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Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. - Yeats

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

#Kalafina ~ 9+one at Tokyo International Forum Hall A - bluray unboxing


Well, looks like I'll be getting pretty busy again.  So I think I should get this simple unboxing out of the way.  I had to wait a while to do this even though I was pretty excited about getting this on the day it was released in Japan. :)  However, I forgot that my TV is busted and I can't play the BD in my room.  So I had to wait till I had the opportunity to play it on the telly in the living room.

Ahhhhhhh... the first song is one of my favourite songs to hear at a live.  The first time I heard Samidare ga Sugita Koro ni live was at the 8th Anniversary Live at Tsutaya O-East.  I managed to get tickets for both days of the live and this song was really memorable.  I LOVED IT to bits.  Everyone was singing "la la la" with them in a small hall.  The atmosphere then was electric and really unforgettable for me.

I wish I could have gone for this live in Tokyo.  They sound amazing on the BD!!  They keep getting better and better at the lives.  If only I could have gone.....

However, given the uncertainty of my life since March 2016, I felt I needed to give travelling a rest for awhile while I sort things out.  Even though it's still a little uncertain and there are some lingering issues, still I am happy that I feel settled enough to go to Kalafina's 10th Anniversary Live in Tokyo in Jan 2018.   I'm so excited about it. :)  I can't wait to see them live in Japan again and at the 10th Anniversary Live no less. :)   I won tickets though the Harmony Fan Club draw and have bought my plane ticket and booked my accommodation.  So pretty much everything is in place.  SOOOOO excited!!! :)

Anyway, first, here are all the photos.  I only shot samples of the insert booklet because I'm certain that someone will scan these and put them online soon.  Maybe they already have.  So you can look for those later because the quality will certainly be better than my photos.

Here you go. :)


         
(and yes those are the FictionJunction spoons holding down the pages of the booklet. :P )

This time, as a bonus video, they included the documentary of Kalafina in Hong Kong and Singapore for the Anisong Fantasy Live vol.1 2017.

I was so grateful to the gods of music that Kalafina did come to Singapore for the Anisong Fantasy Live Vol. 1.  Although, like most Kalafina fans in Singapore, we really rather it be a one-man live but at that point in time, a festival appearance was better than nothing  And it was an AMAZING weekend for Kalafina's fans in Singapore, that's for sure. :)  You can read my ultra gushy post about it here. CLICK ME. :P  And I did something I have never done in my life and that's taking off work  (with permission :) ) to meet a celebrity / celebrities at the airport.  But it's Kalafina and it took them YEARS to come back to Singapore. So we were really excited. If you haven't read it yet, here's me gushing about what will certainly be one of the highlights of my life. :) CLICK ME.

Here are just a few screen captures from that documentary.



This was when they were in HK and the girls took a camera and went about filming themselves.  The geek in me was all excited about the camera because I'm pretty sure that's a DJI Osmo in Keiko's hands.  I really want one.  My friend has one and it's a really fun camera.  Sadly, I don't have a really compelling reason to buy one yet and if I really needed it, I think I could get my friend to lend me his. So.... I guess, I won't be owning one anytime soon. :)



Hahaha... this was truly an awesome moment!!  I don't think I'll ever forget that day and how everything fell in place for me to be able to go to the airport that day. :)



Kalafina with our banner with everyone's well wishes. :)  It was very kind of the Taiwanese fans to help us with that illustration.  We didn't know any Singapore based Kalafina fan who could draw at that point in time.  So it really helped us out a lot.  It was fun to meet fans of other nationalities at the live too. :)



Haha!!! And I know where they were that night in Singapore when they took that photo with that big tree.  Actually, a fellow fan guess the Bukit Merah area and she turned out to be correct.  She actually recognized that tree. Hahahaha!!! POWER!! :)  Well, that's IKEA Alexandra in the background so that's really at the junction where Queensway, Jalan Bukit Merah and Alexandra Road meet.  I actually pass this place everyday, Monday to Saturday, on the bus on my way to work.  I don't think I can go pass this junction without thinking about Kalafina now. :)

There's quite a lot of good local food in that area.  ABC Brickworks and Alexandra Village Food Centre is in that area.  Further up, on Jalan Bukit Merah is Bukit Merah central which isn't bad too.



