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Two new pictures dedicated to Matsuri! Mamiko Noto is becoming one of my favourite seiyus! I’m hunting down all her works! haha Still very amateur-ish. Next time I will use widescreen though…^_^

No words can describe this...

No words can describe this...

Ok, so I didn't have any churches...

Also known as Strawberry Marshmallow, this is a slice of life anime that revolves around four young girls around the ages of 11 and 12 and Nobue who is a sister of one of them.

To begin with, I was not overly keen on this one mainly because of the lolis appearance (the characters look younger than they actually are) – I prefer my characters to be more mature, especially in the yuri context. Nobue is meant to be 20 years old but I swear she looks like she’s 16 at max!! (2nd from the right in below pic)

Oops! One character is missing...oh well...haha

BUT, I decided to give it a go given that both Krigo & Dingsan have said that it is worth checking out. I figured I should give it a chance but I had no expectations in mind. Another good reason for watching it was it has a number of my favourite seiyu-s in it – namely Hitomi Nabatame, Ayako Kawasumi and Mamiko Noto. I’m a bit disappointed with Ayako as her voice here is altered significantly to suit the voice of a 11 year old – no resemblance to Chikane at all… =( On the otherhand, Hitomo’s voice is pretty much like Kanade in Candy Boy and Mamiko reminds me SOOOO much of Matsuri in Sola!! Love that anime – almost had an urge to rewatch it! hehehe I think I will have to find another Mamiko anime!! ahaha =)

hahaha Couldn’t help but stick in a picture of Matsuri!! One of the more captivating characters I’ve seen in anime so far…but then I note that I haven’t watched many!!

Now back onto Ichigo Mashimaro!

I’ve watched two episodes and so far my impression has been fairly flat. No doubt I’ve laughed in a few moments but not to the extent where I’m rolling in laughter. Neither is this an anime where you will be jaw dropping because of the quality of anime (unlike Sola). Nevertheless, there is still a fair way to go and I might be surprised. Basically, it could go either way. Bearing in mind that it released a few OVAs, it probably will return with a strong comeback.

One thing I didn’t like is the emphasis on Nobue’s attachment to cigarettes and beer. Given this anime is targeted to a young audience (I’m assuming this), I don’t really think it is appropriate. It kind of sends the wrong message that these habits are more than acceptable. Call me old thinking but I couldn’t help mentioning it.

Nobue happily running off to her room with...er...a few cans of....juice?? haha

So, that’s it for now – will update again when the anime has made a clear turn. Hmm…I’m keen on some shoujo-ai material next…maybe 舞-乙HiME (My-Otome) – recommended by rulan from D-Addicts. But then astrogrrl also said Kashimashi: Girl meets Girl is very good! Oh dear…decisions decisions…!! AAAAAaaah!! hahaha

I have started to observe the different skies when I’m in different places. I’m even thinking about taking pictures of the skies in each country or city I visit! hahaha That sounds pretty cool. Well here’s my first attempt…they’re not that good but I’m just starting out now so please bear with me!! hahaha

The sky in London

Rome again...

The sky in Rome...

These are not that WOW but I tried…might invest in a photo editing program to magically “touch” up the photos! hahaha Ciao!

I just realised the impact of Sola! There could be some serious post anime syndromes! haha After finishing Sola, I found myself dreamingly gaze out the window at work! I’m not sure whether it is a coincident that the weather has been better giving us a rare blue sky (it is actually relatively rare in the city I live in!) or whether I just never paid attention. In any case, I feel like I have more appreciation of the beauty of the changes in the sky – the midday clear blue, the white clouds floating across and the purples and reds as the day ends. I honestly have commented out loud to my colleagues three times in the last few days on what a wonderful clear day it is!! LOL I almost had the desire to find out whether I could run to the rooftop of my building to take a picture. Ok, now that’s going a bit far – but it did cross my mind!

I guess the thing to really highlight about this anime (I’ve mentioned it many times already), is the sheer quality of the animation. Given there is a strong focus on the sky, it has paid a lot of attention and detail to make them as real looking as they can be. Seriously, as I look outside my work window, I feel like I’m seeing a sky from Sola…not a real sky. It’s THAT crazy!

