Tag Archives: anime

Yoshitaka Amano #2

Welcome to today’s installment of BMCMB’s feature artist curation.

Yoshitaka Amano
Brief artist bio can be found here.

Gallery pieces from Marchena collection of illustrations inspired by European folklore. The usual suspects are included: little red, sleeping beauty, snow white, little mermaid et al.

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Featured Artist: Yoshitaka Amano #1

This week, BMCMB will be doing her first Feature Artist review. Her subject is Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano. Subsequent image gallery posts will compose an online curatorial project. 

Today’s post: an introduction and background of Yoshitaka Amano, and the first image gallery.

Intro and Edit by Pont

amanohimself

the man himself

Yoshitaka Amano, born in 1952 at the foot of Mt Fuji, is today’s feature artist. Prepare to enter a world of somber, beautiful delicacy.

Many of you may recognize Amano’s name (or at the very least, his designs) from his work with the Final Fantasy franchise. I’ll be steering clear of this body of work, since many are familiar with them and not as many are familiar with his other pieces. I therefore encourage you to read this Kotaku article for a good Final Fantasy/Amano gallery.

7-cloudbike-a2

I may have lied. There will be Final Fantasy pieces. I just have to restrain myself a little otherwise my serious-review pants may fall off to reveal my giddy nostalgic dork suspenders.

Amano’s career began in the animation field but by the time he was thirty, he’d grown bored and gone freelance. Besides his work in video games, Amano’s portfolio notably includes work on Vampire Hunter D, and cult Japanese film Angel’s Egg (with legendary director Mamoru Oshii).

Also; some fascinating, genre-bending work, like a visual concert 1001 Nights. It comprised of a live orchestral performance featuring an original score by David Newman, played alongside Amanos signature animation. Next time you have half an hour to spare, please watch the video below because it is stunning (fans of Fantasia take special note).

And if all that is somehow not enough for you, he’s also worked with Neil Gaiman on the Sandman series.

dreamhunters

Having sufficiently preambled, I present to you my first  hand picked Yoshitaka Amano gallery.

From Biten

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Yoko Kanno Week #7

Welcome all to our final E. Leventine feature entry on composer and performer Yoko Kanno. If you are just joining us now, here are the first six parts so you can catch up:
#1 (Intro)
#2 (Jazz and Blues)
#3 (Classical)
#4 (Rock and Metal)
#5 (Electronic and Ambient)
#6 (Pop Music and Ballads)

In this last post, we’re going to try and wrangle up the stragglers. The pieces that didn’t really fit into the previous categories, but deserve to be heard. You’re going to hear lots of foreign influence in this category, and a touch of hip-hop. I guess you could call this section Kanno’s Oddities.

I mentioned before how much I love the GITS :SAC OST be Human. It is just full of these ridiculous surprises. I’m like, “What’s this now? A bossa nova track? Sure, let me have it.” And it turns out to be such a ridiculous track that I’m like “Oh, Kanno. What is this? I love you”. It’s like they told the vocalists “ham it up! ham it up like you’re in a detergent commercial from the 50s!” and on top of that, it honestly sounds like it was written on one of these:
casioDespite how poorly I just hyped the song, Bang Bang Banquet is legit super cool. She made it work.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Comples (be Human)- Bang Bang Banquet

Really not sure how to academically describe this song. I’m hearing latin guitar technique, gaelic influences, and a touch of something middle-eastern. 2nd life is from the Earth Girl Arjuna sountrack I discovered while researching Kanno for these posts. Keep an ear out for the barely-audible whispers of the background vocalists. It sounds like a countdown.
Earth Girl Arjuna: Into Another World- 2nd Life

I love it when you hear the first twenty seconds of a song and still have no idea of where its going, what it will sound like in another twenty seconds. Cream starts off with some borderline discordant digital echo. The percussion quickly joins in, awkwardly hollow and metallic  and I’m wondering how I’m going to make sense of this messy track.  Before I can finish my thought, the strings make their grand entrance,  then it’s suddenly a rap, then the drums are genius I get it now. I love this track, you guys. Rap and male vocals by Hideyuki Takahashi from Project.R.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complez (be Human)- Cream

