suppose to interpret it? It may be bad that it cannot sell 40000+ copies, but is that expectation even within a nautical mile of realistic? If Redline sold 4000+ copies of Blu-ray and DVDs, isn’t it good for the film? [How many units of Fractale is that? LOL? 5?] Maybe it is fair to say that a lot of good anime don’t get a fair shake at the box office or Oricon charts. But that would be making the assumption that these are good anime (by some common metric). And since I said I won’t, I won’t.

Not until I watch the damned thing, at least. You know, for something that is potentially market-transcending, they sure are doing one heck of a job burying it in terms of marketing. The hype is not very wide spread, even if it is there. And maybe that is for the best!

Hanasaku Iroha: Food Induced Coma

A few weeks ago I talked to someone about curry and how that played a role in Penguindrum. Here’s a recipe inspired by it. (Apple in my curry, tho, not my thing.) On Sunday I made “chicken rice” and wrapped it in an egg skin for breakfast. I guess that qualifies as omurice. I guess that also tells you I woke up to HanaIro on Sunday! I also took a note from Penguindrum and added Sriracha sauce in the egg. Because that’s just how I roll.


  • 3 eggs
  • small amount of diced spring onion, or some diced onion.
  • rice (probably 2 cups of cooked rice is fine; any variety is fine but short grains are preferred)
  • enough chicken (could be any, as long as boneless) to go with the rice (I actually used some leftover rotisserie chicken breasts)
  • pepper
  • salt
  • ketchup
  • cooking oil (vegetable oil, lard, chicken skin, anything really)
  • optionally hot sauce (I prefer Sriracha with this, but whatever works)

I was amused when Ohana thought Minko couldn’t make it. But since omurice is like, home-style all the way, there are a lot of different varieties. As we learn this week. This is the super simple you can do it if you are a single man in your bachelor-pad style. And ideally your cooking surface should be better than a hot plate…

I used a really deep skillet (almost like a wok but with a flat bottom), because that’s just what is handy. You want to basically make fried rice. For omurice you probably don’t want to season it that much, unless you prefer it to be like Chinese or southeast Asian style. I just added ketchup and pepper. But that is especially true if you want to spike the eggs. The goal is that when you eat it with the egg, you can taste both and the rice goes with the egg. If you are using raw chicken pieces, you can also season them more heavily since it will stand out when you chew on it. Marinate it even. However for fried rice, you want to cut it fairly thin and small.

Heat up your wok or whatever, and toss in the spring onion or onion. You want to cook those pretty well and caramelize it. I just throw it in whenever. When the cooking apparatus is hot enough, put the meat in. Stir lightly until they are just done. If you are using leftover like me, this time is just long enough so they are kind of warmed up. Seasoned veterans of leftover fried rice construction should feel free to substitute any other meat or vegetables in here, but for omurice you want to keep it simple.

Simple is delicious sometimes, you know?

So as the chicken is cooked, you put in the rice. Cooked rice. If you don’t have any, you will want to make the rice first before any of this, since that takes a while. Cold or hot it doesn’t matter, just stir it up so the ingredient mixes well. Add ketchup and pepper to taste. I think omurice tastes better with more ketchup. Some people even like a little char. Whatever, man. You can also add salt here, but I prefer to add it in the egg.

When the rice looks good enough to eat, it’s time to set it aside and make the egg part. You can do this on a hot plate if it’s big enough, a wok if you’re skilled, or just in any skillet or frying pan. But first you want to deposit the eggs in a bowl and mix it up well. At some point you can add some salt to the mix. Also, some hot sauce, if you want it all over the thing. It’ll give you a more subtle flavor rather than a strong kick. That is, if you don’t add too much.

Ad a bit of cooking oil for your skillet. When it’s hot enough evenly mix in the egg mixture so it forms a thin skin, hopefully big enough to fit the fried rice you’ve whipped up. If you made too much fried rice, that’s fine, you don’t have to add all of it in. Anyways, it’s like making an omelet. If you can do that, you can do this. First carefully dislodge the egg skin. Carefully scoop in the rice towards the center, about 1/3 of the way from the edge. If you’re a noob, don’t add too much rice. Close it up, and then carefully slip it out of your pan onto your serving dish.

