Tag Archives: haruhi suzumiya

Bridging The Gap: That Moment

bonus points

 

Whenever I discuss any creative medium, one often is remiss if unable to bring up moments of vibrant inspiration. Moments that not merely find themselves as great water tower conversation starters, but moments which find themselves endlessly replaying themselves over and over again. And this isn’t merely in regards to anime, film, and so on. It can be found in a great book, or even a still work of street art. It’s that runner’s high instant where the creator, and the self seem to match spirits, if for only a second. It can be a few seconds of sheer, unadulterated beauty, or even overwhelmingly absurd. To look back and really consider this, it only happens a small number of times. And when it does, they tend to stick around, coloring a great deal of what makes us–us.

 

 
So when I think of this in the anime world, I can but pick out a disparate few that remain important personal milestones. As great series’ of artwork and behind the scenes rigor that somehow transated themselves into pure sensory transcendence. Some people call them Classic Moments.

Or as I sometimes  lovingly call them, “High-Fiving-God” Moments.
Here are a few of mine, in no particular order..

 

Tetsuo’s Olympic Performance

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Growing up heavily into 1980s fears of dystopian hell, as well as under threat of technological ahnilation, there was something about seeing our great scientific  secrets unveiled by way of unbridled youth. And in one of Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark feature, AKIRA‘s many iconic moments, we get a penultimate expression in Tetsuo’s arrival at Neo-Tokyo’s neglected Olympic Stadium, a place housing revelations about his own newly-aquired psionic abilities. So much destruction had already taken place since prior to this, but to see such a mammoth structure uprooted, all while a psychically controlled Kei attempts to stop him while one of the more experimental pieces by Geinoh Yamashirogumi screams with guitar wails and drones, and the military and science establishment looks on helplessly. Nature reasserting its dominance over mere custodians. It’s an orgy of sight and sound that has lost none of its power for me.

 

Naota At The Bat

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Having already thoroughly enjoyed a majority of what would become Gainax’s last great work, Kazuya Tsurumaki and crew take their manic rock infused fever dream, FLCL  into metaphorical nirvana come the finale of episode 4, Furi Kiri. While admittedly, a majority of this OVA had been leading to this moment by placing quasi-disaffected protagonist, Naota in a fortitude contest against the enigmatic Haruko. Living in the shadow of a never-seen elder brother, his presumptuous nature is taken to extreme task when he finds himself in needing to save his boring town of Mabase by way of using his “bat” to swing at and hopefully stop a careening satellite from slamming into the Earth. All set to the tune of Crazy Sunshine, by cult faves, The Pillows, the scene is so thrilling, so poetic, so patently delirious, it could only be made so in anime form.

 

A-Ko’s Platform Game Gone Awry

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Forgiving the reality that the OVAs that followed leave so much to be desired, the original animator’s anime, Project A-ko remains a dynamo of inspired lunacy nearly thirty years on. But the gag that never ceases to leave me smitten takes place in the final third, as rivals A-ko & B-ko are forced to cease their mass destruction-laden feud in order to rescue the obnoxious C-ko from gender-ambiguous aliens who have descended upon the Earth with terrifying force. A-ko, the redheaded heroine of exceptional strength lacks the ability of flight, and quickly must improvise a strategy of reaching the humongous alien craft by way of playing leap frog with Self Defense Force Jets (most of which are shot down, leaving A-ko little choice but to jump from jet to jet). BUT it’s upon getting closer to the ship that our hapless hero takes on a nightmare run that would give many platform game lovers some form of PTSD! Apparently mostly animated by Dirty Pair designer/animator, Tsukasa Dokite, A-ko breathlessly leaping from missile to missile, with her donning the most exasperated face remains an all-time medium favorite.

 

Hikaru’s Lack Of Proper Valkyrie Knowledge

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Man, I still love me some Macross. Perhaps the ultimate fan anime. Part soap opera, part space war saga, part self-conscious satire of the very young phenom of otaku. Not merely because of the fact that it was a watershed moment for me as a lover of Japanese cartoons, but of how all these seemingly disparate elements came together almost seamlessly. It was also the first transforming robot show to truly take full advantage of its gimmick, and create something that was on a whole, convincing from an engineering perspective. Without merely telling us how the UN SPACY’s latest fighter units worked, we discover the big secret via an outsider character in our lead, Hikaru Ichijo, a civilian whom while sitting in the cockpit of a demonstration Valkyrie, is mistaken for a real pilot, and ordered to take off as alien invaders begin pummeling Macross city.  Being suddenly surrounded by plumes of smoke and flame, the shock has only just begun when he falls into a tailspin. With the comlink instructions of one Misa Hayase (the officer who inadvertently assumed he was a fighter), Hikaru selects configuration G (aka Gerwalk Mode), and the resulting action..Let’s just say it remains beautifully timed, and lovingly animated for a low budget tv anime from the early 1980s. This is how you deliver a surprise. (Also look carefully for all the animation studios Hikaru’s Valkyrie pulverizes along the way!)

