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Archive for the ‘Kanata Konami’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: TOKYO JIHEN [東京事変]-“The Scarlet Alibi” (永遠の不在証明 Eien no Fuzai Shoumei) (2020).

220px-Tokyo-Jihen-News-EP-cover-artRingo Sheena formed Tokyo Jihen (which means Tokyo Incidents) in 2003.  They put out five albums and disbanded them in 2012.

Then she surprised everyone by reforming the band in 2020 (with the same people who played with her in 2012).  They have released a new EP, News.

永遠の不在証明 which translates more or less as “Eternal Alibi” is the final song on the EP and the only one that Ringo Sheena wrote the music for.

It starts like a kind of James Bond theme (and it is indeed a theme for Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet).  It’s got a noir piano, but the bass is really fat and fuzzy.

The chorus gets big while the piano stays prominent and the bass does some really fancy fretwork.  Then in th emiddle of the song there’s an instrumental break.

Seiji Kameda (亀田 誠治Kameda Seiji) gets a wicked bass solo followed by a ripping guitar solo from Ukigumo (浮雲The Drifting Cloud) and a soaring keyboard solo from Ichiyō Izawa (伊澤 一葉Izawa Ichiyō).  Everyone gets a moment to shine except drummer Toshiki Hata (刄田 綴色Hata Toshiki)–but his playing throughout is stellar.

The song halts at 3 and half minutes, but there’s a jazzy jamming coda (lots of piano and guitar solos) that runs for about a minute as the song concludes.

Although I just discovered the band this week, it’s nice to have them back.

[READ: July 1, 2020] Fuku Fuku 2

This is Konami Kanata’s second and final collection of FukuFuku stories.  After all of the Chi stories, it was probably for the best to limit FukuFuku to just two volumes.

It allows the story to go out on a high note.

The framing device of the series is an older woman looking at pictures of her cat FukuFuku when she was a kitten.   I was pleased that this book ends the framing device with FukuFuku as an older cat–the flashback is complete.

This volume is less about FukuFuku exploring new things and more about her owner’s expectations of her. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RINGO SHEENA [椎名 林檎]-Shōso Strip [勝訴ストリップ] (or Shouso Strip or Winning Strip) (2000) 

Yumiko Shiina (椎名 裕美子Shiina Yumiko, is known by her stage name Ringo Sheena (椎名 林檎Shiina Ringo). She later fronted the band Tokyo Jihan.

I’m not exactly sure how I discovered this album.  I think I had been reading about psychedelic Japanese bands and this album came up as a must-listen.

I found a copy on eBay (it’s also streaming) and, wow–it’s my favorite album in a long time.  Ringo Sheena flirts with just about every genre of music throughout her career.  Often times, including several genres in one song.  But throughout this album, it’s her singing and songwriting that really stand out.

Plus, I absolutely love the sound that she gets from her bassist.  I have included all of the credits from the album below because my copy of the album is entirely in Japanese. The “official” Wikipedia entry is first, but the Google Translated version is second.  I’m not sure what is going on with the Google Translated version, but for most of the songs the bass is described as “Bombshell base” which is totally accurate.  Interestingly, sometimes the guitar is described as “Oxygen deficient guitar” which I think just means electric, but I love that description.

So the overall feel of this album is grungy.  There’s a lot of distortion among the guitars and the drums.  None of the songs would be described as metal, but there are definitely some heavier rocking elements.  But there is an underpining of J-Pop throughout.  Both in her catchy choruses and the way her voice soars as she sings.

The disc opens with “I Am a Liar” (虚言症 Kyogen-shō) 5:26 [“False” from Google Translate].  A funky slap bass and some flutes introduce this song that has a great mix of alt rock and J-Pop.  Sheena Ringo has a great voice that can sing low but also soars nicely when needed. The chorus of this is instantly catchy with a great melody disco flourishes and her fantastic vocals.

“Bathroom” (浴室 Yokushitsu) 4:15 [bathroom] is a wild song (and one that she has apparently performed in very different styles over the years).  A ripping funky bass and synth lead to a great pulsing ear worm of a melody.  The chorus is warm and inviting and fantastic.  “Excuse Debussy” (弁解ドビュッシー Benkai Dobyusshii) 3:16 [Excuse Debussy] is another propulsive rocker with a great fat bass sound.

