I’ve been wanting to make a Post about both Kara no Kyoukaiand its composer Yuki Kajiura for awhile now. If your tastes in anime run towards the supernatural/psychological/mystery/thriller, and you’re easily enchanted with atmospheric, ethereal soundtracks… and more than a little blood, please proceed. Otherwise, be advised: There Will Be Blood. At first. Then there’ll be some awesome Kalafina music without any blood at all ;-)
This opening sequence is really all it took to hook me; the music was exquisitely enchanting and so haunting. I knew that the creators of this seven-movies-and-an-epilogue project were going to deliver; Type-Moon stories are usually thought-provoking/brain-twisting/insanity-causing, and Studio ufotable’s works dazzling and well-directed, with animation of the highest quality. The combination proved to be as much a killer as its very-troubled knife-wielding star, Shiki Ryougi. In total, this series of deep, dark, and complex movies is a masterpiece if there ever was one; I loved every minute. For what ratings are worth, I gave each movie a 9, 9, 10, 9, 10, 8, 9, 9. Good enough for “masterpiece” for me!
Here’s a Promo Video for the release of the box-set which, at ~$500 will sadly not be in my library. This is really unfortunate, because all seven movies (and the Epilogue) are well-worth owning, and I’d buy them in a second if I had the funds. And they were cheaper Hopefully they’ll at least release them individually in the near future…
(EDIT: YT did it again and yanked the video, so here’s another one:)
As for the story… whew. A review would be overlong and pointless; I think I’ll pass on trying to explain it LOL It’s better to try to figure it out on your own anyway! What with the time shifts and shuttling in-and-out of characters, it’s hard enough to follow let alone analyze. If you’re up to the challenge and can stick with it, it’s very rewarding. I’ve seen some very involved and dedicated websites and blogs about Knk written by real fanatics that easily put my own comparatively poor analytical processes to shame. This is a very deep, twisted, and mysterious story punctuated with slices of violence and wisps of a subtle romance that is stronger than it seems.
Yeah… pretty damn subtle. But it’s really integral to the story, and in its contrast with the darkness and blood, beautiful to behold in its rarity. Since I suspect that most Visitors won’t be able to see this series, I’m going to share a great “synopsis” video that will give a fine (if brief) ”overlooking view” of the story. It’s about ten minutes in length, but with the revelatory nature of the story unfolding plus the impressive score by Kajiura (with Kalafina’s vocals) playing in the background, it’ll go fast. Prepare to be spoiled though; if you intend on watching KnK down the line a few surprises won’t delight/dismay you if you see them here first. IF you can make sense of this assortment of scenes, that is LOL
If you figure that you’ll never get a chance to see it, might as well see what the fuss is about; those who’ve already seen it will surely enjoy this “recap”
BIG SPOILERS AHEAD:
If you enjoy supernatural thrillers, deep stories and characters, top-notch animation and sound, and want a project that will really make you think and wonder, you owe it to yourself to watch Kara no Kyoukai. A lot of people have and loved it, so if you can take a wee bit o’ violence, try to find it. For more complete spoilage and revelations, Wikipedia has a thorough article here.
Now… about the music! For the Kara no Kyoukai movies, composer Yuki Kajiura put together a group of gifted singers collectively named Kalafina. You’ve already heard them singing in the above clips; how about catching them performing some of the KnK songs live?
Prepare yourself for some beautiful (and powerful) music, courtesy (once again) of Kajiura-san :-)
These seem to get pulled from YT pretty often, so watch ‘em while you can!
Unfortunately, the next clip is slightly off-sync but still really enjoyable; the girls look great, especially Hikaru (far left, below) :-) -I totally love watching her; I think I’m infatuated LOL She really projects joy and passion in her performance and attitude, and it’s sure refreshing to see in this crass day ‘n’ age. They’re all such similarly great singers that it’s easy to see why they have audiences captivated (as evidenced via these videos). Well… that and their enticing stage presence(s)! Composer Kajiura plainly writes to each singer’s unique strengths and personalities, and combined with the atmosphere of the scene she is writing for makes her soundtracks sound so great…
…now that is a sexiness that speaks to me (From left to right the singers are Hikaru, Keiko, and Wakana.)
Kajiura has also scored many other anime as well, including songs for Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Noir, Le Portrait de Petite Cossette, Madlax (and tons more), and has been signed for the upcoming Fate/Zero project. Aside from the shows themselves, a big reason for my buying Madlax and Cossette were the highly-atmospheric soundtracks. She’s in demand for a very good reason: she knows what she’s doing, ’nuff said!