 

Lupin III’s Hardcore Parkour

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While it has become increasingly niche to consider Miyazaki’s Cagliostro Castle to be  the cream of the Lupin III crop, I remain a Cagliostro devotee largely because it remains one of the most directorially consistent, and entertaining of the franchise. But what also makes it such a remarkable experience even now, is the animation and art direction which continue to impress me. There are just too many great action and comedy beats here to list. So when I have to pick one that gives me the face-cracking smiles every time, it has to be the scene in which the mater thief uses the cloak of night to climb his way to a castle tower to reach the captive princess, Clarisse. With merely a little rope with hooks, a few taut-string rockets, and a cigarette lighter to assist him, his mission to reach from one tower to another is pure comic suspense. From the lush background, to the tile roofing, to all of Lupin’s stumbling amidst the breeze, it’s all the setup one needs before he loses that one little rocket…and..

 

Nagato’s Big Reveal

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As budgets for animation have increased, spectacle in our anime has exponentially followed suit. The problem then, of course lands in how it is delivered. While I may have expressed enthusiasm about a number of wild moments, the biggest element that binds them all together is simple; a sense of build. Great moments cannot merely happen, they must be earned. They must come as a response to all that has come before it. The precendent must exist before it can be broken. And in the initial season of the surprise hit, Haruhi Suzumiya No Yuutsu, it comes almost out of nowhere, and in the process it lives up to the buildup in regards to a single character; the largely silent bookworm, Yuki Nagato. Throughout the course of the show’s original out of chronological order narrative, we are privy to the revelation that Nagato claims to be an alien. A being from a digitized world overlooked by an all-seeing data overmind. And as the stories build, we get fragments of her abilities, but it’s nothing compared to when the show’s centra narrator finds himself in a perplexing life or death situation in an empty classroom of all places. The moment of her appearance is exciting enough, bit the ensuing battle culled almost perfectly from the Tanigawa light novels is astonishing to the point of masterful. Turns out she’s the real deal, and the reality is beyond comprehension. One classical theory out there is that all art is a conversation between artists, and in the case of the cyber-battle over a once-very-skeptical lead character, this is the kind of visualization of such a world that has long been neglected in film form, and more common on cyberpunk literature, made corporeal in a high school fantasy setting! It’s wholly bonkers and brilliant. Heck, it even does The Matrix one better by exhibiting what happens to mass, manipulated by way of code. The kind of marriage between concept and action that is capable of greater inspiration.

 

Nagumo’s Heartfelt Apprehension

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There’s just no denying it. Patlabor 2 will always remain in my heart as not only my favorite Mamoru Oshii film, but one of the unsung great Japanese films. Yet unlike the HEADGEAR-inspired science fiction action comedy that it had been up to this point, 2 is a quiet, taut, and contemplative masterpiece that features some of the most poetically beautiful moments the medium has ever seen. While there are indeed moments of action here and there, some of the most gripping moments tend to be the calm moments in between storms, sometimes even after the worst has occured. And in a tale about a future Tokyo psychologically ravaged by an unseen terrorist force, it is all about how a nation reacts, and how simmering feelings can reach a boiling point, never to be fulfilled. So unlike all the previous moments I have made mention of, it is in the finale of Patlabor 2 that I found a deep kinship with Oshii, and character artist, Hiroyuki Okiura. It is with the quiet second in command of the SV2 mobile police unit, Shinobu Nagumo, that so much is said by saying very little. Emotions are complicated, and even more so with those no familiar with expressing openly. It’s widely known that Nagumo was always Oshii’s favorite Patlabor character, so when he’s finally able to grant her center stage, it is with a quiet confidence, and studied patience that he grants her a unique dignity, regardless of the complexity of her current situation. Taking down the perp has never been so pensive, yet resolute. Yep. Not an action moment, but one that calls out the goosebumps like few others.

 

And there’s several more where these came from..

