Music

A Japanese Pastime: Karaoke by Storyaboutagirl

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I love music, and by extension, this is probably the reason I also adore karaoke.  There’s just something about hearing a song for the first time, having it touch you and thinking that would be a great song for karaoke.

Before I travelled to Japan, I like many others, considered karaoke to be an event held at a pub every so often, or something you took part in at a holiday camp, until I was introduced to it by a Japanese friend I was staying with.  In Japan karaoke is a little different due to the introduction of the “karaoke box” around fifty or so years ago and it’s starting to come to the UK too.

In Japan karaoke is something that many different types of people enjoy, both young and old.  I've met many older ladies who enjoy it and people have often commented to me that when school is cancelled due to weather warnings that they've seen groups of high schoolers making reservations.  Children are taken by parents and grandparents, groups of workers go after work dinners and couples go there on dates. It is a great way to blow off steam, or to practice your Japanese as it offers you a way to speed read kanji and Japanese characters.

Karaoke can also be done alone and there are many different karaoke places you can visit.  These are made up of varying sized private rooms which are equipped with large TVs and microphones, however some of the bigger ones might have a stage if they are designed for parties and you may be offered marracas or tamborines.  The system in the room is fully automated.  You use a kind of tablet to choose your song, or book to find the number of it, then register it using the tablet, and sing along.

Depending on the machine you can also enjoy MVs of your favourite artists or clips from the anime your song is from.  The AMVs might be the actual opening played on loop, or various scenes.  If there is no MV or AMV available for your track then it is usually a video which contains amateur actors acting out a kind of story or montage of clips suited to the theme of the track you are singing.  The types of videos you get are also dependent on the machine you choose.  Recently I was told that Joy Sound has the most foreign songs on it and I believe the most anime videos.  However, I usually go for Live Dam as it almost always has the furigana (readings) over the kanji and more tracks by the artists I like.  Recently a new Live DAM Machine has been released which offers features to create the experience of being live on stage however, I’ve yet to try it.

The machines also offer a few other features.  Two that I like are the rating system and anime voice acting (only available through Joy Sound).  There are two types of rating system and the quality varies from machine to machine, as well as its age.  There is one where you can “compete” and are ranked against other people who have sung the song.  The other measures your performance and gives you a bar across the top you can follow, like the one in the game Rock Band, and provides you with a feedback sheet which also tells you the average score for the song.  If you are a member you can save your scores.

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For the anime voice acting you choose a clip from an anime (the list isn’t that extensive and is limited to popular and older series from example Macross Frontier and Lupin III), the clip is then played twice, once as the clip and again with the script.  Then it’s your turn, you follow the words like you would karaoke and finally they play the clip with your attempt at the lines.  Usually you need two people, so it is a fun game to try with friends.

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Another anime related anime experience you can have is in one of the decorated rooms.  There are lots of themes.  I’ve seen some for sports teams and one for Takarazuka but there are also plenty of anime themed ones. As well as, at certain places, rent costumes, which is good for a party.

My favourite experience however, was at karaoke kan.  This particular chain offers small booths for solo karaoke where you can also practice if you play an instrument.  It has a professional microphone like the ones you can find in recording studios.  You are given a set of headphones and can sing without interruption.  It’s also quite reasonably priced, as most karaoke experiences are.  They can get expensive though if you start adding on the food and drink that most places serve as extra.  Having said this many places offer a nomihodai plan (as much as you can drink for a set time at a set price).

If you really enjoy singing I recommend trying karaoke in Japan as it is cheap and fun.  Most places are by the half hour, but also offer free time, so you can sing for several hours (it usually works out cheaper if you are going to sing for 3 plus hours).  It’s a great way to celebrate, make friends, practice your Japanese and if you need to to kill time.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

#storyaboutagirl

[List] Top 3 Anime OPs for Summer 2015 by Alexander Neri

Hi all! It's been a while since my last post. I've been busy with work-related stuff, but hey, I'm still keeping track of the latest in Anime. And of course, with that in mind, I present to you our top three Anime OP selections for this Summer Anime 2015!

This season has a collection that is totally exciting. We've got fresh voices and styles such as Trysail, as well as works from veteran talents like Lia. Listening to them is definitely a feast when paired with perfectly-timed and animated videos.