Here’s a beautiful video to float away on; a return to ”Seventh Heaven”. Check out the incredible “puppet” story-show (not sure what the technique is called but it’s lovely)! (EDIT: It was removed, but I found it again, so I’m leaving BOTH versions in case one gets deleted )
(EDIT: The Control Freaks are at it again; the original video was just deleted, so I replaced it with the abbreviated version below *annoyed* -also, as mentioned above, I’m leaving both up in case one or the other is removed.)
Feels like seventh heaven, doesn’t it? (EDIT: At least it did while the original video was up, grr…) Nice way to end a day, zzz-zz…
Thanks for reading/listening/feeling, and I hope you enjoyed the exposure
(EDITtoo:) Since I’m here editing I might as well add one more video that at least gives credit where credit is due for this amazing music: Yuki Kajiura. To keep things focused I wanted another live song from Knk, but when I saw this promotional video for Kajiura’s Fiction Junction project… god. This is some serious hotness :-O -So I HAD to put this up to share! At least Ms Kajiura does appear briefly, several times at the keyboard, so it’s not just here for the hot Japanese girls *cough* It may be hard not to get distracted though… but I did want to give her props :-D You might also notice Keiko and Wakana from Kalafina in this troupe from which Kalafina was formed for the Knk project. Please enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment
(EDIT because this is too good to pass up, and timely too:) On Kalafina’s new After Eden CD, some will come with postcards featuring the cast of Puella Magi Madoka Magica cosplaying Kalafina (who did the incredible “Magia” ending theme)! Someone guessed Madoka = Hikaru, Mami = Keiko, and Homura = Wakana but I dunno. Cute though Link to the short ANN News article ishere.
Compared to the bounty of quality Spring anime offerings, this summer’s selections are not nearly so plentiful. But there’s a nice (if small) variety among those shows that have caught my eye, and I’ll hope to point the Visitor of similar tastes towards them in this Post. I think I was spoiled by the number of Spring shows to follow this year (over a dozen); for this Summer I have eight, which is the minimum for what I consider a “good season”, so it’s not really quite so bleak. Eight is just about right to manage; following more than that many weekly shows can be daunting!
To get to that number I had to cut those series that didn’t work for me: Blade, Blood C, and No. 6. There may have been another one, but since these are “forgettable” shows it is logical that I forgot I really wanted a dark/horror/thriller show, and these three showed promise but failed quickly. Blade‘s atmosphere and characters were much too flat and dry; No. 6 has turned into a “Boys-Love” lite or something, and worst of all Blood C completely subverted Saya’s character and story. Skipping to school happily singing a song about her yummy breakfast wtf idontthinkso…
THIS is Saya (and I love the full Black Lagoon theme song backing the visuals!):
Time to rewatch Blood + and forget this new remake LOL. I’ll wait until it finishes and see what the general consensus is; it may salvage something from the wreckage yet. But the new Saya is just way too different; they should’ve just renamed her and made a new sequel involving a different character. Kind of like the plans for Last Exile, I suppose. Sure hope that project fares better, as Last Exile is one of my faves!
