Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Emma is sitting on a turbulent plane. She’s always been a v. nervous flyer. She really thinks that this could be her last moment. So, naturally enough, she starts telling the man sitting next to her – quite a dishy American, but she’s too frightened to notice -all her innermost secrets. How she scans the backs of intellectual books and pretends she’s read them. How she does her hair up like Princess Leia in her bedroom. How she’s not sure if she has a G-spot, and whether her boyfriend could find it anyway. How she feels like a fraud at work – everyone uses the word ‘operational’ all the time but she hasn’t a clue what it means. How the coffee at work is horrible. How she once threw a troublesome client file in the bin. If ever there was a bare soul, it’s hers.
She survives the flight, of course, and the next morning the famous founding boss of the whole mega corporation she works for is coming for a look at the UK branch. As he walks around, Emma looks up and realises…
It’s the man from the plane.
What will he do with her secrets? He knows them all – but she doesn’t know a single one of his. Or… does she?
Can you keep a secret? is one of the few interesting books I've read recently. The heroine is clumsy but pure hearted and tries to find something for herself. She is crushed by her family and uber-successful cousin but keeps going. Emma is a heroine almost every woman can relate to. She's lies about her weight, is clumsy, doesn't understand technical terms and wants true love. The fact that she has so many secrets also makes it easy for anyone to relate to her because everyone has secrets.
The hero was a little one dimensional compared to the heroine. He was too secretive and didn't have any prominent personality trait. But, this is a chick lit and not a romance (though romance plays a huge part). The chemistry was fine because the hero was alpha
The supporting characters were quite interesting. Jemima, Emma's roommate with a ruthless apetite for vengeance stood out quite a bit. She was charged and funny. Her other roommate was relatable.
The plot was good for a chick lit. Although many events were predictable. Emma has so many secrets that she comes across as a liar at some point.
Sophie Kinsella's writing style is the strongest point of the story. She makes the story humourous and easy to relate to. Her character's internal monologues are distinct and funny.
Overall, Can you keep a secret? is a very good read. I definitely recommend Sophie Kinsella to everyone. I like her stand-alones more than her Shopaholic series. Can you keep a secret? is a funny novel that is as good as entertainment gets.
Stong main character
Strong supporting characters
Sophie Kinsella's writing style
A litte weak towards the end
So far, this is the only Julia Quinn book I've finished reading beyond the epilogue- that must say something about it. Penolope was an interesting character from the beginning. She makes her first appearance in the first book as a debutante in a ball. She's dressed by her mother in unflattering colors that make her look like 'an over ripe citrus fruit' in her own words. While her mother believes in her sisters' beauty and ability, Penolope seems to be destined to be a spinster. She fails to attract even a single marriage offer season after season and grows old as a spinster with her dear friend Eloise Bridgerton. Since she is Eloise's friend, the Bridgertons treat her as a part of the family and the Bridgerton mother forces her sons to dance with her year after year during balls so that she does not feel left out. However, Penolope knows that she's not any more interesting than the furnishings in the room.
She has always been in love with the third Bridgerton son, Colin (They're named alphabetically) because he is always kind to her. But she knows that this unrequitted love is not going to ever bloom because she hears him telling his brothers he doesn't want to marry her. Also, he's travelling all over the continent throughout the year and is rarely home. The book starts with news of him returning and thus, their love story begins.
The story takes place eleven years after The Duke and I. A certain Lady Whistledown, a daily gossip columnist seems to have gained a lot of notoriety during that time for her candid observations of London Society and first hand gossip. Much of the book revolves around finding the identity of Lady Whistledown because of a prize money to the person who discovers her identity. This sometimes seems to detract the focus from the main romantic plot. Mrs. Whistledown's observations appear in the first four books.
The hero, Colin Bridgerton is a 'charmer' who seems to be popular with the ladies. However, he is looking for meaning in his life so that he does not end up being 'an airheaded charmer'. Colin is well travelled and seems to be easygoing compared to the other two. His characters shows a few inconsistencies when his temper flares without reason but Julia Quinn somehow manages to still make him 'charming'.
