Monthly Archives: April 2010

Miku Append Release Imminent

It looks like the much anticipated update to the world’s most popular Vocaloid will finally be hitting shelves for popular consumption on April 30th. Miku Append is a comprehensive update that will enhance and expand our lovely Miku Hatsune’s vocal range and capabilities. Not only will her voice be made smoother and more natural, it will introduce 6 new “tones” in which she will be capable of singing: Sweet, Soft, Vivid, Dark, Light, and Solid. The product costing 16800 Yen (approx 186USD) can be found at here at Crypton’s official site. You can also find various fan-made artwork relating to Miku’s new look as well as several excellent samples of her new abilities.

Why is this big news? Well with this release now coming into the mainstream you can definitely expect a fresh wave of amazing Miku songs that take full advantage of her voice as well as plenty of remakes that will give some of the classics new life. The Append software pack will likely be the new rage for awhile until similar updates come along for her Vocaloid pals and you can expect that her starpower is only going to increase in coming months. Perhaps they might even decide to give the world tour a shot. (a man can dream, haha).

Well please feel free to get as excited as I am about Miku-chan’s demos above and while we’re at it lets take a look at some Miku songs that are already using the new software that have begun to emerge from NicoNicoDouga:

Hikari, Hikari-(using the more mature, and beautiful Dark)

A few more after the jump….

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Buried Gems: Le Portrait de Petit Cossette

Here at Anime Insights, we don’t just cover the currently airing series. No, our coverage expands to other and older works which may have been overlooked by time or overshadowed by other popular series, but are still highly recommended.

With that said, welcome to Buried Gems! This is a new segment where I, ramenpoodle discuss some “underground” series that I think that, for whatever reason, deserve a watch. Today we’ll be discussing one of the most underappreciated OVA series of all time, Le Portrait de Petit Cossette.

Le Portrait de Petit Cossette is not perfect, and it’s not for everyone. The patchwork, nonlinear storytelling and dramatic filler sequences may put off some viewers looking for action, explosions, and giant robots to fill their anime void, or black hole, or galaxy, or what have you. The OVA series, which has a total runtime of about 3 hours, easily could have told the same story in a span of 15 minutes, and the story itself isn’t particularly novel or groundbreaking. That said, I’m not sure you can even call the series “fun”, as the only thing that even comes close to “fun” in this series is the temporary high you may get from having horrific images of surrealist origin permanently etched into your brain. Kinda like End of Evangelion, remember that, kiddies? Fun, right?

But know that Le Portrait de Petit Cossette is one of the most beautifully directed and illustrated pieces of cinema that I have ever come across. And if this OVA had been only 15 minutes long, it wouldn’t even be as half as fantastic as it is.

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descent’s Randomly Cool AMVs

Hey everyone, just dropping by to let you know that I am still alive. While schoolwork and fun have kept me from getting my work here up on time its nevertheless been an amazing anime and music-related weekend for me. I’ve did get the chance to watch the EPIC Haruhi Suzumiya movie (10/10), another excellent episode of Angel Beats which contained even more revelations and mystery, and while I might be late to the party I also watched the Miku Hatsune Giving Day Concert which was one helluva cool experience. The last was especially great cause after some skepticism I just had to come out an say to myself “what the hell, I like LOVE Vocaloid” and get over that particular stigma. I will have some reactions and analysis for all these coming later in the week but for now lets combine two of them to provide you with what I hope will be a new feature here on AI, “Randomly Cool AMVs”.  I will be putting up some AMVs I find interesting, neat, cute, ect each week so that you might find something new and enjoyable for yourself.

Let it be known that I am not by any means an avid AMV watcher or an “elitist” when it comes to quality or design. While some AMVs might be mind-blowingly well made they still don’t resonate with me if I can’t associate with anything in them. There are other times when you might something that lacks a bit in the synch and HD departments but is just so fitting you can’t help but like it. So for those of you who are also casual AMV fans I will try to provide some weekly links to something that might become your next personal favorite or simply a one time experience with a decently made being of anime-related media. (Yes both of the below videos are technically “MAD” but to me they are the same thing!!”.

So as I said before lets see what happens when you combine two of Miku Hatsune’s best songs with everyone’s favorite all-mighty schoolgirl, Haruhi Suzumiya. First off lets go with perhaps a “different” interpretation of what Haruhi is like set to Miku’s rather high-pitched but incredibly sweet “Melt” (with a little bit of help from one of her composers ryo of course):

And one whose lyrics are a little more fitting when it comes to Haruhi’s personality and her treatment of Kyon, also by the fabulous Miku, “World is Mine” (by ryo!):

(Personal Note: I love the way Miku holds her note pitch-perfect for a good 4-5 seconds about 3 minutes in, typically a feat used by an artist to show off their vocal ability, but it really is cheating when you are a Vocaloid. God I’m weird but its almost seems like a cute little in-joke to me.)

Well hopefully some of you will enjoy these two videos as much as I did. Look for more AI content coming throughout the week, good night!

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya licensed by Bandai Ent. America

This is not the real movie poster but it is funnier. Also it contains 2 spoilers but you won't know unless you've watched the movie.