Oh, but we’re on to Summer, aren’t we? Let’s see how long I can go before deviating once again
Two of the most delightful series I’ve seen in awhile are Usagi Dropand Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, both of which are enchanting for different reasons. In the comedy-drama Usagi, Daikichi, a 30 year old bachelor, impulsively decides to take in little Rin, the six year-old love-child of his grandfather, who’s just passed away leaving the child in the care of his shocked family, none of whom want anything to do with her. In the following Promotional Video you can see this summed up in a nutshell:
Rin, even though quiet and shy, is very much her own woman already, and it’s cute to see her interacting with Daikichi, who clearly has no clue about raising a child! She’s a great character, especially considering what her unusual circumstances and backstory reveals; not only is she dealing with that baggage, she has a new living situation to deal with, and it’s alternatingly funny, poignant, and happy/sad watching the two get to know each other, and their stories. It’s refreshing to see a child act as an actual child in an anime; fans of Clannad‘s Tomoya/Ushio relationship will appreciate this show very well
The second of this enchanting pair is Ikoku Meiro no Croisee(aka The Crossing of a Labyrinth in a Foreign Land , I think). Set in the late 19th century in Paris, it tells the story of a young Japanese girl who is brought there by Oscar, a traveller, to help Claude out in the family’s ironworks shop. Largely a “fish out of water” tale, it takes its time developing but is proving very enjoyable as the expected cultural differences and hurdling the language barrier keeps things moving just fine. Yune is adorable in her traditional dress (a rarity in France in those days), and as a person she is honest and enthusiastic, not to mention delightfully sweet and naive. The reactions of the Parisian citizens is priceless, as shown in the following Promotional Video:
The only flaw that bugs me is in how/when the characters speak, how do they understand each other? French and Japanese are not very similar languages LOL. Not a deal-breaker anyway, as they’ve already touched on it, but it’s a little confusing! Anyway, it’s fun to watch, if these slower-paced “therapeutic” anime (like ARIA) are your fancy; kind of a nice antidote to the old hustle-and-bustle
And now for something completely different (for me): a show about Idol-Making! I have no idea why I decided to watch The IDOLM@STER; I’d never played the games or knew anything much about it. (Anime News Network link is here; the “@” messes with linking.) Perhaps it’s a slight fascination with the Japanese (pop) Idol scene; normally this kind of show wouldn’t get a first glance from me let alone a second. But my first one was juicy and tempting enough, what with 12 (or 13?) distinct personality flavors to entertain me, and with the main focus for the present on the comedy, it’s easy to get into. More drama later (possibly); stay tuned!
Here’s an interesting blend of PV and game-footage; the PV starts at around 2 minutes in, and shows each character to give you a little flavor of the personalities on display in the anime. It’ll be easy to pick one girl to cheer on, though all 12 (or is it 13?) have selling points! In the game, the protagonist is The Producer (aka You); in the anime he’s still without a name, but is the male lead and, needless to say, constantly harrassed LOL
One of the weirder shows this season is Mawaru Penguindrum. Aside from that link to the Summary, I… -I don’t know quite how to describe it! *thinks for a bit and gets dizzy* Nah, it’s useless! So here:
See? BUT IT HAS PENGUINS SO… bears watching!
So far this at this season’s banquet the centerpiece has been Dantalian no Shoka, which brings a lot to the table; superb animation, direction, soundtrack, setting, voice actors and story combine to present a Gosick-flavored adventure that twists and turns as often as the relationship between Dalian and Hugh does itself. Not sure where this show is going, but it’s fun to watch, even though the fantasy is a little over-the-top (pulling weapons from inside the body and etc). The early-twentieth century period-setting is also evocative of Gosick, but I’d rather appreciate each separate work as a story of its own, and not compare. If Dantalian ends up as well as Gosick, I’ll be very pleased
What a gorgeous opening song; probably my favorite theme of this season.
I’m also watching the two Kamisamas, Kamisama Dolls and Kamisama no Memochou (aka Heaven’s Memopad), and these two kinda-average series round out the list of Summer’s shows I’m following. I might drop the former, but the latter seems like it could go the distance. That’s the thing about some anime; it takes awhile to get going sometimes. But oftentimes if you stick with something it turns out to be memorable; I guess that goes for everything though LOL
Oh. And then there’s the new Higurashi… Man, where do I start? Since technically it’s not a Summer series in that it’s a four-episode OVA series spread out over the next year, I’ll make a separate post about it as there’s a lot to say. And regarding the first episode of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira, it’s not all good, which is a shame because it’s one of my favorite stories/franchises. It’s a commemorative anniversary release though, so I guess they’re focusing on the characters playing around rather than telling the horriffic and complex psychological story the series normally does. Plus, it’s only one episode… and only the first fanservice-oriented half sucked, so hopefully some redemption is down the line! It’s always nice to return to the little country village of Hinamizawa, and reunite with these characters, who through the course of the Higurashi stories we came to really care about.
That song is SOOOOO not Higurashi-like LMAO!!! Higurashi‘s been perverted; I -I can’t believe it! I think a Higurashi-themed post might be on the horizon since I might have to rewatch the DVDs to wipe out ep 1 of Kira. Gawd, first Saya and now this… *cries*
Eight worthy titles might seem like not enough to qualify a season as a success, but add in the five still-running Spring shows (Ao no Exorcist, Hanasaku Iroha, Nichijou, Steins;Gate, and Tiger and Bunny) and that’s thirteen quality programs I’m watching week-to-week! Who cares what season it is??? That’s like… well… thirteen times what I watch on regular TV! So keep hunting those treasure-pieces; you just have to watch where you’re wading to find the little gems out there, and avoid those smelly mudballs
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)
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