Omurice is really easy to make. It’s also really gimmicky. It’s like, if you just want to eat egg with your rice, you can put that egg directly in the fried rice. Why bother when you’re cooking it for yourself? It’s more an opportunity to display that extra loving tender touch for the ones you cook for. Like Ohana’s super broccoli omurice for her mom. Or the maid cafe flair. It works. On somebody else.

One last note; I actually applied hot sauce on Sunday directly on the rice right before I rolled it up in the egg. It’s probably a little more potent and you can localize the flavor this way. I  wouldn’t recommend drawing hearts and crap with Sriracha sauce though!

Mid-Summer Review, 2011

When the humidity is high and the  sun is making waves on steaming pavements, do you want to watch an anime like Aria, where the same is sometimes protrayed, or do you want to watch something from the deep freeze, like a scene from Spriggan? I don’t know, and it’s not like I’m getting either this summer.

So, a list of stuff I’m kind of watching.

I’m still keeping pace with No. 6. I want to start this post about No. 6 out because those … homoerotic gazes kind of bothers me when it’s put at the fore, so let’s put that to the fore. Those scenes bother me in the sense that “wait, there’s this long pause in which I am suppose to be feeling some kind of tension between the two male protagonists, but what kind of tension is it? Why is this pause here?” It kicks me out of the mind set in which I’m following this mystery about killer bee things, which is probably the main draw for the show. At least for non-fujoshi types. On a normal, sunny day, I typically like to think critically anyways. But when the show gives me a chance to–scratch that, more like when it invites criticism, I can’t help but to think in the negative. It isn’t necessarily a “wrong” on the show’s behalf, but that’s just how I roll. Some anime invite you to introspect, to reflect and consider what is happening in the story from a third-party perspective. Others invite you to take part in the action, to get the audience wrapped up in the narrative. There’s nothing special or good or bad about either approach. But sometimes the beams cross, so to speak. In the game of Magicka, it usually means an explosive, suicidal death. Thankfully anime is not some European-made exercise at self-infliction of pain.

I bring up Magicka because it is a game sold on its solid gimmicks. Gimmicks can be solid. I think this is why I still like R-15 a lot, half way through. The gimmicks, compared to, say, Yuruyuri, are random as hell and yet somewhat organic. It’s kind of like Xavier’s School for the Gifted; you have a bunch of kids who have some kind of special powers. Except by “power” we don’t mean cool mutant powers, but “the most random, most Japanese crap-anime plot generator” you can think of. Some of these “powers” are really creative; in order to top some of these, I have to go to fanfiction. And we typically don’t want to go there.

It’s easy to point to some show and say it is more organic than Yuruyuri. Because Yuruyuri is very…inorganic. I don’t know why and how, it just feels very stale in terms of its timing? Direction? Animation generally? I can’t quite put my finger on it. The writing works pretty okay with whatever that I feel that is stale, and once we can begin to tolerate the main characters, the jokes come alive. I think that might just be the strength of the writing to a degree. I don’t think the staleness is particularly a bad thing, it just makes it difficult to form a good first impression. When done right, staleness gives a show a unique flavor. Sometimes stale bread tastes good too!

Speaking of stale bread, Yune has the cutest scene with stale bread possibly in the history of anime. I mean, it isn’t something that comes into play on a regular basis. Croisee is a sharp anime, but it feels a little bit, shall we say, out of the water? It’s missing something, something big, that pushes the enjoyment level over the edge to the next level. For Aria, it was how it channels the mono no aware stuff, for example. As is, Croisee is just a cute and well-executed show.

That’s also what I’m going to say about Ro-Kyu-Bu. It’s just somehow one gets you branded as a lolicon and the other doesn’t, when in reality they’re kind of the same thing.

I am really enjoying Usagi Drop, but I also don’t really want to talk too much about it right now. Maybe when it’s all done. And maybe I’ll read the manga then.