 

Have instances of “That Moment” in your anime memories? Ones that made you want to stand a cheer for their electricity? Share them with us!

 

 

Hirano Aya Concert: Review

See the full set of concert pictures taken by Shizuka here.

Aya Hirano’s concert, held on the last day of Otakon 2012, was an excellent way for many to spend the last few hours of the convention. Aya Hirano is best known for her role as the singer of the opening and ending songs for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, as well as voice acting anime characters such as Haruhi and Konata from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star, respectively.

Scheduled from 12:30pm – 1:30pm (conveniently after most area hotels’ checkout time), the line for Aya Hirano’s concert extended from the entrance of the concert hall and continued outside the east side of the Baltimore Convention Center, an effort to minimize the line’s impact to traffic inside the convention that was mostly successful. Thanks to excellent line control by Otakon’s staff, the concert hall quickly and efficiently filled with Otakon attendees, nearly hitting the three-thousand person capacity of the concert hall.

The lights dimmed, the band strolled onto the stage, and…

Aya Hirano stood before thousands of her American fans, singing “Riot Girl” from her debut album of the same name. Her second song, “Kiss Me,” was from her second album Speed☆Star. These songs were from 2008-2009, near the beginning of her career.

After singing the first two songs, Aya Hirano finally greeted her American fans to excited cheering and vigorous waving of glowsticks. The next set of songs were the only parts of the concert that press could photograph. So as Aya Hirano started performing these songs, I was madly taking pictures of Aya Hirano’s performance.

“DIFFUSION (To the Other Side)” – from Aya Hirano’s May 2012 FRAGMENTS album
Unnamed World – from Aya Hirano’s 2009 Speed☆Star album. Also the ending theme for Nijū Mensō no Musume.
BRIGHT SCORE- from FRAGMENTS as well

At this point, most fans of Aya Hirano who had only heard of her anime songs might not have recognized any of the songs just performed. Of course, she had just saved her most well known songs for last: “God Knows…,” “Lost My Music,” and “Super Driver.” These songs were used as insert songs for the first season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and the opening to the show’s second season.

As Aya Hirano finished “Super Driver,” the stage went dark, the band departed, and the concert ended. Or did it? Aya Hirano’s fans at Otakon cheered for an encore for almost five minutes before Aya Hirano and her band obliged, singing “Bouken Desho Desho?”, the opening theme to the first season of Haruhi Suzumiya. This wasn’t just an ordinary performance of “Bouken Desho Desho?”, as Aya Hirano called out to the audience, holding out her microphone for the audience to sing along with the harmony. The last song of the concert, “MonStAR,” was a piece from her early album Riot Girl.

The concert was immediately followed by an autograph session. A line that stretched the entire way around the perimeter of the room rapidly formed. While I didn’t have time to stay for Aya Hirano’s autograph session, I heard that she stayed for more than two hours after the end of her concert to make sure that everyone who made it into the line got an autograph. Bravo, Otakon and Aya Hirano, for making many Hirano fans’ dreams come true: a live concert, an autograph, and a memory that will last a lifetime.


The full set list follows (Source: Japanator)

Intro Medley
Riot Girl
Kiss Me

MC01

Diffusion (To the Other Side)
Unnamed World
Bright Score

MC02

God Knows…
Lost My Music
Super Driver

Encore
Bouken Desho Desho?

MC03

MonStAR

MC04 and End of Concert

Diary of an Anime Lived: The Slice-of-Life Age, Part 3 (FINAL)

On the strands that make up “slice of life” in our day, and what it means to be a fan in this time where it is the predominant standard of quality and popularity.

Continue reading Diary of an Anime Lived: The Slice-of-Life Age, Part 3 (FINAL)

Waiting for Haruhi; or, My Anime Series Can’t Be This Original!

The howling critical reactions (and counterreactions) in the anime blogosphere about the fourth episode of Oreimo have prompted some further thought, as a follow-up to wintermuted’s last essay and my own thoughts on Oreimo 3: have many of us gotten so desperate for anything surprising in anime that we will grasp onto even the barest scraps of originality and quality? It’s almost as if we were waiting for a great series to sweep us off our feet and remind us of why we love this medium to begin with. It’s almost as if we were waiting…for another Haruhi?

Continue reading Waiting for Haruhi; or, My Anime Series Can’t Be This Original!

So I got on Japanese TV after all

This is all the cosplay you people are gonna get!