A few days ago I had the pleasure of experiencing the new movie The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. I won’t divulge any key details or anything, but if you are familiar with the first and second seasons of Haruhi, then this movie is required viewing. (If you are not familiar, then I urge you to watch them; the first season is especially highly recommended.) Already it is shooting to the top of everyone’s lists on sites such as MAL and AniDB, and has become an overnight hit even with people who hate the franchise. However, if you plan on watching the movie within the next 8 months, you have to watch a camrip with less-than-stellar quality. Or do you?

Bandai Entertainment America has recently announced that they have picked up Disappearance for release…well, sometime. They haven’t announced any dates for season 2 either, so it could be that they will be released simultaneously within the same time frame. But it could mean a shorter wait for those who want to get their hands on DVD/Blu-ray quality of what thousands (myself included) are already calling the movie event of the year.

What we do know, though, is that the movie will be screened a few times. Unfortunately for the A.I. team this will be nowhere near the east coast, but maybe a few of you readers will be lucky enough to catch the showings in San Fransisco on May 21 and in Hawaii in June.

More Midweek Angel Beats Fun

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(Credit for picture and many thanks to graphic designer Moonie at AnimeSuki, please find his other amazing sig and wallpaper work here.)

Hello again! descent here to share some more Angel Beats! awesomeness from around the web. If you read my review you can tell I am just getting more into this show every week. It looks like Jun Maeda really has a winner here, especially for the way it has sparked so much interesting and often heated discussion across the web. Now on to some links:

  • To lead off again, the PV for this week’s episode, My Song (spoilers! duh, its your discretion)
  • SubSmith has translated the first chapter from the Illustrated Angel Beats novel, Track Zero. There is no spoiler material here just the start to what looks like a pretty awesome prequel story to the main anime arc. It appears to initially be focused on Yuri and Hinata. I thought it was a good read and even had a funny scene involving Tenshi and Yuri. Smith will not be continuing this translation but hopes someone will pick it up as the hype continues to build. There are seven released chapters so far. Many thanks to 戏言君 and hades9053 for the original Chinese translation.
  • Here is a gallery which includes a sample chapter from the Angel Beats 4-Koma which has been in serialization since December. This is actually pretty funny and I LOVE the chibi characters. Once again this is not yet being regularly scanlated(in English) but after this recent effort by SubSmith and the positive feed back I’m sure it will get picked up soon enough. There is another associated manga, Angel Beats: Heaven’s Door, but there are no current translations something that will hopefully change soon enough.
  • My interest in this Anime was first piqued by its awesome previews and it appears that this was the case for many others as well. Responding to that demand Tortise Fansubs has translated and packaged all 8 PV spots, 4 of which are 2 minutes plus and have provided them for your viewing pleasure.  Here is the Tortise sub of a behind the scenes production special, not necessarily my cup of tea but if your are fan of this stuff it is now available too. It is interesting how confident Maeda and his staff are in this show, there are many comments around the net and in interviews about their devotion and commitment to this project, hopefully it will continue its path to becoming a classic. I also didn’t know the Seto Hanayome director is directing this project as well.
  • Where did I get my awesome picture for this post? Want to use something like it for your wall paper? Well just follow this link to more of Moonie’s great work over at AnimeSuki where he has prepared several HQ wallpapers of Tenshi, Yuri, and others for your enjoyment (including what you see above).
  • Something for the figure and magazine collectors out there. A writer at Anime-Envoy recently received their Dengeki G Festival Deluxe Angel Beats collection. It includes some pics of the figure and super high quality magazine included. While this deserves to be here I must go on record saying I DO NOT approve of what they have done to Tenshi, in case you haven’t been able to tell I am NOT that kind of Anime fan (but its ok if you are!!).
  • Finally an update on the Tulip-TV character poll, thanks to all fans, otakus, and angel-connoisseurs everywhere for helping Tenshi over the hump ((here’s to you FlareKnight). Props to TK-fans as well ofc.

Hope everyone enjoys this, have a great week and keep looking forward to Episode 3: My Song, Broadcasting this Friday!

The Season at a Glance: Spring 2010, Part III

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K-ON!!

descent’s take: One of last year’s most enjoyable and yet often hated series is back once again. KyoAni is up to its usual tricks, transforming Kakifly’s 4-Koma into a series lacking emotional depth but heavy of the desserts, laughs, and moe. This season begins at the start of the main cast’s (except Azusa) 3rd year at school and we are treated to their somewhat failed efforts at recruiting new members to their club once more. The introductory scene with Yui playing her guitar before school was actually a strong point and it was nice to see her being rather useful for once even if it was the result of even further forgetfulness. I was a tad put off by the final message which was basically “let’s give up its cool with just the 5 of us”. While I’m all for not adding lame new characters the lack of redeeming qualities, that isolationist philosophy is a tad troubling, but I digress from the cuteness (and sometimes the manga doesn’t translate epically to the show). But enough of descent trying to poke holes in one of his favorite moe series; K-ON once again came back strong doing what it does best, showing us the cute and fluffy daily lives of 5 girls in their efforts to be a moderately successful rock band. I love it and will continue to watch.

