(First impressions) A Silent Voice [Koe no Katachi]


A Silent Voice is my film the year.

This is not a claim I make lightly. I saw your name. just two days prior to this masterpiece, and I’ll be seeing Godzilla Resurgence this coming week. I’m sure that I’ll also be catching some of next year’s Oscar favourites come Christmas. But even as my mind returns, time and time again, to the story that Yamada Naoko and her team at Kyoto Animation have brought to the screen, my conviction only grows. I simply cannot conceive of anything else giving me anything close to that experience at the theatre.

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(First impressions) your name. [Kimi no Na wa.]


Unlike Kizumonogatari, Shinkai Makoto’s your name. was one of the two films I’d planned to see on my trip late last month. Seeing the trailer all three times I’d been to the cinema in July was one significant factor…but I was also a bit ambivalent about the idea, for Shinkai has been a bit of a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed thinking about his favourite themes regarding human connection in his earlier works—Voices of a Different Star and The Placed Promised in Our Early Days. However, whilst everyone else seems to rave about it, 5 Centimetres Per Second left me a bit cold. Because of that, I’ve yet to see Children Who Chase Lost Voices or The Garden of Words, even now.

In the end however, I gave in to the hype and went off to the theatre. It was still packed even though the film had been doing the rounds for three weeks by then…and I have to admit that I found myself a little bemused seeing a few moist eyes as everyone walked out two hours later. However, whilst my underlying ambivalence about the director has kept me from raving about the film—unlike everyone else who’s seen it, so it appears—with your name., Shinkai has achieved something that none of his other films did: characters that I would actually like to meet again. Read more of this post

(First impressions) Kizumonogatari: Nekketsu


I should probably admit: this film wasn’t initially on my “to see” list when I arrived in Japan late last month. I’ve actually fallen off the Monogatari bandwagon a little—even now, I’ve yet to watch Koyomimonogatari. I also figured that since it had arrived in Japanese theatres on August 19, and because it’s more niche than your name, it would have left Tokyo’s cinemas by the time I got there. As it turns out, I managed to catch it during the last week of screenings in Shinjuku, after hurriedly checking out Kizumonogatari: Tekketsu as well. Since then, as some of you will have noticed, I’ve been working on some of the interviews from the movie pamphlets that you can pick up in Japan.

But enough of the irrelevant background, and on to first impressions. Is Nekketsu worth seeing at the cinema? I’d say…that’s a definite ‘YES’. Read more of this post

Traipsing through Japan: Films, Butler Cafés and Merch!

It’s kind of frustrating to find out—after a day of experimentation, the bulk of which involved cleaning out my Twitter favourites—that the look I wanted for this post involved simply copying and pasting a bunch of links here. I suppose I can take one positive from that, which was a realisation of just how many more production-related interviews we’re seeing translated this year. I’ll get back to adding to them soon, but first, let me look back on my recent forays into Japan.

I’ve already covered the absolute best experience of my journeys this year, but there were several other highlights that I’d like to share. On the first trip, I went back to see the 1:1 VF-25 at the Skytree Town Campus of the Chiba Institute of Technology. Read more of this post

Yuri!!! on ICE: behind Victor’s quad fest


When I finally caught the first episode of the long-awaited Yuri!!! on ICE last Thursday, what surprised me most was the content of Victor’s free skate. The commentator in the show helpfully named all of the major jumps, that is, his four quads: a quad lutz, his signature quad flip, a quad salchow and a quad toe in combination. As figure skating fans would know, that jump content alone is insane: although Nathan Chen successfully pulled off two quad salchows and two quad toes at the US Nationals in January this year, no one has ever successfully landed four different quadruple jumps in a single program in competition. In fact, we have yet to see anyone land four different quads separately at qualifying competitions!1


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Reflections on Summer, and Pick that Voice!! Part 2

Do you know what’s the worst thing about being in Japan as an anime fan? No access to Crunchyroll. As a couple of friends there keep pointing out, overseas fans—particularly those in the States—have no idea how good they have it. A lot of anime in Japan is shown at ungodly hours, and whether and when you get any particular show depends on where you live. Viewers outside of Tokyo often have to wait several more days before they can join in the discussion. Worse, if you miss the show and forget to record it, it’s arguably not as easy to find a streaming service to let you catch up. And of course, if you need subtitles, good luck to you! Japan may be king for character goods and special events, if you’re lucky enough to get tickets, but there are some serious downsides, too. And that’s why I didn’t finish most of these shows until I got home earlier this week. So let me take a look at my summer watchlist, which—putting aside the idols—was dominated by the mafia, teenagers discovering what they are living for, and a father and a daughter bonding over food. Getting them all out of the way just as we dive into what looks to be a brilliant fall season!