Btw, before you continue reading, let me warn you that there are spoilers ahead!! You have been warned!

OKay, aside from the breathtaking animation, one of the main reasons why I like it, is its execution style. That is, everything is expressed very gently and softly – just layers of subtlety and indirect ways to move you. I had tears running starting from episode 12! Nothing drastic had happened but you just know that it wasn’t going to be a “lived happily ever after” ending. Why can’t Matsuri, Yorito and Aono just accept each other and live together! Hell no! The story didn’t need blood spilling everywhere or huge outcries (well except for Aono) to heighten the atmosphere.

Let me pull up a good example – Yorito dies in the end (if you can call it dying, really) but the scene itself was not overly dramatic. Rather, leading up to the incident, the scriptwriter was quietly building up the emotion and pain in you – the way the class mates lost all memory of his existence, and finally his close friend Mana-san too. Then after the death, they continue to remind of you this pain through Mana taking up Yorito’s passion of taking pictures of the sky. She doesn’t quite understand why she is so drawn to it and through that we are reminded that she has been stripped of her memories of Yorito. This whole form of execution really worked for me. To me, it is a more sophisticated and delicate way of involving the audience’s emotions. Although you can’t help but feel slightly dispirited at the end of all this, it was nevertheless an anime well worth watching.

 

*SIGH* If only Matsuri and Yorito could be together…

Story 9

To me, the story was pretty creative. Although it started off slow, the patience paid off in the end. This is not an anime you will forget straight away…

Characters 8

Everyone was like-able and the voice for Matsuri was well-chosen. Good range of different characters and personalities. 

Music 8

I LOVE the three pieces of music used in this anime – the opening theme (Colourless Wind), ending theme (Mellow Melody) and Sensitive Scenery 敏感な風景 but the rest of the background music didn’t really catch my attention. You can tell that a fair bit of effort went into the soundtrack but out of the 30+ tracks in the OST album, maybe only 2 was worth listening to more than once. On the otherhand, I can listen to Sensitive Scenery 敏感な風景 on repeat! haha Guess I’ll have to pop this CD into my next shopping list…haha

Overall 9

Definitely worth checking out! Try it out if you’re looking for something that’s a bit more serious and subtle in execution…

I’m really growing to love Sola. It’s not one of those animes where I’m rolling around in laughter or where my thigh has turned red where I’ve slapped myself too many times…but it has this certain quality that pulls you in. Like I said, it has a slow start but the tension builds up near the 2nd half. I think it’s the character of Matsuri that captivates me – there’s this sadness coming from within her – which is then intensified by her cheerful carefree personality. Mamiko Noto’s voice also fits the character perfectly – so soft spoken and gentle! I’m loving the opening and end theme songs too (the end theme more though)! Lyrics below…All the hard work is done by LunarAnime! I took the lyrics from the subbed episodes they did. Thank you again!

 

Mellow Melody ~ Ending theme

Close your eyes and

Fading pages of memories will be revived

This is a prayer of an innocent girl

To fly up towards the skies of hope

The moment you sigh, time flies by right away

While you stand idle by yourself

Sing to yourself the melody that protects dreams

When people have fallen asleep

The wish that we may meet again

Will this yarn of love be spun?

This fairy tale that invites gentleness

You were the one that taught me about it

Let us return, quietly

To our memories of those times

 

Colourless Wind ~ Opening theme

White and shiny feathers

Dazzling and flying into the sky

Though I just want to let my heart ride on it

Extending my frigid hands

Though I know I can’t reach it

I want to touch you now though

The nostalgic wind that breezed by our boat

The mirage brought back my memories


I can’t forget it…

The voice of someone is vibrating painfully

Disturbing the commencing presentiment

I want to forget it…

I don’t understand my own wish

As I sway, I wait for this one dream

 

Ok – so the lyrics are not exactly Shakespeare but they fit well with the anime! I like it! I think my final review on Sola will be up next…

 

The first time they meet...

The first time they meet...

Today, as I was traveling on the train, listening to the Sola soundtrack, I realised that my previous post made almost no mention of the music!! Let me try again and now that I’m up to episode 11, I have a much better view/feel of this anime…

First of all, I forgot to mention that the opening of the anime starts of with a very serene and angelic song. It is only used for episode 1 and does not appear again until episode 9 (I think). It is well suited for the anime as it parallels well with the focus on the sky and clouds. Very peaceful and calm.