Music: I’ve been back and forth on this with people but I really despise the OP music this  time around but love the animation sequence itself. The ED is almost like a sequel to “Don’t say lazy” in form and sound and is actually pretty darn awesome.

[easyreview title=”” cat1title=”A First Glance” cat1detail=”Nothing special here but K-ON is unchanged but still great.” cat1rating=”8″]

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Angel Beats Episode 2: A Descent into Awesome

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I really didn’t think Angel Beats could continue to impress me like this. I was willing to chalk up a good amount of my excitement about this show’s potential to the hype, a solid first episode, and some nice music. But this week PA Works and Jun Maeda just kept it coming and convinced me once again that there is no better show yet this season. If you couldn’t tell by my last post already, I was entranced right for the start by the opening sequence. The second I saw Tenshi’s fingers on the keys of a piano my first thought was simply “oh no you didn’t”! But yes Angel Beats, you did, and I absolutely love you for it, I am a sucker for showing off random and awesome talents in this fashion. In that first 1:30 of greatness an expressive Tenshi and the beautiful voice of Lia guided us through an excellent OP sequence that highlights Yuri and Tenshi in contrast, showed a series of clips to setupt the episode (a trend I hope continues), and gave us a view of the afterlife-world beautifully illuminated in golden lights. The song itself has a very emotional feel and combined with the on-screen expression during the performance helped create a subtle sense of desperation and yearning amongst the characters trapped in this eternal struggle. The closing seconds also gave us some symbolism (or perhaps foreshadowing) and we saw Tenshi live up to her name:

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It was beautifully executed and had me at the edge of my seat before the episode even began. It should be noted that Jun Maeda composed these works himself and deserves all the credit in the world. Episode 2 again saw the SSS led by Yuri undertake another critical mission, this time descending into the depths beneath the school to reach Guild, their source of weaponry and supplies. But path isn’t easy and Tenshi once again makes an appearance to put a halt to their plans. Let’s continue this review after the jump:

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P.A. Works just outdid itself

Words cannot describe how fitting this is:

I love it, I love it, I love it. Its showcases the cast, puts a major spotlight on our main female leads and has some absolutely beautiful music. I feared last week might have been a high point, not yet! What can Tenshi not do! She is so expressive and yet mysterious. The is a subtle sadness to her playing that raises even more question about what will happen. Oh my god her wings! Wings! *End fanboyism* Get watching this people!

***UPDATE: Here is the wonderful ED with the new Animation as well***

The Season at a Glance: Spring 2010, Part 2

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Hero Man

descent’s take: To be honest I only wanted to watch this show for one reason: my morbid curiosity with a Japanese studio’s take on American  culture. The show itself is based in “Center City”, “West Coast”, USA and so far as we have seen has no East Asian influences what so ever. A school full of kids NOT wearing uniforms? Gotta give’em credit for drawing it all. A bunch of American teens with All-American names talking to each other in Japanese, yes!  Jocks, jerks, the cool guy, and a cheerleader love interest, yessir this is the good ole’ US of A indeed. The show itself is about a kind-hearted but initially weak-willed protagonist Joey who works hard to care for his grandmother and seems to be the subject of some rather unfair bullying to top off his rather difficult life. By repairing a broken toy and after some lightning-related shenanigans he finds himself in the possession of the powerful robot “Heroman” which he controls with a nifty remote. I assume this means Joey will proceed to save the day for the rest of the series at it appears that some rather ridiculously looking evil aliens are on the way to co-opt earth for its resources.

The animation is average throughout and is mostly interesting only for its attempt to depict of western culture and scenery.  None of the characters are really all that unique though Joey is likable and Lina deserves credit for being a girl who isn’t shy about her feelings (though this is probably the writer trying to make some kind of overwrought shoutout to “American culture”). Heroman looks cool and his mouth lets you think he is about to start talking and reveal his personality but he’s only been the stoic and silent-type so far. The downfall of this show from an older viewer’s perspective is that the antagonists already look extremely fail and the action hasn’t even started yet. While I enjoy the spectacle this show presents us with and love seeing my own country depicted in some way or another the lack of interesting action and drama will probably keep people from liking this too much.

The Music: The OP is ok and the animation here does a great job of showing off what Heroman is all about. The ending has a great western comic book theme that makes you want to give props to the creative mind at work there. Honestly the background music is top notch throughout and actually enhances the feel and atmosphere of many of the scenes quite well. Props in this department.

[easyreview title=”” cat1title=”A First Glance” cat1detail=”It was pretty fun but lacks depth and probably won’t maintain its appeal” cat1rating=”7.5″]

The rest after the jump…

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For all my homies…

I started watching, reading and following anime and manga actively during 2005. To satisfy my need I turned to various websites and IRC outlets to either read up on news, find torrents or just plain hope beyond hope that the new episode was subbed…30 minutes after the one just subbed.

So it saddens to me to see two of my old haunts disappear in the past month as the persons behind them move on in life. Scarywater and Random Curiosity, both of you’ve been great to the community and definitely left your mark on it. As the sun sets on this phase of your life, I wish you the best of luck in the next one.

end