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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:

All about Morning Musume

As someone raised in the US, it seems to me that Japanese pop bands are more similar to our sports teams than our own pop bands.  After all, it’s not very common for an American band to have twelve constantly changing members and hold auditions for new members each year.  But that’s how it’s commonly done Japan, though technically they aren’t just bands of singers, but ‘idols’, who are expected to sing, dance, act and basically entertain.

After finding the videos from the other day of Morning Musume performing Cinderella I went on youtube and Wikipedia to find out some more about them.  They’re a very cute group, focusing on mostly bubbly, upbeat dance songs.  They started out back in 1998, and are currently on their 10th generation of singers.  When they first started out they consisted of only 5 girls, today there are 12 girls in the group.

The music video for their first ever single:

The music video for one of their newest singles:

There’s quite a bit of difference between the two videos, but then, they were made practically 14 years apart.

Morning Musume performing Roger and Hamerstiens Cinderella

To those of you who don’t know, Roger and Hamerstien are AWSOME.  As a musical/broadway geek, I love their stuff.  My singing teacher told me about the version of Cinderella they did, so I looked it up (the version with Julie Andrews) and watched it today – sooo cute and charming! And while looking around I found that Takarazuka, an all-female Japanese theater company, joined up with Morning Mesume, an all-girl Japanese pop band, to make their own version of the musical.  All the characters are performed by girls (as is common in Japanese ‘all-female-theater-companies’…duh) and the actors are really very good.  It’s subbed so you can watch it even if you don’t understand Japanese.  As someone interested in Theater Arts for a career I have to give this a high rating for beautiful costume design and cute actors ^.^

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