Largo taking out a tank in Valkyria Chronicles.

Largo taking out a tank in Valkyria Chronicles.

Although I don’t blog here a lot, I continue to enjoy Anime, and check in on the many great aniblogging sites that are out there. One of the sites I check often is LuRa’s Anime Blog. Lucretia and Raven (with the occasional help of some friends) blog about several shows, but they also have an ongoing Song of the Week series.  I love many things about anime, including the music, so I love checking out the song of the week, either to hear an old fave again, or to learn about something new.

I listen to a lot of anime and J-Pop as well, so I occasionally link to music videos in my Twitter stream, but the tenacity with which Lu and Ra keep posting on their blog, despite being busy with exams (and all things life) inspired me to put up a song here for y’all.

I selected the second ED to Valkyria Chronicles. This was a show based upon a game that I really enjoyed. It had some substance to the themes, lots of characters to whom I grew attached, and most of all some killer game-play. The series moved off the PS3, unfortunately, so I only ever got to play the first installment. The anime adaption was interesting, and the second ED provided that emotional space to digest some of the more intense things that occur.

The song is sung by Hikari Inoue, and is named “Hitotsu no Negai” (My only wish).

These very sad eyes reflect the sky,
without understanding those words,
I simply counted the stars.

I hope you enjoy it!

Ayesha eagerly whips out a flask of flammable liquid she made back in the workshop.

Ayesha eagerly whips out a flask of flammable liquid she made back in the workshop.

Atelier Ayesha: Alchemist of the Ground of Dusk is a JRPG that was released in the USA in March 2013 for the PS3. The main character is an alchemist who is searching for a way to rescue her younger sister. Along the way, the player will meet new friends, collect flowers, and make their own bombs. The storyline is a bit over-cute at times, but the game play is quite good, if you enjoy crafting and turn-based combat. The graphics are very good as well.

The rest of this post is a sampling of the fine music you will hear while playing the game.

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Aoi Yuuki: moe of the grotesque.

Aoi Yuuki: moe of the grotesque.

Aoi Yuuki has released, Meriba, her 2nd album. Many know her as a tremendously talented seiyuu, whose vocal range gives her the ability to play all kinds of characters. Personally I think her best role was Toshiko Tatsuno in Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru, because the role of the very unstable Tatsuno (aka Tattsuntsun) gave her the opportunity to use so much of her range.


Aoi Yuuki with pink machine gun.

When Aoi Yuuki used that surprising range on earlier work (notably on the track “Night Parade” from her first album, and “Incertitude”, a Gosick character song), the effect was something like Kate Bush, a wildly dramatic, and very expressive performance. For her second album, Yuuki has reigned the dramatics in, and the material is more predictable. I rather like “Popon .. pon!”, and “Sanctuary Alice”, but the album doesn’t have the impact of her first album. If provided the right material, she could do some very interesting work.

I’ve only found a link for a partial video for “Popon .. pon”, but here it is.

Hanae ( ハナエ )

The OP/ED single for Kamisama Hajimemashita (AKA Kamisama Kiss) was released TODAY! For those of you so unfortunate as to not have heard the opening and/or the ending song (both performed by Hanae), here are some promotional videos.

The OP, “Kamisama Hajimemashita”, grabbed me immediately. It has an interesting blend of traditional sound (koto) and modern groove (light-funk guitar)

The ED, “Kamisama Onegai”, is a cover of a pop tune by the Tempters. The new version seems to be referencing Surf-rock at times, whereas the original (1968) had a vaguely Psychedelic feel to it, instead.

Kaoru Nishimi, a loner, finds himself caught in the midst of an unusual social scene.

Sakamichi no Apollon (Apollo of the Slope, AKA Kids on the Hill) did a good job of weaving in musical performances at critical junctures. This was a show about people finding out about themselves and each other by coming together to play music (particularly Jazz music). Although musical performances were not included in every episode, they were used very effectively to punctuate the dramatic twists in the tale. Even the absence of musical performances felt significant when it happened — typically this was caused by a wrong turn that the characters took that kept them from coming together. Although the various characters had good chemistry, it was in the musical performances that this show hit its emotional highs, so events that prevented a live session were given greater dramatic impact. This was an interesting way of giving the audience a good sense of what the characters were feeling — even if it was frustration, with brief moments of jazz-feuled exhilaration.

The events takes place in the 1960s, and that was worked into the story in unexpected ways. Society is changing, and even if that isn’t the main focus of the story, it is still having an impact on the various characters, or the people around them.

Sakamichi no Apollon did a good job at demonstrating that happiness doesn’t come easily, even when you seem to have everything you could have asked for. Characters make mistakes, but they aren’t the stupid, “we need this to happen for the plot to work” kind of mistakes. They are just human mistakes. People don’t fit together with ease; they step on each other’s toes and need to find ways to work things out, or the fail to, and things fall apart.

I enjoyed watching this series. The music was great. The artwork was appealing. You can read more about the setup in my first impression post, but I don’t want to say more about what happens, as it is a short series, and I encourage you to experience it for yourself.

“Linda” stumbles onto just one of the many mysteries awaiting the girls on Akabaster.

AKB0048 episode 5 didn’t have any of the battle action (or even song and dance routines) we have come to expect from this series, but what it did deliver are several bizarre mysteries that continue the world-building, as well as deepening the story.  First I comment on the incredible scenery of Akabaster, the AKB0048 home planet, then I look at the following mysteries: 1) Tomochin, 2) the Center, and 3) Quadruple-S.

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New eye catch from the second season of Phi Brain.

For those who have not been following Phi Brain, you might not realize that it had a very interesting soundtrack, with a variety of styles, but notably some tracks that had a Middle-Eastern (or perhaps North African) influence. The second season of Phi Brain is continuing, but this post is about the OST for the first season. I don’t have a lot to say about it, but I did want to point out a few tracks, so that those who aren’t familiar with the series can get a feel for why the OST (composed by Akio Izutsu) is worth checking out.

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Nothing beats a live Jazz performance. From left to right: Ri'ko's dad (bass), Sentarou (drums), "Brother" Jun (trumpet).

Episode 2 of Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope) is finally here, bringing us more of that crazy action, but, as Kaoru learns, you don’t always get the kind of action you were expecting. This episode opened up several avenues that will be interesting to see explored.

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"His drums just wouldn't stop thundering in my head."

The Spring 2012 season finally feels real now that we’ve got the premiere of the Noitamina shows. Of course the show to which I have most been looking forward is Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope). With Shinichiro Watanabe directing, Yoko Kanno providing the soundtrack, and MAPPA doing the animation, we have the A Team on production. The setting is unusual, in that it is set in the recent past (1966). It shouldn’t be a surprise that the first episode already delivers.

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The Devil Baby Rides Again.

Chibi Devi (Devil Baby) is a very short anime (15 episodes x 5 minute each = 75 minutes, or about the length of four episodes of a typical anime). Unlike most of these very short anime, Chibi Devi is not built around a series of gags; it has a continuous story about a young girl who is very alone as the series begins. The aesthetic is VERY shoujo, so expect babies wearing funny outfits and *sparkles*. It also has a maddeningly infectious OP (linked below). I definitely wouldn’t say that it was a great series, but I can’t help but feel that the producers made effective use of their time. I have seen series drag the same amount of content out for 12 full-length episodes.

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