The characters had chemistry especially in personality. Penolope was an interesting heroine who appears pitiable and lonely on the surface but has her own secrets- she's like a diamond that needs to be cut to shine. During the course of the book, Colin looks beyond the image that was created by society and discovers the true Penolope. Colin was good as a hero but paled compared to the first two(Simon and Anthony) and the heroine. His jerky transitions to an alpha male add a certain amount of inconsistency to his character.
Julia Quinn's dialogue has its own pros and cons. On the sunnier side, it is witty and humourous but on the dark side, does not keep in theme with the Regency era and sounds too short and 'modern'. The portrayl of manners suffer from the same problem- it is not purely historical-there are some things which were not considered acceptable at that time. Julia Quinn's strength lies in her characterisation and main plot. Unlike some authors who drastically alter the personality of all males in the series to make them alpha males in their own books, Julia Quinn keeps most of her character's individuality. Also, her heroines are not always beautiful or smart or feminist. They're all different. Wit however seems to be a part of all the heroines- maybe a side effect of her writing style.
Drags in the end
1) Venus in the dark- Venus in the dark begins with siren-like electric guitars and then transitions into a bouncy jazz rhythm with backvocals and brass instruments. As an opening, this track was quite good. It opens the album energetically. Mika's vocals are tight and sophisticated just like always. The chorus is accompanied by brass instruments and backvocals much like the intro. The song is a little too long.
2) Love addict- Love addict is a single track which sounds a lot like a James Bond theme. It has a heavy presence of strings throughout. The atmosphere is old and mysterious- like James Bond jazz. The chorus is fast paced and the catchiest part of this song. The lyrics are sensual and brought out well in Mika's performance of this song. My only complaint is, this song, like many others on this album stretches beyond six minutes (more than seven) and becomes repititive. The lyrics are probably the best part because they go well with the music.
3) Aroma- My favourite album track. Aroma has the cozy feel of sitting in a cafe. It is purely jazzy with Mika's controlled falsettos and backing chimes. The verse drags on a bit but the ambience of this song was a good fit on this album. Aroma is the kind of jazz song you'd hear in high class restaurants. Mika's vocals are soft and airy here. Warning- this song runs beyond six minutes.
4) Yuki no hana- Mika's well known winter ballad. Yuki no hana seems to be a favourite cover song among artists. It is primarily piano led and not jazzy. It sounds fragile and cold. Mika's vocals transition from breathiness to power here. The chorus comes a little late but stands out. The arrangement was well done. Mika delivers emotions well.
5) Resistance- One of the most confused tracks. I've heard the original version and since then have come to appreciate this track. It has music box, guitars, beat- everything. I'd place it in rock if not for the arrangement. However, Resistance offers something new to the album and does well after Yuki no Hana.
6) Find the way- This song was an ending theme to one of the seasons of Gundam. Find the way, again, is not jazzy but purely orchestral. It lacks beat- something that's common in Mika Nakashima songs. Piano and strings are the primary backing instruments. Mika's vocals are polished here. I quite liked Find the way- it shines in its quietness. This was the only track I liked in the first listen.
8) Seppun- Literally means 'kiss'. It's a cover song. The arrangement was well done here. Seppun has a reggae feel to it. Mika's vocals were again, classy here. It runs a little too long.
9) You send me love- A typical jazz track that can be compared to many American jazz songs. You send me love begins with backvocals and goes onto a typical jazzy verse and weak chorus. The saxophone does some good to the song. The deadly trio starts here
10) Be in the silence- The intro runs very long. It is very similar to the previous track minus the backvocals. Not really anything special.
11) Love no cry- Reminds me of Koda Kumi's Wind and Someday. Has an optimistic orchestral into accompanied by back vocals. The chorus is again, brassy and optimistic.
12) Aishiteru~album version~- Aishiteru is one my favourite songs by Mika Nakashima. I was eagerly anticipating the album version. It was fine but the saxophone arrangement destroyed the emotional appeal of the piano. Surprisingly, this track didn't stand out. It is a jazzy love song with Mika's emotional vocals. Most of the lyrics seems to be filled with 'aishiteru' but that's not necessarily bad. This song was a disappointment since I've heard the original version. The ending seems to be filled with backvocals.
