Project Haruhi
9Aug/155

On the Cover of Rolling Stone: SCANDAL

Posted by Shamisen

Left to right: Tomomi Ogawa (Bass / lead vocals) Haruna Ono (Lead Vocal / rhythm guitarist) Rina Suzuki (Drummer, Keyboardist, Guitarist, secondary vocals) Mami Sasazaki (Lead Guitar / secondary vocals)

Left to right: Tomomi Ogawa (Bass / lead vocals) Haruna Ono (Lead Vocal / rhythm guitarist) Rina Suzuki (Drummer, Keyboardist, Guitarist, secondary vocals) Mami Sasazaki (Lead Guitar / secondary vocals)

A few years ago, I posted an article about the band Scandal. This is a follow up to that piece.

That last five years have seen aggressive yearly tour schedules playing every major arena in Japan--including BUDOKAN in 2012 and OSAKA-JO HALL in 2013--and then capping it off with the 'HELLO WORLD Tour' in 2015.

Congratulations SCANDAL, you've made it, and you're on the cover of Rolling Stone. Granted it’s the Japanese Edition but in my book Rolling Stone is all that matters.

SCANDAL has taken advantage of modern technology, social media and YouTube, using self promotion that was not available when I was their age. I have to admit I'm quite amazed how all this self promotion works. And comparing today to the last post they were pretty much the only 'all female band'. Today the number of bands has exploded. SCANDAL was the trail blazer for this generation of bands. A point of order here is the difference between a band and a group: in a band you play instruments, in a group you don't. SCANDAL is a band. 9nine, AKB48, and Momoiro Clover Z are groups. Going back to my last post, the only semi popular female band that I found, believe it or not, was the live action K-ON band. A lot has changed in the past 5 years.

As most of you are aware, I enjoy many things in this life, and music is one of them. Music is also universal; you need not know the language to like what you hear. I've followed SCANDAL since 2008 and their first US appearance. So what do I like about this band? The simple answer would be the music, but there is more to it than that.

What makes SCANDAL stand out? You get a performance from the entire group, not one person monopolizing it. Granted, Haruna is lead vocal. She has the natural gift of leadership, and has learned how to best utilize the group as a whole.

A bit of history: SCANDAL was officially formed in 2006 on Rina's 15th birthday. Mami and Tomomi were 16, and Haruna had just turned 18. Face it, keeping independent souls in that age bracket together and learning the ropes was a daunting task, I'm sure. Then--two years later--they're here, in the states, performing. Yeah, there is some chemistry between the four of them I would say, with Haruna being the lead chemist.

That aside, the performances--live and studio--are first rate. They play their own music quite well, I might add, and are genuinely enjoying what they are doing. Take Haruna's powerful vocals teamed with Tomomi's hauntingly beautiful voice, then add in Mami's and Rina's background vocals and there's the formula for listening pleasure. With all of this balance in instrumentals and vocals SCANDAL has hit the right note. (I should mention here that Tomomi was the lead vocalist on their first releases. Whoever is leading, the members follow with an excellent result.)

Congratulations on entering your tenth year together and here's hoping for many more to follow...

And whatever course fate takes you on enjoy it to the fullest...

A belated Happy Birthday to Mami and Tomomi and a early Happy Birthday to Haruna and Rina...

Oh Rina, if you ever run out of arenas, let me know, I've got such a list.

(Addendum)

I just finished watching the P/V for Stamp. Besides being a great number, I might suggest that, in future, American cars need to have the door firmly pulled to you. Haruna made the effort but the Mustang only hit on the 'safety' latch. Just for future reference and while I'm at it, I'm waiting for 'Sisters' to be released. I'm hoping it follows the idea I have in my head.

Filed under: Editorial, Music 5 Comments
7Apr/136

Aku no Hana – Episode 1

Posted by Dustin

[gg]_Aku_no_Hana_-_01_[88C4AA88].mkv_snapshot_20.31_[2013.04.07_12.41.50]

Quiet and bucolic reader,
Upright man, sober and naive,
Throw away this book, saturnine,
Orgiac and melancholy.

If you did not do your rhetoric
With Satan, that artful dean,
Throw it away, you'd grasp nothing,
Or else think me hysterical.

You'd never understand the literature I read. It's not for you.

[gg]_Aku_no_Hana_-_01_[88C4AA88].mkv_snapshot_16.55_[2013.04.07_12.40.08]

When I read it, I see her jet black hair caressing her shoulders, resting on them like a lover. I see an ivory smile and playful eyes, beckoning me closer. Come. Come closer. I see red ribbon, slightly crooked, concealing the loosened collar of an untucked shirt. Explore, the eyes say.

