Back- with a lazy list! Top 5 anime intro songs.

Boy, vacations are immediately negated when you return to work and have to make up for everything that happened while you were gone. And then having to work Memorial Day Saturday adds insult to injury!

In any case, this is something that stemmed from a discussion between my husband and I while we were away. What would you name as your top 5 opening songs for anime? For me, this is a super easy list with very little contest, but I’m interested in hearing what all you fine people have to say on the topic.

5. Driver’s High- L’arc~en~Ciel (Great Teacher Onizuka, intro 1)

I do have a touch of bias because I just love L’arc (you’ll see them again on this list), and perhaps this song shines a little brighter because the second intro (Hitori No Yoru by Porno Graffitti) just did not fit the show (I do love Porno Graffitti as a whold but this wasn’t the right mood for GTO).  Driver’s

Onizuka's attitude is clear

Onizuka's attitude is clear

High was so appropriate for this show because Onizuka was wild and careless and aptly compared to driving in a lot of ways. The whole song just sounded like it had the right energy for the show and the lyrics were so fitting

My adrenaline’s always flowin’
so it feels like it’s me that’s gonna overheat
Even if I explode and turn into ashes
I’ll probably still be laughing, just like this

Pure Onizuka right there.

4. D-technolife by UVERworld (Bleach- intro 2)

This is not the kind of song that I would normally pick as a favorite- it’s very fast and a little too pop for my taste. What makes this song is where it featured in the show- it was right at the first half of the Soul Society arc where everything was shaken up and you were meeting several dozen new, powerful characters. D-technolife fit the emotions of Ichigo heading into an unknown battle against seemingly dozens of enemies both in tone and lyrics. The part that sticks out most in my mind is where we see Hitsugaya jumping across the water and hear:
Injured with pain and sadness, the you that cannot be healed
Don’t say words like you can’t smile or you hate people
Everything that happens in the unseen future has a meaning
So stay like this, there’ll come a time when you will realize

There is just such foreshadowing… I love it. Even though there are other songs from Bleach that I like better as music (like Rolling Star, Alones, or Asterisk), this song really sticks out as my favorite intro to date.

3. Ready, Steady, Go by L’arc~en~Ciel (Fullmetal Alchemist, intro 1)

I told you we’d be seeing L’arc again! Funny enough, we’ll be seeing FMA again too.

Ready, Steady, Go was a great intro because it got you geared up for the show- this is especially true since FMA was such an action-filled series (of course I’m talking about FMA round 1, not Brotherhood which I am equally enthralled with). It was one of those songs that went so well with the animation that I can still see it in my head whenever the song comes up. It represents Ed & Al’s fighting spirit and how well they worked together as a team to accomplish unthinkable things; no matter what happened, they were ready to go.

2. What’s Up People? by Maximum the Hormone (Death Note, intro 2)

Am I perhaps biased because this is really and truly my kind of music? It’s possible. But more than anything, what makes this my almost-favorite is the fact that it told me exactly what was coming. This song comes up after Light has been working with L to catch Kira for quite some time. Even when Light wasn’t Kira himself, the tension between him and L and the depth of their relationship was incredibly interesting. However, Higuchi was a lousy Kira, and at this point you’re starting to wonder what’s going to happen when he is

Chaotic, laughing Ryuk

Chaotic, laughing Ryuk

inevitably caught.

When the first episode with What’s Up People? came on and I saw the collage of Light’s evil, laughing faces, I knew in that very instant that Light was coming back as Kira and that L was in deep sh*t. The chaotic metal sound of the song showed several episodes in advance that all of the order and progress that was being made in the investigation was going to fall apart and that the entire scenario had gone exactly as Light intended.

Not to mention, this is just a great song to rock out to.

1. Rewrite by Asian Kung-Fu Generation (Fullmetal Alchemist, intro 4)

Asian Kung-Fu Generation is another amazing band (After Dark from Bleach is fairly high on my internal list, but not top 5 material). Out of all of the FMA intros, Rewrite is by far the song that best captures the essence of the show. The entire song is about cutting away the past and rewriting it- making your life what you want out of the chaos that it was. This is so, so suitable for the end of the show. Ed and Al have gone through so much together, their relationship has fallen apart and come back together again. They’re at a point of frustration and desperation, coming to find that life isn’t what it seemed and that they may never accomplish their ultimate goals. They want nothing more than to change their pasts and rewrite them; erase their undeniable sins and recreate life in their own way. By far, this is the introduction that has the most impact of any anime I’ve seen.

So I’m sure lots of people disagree with me; I’d love to hear all of your favorite songs! There are so many good ones to choose from.

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Death Note Movie (oh please don’t get lost in translation!)

First and foremost, I must apologize profusely for my absence this week. I will leave it as such- pinched nerves are just about the most horrible experience I have ever had in my life. Needless to say, typing has not been a priority.

