February 23, 2006

Binchotan coin bank

Somehow the idea of a Bincho-tan coin bank is just so clever to me, I had to buy it.
Bincho-tan coin bank
Bincho-tan coin bank

Posted by Paranda at 10:48 AM | Comments (1)

February 21, 2006

YURIA 1st Album

An amusing note on my last update: it seems someone linked to my front page in a Perfume thread yesterday on 2ch and it got hammered to shit in record time, which is why there was some downtime earlier today. I suppose getting slashdotted by those guys is an honor though. Thanks 2ch!

Anyway, my purpose for today's post is simply a reminder that YURIA's first album will be coming out TOMORROW!
Yuria 1st Album

As I mentioned earlier in this entry, YURIA basically kicked my ass back in November 05 after a chain of events turned me into a diehard fan. These included watching Shuffle, Canvas 2, and rediscovering Rurun Heart in my long lost unsorted denpa folder, among other things. Now YURIA is finally going to make her album debut, and hopefully a sign of more good things to come. --Please more voice roles!

Posted by Paranda at 4:43 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2006

Some ramblings on Perfume

Perfume

Today I am going to write about the rising popularity of Perfume, the techno-pop trio that permanently gained my respect after an awesome performance at Wonder Momo-i. Be warned, this is gonna get long. In case you've never heard of them, take a look at their latest music video on YouTube, it might just prompt you to read this thing: Computer City

Perfume in 2004The members, Ohmoto Ayano (Nocchi), Nishiwaki Ayaka (A-chan), and Kashino Yuka (Kashiyuka) were recruited from the Actors School Hiroshima in 2001 to form pop idol group Perfume. They released two limited singles the following year: Omajinai Perori in March and Kareshi Boshuchu in November. In 2003, they signed with Bee-Hive to produce what is considered their first real indie single, "Sweet Donuts." They followed up with Monochrome Effect and Vitamin Drop in 04. At this point in time, Perfume's personality had been defined as "cute," but their sound was messy - it was all over the place and inconsistent in quality. Frankly I have trouble listening to their early stuff.

2005 was a big year for them. Perfume started going toward techno-pop which was a great move. That summer, Halko Momoi switched on her DJ Momoi personality and gave Perfume a huge push with the Akiba crowd by producing and promoting Akihabalove. This would be the release that eventually hooked me into Perfume fandom. Later that year, they put out their major national debut single "Linear Motor Girl" (this was a big release, you can even find it on Amazon.com in the US). Most recently, Perfume released their second major single "Computer City" this January.

Talent-wise, Perfume has what it takes. Their biggest weakness was their highly inconsistent sound, which has since been fixed now that they appear to have settled in with the electronic theme. Both their two new major albums have been very good and consistent, and their website makes it very clear they're shooting for a futuristic look. The group definitely has the performance part down too - they have great coordination and dance very well together. The music videos feature some extremely cool coordinated moves, and their live shows are equally exciting.

Perfume in 2005However, there is a lot of improvement that can still be made now that they're in the big leagues. Nocchi is quite obviously the weakest singer although she appears to be the most popular based on her fan club numbers. This is probably because she is ridiculously cute and acts pretty crazy when she's not singing, but I think in the long run, it will be more important to have passable vocals - Nocchi has screwed up repeatedly during live segments, and she sounds quite shaky even on mastered recordings. Sometimes it gets so bad she can ruin a good song. Needs a bit more practice there, but hopefully Perfume's new improved national presence will encourage her to work on her vocals a bit more - maybe get a voice coach.

A-chan appears to be the most comfortable on stage, which is why she appears to have the only speaking role in the group. She also seems to have the most common sense when appealing to fans (for a very obvious example - if you watch the Momoi video, when the fans start waving to Perfume A-CHAN IS THE ONLY ONE OUT OF THE THREE WHO REALIZED TO WAVE BACK. I mean..that's pretty basic right?) Unfortunately, as leader of the group (I say if you speak for the group, you are the defacto leader), A-chan does not have a very strong voice (although much much better than Nocchi), and a lot of times she comes across as mumbling.