I’m also really enjoying Mawaru Penguindrum, if it wasn’t clear. In a way this is the anime I always wanted after watching Utena. So it’s a long time coming. I just don’t think words do much against it; there’s a simple, calculated yet visceral point to the way the show is directed. It feels very theatrical (as in, a play) but yet not that over the top. Maybe I’m just too used to over-the-top stuff, but for a cartoon this is pretty okay. Given its Thursday lineup and the equal doses of girls-side pandering, I’m half suspect that this is real free-market competition versus noitanima.  Also it makes me suspect which show has done it before. It’s time to pander harder, Fuji TV.

I’m still keeping the pace with Sket Dance. It’s probably some form of penance. I guess without the trappings that Gintama is surrounded by, I find Sket Dance a cleaner version of kind of the same thing. It also slightly reminds me of Nadesico, in the way that Yurika and her crew would consistently making peace signs at the camera–something I am also watching it (similarly to how dm is watching CCS).

And oh, episode 16 was AWESOME. For a show as inorganic as this advance-formula Jump anime.

Blood-C? I guess I’m behind, but it isn’t bad. Just not really engaging until you get to episode 5…and I’m behind. It’s kind of a dangerous thing; nico comments boosts its entertainment value drastically, but I can’t say too much about the source material like this.

I’m also behind on Blue Exorcist and Tiger and Bunny. I just don’t have the time to catch up now that I’ve fallen behind. Maybe soon! I enjoy both shows (especially T&B) so hopefully I can make a run before some major climax goes to town.

Back to fresh stuff: The IdolM@ster is doing well. Is it canon to spell it “The Idol Master”  when the @ is an illegal character in the title? Or what? Anyways, this show doesn’t disappoint, but I don’t think my expectations was high in the first place. Still, given how much I loved episode 1, episodes 2-end have a lot to live up to. Also, this is definitely an anime that is made for the game fans, which is kind of refreshing. It’s done well enough to not bore me, giving us something of an episodic character focus while expanding on the rest of the crew, at least as much as they reasonably could. The Producer main character is interesting enough, which highlights something interesting coming from the game, too. Maybe someone can go wax poetic on the importance of assertion of the other self in first-person ADV games where the overall narrative is driven by intercharacter drama. Something a mix between Sakura Taisen and IdolM@ster?

Kamisama Dolls is pretty okay; I don’t particularly dig the character designs either (but it does make Utau cuter than she ought to be) but the story is snappy and enjoyable. There’s a little bit of everything to make it worth watching, even if the end is kind of telegraphed.

As for telegraphing, there’s a lot to be said about that in Nichijou. It’s pretty quality textbook example of how to do it. Is it doing the telegraphing right? For the most part; but that doesn’t automatically make the jokes work. For meta-humor of the direct kind…I’m not sure how to put it into words. It’s like if Nadesico (again) is an anime about meta of everything about itself, then Nichijou is just meta enough about the execution that it tries to do something about it. Where as a show like SeiZon is just straight-face meta. It’s like how in MLB, hitters adjust their swings to counter-game the scouting on them, over the long season?

Mayo Chiki is kind of the Seizon kind of meta, except it’s straightforward enough to make the jokes internally. Sadly it’s kind of boring if the lead characters don’t sell you. I’m not sure they’ve sold for me yet.

It’s a busy summer season that continues from a busy spring. Maybe Hanasaku Iroha continues to be the “bar” this year as to measure the effectiveness of anime to entertain. It flounders periodically and yet it hits the mark periodically, and like many series this year, the presentation is overall solid. What lies in the differences is how good they are at telling their stories. It’s also not a surprise the best storyteller anime (at least for battering average) is also one of the most popular and most anticipated series this year, Steins;Gate.

As for stories, totally random last note here, but big grats on Maaya Sakamoto x Kenichi Suzumura marriage. It is pretty awesome– they have canon OTP roles! There’s Shiki x Kokutou from Rakkyo, Haruhi x Hikaru from Ouran Host Club, Lunamaria x Shinn from Gundam SEED Destiny…and some not-as canon ones, like Sakaya Nakasugi x Shamyalan from Birdy Decode. Both are from the same agency, and despite the 5-yr age difference, Sakamoto got her debut before Suzumura. I guess they see themselves as from the same “era” or whatever. Anyway, congrats to two of my favorite voice actors! You can find a full pairing list here.

