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Episode Countdown

(日) Gundam: IBO
(水) Yuri!!! on ICE, Sound! Euphonium S2,
(木) The Great Passage
(金) Bungō Stray Dogs
(土) March Comes in like a Lion, WWW.WORKING!!

Winter 2017: Rakugo, ACCA: 13-ku

Fruits Basket Another: http://www.hanayumeonline.com/

Episode commentaries:
Knights of Sidonia (5/12), Gundam SEED Destiny, Macross Frontier (new)

Writing backlog:
Code Geass, WORKING!!!, Shinsekai Yori, Macross ∆, Chihayafuru movies,

City Hunter, Personal Taste
Interstellar, The Intern
Eupho Radio Shows, Eupho Commentaries
Aldnoah.Zero extras

Rewatch list:
Saraiya Goyou, Uchouten Kazoku, Psycho-Pass

Series for blog project:
SHIROBAKO (all staff interviews)
AZ (Aoki x Takayama G2)
GS (episode commentaries?)
Frontier (new commentaries, Yoshino, Kawamori and Kikuchi interviews)
Eupho (review/retranslate)
KimiUso (Animestyle, website interviews)
Hourou Musuko
any Urobuchi and Okada interviews I have on hand

Monogatari Series stuff


Thoughts on Yuri!!! on ICE episode 4!

Yuri!!! on ICE is based on the RW, but nothing exactly the same.

  • I was chatting with @Liuwdere about this, but the order of the GP series in the show is that of the 2013 series in real life, which matches the Sochi GPF being in 2012…

  • But the 2013 Worlds was in Canada, not Japan. The last time Worlds was in Japan was 2014 (Saitama); prior to that, 2007 in Tokyo)

Yurio and puberty

  • Puberty is a bitch for skaters, to say the least. It’s usually worse for girls; 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamisheva and current Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova appear to have been struggling over the last two years. However, the men can also face problems adjusting, especially if they’re growing 4-6 inches a year, like Nam Nguyen over the last few years. This might be one reason a number of figure skaters remain in the junior circuit (age limit: 13 to 18 (women) or 20 (men) on July 1) even as their peers are making themselves known on the senior circuit. Another reason is that program requirements are lower, so that skaters can make sure they have a good foundation before they try to tackle the more difficult jumps in particular.

  • So I can understand why Yurio wants to win the GPF before he enters this difficult period. However, that he’s so focused on the win itself doesn’t sit well with me, for reasons outlined below.

Yuri and his last year?

  • To be frank, it’s strange that Yuri thinks that this may well be his last year, given that he’s only 23/24. If he stays healthy and passionate, then I don’t see why he can’t continue at least a couple more years. It’s not just that Victor himself continued to compete (and dominate) until he was 27—the real figure skating world is full of more mature skaters. Javier Fernandez (25), for example, only hit his stride a few seasons ago, and he’s been reigning world champion for 18 months now. The US and Canadian teams are a mixture of veterans (Adam Rippon (26), Max Aaron (24), Patrick Chan (25)) and rising stars (Nathan Chen, Nam Nguyen). And that’s not just amongst caucasians: Daisuke Takahashi won the 2010 World Championships just after he turned 24, and continued skating competitively until after the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Another elite Japanese skater, Nobunari Oda, retired in 2013 at the age of 26. If Yuri does well in the Grand Prix Series, then I hope the show will end with him intending to continue skating competitively, even on his own.

  • Speaking of Yuri and how this episode was about him finding his way, whilst the blocking and layouts arguably weren’t as interesting as they’d been in episode 2, for example, the backgrounds and use of music were, I felt, quite on point. The rain as he’s running to Hasetsu Ice Castle, with the song his friend had originally composed in as BGM, symbolising Yūri how little confidence he had in himself and in deciding his own direction. I’m not sure the little cut to Yurio was helpful, because it took me until my third watch to understand how his state of mind at that point led to him lashing out at Victor. Then we had the grey sky when they first got to the beach the following day (with fingers of god peeking through, representing the silver lining?)…before the clouds opened up when Yūri finally finds his feet. Incredibly evocative.