13) Last Waltz- Last waltz is typically something you expect in a high class ball. It has a jazzy, danceable feel but is melancholic. Mika's voice is airy and controlled here. It feels like the sun is sinking when you hear this song. A good ending to the album.
I'm surprised that Mika Nakashima is so successful because she's a jazz artists and there isn't much audience for jazz in Japan. Many jazz singers don't sell well at all but it's not hard to see why Mika Nakashima is successful. The album has many different varieties of jazz. I haven't heard her other albums to compare but this was quite good. The album runs quite long though with many tracks exceeding the six minute mark. If you want to experiment with jazz, try this.
Mika Nakashima's voice doesn't strike as particularly spectacular but she conveys emotions in her own quiet way. She uses a lot of breathiness and falsetto. Her voice fits jazz well since it's low and smooth. Lately, her albums have become more pop and ballad influenced so, this is a rare gem.
Good single tracks
A few weak album tracks
Not a popular genre (jazz)
1) Merry go round- An energetic summer themed track that mixed rock and acoustic folk. The chorus stands out and the song has a positive feel. A great opening to this album.
2) Feel my soul- Yui's first major single. It begins with only guitars and progresses to a powerful chorus. It has the same tone as Tokyo. It feels like Yui moving from a small town. The chorus was the high point of this song. Yui manages to make the song pleasant and optimistic. The whole album seems to have a mellow, pleasant tone. From me to you is more relaxed than her other albums probably due to lack of heavy rock tracks.
3) Ready to love- Ready to love has the acoustic feel coupled with some electric guitars. This tracks sounds typically like something that would come from Yui. Despite its predictability, it is quite good. So far, I'm liking the album tracks.
4) Swing of Lie- More rock influenced than the previous track but keeps in theme with the album's 'mellow' mood. It has a rather sad feel. The chorus is powerful and blasts off suddenly.
5) Life- Life was a Bleach ending. I've liked this single for a long time. Yui's unique vocals do the song a lot of justice. It is again an acoustic track with rock elements.
6) Blue wind- Things step down quite a bit with Blue wind. It has a melancholic feel and not very clearly segregated chorus and verse. It is a little monotonous but Yui's vocals keep us going. The song is quieter and more jazzy than other tracks. It was a nice change of pace in this album.
7) I can't say- I can't say has a different kind of melody than many Yui songs. There are a few accidentals that are usually not so pronounced. It is mostly acoustic with a rather weak chorus.
9) Just my way- Yui's jamming. Just my way is edgier than other album tracks. Yui's voice seems a little forced at some places but the track is a good rock track in the album. The chorus is fast.
10) Tomorrow's way- A single track. Tomorrow's way is a Yui ballad with primarily acoustic guitar. Yui's voice shines here. The chorus is long and powerful. Tomorrow's way is one of the very good ballads in Yui's career.
11) I know- Now, the album tracks are starting to get repititive. But still nowhere near the monotony of the rest of her albums. I know has a bittersweet feel. The chorus is downright optimistic.
12) TOKYO- The most meaningful song in Yui's career. Tokyo is acoustic and mellow- this album's theme. The chorus seems to be on the same plane as rest of the song. Yui sings of her move from her small town to Tokyo to pursue her career. There's a translation of this lyrics in the 'best lyrics' post on this blog. The lyrics carry a deep meaning that anyone can relate to. Yui evaluates her choices and remembers the things he left behind.
13) Spiral and escape- After the mellow Tokyo, Spiral and escape is rather upbeat. This is s good song if you can stand the annoying engrish in the chorus. Not the best ending to the album.
Overall, I quite liked From me to you. This may be because I got used to her style over three albums. This album had better album tracks than all of her albums put together. Right now, this is my favourite album from her though it is not her bestselling. Yui has artfully portrayed her emotions and changing musical directions in this album. None of the tracks screamed 'filler' or 'boring' like her I loved yesterday and Holidays in the sun. The album has a melancholic, mellow vibe which appeals a lot to me. The folk influence was also a good addition to the album's style.