DVD/BD Sales Figures Fun

There’s not much more you need to know beyond this 2ch write-up on how to interpret Japanese anime DVD/BD sales. I say this mainly because, well, there’s not much more you need to know, unless you have a knack for spreadsheets. Knowing beyond a casual, internet-warrior level of what those numbers means is like a 8yo genius trying to teach his working-class parents how to calculate the angular momentum of a rigid body in 3 dimensions. It’s unnecessary and is an exercise in futility. But it’s really amusing to see how a lot of people just don’t quite get it, when they saw this Crunchyroll post from  yesterday. I could farm twitter for even more lulz, but that’s not going to be worth the effort. I guess successful troll is successful. But in some ways it is also insightful, so I’m going to try to say a couple things.

The obvious thing  here is to realize that DVD/BD sales figures are kind of meaningless in terms of revenue. This is something you can explain away in different ways, but basically it is the best part of the troll. I mean, DVD/BD sales figures are obviously extremely meaningful in terms of calculating revenue and profit. That is not just common sense, but the cold hard facts. So what’s wrong with this picture? Clearly there are other factors that also impact revenue/profit/etc; or better put, what qualifies as success.

TL;DR, that “infographic” compares apples with oranges.

[Actually I can launch into this other tangent about how most infographics out there are evil and you probably shouldn’t pay them a lick of mind, according to my small amount of actual education on interpreting data in graphical form (elitism: they teach college level courses on this stuff for hard science majors, except people who do infographic on the intarwebs are typically too academically challenged to take those courses).]

I mean, how many people who commented on that infographic knows about how late night anime are financed? How it compares to Bleach? Or how a mix media franchise works? I don’t even know all about all of those topics, and while I am nobody, I am less of one than probably most people who bothered to comment on it. Because if you are somebody you wouldn’t even comment on it!

Let’s identify the fruits in that list. It’s not all apples, nor is it all oranges, so what are they?

  • Stuff that were never planning to make money via home video releases, eg., Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, etc. People need to remember before the DVD revolution and how everyone nowadays know youtube exists, people generally don’t buy TV shows on home video. Movies? Sure, because it cost a ton of money to take the family to the theater, and you can buy the tape (or DVD/BD today) for a fraction of price (in NYC it’s approaching 1 BD to 1 ticket…which is just sad and pathetic). Why would you buy Bleach? Because you have dirty clothes, that’s why. I mean you would probably even buy a Doreamon movie or your child’s favorite episodes of One Piece just so you can pacify the poor little dude/dudette when you’re busy cooking lunch or something. It’s suspiciously the metaphoric fruit that is missing in this chart; probably because Japanese edutainment programs are horrid and nobody but Japanese kids (and their caretakers) watch them.
  • Stuff that were paid up front, eg. WOWOW anime, etc. This is something most people wouldn’t know, because these shows are relatively rare. A lot of the time what these channels will do recently is air OAVs, but it’s like if enough people watch Game of Thrones, HBO has already achieved its goals. In other words, some anime are created as premium programming, available only to those who have paid subscriptions to those channels. Video sales to them are icing on the cake. It’s like pre-Chappelle’s Show.
  • Stuff that were paid up front #2, eg. movies, etc. I split this one out because it’s obvious to you. I mean if Transformer 3 does a bijillionquadrubple bucks in the box office, who gives a damn about video sales (besides that it will also sell bijillionquadrubple copies)? It can sell less than Kaiba and still be like, “yo I make more money than all your mamas.” But as I alluded earlier, this never is the case with movies. In fact, movies tend to sell the best (see: bijillionquadrubple copies of Transformer 3). Part of it has to do with the fact that unless you are a Kara no Kyoukai, you end after one film. Or at least, you give this unspoken assumption about this is it and sequels? What sequels? It lowers the barrier of entry of paying for a series versus just an one-shot. [But in reality, when you buy a very popular film, the odds that it will have a sequel is pretty close to 100%. So if you can’t stand owning just the first volume and not the second (even if the second, third, fourth, etc is horrible), you really don’t have any business buying popular movies in this day and age. Or rather, that is their business, eh?]
  • Stuff that were used to recoup from investment costs, eg., most late night anime, etc. To be specific, this is why moe anime is made. Because they can consistently bring in a steady, if anemic, stream of sales. At certain pricing, it is steady revenue. This is why Bakemonogatari (and its kins) sales numbers are such a big deal, because they are by-the-book late-night anime business. Their sales figures on home video is a large narrative for home video publishers, since it’s usually their slice of pie at stake here. So that kind of shows get made.
  • Stuff that were paid for during the TV run, eg., the rest. Evangelion has pushed a lot of units on home video. But it would have been considered a success on the TV viewership numbers alone, because it brought in eyeballs, and sold real ads. However the fact that it was so successful on video too gave it a second wind, so to speak. That’s the Chapelle’s Show’s model. I keep on referring to Chapelle’s Show because for the longest time, old TV shows just didn’t sell on home video (see Bleach, Naruto, etc) but somehow, Chapelle’s show has become the sign post of home video sales floating enough money to justify the continuation of the show because of its ludicrous sales figures (compared to prime-time television). Is this a sign that our society is becoming more  maniacal about our favorites? Maybe someone else can tell you about that, but these kind of anime are in a league of their own. I mean, I speak of home video sales, but the key here is that this type of show don’t solely rely on it; it’s kind of just a sign of how crazy some otaku are about kiddy TV shows. They are the AC Gundams and Pokemons of our times, where their sales figures on home video only told a part of the story. As an aside, this group also fields the majority of original anime titles out there. Because as long as the models are cool and the video games are hot properties, the anime has already served its purpose.

