Wednesday, May 27. 2015 | Comment (1)
Well, well! We've finally made it to episode eight! Surely by now it's time for a filler episode! After all, we have flirting in episode six and Hazuki's newfound preoccupation with Shuichi to deal with!
And whaddaya know! It's a festival episode! It's filler!
Don't be stupid. This is Hibike! Euphonium. It's about character development as much as it is about the main story. If not even more so.
So strap on your seatbelts, kiddos, because if you're still watching this series expecting your normal moe fare, you're in for an ass-kicking.
Continue reading "Hibike! Euphonium episode 8"
Wednesday, May 27. 2015 | Comments (0)
Considering there really wasn't anything that happened in this episode that was fundamentally different from what anyone expected to happen...
...I did not see that coming. Or that.
It was just, masterful.
This is Ai wo Mitsuketa Basho (The Place Where You Find Love) by Oku Hanako. It was featured on the second disc of her 2012 "Greatest Hits" compilation "BEST-My Letters." Ignore the video. Finding a streaming source for the original song took some time and more Japanese than I actually know. The song has a great deal to do with episode eight; the video is from another KyoAni show. That wasn't as good as Hibike! Euphonium, but was ok.
Coming up in episode eight of Hibike! Euphonium:
Hey, remember that flirting from episode six? Episode eight has a big box of that exploding all over the screen. I'm talking flirting, teasing, sexual innuendo and flat out eroticism. I mean, daaaaaaamn.
And that's just the crux of the entire episode. There is a penultimate event around which several character's emotional lives make dramatic moves, and the show handles it, I think, perfectly.
If you can invest in this story, it pays back dividends.
Write-up coming soon.
Monday, May 25. 2015 | Comments (0)
I've been putting off the latest blog upgrade for several months. This won't be an incremental upgrade, but a generational upgrade. Version 2 of Serendipty is supposed to change and improve a lot of things, but it also uses almost entirely new components and designs. It's supposed to be backward compatible, but some of the things I've read indicate it's not 100%.
So, if you visit this blog and it looks awful or isn't working right, that's what's going on.
Saturday, May 23. 2015 | Comments (2)
OK, the auditions aren't this week. Instead, the story winds up the tension a few more notches by delving directly into a little bit of DRAMA and providing some insights into some important non-main-characters.
The establishing shot, or series of shots rather, is various static scenes from around the school while the band club plays warmup and tuning scales in the background. The series of shots ends on President Haruka keeping time, and then addressing the club on some general tuning and focus issues she heard, and then dismissing the group for a few minutes of rest. Kumiko's narration about how hard the band members have been practicing is interrupted by Aoi (remember Aoi? Green-haired girl, childhood friend of Kumiko, plays tenor sax, voted against setting National Competition as a goal) leaving for college exam cram school.
Kumiko, ever-observant, notices that President Haruka seems very distressed by Aoi's leaving.
The next day Kumiko is cheered to discover that second-year Natsuki, the other euphonium player, is taking her instrument home to practice.
The warm feelings are short-lived, however; while putting away a chair she overhears Haruka and Kaori discussing Aoi. Haruka is trying to get Aoi to stay until the competition. She tried to get Asuka to help, but Asuka feels that, in light of college exams approaching for the older students, no one should be made to stay in the band club if they really don't want to.
Of course, the groundwork for this was laid very early in the series, so this isn't much of a surprise. While there are some questions that probably need to be answered, the bigger question for the narrative is how the main characters, and the primary supporting characters, deal with this moving forward.
Continue reading "Hibike! Euphonium episode 7"
Tuesday, May 19. 2015 | Comments (0)
...and the drama returns in a BIG way.
Something we've all been waiting for happens...no hints...and like a domino snake, every prominent third year senpai has to deal with a crisis of conscience. Except Asuka. Asuka has her own path staked out and well-marked. Not that Asuka doesn't have much to do in episode 7...heavens, no. In fact, we learn more about Asuka in this episode than anyone else.
Coming up in Episode 7:
President Haruka has a moment of self-doubt!
Asuka is conclusively shown to be just as real a character as everyone else!
Reina learns to teleport!
Hazuki makes a move!
Friday, May 15. 2015 | Comments (2)
Now that SunFes is over, it's back to school as usual. Mid-terms are completed, and Taki-sensei hands out practice schedules for the concert band season. Kitauji High School will have to win at the prefectural level and Kansai regional level in order to move on to national competition. Unfortunately, Kitauji's bronze awards have all been at the prefectural level, meaning this school hasn't competed at the regional level, let alone the national level, within anyone's memory. Taki-sensei then drops the bomb: he wants to hold auditions to determine who will make up the competition band. I would imagine this is probably a bit less common in Japan that it might be in the U.S. Japan has a history of favoring seniority that, while present in the States, has never been nearly as predominant. The Kitauji band club has, according to Kumiko, around sixty members, and their competition group only allows fifty-five. Normally, this is resolved by having the beginners and first-years sit out, but auditions throws seniority right out the window. Of course, Taki-sensei reminds them:
Just to make it sting a bit more, he goes on to point out that if you're a senior who isn't as good as a first year and you still want to compete...well, then we have a problem, don't we?