Good album tracks
Strong single tracks
Needs time to get used to
1) Forest of Dreams- A mellow instrumental which manages to be enigmatic.
2) Lights- Eri Nobuchika's debut single. It beings with melancholic piano chords in a black and white PV and transitions into a disco/nightclub beat in the chorus. I'm new to Eri Nobuchika's style of music but I found this song intriguing and powerful. The video, though bland, goes well with the song. The chorus is powerful and suddenly erupts into a heavy beat. The verse is emotional and mysterious. Though the verse and chorus were very different, they flowed into each other. Lights is quite a good song and offers something new. There's orchestral backing and a melancholic tone is prevelant throughout.
3) Sing a song- Sing a song follows in the style of Lights. It starts off with disco beat which drags for a long while before beginning. It follows the same formula as Lights. The verse is low and balladish but the chorus is heavily trance influenced. Sing a song was good but I felt it didn't have the emotional depth of Lights. Following after lights, it was a little disappointing.
4) Sketch for summer- Sketch for summer is a total ballad with a piano background. Eri Nobuchika displays her low, emotional voice here. I actually like her voice- she has emotion, power and tone. For a happy theme like summer, this song was a little wet like a rainy day in summer. What makes this song different after the previous ones is that it has no beat for the first half. It keep it bare with just the piano and Eri's voice. Beat and orchestra join the song in the second verse but it never manages to be a nightclub/trance/disco track. I don't know how to define her music.
5) Kutsu wo naraso- This song follows the style of the previous song- the songs seem to be placed in pairs. It is again, a ballad without beat. Eri Nobuchika's music cannot be defined by one genre and that's a good thing- she is a true artist. Her voice is easy on the ears. This song has the 'rainy day' feel of sketch of summer- I can almost smell the damp soil. I haven't read the lyrics but that's what the song reminds me of. Compared to Sketch for summer, it again fails to stand out. These two tracks could've been merged into one since they're so similar sounding.
6) Inner Glow- Inner Glow is an album track that has a lot of english lyrics (I think all of it). Eri Nobuchika's engrish is evident but the song still manages to shine. At more that six minutes long, it is the second longest track in the album. Inner Glow was my favourite album track despite the engrish. Inner glow begins without beat but picks up. It has a metaphysical vibe (that's the only way I can describe it). In more human terms, it reminds me of a forest at night, lit by fireflies. I like the fact that Eri's music creates imagery in my mind. This track keeps the album's flow more than standing out.
8) Voice- Voice is a single track that begins with guitar intros and trance beats. It is a pure nightclub track with the sad undertone. The chorus manages to be powerful. Voice is another long track. It flows fell from I hear the music in my soul. Eri displays her powerful voice here.
9) Koudou- Another single track. Koudou is very different from voice. It is a beatless piano ballad that again, runs long. Eri has a lot of space to display her emotional voice here. The chorus took off but wasn't anything spectacular. The beat joins in with a brass band in the chorus. Her album tracks are better than single tracks.
10) Desert of Dreams- Another distant, ephermeral sounding interlude. It picks up with a beat but the tone remains the same. This album has so many instrumental tracks.
11) Yume no kakera- Begins with an arabian themed violin solo and falls into the nightclub mold. It had some of the 'lonely desert' feel, probably that's why Desert of dreams was placed before it. I really can't tell the difference between any of her nightclub tracks or any of her ballads. They're similar sounding but less intense in the emotion. Yume no Kakera has powerful chorus with Eri holding notes for long. The bad part is, it is more than seven minutes- wow!
12) Hidamari- Hidamari puts the album to a peaceful end. There's lot of squeaking while changing guitar frets in the intro but Hidamari manages to shine in the end. It is again, a guitar ballad with no beat. This one doesn't even have a chorus. It is a pleasant ending.
