In this second in the AMV’d series, I wanted to cut right to the chase and get to one of my favorite anime-stories, ef – a fairytale of the two. This is the over-arcing title of the two seasons thus far, namely ef – a tale of memories, and its sequel, ef – a tale of melodies, which were all bundled together into one tale in the excellent game of that original title. This show is definitely for those drama/romance lovers in the audience, because it caters to both equally, tossing in a few tasty mysteries as well as its various triangles. Along with a couple of intense scenes, I’ve chosen some fan-made videos for you to watch, and hopefully will manage to get some of you to try the series out, which is the main purpose of an AMV, right?
For all of you who’ve already seen the series, I hope you’ll enjoy the clips; for others, I have to issue a warning about spoilers: there’ll be lots And try to watch them in Full Screen and highest-quality for added tastiness
So, we’ll try to take these in order, with ef – a tale of memories (hereafter known as efMemo) first up. The cast includes the two main male characters Hiro and Renji, twin sisters Kei and Chihiro, and Miyako, another girl who competes with Kei for Hiro’s attention. Hiro grew up playing with the twins, and how Kei and he view each other is central to their relationship, further complicated by his friend, a videographer named Kyusuke, who is studying Kei as a subject for his film project.
Renji has fallen for aspiring writer (as he is) Chihiro, and their story is complicated (apparently) by her guardian, named Yuu, who is very protective of her, and for good reason: she is dealing with a nightmarish condition brought on by an accident she had as a child where she can only remember events within a 13-hour window; all else before that vanishes from her memory unless she writes it all down in her faithful diary, and reads it before sleeping so that she might remember upon awakening. It makes more sense in the series, I’m sure ;-)
Let’s see how they all play together, shall we? To the tune of “Falling Slowly” from the film “Once”:
The animation and design done by Studio SHAFT is remarkable in this series; the director, Shin Oonuma, really takes control and spins his own web of symbolism, foreshadowing, mystery, despair and delight in every scene. The expert use of color, light, geometrics, storytelling, atmosphere, music and scenery fed every aesthetic hunger I had; I was utterly captivated throughout, and comfortably numb in the end. If you’re a sucker for a truly Romantic tale (in spades!), with just a touch of mysterious goings-on going on, then you need look no further for satisfaction. ef is a masterpiece!
Season two, ef – a tale of melodies (hereafter efMelo) fairly continues alongside and right after season one, focusing on a different set of protagonists, while the previous characters take something of a back seat as these ones do in the first. Here we have Renji’s neighbor Kuze, a professional violinist who’s on something of “a retreat”, and Kei’s good buddy, the bubbly and energetic Mizuki, who’s taken a liking to Kuze. And here we find out something more about that mysterious nun-like figure, who enjoys throwing paper airplanes and handing out keys to the school’s rooftop, which, as it turns out, is a pretty special place… The video is backed up by The Afters’ “My Beautiful Love”, and is most appropriate:
Now that we’ve met most of the cast, how about a little eye-and-ear candy? SPOILERS AHEAD, so if averse to them and are interested in watching the shows, don’t get spoiled! Once secrets are out of the bag, they can’t go back in unless you have a memory like Chihiro’s ;-)
Yuu, Chihiro’s guardian, is seen oftentimes in a cathedral, where he implies that he is “waiting for someone”. Also, as in the first season, we come across a young woman garbed in nun’s attire, also at times in a cathedral, where she is “waiting to meet somone”. Her name is Yuuko. She also appears from time to time to advise much of the cast, when they are at their darkest times. Yuu met her long ago, when a paper airplane that she tossed from a rooftop landed at his feet. And thus began the fairy tale of the two, and the other tales are those that they tell each other…
The tale of Kuze and Mizuki is alternately upbeat and despairing. Kuze, you see, is dying. He is in the process of parting with everyone and everything, his apartment bare except for a wall full of masques and his violin case. That’s pretty much it, until Mizuki comes along, and refuses to let him have his way… Here’s the overview, a video done to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story”:
You wanna change of pace? Here is something completely different, provided in order to focus on the quality of the acting talent: A pair of emotionally-wrenching scenes that are essentially monologues, expertly delivered by Kuze’s voice actor Kenji Hamada. Try to read the words quickly, but concentrate on the sincerity of the voicing of Kuze’s emotional states. Make no mistake, this IS acting; it’s not some guy just reading lines off a script!