To continue, a good 25% of the anime on that list is original. I think that kind of reflects the top Oricon charts, by overshooting it. The bottom tier is probably full of original titles. Does Denno Coil count? I’m not sure. Even this apples-to-oranges analysis doesn’t tell the story behind the difficulty of original anime breaking through things at a glance. At least it tells you how special Madoka is. (And to note, Nanoha StrikerS isn’t too far behind it I think).

In the same vein, it makes you wonder why we continue to include shows like One Piece, Bleach and Naruto in the overarching anime discourse in America. I mean, sure, they are anime, but they’re as anime as Kaiba. And nobody talks about Kaiba! Joking aside, it’s as relevant as its low sales figure. Maybe it is kind of like how anime fans may yell buttscratcha memes at cons, since Family Guy is not anime either. At least that one makes more sense than Marco Polo. Maybe even more so than Bronies. In my mind, Naruto is almost a meme. A lot of people read the manga or watch the anime, but it’s kind of the noise in the background and it isn’t really relevant to anything beyond Viz and fans of the franchise.

That’s going to lead into my last observation here. I’m kind of surprised; speaking of cosplay icons at American cons, where’s Trigun? Its sales figure was pretty abysmal too! If America was different than Japan, I can’t think of a better example than that. So why is Trigun missing from the infographic? Maybe that’s too apples-and-oranges in that graphic? It breaks the trend/trap set up by the infographic? I don’t know. But you know, people in Japan actually bought Cowboy Bebop, too. So you’ve got to wonder.

Tribal Link Review

I don’t really do music reviews, but why not. I really enjoyed these covers, and this is just as good as any other excuse to listen to Makkun’s Abyss over and over again.

Release Date : 2011.07.29


1. Velocity of sound Vo. Faylan
2. The Maze Vo. Utatsuki Kaori
3. Jet Smash! Vo. Momoi Haruko
4. Ever stay snow Vo. nao
5. Lupe Vo. Kawada Mami
6. Automaton Vo. Okui Masami
7. Close to me… Vo. Shimamiya Eiko
8. jihad Vo. Sakakibara Yui
9. Permit ~Yurushi no Tou~ Vo. Satou Hiromi
10. Lilies line Vo. Larval Stage Planning
11. Philosophy Vo. Hashimoto Miyuki
13. Double HarmoniZe Shock!! Vo. MAKO and Kawada Mami


2. Abyss Vo. Okui Masami
3. blossomdays Vo. Larval Stage Planning
4. birthday eve Vo. Kuribayashi Minami
5. Suna no Shiro  -The Castle of Sand- Vo. Kawada Mami
6. Anata dake no Angel☆ Vo. Sakakibara Yui
7. Jōshiki! Butler Kōshinkyoku Vo. nao
8. Face of Fact Vo. Utatsuki Kaori
9. For our days Vo. MAKO
10. Collective Vo. Faylan
11. Princess Brave! Vo. Momoi Haruko
12. Leaf Ticket Vo. Satou Hiromi
13. SHIFT -Sedai no Mukō- Vo. Shimamiya Eiko