91days_01 91days_02
91 Days

First up, let me look at 91 Days…which really should not be in this post. Read more of this post

The world behind Yuri!!! on ICE: some real life figure skaters

Just a couple of months ago, my most anticipated series of this fall season was Sound! Euphonium 2. However, even as a few incidents on twitter and various forums reminded me that it’s not likely to be something I’ll enjoy watching alongside other fans, another series has slowly crept up my list.


Yuri!!! on ICE! is Yamamoto Sayo’s third series as director, and a number of sakuga fans I follow on twitter have already marvelled over the wonderful animation in the PVs. Having loved the Endless Night short that Yamamoto released in August last year, I join them in anticipation for this upcoming festival of traditional hand-drawn animation. So far, Yuri!!! looks even more glorious than both that short and the skating sequence in Death Parade last year. However, there is a far more important reason that I’m really looking forward to Yuri!!! On ICE!: at present, after storytelling in anime, my second passion as a fan is figure skating.

The appeal of figure skating

It’s probably a little strange that someone like me likes watching figure skating. Read more of this post

Kawamori Shoji talks ‘story’ in Macross Frontier

This is Kawamori’s interview from 2059: Memories, which was published in October 2008. (Which means that I should really have tackled this interview before I did the fan book ones…oh well…) The interview was accompanied by a short commentary on each Frontier episode. I’d originally planned to dig up a friend’s old translations…and then I found out he only did five of them, after which I realised that there’s a heck of a lot more text than I originally thought.1 All of which is to say…I wasn’t able to finish them this week, so they’ll be in a follow-up post. Until then, here’s the last of the interviews that I’ll be doing for the Frontier TV series.

Born in 1960, and hailing from Toyama Prefecture. A visionary creator active in a wide variety of roles, ranging from developing original works, scriptwriting and directing to mecha design. He’s produced work not only for the screen, but also toys, games and various publications. Most representative of his anime oeuvre are the many entries in the Macross series. As a director, he’s also worked on shows like Genesis of Aquarion (2005) and Earth Girl Arjuna (2001).

Is there anything that happened during production for Macross Frontier that has left a deep impression on you?

There are many things like that, but first and foremost, we actually wanted to have it on air one year earlier. Read more of this post

Sound! Euphonium at the theatre: a performance to behold

July 1st, the final screening of the Sound! Euphonium film at Sunmall Cinema

I can’t believe it’s already been 10 weeks since I saw Sound! Euphonium at the cinema. In fact, it’s been so long that the BD has now been released, and I’m wondering if you will actually believe that I did, in fact, write this review based on a trip to the cinema back in July.1 That’s a slightly depressing thought, considering that I had to take a 5-hour round journey out from Tokyo to find a screening in a small-town mall. I’ve taken day trips out of Tokyo before…but that’s the first time I’ve ever taken a day trip to see a film—at about $40, the train fare cost more than everything I bought at my destination! But…was it worth it? Absolutely.


They’re pretty slight, as I’m mostly referring to changes between the two versions of the narrative. But I still strongly recommend that you see the film for yourself first! —karice

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Kikuchi Yasuhito: Remembering Love via Macross Frontier

“Basically, we just go at it right from that first chord.
If there’s a problem somewhere, we’ll think about it later.”

The vivacious and rhythmic scenes unfolding on the screen, which words cannot describe. Be it the battles or the concerts, the life in the imagery is unmistakable! We speak with series director KIKUCHI Yasuhito, who has brought us this extravagance, about the ideas behind the direction of Macross Frontier.

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