Kashiyuka is my top pick right now, with no obvious flaws that I have seen yet. I may be biased though, because I basically decided she was going to be my favorite after about 30 seconds into the Momoi concert, after she delivers two simple introduction lines in the most awesome intonation possible. I have a weak spot for skilled voice work, and that great first impression of Kashiyuka will not be undone easily. Hopefully she starts getting some more attention.

But I don't want to get in too deep to discussing each person, or even just writing a few more extra paragraphs fawning over Kashiyuka because it just doesn't make me feel comfortable. During my research, I found out that apparently all three members of Perfume are actually younger than me: age 17, with A-chan being the youngest having her birthday just 5 days ago. This comes as a great shock considering my original estimate of their ages was somewhere around 22 to 25. Holy crap I was way off! Suddenly I feel dirtier than before in my fandom...especially since I used to consider it a mark of pride to be able to distance myself from those creepy guys who like the Morning Musume teens. Now I have nothing to hold myself above them. But, it is too late to turn back; after hearing Kashiyuka's promo and seeing the group perform at Wonder Momo-i, I have decided that they are going places.

Like an investor in the voice securities market, I am going to back Perfume early so I can hopefully reap the greatest reward any internet nerd knows: the right to say "I so called that shit" years down the line. Feel free to join me; we can be investor buddies :)

Link:
Perfume Official Site

In an unrelated event: I signed up with Mixi today after Priz sent me an invite. My profile link is here if you feel like adding me and have an account. It looks like some sort of Japanese myspace/facebook, and while I usually hate joining up for websites like these, so far I find the various discussion communities formed on Mixi to be pretty useful for keeping up to date with seiyuu news, especially the calendar feature which is extremely neat - A LOT EASIER compared to say..browsing the 2ch behemoth (but I've only been browsing mixi for 2 hours so what do I know?).

Posted by Paranda at 5:56 AM | Comments (11)

February 14, 2006

I don't rank anime, I rank seiyuu

If you tend to watch more anime than is considered acceptable by society in general, you have probably created your own lists ranking your favorite shows. Similarly, I do the same thing, except with seiyuu. You could say I have more interest in voices than production quality when any given show is aired.

Today, I finished reviewing all the 2005 anime series that I planned to watch. Now I can post updated seiyuu rankings factoring in the new performances last year. These are descending order of quality. Keep in my that these are highly subjective, and I use a variety of arbitrary ranking criteria (see the excel spreadsheet if you are curious). Also note that being on the bottom of this list does not indicate poor performance, since I am after all ranking BEST 30 out of all voice actors I have heard. Names that are bolded did outstandingly well this year and will probably deserve some sort of additional feature writeup at a later time.

The list - top 30 female seiyuu, year end 2005:

01. Momoi Haruko
02. Ohtani Ikue
03. Kawasumi Ayako
04. Orikasa Fumiko
05. Inoue Kikuko
06. Itou Miki
07. Horie Yui
08. Nabatame Hitomi
09. Hisakawa Aya
10. Itou Shizuka
11. Koyama Kimiko
12. Tamura Yukari
13. Nogawa Sakura
14. Kugimiya Rie
15. Matsuoka Yuki
16. Mizuki Nana
17. Kawakami Tomoko
18. Minami Omi
19. Tokunaga Ai
20. Saito Chiwa
21. Yukino Satsuki
22. Nonaka Ai
23. Shimizu Ai
24. Kadowaki Mai
25. Arai Satomi
26. Ohara Sayaka
27. Hirohashi Ryou
28. Noda Junko
29. Kurata Masayo
30. Tanaka Rie

Posted by Paranda at 5:15 PM | Comments (1)

February 8, 2006

Nakid promo goods finally arrived

After waiting for almost two months, Nakid shipped out their Wonder Momo-i calendars. I received mine today, among a few other things. As it turns out, the "calendar" is actually a collection of promo pics printed on glossy paper, with each single photo bearing a handwritten message from Momoi on the back. I would have liked something big enough to put on my wall to act as a real calendar, but in a different way, these are just as good.