And yes!!! I didn't dream this up.  They pinky promised to come back to Singapore when they left the stage that day and here they are again, backstage and pinky promise again to come back to Siingapore. :)  I really hope they do and that it'll be a one-man live this time and it won't take 5 years again. :P

But for now, I look forward to seeing them live in the Budokan in Jan 2018.  As always.....thank you for the music. :)  And now I am off to bed, with Kalafina's BD still playing in my ears, my head, my mind and my heart. :)

Good night! :)

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

#ヒグチアイ #HiguchiAi - #百六十度 Hyaku Rokujuu Dou ~ unboxing + comments


Sometime this year, someone introduced Higuchi Ai to me and gave me one of her albums as a gift.  I really liked the album and her music and wanted to write about her for some time.  But lots of things happened in my life this year and I've only really just gotten back into blogging again.  So before work ramps up again and before I'm ready to do the new Kalafina and Kajiura Yuki unboxings, I thought that I would write about her first.

Since this isn't about Kajiura Yuki or Kalafina, I've written it for Okonomikaki's which is a collaborative blog by a few friends and I.  I hope that you'll go over to the blog and check out the post and check out Higuchi Ai's music as well.  You might like it. :)  Here's the link to the unboxing post which also talks a little about the music on her third album and also gives a  little introduction to the singer-songwriter herself. CLICK ME.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

#梶浦由記 #KajiuraYuki ~ Princess Principal Soundtrack - unboxing + comments


It looks like work will be ramping up again pretty soon so I'll better get going on the unboxing of "Princess Principal" Original Soundtrack: Sound of Foggy London as well.  The Kubikiri Cycle: Aoiro Savant to Zaregotozukai Sound Collection and the Kalafina 9+one at Tokyo International Forum Hall A BD have shipped but since I didn't pick Fedex this time, the earliest it'll get to me will probably be nearer the end of this week.  So I need to try and get this unboxing out of the way as soon as I can.

First up photos of the release:

        

Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to watch the anime.  All I managed was the first episode.  I do want to watch the rest of it and when I have time I will.  Unfortunately, I already have a couple of other things I am working on, tutorials and other stuff, so this has to take a back seat till I have more time.

From what I gather, it's an anime about young girls who operate as spies in steampunk England.  I'm very fond of steampunk inspired stuff and one of my favourite anime ever is R.O.D. which was also about spies operating in steampunk England.  If people haven't seen it, I totally recommend it too.  Especially the OVA.

Anyway, back to Princess Principal.  This OST is not bad at all, even for someone who hasn't watched the anime, I found quite a few tracks that I quite liked and some I even found quite evocative.  It's not as iconic as Kajiura's OST for Kara no Kyoukai or the OST for the Mai Hime franchise etc but few are and few can be because sometimes the circumstances or the material just doesn't allow for it.

Without having seen the anime, it's hard for me to say whether Princess Principal worked well as the OST for the anime but I trust that Kajiura took care to make it so.  Her past work proves it.  Like the Boku Dake ga Inai Machi OST.  I liked it because I felt it worked really well with the anime which is first and foremost the job of a good OST.   And till today, I regret that I didn't do an unboxing of the two boxset releases of this anime.  I got them for Kajiura's OST of course. :)  But I also enjoyed the anime which is why I did splurge a little on them. :)

Anyway, here's my thoughts about the album.  It does contain some kajiura-go but only in a few of the tracks.  Interestingly, when we do get the new-age sounding kajiura-go bits, a lot of that ethereal sound is balanced out or broken up by mixing another audio element.  For example, D1 T1 - shadows and fog.  The track starts with a few simple notes on the vibraphone, followed by a sequence of notes on the vibraphone.  It's all quite enchanting till this tone which is first underscored with a sound effect increases in volume and changes the tone to one of heavy foreboding.  Soon we hear Remi's lovely voice in Vocal and the equally lovely Yuriko Kaida in support and we are in the familiar Kajiura land of fantasy.  But as we are lulled into a dreamlike state, the quick and staccato sound of drums break that mood and a very brash Saxaphone takes over the song.  And we're left wondering what just happened?!?!?  After which we get a good dose of genre mashing for the rest of the song.