In the end, I dont know what to say. The album could just be playing in the background all day and you'd never realize. But, it has a calming effect on the mind. It is hard to define the genre of this album, the closest I can get is a mix between new age and trance. The underlying melancholy is evident in every track but the intensity of emotion differs. When I first heard this album, I was confused. I didn't know where to place it. Over time, it has grown on me. The album appeals to the soul rather than the ears. It is a musical near death experience. To summarise- Nobuchikaeri has the spiriual appeal of new age, power of trance and pain of solutide.
Nobuchika Eri is a talented vocalist. Her low, gutsy voice transforms into powerful belts and falsettos but she never sounds commercial. It is easy to hear the album and say it'll never sell because it is so avant garde. It definitely has emotional appeal. It fixes a subconcious feeling of sadness that's too subtle to notice. Compared to mass manaufactured emotions prevelant in popular music, this album is a welcome change. If you're looking for true artistry or something new, try Nobuchikaeri.
Too 'avant garde' for some
Too many instrumental tracks (3 out of 12)
Girls Generation is a kpop group that has achieved immense fame in Korea and debuted in Japan in 2011. There are nine members and they are managed by SM Entertainment. I've been into a lot of Korean music these days especially SNSD's (another name for Girl's Generation). Here's a review of their first japanese album.
1) Mr. Taxi- SNSD knows how to be catchy. They use this formula without fail in every single track. Their choruses are strong, dance moves are fluid and singing ability is better than average. Mr. Taxi has a strong beat and follows the catchy formula that other SNSD songs follow. The chorus is the strong part but it has a different tone compared to the chorus. Mr. Taxi is a great opening to their million selling debut album.
2) Genie- Genie remains SNSD's most popular song in Korea. The synchronised leg movements are well done in the PV. The song has a synth background and falls easily in the dance pop genre. The chorus is again strong with a few spoken lines. SNSD synchronises vocals and dance well in this track (like all others).
3) You a holic- You a holic is a little more mature sounding than the previous two tracks. It also has a powerful beat. 'Fallin, fallin...' the chorus is catchy- SNSD's signature style. It follows well after the first two tracks which had promotions videos. Actually, this is an album track.
4) Run Devil Run- One of my favourite SNSD songs. It is a cover of Ke$ha's song. I felt SNSD did a better job here. The song is catchy and the chorus is liquid and mellow. This song showcases an edgier side of SNSD which is amplified in The Boys (unfortunately not on this album). The rap, though pale when compared to Ke$ha, flows with the song. The dance was well choreographed and Taeyeon and Seohyun had their power moments. There is quite a lot of attitude in the track that makes it catchy. The repition in the 'run, run....' also helps.
5) Bad Girl- Bad Girl is quite repititive. Lots of autotune can be heard in the track. It is nothing different from the other tracks. It keeps up with the high quality though the chorus was a lot weaker than the preceeding tracks. The verse stands out more than the chorus. The title is included in the lyrics just like all SNSD songs.
6) Beautiful stranger- Beautiful stranger has a stronger rock feel than Bad Girl. SNSD is high on edginess here. 'Are you a good one? are you a bad one?' explains their dilemma on seeing the stranger. The chorus, following from bad girl was weak. Still, the strong rock influence kept it going. SNSD has better vocals than most believe. Their singing actually makes this song catchy.
7) I'm in love with the hero- I really didn't understand the theme of this song but it takes a balladish feel much like Mai Kuraki's Best of hero. The chorus sounds like a marching band. There is a little disconnect between the chorus and verse but it's subtle. I couldn't understand the purpose of this track.
8) Let it rain- Again, big on synth and beat. There's some orchestral feel here. Let it rain is one of the more mature tracks from SNSD. The arrangement doesn't seem to match the song but it still manages to be fine. Frankly, this is the song I remember the least on the album.
9) Gee- This was one of their first successful sings. Despite that, it's not one of my favourites. The song in japanese words is 'kawaii'. 'Gee, gee gee gee..' seems to repeat in every third line. The chorus is not clearly defined. SNSD is trying hard to be Kawaii here. I don't remember any other cutesy song from them. Despite its faults, Gee still manages to be a decent track.