Since it is nighttime here, and I have terrible lighting, it is too difficult to tell whether these are actually real individually written cards (they are limited goods after all) or just replicas, but I will check tomorrow under better lighting conditions and report back.

Click thumbnails to enlarge
Calendar FrontCalendar BackCalendar Pages - FrontCalendar Pages - Back


Along with the calendar, I also got the official concert T-shirt which I will probably frame and display somewhere if I can find any more wall space in my unforgivingly small living area. The text and colors are very clear, and the fabric is quite nice and thick, unlike some merchandise shirts which feel like they're made out of tissue paper. Following are images of the shirt SANS model (thank your lucky stars).
T-shirt wrapped
Here it is perfectly folded and wrapped.
T-shirt front
Unfolded front of shirt.
T-shirt back
Unfolded back of shirt.

Finally, unrelated to Wonder Momo-i, today I got a sealed copy of Mail Me, Momoi's debut single. I had always lamented about missing out on her debut release, and wasn't a big enough fan to cash in when they were still being printed. This year I had settled for importing a used copy, but luckily managed to find a brand new unopened copy.

One mystery that was cleared up today from this was.. I was always wondering why people kept showing their bootleg CDs in the official Mail Me boxes. Who knew the actual CD design was made to look like it was burned? Looks like you learn something new every day!

Mail Me frontMail Me back

Posted by Paranda at 7:08 PM | Comments (5)

February 4, 2006

Chuo Line

As I said in my last post, I was going to find out where the hell Chuo Line came from. It turns out it was a song from a live event very long ago by Momoi called the Mail Me Campaign. As far as I know, and I looked pretty hard, there are no CD copies of it in existence.

Thus, I did what I had to do..rip directly from DVD.
Chuo Line (Wonder Momo-i Live tour final version)

edit: bonus Akihabalove track :)
Akihabalove (Wonder Momo-i Live tour final version)

Posted by Paranda at 1:04 AM | Comments (4)

February 2, 2006

Binchotan is a show in which nothing happens

The first episode of Binchotan came out today. It was not what I expected at all. Think ARIA on depressants.. if ARIA put people to sleep, Binchotan will cause 30 year comas. In any case, it looks sort of interesting just because it's weird and cute. Screenshots below.

binchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshots Meet Binchotan, a tiny girl who lives all alone in the mountains.
binchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshots She's wears some sort of a charcoal brick on her head. Why, I'm not sure.
binchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshots In this episode, Binchotan crosses a lake. Ahhhh she's riding a duck! CUTE!!!.
binchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshots Aha. She wants to gather some grasses on the other side.
binchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshots Oh so the herbs were for cooking! But Binchotan is tired after a day of hiking, so it's time for a nap
binchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshotsbinchotan screenshots A good humble meal. Eat up Binchotan, tomorrow is another big day..involving fish strapped to air sails?

Episode summary? I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT HAPPENED BUT THAT WAS AWESOME.

Posted by Paranda at 8:37 PM | Comments (3)

February 1, 2006

A fan's look at Wonder Momo-i Live Tour

A package containing the new Wonder Momo-i Live Tour Final Express DVD and Poly-Phonic arrived today of all days, when I have a rather pressing amount of homework due tomorrow. Of course, I am no fool - I have clear solid priorities, and that means DVD comes first, school comes second. Discs
----------
Things kick off with Halko coming out in baby gear. One thing I need to say about the Tondol Baby costume: it looks really frigging good! My initial impressions of "lol cosplay" from the CD cover are pretty much gone now, as seeing it live has shown me it actually holds as a legitimate outfit. Motto Yume Miyou was a very good choice as a first song, with extremely nice vocals that really got me into the mood.