When Mizuki refuses to understand his situation to his satisfaction, Kuze decides that it’s time to get serious with her in a blistering verbal assault. Note how the music (courtesy of the immensely talented and satisfying TENMON) subtly supports the emotional pitch, and how SHAFT’s trademark direction and animation takes no prisoners in its intense delivery. So devastating, and so draining! (There are several of these kinds of scenes in ef.) In the second clip, alone as he wishes, he deals with wreckage of his consequences…
Okay. Back to the music
Here’s a spoiler-heavy clip that focuses on Yuu and Yuuko (who from the first season became one of my all-time fave anime-girls), done to the beautiful “Tears of an Angel” by RyanDan:
And last, but certainly not least, is Chihiro and Renji’s ”Paper Image” video done by Koopiskeva in his usual top-of-the-line AMV-making; it’s probably my favorite AMV ever (and something like the fourth time I’ve posted it here LOL). Backed by the sublime “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles, it is breathtaking in its beauty:
I hope you enjoyed this installment of AMV’d; it’s my hope with this series to makeforcecoerceentice Visitors to watch, discuss, and eventually buy the featured animes in these Posts. Hopefully ef – a fairytale of the two will soon be licensed for release in North America so that we can finally purchase it! I would definitely and without a doubt leap on it upon its availability here, and I hope that any self-respecting Romantic would do the same :-D
So a funny thing happened on my way to sell some of my beloved Fillmore posters last week. I blew out the rear tire on my truck halfway between home and the Bay Area where I’d planned to sell them. Clearly not a “haha” funny but a “hmmm…” funny. Or rather, an “ohmy#$%^&#!god, I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere with $1000 worth of posters and no money!” funny kinda thang. So, not funny at all. But we’ll try and make it so
I knew that one of my posters was worth close to $2000, according to the apparently-wishful thinking Wolfgang’s Vault (from where these poster pics are taken), but (a) they don’t buy from “little people” like myself, and (b) I was reluctant to eBay it since eBay is so suckish on posters at the moment. Also, the thought of selling it to a poster-dealer in the City who most likely would have offered only a quarter of its value rankled me. It never fails, that awful feeling of having been raped after selling collectibles for a fraction of their value to somewhat unscrupulous vendors who are trying to make a buck. Bucks. Whatever, be it posters, comic books or baseball cards,I’m well-used to the feeling, and I hate it. Nonetheless, I was stuck with having to raise a certain amount of money for bills, food, and other necessities for survival, and figured that the Jimi Hendrix poster I had, even though a second printing, would bring some money in.
my second-most favorite Jimi Hendrix poster
I called Dennis King, a well-known and longtime poster dealer from Berkeley, from whom I’d bought and sold before and knew to be reliable and honest. When in doubt, go with your people, I figured, and Dennis is “the poster guy”! Happily he was still around, as I wasn’t sure since I’d been gone from the Bay Area for the last nine years. He gave me the go-ahead to bring over some of my posters and he’d have a look. I put around eight of them into a flat cardboard box, loaded it into my truck, and took off, putting $15 of my last twenty into the gas tank.
And halfway there, the tire blew So I called my insurance company, who tried to find a tow service to bring me the 50 miles back home to no avail. A local company agreed to tow me off the freeway, and fortunately to a nearby tire company, where I left my truck with the promise to return the next day with the funds with which to pay them for the replacement tire. Tires, as I would need two of them, at the cost of $250. Ouch. So much for a decent profit…
So there I was, with a large box full of posters with no apparent way to get to Dennis, or for that matter anyplace to spend the night. Fortunately (again), I discovered that a BART station was nearby, and so I began my fifteen-minute walk there. UNfortunately, it began to rain. Trying to keep my cardboard box from getting soaked and ruining the posters inside, and cursing quite a lot, I quickly got to the station, where I spent my last money on the fare to Berkeley. Dennis said that he’d wait for me, and not to worry. Thank God, one major less thing to worry about!