The mystery known as Victor

  • Unlike some people, I’ve never thought that Victor was all that frivolous. He was clearly looking for what he wanted to do next, and whilst he can probably make a killing from advertising and ice shows for the rest of his life, he seems to want to leave behind a different kind of legacy. As Yurio pointed out, Victor himself has hit a wall in terms of achieving what he wants as a skater, in that he is no longer able to surprise people.

  • But why Yūri? He explained that he wanted to do something that only he could do: create a program to draw out Yūri’s full potential. Should we take him at face value there? Or, as this blogger on tumblr suggests, should we continue to find Victor as mysterious as Yūri does?

  • It’s a fantastic post on Victor, btw… And I’d have to agree that coach and student will hit another snag somewhere down the track. Perhaps after Yuri doesn’t perform so well at one of the GP tournaments? Victor demonstrated so much cheerful patience in this episode, but there were a couple of moments where I wondered what would happen if he ever snapped.

  • What Yūri admires about Victor and wishes to emulate—choreographing his own programs, having music written to create stories he wants to perform—suggests that, in contrast to Yurio’s focus on the win, they are both focused on the performance. This is familiar to my ears: Yuzu often speaks about wanting to give his best performance, rather than being focused on the scores. If I recall from one commentary last season, the Shibutanis talk about it as well…

Given all of this, I have to say that I’m in Yuri’s camp.

Ah, and I really don’t want to say anything about the “love” that Victor and Yūri bring up at different points in this episode, except to note that the word they both use is “ai.”

Thoughts on Yuri!!! on ICE episode 3!

I am spending waaaaaaay too much time on this series...

  • A bit flatter than the two previous episodes, which I found wonderful. Why? Hm…probably that we didn’t get as many funny Victor faces, and the payoff was two skating sequences, the second of which didn’t quite hit.

  • To me, Yurio’s performance towards the end of his program was too…passionate, for want of a better word. It didn’t really reflect agape. I wish I could turn off just the dialogue, but turning off the sound completely helps a little—his performance appears too frantic. Of course, that’s to be expected, given that it was the end of his program, when he would have been exhausted…but I’d guess that this was the main issue. And furthermore, his suggested attraction to Yuko raises the possibility of that affecting his performance as well...

  • (edit): Actually, there's an even more interesting interpretation of his interactions with Yuko, who is, of course, around 10 years older. She's like a mother figure, unlike his own mother, who didn't come to his skates!

  • But on the other hand, Yuri was meant to be sexy (besides the name, the song seems to be based on the flamenco rhythm—it’s written by Taku Matsushiba and features Japanese flamenco guitarist Jin Oki)…and whilst you can see it in some of his movements, it wasn’t really sustained throughout the performance. In particular, the step sequence at the start didn’t quite show it. I hope it’s improved for the Blu-ray release…but that would involve so much reanimation that I’m not sure they’d be able to do that. We know that the first three episodes were finished for a screening event on Sep 25, so is this that finished product? If so, then it might explain why this third episode was not quite on par with the first in terms of the skating animation. And to be fair, they had two programs to work on this time, even if only partially. I hope this was just a little blip that should be rectified as the show spends a bit more time building character until the Grand Prix competitions start a few episodes down the track.

  • Perhaps it was the camera angles? Personally, the angles from which a program is viewed can make a difference to just how impressed I am by a performance. For example, Hanyu's performance at the 2015 GPF is objectively better—and that’s reflected in the higher score, even accounting for the score inflation that’s been going on over the past few years—but I prefer the camera angles from his NHK Trophy performance.

  • On the other hand, the general viewer reaction of “I wasn’t convinced that Yuri was better” reflects what happens in real life. The casual viewer, the one who tunes in once in four years whenever the Olympics is on, is probably more impressed by jumps successfully landed. Especially if you know how difficult the jumps are (quads and a triple axel…definitely the most difficult jumps in the game today). I have to admit, I felt a bit disappointed myself.

  • After watching the performances several times more, however, it’s clear just how tricky Yuri’s step sequence is. Of course, we don’t get to see Yurio for much of his—which is significant—they made sure that his costume is more sparkly and that we got to see all the flashier elements of his programs (the jumps in particular). They were also perhaps overly reliant on the voiceover as a means of ‘telling’ us that Yurio hadn’t been able to maintain the agape character of his program. I’d like to see someone put Victor and Yurio’s skates of agape side-by-side so that we can see how they compare.