Unfortunately, things slowed down a bit after. This is the first Halko concert I've seen without Koike. Maybe because of his absence, or because of the song choices, the first third of Wonder-Momoi Live felt a lot less exciting. Where were the crazy fans who could often outshout the music? Why was Halko not doing her usual "kangaroo on speed" act and flying across the stage during performances? The problem with standard concerts is they're usually only fun in person, but are terrible on tape ("terrible" as in not adding much more to the experience compared to say..simply listening to the CD). The difference with Halko concerts is that they defy this convention, and are always fun to watch on video, multiple times even! However, in this concert, everything felt, well, a little standard. "Something was missing," I thought. Let Me Love You is one of my favorite Halko songs ever, but even then I was starting to get a bit bored...that is until Manzo came out. Then they played Ton Dol Baby and THAT's when everyone brought it into overdrive and I really felt like I got that high I love so much. This momentum was thankfully preserved all the way until the end of the concert! While it is refreshing to see Halko do some serious songs once in a while, this concert really proves hyper-Momoi is always the best Momoi - and she really went above and beyond as far as hyper goes, as if to make up for all the slowness before. After the song, she was very visibly tired from going all out. Wow!

So while Halko takes a break to recuperate from that insane display of energy, Manzo takes over to do a few songs, most notably the Genshiken OP (the crowd loved this one). While certainly not as well dressed as Aniki (hardhat and construction uniform???), he's a great performer and sounded really good up there. Then immediately after, Halko pops up out of nowhere in Wonder-Momo cosplay (do I need to mention how gutsy it is to go on stage in front of an otaku crowd *armed with cellphone cameras* in a tiny skirt like that?) and starts singing WONDERMOMOI with some of the best facial expressions ever. She later refers to this suprise apperance as "Wonder Momoi no henshin!" :D

Disc 2 is Halko's now-traditional "cry in middle of concert and butter up fans with sappy dialogue" spot which is always one of my favorite bits. She brings out the "last song" with LOVE.EXE, one of the firsts song she put out after the UNDER17 split. Everyone knew it was a false finish (there's always an encore) but they still cheered extra hard for this song and made it a lot of fun. Especially just going E-GU-ZE as loudly as possible!

Halko, as "DJ Momoi," comes out with Perfume for Akihabarabu! Now personally, only a few months ago I thought Perfume was some crappy amateur cosplay girl band, but I was quickly put in my place after hearing a few of their CDs. Apparently they were much older and credited than I knew. Still, the "measuring stick" for me hass always been on-stage performance, and that's when Perfume officially won me over - very cute and very professional-looking coordinated movements from all three. Perfume is a lot of fun to watch. They have this weird stance leg cross-over into hip waving move that just looks so goddamn cool when done in unison. Akihabarabu is also a pretty good song in its own right.

Finally, Halko comes back in yet another outfit, casual this time, and finishes off for real by speaking with all the band members, and singing "Life is Free" and then "Wonder Momoi" one last time. Perfume and the band come to the front and everyone takes a bow. Credits roll while the fans start singing along to the ending music. We see some backstage footage of - oh shit Halko pops out of the curtains one more time to deliver a final goodbye to all fans. YES!

Impressions: Overall excellent. We got to see the new Halko Momoi in a lot of cutesy outfits. Manzo showed up, and even Perfume did a great job. The fans were also great, as usual. (I swear, there's one dude in the back who must be truly hardcore, because in every single Halko concert DVD I have ever seen, I hear the EXACT SAME scream. Either he's been to all the live events, or Nakid is playing a soundbyte... because it's so recognizable there's no way they can't all be from the same person.) There were also a few new songs I haven't heard before, like "Chuo Line" which is amazing. I wish it were out, or if it already is, I need to know which CD because I really want this song (will be doing research into this later in the week). While UNDER17 Live Tour Final will always be my favorite concert, this DVD did not disappoint. Recommendation - BUY!

Screenshots below

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Posted by Paranda at 5:44 PM | Comments (1)

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