Well, I'm not sure how this worked in the anime but I quite liked the idea that went behind this song.  Steampunk England doesn't actually exist in real life.  Well, although there are festivals and art work that celebrate it etc, the era never truly existed.  It's a fantasy alternative world where old England, usually Victorian England, is mixed in with some advanced technology and weaponry.  It's quite a juxtaposition and that first Track really set the mood and tone for this anime (at least from what I remember of ep1) in many ways.

There are several tracks with a heavy bass which I like.  I really like tracks like D1 T4 - go and get it!  where the heavy base is underscored by an even more urgent beat.  I can imagine them working very well in chase sequences in the dark alleys of steampunk London I think.  It really did get me quite excited and those electric guitars, they keep getting faster and faster till near the end they trail of and get mixed in with more ambient effects.  That last sound actually sounded like a monster swallowed something up.

There's also this track which I quite like.  D1 T15 - room with no window 
I love the use of the violins and the occasional sequence of notes form the vibraphone.  The violins are fast and quick and inconsistent.  It almost conjures up an image of a person running around a room looking for an exit only to be stopped by when the vibraphone sounds. There is very low hum almost through out the entire track which really adds to the ominous and claustrophobic feel of this track.

There's also D2 T6 - in the fog which I quite liked too.  This track really reminded me of the OST for Blade Runner 2049.  So much ambient dissonance that I think the speakers will complain.  It screams industrial and dystopian future.  Oh and just in case you think I'm saying that she "copied" Blade Runner 2049, I'm not.  Princess Principal's release date is earlier than Blade Runner 2049 so if she got any inspiration from somewhere, it's not from Blade Runner 2049.

And in classic Kajiura genre mashing fashion we have stuff like D2 T7 - operations in action.  It's like Jazz and Funk with flute solos and classical sounding violins.  Interesting stuff! 

She does a similar thing with D2 T1 - a fighter girl from east.  It opens with a very traditional Japanese sound with a bit of Japanese flute and the shamisen before a Jazzy beat kicks in.  And over-layed on top of this spy movie type caper music is a flute playing a very Eastern sounding tune and all kinds of percussion going on in the background.  Interesting once again.

Ahhhhh.... I think I've said this before and I'll say it again.  Kajiura is AMAZING.  Her music is rarely typical.  Her music is often interesting and different and daring.  And I love how her music can "talk" to me.  It can fill my head with images and stories.  It's really evocative stuff and can be so varied and so complicated but yet not messy or pretentious.

That's not to say everything is complex.  There are simple songs that prioritize certain instruments too like the tranquil piano in D1 T5 - on a day so calm and the acoustic guitar in D1 T8 - bitter times for example. And quite a few more to prove that she can write less complex and layered material when needed. :)

There are four songs in this release.  Two are from Kajiura and the other two are from Takahashi Ryo. I really like もひとつまわして (mohitostu mawashite).  It has a very hypnotic beat and has really interesting lyrics.  You can check it out here. (CLICK ME)  The vocalist also sings in a very consistent beat and it really feels like the she is stuck in a cheerless routine.  Meanwhile the more emotionally laden violins, flute and female chorus breaks through occasionally and actually takes over in the middle of the song.  This song is so brilliant.   The music completely supports the lyrics and vice-versa.

The song opens with:
Let’s turn it once more and give it our best to earn our living
in order to eat delicious food 
When we’re tired, let’s sing all together 
in order to stop sighing
(courtesy canta-per-me)

She's singing of a kind of daily drudgery but at the same time she also has hopes and dreams of something better.  So while she sings in a consistent and somewhat downbeat fashion which expresses her current situation, the music surrounding her vocals is hopeful and emotional.  I like it.  Nicely done Kajiura sensei!!

The other song by Kajiura is D2 T18 - moonlight melody.  It's a waltz like tune made somewhat different from other songs because of that duet between what sounds like an autotune anime character and a human being.  It's okay.  I enjoyed it enough but I'm really not a fan of cutesy anime vocals so I'm never going to like this song as much as the rest of the OST.

