Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

Archive for the ‘ Lists ’ Category

Christmas Music Top 5’s

December 13, 2015 Lists Comments Off on Christmas Music Top 5’s

The other day while working, I listened to the Christmas music episode of Top Four on a whim. It’s not a podcast I usually listen to, but I was browsing through Relay FM and it caught my eye because guess what, I love Christmas music. U_U Afterwards I was compelled to compile some lists of my own Christmas music. I had no idea where to shove the list since it doesn’t really fit the content on my website or Tumblogs or anything, and then I remembered I had a blog specifically for my completely irrelevant opinions on inconsequential things, nevermind that I haven’t posted here in four years. :P


But anyway. Christmas music!

[View the rest of this entry…]

Tokyo is a pretty expensive place — it is especially bad when 1) it’s your first time visiting, and 2) you are an otaku. You are in Glorious Nippon, the Weeaboo Mecca! There is stuff that you want to buy everywhere. It’s pretty overwhelming.

On the bright side, I think few are naive enough or hopelessly optimistic enough to think that they won’t be spending crazy amounts of money on merchandise while in Japan. On the down side, even those who come prepared with money to spend and a budget to spend it on can get caught up in the insane amount of stuff they encounter while they’re there. There are a few places that almost require a visit, but there are also places that you’ll happen upon almost unexpectedly. Those will get you, those unexpected places full of impulse buys. Here are the top five money-sinks for weeaboo in Tokyo from my own personal experience:

5. Akihabara

Akihabara is the most obvious place. You go there knowing full well that it’s a huge fantard paradise. You go there expecting to see stormtroopers dancing in the streets and flash mobs breaking out in “Hare Hare Yukai” in addition to the maid cafes, manga cafes, pachinko parlors, the billion electronics stores, arcades, and seven-story buildings filled basement to roof with nothing but anime merchandise. Yes, that is buildings, plural, all seven to nine stories tall. Filled with anime merchandise. Seriously. It’s like the biggest convention dealer’s room you’ve ever seen. Multiplied by some obscene number. Sure, buildings in Tokyo all tend to be tall and narrow, so one floor might not constitute as much, but once you’re climbing the stairs in your fourth or fifth building, the magnitude of it all really starts to sink in.

[View the rest of this entry…]

I think it’s a little pointless to make “best of the decade” lists when a majority of the series you’ve experienced, period, were from this decade. Excepting the random movies and shows I saw dubbed in Chinese or whatever as a kid and those from the glory days of Toonami, most of what I’ve seen debuted post-1999, including pretty much everything currently on my favorites’ list (not that I ever really figured that out).

So instead of that, here are nine series I kind of meant to watch at some point during the last ten years and never got around to, either because I was too busy or too lazy or too cheap or forgot about it. Maybe I’ll get around to some of these eventually, but some of them will probably just slip on further and further into the back of my mind where I’ll forget about them like I’ve probably already forgotten about a dozen other things I intended to watch at some point.

These are in no real order.

1. Voices of a Distant Star (2002)

After seeing 5 Centimeters per Second, I was very interested in seeing Makoto Shinkai’s other works. I was going to include The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004) in this as well, but I think I’ve actually seen a few minutes of that, either of the beginning or the end, I don’t remember. Voices of a Distant Star seems to have a theme similar to 5 Centimeters, which is depressing in that I can relate too well, but it also reminds me a little of PLANETES, which was considerably less depressing, perhaps because it slipped in a lot more comedy. Either way, this movie is definitely something I still intend to check out eventually. I really don’t know why it’s so hard for me to sit down with movies; I never feel like I have enough time.

[View the rest of this entry…]

I love Engrish. I really do. As uptight as I can get about the rampant misuse of English by native or theoretically fluent speakers, I find it ridiculously endearing when obviously non-fluent foreigners try, even when they get things wrong. Or maybe especially when they get things wrong. So it always pleases me to hear musicians stumble along with their broken pronunciation and broken grammar in anime theme songs or just in general; it’s courageous of them to even attempt singing in a language they’re not all that familiar with. I mean, Tomoko Kawase supposedly has a friend write her English lyrics for her, but she still ends up with stuff like “don’t scary.” There are a lot of great songs out there with awkward grammar and “alternative” pronounced like “alter” and “native” spliced together. Maybe they’re supposing that their primarily Japanese audience won’t notice or care, but with the significant overseas popularity of anime and related media, you have to wonder if they think about how silly they might sound to native and fluent speakers of English.