I thought it would be fitting that our last track be from Cowboy Bebop, as the series is what began my awareness of Yoko Kanno as an artist. Yo Pumpkin Head is from the Cowboy Bebop Movie soundtrack. You know when a song stops being a song and becomes instead the musical manifestation of something tangible? This song, to me, is the musical manifestation of Mardi Gras.
Cowboy Bebop Movie OST (Knockin On Heaven’s Door/Future Blues)- Yo Pumpkin Head

That’s it for our Yoko Kanno feature. If you ever hear a fantastic Kanno track and think of us, drop by and post it in the comments.  I’m feeling a little poignant, now that I’m finished. I’ll leave you with some of her lyrics.

Everything is clearer now
Life is just a dream, you know,
That’s never ending
I’m ascending”

Yoko Kanno- Blue

-Pont

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Yoko Kanno Week #5

Here comes portion five of our Yoko Kanno feature artist week (the loosest definition of a week here applies). Today we’ll be looking at some electronic and ambient pieces. I mentioned in the previous entry how Ghost in The Shell: Stand Alone Complex planted the seed of what today has become my propensity towards electronica, ambience, trip-hop whatever you want to call it. Consequently, you’ll be seeing a couple tracks from GITS, but you can frequently find little electro-oddities on her other OST works as well.

Here’s some in Cowboy Bebop! Now, like many Kanno pieces, this track is hard to place in terms of genre (it sounds like a music box. Music box is not a genre). I may be stretching the term ‘ambient’ here, but it’s all in the details to me. The huge echo applied, for instance, the hesitancy of the rhythm, and the general sensation of weightlessness and vastness. That last point is especially relevant in a series about bounty hunters in space.
Cowboy Bebop OST III (Blue)- Stella by Moore

Earth Girl Arjuna (or Earth Maiden Arjuna, depending on how you wanna be about it) is a good example of the Magical Girl  anime archetype, and a good example of something I would have never discovered had I not done this Yoko Kanno feature week. I had never heard any of the music she wrote for this series, and likely never would have due to my general distaste for Magical Girl and Harem anime series (Sailor Moon and Ranma 1/2 notwithstanding) I may have to watch Arjuna, though, because I am dying to see what kind of visuals this outstanding original score was paired with. Take your time with this track, it’s a slow build, but it’s building up to something good.
Earth Girl Arjuna OST I- Time to Die

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is chock-full of these short, mechanical little songs that leave me wanting (which I love), and the album with the best collection of these pieces has got to be the fourth album, be HumanIt was supremely difficult to choose which song to include, and I encourage you to listen to the entire album, but Let’s Oil is a fair representative.
be Human- Let’s Oil

Okay, so I have this weakness for genre perversion. Gonna Rice could have very easily been included in the ‘rock’ category posted recently, but I saved it until now. I love those almost irrhythmic clicks and snaps and the gradual wax-and-wane of the distortion on the guitar. It takes an otherwise average grunge-rock sound and makes it something really nicely distracting to listen to.
Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex OST II- Gonna Rice

Before you listen to this last track (from Bebop again), I want you to think of the last time you laughed so hard you couldn’t stop, even though you were going to get in trouble if you didn’t. You know, one of those hysterical laughs where the longer you laugh, the funnier it is; the funnier it is, the harder you laugh until it devolves into pure, uncontrollably manic joy. Are you there? Are you remembering the last time? This is the song that was playing when it happened.
Cowboy Bebop OST II (No Disc)- Cat on Mars

(Bonus note: it is especially pleasing to me to see how poorly the exaggeratedly happy music matches the cover art displayed during the video. “OH GOD” she sobs “This is tragic, I am so depressed!” Meanwhile, the music: “Ba ba baaa! Ba ba baaa! Neko mitai ni!”)

-Pont

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Yoko Kanno Week #4

As our Yoko Kanno featurette stretches into its second week and Leventine begins to wonder what exactly he pays me for, we’ll be taking a look at a few metal and rock pieces. Now, I’m generally not a metal fan but when it happens for me, it happens. I am  generally a rock fan, but it’s hard to admit that in a world where Kings of Leon are apparently the best rock has to offer me. Kanno, as usual, transcended all that snobby elitism and just wrote some badass tracks.