So for the uninitiated, I’ve Sound is a brand of trance/denpa style electronica stuff. It is just a bunch of Hokkaido-based musicians. Over the years they’ve tied up some female vocalists (utahime or whatever people call them) and among eroge and anime fans they have gotten some name recognition. KOTOKO is probably the most famous vocalist to make it out of it, but regardless of who, there’s like a 80% chance that Kazuya Takase, the founder and a big part of what I’ve really is, wrote the song. You can read about it on Wikipedia.

The two Tribal Link albums are a tie-in with an associated event that took place in early July, when the artists covering these I’ve classics teamed up for a day-night double-header anison marathon. You can read about its first initial announcement here; the show was on Nico live stream, so maybe a copy is floating around too. The recording on these two CDs are studio recordings though, and the arrangement is the standard version, not some remix. It all feels a little unpolished, but the main interest here is the sort of music. It’s kind of like how they still put up crossfade preview tracks for their stuff. It’s this kind of details that I like about I’ve. And it’s also kind of ghetto. But hey, they even have a Comiket booth.

Some more about the vocalists. Overall there are three categories: ex- or semi-ex I’ve Sound artists, current breed I’ve Sound artists, and totally not associated types. Tribal Link features all three groups, and it’s kind of a Lantis mash-up; I believe all the non-I’ve associated artists on these discs have Lantis distribution deals. For that matter, please remember Larval Stage Planning, the new-ish idol-pop trio from the brand, is doing an anison tie-in for the first time this season (Bakatest 2 OP).

And all this text is just to give you some background. Being able to appreciate the cover singers is the major draw, beyond that you’re definitely buying a Best-Of collection as well. Tribal Link is definitely for fans of both I’ve and the attached artists. I mean when you hook in the likes of Momoi and Yuinyan you’re going to get a certain group of people interested. Or the group who like like Faylan or Makkun. There are also some old-timers on the list, and one doing an appearance for possibly the first time: I’ve Sound’s MAKO.

[Yeah, I’ve’s is evil, but I’ve Sound’s is less. Then again, only crazy Japanese would have the word “larval” in anything that isn’t biology or SF horror.]

So, anyway, R first. Because I am backwards like that. I’ll try to link to clips when I see it.