In any case, this big news is way on my radar. WB wants to do a Death Note American live action release- this  could be a real boon (or bane) to the US anime fanbase. I consider this slightly different from my previous worries (see: Cowboy bebop, Full Metal Panic) in that 1) the story has easy & obvious US appeal and is largely do-able without being super cheesy and 2) the Japanese live action films are as cheesy as it comes so it’s not disgracing something new that I love. Death Note is such a great story; I would really love to see more kids into it (any excuse to talk about it at work!).

That’s all for now- my fingers are not yet fully functional and this is a total drag. On another note, I will be away starting next Wednesday so no posts for next week!

-OL

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Thoughts from NJLA

I was lucky enough to hear Teri Lesense speak yesterday on literature for tweens (I hate that word and so does she, but there’s no better term for the 4th-8th grade age group). She covered all types of literature (lots of graphic novels and books in verse came up, as is the nature of tween lit) and it was truly very useful.

Someone in the audience did bring up the common misconception that manga can only be used for older teens (oh, the temptation to run off my manga for the younger set list!) and Teri did mention that there was plenty of manga meant for the pre-teen market. I hate hearing these kinds of blanket statements at librarian conferences; these are the people who are supposed to be up on the kinds of literature and know the range of titles that are

Terri Lesenses book- highly recommended.

Terri Lesense's book- highly recommended.

available for the age group they’re serving (of course this assumes that people at a tween lit session serve tweens; perhaps they just found library security and marketing boring).

Nonetheless, my takeaway from the session was great. Teri uses the acronym TARGET (trust, access, response, guidance, entuhisasm, tween appeal) for tween services and I think manga fits into this wonderfully. Yes, manga has a wide range of content, some of which is different from what we consider “appropriate” for our tweens- but we have to be able to trust them to digest the content and take it in context. Manga is accessable because of it’s graphic nature; it reaches some kids who were already written off as “non readers” that simply need more in the way fo visual stimulation (not to mention that the J and young teen level mange uses very basic language). As far as causing a response emotionally to the story- if you’ve ever been to a con you know that this happens. You’ll never see readers so attached to a character as otaku (I can’t list how many characters I have cried for, even as an adult).  Guidance is more on the librarian end, of course, but the manga ratings are a good place to start and I can assure that there is a manga for every age level reader from Doraemon to Paradise Kiss. This is a big part of why I started this blog- to provide guidance to those who are not up on their manga. Anyone who has ever served an otaku teen in the middle of a manga series can tell you about enthusiasm levels- no, they can’t skip a volume, no, they don’t want another series. They want the rest of this one. And when they’re done with that, they want another one just like it. Finally, tween appeal- this generally isn’t a problem with manga unless we’re getting into Manga Shakespeare (which I love but I know the sentiment is not shared with my 10-14 year olds). Manga is usually action based  with the exception of shoujo which gets the young romance set. It’s not normally about boring topics, and it always has interesting and eye catching illustrations.

I know none of this is a new revelation, but it’s nice to know that manga fits so well into the scheme of things. I think I need to put a little more emphasis on manga and GN based tween programming in my own branch.

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Manga company hopping on the legal translation bandwagon

http://www.akihabaranews.com/en/news-18019-Get+Translated+Manga+Officially+and+Online,+Yep,+It+Will+Soon+be+Possible!.html

Okay, this would be much bigger news if this was a company like TokyoPop. But still, just like FUNimation I consider this a step in the right direction. Shogakukan (think Doraemon, Ranma, Yakitate!!! Japan) will be publishing offical manga translations online. Again, I’m definitley happy to hear this. For one, as a librarian this is a big help- it’s a step towards getting my collection person to actually budget for a new release title if she can read some of the volumes online beforehand. But the biggest thing for me is once again the ability to access those titles that will never see the US shores.

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FUNimation’s new take on fansubbing

http://www.examiner.com/x-3885-Anime-Examiner~y2009m4d20-Anime-in-a-recession

Fansubbing is a big part of the anime community and one that, like all other forms of online media sharing, has been a persistant headache (and source of cease and desist letters) for the media industry. Although many fansubbers are altruistic and stop releasing fansubs and seeding torrents once a title is licensed in NA, this of course does not limit the distribution of the title even once the dub is on the air (to be fair- my impression of dubs is less than glowing and I see the appeal in wanting to watch with the original audio without waiting for a DVD release).  Although there isn’t a huge excuse for widely distributed titles such as Bleach and Naruto, fansubs have traditionally been a haven for lesser known titles that never see their way to American soil (see my review on Ghost Hound which, if not imported, will not see the light of day in the states).