10) The Great Escape- Great Escape has a good chorus but doesn't particularly manage to be outstanding or catchy. We've heard nine derivatives of this song above and at this point, it's existance doesn't matter much.
11) Hoot- Hoot is another cover song that SNSD sung better than the original artists. It has an 80s vibe with jazzy vocals in the verse. The chorus, though disconnected, stands out a lot, especially 'trouble, trouble, trouble' and 'shoot, shoot, shoot'. This song would be a disaster if not for the chorus. I quite like the dance routine of HOOT. Compared to Great Escape, this was quite good and stood out.
12) Born to be a lady- Born to be a lady is a good closing track. It is a dance pop song just like all the others but is a lot slower and balladish. It is quite pleasant and closes the album well.
Overall, with repititve choruses, edgy rap lyrics, infectious dance moves and synchorisation, SNSD has derived a successful formula for commercial success in the music industry. Their songs are 'addictive' and scream 'commercial' (not necessarily a bad thing). Don't expect great artistry or uniqueness from SNSD, you'll only be disappointed. Expect what they do best- great dance moves and catchy, repititive dance songs. I should say, Girls Generation has great composers. In the cut throat competition between catchy tracks in the Korean industry, SNSD clearly emerges as a winner because of their composition.
Girls Generation strikes the perfect balance between powerful vocals, fluid dance moves and catchy melodies and that's led to commercial success worldwide. I am totally addicted to their songs these days and can't stop with only one listen. The PVs and lives are worth watching too.
Shoujo Jidai's (japanese name) first album definitely carved a name for them in Japan. It was certified million by RIAJ, a rare accomplishment in the slow economy. I definitely urge you to give them a try and move your feet to the music. Their recent single Paparazzi also entered the charts at #2 and sold well. Too many catchy songs on this album become an overdose but still, worth buying. The repackaged album seemed a lot better though with The Boys and Time Machine.
No filler tracks
Overdose of 'catchy' tracks
Lacks uniqueness/ artistry
Monday, August 6, 2012
Otomen is a drama adapted from the manga by Aya Kanno. It covers the story up to volume 9 or 10. I have read the manga too and it is currently ongoing.
Otomen centres around Asuka Masamune- a high school boy who looks manly on the outside and is also the captain of the school kendo (a type of martial art with wooden swords) team and kendo champion. However, his real personality is nothing like this. He likes to cook, sew, read shojo manga and loves sweet things (I don't think this is a feminine attribute though) and sparkly and cute stuff in general. When he instantly falls for the transfer student Miyakozuka Ryo, his secret is in danger of being exposed. Since the name of the story is Otomen and not otoman, strangely all of Asuka's friends are otomen. Juta Tachibana, his close friend and playboy is in fact a shojo manga writer who writes the love story of Asuka and Ryo. The manga is a superhit and both Ryo and Asuka are fans (they don't know it is about them). His kendo rival Tonomine is an otomen with interest in makeup. Another member of his kendo club is also an otomen with a feminine appearence.
I have to say, there is hardly any romance in this drama. Ryo does not feel romantically towards Asuka until very late in the drama. There is no kiss and the one hug that happens is in the last scene of the last episode. (Sigh) This drama is mainly about friendship and the problems affecting otomen in Japanese society and in a sense, Asuka, rather than Ryo is the main character.
I really loved the characters who have so much depth. Most characters also look like their manga counterparts (especially Tonomine- perfect casting). They stick together with each other and you find such unlikely friendships blossoming (like Tonomine-Tachibana). The episodes are quite interesting and it is difficult to get bored, just don't start watching expecting a drama with a lot of romance. The relationship between Ryo and Asuka for most part remains friendship.
The main thing was that while these guys have some slightly unusual interests, they did not seem girly to me in any sense. I mean how can cooking, makeup and liking sweet things classified as girly? So many cooks, makeup artists and pattissers (okay, I don't know the spelling) are men. No one accuses them of being girly.
There are funny parts and touching parts in this drama. This is a great watch is you want some light comedy or just something interesting. The episodes are short and there are not too many.