Our criteria for selection, as always,

  1. The music should fit the theme of the series
  2. OP video animation fits the song's mood, as well as the anime's story
  3. The sequences and the scenes shot in the OP video is timed well with the music's sequences and tunes

Here we go!

3: Clattanoia - OxT

This is a well-made head-banging OP that will gives you the feel of actually getting into a battle you can't lose. The song nicely fits well with the way the protagonist leads his team of servants through the newly-made world he now lives in. Action sequences also highlight the climax of the song, which gives it a shonen-anime type of feel.

2: Cobalt - Trysail

Cobalt, being Trysail's second song to be used in an anime OP, gives off a feeling of passion, drive and the will to push through any problem with determination. The unit's members are voice actresses Natsukawa Shiina (18), Asakura Momo (20), and Amamiya Sora (21), in which Amamiya Sora voices Shirasaki Iris in the title. Also, the OP animation is flawless, which keeps the movement in the screen at least sustained and consistent through key points in the song.

...Somehow the vocals remind you of ClariS, doesn't it?

1: Bravely You - Lia

One of Key's mainstay artists is Lia, whose vocals convey a sense of both melancholy and joy. Her rendition of "Bravely You" will remind you of past works such as Angel Beats!, Clannad - After Story (anime) and of Little Busters!. One sequence of the song also somehow "separates" itself from the rest, somehow simulating how "thoughts" or "memories" are seen. That, coupled with a smooth and crisp animation storyboard to go with it, conveys a story with a secret to tell. This is definitely one of the OPs that I have mashed the repeat button with on Youtube.

That's that. Runners-up are from Joukamachi no Dandelion, GATE, the insane Shimoneta and the unbearably cute Umaru-chan.

What's your favorite op this season?

Follow me on Twitter @DotCrosse

Perfume World Tour 3rd by Aisha Anime

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On Wednesday 12th a whole bunch of retro, new and groupies turned up the equisite Hammersmith Eventium Apollo to witness the 3rd world tour of Perfume! (However there second performance in the UK). 

Perfume is a Japanese pop girl group from Hiroshima, Japan, consisting of Ayano Ōmoto, Yuka Kashino, and Ayaka Nishiwaki. Formed in early 2000 In 2008 the group hit their peak with "Polyrhythm", which was chosen to be the theme song of a recycle campaign by NHK. Since then, all of their subsequent works shave ranked Top 3 in the charts. Their first original studio album, Game, released on April 16, 2008, became their first number one album in Japan. The sound of the band is a mix of synthpop, bubblegum pop, dance-pop and house music.

 

Here is the set list for the London tour:

Enter the Sphere    
Spring of life (Album-mix)    
Cling Cling    
ワンルーム・ディスコ    

MC - talking to the crowd :-)

ねぇ
SEVENTH HEAVEN    
Hold Your Hand

Interlude

Spending all my time (DV&LM Remix)
GAME        
Dream Fighter

-P.T.A. CORNER-

Party Maker    
GLITTER
チョコレイト・ディスコ (2012-Mix)    
ポリリズム    

Encore

Handy Man    
MY COLOUR

perfume

It was fantastic to have the ladies talk to the crowd for a long period of time, the ladies talked about how sunny London was and how we should have bigger visors. They also asked for our cafe recommendations, to with people responded with Nandos, well you can buy coffee there i suppose ! Also nice to know they have never tried Pret a Manger before but absolutely love it. I have never seen such interaction with the audience before and welcome more - hopefully with a translator however Mr Mida from the crowd did a sufficient job of explaining what Nandos was to the ladies.

People also had the option of standing or sitting with a good view of the stage and there were a few screens to see the ladies in full view and the animations. The actual  light show and animations worked well with the more technological theme the ladies went with this year. With four dress changes and only a break to talk to the crowd they put on a great entertaining show keeping the crowd on their tip toes with enjoyment jumping up and down to classics such as CLING CLING and Game.

Worth the money and would love to see them again ! Thank you to Malcolm Critchell for the wonderful photos from the concert ~Aisha Anime~

All photos belong to are copyrighted to Malcolm Critchell

All photos belong to are copyrighted to Malcolm Critchell