Things slow down for “Gips” (ギブス Gibusu)  (which apparently means “orthopedic cast”) 5:38 [Gibbs] but it has a huge soaring chorus that is partially in in English “don’t you think I wanna be with you….”  It’s about the catchiest peppiest thing and it is awesome.  The songs is quite long–over five minutes–and the last few minutes feature a great guitar line that repeats and repeats until it breaks apart with chaotic confusion.

Things slow down even further for the gorgeous strig opening of “A Driving Rain in Darkness” (闇に降る雨 Yami ni Furu Ame) 5:03 [Rain in the Darkness].  Interesting electronic sounds and some electronic percussion mask the beauty of the stirrings and then after 45 second the strings turn pizzicato and pop song structure stars with a loping bass that plays some funky high parts.  It’s a pretty song that segues nicely to the scorcher that is “Identity” (アイデンティティ Aidentiti) 3:05 [Identity].  It opens with a ripping guitar and Sheena screaming like the best of them.  This song hits pretty standard metal sounds and is a total rocking freak out with her singing syllables as the guitars and drums just go bananas.  Her band is really fantastic.

“Crime and Punishment” (罪と罰 Tsumi to Batsu) 5:32 [Crime and Punishment] plays like a torch song ballad, but it’s accompanied by a heavy guitar and a big fat bass that keeps it in the alt-rock arena.  The juxtaposition is great.  There’s a lengthy jamming coda as well.

“Stoicism” (ストイシズム Sutoishizumu) 1:46 [Stoicism] is a short interlude.  Her voice is manipulated while she’s singing a simple melody as bouncy synths underscore the whole thing.  It flows into “A Broken Man and Moonlight” (月に負け犬 Tsuki ni Makeinu[3]) 4:14 [Lose dog on the moon] which sounds like a grunge version of “Closing Time” until the loud distorted bass crashes in and upends everything. The end totally rocks out.

“Tidbits” (サカナ Sakana[4]) 3:43 [Fish] opens with a harpsichord and the makings of a bubblegum pop song.  But as the verses come in it feels kind of noirish with horns and a great catchy chorus.  The end of the song features that noir bass and a piano.

“Sickbed Public” (病床パブリック Byōshō Public) 3:16 [Patient Public] has super distorted drums and a heavy bass rumbling underneath her whispered vocals until it switches to a bright J-Pop chorus.  “Instinct” (本能 Honnō) 4:14 [Instinct] has a menacing opening of sound effects and turntables that meld into a super catchy poppy melody with wild bass.  The verses slow to a slinky sound, but that chorus is undeniable–especially when the whole song shifts up a note midway through.

The disc ends with fun watery sounds that bloop and blip for the opening of  “I Am an Addict” (依存症 Izon-shō) 6:23 [Dependence].   The song begins with a delicate synth but there’s a fun fun soaring chorus (of course) that you can’t stop humming.  The song and disc end with ends with three minutes of everyone jamming at the end of a show when the star has left the stage and the band is just going to keep playing until they can’t anymore.

I haven’t really looked into much more by her–although I did enjoy the one Tokyo Jihen song I heard.  This album is so good I’m afraid to explore anything else for the time being.  So I’ll just enjoy this one.

[READ: July 1, 2020] Fuku Fuku 1

Konami Kanata wrote the wonderful manga Chi’s Sweet Home about a family who adopts a cat.  It’s wonderful and is apparently one of many manga about cats.  Even though it’s sweet and adorable there are occasionally weird thing that make it seem more adult than it seems to be (the word pissing is in one of them, which seems a little odd for a cute book).

The framing device of the book is an older woman looking at pictures of her cat FukuFuku when she was a kitten.   FukuFuku wants to see them too, which means lying on them, of course.

And so there are 24 short pieces about kitten FukuFuku’s introduction to living with this woman.  I understand that the book is translated, so I don’t know if the cat sounds are translated as well, but I love that when she tries to pick up the kitten for the first time, it says “Mii?”  And when she grabs for it it says “Mya”

The translator also has a lot of fun with the kittens’ action words: Skoot, Bound, Dash, etc. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ANIMANIACS-Wakko’s 50 State Capitals (1995).

To the tune of “Turkey in the Straw,” Wakko teaches you all of the capitals of the 50 States.   I suspect that if I had the energy, I would try to remember this (as many commenters on YouTube say they’ve done).  While I know most of the capitols, I certainly don’t know them to a  catchy tune.