Short episodes and tight storyline
Kaho was a really bad choice for Ryo (there is no physical similarity and she was just too feminine to be a tomboy. I didn't think she acted too well, either)
Peach Girl is a 25 episode anime about the love life of Momo Adachi, a girl with tanned skin and bleached hair who is often misunderstood and thought of as 'easy'. The reason for her tan is because she was on the swim team and practiced long hours in the sun. Her best friend Sae Kashiwagi is just the opposite. She is pale skinned, beautiful and thin and popular among guys. Sae is also jealous of Momo and will do anything to sabotage her relationships. Momo is in love with Touji- a baseball player since middle school and wants to confess her feelings to him. Joining the love triangle is Okayasu Kairi, a playboy who was saved by Momo from drowning at a beach and has feelings for her.
The first few episodes focus on Momo and Touji's relationship. Kairi is just a friend at this point. Sae's scheme to destroy Momo and Touji's relationships are really annoying and Touji is a really naive. Touji's character is really quite stupid and naive in the beginning and at this point, I had a clear preference for Kairi, who is able to see through Sae's lies and helps Momo.
Around episode 11, things turn around and due to one of Sae's schemes, Touji breaks up with Momo. From here on, it is Momo and Kairi's relationship.
Then around episode 20, things turn around again. Ugh. Unless you are really patient, you should just skip some episodes.
First of all, characters- Momo is a nice girl and quite strong opposed to many weak shojo heroines. Touji really seems like a cardboard cutout with no personality in the beginning but is able to redeem himself to the point that I actually thought it would be okay for Momo to choose him in the end. He has a caring side but is usually straightfoward and taciturn. Sae described dating him as 'watching paint dry' or 'counting the hairs on one's head'. I really found that hilarious. Speaking of Sae, she is quite an interesting character, who like most characters in this anime, goes through changes and ultimately emerges more likeable. After the first 15 episodes or so, her own love story is funny and she really turns around.
Kairi started out as my favorite, mainly because he was always there to help Momo when she needed it. He is more talkative and flirty than Touji but he also has a caring side.
The relationship development for both the pairs (Momo-Kairi and Momo-Touji) was quite good. In the end, if I was Momo, I would never have been able to choose among both of them. Both of them are quite similar- good-looking, care for Momo, and generally kind-hearted.
Peach girl will put you through a lot as you go from joy to heartbreak to anger in seconds. A few plots were also somewhat repetitive (like Ryo, who is just like a male version of Sae. I mean we've already had enough of that) and standard in the shojo genre. But overall, it will have you emotionally invested once you get past the sixth episode or so.
A great anime to watch with beautiful visuals, an unconventional lead and a complicated love triangle. The manga won the Kodansha award for Shojo.
Characters are engaging
Unconventional female lead
Both romances are realistically developed
It is quite short (this is a pro because I don't have the time and patience to watch all episodes of long anime like Detective conan or One piece)
Sae's character is totally unrealistic (though somewhat funny)
Both the male leads were too similar
NOTE- Images do not belong to me and were taken from Google image search.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Namie Amuro set a record of selling a million in three decades with this album. Best Fiction is the best Namie Amuro has produced in a while. After leaving Tetsuya Komuro, she wandered a bit but with this album, she finally seems to have found the right direction. Here's a reveiew of this rare million seller-
1) Do me More- Do me more, as portrayed in the PV, is heavily influenced by the 'Alice in Wonderland' theme that is manifested through the fantasy feel to the arrangement comprising of brass instruments. Do me More is a new song, sung especially for this album. Namie contributes power and cooleness in equal proportions to this track, making it a great opening track.
2) Wishing on the Same Star- Wishing on the same star is the cover of an english song by Keedy. I felt Namie Amuro pulled the song off well, bringing out a powerful climax in the chorus. She has shown us a part of her that is not commonly seen. Namie Amuro is not a ballad singer. Nevertheless, she did a good job here. The song is quite an average ballad that stands out plainly because it is one of the few ballads in this album.
