Now that the initial controversy has subsided I finally feel able to form and voice an opinion on Aku no Hana. The art style didn’t put me off, surprisingly. I actually had reservations about whether the main characters would be so flawed and twisted that it would be impossible to form any sort of attachment to, or interest in, what happens to them. It is in fact a breath of fresh air due to its unusual approach, and is a textbook example of ‘grimly compelling’.
I also started following the graphic novel after learning that it’s currently ongoing, and it’s a fascinating piece of work. Thematically it reminds me a little of, as some other viewers have pointed out, Shunji Iwai’s All About Lily Chou-chou, plus Tetsuya Nakeshima’s Confessions but also a bit of Onani Master Kurosawa I think (only without the fapping). It’s a top-tier piece of suspenseful psychological character study that plunges a literary probe into the deepest recesses of its protagonists’ minds, and for this reason alone I’d recommend it.
If you are interested in ‘alternative’ Japanese contemporary music (as in, stuff that isn’t in the charts or a tie-in to an anime show) you may have heard of Boris. I heard their songs for the first time around a year ago in Tetsuya Nakeshima’s chilling psycho-thriller Kokuhaku (Confessions), in which a nosebleed-inducing guitar riff cuts through the murmured vocals of Rainbow like a hot knife through butter, and the crashing heartbreak of Farewell brings the movie to a close. I was hooked from that point on.
Quite honestly they’re such a prolific band, who tour so extensively and collaborate with so many artists internationally, I would have stumbled on them eventually. It’s only a shame this didn’t happen to me sooner, so I hope this article will help you avoid that “where has this band been all my life?!” feeling that I experienced.
Although I was intrigued by the first two Kara no Kyoukai movie outings I wasn’t totally sold until I’d seen the third one. The brutal and shocking opening scene made me sit up and take notice, but the way the whole film was constructed convinced me of how unusual and special this story is. This is I think the point where Nasu really started to hit his stride as a writer.
Part 3 of the original novel begins with a different scene from the film adaptation, although I can understand why Ufotable took the route they did because it has more dramatic impact. The Gate of Seventh Heaven remix movie includes the deleted scene though, and I sort-of wish that it had found its way into the theatrical version somewhere; it dramatises the conversation between Mikiya and the university professor when they’re discussing parapsychology related to the Fujino Asagami case, and adds some useful background details in the process.
I realised I never said anything on here about Kalafina’s 2011 LP After Eden, despite going into the official shop in Shibuya and picking up a copy on release day. It’s a really nice record with some standout tracks, but looking back it sounds like it was trying too hard. It came out only a year after their previous full-length effort, so with that in mind I suspect that they were over-reaching themselves a bit and were suffering from the notorious ‘third album syndrome’.
Two years later, with their first European appearances under their belts, where do they stand with their fourth record? While AE took a few listens to get into, Consolation endeared it to me from the get-go. Quite honestly I don’t think they’ve sounded better – the songs on offer here are easily of the standard they set right back in ’09 with their debut Seventh Heaven.
The second chapter of KnK may seem like one of the weaker sections since it’s so heavy on exposition and concepts that don’t gain much from the transition from print to screen; even in novel form it doesn’t have many exciting moments. The novel has a ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ thing going on though, and the character study of this chapter is one of the main reasons why it feels that way. If you’re patient and take the time with this part, it’s easier to appreciate the rest.
By which I mean: it’s important in understanding how the two protagonists’ minds work and what drives them to make the decisions they make later on. I guess the narrative also needs time to pause and offer something character-driven before leaping headlong into the next action-orientated arc. After reading this chapter through, the first one feels like a ‘cold open’ to get the reader’s/viewer’s attention while the heart of the story lies elsewhere.
Here’s a simple piece of advice for when the enthusiasm for one of your hobbies or interests starts to wane: seek out something that represents why you were a fan in the first place. The time I could spend grumbling about how everything’s moeshit, or watching stuff just because other people are watching it, could instead be spent watching something different and enjoyable. Which is what I did.
I’ve not been following much anime at all lately. I’ve watched a few films and TV shows, I’ve recorded some music and I’ve been busy with real life things. As for the last season or two of animu broadcasts, I’ve seen precious little. To break the cycle I idly turned to my backlog. First up, chosen more or less at random, was Nadia: Secret of Blue Water.
The process of adapting a novel for the screen fascinates me, if not as much as the writing process itself. On those rare and wonderful occasions where there’s no “…the book was better…” sensation, the people responsible for the adaptation are competent but also recognise what it is about the original that made it special.
Could I find a pic of Kirie on her own? Could I heck. This is much better though (click to see in its fully embiggened glory)
Reading the the opening chapter of Kara no Kyoukai after watching the movie, I can’t ignore the fact that it’s a very ‘early’ attempt on Nasu’s part to focus his creative energy and bring his inspiration together into a tangible, and readable, form. It has a rough-around-the-edges, first-draft feel to it, which is bad for casual readers but interesting to fans and those of us who like to dig beneath the surface to find out what makes the story, and the mind that wrote it, tick.
I reckon I saw more live music during 2012 than ever before, apart from the summers when I went to a music festival (I have tentative plans to attend FujiRock 2014…). Rounding off the year, just as the last of my disposable income disappeared in the run-up to Christmas, I was fortunate enough to see two of the most startling – and loud – Japanese rock bands during their respective UK tours. Lucky me indeed.
This was the fourth time I’ve seen the instrumental outfit MONO live, being as they are a band who tour extensively worldwide year after year. I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing Boris in a live setting before last weekend, although I knew them by reputation. If you don’t pay attention to anything that follows, remember this: both of these bands are a real treat. Go see ‘em if they’re playing near you.
A few months back there was a (probably pub-based) discussion in which two buddies of mine mentioned how they’d both managed to track down a hard-to-find scale model of the ‘Mave’ jet plane that appears in Chohei Kambayashi’s SF novel Yukikaze. I’ve never been a huge fan of that plane; it looks a bit odd and too alien for me, but I really like the design of the earlier ‘Super Sylph’ that appears in the OAV. Since the Super Sylph model is long out of production, I made an off-handed comment about how I might as well make my own.
On October 3, 1982, the first episode of SDF Macross was broadcast on Japanese TV. Of course, I wouldn’t have known that; I was too young to remember. It’s strange to think though that one of my favourite shows, and one that had such an influence on my fandom, is as old as I am.
I wasn’t sure how to mark the anniversary, but since my previous post was looong I’ll make this a short one. Why is Macross so good, and so important? Much of the historical context is lost on me, but I’ll try anyway.