And just like when the band voted to work to compete at nationals, no self-respecting teenager is going to cop to not being better than a kohai. Taki-sensei wins again!
In bass-section practice, the auditions are very much the topic of choice. Midori/Sapphire gets it; Hazuki doesn't. If Taki-sensei doesn't like how the only contra-bass in the band plays, then maybe he just doesn't include contra-bass in his ensemble. There are only three euphoniums, too...surely there are no problems there? Unfortunately, Kumiko understands the implications to social order as well...she briefly visualizes second-year Natsuki challenging her in a dark instrument storage room for showing Natsuki up. Hazuki, bless her heart, humbly pronounces that there's no point in her even trying the auditions, she's just a beginner and next year...
Asuka proceeds to dress Hazuki down and try to explain why her thinking is flawed, using the arrival of two hypothetical transfer students next year (Ruby and Platinum Diamond Kawashima) who could just be better than Hazuki if Hazuki doesn't practice and try her hardest.
The Fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper
And now that the deadly stakes are established, we can all get busy with practice!
Continue reading "Hibike! Euphonium episode 6"
Tuesday, May 12. 2015 | Comments (0)
Have you ever heard Rob Paravonian's Pachelbel Rant? I won't link it here but you can find it on YouTube. The part I want to talk about is the first part of the rant, where Paravonian is complaining about the cello part in Pachelbel's Canon in D. The cello plays 8 notes, over and over. In exactly the same order every time. This, my friends, is the world of bass parts in orchestra or band. With relatively few exceptions, bass instruments don't EVER play melodies. Sometimes they play a specific counter-melody or a refrain, or a call-back or echo, but bass hardly ever carries the melody. The bad side of this fact of life is that it can be hard to develop an appreciation for your instrument when you first start playing, especially if you're meant to be part of an ensemble like a band. The good side is that you learn quickly to appreciate all the parts of music that make a complete piece, not just the melody; the tune that most people remember. A tune can be a song, and that's fine as far as it goes...in fact it can even be brilliant music, but an act of ensemble, even if it's one person creating all of the sounds, to me is the best thing in music. The point is, one of the most important discoveries of a bass-section musician's life is learning that they're actually creating music when they play their obscure, boring parts.
And that's why Rob Paravonian is, in my opinion, wrong. Although to be honest, I'm pretty sure he's just using a bit of music knowledge to create a funny comedy routine.
In episode six of Hibike! Euphonium:
Taki-sensei upsets the apple cart!
Kumiko turns the table!
Goto-sempai saves the day!
Can Hazuki save Tubacabra?
Saturday, May 9. 2015 | Comments (0)
This is, I believe, the first season of anime in years that I've followed more than one show. I doubt that means anything, but still, it's special to me. Other than Hibike! Euphonium (Sound! Euphonium on Crunchyroll), which, as I've mentioned A FEW TIMES now, is so good that if you don't start watching now, at least two aged and infirm members of society might seriously consider smacking you, or at least pity you extensively...wait, off track...
OK. I'm also watching Houkago no Pleiades (After-School Pleiades or Wish Upon the Pleiades) and Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha ViVid (Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid). There was no way I was going to miss ViVid. I gave up on the ViVid manga early on because I had a lot of trouble following what was going on. There are probably better fansubs available now, but with the anime, that's not a problem. ViVid follows up StrikerS directly, albeit a few years later. Vivio, the clone of the last Saint Queen (Sankt Kaiser Olivie), is now ten years old and has practically no memories of Olivie (that have been revealed) and no memories of what happened when she was six. It might have been revealed in one of the Sound Stage audio productions (which are canon), but a brief reference is made asserting that genetically imprinted memories are lost over time if they aren't focused on, and can be replaced by newer (happier) memories. Vivio knows who she is, and what she is; the Belkan church officially regards her as the current Saint Queen and refers to her as "Your Majesty". Outside of the church, however, the ancient Belkan monarchy has no real power or influence.
Vivio is raised primarily by Nanoha (Nanoha-mama), although Fate (Fate-mama) apparently lives with Nanoha and Vivio; she just isn't home very much. In fact, she's shocked to discover, when Vivio finally receives her own intelligent device, that Vivio can transform into her adult form at will. All of the gang from StrikerS are back, although the addition of all of the reformed Numbers makes the cast pretty big.