the poster for Pink Floyd at Oakland Coliseum, 1977
At last I got there, and after we spent an hour or so catching up, he looked at what I’d brought and paid me $600 for three posters, which was very fair considering. I ended up parting with a Yardbirds poster (with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page pictured), a Doors poster from The Matrix nightclub, and a Pink Floyd poster from somewhere in Utah (of all places). He even gave me a beat up second printing of that Yardbirds poster to keep as consolation for losing the original! And as another definite plus, he advised that I keep the Hendrix poster, since he already had several and they were hard to move, as people ended up buying recent (and cheaper) reprintings. He could only have offered me a couple of hundred for it, and he felt (KNEW lol) that for that little I’d rather have kept it. It’s an awesome poster, and probably one of the most famous rock posters in history, so I’m happy to have been able to keep it. See, that’s what separates honest dealers from unscrupulous ones, who’d have “gladly” relieved me of it for chump change, and then massively profit from it. Fuck those parasites :-(
And a big YAY for Dennis
A Doors poster from Chet Helms & the Family Dog's Avalon Ballroom
Knowing that I was out of cash, he wrote the check less $30 and gave that to me for BART and food, and said to stop in the next day so that he could okay the bank to cash the check; otherwise if I’d had deposited it into my bank, they’d have placed a hold on it, so I wouldn’t have had the money to pay for the tires. THAT would have been a mess, not that it wasn’t already. But things were sorting out, as they will many times if you just keep the faith, and hope that all will turn out for the best
Now I needed a place to stay the night. So I called my brother, who offered to let me sleep overnight in his studio apartment, in San Francisco. So I hopped on BART into S.F., transferred to a streetcar, and managed to meet up with him at a coffee shop where he and about 5 friends were playing Magic: the Gathering. By this time (around 9PM) it was pouring! Finally, after much coffee and a big-ass bagel (and observing much card-playing) we left, taking a streetcar and a bus to his place. Man, that’s the most public transportation I’ve taken in twenty years probably!
Octopoid Country Joe & the Fish Fillmore poster
Now, my brother is a notorious snorer. I mean… LOUD. You might even say “earthshaking,” or at least futon-shaking, as the one on which I was sleeping was practically vibrating. But I was so very grateful to at least have shelter for the night that I paid it no mind. Make that littlemind. On the whole though, despite the lack of any really restful sleep, we had a great time; it had been so long since I’d been in the City for an overnight that really it was just a big, happy, and “funny” (see above) adventure! But mannnn… I was groggy as hell the next morning o.O
one of three posters for Pink Floyd's (and Procol Harum's) first shows at the Fillmore
After a breakfast (of sorts) at yet another coffee shop in the Inner Sunset, we parted ways, and I took the streetcar back downtown to BART back to Berkeley (yes, “to BART” is a verb LOL). But… the streetcar travelled close enough to my old neighborhood that I got a little homesick, so figuring that (a) I might not get the chance again, and (b) IT WAS AN ADVENTURE!!!, I got off and walked down Dolores Street, the street on which I was born, and lived most of my life. It was bittersweet though, as I passed the flat where I lived for my first 7 years (and weirdly and funnily enough, where Jimi Hendrix had visited after we’d moved, but that’s another long story), and down the block a little further, the beautiful Victorian where I’d spent the large part of the remainder. In fact, I so loved this area that when I wrote my novel Unbound, I planted Lily’s mother in this house, and wrote several scenes around this neighborhood at 16th and Dolores Streets. They say that “you can’t go home again” and that’s certainly true enough, but you definitely won’t if you don’t try! So, Unbound will help to keep the place alive in my memory, and I believe that most San Franciscans will enjoy this and all of the other neighborhoods of the City portrayed in it. It’s sort of a love story for the San Francisco of my memories :-)
the poster from my very first Fillmore/Winterland show, featuring Cream!
So, after hitting the bank in Berkeley and touching base with Dennis, I was able to finally pick up my truck, pay the man, and GO HOME! I would have kissed the ground, but, you know, it’s dirty. Definitely slept the sleep of the just that night! Anyway, check out Dennis King’s website if you want to browse for posters or learn about that wonderfully-weird era (the most favorite time of my life), and if in Berkeley or environs, and close to the University, drop in and prepare to be mind-blown at all the posters and artwork!
Okay… maybe that was more “haha” funny than “hmmm…” funny.
And now, after a brief sidetrack and adventure (explained soon), the conclusion to the Winter Roundup (of what I’m watching):
A few years ago, a delightfully funny classical-music based series began, called Nodame Cantabile. To say that it’s centered around Chiaki, the gifted pianist/violinist/conductor would be a mistake, as the centrifugal force whipping around him at all times is his erstwhile patner in charm, Nodame, a prodigy at the piano whose innocence and unabashed quirkiness confuses, dismays, and ultimately constricts around him at all times. Whether her resolute claims upon him pan out remains to be seen by the Viewer, but getting there is more than half the fun as they face many trying trials and tribulations together, and for the most part, apart. At some scenes I laughed harder than at any other show, it was that good.
While the pared-down animation style might be more “old-school” than new, the story was always entertaining, heartwarming, and clever. Nodame is a treat to watch and steals practically any scene she’s in, whether playing at her piano, purse-lipped expression of concentration alternatively flickering or set in stone, or screaming her catch-phrase cries of “MUKYA!” and “GYABO!” whether in happiness or dismay. It’s hard to believe that the talented Ayako Kawasumi, who also voiced the oh-so-serious Saber in Fate/Stay Night, performs so well as Nodame in quite an opposite character. The series and its two sequels are worth watching just for her performance alone.
