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.
Since it’s a bank holiday weekend, there are two inescapable facts. One: it’s raining. Two: I have an extra day when I’m not at work. Since I’ve not written much on this blog lately I might as well say something about the main thing that’s kept my interest in recent weeks…namely Macross 7.
It’s the last part of the franchise I’ve watched but as clunky and cheap-looking as Macross 7 is, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Basara Nekki is an interesting hero, Mylene Jenius is a worthy female lead and I’m generally having a blast with the music of Fire Bomber and working through the intimidating forty-nine instalments. But for now, fourteen episodes in, I ought to stop for a moment to mention two important details in its appeal: the coolest anime parents ever.
I should have reviewed After Eden by now since I bought the thing on release day but like many things, I never got around to it. Even after watching the live DVD that arrived last week I still don’t have a burning desire to write about it; I don’t think it’s the strongest offering from them so far but there are some great tracks on there so I like it and still recommend it. What was interesting though was the unexpected response I received from my “Kalafina live blu-ray arrived! Awesome night in!” Facebook status update I posted late last week.
Relevant to the interests of sixty-something motorbike-riding UK rock fans, apparently
I’m sure those of you who share my tastes in Japanese music, art, entertainment, culture and whatnot will have your own stories about what families and friends think…a lot of that depends on whether you make a public show of it, but some of us are surrounded by like-minded people while some of us…well, aren’t.
I rarely pay any attention to the latest news in the worlds of seiyuu and Jpop (my knowledge of the language is too limited to appreciate the former and my musical tastes veer too far into the indie/alternative to appreciate the latter) but I felt that the announcement of Maaya Sakamoto recently marrying fellow VA Kenishi Suzumura deserves commenting on. I’m supposed to be working on another writing project ATM though, so I’ll have to keep this short.
Source: Alafista (click image for full article)
Maaya is one of the few VAs I’ve paid much attention to: after seeing her name crop up so frequently a while ago, I checked her ANN profile and realised how often I’d heard her voice, both as a singer and an actress. Similarly, Kenichi is another industry veteran and it turns out that they’ve often worked together and have known each other for some time. Compared to, say, the negative reaction to Aya Hirano making certain details of her private life public, the messages of goodwill from the fans at this piece of news are both heartwarming and completely justified.
One of the first things I learned when getting into Jpop/Jrock was this: never judge a band by their name. Mass of the Fermenting Dregs (or Masu Dore to their fans) seem to follow the same path as the likes of School Food Punishment and Bump of Chicken in the sense that their name has no relation whatsoever to the music (for the record, Mogwai are also quoted as saying “it [their name] has no significant meaning and we always intended on getting a better one, but like a lot of other things we never got round to it.” so I guess it’s not a Japanese thing either).
Their sound is described as partly shoegaze, but to my ears the similarities are somewhat limited next to the early-90s bands of that genre; they do make use of the female vocals paired with distorted guitar-based arrangements and they also strike a balance between catchy melodies and experimental noise though. The songs are also quite punk/new wave- and powerpop-influenced so I’d say they share as much with the pillows and early Supercar as, say, My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive.
It’s fair to say that the anime industry’s track record for feature film adaptations of TV shows isn’t a good one. For the first Macross Frontier movie I was torn between the idea that another Macross cinematic outing helmed by Kawamori himself could only be a good thing and the opposing notion that similar efforts from other franchises have left me disappointed. This one could well polarise opinion among the Macross fandom but for me at least it’s not the waste of time the nay-sayers claim it to be.
The inescapable factor is the Serial Narrative Compression Effect or, to put it simply, the fact that an episodic TV series has to be squeezed into two hours or less of screen time. Certain details have to to be left on the cutting room floor, others are shuffled around and the thematic emphasis shifts too. Itsuwari no Utahime (a.k.a. The False Songstress) does suffer from these limitations but the streamlined plotline and the production values stemming from the feature film budget are where it really shines.
Maybe I’m stating the glaringly obvious here, but since it wasn’t obvious to me until recently I might as well set out my thoughts on it. I’m not saying that the Unlimited Blade Works is a great movie but it’s worth stopping to think about the broader context or what the movie itself is trying to accomplish. Similarly, there are a few things I could say about the Yukikaze OAV but now I’ve read the original novel I feel a bit different about it. Feelings concerning the motives behind, and effects of, adapting stories from one medium to another mostly.
Click for full size
An extreme example of the importance of context that I stumbled on is William Gibson’s Neuromancer. It’s an enjoyable enough cyberpunk novel but not as enjoyable for me as I expected: I’m finding it tedious in places but when I remind myself that it was written before any of that stuff related to the internet, VR and even the cyberpunk genre itself were commonplace, I admire it more. Not that it makes the book itself more fun, but it makes its limitations at least understandable.
It’s strange how you remember certain things from a long time ago so clearly. Rewatching my childhood fave The Mysterious Cities of Gold for the first time in nigh-on two decades is proving how accurate my memory was before it was addled with things like schoolwork, girls, beer and all the other crap we’re preoccupied with as we grow up. Even more surprisingly, it’s still entertaining to me now.
I remember watching this for the first time when I was around four or five; the reruns were a few years later, when I was around seven or eight and able to appreciate it more. At that point my family had a single-floor house in Norfolk with a cherry tree in the front garden; rewatching this has dredged up memories of living in that place and sitting in front of the old 4:3 CRT Sony TV set. Good times…and now I can see how good they were.
As of this week I’m looking after my sister’s cat, which is one of the reasons why I’ve been too busy to post and reply to comments lately. Now I have three full weeks of paid leave I’m able to keep an eye on the kitteh, update here, catch up on animu and movies, visit friends, write songs, arrange my career change, etc., etc..
I’ve been following High School of the Dead and Shiki only a couple of eps behind people who’ve kept up with them properly but K-On!! is the one thing I’ve found time to watch every week. My earlier attempt at explaining my position only caused misunderstandings, although the resulting discussions made up for the disappointment I felt at the time. I just can’t bring myself around to the view of the hypothetical ‘haters’ for the simple reason that the series shouldn’t elicit a stronger negative reaction than a mere lack of interest…a view I can explain with my view on moe. And cats.
The PC’s on the blink again. It’ll be over a week before I can put right whatever’s wrong so in the meantime I’m working on the backup machine, my trusty four-year-old low-spec laptop. So here I am, running in the Aniblog Tourney with little to write about because I can’t watch much; I feel like I have an important call to make when my mobile phone’s in the pocket of My Other Jacket.
So I thought I might as well write about Perfume. Music dominates a lot of my spare time: I immerse myself in as much as possible, ignoring the usual boundaries of time, trends and genre in favour of my own so sometimes my tastes are a bit unpredictable. My fascination with Perfume is a guilty-pleasure kind of thing, but not completely so.