Thankfully, the plot so far is about Einhart Stratos, a direct bloodline descendant of Claus Ingvalt, an ally of Saint Queen Olivie during the Saint King Unification War. Einhart is one of the lucky descendants who inherited all of Claus's martial arts and magical skills, and scattered memories of the Unification War. Her memories tell her she must defeat all Belkan Royalty in order to atone for Claus's inability to defeat Saint Queen Olivie, therefore failing to save the one he loved.
Now, any damned fool can see how she's getting this memory wrong, and where this part of the story is going.
And just in case you needed some convincing of that, Vivio has SOMEHOW inherited the burning desire to befriend people the old fashioned way from her non-genetic adopted mother. I guess that one is nurture, not nature. Little Vivio's eyes sparkle at having the chance to beat some friendship into Einhart. Of course, keep in mind that Einhart is two years older than Vivio, AND Vivio is small for her age, AND Vivio has no real memories of the alleged earth-shattering power of Saint Queen Olivie. And yet, the two are almost evenly matched. Oh, Einhart has an adult form, too. Vivio is bigger transformed, but Vivio only has a few years of Midchildan martial arts training and (presumably) only a few years of magic training (of course, look at what Nanoha did with that), compared to Einhart having full memory of Belkan-style martial arts AND (presumably) some pretty powerful magical abilities.
So, yeah, there's a lot of fan service for us old fans of Nanoha, but it's pretty clear the stories are finally moving away from Nanoha and Fate. If you liked any of the Nanoha stories, ViVid will suit you, but it's a lot more like StrikerS with a dash the original series thrown in than like a return to the original. Also, it's a bit more low-budget than StrikerS or A's was. Still nice to watch.
Houkago no Pleiades was originally a four-part Youtube series created by Gainax back in 2011 and produced by the car manufacturer Subaru. Subaru is the Japanese name for the Pleiades constellation, which you know now if you haven't already heard it a million times. The series was popular enough that Gainax and Subaru decided to produce an actual television-distributed anime in HD. And a movie, apparently.
There isn't really a lot to say about this show. It's a simple, five girl magical squad series, that uses a decent handful of tropes while side-stepping or lampshading quite a few. The story isn't too deep, but it's not platinum-grade stupid, either. A lot of what IS stupid is entertainingly stupid; a lot of what's troperific is at least entertainingly done. Many things are silly, hardly anything is slapstick. Characterization is about one tick better than "do we have to?" Or maybe even better; the first show focusing on character backstory was surprisingly deep (but not TOO deep), while the second was a lot more "meh". The FX are good; the entire series is VERY pretty. It's sweet. Steven Den Beste even called it sweet.
Plot: An alien from the Pleiades had his engine blow up in our Solar System. He used his awesome powers of time and space to summon a powerful magical being from our planet to help him rebuild his engine. But he goofed and got five magical girls who, together, have the potential to be as or more powerful than he summoned. There's also a red-headed boy the same age who is about as powerful as the five girls put together. Can't follow this plot. The girls go about competing with the boy to get the engine parts back. The girls use "driveshafts" as wands/broomsticks. They make Subaru engine noises when they fly. The driveshafts, not the girls.
The series, as I said, is very pretty, but its party trick so far is the eyecatches at the commercial break:
Wednesday, May 6. 2015 | Comment (1)
It's time for SunFes!
No. It's time for physicals. Much to her chagrin, Kumiko still hasn't added any inches to her bustline, despite being the tallest girl in her class and one of the tallest girls in the band club. Thankfully, Hazuki and Sapphire are both in the same neighborhood, unlike..
Now that Asuka has put everyone in their place simply by being, we can move on to important things...
Continue reading "Hibike! Euphonium episode 5"
Wednesday, May 6. 2015 | Comments (0)
Wonderduck has his Weekly Asuka feature up.
He's absolutely right. There is so much going on in this episode, and so much to look at, that episode five is almost overwhelming. This morning, I couldn't figure out how to write it all up, at least not the way I've been doing it.
Straight up, I've been doing more than I should in the write ups because I'm trying to sell people on this series. It's been a special production from the start...I don't know why KyoAni has picked this series to return to making moonshots, but they have. Hibike! Euphonium is THAT DAMN GOOD.
I can't keep trying to sell everyone on it. There's too much. There are stories EVERYWHERE. Every look, every scene has something to talk about. You HAVE to watch each episode multiple times just to make sure you're still on top of everything going on.
Also, the Episode 5 Preview has two webm files, one above the fold and one below. I replaced the gif of Reina smiling with a webm file because the gif was over 10 MB. If the webm files aren't working for you, PLEASE tell me.
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