Remember that Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya event I was at a couple of weeks ago? Well, apparently the TV Tokyo/Cine-tsu segment that was being filmed for it has now gone live, and the friendly folks at 2ch (via Cartoon Leap) have posted some screenshots…which, uh, include yours truly up there. It’s kinda weird to see yourself surrounded by Japanese text, which I can’t read, but flattering too. I guess it’s official now: to the otaku watching the segment, I am the gaijin fanboy in the Kyon suit.

Some more pics here:

In other news: I should probably lose weight.

UPDATE: guess what? There’s video after all! My bit, which is very short, is around 3:01. You can also see me, iPhone in hand on the far right, around 3:16 or so.

Thanks again to ultimatemegax from Cartoon Leap for bringing these photos, and the video, to my attention.

Haruhi Event @ Anime Jungle – Recorded Live Stream (UPDATED)

This was a little experiment in live streaming, courtesy of my iPhone and Ustream! It was recorded today, on Jan 25th, starting around 5:15 PM. You can see a lot of the folks TV Tokyo interviewed, including myself–however, yes, the audio was knocked out during my interview for some reason. (It was restored later.) Fortunately, I should be able to recover the audio once I get a copy of the official DVD…basically, they interviewed me and Justin, the guy standing next to me, about why we liked Haruhi, when we heard about it, etc. I described its originality and the fearlessness of Haruhi’s character as being appealing points–and how I could relate to Kyon since I work with such crazy dreamers here on Anime Diet :)

Thanks for everyone who watched us live–and now you can see it for posterity!

Editor’s note: Pictures from the Event by Mike

Courtesy of Mike Huang

Tsundere Banana Special – Haruhi Calls!

In this episode of Tsundere Banana, Ray discovers an event to promote the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya Movie in L.A. on 5:30 PM on January 25th at Anime Jungle at 319 East 2nd St. #103 (213) 621-1660. The TV crew is from Cine-tsu from TV Tokyo.

Also here

Source: Haruhi Suzumiya Fansite

He mentions a fan contribution to us for Cosplay Pictures from Comiket 77 (thanks, kona-chan!)

He also shares some of the choices for his Top Ten list for the decade of 2000 to 2009. Some of which are Haruhi, Lucky Star, Claymore and Candy Boy.

Lastly, he talks about the Claymore Petition (INSTRUCTION).

Simple, eh?

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LA “Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” Event: Call for Photos, Video Footage!

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Those of you in the LA area might be aware that a TV-Tokyo program is going to interview Haruhi fans at Anime Jungle on Monday, January 25, at 5:30 PM PST! Details from Anime News Network:

Cine-tsu, a Japanese television series for filmgoers, wants to film Haruhi Suzumiya fans in Los Angeles next Monday for an upcoming episode about The Vanishment of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Shōshitsu) film.

The TV Tokyo program will film its segment at the Anime Jungle store in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles, and the store invites fans to come — cosplayers in particular, and Haruhi cosplayers especially. The event will start at 5:30 p.m.

Now, I will almost certainly be there. Dressed as Kyon, no less. Other staff may join too. However, we’re going to try something a little different here…we also want you, our readers, listeners, and viewers, to send us links to your own footage and photos when it’s over! When you do, we’ll feature it in the follow-up post. That’s right: we’re crowdsourcing for great justice and we want to show off your work alongside ours. We’d like to get all of you involved and active in the coverage of this event, and in the future we may try this for cons, too.

So–does anyone plan to be there? Leave a comment here if you do, and let’s try to meet up. And when you have stuff you’d like to share, just post links here too, or email them to editor@animediet.net and we’ll feature them!

AD Top 10 List #1: Top TV Anime of the 2000s

It’s 2010. A new year. A new decade. Amazing how time flies, doesn’t it? In celebration of this historical event we, your anime-loving couch potatoes here at Anime Diet, have painstakingly compiled a list of what we feel are the cream of the crop, the very best anime of the past ten years.
Continue reading AD Top 10 List #1: Top TV Anime of the 2000s

Kyon-kun, Denwa Song

Kyon-kun, denwa (キョンくん, 電話)
[With apologies to Leonard Cohen]

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I heard there was a secret chord
Nagato played that pleased the Lord
but you don’t really care for spoilers, do ya?
Well it goes like this: the fourth, the fifth
the minor fall and the major lift
the baffled queen composing Kyon-kun, denwa~

Kyon-kun, denwa…

Continue reading Kyon-kun, Denwa Song