[gg]_Aku_no_Hana_-_01_[88C4AA88].mkv_snapshot_12.05_[2013.04.07_12.38.30]

When I read it, I feel rough cloth sliding through my fingers, giving way to soft skin. I feel the smoothness and contours of this body carved from dreams--the bumps and the dimples. Sink in, they say.

[gg]_Aku_no_Hana_-_01_[88C4AA88].mkv_snapshot_11.33_[2013.04.07_12.37.43]

When I read it, I smell the sweat on her skin, taste the balm on her lips and hear a gasp as quiet as a whisper yet glorious as the trumpeting of the heavenly host. This is for you, they say.

You'd never understand this book.

It would not speak to you.

But if, without being entranced,
Your eye can plunge in the abyss,
Read me, to learn to love me;
Inquisitive soul that suffers
And keeps on seeking paradise,
Pity me!... or else, I curse you!

~Epigraph for a Condemned Book (by Charles Baudelaire; translated by William Aggeler)

4Jul/1114

Anime Character Rescue Project: Sexy Sengoku

Posted by Dustin

Back when she was writing for Japanator, Karen wrote a couple funny posts about taking good anime characters from terrible shows and putting them in anime worthy of their presence. These articles came up during our Bakacast pre-show banter, where Karen, Glen, Larry and I lamented the fact that shows like AnoHana and Hanasku Iroha had some genuinely fun characters in them but, sadly, were painful to watch. So, with a little cajoling from Master Jon, I decided to continue Karen's benevolent mission.

In the first installment of the Rescue Project, I reference an anime only three people have seen, remember a time when noitaminA aired good shows, balance out a sausage-fest and increase a certain super-robot show's cougar-count by 100%.

25Mar/1136

Deconstructing K-ON! – The Takotsuboya Doujin Trilogy

Posted by Jon

 

Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

-Kurt Vonnegut

The super-saccharine moeblob slice-of-life genre received a lot of attention, both positive and negative, during the run of K-ON!. This show is the archetypal example of that genre, easily outclassing any of KyoAni's previous works in popularity. However, despite its immense celebrity and polarizing effect on the anime fandom, I have yet to see K-ON! receive a proper deconstruction. With Madoka making literary analysis of old genres cool again, as well as the recent announcement of a "K-ON! in college" manga, I feel like this is the perfect time for moe as a genre to be scorched and refined in the crucible of deconstruction.

Alas, the only media I've come across that comes close to accomplishing this is the infamous Takotsuboya K-ON! doujin trilogy. From a storytelling perspective, these doujins could not be considered good. They contain the requisite awkwardly-placed sex scenes and out-of-place pervertedness that is characteristic of doujins, making suspension of disbelief impossible. But they also contain several ingenious, even brilliant insights into how the HTT girls would fit into the real world. Many of these insights are gleaned from the author's experience as a failed mangaka who repeatedly tried anything and everything to get his work published.

Dusty and Glen believe that these doujins treated the girls too harshly, replacing the fluffy, idealistic world of the show with an equally brutal and vindictive antithesis. I, on the other hand, think any good deconstruction has to put its characters through hell, in order to scour away their veneer and reveal their true quality. But I want your opinion, friend reader. In order to spare you the ordeal of reading this admittedly substandard doujin, I will describe the fate of each character below. You tell me whether you think it represents an accurate character interpretation, or an overly grim attempt by the author to soil these much-beloved moeblobs.

More after the break.

14Mar/1146

FUNimation’s Hypocrisy Revealed

Posted by Jon

Video in Funimation’s dubbing room as seen in America’s Greatest Otaku

Remember FUNimation, the moralist anime production company that tried to sue 1337 anonymous bittorrent users for downloading a One Piece fansub? Well, it turns out that for all their bloviating about piracy, they are nothing more than a bunch of filthy hypocrites.

The screenshot above is taken from the latest episode of America's Greatest Otaku, Tokyopop's attempt to emulate reality television with an anime spin. It shows a monitor in FUNimation's dubbing studio, with episode 3 of Sora no Otoshimono playing for the benefit of the dub actors.

Keen eyes on the ANN forums quickly noticed something strange about the subtitle font being used. Turns out it's from HorribleSub's illegal rip of CrunchyRoll's stream.

Sora No Otashimono, Episode 3, 08:42

The evidence here is irrefutable. Unless FUNimation went to great lengths to replicate HorribleSub's unique font in Aegisub, there is no question that they are using illegal rips for their dubbing work. This is particularly damaging after they made such a grand show of suing thousands of people whose only offense was WATCHING FANSUBS. No question about it, FUNimation has had their ethical soapbox shattered.