I really could go on and on, I suppose.  But that would mean that it would take me forever to finish writing this post. :P  And since I'm mainly a Kajiura Yuki fan, I won't comment about Takahashi Ryo's music except that D1 T19 - The Other Side of the Wall is really very different from Kajiura's work and not really my cup of tea.  I prefer D1 T20 - A Page of My Story which feels like a simple ditty, enjoyable enough and with a title that quite fits the feel of the song.

Okay, that's it for now.  I need to stop, if not I will never get around to posting it and to other stuff I would like to and need to do. :)

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it and please forgive any grammatical errors etc.  I'm a terrible proof-reader. :)

If you like the soundtrack, please do consider supporting the composers and all who were involved in its production.  Here is a link to the product page on CDJapan where you will find sample audio links.
"Princess Principal" Original Soundtrack: Sound of Foggy London

cheers

p.s. This post will be cross shared on another blog my friends and I are slowly working on.  The blog is relatively new and we're pretty busy people but we love writing and sharing our thoughts and love for Japanese entertainment and pop-culture.  Their interests are often quite different from mine so you might find something of interest to you on the blog that I would not normally write about. If you have time and interest, please check out Okonomikaki's at https://okonomikaki.blogspot.sg/  Thanks. :)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

#梶浦由記 #KajiuraYuki ~ Fate/Zero Original Soundtrack - unboxing


This will actually be a very simple unboxing of this release.  I'll only be putting up the photos and won't be writing any lengthy commentary.  This is not because I don't like this release.  I like it very much.  I like the Fate/Zero OST a lot and felt that it really added to the whole atmosphere and feel of the anime series.  However, I need to try and catch up with my unboxing releases because the next one I need to do is the Princess Principal OST and I won't have too much time to do it.  That's because the Kubikiri Cycle: Aoiro Savant to Zaregotozukai Sound Collection and the Kalafina 9+one at Tokyo International Forum Hall A BD will arrive sometime next week, if all goes as planned.

Also, this release isn't exactly new.  Most of the tracks have been released as bonus CDs on DVD / BD boxsets when the anime series was released years ago and I've heard them many times before. This new release collects all the tracks from those releases and adds studio versions of the live performances of some of these tracks, hence why we have members of FictionJunction credited in this release.  They were not participants in the original OST tracks but did perform them at the lives.  This is commonly the case when Kajiura Yuki performs her OST songs live.  The live versions of these renditions have been released previously, so what they did this time was to record these live versions in a studio and release them as part of a sort of bonus of sorts for this collection.

So here you go, photos...

         

You get three CDs with this release and it comes in a double CD jewel case.  Nothing too fancy here but you do get a insert booklet that has a short comment from Kajiura Yuki and liner notes for some of the tracks.  That's always nice.  :)  I will not attempt to translate anything because my Japanese isn't that good yet and I have a ton of other things I need / want to do.

Those who pre-ordered this release from CDJapan will get a B2 size poster.  I'm not going to unroll it and shoot photos of it because it's hard to get it back into the poster tube without creasing it. The poster looks like the photo below.  It's no longer available at CDJapan unfortunately.


If you are a fan of Kajiura Yuki and if you like the Fate/Zero OST, then I think this is a release that you really need to consider buying.  Previously, most of these tracks were only available officially as bonus CDs which made them incredibly expensive for most of us to own.  Now that this has become a standalone release and is being released separately from the priced-down DVD/BD re-issue of the anime series, this has now become much more affordable.

So here is the Fate/Zero OST product page link.  CLICK ME.  There are also audio sample links available on the product page, so for those who aren't so familiar with the OST, you can check it out there too.

p.s. This post will be cross shared on another blog my friends and I are slowly working on.  The blog is relatively new and we're pretty busy people but we love writing and sharing our thoughts and love for Japanese entertainment and pop-culture.  Their interests are often quite different from mine so you might find something of interest to you on the blog that I would not normally write about. If you have time and interest, please check out Okonomikaki's at https://okonomikaki.blogspot.sg/  Thanks. :)