  1. Velocity of sound is as much as a signature I’ve piece as they come, and I think Faylan did justice. The problem is more that her singing style doesn’t really mesh with the trance-ness of it all. It feels as if she’s just singing it like one of her own songs. Which is to say, maybe someone should vocode her or something, it could work much better. The end result, as is, is a good try but it probably disappointing the nature of Faylan’s music as hypothetically merging with I’ve Sound’s … sound.
  2. Disclaimer #1: I never really liked Utatsuki’s songs. The Maze is a pretty okay piece especially considering how the previous track was kind of disappointing. It’s pretty decent, even when considering the original.
  3. Momoi goes all moe-moe depna on Jet Smash! is something to be expected. But I think it’s the kind of thing that either works or not at all. Yeah, those refrain clauses are cute, and the fact that she tunes it to her singing voice for the rest works pretty well. I just don’t think it’s got as much crack as the original.
  4. Ever stay snow is a classic; that’s going to be a trend. I’m not sure if nao did it justice. And why am I so hung up on justice? I guess it’s partly because it’s not really that different than Shiho’s interpretation. I would say this is probably slightly more pleasurable to listen to than the original, but it’s got less of a bite. I never really got into her FripSide stuff either… No real opinion here.
  5. I definitely dislike Kawada less among the newer crop of I’ve Sound utahime. Well, she’s not exactly “newer” by 2011 standards. Her version of Lupe is really good though. I think I like it more than the original. I suppose it credits her for just better at this trancy stuff, versus the screechier KOTOKO take.
  6. Disclaimer #2: I am a big Makkun fan. Her involvement in Tribal Link is already worth the price of admission for the two albums. Automaton is surprisingly not as good as I think it should sound, but it’s still a very nice switch from Makkun’s normal fare. It’s also a bit more rocking compared to the typical I’ve track, which is closer to her usual style. Despite that, though, it feels like she’s taken over this song.
  7. The big sister of I’ve Sound continues to walk on. The big news from 2010 was how Eiko Shimamiya announced that she got cancer. It looks like things are doing better after a brief respite and with her recovery. Close to me is yet another classic track with some cool tricks on something otherwise pretty simple. Aside that these cool tricks involve Engrish, I think she nails it. It’s like, when KOTOKO does it, there’s this harpsichord feel; where as Eiko-neesan actually flows with it. With better Engrish, too.
  8. The title of the song, jihad, reminds me of a certain Sakakibara’s album cover… Heh. Disclaimer #3: I like her deep voice more than her denpa voice. In a lot of ways Yuinyan’s musical inventory is the kind of divide between the two sides of I’ve. Except instead of trance it’s kind of this half-image rock thing. Her rendition of jihad is exactly that kind, which works out pretty well for me. For that matter, Faylan would have hit a home run with this song. Yui Sakakibara was able to channel the sweeter side of her voice for this, even when staying with that rock style. Very nicely done.
  9. I think Hiromi Sato’s voice is pretty close to MELL’s, so her version of Permit ~Yurushi no Tou~ is pretty okay. The biggest difference, though, is how MELL is pretty champ for a soprano; she’s got that frame. Hiromi-shacho, OTOH, not as much. This song, being a ballad, shows the difference.
  10. Disclaimer #4: Larval Stage Planning what? I mean I know who they are, but I’m pretty much totally new to them, and they’ve done nothing impressive so far besides being able to sing the songs from I’ve. Lilies line doesn’t address my concerns, although they’re pretty cute-sounding in it. What I really need is an idol dancing style PV or something. And something less psychedelic than this.
  11. Philosophy is another classic piece. Personally this song accompanied me in a lot of the long trips I’ve taken over the past 10+ years. So hearing a softer version of it from Hashimoto was kind of nice. I’m not really familiar with Hashimoto’s stuff, aside from hearing it here or there. Unfortunately this song by itself doesn’t quite get me any more interested in her. It was nice though.
  12. For I’ve fans, KOTOKO doing FLY TO THE TOP is already a huge treat. More objectively, though, it’s basically MELL’s version with more sugar and less oomf. I did notice some funky background tracking for the vocals plus a little bit of it at the ending, that weren’t in the original, which is kind of cute. I think fans may be divided but more probably would prefer the original. I mean, after all, that’s what sets I’ve Sound apart from the rest–oomph over sugar. MELL’s got some real vocal chops that even the best of the best denpa princesses will have a hard time overcoming, so it’s not to KOTOKO’s discredit. In fact I think she’s done a good job all considering.
  13. MAKO is basically a lower and less sweet version of Kawada, so when they teamed up for Double HarmoniZe Shock!! I’m not sure if I would be able to tell them apart. I guess I still can if I pay attention, but the layering during the chorus isn’t going to give a lot of contrast…maybe that’s just like the original! Well, KOTOKO is really easy to tell for me. The big difference is probably how the original version is sugared-up plus that rocking track, and this version is just all rock. Kind of a preference thing as to which one you’ll like more, although this version is definitely not harmonized as cleanly.

So. L.