  • Or maybe they need to do what KyoAni did with the music performances in Eupho: exaggerate the differences a little, so that it’s evident not just to people who are more familiar with the field in question. They really need to be able to convince us that the winner deserved to win, and that was definitely lacking in this episode.

  • But putting aside this rather important issue, one thing I really liked about this episode was the slight bonding between the two Yuris, despite their rivalry. It’s nice because that’s really what the figure skating world is like—no matter how much fans fight about who’s best, most of the skaters seem to get along quite well with each other. Well, with a few exceptions (Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding in the 1990s; there has also been a bit of a tif between the camps of Mao Asada and Yuna Kim, though there are questions over how much of it is them, and how much of it is the people around them and their fans).

  • I also enjoyed the extra little glimpses of Victor’s personality. For example, the way he launched into a tirade about Yuri’s poor jump performance before he even got off the ice—this echoes how he commented on Yurio’s step sequence in episode 1. Victor: totally anal about giving one’s best performance.

  • I should note that the moment in episode 1 is actually pretty strange—at the GPF, the Junior Men’s FS is usually held the day before the Senior Men’s FS, so why would Victor have waited until the end of his own competition to comment on Yurio's performance? The fact that Yurio had his own suitcase there suggests that he had skated that day as well… I can’t imagine that a skating fan like Yamamoto would have missed that—did they just hope no one would notice and point it out?

  • Oh, yes, and the big elephant in the room: Victor is probably gay…the way he invades Yuri’s personal space is just a bit too suggestive there. That said, I don’t think all of his actions necessarily should be read as being representative of that. The hand around Yuri’s shoulders at the end, for example? It comes almost naturally to skaters--a point proven by a recent exception to the rule. Nice photo-op, after all.

  • =====

    And some skating technicalities.

    In this episode, we got confirmation that Yuri probably substituted all of the quads for triples when he skated to Victor’s program in episode 1 (he can land 4Ts and 4Ss, though hasn’t done the latter in competition yet). I doubt he would have done even the quad toe-triple toe at the end, even though he can obviously land it, because doing that successfully at the end of a four and a half minute free program is really quite difficult. Besides he’d have been out-of-shape. So yeah, Yuri definitely substituted them all for easier jumps (though that would result in Zayaking problems). I wouldn’t be surprised if he did at least one double-axel as well, instead of both triples-axels.

    The Zayak rule states that, for full credit, skaters may not use more than two of the same jumps in the same (free) program, and one of them has to be in combination. If Yuri simply downgraded Victor’s quads to triples, he’d have Zayaked at least twice, with two triple lutzes and two triple flips—assuming he kept the 4T-3T as is. Again, given how he wasn’t in shape at that point, I expect that he downgraded that to a 3T-2T instead.

    3Lz, 3F, 3A, CCSp, FSSp, StSq, 3S, 3A-3T-2Lo, ChSq, 3Lz, 3F, 3T-2T, CCoSp3p.

    He could have swapped some jumps out for others. For example, there's no triple loop. But since it was a private performance, I expect he wouldn’t have cared about the Zayak rule. He may even have downgraded the jumps even further, to the point of just running through them as singles or doubles. That’s what some figure skaters do in their efforts to drill run-throughs of their programs without putting excessive pressure on their knees.

    And for the record, here's how I think the short programs are composed...
Sorry, I completely forgot... And as you will see, it was a somewhat unusual year again for me. (^^;)

Looking back on 2014, part 1: the sexiest voice in anime today
Looking back on 2014, part 2: the Ghibli bombshell
Looking back on 2014, part 3: the star of Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun
Looking back on 2014, part 4: what hurts the most… (NB: Chihayafuru manga spoilers!)
Looking back on 2014, part 5: the question of ‘equality’
Looking back on 2014, part 6: never, ever settle for anything less!
Looking back on 2014, part 7: anime and Japanese politics
Looking back on 2014, part 8: the noitaminA café ate my weekends!
Looking back on 2014, part 9: I’m a human being, just like you!
Looking back on 2014, part 10: succumbing to the marketing machine
Looking back on 2014, part 11: and the anime of the year is…
Looking back on 2014, part 12: the end of an era (NB: Naruto spoilers)

Bonus 1: Merry Christmas! from Shimura Takako
Bonus 2: an impossible request
Bonus 3: the Sawano-Shimura tag-team!
Bonus 4: some actual ‘moments’ I loved

And here's the list.
I don’t want to tempt myself into looking it up before next week, so I’ll just lay out my reasoning for my chief suspect at this point before putting Rokka aside for one last week.