More after the break.

7Mar/1121

For Better or Worse? Two New K-ON! Manga Announced

Posted by Jon

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the upcoming issue of Manga Time Kirara will announce two new K-ON! spinoff manga, both of which will premiere next month. As far as we know, these two manga share the K-ON! title, but cover different subject matter . The first, which begins on April 9th in Manga Time Kirara, will focus on the continuing adventures of Ritsu, Mio, Yui and Mugi as they go to college. The second, which begins on April 28th in sister magazine Manga Time Kirara Carat, will follow the light music club at Sakuragaoka Girls' High School, now manned by Azusa, Ui and Jun.

And thus, the inevitable slow decline of the K-ON! franchise begins. They won't stop milking this cow until its dry, utterly dehydrated and comatose.

I've seen it happen dozens (if not hundreds) of times before. At first, K-ON! was a fun but vapid slice-of-life series, an enjoyable diversion that kept us amused with short skirts and pop music. Sadly, as the manga stretched on and the anime plowed through its second season, creative bankruptcy began to set in. The jokes got stale. The plots became repetitious. Even the much-vaunted music lost its luster. K-ON! was winding down, and everybody knew it.

More after the break.

3Mar/118

2010 Anime Oscars: Glen’s Picks

Posted by Megan

 

Apparently Jon rarely watches anything good, so I'm doing my own version of the Anime Oscars. Actually, hardly any of the other Project Haruhi writers have watched most of these shows. A lot of them aired when I was taking a break from anime earlier this year, but I've recently dug them up after hearing a lot of positive reviews. There's a lot from 2010 that I haven't seen, but I think I've picked the best ones to backtrack first. Therefore, I'm confident in awarding Oscars to shows that truly deserve it.

You can look forward to hearing the rest of the gang's picks and more about mine on next week's episode of Bakacast.

28Feb/1123

2010 Anime Oscars: Jon’s Picks

Posted by Jon

 

All winners get a free golden statue of Natsuru in a maid outfit.

Well, the 83rd Oscars are over, and once again Japanese animation has been totally overlooked by the Academy. I've decided to remedy this by holding my very own totally legitimate Japanese Animation Academy Awards. These Anime Oscars will cover all the shows and OVAs that finished airing in 2010, as well as any films that were released on DVD (and therefore fansubbed) during that year.

Now, keep in mind that these are my personal choices... I'm sure the other writers for this site will have their own picks to share. And if you put together your own list of Anime Oscar winners on your blog, please let us know in the comments! We'd love to read it.

More below the break!

22Jan/1123

Beware of Kyubey!

Posted by Dustin

The harbinger of your destruction.

To all aspiring magical girls: don't trust the cute animal.

He may seem to have the best interests of the world at heart, but don't be deceived. There's information he's deliberately withholding. There are questions he never answers. Some of these are:

  • Where do Witches come from? And why do they drop "seeds" with a similar floral patter to the Puella Magi's soul gem?
  • If Puella Magi are necessary to defeat Witches and avoid the destruction of the world, why does Kyubey allow a rivalry between two of his Magi?
  • How long has this struggle with Witches been going on? How many Magi have come before Mami and Homura?
  • Why do the Magi's soul gems get darker when they use their powers? If the grief seeds are used to cleanse them, wouldn't that indicate the Magi's power source is of a corrupt nature?
  • Why does Kyubey specifically target young girls for recruitment in this war?
  • Also, why does Kyubey give an apocalyptic dream of the future to Madoka but not Sayaka? He offers the Puella contract to both of them, after all.
  • When Homura injured Kyubey, why did his white "fur" look more like a covering for his actual appearance? The phrase "wolf in sheep's clothing" comes to mind.

Besides these in-universe mysteries, though, there are pretty clear meta-textual references scattered throughout the last three episodes. These references primarily point to a Faustian bargain. Specifically, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's version of the story.

21Jan/111039

Would You Like To Become a Magical Girl?

Posted by Guest

Inspired by a thread on 4chan.

Hello, otaku. My name is Kyubey! I sense that you have the potential to become a magical girl. Won't you make a contract with me? I'll grant you any one wish. Accept, and you will become a magical girl regardless of your gender or age. You can't wish for more wishes or anything in bad faith like that.

Of course you'll have to fight witches too. How about it, do we have a deal?

Seriously, you won't regret it! If you're willing to take the plunge, tell me your wish in the comments below!