Well, FUNimation is taking a different approach to the entire situation. With the new version of Fullmetal Alchemist (AKA can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait!), they will be releasing free professional subs on their website less than a week after the initial episode airs in Japan. This is positively brilliant. The home company will be providing quality subs at almost the same speed as any fansubber and will be drawing in traffic to their website on a high attention release. Unless they absolutely butcher the subs, there is no real reason for any fansub group to pick up the title, and even if they do it will be easier to find the actual release than the fansub. The only drawback is the lack of downloads (to which I chuckle quietly since within two weeks people will have that figured out) but nonetheless, bravo FUNimation. I love to see a company work with the fan base instead of against it.

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New York Anime Festival mascot contest!!

http://www.mediumatlarge.net/2009/04/nyaf-mascot-contest.html

The New York Anime Festival will be in September again this year (25th-27th and professional registration is open, my fellow librarians!) and as far as NY/NJ local cons go, this is the one to be at. It’s not huge but this is only the third year so it’s growing. Bottom line though- it’s a great show and a ton of fun.

This year, the NYAF is again running a contest in conjunction with

Super kawaii 2008 NYAF mascot

Super kawaii 2008 NYAF mascot

theotaku.com to design the mascot for the festival. Prizes include tickets to the festival and free manga (naturally). The mascot should embrace both anime/manga and the NYC feeling (last year’s mascot was a great example!). Contestants have 2 weeks (until the 29th) to submit their entries; 10 finalists will be selected and put on display at Sakura Matsuri for voting. You can’t lose:

“(T)he winner will be profiled in the New York Anime Festival’s program guide beside their mascot, receive a copy of all of the New York Anime Festival’s 2009 merchandise, and take home 10 weekend passes. Further, sponsor Del Rey Manga will be providing the winner an instant collection — 50 volumes of manga. The contest’s nine finalists will each receive one weekend pass to the New York Anime Festival and series starter packs from Del Rey containing the first volumes of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Orange Planet, and Yokai Doctor.”

The rules and entry form will be posted on theotaku.com starting tomorrow- so get the word out to your young otaku artists!!

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Is our children learning???

I had the opportunity to hear Eli Neiburger (author of Gamers… in the Library?) speak at a local library cooperative event yesterday, and he really struck a chord with me. Eli, of course, talks about video games in the library and how they can be used most effectively (which, if you read my archives, you will find is a secondary passion of mine right after anime/manga). The man is full of useful information and really knows how to effectively operate a consistently successful gaming program- I’m hoping that our headquarters branch was listening carefully!

In any case, there were so many similarities between arguements against games and those against manga and anime. Specifically, Eli mentioned the ever nagging library curmudgeon asking, “And what are they learning from that?” Eli’s too, too perfect answer was, “That you give a shit about them.” This is something I have wanted to say far too many times in the last 18 months! I have some wonderful coworkers who work diligently at their jobs who just feel the need to interject when I’m planning an anime marathon and ask what the value is, or feel the need to point out that they don’t “support gaming for the sake of gaming” when I’m running an open gaming day. I typically default to the old non-confrontational standby of, “Well, things are different when you work with teenagers” but I don’t know that I’m doing a good thing by saying that; perhaps I need to be more abrasive about proving the value of anime, manga, and video games- the value of getting the kids in the door.

I think these things bother me more since I am an anime/manga/video game geek; I know for a fact that my friends and I were among the smartest in our grade and that our “lazy” hobbies did not affect our intelligence (Eli makes wonderful arguments about learning capicity and games- for instance the fact that so many 8 year olds can remember all the attributes of over 500 pokemon). But maybe even more so, it bothers me that they don’t see the value in success; yes, it’s awesome that you can fill 3 storytimes a week with 30 kids and be 100% educational. However, you are only getting those kids in because of their parents. And given the fact that a good 3/4 of them stop coming after the age of 7, you’re obviously not doing too much to hook the kids themselves. As a YA librarian, I catch them at the age of 11. They’ve already had a couple of years to think of the library as a boring place with stinky books (Eli aptly points out that we’ve earned that reputation and I wholeheartedly agree). A certain number of them come in to use the computer and spend the day on Myspace when mommy and daddy won’t let them stay on, but they’re at an age where recreational reading does not have broad appeal. However, almost all of them play video games at least sometimes- this means you have an opportunity to pull in any teen that walks into the door. And once you get them to realize that fun things go on at the library, they’ll come back to see what else is happening.

I think with anime and manga, this is two-fold. Nowhere near as many kids are into the otaku scene, but the ones who are also fit the archetype for the teen most likely to come to the library giving you a broad pool to draw from with minimal effort. And when they do come in, they take out stacks of books- manga and otherwise (any public librarian will tell you that their career is judged by two numbers- event attendance and circ stats). There is no question that there is little to no educational value in my monthly anime club. We cosplay, we play Japanese video games, and we do suikawari. I’d say we were exploring Japanese culture if they didn’t teach me more than I teach them. But I fill anime club every single month and I see those kids all month long because they know that I give a shit about them.

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