Information about the new Ghost in the Shell anime (subtitled Arise) is being drip fed from its Production I.G. stewards and the vocalreaction has been… disparaging. The voice cast has changed, the character designs are too moe, the soundtrack isn’t Yoko Kanno. Etcetera.
To them I say: excellent.
And I don’t say that lightly as I am an ardent fan of GITS in all of its forms, including the divisive second Mamoru Oshii movie, Innocence. I am a person who painstakingly tried to translate and decipher Standalone Complex and 2nd GIG when there were no fansubs or English releases for them. I am a person who bought the special edition DVDs as they came out in America (and then again in the UK) for the superior DTS audio version, only to realise I was now knee deep in tachikoma figurines. I am a person who could tell you that there is a “Directed by K. K.” message on the ring of a cybernetic iris on a bit character in the second episode of SAC. I know and loveGhost in the Shell. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday is all about putting your feet up, turning the volume up and queuing some music to get wholly lost in. During the week music always seems to accompany doing something: programming, walking, writing, pretending you can’t hear the other people in the office talking about you. It seems somewhat of a lost past-time to simply sit and listen.
“there’s something alluringly infectious about this sentai inspired quintet”
What better way to celebrate this than the release of the Kids on the Slope soundtrack? Any Yoko Kanno release is a cause for celebration; that this has jazz ensembles from Takashi Matsunaga, a noted master of the genre, as well as vocal tracks from well-known artists such as Aoi Teshima is a special treat. I can’t claim to know the first thing about jazz or how to approach it for a better appreciation, but as the adage goes, I know what I like. It’s still on heavy rotation so my final opinion is still gestating but the tracks effortlessly blend easy listening and jazz sessions with Kanno’s signature background melodies – unique but not overpowering. Read the rest of this entry
A few years ago I almost lost the hearing in my left ear. The gory details are best omitted, but I was left with (what the doctors claimed) was 20-30% hearing and only two thirds of the bones I should. For all intents and purposes I was deaf in that ear, a lopsided and mono world where car alarms didn’t exist (a boon at 3am) but wearing headphones was painful.
Two years and two operations on I have most of my hearing back. All of this is just context for me to say: my hearing is precious to me and I am precious about it. It is a cliché to say that you don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve lost it, but when it’s personal it really brings it home. Read the rest of this entry
After breaking free from Yoko Kanno over three years ago, Everywhere is Maaya Sakamoto’s new compilation album that brings together fifteen years of vocal work including some of the most iconic theme tunes to some of the most influential anime and a variety of TV and radio shows.
With only one new track on the two CD release, for some it may seem a hard sell for tracks that are available on all of her other albums; however with such a stunning track list, it reads more like a “best of” than simply an anniversary collection. There is a definite split with the tracks: many of them having been featured as anime, TV and radio themes whereas the others are simply memorable or notable works from her six full albums, two single collections and two “concept” albums. The media tie-ins intrinsically link the songs to an emotional theme that echoes the productions they were attached to; they also represent touchstones in the timeline from Maaya’s entrance as Hitomi in the Vision of Escaflowne to both the musical and vocal powerhouse she is now. On the other hand, the original tracks anchor the collection to her previous releases and remain more personal to listeners, tied to whatever event or period within their life when they first experienced them. Read the rest of this entry
In a decade rife with stellar release from Studio Bones, RahXephon stands out. An ambitious and sleek production which draws upon a diverse mix of sources from obscure Mayan lore to classical music to create a symphony of unparalleled beauty. Continuously stunning, it deftly handles a wide cast of characters as well as a plot laden with symbolism which bountifully rewards shrewd analysis and constant attention. At a time when the mecha genre was overburdened, RahXephon excelled by weaving a story unshackled by genre tropes and creating a genuine classic of immense longevity and awesome breadth.
“rich in emotion and poignancy, the deaths cut deeper, the passion clings tighter”
Ayato Kamina lives in the last bastion of humankind: Tokyo; a cataclysm having supposedly wiped out the rest of humanity. When an attack strikes the city he is aided by woman who claims to be able to explain the chaotic world he lives in. After awakening the humanoid machine RahXephon he and the woman, Haruka Shitow, are transported outside of Tokyo and he discovers the lies perpetrated by those in power: that Tokyo was forcibly cut off from the rest of the world and a race known as the Mu are responsible. Despite his reticence, he is the only one who can operate the RahXephon and with it the capability to defeat the Mu’s warmachines, the Dolems. Throughout all of this is the mysterious Reika Mishima who appears seemingly without reason and the quiet but whimsical Quon who seems to have a connection to both Ayato and the RahXephon. Ayato’s position as an Instrumentalist may have bigger consequences than simply the defeat of the Mu. Read the rest of this entry