In this third season entitled Finale, the pair are now officially “together” (as together as they can be, given their personalities), and keep moving on with their pursuits in musical careers in Paris. For fans of classical music, as in the other series, snippets of classic classical tunes are performed, at times to great effect. Generous CG effects are kept for these moments as the instruments and the fingers playing them are rendered nicely and with care. Here’s the OP, and as always, move fast in viewing these, as YouTube sometimes takes them down quickly!
Last but not least comes the surprise hit of the season, Hanamaru Kindergarten. Now, if before this season had begun you’d have told me that I’d be watching a series based around a pre-school slice-of-life comedy, I’d have called the guys with butterfly nets to come and take you away to the funny farm. However… ! This show is funny! The pre-schoolers, drawn in a decidedly distorted fashion, are in no way meant to dissuade the viewer that yes, these are pre-schoolers, from their voices, mannerisms, and designs down to their sense of… well, ”sensibility.” Or lack of same. What the heck, they’re pre-schoolers, right?
It’s very sweet and innocent, and not ashamed about portraying with abandon the whims, fantasies, and realities of the children, not to mention the teachers themselves. And it might even jar loose some of those pre-school memories from beneath the cobwebs of time Little Anzu is convinced of her crush on her teacher “Tsuchi” despite his obvious leanings toward his cute so-worker Yamamoto, and this subject matter in a more cynical society could not be shown as well as what comes off in this series: funny, playfully squirm-inducing, and very heartwarming. Anzu’s friends, the smart and cosplaying Hiiragi, and the insecure and shy Koume, are great foils and play large parts in filling in the comedy, as do the teachers to slightly less effect.
While a cynical person might assume that this is either a “kiddy-show” or the other extreme, a show catering to pedophiles (though likely only in this country of hand-wringers), Hanamaru Kindergarten is neither. The humor is often adult-oriented, and the character designs, as shown by their pear-shaped bodies and “sproingy” footsteps, are so definitely cartoonish that neither assumption holds any water. And that’s a good thing, and makes this delightful series well-worth watching, unafraid that some nay-sayer is watching over your shoulder. They can instead watch the latest installment of “Miss Baby-Beautiful Pageant” or the like *shudder*
Hard to believe that Gainax, the studio responsible for Gurren Lagann, put this series together! Well… except for this special EnDing for episode 2 that totally knocked my socks off:
…and this one as well! Seems that all the EDs might be different from one another, which is another minor thing that not only sets it apart from the pack, but should keep things moving along quite nicely!
That’s it for this (Winter) season! I won’t go into those series that I dropped, like Baka to Test or Omamori Humari ; why spoil a good thing?
Okay, now that the last Winter 2010 show I’ve been waiting for has come out (Katanagatari), it’s time to take a look at the shows I’ll be following this season. In addition to four still-airing shows from Fall 2009 (Railgun, Kimi ni Todoke, Book of Bantorra, and Kobato), I’m waiting with bated breath each week for the following seven series:
From the creators of Baccano! comes a twisty and convoluted story of an urban legend headless motorcycle rider and the interactions between several gangs and innocents co-existing (somehow and so far) in the city of Ikebukuru. Through the four episodes to date, the story’s been smart, funny, appropriately violent, and as quirky as Baccano! was. And believe me, that is quirky!
The direction is great (for my tastes) and the interweaving of so many characters is clever, just as it was in Baccano! The action’s been delightfully over-the-top (tossed vending machines as projectiles, motorcycle-fu to the face, and etc), and we’ve just met the Headless Rider’s “keeper” who appears to be more involved than he lets on. Here’s the OP, without the numerous main characters’ names over the credits, so consider it a pretty clean Opening (despite the fact that it’s reversed):
The jury’s still out on this one (for me), as the story seems to be meandering a bit with seemingly weird little diversions that don’t seem pertinent to the plotlines, although since its concept is from Ryukishi07 (of Higurashi/Umineko fame) there’s really no telling where it’s gonna go! So that’s okay, until it isn’t. Since I’m a big R07 fan, I’m giving it a chance, and enjoying it so far for the most part. The direction or pacing hasn’t wowed me yet, though.
