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Not that I think anyone would miss me or anything, but I was gone for two days because of an unfortunate hardware problem. I don’t think I’ve missed anything substantial though, except for the news about the Berserk movie project that was supposed to come out on January 8. Initial word about it sounded awesome–a straight-up adaptation of the whole manga into a series of animated films–and the first one of the series was supposed to be slated for release this year. They were talking about “expanding it worldwide” or something like that, and I’m curious as to how they will go about that. A worldwide theatrical release of an anime film is quite unlikely, so I think they’re going to use the internet for it. But whatever they do, it will be one of the events of 2011, that’s for sure. And oh yeah, rumors have long been circulating which say renowned artist studio Studio 4C will be in charge of the whole project, which is all the more awesome. Though I wonder how they will handle a project on such a scale as this. True, they’ve been around the world, but Berserk isn’t exactly a kind of project you’d expect them to tackle. If it really is true, then I hope it wouldn’t conflict with production on Koji Morimoto‘s new film (if he still is making it, that is). I, for one, am hoping for Yasuhiro Aoki (Kung-Fu Love, Batman: Gotham Knight’s In Darkness Dwells, Tweeny Witches) to take charge of this. He is one of the most promising directors in the industry today, and goodness knows he deserves a big break. And what could be a bigger break than a Berserk movie?

 

 

Not being able to watch anime for two days, I was forced to go back to watching TV for quite a while. What greeted me was a slew of half-baked and insipid reality shows that boggles the mind as to why they were made in the first place, sappy teenybopper dramas, and crude soap operas. It reminded me of the reasons I stopped picking up the remote. There were some anime here and there, like Nodame Cantabile, Darker than Black (dubbed, of course) which entertained me for a bit. I’m pretty sure Animax used an in-house dubbing team for Nodame, and it was actually pretty watchable aside from those cringe-worthy name pronunciations (which can’t be helped, really). They did a good job at nailing Nodame’s ditzy nature with the voice, but that’s pretty much it. DtB’s dub was good, but that goes without saying. The other voices except for Hei’s and Misaki’s were fine enough–no one can replace Hidenobu Kiuchi and Nana Mizuki for me.

HBO’s new original series Boardwalk Empire was also pretty damn good too. I’ve only watched the first two episodes so far, but they’ve been great. That Scorsese is something else–his episode 1 was tremendous. I think I’m going to watch more of that show.

I also managed to catch NHK’s show Digital Stadium, and it was pretty neat. I caught it while channel-surfing a long time ago, and I remember seeing those great amateur animated shorts–which was the purpose of the whole show. It was only while reading up things on the internet that I saw how big the show was. It was a showcase of amateur animated shorts from Japan, yes, but the judges they pull in sometimes were nothing to scoff at. The show had Koji Morimoto and Satoshi Kon as guests, and who knows who else they got there? However, the edition of DigiSta I caught was kind of different, though. It was named DigiSta Teens, which could mean a showcase of the younger generation of creators. It was nice enough, but it was irritating to watch, since the NHK I got was NHK World, which means some of their shows are dubbed into English. I was cringing through the plastic and fake performance of the hosts and their comedian guest, which was compounded by the even more fake performance of their dubbers. The show also spent more time talking about the guest comedian rather than showing the works of the creators, which was stupid.

Eventually I got what I wanted though, and I got to see the products. There was an independent FX showcase of a film done by a group of high-school students which reminded me of Hideaki Anno’s student films–he played Ultraman in his own film, complete with high-level FX work at that. What really impressed me was the works talked about next to it. A number of elementary school kids submitted their own animated shorts, which were all done using stop-motion. The show highlighted three. There was a boy named Ren Yamanashi who combined his skill with playing with wire and stop-motion to create an interesting work. Next to him was a 9 year-old girl Toko Okazaki who used clay and stop-motion for her short The Three Christmas Presents. Finally a 10 year -old girl named Shizuki Mizuno who used her own toys as material. I forgot the title of her short, but her profile says she researched a lot about stop-motion animation, and she even found out some tricks on her own–like making the eyes bigger so that they can be seen from a distance. Impressive. It really was a huge shame that their works weren’t shown in full, since the hosts decided that they would rather suck up to the guest comedian than get on with the actual damn point of the show. Oh well, at least I got to see a very interesting short in an ad for DigiSta. Shame I missed the title or the creator’s name.