The opening and the song itself actually reminds me of the Japanese drama, Song to the Sun. Maybe it’s because the characters in both works meet each other at night…and because of that, there is a gentle streak of sadness in this anime. Let me expand. 

Matsuri is not human – she is known as a ‘yaka’ – a being that it able to heal itself, therefore never dies and never ages. Technically it can die but it will have to be something very lethal. Her age is probably in the hundreds. Yakas have special powers too. In Matsuri’s case, she has the ability to decay an object. However, they also have a weakness – they cannot step into the sun or will otherwise burn. They live in darkness (that’s why this reminds me a little of Song to the Sun). As she never dies, she has developed a ‘don’t care less’, flippant kind of character. It’s the way she’s grown to survive, otherwise “it will be too painful for her”. Basically, yakas live a lonely life.

I think given this overlay of ‘sadness’, I’ve gradually grown to fall for Sola…very gently, quietly and almost unknowingly. It was only until I was listening to one of the tracks on the train that I felt like I was back in the world of Sola. Scenes of Matsuri and Yorito came up as I listened to the song. The best part of the song is when the strings step in, in the latter half…the swelling of emotions! Love it! I liked the song so much that once I got home, I logged on to find the lyrics.

Below is a combination of some English lyrics I found online and two sets of Chinese lyrics. I tend to think that Chinese translations are usually a little bit more accurate due to the nature of the two languages. I’ve tried my best to put together what makes sense. If something is wrong, please tell me! You can listen to it here.

敏感な風景 Sensitive scenery

These soft waves gradually take me away

Quietly, quietly…

Even if I disappear now, it doesn’t matter

My remaining feelings, where should they go?

Ah…they lose their colours


The wakening of dawn

Shines down its rays of light

Gently, gently

It falls upon my heart


If possible

If those same feelings, could carry on

No-one would know…


Until the sun rises

Quietly, quietly

I can feel a  premonition

My heart, can feel a premonition

 

I can’t quite work out the final words of the lyrics. I’ve read the Chinese and English versions a number of times but neither makes a great deal of sense. I think it is basically implying that there is hope in the future that they will be together again…(haha maybe that’s what I’m just hoping it means!!) If someone can help me out then that will be great!!

When the opening of Episode 1 started, I was taken away by the art! The animation is very fine and beautifully drawn with detail. Sceneries and characters all draw a lot of screen presence. It’s no wonder some people consider this as anime of the year. Below I’ve included a few screen shots to give you some idea but they don’t really do justice to the whole animation experience.

Story There’s a high school boy, Yorito, who has a passion in taking photos of the skies and clouds. Everyday after school, he will go to the hospital to visit his sister, Aono. Her illness is unclear but she appears to be very weak, pale and has a cold character. She does not express much emotion but seems to care very much about Yorito.

One night, Yorito is out at 4am preparing his camera and gear to take a shot of the sunrise. While he is waiting in the park, he sees a girl who is trying to get her drink from the vending machine but seems to have eaten her money. He goes over to help her and by the time he manages to get the drink, the girl has disappeared…her name is Matsuri.

NB: If you are interested in this anime, AVOID wikipedia!! There are spoilers there!!

Matsuri

 

I don’t want to spoil it for people so I won’t go into the details. Just to give you a better idea, this anime involves some “powers” and “supernatural beings” with a sprinkle of romance. Hope that helps! haha

 

 

Yorito

 

But, a word of warning! The story build up is quite slow so, at the beginning, visually it’s all very pretty with a lot of attention to the music but things don’t quite speed up until episode 6!

 

Aono

Aono

 

 

Both the girls are very pretty though I must say I prefer Matsuri (maybe it’s the dark hair!! LOL) because of the character and the voice!

So far so good but don’t try this one if you’re looking for some laughter!

Gokigenyou!

Hello! Now let's cut to the chase! If you're here to squeal about yuri or update yourself on some Japanese dramas/movies and gossip - then this is the place to be!!! I personally prefer the squealing over yuri amongst other things!! HEHEHE (^_^)V

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