  1. IMMORAL is definitely the better way to kick off the album. KOTOKO does her usual job here, although I think her voice cuts through the melody a little too sharply. Kawada’s voice is notably less remarkable than KOTOKO’s, but I guess I’m just used to it on this song. I think it’s pretty much comparable, and what makes it tick for you will just be how much you like KOTOKO.
  2. I really dig this version of Abyss. (See previous disclaimers about Masami Okui.) However, in practice it is kind of a mysterious track because part of it is vocoded (or is it?). I can listen to the chorus and pre-chorus all day long though. It’s a pretty awesome song to begin with, now it’s just even more wonderful. Yay! I mean, to keep on splooging, the big thing that makes Makkun’s voice work in this song is that she has that fairly unique register at around the same pitch as KOTOKO’s, so it really shows when she draws it out. Not to mention her voice is just bigger, and it fits in this song. Also, Abyss would make a killer Faylan track, too.
  3. The LSP cover for L, blossomdays is slightly less catchy but probably for the better, because it’s more like denpa crossed with eurobeat and sings better. KOTOKO’s original rendition isn’t exactly the most inspired thing either, so I’m not sure how to feel about it. Maybe that’s just indifference talking.
  4. Minami Kuribayashi trades spot with Miyuki Hashimoto in L, with birthday eve. It’s a really, really staple I’ve Sound piece. In a way the arrangement kind of overruns Kurinoko’s vocals, which is too bad. Her vocals really fits the song when it isn’t busy overlapping with the synths. I don’t know what she or the sound engineer could do to make her voice stand out more. It’s kind of surprising because I really enjoyed it, despite it being not so great. I suppose that’s I’ve Sound in a nutshell lol. I hope someone gets her to do this song with a different arrangement in the future…
  5. I always thought Suna no Shiro  -The Castle of Sand- was hard to sing. I’m not sure if Kawada understands it, although it is pretty neat to hear her do it. That said, the original was kind of a mess, and so is this one. If there is one redeeming thing is that Kawada’s screeching is way easier to pick up than Eiko-neesan’s.
  6. While I do like her rock voice over her denpa voice, I think in this case I like Sakakibara’s denpa voice too! Anata dake no Angel☆ came across just as it should have been in the original, TBH! Maybe disclaimer #1 is in play more than #3!
  7. I wasn’t expecting much for Jōshiki! Butler Kōshinkyoku, nor am I big about nao, but this one is better than expected. I suppose that is not a surprise, but this song is a fun little tune and it’s hard to screw it up like this. Nao’s a good match.
  8. Who doesn’t like Face of Fact? I don’t know, but if we assume Utatsuki as the de-facto KOTOKO clone from I’ve vocal-wise, then as expected this version of Face of Fact is not really that different than the original. I like it almost just as much, I guess (see Disclaimer #1).
  9. MAKO’s For our days is probably as close of a fit as it gets if it has to be a song from I’ve that she didn’t do. The cool thing is how this song just stands out so much from the other tracks genre-wise. Even with that said, the chorus part was executed kind of normally, which is way less interesting than the rest of the song. It’s too bad, because her Verge tracks were some of my favorites.
  10. I’m less disappointed with Collective than with Velocity of sound. Faylan tears it up pretty well, and this is one of the rare cases that I think I like the cover more than the original. But, yes, I’m still kind of disappointed, in that to do Collective the way she’s doing it, Faylan needs more, well, oomph. But I think she’s half-redeemed herself at least.
  11. Princess Brave surprises nobody. Momoi is solid, and she delivers basically what anyone expects of her and this song. Which is good, and probably better than the original for some, just different. I’m neither ways about this piece, but the fast rhythm do work better for me with that denpa voice. I guess this is KOTOKO’s bread and butter these days.
  12. Shachou has a good voice for Leaf Ticket. Man, she needs duet with KOTOKO again. But that said, it’s kind of amazing to hear her sing a song that, well, doesn’t suck. At least for some reason I am under the impression that Hiromi Sato’s solo works tend to… not impress. Maybe I am wrong, maybe it’s just the one CD of hers that I own that sucked, but it’s good to hear her sing something more interesting.
  13. In a lot of ways I still think Shimamiya is the best vocalist in I’ve. All the popular utahime have a good voice, but there’s some special quality about hers that I find always intriguing.  SHIFT -Sedai no Mukō- is a slow, wrap-up piece that tend to be Lia’s forte, and Eiko-nee does just as good of a job I think. It’s probably the piece where the differences between cover and original is the smallest, across both L and R.

The fact that I wrote a review on this probably tells you that I really enjoyed them. I think it is more an excuse to listen to some really classic I’ve hits, and even with the new covers they sound largely similar to their original incarnations. As a stand alone product, I’m not too excited about it; maybe if they had some real duets for the Tribal Link concerts, I would wish for a DVD or something. I probably don’t need any excuse to drown myself in Sapporo-based anison trance, but if you need it, you’ve got it here.