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What the heck is a Vocaloid?

I’ve crawled the internets enough to be familiar with the Vocaloid characters, which I’ve seen mostly through fan art and youtube clips featuring bouncing chibi versions doing caramelldansen.  I always assumed however, that they were simply characters from a manga or anime or video game.  My BF mentioned them to me in passing and realizing I didn’t know what they were, showed me this video:

My reaction:

I’m still not sure 100% what exactly the vocaloids are – from what my boyfriend can tell me they are copyright free idol characters that someone created, and there appears to be software you can buy that you can use to make songs and videos of them in.   The vocaloids are treated like real celebrities even though…they’re fake.   I don’t know who owns them or who puts on these amazing concerts, or how those vocaloids characters on stage are created – screens? Holograms? Projections? ROBOTS??

While this is beyond cool, I also find it extremely freaky.  It’s like someone took an anime plot and turned it into reality.  What’s next, gundams?  Are AIs going to take over the world a la Summer Wars?  Is this really a plot by another intelligent race of beings to infiltrate our society through music, the web and popular entertainment???

Until I figure all that out, I’ll probably just watch a couple more videos and marvel over it all, lol.


Summer Wars: an epic movie

After having been told (a few hundred times) how great this movie was by my boyfriend, we finally managed to watch it together last night.  I’ve seen quite a few anime-esque movies before, namely those by Studio Ghibli or the movie versions of fav animes (like Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles: The Movie).  This was however the first feature-length movie I’ve watched with subs instead of dubs.  While I like to think I’ve been watching anime longer than my BF (I started when in 2004), I’ve watched most of those with dubs.  I like dubs.  He meanwhile is a sub snob and insisted we watch the movie in such.

(Actually he kind of led me to believe the movie was only in subs, than after we finished it lo and behold he tells me it’s available with dubs off Netflix and I’ve also found it Amazonfor $15. Love you honey <3 )

Anyway, back to the movie.  The setting and plot of the movie itself is actually pretty unique even for the typical Japanese movie.  The story revolves around a game named The World of Oz which is basically a virtual world where people spend as much of their time as they do in the real world, and control things such as their bank accounts, alarm systems, communication, shopping etc through Oz.  The hero is a math-minded, rather nerdy high school boy named Kenji Koiso who is tricked into coming to the family home of his beautiful and popular senpai and posing as her boyfriend.  Her family is large, slightly crazy and descended from the powerful samurai and ruled over by an even more powerful (yet lovable) grandmother.   When a rogue A.I starts taking over Oz and causing problems that affect the real world, Kenji and his friends, along with the crazy family, start planning a virtual war in order to save the real world before the A.I can destroy it.

While this was obviously a sci-fi thriller, it wasn’t set in a space-age setting.  In fact, the setting was an old Japanese mansion complete with all the rice paper walls and gardens.  Seeing the characters set up high-speed computers in the middle of the ancient Japanese finery was humorous and gave the whole movie a very unique feel.   The characters themselves felt very real without all the extra abnormal powers most anime characters get, which led to a very empathetic story.  They were normal people, even Kenji though he was supposed to be a math genius.   The World of Oz was very creative and seemed like a real possibility for an online world, adding a bit more to the realism of the movie’s concept.

Here’s the trailer in English:

Best American cartoons adults would love

There is a terrible misconception in the US that cartoons are for kids.  Oh sure, now we’re finally learning that that’s not true (thanks anime!) but still, it’s sad that so many adults turn off the TV when an animated character comes on.  I’ve watched my share of ‘kids’ shows, and there are some really great American cartoons out there!  Granted, there are twice as many mind-rotting, moral-degrading, poorly-drawn space fillers than there are good shows, but it doesn’t mean that American cartoons are all that bad.  If you like anime, consider checking out some of these shows.


 Gargoyles: 90s children will remember this absolute gem.  I think it really has to be one of the best cartoons ever made and everyone I’ve met who’s seen it agrees.  It’s a story that combines both ancient magic with modern day (oky, 90s) technology in a sci-fi magical mash-up that can compete with any anime.  The story centers around Goliath, the wise and powerful leader of the Gargoyels, and Elisa Maza, the street-smart lady detective who is one of the few human friends they have.  I would love to write an entire post on the series but there is just too much, I suggest you check out the link in the name to the wikipedia article.

Why it’s the best: with 78 episodes, a complex dramatic plot, deep character arcs, serious situations and the enticing mix of Shakespeare meets Star Trek, Gargoyles has long been controversial as it’s qualifications as a child’s show, but has been a cult classic anyway.  And ok, so the animation may be a bit outdated compared to today’s glossy digital animation, but in my openion it can still stand it’s own against any anime.


 Avatar: The Last Air Bender:  In my opinion this is one of the few things Nickelodeon has put out that’s actually any good, and what’s more is it’s amazingly good.  Heavily influenced by anime, this series is lighter than Gargoyles yet has a very good, continuous plot that only thickens as the show goes on.  It’s funny as heck in many places and has some really heartwarming moments.  The characters are extremely likable and human which is one of the show’s great charms.  Based in a mystical world where ‘benders’ can control one of the four elements, it has a very oriental feel that will make many anime lovers feel right at home.

Why it’s the best: 61 episodes, fantastic comedy, a well done romance (that actually has a conclusion!), an epic end battle and intricately designed world make this show one to put on your must-watch list.


Toad Patrol: With the air similar to Watership Down (gahh, that was an awful movie to show little kids, wtheck were our parents thinking?) this show was marketed towards little kids but found a niche with many young adults due to the strong storyline, empathetic characters, occasional dark undertones and solid, connecting plot that made each season seem more like a long movie than individual shows.  It seems silly at first – little ‘toadlets’ looking for the magical ‘toad haven’ which they have to find before the ‘fairy ring’ portal closes and they turn into toadstools.  Add in the fact that the toadlets are all orange (yeah, that’s the color I think of when I think of toads) and the only adult toad encountered is called Mistle Toad, and well yeah I thought it was silly when I first saw it.  But after the first episode I was hooked, and this is one seriously underrated show to check out.

Why it’s the best: unknown and underrated with 26 episodes under it’s belt that are more like two long movies, it’s a shorter series that has a light magical overtone with plenty of fuzzy, scary, and funny moments.  There’s even a little bit of romance!  It has a complicated plot and you soon find yourself rooting for the little toadlets to make their way home, no matter what your age.


I have several more shows I’d like to share, but this post is getting a bit long so they’ll have to wait ;)

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