3) Shine More- Another powerful track that Namie sings well. The heavy string opening gives a mysterious feel to this track, distinguishing it from the other tracks. My only complaint is the weak chorus. But, this track still stands out.
4) Put em up- Put em up sounds very much like an american hip hop song with copious rap and not much vocal ability displayed by Namie Amuro. It is catchy but continues in the same tone as the other tracks.
5) So crazy- So crazy has a relaxed feel but still carries the beat of R&B. Namie's vocals are quite airy here. The song follows well after Put em up.
7) All for you- All for you is an epic string ballad that is a rarity from Namie Amuro. Namie Amuro unleashes her powerful voice combined with gospelish back vocals and makes this track quite special. Namie Amuro experimented something new and different with this track and I quite liked it. It is more than six minutes long. Namie Amuro's voice seems quite matured here compared to her older ballads.
8) Girl Talk- Girl Talk begins with a stringed intro but moves onto an easy listening hip hop beat. Again, a weak chorus but the track still manages to be refreshing. Namie Amuro uses the typical words associated with girl talk like 'sex and city', 'he and his and her' etc. It reminded me of new look minus the sixties feel.
9) Want me want me- I really couldn't understand want me want me. It had an indian/arabian arrangement but the vocals were quite low and lacked sensuality. The track does fine but appears a little confused. The catchy element was luckily intact.
10) White light- One of Namie's rare christmas songs. I really can't recall any christmas song except this that she has ever song. White Light has a relaxed and cheerful feel complemented by a slow beat and chimes. Namie's voice seems relaxed here as well. I thought she'd put violet sauce in the album but she ended up putting this instead. A good choice, though.
11) Can't sleep, can't eat, I'm sick- The arrangement is unique. I've heard this track on her Play album and I've liked it since then. Can't sleep, can't eat, I'm sick is an airy, cool hip hop song with some rap. It's quite catchy actually.
12) Baby don't cry- This single was her best selling in the Play era. Despite that, I don't quite love it. It is a pleasant balladish R&B song but doesn't bring out anything special from Namie. The chorus goes on well after the verse and all the song does is carry the album forward without disruption.
13) Funky Town- Funky town is a summary of her style in the best fiction era. It sounds somewhat like Can't sleep, can't eat.... minus the pleasant vibe. Since it comes from Namie Amuro, who is one of the few old artists producing quality work, it still has a high standard compared to average jpop releases.
14) New Look- This is a new song from her 60s70s80s single. For a best album, Best fiction has quite a lot of new tracks. New Look is filled with engrish but manages to be quite catchy. Namie's makeovers in the PV made the music video pure eye candy. New Look, the first song representing the 60s manages to be quite catchy. I really like danceable songs.
15) Rock steady- My least favourite from the single. It is good though. The verse is fast paced with a lot of rock influence. The chorus is weaker than the verse but Namie Amuro saves it with a lot of catchy english phrases and belting.
16) What a feeling- The rap in the beginning was a little dumb but this track is quite catchy. From the 80s era, it is quite a catchy disco song. The song makes you want to dance. The chorus is the high point of this track.. The echoes and back vocals remind me of her Tetsuya Komuro era. What a feeling is the perfect song for a disco night.
What can I say? Namie Amuro is truly the queen of jpop and if you doubt it, just listen to this album. Namie Amuro is in her thirties now (considered the retirement age of entertainers) and still manages to be fresh and cool. Her quality of music, if anything is improving. That really shows in her sales. While the idols of her era have waned and even those after her are losing popularity, Namie Amuro manages to stand at the peak of the jpop industry. Year after year, she is still setting new records. Everytime she releases an album, it becomes one of the bestselling female singer albums for that year. Namie is still taking risks and they're paying off. Most stars have completely stopped experimenting and releasing new music. Just give fiction a listen. This album is the best that has been released in quite a while now.
Overall rating- 5/5
Catchy, danceable tracks
A best- contains many single tracks
A wider view of Namie's artistry
No filler tracks at all
Namie Amuro's improved vocals
Quality and quantity
May become repititive after a while