I realize that I’m rambling now, but this post actually has a point too. Or rather I’d like to think it has one.

Recently I got into thinking about the importance of music in anime. Some acclaimed series would not have reached its position were it not for the music. Even some throwaway shows have bits and pieces of great music here and there. Fans also know of a lot of composers who made their name making music for anime shows, be they movies or just plain old TV anime. You have names like Yuki Kajiura, Taku Iwasaki, Shiro Sagisu, and Yoko Kanno herself. Kanno may be the most prolific of them all, having been active in anime since the late 80s or so, with her most notable works being the soundtracks of Escaflowne, Wolf’s Rain, and in my opinion, her best, Ghost in the Shell: SAC and Cowboy Bebop. Bebop would not be as popular as it is today if the music were just a tiny bit different. These days even popular Japanese hip-hop act m-flo (Taku Takahashi, at least) got in on the act, producing the eargasmic music for Imaishi’s unhinged series Panty and Stocking.

Speaking of Japanese hip-hop acts, I just got Nujabes’ final album. Nujabes being the popular underground hip-hop producer who reached out to anime fans with his work on Shinichiro Watanabe’s Manglobe show Samurai Champloo (speaking of which, Watanabe also got Kassin to work on Manglobe’s Michiko to Hatchin too, which should be enough reason to grant him both posts of music producer and director in his next show). His work was sprinkled in bits throughout the 4 CDs of the soundtrack, but he is most remembered for it regardless. I should have mentioned this a few posts back, but Nujabes was one of the great losses in 2010. He died of a car accident early last year, which really was too sudden. He was still relatively young–a decade younger than Satoshi Kon when he died–and he was a really talented craftsman at that. His label, Hydeout Productions, decided to put out a tribute album dedicated to him. It was released later that year, and I just got it.

Modal Soul Classics II: Dedicated to Nujabes (Various Artists, Hydeout Productions)

Tracklist:

  • Kamakura (Conversations with Jun) – Pase Rock
  • Music is Ours (Saxmental Version) – Calm
  • No One Like You – Zack Austin
  • Beach of Life – Specifics
  • Another Reflection (Seaside Dusk in Kamakura Rework) – FK
  • Modal Soul (Kenmochi Hidefumi Remix) – Kenmochi Hidefumi
  • Latitude Tribute Mix – Five Deez
  • A Day by Atmosphere Supreme – Emancipator
  • Faure – Haruka Nakamura feat. Uyama Hiroto
  • Reflection Eternal – Clammbon with Toe’s Yamazaki, Mino, and Yamane
  • Homeward Journey – Uyama Hiroto

Get it here.

The record sounds like a more toned down and jazzy version of a Nujabes record. It’s apt for being a tribute album, designed to take the listener to a relaxing trip through memory lane, reminiscing about the great work the man did. It remixed a lot of songs from Nujabes’ past albums, with Latitude Tribute Mix and Reflection Eternal headlining them. Long-time collaborator Uyama Hiroto also returns for this one. He’s appeared in almost all of Nujabes’ records, and for good reason. He’s one of the many musicians best suited for the combination of jazz and hip-hop which the producer is widely known for. I don’t really know much about music, so I’m not going to get into the technicals. All I’m going to say is that for Nujabes fans out there, this record is a must-get. Buy it, download it, whatever–do what you want, but just get this one and listen to it. It’s not only a highly emotional tribute piece, but it’s also a legitimately good stand-alone record. There is a deep heartfelt respect lined into every song in this album.

I used to call you on your mobile phone/I made a whole record one floor down from your home” gets me every time.

Latitude and Reflection Eternal were two of my favorite songs in the past records (Metaphorical Music and Modal Soul respectively), and it’s good to see that the remixed versions are just as good. I could have used a reappearance by Shing02, though. The only thing this record needs to be truly perfect is a reprisal of his Luv (Sic) trilogy. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers.

Since I’m in a celebratory mood, I guess I’d go ahead and throw these ones into the mix, too.

Metaphorical Music

Modal Soul

Mellow Beats, Friends and Lovers

Modal Soul Classics

Hydeout Productions First Collection

Hydeout Productions Second Collection

Peace.

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