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Staff #3 (Ishihara and Ikeda Shouko; character design etc)
  • Because of the sheer number of characters, Ikeda designed most of the club members first before finalising the main characters!
  • When Ishihara first started on the project, only one volume of the novel had been released, so they had very little to go by. They considered coming up with completely different designs…but since there was also going to be a manga version, with the manga artist using the novel cover artist, Asada Nikki’s designs, they decided to go with the same.
  • The design for Michie (sensei) came from Asada; but although there was a design for Taki as well, Yamada (1st episode’s director) asked for a new design: he wanted a guy in his 30s or so, with glasses, and fluffy hair.
  • Going back to the planning stages, Ishihara notes that he read all of Asada’s manga — he also lent them to Ikeda — and they used them to research the designs.
  • They didn’t want to have too many ‘gag faces’, because the story is quite serious.

Cast #3
  • Tune in at 01:55 and 03:40 to hear them squeal over their favourite male character…Chikao
  • 11:00 more evidence that Gotou and Riko are dating: she scolds him, and then apologises for him — like an old married couple
  • This the “Taki-sensei is scary episode” — they felt really sorry for Haruka
  • The scene with the four kids at the fast food joint — they feel how young they are because they’re eating fries, and the way they pick up the food etc
  • Asuka comes across as a single Mom — they don’t mean this in a bad way; rather, it’s like she’ll get through whatever life throws at her.

Staff #4 (Ishihara and Art Director Shinohara)
  • Research for this series was super easy…since it’s set in their backyard. Though Shinohara observes that there were many places he hadn’t been…
  • And because it was so close, they decided to make it as realistic as possible…except for certain things, such as the location of the school. Which station should they situate it close to? (Ishihara debated on this point…b/c Hazuki gets off at Obaku, there are only two stations it could be at: Kohata or Rokujizo, b/c the next station along, Momoyama Minamiguchi, is no longer in Uji City). But Kohata is the studio’s station…and Rokujizo is actually quite picturesque…so that’s what they decided on. And there are tea plantations around there…
  • Starting around 17:00, they have a really interesting discussion about how Shinohara used colour to differentiate between the seasons. Right from the start, they’d made the colours very bold, and tweaked the contrast to clearly show the shadows, so making it even stronger for the summer (~episodes 10 onwards) was not really an option. Hence, Shinohara added a bit of emerald green to the sky… The colours of the greenery also changes — the brightness of spring slowly darkens into the strong verdant greens of summer.

Cast #4
  • 03:40 fawning over Taki. Chikapet(?) loves his bed-head, and they speculate that perhaps he has two hair whorls
  • 7:50 And Chikao has his first line…which has the girls going absolutely crazy!
  • 10:30 Midori apparently has a really nice collarbone…
  • 10:40 onwards — on Shuuichi — there is a sense of regret in the way he interacts with Kumiko, so watching these scenes again really gives Tomoyan(?) “the feels”
  • 17:20 They go crazy about Gotou’s “I like the tuba,” and start speculating about their history: did they start tuba together? No, they met because of the tuba, right?
  • 20:18 They also noticed the girl preparing to throw her mouthpiece (Hiro) (except Chikapet…who absolutely loves it after the others point it out)
  • 21:20 They chide Taki was throwing out a line like “the time you waste on being young”… “It might be true, but that’s so mean!” They forgive him because his voice is really kind, but still!

