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AP Japan Blog: April 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Bell reviews a figurine~
This is a Hiiro no Kakera Figurine. Ogi bought it at Uwajimaya for Six U.S. dollars (577 yen). When Ogi first saw it, she said, “LOOK AT THE ADORABLE BISHI!” It’s very adorable. We believe his name to be Zwei. However, we are not certain on this fact. He is little more than an inch tall, defending himself with leeks and came in bubble wrap in a box. (No, assembly not required. Yes, adorable squee required.) He is not at all useless, for he stands there and looks pretty. He can stand on his own, but a base also comes with it. The base connects to his head via magnetism powers. Overall, this is an adorable figure, and totally worth the six dollars.
K-ON! has been at the forefront of what's popular so far this anime season--developed by anime production leader KyoAni (which brought you Haruhi, Lucky Star, Clannad), K-ON! tells the adventures of four high school girls that desire to start a band together. Imagine Lucky Star without the otaku references and instead, with music.
The characters are your stereotypical anime archtypes. Yui, the dreamy, distant type who just screams MOE any chance she can get. Then there's Mio who's your typical tsundere character: seems to be hard and stern at one moment, and the next she's blushing and being cute. Ritsu, the leader of the club, is slightly spastic and hyperactive all the time--she actually bounces off of Yui and Mio really well. Then finally we have Tsumugi, who provides food for the club and for fans of Lucky Star--you will instantly be reminded of Miyuki.
Overall, it has it's few hilarious moments, but it isn't that great so far. The animation I have felt isn't up to KyoAni's usual standards--hands have bothered me so many time within the first three episodes. Humorous moments, while offbeat, still doesn't feel like it has that Lucky Star vibe (though Lucky Star didn't really pick up until later on in the season). But when K-ON is funny, it really is funny. The characters are memorable--Yui and Mio, fan favorites, are going to be the stuff of KyoAni animation legend once the series is through.
However--where it really shines is, in my opinion, is the OP (Cagayake! Girls) and especially the ED (Don't Say Lazy). The ED is fully animated with movement, which you see very rarely in anime. The song, I think, is catchy and the animation for it is brilliant.
Overall, K-ON! is a good, solid anime--but I have found it, so far, not living up to it's typical Kyoani expectations.
Worth watching? Of course. It'e the anime of the season.
This is a Mikuru figurine I bought from the first Anime Convention (Anime North) that I attended (to prove that im otaku worthy). Its very ghetto, but makes a nice dashboard figurine. Its about 4 inches and is badly painted. I bought it for 20.00$ Canadian and it came in a Ziplock bag in pieces (yes, assembly required). Its pretty useless, but overall, as an otaku beginner, its a very special figurine. (just as to anyone who purchased their first figurine)
So as many people know the Spring anime season has started up a couple weeks ago. What seems to be the clear front winners of the season so far is K-ON! (KyoAni once again taking dominance) and FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (which isn't surprising, considering that FMA is a classic and who doesn't love remakes?).
However I came across a very interesting anime today that while it has been getting a fair bit of attention, it doesn't seem to have a huge fanbase just yet.
Higashi no Eden is from Production IG, which is famous for producing Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion and Prince of Tennis. Heading the project is Kenji Kamiyama, who was the director, storyboarder and writer for Ghost in the Shell.
Higashi no Eden takes place in the near future: 2010. On November 22nd, 2010 Japan was struck with ten missiles. Interestingly enough, the incident, which was later called 'Careless Monday', resulted in no casualties. With some of these missiles hitting the heart of Tokyo, how could this be possible?
The animation I have found with Higashi is vibrant and unique, the voice acting excellent (the first episode takes place in Washington DC and there is use of English in the episode--very well dubbed English, might I add), and you quickly get attached to the characters. The two main protagonists, Saki and Akira, work very well off each other and instantly made me a shipper of them. Your first meeting of Akira is very amusing, actually.
I insist that everyone gives Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East) a shot. It really does remind me of Ghost in the Shell and Evangelion in some ways, but there is some romantic comedy moments spread throughout. I think this anime could appeal to anyone with it's mysteries already set up and the hinting of a future relationship between Akira and Saki.
Higashi no Eden is set to be an eleven-episode anime series with a movie being released shortly after.
"Designed and built by an Ibaraki man in his garage over the course of eleven years, the "Kabutom MX-03" looks like a prop from a Power Rangers spin-off but is an actual working vehicle. Why build it? Because owning an eleven meter long, fifteen ton robot beetle makes you a mack daddy -- in Japan or anywhere else." (Via AltJapan)
Since I was still in Japan in 2006 when North Korea did their underground nuclear test (don't get me started on that), and their launches into the sea... I got a lot of info from the news, few teachers... and then additional from Mainichi and then Wiki to look up dates and additional back story...
I might've been on the more lower Eastern side (Mie)... but it was quite real to see school wasn't starting on time and you turn on the Television to find out why...
Not many in North America seem to really know much of the story because it isn't much of a threat... "What North Korea grumbling about this time?" *click*
With the fall of the Agreed Framework in 2003 (with USA declaring DPRK a terrorist state) and KEDO stopping its operations in early 2006... What was left for North Korea?
During 2006 when North Korea made their underground tests and launches into the sea, sanctions were imposed, but they did get their recognition... talks were in place.
North Korea was to rejoin the NPT and once again start to dismantle in exchange for the energy compensation that was supposed to come from KEDO... among other things...
Things were going slowly, but progress was being made. Plants were being shut down, Japan received SOME information on past kidnappings, and in Oct 11, 2008, North Korea was removed from the list of Terrorist states.
So... What happened? Not long before that, (after a lot of pressure from the USA) during the NSG meeting, India was granted a waiver for nuclear trade with willing countries, and in Oct 8, 2008 US Congress signed a deal with India.
This is the opening from an anime called The Mysterious Cities of Gold shown throughout the 80's, between Japan in 1982 to 1983 and as late as the early 1990s in Australia.
The series has just been released on R1 DVD this week, having made it to R2 and R4 DVDs last year. It has been rumored since last year, a movie release of the series is being planned, as well as a sequel series with a 2011 release date. No word if either has plans for release in any other English or French speaking region, like the first series.
The deluxe version, complete with every episode, is for sale at Amazon for a whopping USD$59.99, down from $75.99.
I somewhat recommend this series, more or less as a reflection on cheesy 80's cartoons of the day and how campy things can get. The opening alone should give you a good understanding of the camp this series had, if you didn't get a chance to watch it when it first aired.