The character designs by Peach-Pit (Rozen Maiden) are intriguing but at times seem a bit wooden/plastic against the background animation, which more than likely is the fault of the animators. It’s not bad, just a little… different. Which can be a good thing. Some of the characters are enjoyable to watch, such as Mana, the wheelchair-bound little sister, and the central figure in all this, the masked-and-scythe-wielding girl. The story involves many of the same elements as Higurashi; a transfer student arrives in a mysterious town where an atmosphere of mystery and danger lies just beneath the surface, something involving large wolves (or similar)… Okay, that last part isn’t from Higurashi, but still. Let’s check out the OP/ED which are combined in this less-than-stellar quality video:
Okay, now this is something completely different! From the somewhat odd (but still delightfully unique) character designs to the airing schedule (about one 50-minute episode every month) this 12-episode series screams “look at me!” From the creator of Bakemonogatari, NisiOisin, comes this Edo-era historical fantasy based around a swordsman who fights without a sword, chasing down the twelve mighty swords crafted by the legendary Shikizaki Kiki. He’s assisted by the self-proclaimed “Super Strategist” Togame (voiced by the always-delightful Yukari Tamura) who so far has hindered more than helped!
But wow… the first episode was nearly wall-to-wall dialogue! I barely had time to look at the animation since my eyes were so busy reading the subtitles. And Yukarin speaks very very fast at times LOL Still, it was very enjoyable, and I can’t wait to see where it goes, though I fear that it may become a bit repetitious. But maybe not. There’s lots of action, when it happens, and seems well-directed. Here’s a treat for ya: the subtitled trailer for episodes 1-3!
OMG, where to start… “This isn’t a series for everybody.” How’s that? Aside from the M-rating, violence and bloody battles, if werewolves and vampires aren’t your thing, pass. If petite, young-looking loli vampires aren’t your thing, you can pass too. But what a loli vampire! Princess Mina Tepes is someone that you canNOT take your eyes off of. Except sometimes. You may see what I mean Despite my general apathy for lolis, she is breaking me in not-so-gently, as she’s a great character, though a tiny bit understated so far, and enchanting to watch. Her attire (or lack of it) notwithstanding LOL.
The story’s having trouble getting its feet wet in anything besides blood, however. Mina is trying to establish a haven for vampires (the “Bund” of the title) so that they can exist in the humans’ world, having paid off Japan’s national debt to do so (vampires having accumualted all manner of wealth over the centuries). But those nefarious various parties opposed have other ideas, the main one being to assassinate her. (We’ll see how that goes…) The series is produced by wonderfully-notorious studio SHAFT, and directed by the equally-notorious (and wond- er… “awesome”) Akiyuki Shinbo, both big favorites of mine for the always-challenging, provocative, and dazzling productions they deliver. So, despite a somewhat rocky start, I have high hopes for this show. They are (and everything about this show is) an acquired taste! See:
Okay… I hate spelling it that way because it’s a hassle. If I say “Soranowoto” you’ll know what I mean, yes? I may shorten it to something else yet. ANYWAY! Despite some viewers compaining about the show’s slow pace despite its (apparent) wartime setting, I’m really enjoying the world’s exploration, character exposition and growth so far. There hasn’t been much, just enough, and as long as this series actually progresses then I’ll likely enjoy it a lot. And I’ll happily (and pointedly) ignore the “K-ON! in War” yammering, because the two series don’t compare except in the most peripheral ways. Besides, that comparison is unfair to both shows.
Essentially, the series focuses on a fortress-full of five young women assigned to protect it and the nearby town during a lull in the fighting, as seen through the eyes of their erstwhile bugler, Kana. There’s a great deal of good-natured humor, and what may be hints of what’s to come in the more-serious nature of combat weapons, uniforms, and tanks (or, A tank), plus mentions of a legend of maidens who can control a demon. In a twelve-episode series with already five episodes under its belt, it may be tough fitting everything in to the viewer’s satisfaction. But do give it a try; it may delight you
Series direction is by Mamoru Kanbe, who also did Elfen Lied, and who I believe is fairly underrated and unrecognized, since the fuss about EL was in its blood, gore and nudity, and not in his direction which I felt was superb. For the Opening of this show, once again he used the Gustav Klimt influences to good measure as he did in Elfen Lied’s OP:
Another little treat: Since the OP above doesn’t show the world, here’s a trailer done to the longer Opening Song:
I’ll have to continue with the last two series later in the week, hopefully tomorrow, as I *think* I’m approaching some kind of word-count/length limit since I type and nothing happens! Hope you enjoyed this Wintertime State of the Season post
on the water
"When early youth had passed, he left his cold fireside and alienated home to seek strange truths in undiscovered lands. Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought with his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men, his rest and food." (from 'Alastor, or, The Spirit of Solitude', by Percy Bysshe Shelley,1815)
For info on our novel UNBOUND, please see our website in the Blogroll!