Staff #1 Ishihara and Yamada (Episode Director)
  • Lots of the staff were actually former members of the Concert Band (~20)
  • Ishihara bought a euphonium (for reference) — still can’t play it
  • Kumiko really gives off the vibe of a ‘younger sister’. Someone who’s seen the trouble her older sibling has gotten into and is thus trying to be a good little kid
  • The director and Yamada also like the way that she speaks to Shuuichi and to her family (they really praise Tomoyan’s voice work)

Cast #1 (The quartet)
  • Ayachuu and Tomoyan really like Shuuichi; Chikapet loves Taki-sensei
  • They frame the way they talk about Shuuichi as being representative of their ‘love’ for him.
  • They describe Asuka as ‘sexy’ (エロい)

Staff #2 Ishihara and Harada (Series Composition)
  • They really love the way Kurosawa voiced Kumiko — she’s like a real HS student…
  • The most difficult thing about the series composition was figuring out when to include rehearsal scenes. For example, the “Sunfest” song was something they didn’t want to reveal to viewers before the performance, so they couldn’t actually include rehearsal scenes from the novel
  • Harada and Ishihara really having lots of characters with their own little stories — a glimpse of everyday people here and there rather than big war epics etc. Harada had all of the characters’ names, designs and character settings posted around his work space, and made it a point to give each and every one a line at some point in the story. For example, if they were in charge of something, then they’d have a line in this episode…and so on.

Cast #2 (The quartet again)
  • Tomoyan is really pushing Shuuichi as being a catch (ikemen)…
  • A lot of people wrote into the radio show about the vote that the students had to take about their goal, many commiserating with Aoi-chan, who couldn’t bring herself to raise her eyes from the ground even as she cast her vote. A lot of them had felt that pressure of being isolated for being ‘different’ from everyone else.
  • They really like (Yamaoka) Yuri, who plays Yuuko, ‘cos she’s really nice.
  • @ 18:05, the only person who responded to Taki, with a “Yes, sir!,” was Reina.
  • Their reaction to the Gotou-Riko two-shot is hilarious! Gotou is another favourite

Notes on Sound! Euphonium episode 10...

For some reason, I decided to take notes on this, because there was so much going on. Not sure if I'll do this for the rest of the episodes though...


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I hadn't really been thinking about this series all too deeply...and then this week came along. Read more...Collapse )
I don't follow seiyuu as closely as I used to several years ago, but seiyuu marriages are big news amongst fans, so I eventually do hear about them most of the time. This time, it was twitter that told me that Yonaga Tsubasa and Nishigaki Yuka had tied the knot. But what really amused me was what the tweet said, which was that rather than the typical "It's unforgiveable that he got married!", the reactions were generally along the lines of "Yonaga Tsubasa has also become a married woman, huh?" and "Hang on, isn't Yonaga Tsubasa a woman?"

That was a few weeks ago though, so why am I only blogging about it now? Well, since the weekend when a certain character in Arslan Senki dressed up as a young girl in order to gather information (to the acclaim and amusement of the staff and cast, as we find out on twitter and the 9th radio show!), I've tried to remember all the seiyuu I've ever heard put on a female voice. And I don't mean just taking on female mannerisms, as is generally done in the Momo & Grapes Mens Only Series), I mean them actually putting on a female voice. And here's the list I came up with:

Sakurai Takahiro - Uki in Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
Miyata Kouki - Red Squirrel Mama in Shirokuma Cafe
Morikawa Toshiyuki - Panda Mama in Shirokuma Cafe

These three did older women though, which isn't all that difficult. So who else is there? Well, FukuJun with Kotori-chan in WORKING!!...but he didn't actually change his voice at all (and it worked, too!). But we're getting closer. In fact, the most famous example is probably from one of his co-stars from that show: Kamiya Hiroshi. After listening to that clip for the first time, I remember wondering why they hadn't simply had him voice Tieria when he went masqueraded as a woman in Gundam 00! (Though IIRC, they did leave it to him on the drama CDs... And in case anyone's interested, here's a compilation of all the famous ones HiroC's done...)

But then, I remembered that Yonaga-san himself also took on a female role in the first of the Mens Only Series, and until now, remains the only person in the history of that line of CDs to have literally put on a girl's voice... But that's not the end of it: in fact, whilst Nishigaki-san is known for doing boyish voices, Yonaga-san's quite famous for doing girly voices! Just a little warning though: most of this collection had me covering my ears -- I'm really not the biggest fan of the squeaky cute Japanese girl persona... *sweatdrops*


In all seriousness though, many congratulations to the happy couple! (^_^;; )