This post isn’t actually about Engrish songs though. With Engrish as such a common element in so many anime themes and inserts (and indeed, Japanese music on the whole), it’s always a real surprise when you hear a song that’s in English. English! No mispronunciations. No sketchy grammar. Minimal or no accent. They’re a rare breed, but not all that difficult to find considering a number of very popular series include them. Sometimes they’re sung by native speakers and sometimes they’re still Japanese artists, but they’re always a real treat when you come across them:

8. “living inside the shell” – Steve Conte, Shanti Snyder, and Yoko Kanno (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG ED)

It’s a huge given that there’s going to be Yoko Kanno somewhere on this list. In fact, exactly half of the songs on this list are composed by Yoko Kanno, two of which are performed by Steve Conte. Few people would argue against Kanno’s astounding skills across all styles and genres of music. Blues, jazz, hip-hop, classical, orchestral, pop, folk, rock, electronic, whatever, you name it, she’s done it. Language? Japanese, Latin, Italian, French, Russian, some made up gibberish that sounds Latin-based, and of course, English. It’s hard narrowing down her extensive portfolio of works to a handful of songs, but “living inside the shell” is surely one of my favorites. SAC’s first season ending, “Lithium Flower” was also a contender, but I prefer Conte’s vocals to Scott Matthew’s and the lyrics I find better suited to the thoughtfulness of SAC’s themes. The spoken portion by Shanti Snyder also adds an eerie dimension to the mood of the piece.

[View the rest of this entry…]

There are a ton of webcomics on the Internet. Most of them suck. Most of them never update when they’re supposed to. Most of them get dropped whether officially or unofficially because their creators either decide that they don’t have time anymore or life decides that they don’t have time anymore for them. The latter bugs me the most, as I seem to have a knack for finding great webcomics that go on mysterious hiatuses as soon as I pick them up, but really, all three of those ailments are very annoying.

So here are five webcomics that 1) don’t suck, 2) almost always update when they’re supposed to, and 3) are currently running. There are also four runner-ups that occasionally fail to meet one of those requirements, usually the updating thing, but they’re far from being dead.

5. Anime News Nina by Robin Sevakis

This is the Anime News Network’s official webcomic and ventures to mock and satirize various aspects of otaku culture, usually in a good-natured way; after all, otaku are undoubtedly its intended audience. Occasionally, I do see things that some people might get upset over, but I doubt Sevakis ever intends the comic to be insulting towards the reasonable members of society. Each strip is can be standalone, but many strips also tie together in short story arcs.

The art is in full color and pretty simple, but Sevakis doesn’t shy away from grand exaggerations of expression and action, which always results in chaos and hilarity. She also mimics styles from specific series to emphasize punch lines involving art. Good times. ANN updates every Wednesday with few exceptions.

Content: 4/5
Artwork: 4/5
Updates: 4/5

[View the rest of this entry…]

(aka, “Yes, I Watched It 26 Times”)

I was bumming around some forums recently and found a topic about opening themes that people actually watched through every single time (or something close). I thought it was a darn good question and consequently sat down to think about which applied to me. I’m usually pretty impatient to get to the content of each episode; after all, I really only watch series one of two ways: either I binge it and swallow the whole thing in the span of two or three days, or I follow it as it releases, which means agonizing over each episode for a week and then downloading it the second it surfaces on its release day. Both situations call for the skipping of opening themes because I’m so damn eager to get to the content.

Still, for one reason or another, there are indeed a handful of opening sequences that I was just so fond of that I watched every single time. And here they are for your viewing pleasure! (They are also, of course, accompanied by my usual verboseness if you want to read. ;3)

(5) “Super Drive” – Gravitation (OP, Yousuke Sakanoue)

To start off with, I know this isn’t the greatest opening in the world, and a lot of my attachment lingers from when I was obsessed with the series. Still, looking back, there are a lot of things about it that are unique and rather endearing. The very beginning of the theme, with its sunlight and leaves, remains one of the most memorable aspects of any opening I’ve ever seen — why exactly, I’m not sure, but to this day, every time I find myself looking upward at sunlight filtered through leaves, I’m reminded of this opening and this series. Maybe it’s just the fangirl in me. The animation snaps back and forth from rather simple/generic character pans to strange, semi-realistic environment and background shots. That aspect of the animation is one of the quirkiest things about Gravitation, and I really think it helped to add to the reality of the musical environment, even when other elements remained farfetched and ridiculous.

[View the rest of this entry…]