If you’ve been following our Kanno posts, you’ll recall I mentioned some of her music seems to be written in languages I wasn’t able to place. Blogger dblbassclef pointed out that she tends to make up her own languages for her music when it suits her. When he said that, LIVE in Baghdad was the song that immediately came to mind. Turns out, this song is actually in english. Legit guys, multiple lyric sites confirm this. This track is from Cowboy Bebop and was written for the episode Heavy Metal Queen which featured one of the most badass lady characters to ever be animated.
VT bebop

This is her jam:
Cowboy Bebop OST II NO DISC- LIVE in Baghdad

The next track is from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. This series as a whole, as well as the film that pioneered it, had a heavy hand in my development of a taste in electronic and ambient music. We’ll get to that later though. For now, we’ll focus on one of the more vanilla tracks from the original score. Not to detract from it or anything. Seriously, if you are down for an old-school, way-too-long shredder, Yakitori has got what you need baby.
Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex OST I: Yakitori

There have been a lot of Cowboy Bebop OST releases, due to the sheer volume of music Kanno wrote for the series.  Papa Plastic is from the final and briefest of the albums. The vocalist for this track is listed as Gabriela Robin, who has frequently sung in Kanno tracks and in actuality is Kanno herself.  Though she has never expressly stated this, she has used Gabriela as her alter ego for years and the evidence is conclusive as of the Super Dimensional Star Festival Sonic in 2009 when Kanno sang a Gabriela Robin song live.
Cowgirl Ed OST- Papa Plastic

GabrielaRobin

“Gabriela Robin”

Stay tuned for the rest of our two week Yoko Kanno week.

-Pont

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Yoko Kanno Week #2

Yoko Kanno feature week in progress here on E. Leventine.

In this, the second installment, we will be cherry-picking some of Kanno’s work that can best be categorized as Jazz and Blues (music scholars must forgive me for grouping these two genres together. You must know that I ultimately don’t give a care. Besides, it’s mostly jazz.)

The bulk of Kanno’s work in jazz has been written for her band The Seatbelts, and are arguably her most fan-beloved tracks. They were used as the original soundtrack for the anime series Cowboy Bebop. And I mean every song in every episode was written by Kanno. Rarely have I seen an original score so symbiotic with a movie or TV series.

And oh my god, you guys. It is SO AWESOME. Do yourself a favor and just take a minute to listen to this, even if you only listen to the intro and skip to around 0:58 when shit gets real.
Cowboy Bebop OST 1- Bad Dog No Biscuits

Just so ya’ll know, I had a really hard time narrowing down which tracks to include. But I had to include Odd Ones, the song I used to put on first thing in the morning to inspire my roomie and I to light a fire under our asses and get to school. We were nevertheless, always late.
Cowboy Bebop Vitaminless- Odd Ones

This next track is best for when you want to feel like a lone badass, wandering the post-apocalyptic wasteland. As one does.
Cowboy Bebop OST 1- Digging My Potato

And here is an example of some of Kanno’s non-Cowboy Bebop work. Still performed by the seatbelts. Not even sure what to call this, some kind of fusion surely. Benny Goodman goes to Arabia? Still though, when that percussion comes in at around the 1:15 mark, I am there with money in my hands. Just bill me, Yoko Kanno. Bill me.
Macross Plus OST II- Nomad Soul

So what do you think? Got any favorite Kanno jazz tracks not mentioned here?

-Pont

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Yoko Kanno Week- #1

This week on E. Leventine, we will be highlighting the extremely eclectic work of composer Yoko Kanno of Japan.

Lets start things off with a video. This is a live performance of one of her most iconic songs, “Tank!” (from the original score of Cowboy Bebop) performed by the band she fronts, The Seatbelts. That’s her, onstage in a red leather duster, simply dancing while the crowd goes understandably insane at her mere presence.

As any Japanophile knows, Yoko Kanno is responsible for some of the best pan-media original scores composed this century. You’ll find her work in anime, video games, TV shows and on the pop charts through her work with various Japanese pop idols. The genres she composes range from electronica to blues to straight up operas. She writes songs in Japanese, English, French and what sound like dead latin-based languages I can’t for the life of me place.

We’re in for a good week.

yoko2

-Pont

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