This song is not as explicitly insane as the countries of the world song, but it’s still pretty awesome.  Thank you, Animaniacs for being this generation’s School House Rock!

[READ: July 2012] Chi’s Sweet Home 9

Volume 9 of Chi’s Sweet Home has just come out and the whole family was excited to read it (Clark grabbed it first!).

I don’t know how long the series is going to run, but if anyone thought it was winding down with Book 8, nothing could be further from the truth.

As the book opens, Chi is wearing her Elizabethan collar to protect her from her injuries (I actually don’t recall what injuries they were).   But she soon gets that off and her family realizes that since she couldn’t go outside with the collar on, maybe they should make her an indoor cat after all–she’ll certainly be safer!

And so begins Chi’s frustration–unable to get outside and nobody helping her out!  And she had promised Cocchi that she would met him at the fountain   For the first time in the series (as far as I can remember) another character gets an entire strip to himself: poor Cocchi, the naughty stray cat feels sad and lonely as he waits for Chi who promised she’d be back to play today.   If you think it’s frustrating to wait for people  imagine being a cat and having no way to communicate! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKCHI’S SWEET HOME (new) end credits (2010).

I have yet to watch the anime of Chi’s Sweet Home, so I don’t know how new this is (r frankly even if it is new–of course why would this poster lie).  My kids will love it but it’s only available subtitled so I’m not sure how much they would enjoy that.

This song was a surprise to me because the voice is deep, at least until the ending Meow Meow Meows come in.

Regardless, it’s catchy and I prefer it to the opening theme.

[READ: July 2012] Chi’s Sweet Home 6-8

Ah, this series has been magnificent so far.  And we have now caught up to what is available in the U.S. and almost to what is available in Japan.

If you missed the first post, Chi is a kitten and these are her adventures.  As with the first 5 books, the action in these three takes place over a very short period of time (weeks, maybe).  So Chi remains an irrepressible kitten during these stories.  And that’s just what we like.

Each of the stories is 8 pages long (Book 8 ends with story #146).  Each one follows a short arc with a few of the stories continued in the next story.  In these books, Chi encounters her first pigeon, she sees the neighbor’s dog buring a bone and she wears a collar (very briefly).  She also gets locked out, falls asleep in a park and gets rained on.

Most of these books concern Chi exploring the outside world.  She is well settled in to her new surroundings and she is preparing to explore the world around her house.  She meets a little kitten called Cocchi who is a streetwise kitten and at first wants nothing to do with Chi.  But Chi s so innocent that she tags along, usually bringing out the playful kitten in Cocchi (even as he gets mad that she does so).  When they both get in trouble by sneaking into a garden shed and knockig thngs over, Cocchi even expreses concern about Chi.  Even though she loves her human family, she is starting to make cat friends. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SATOMI KŌROGI-“Home is the best!” Ouchi ga ichiban (おうちがいちばん) (2008).

Sweet, over the top and not as catchy as one might expect, this is the theme from the animated Chi’s Sweet Home.  You can watch all 104 (!) episodes (they’re 3 minutes each) at Crunchyroll.  They’re in Japanese, subtitled in English, which is only a shame if your four-year old can’t read.

The show is basically the episodes from the books.  And the animation looks just like the books.

The theme song is sung in Japanese, which isn’t the problem–it’s just not as adorable as Chi is.

[READ: June 18, 2012] Chi’s Sweet Home

I saw Chi’s Sweet Home at the library and grabbed books 1 and 2.  I didn’t realize that there were 8 books!

Clark loved books 1 and 2 very much (it was quite his obsession for about three days–that’s pretty good for a seven-year old).  I wanted to read it too, and I am totally hooked.

Each book is comprised of twenty episodes, each is 8 pages long.  And they follow the adventures of Chi, a small kitten.  Kanata Konami is renowned for her cat manga, and it’s obvious why.  Chi is incredibly expressive–I love the way her feet go crazy when she is excited and the big smile she gets when something pleases her.  Of course, her angry face is also precious.

But unlike so many other animal stories, the adventures of Chi are simply the realistic adventures of a little kitten as she explores her new home and her environment.  The whole five that I’ve read so far seems to cover about a month, so Chi never grows up (although the family goes through quite a lot in that short time). (more…)

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