[Film] Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale Review

I can’t believe it’s been over 2 years since season 2 of Sword Art Online finished airing; fans have been waiting for new animation to be released and we get that in the form of a film this year! I don’t really post anime reviews in general but I feel confident enough to put forward my opinion on the Sword Art Online series as I have read most of its material (including all the main light novels and some of the side story light novels). I’ve decided to split my review into a spoiler free section (to help those who want to make an informed decision about whether to watch this movie or not), and an in-depth section with spoilers to engage those who want to analyse the intricate details behind the movie and the series in general.

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The Non-Otaku Guide to Anime

This semester is very busy; I haven’t blogged for a while. Put two and two together, and you’ll simply see me blogging about anime, rather than something more “important”. But why not? My goal hopefully is to explain to people who are not into anime, the beauty and complexity of this Japanese “art”. Are they nothing more than just “cartoons” you ask? Well, these cartoons contributed to many of my English essays back in high school (and I scored really good marks with them) so they are of some intellectual value at the least.

 

Anime is a difficult to understand art form because people generally put it down to the same level as children’s cartoons. However, I think a more reasonable way to understand anime is that it is a combination of children’s cartoons (with its imaginative design) and regular TV series (with its complexity in story elements). So essentially, many (not all) anime can be compared to everything else you see on TV, except it’s translated into cartoon animations and may have imaginative themes and elements – or fantasy, more like.

 

Anyway I’ll try to keep this short so that it won’t bore those who have a weak (or null) interest in anime. There are certain elements that each anime has which determine its appeal to the public; but at the same time these elements are probably apparent in anything else you see on TV. It is these ones which will be common to most anime:

 

Characters

Well obviously the characters are important.

Personality – For personality, it is not just about a single character’s personality but rather all the characters in the anime juxtaposed with each other. Yes I know, it sounds like English again, but this is what makes certain characters likeable. Commonly, pairing up a nice, quiet and shy character alongside one with exactly the opposite traits (loud, hot-headed, outspoken) makes for an interesting cast of characters. Obviously, it makes no sense to have multiple characters who are just like one another, it’d be like seeing the same character over and over again. But anime does well by having a wide cast of characters, all of whom have a wide variety of characteristics which complement well with other characters. Can’t think of a prime example but this one would count:

Edward & Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist

Character Development – This is by far the most important aspect for characters; that is, watching them grow as the story develops. In movies and in most TV series, characters maintain their traits throughout; most of the time there are the same character at the end, as they were at the beginning. But a series of anime can go on long enough for characters to open up a side of themselves that nobody has seen; or they can just change completely as well. Some characters change for the better, and others for worse. But part of the enjoyment in watching anime is seeing the characters “grow”. Not the best example again, but this one definitely stands out:

 

Uchiha Sasuke from Naruto

Voice Casting – The Japanese term for this is “seiyuu" which refers to the voice actor of characters. Obviously, animated characters need a voice behind them; and just like Disney carefully picks their voices actors for their movies, so it is also for the many series of anime that have aired. A character’s attitude and personality is definitely influenced by whoever is playing them and so it’s important to pick the right person for the right job. You can’t just put any voice behind any character. America is a good example of someone who does it completely wrong; just take a look at ANY English-dubbed anime and you’ll see voices that don’t match the character (just from appearance alone), ; it needs to be done right. One recent actor who’s added a lot of depth to the characters she’s played is:

 

Ayana Taketatsu (Notable roles: K-ON! and OreImo)

 

Story

Plot – Again, quite an obvious one. All anime need a plot in their story, otherwise there is no sort of “progress” in the anime; and the characters won’t really be doing or achieving anything. It makes sense that any story is easier to follow if the events follow a sequence of some sort. There are some anime that don’t have a plot but can be good, but that really depends on the audience’s taste – do they want a story, or do they just want to see characters do random stuff? In either case, a plot gives the audience something to focus on. And as for anime that don’t have a plot, their strengths must lie elsewhere:

 

No plot whatsoever:  To Aru Majutsu no Index
(A Certain Magical Index)

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Ironically, the side story does: To Aru Kagaku no Railgun – same link
(A Certain Scientific Railgun)

Ah, better get back to work. Will update later.

Temporary Intermission

Wow I haven’t blogged for so long that I’m starting to get rusty at it, language-wise and all; but then I have been exposed to nothing but numbers over the last 2 months. Anyhow, perhaps in this moment of peace I should give an update as to what’s been happening since the absence of my presence here. The exam timetable was released and I completely devastated to find that I had 3 exams over two days (just this past Tuesday and Wednesday). I had my hardest two exams on Tuesday (which was the real setback) and my least important one the following day. In total, those 3 tests came to a total of 185% of my final marks. So in the span of 26 hours I had obtained nearly 2 courses worth of marks, how sad.

 

So for the last few weeks especially I have been stressing over how to manage that foreboding flow of exams; I (tried to) study day and night but even so I wasn’t as productive as I would’ve liked to be. I realized towards the end of last week, that temperature played a factor in my concentration. Clearly, the colder it was, the shorter my attention span was. But it was too late to reconcile for that at that point, so I made with what little time I had left and did my best.

 

My marks this semester will be at their lowest yet; but then again, second year courses are more challenging than first year ones, so it comes to no surprise that the amount of effort required for this semester should be double that of last year’s. I’ll pass, but sadly I’ll have to let go of my ambition to get the same level of marks as in high school. But that’s life.

 

Amongst other things that have distracted me while studying, the following are the top 2:

 

AnimeNFO

AnimeNFO is an online Japanese radio broadcasting from either Europe or South America (not specific I know, the point is that it’s not from Japan) which broadcasts all sorts of Japanese music 24/7. I found the site while I was at work, and wanted some anime music to listen to. The music they play is completely user requested and offers everyone a chance to hear something new (even if it’s a really old song), which is the point of a radio. This site sort of re-lit my passion for Jap music because of just how fun the site was. Below is a screenshot of what the site page looks like:

 

AnimeNfo Radio V2 -- Your BEST source for Anime and Japanese music!_1276822076094

What’s good about the site is that it shows you the playlist, including current song, upcoming songs and recently played songs, plus the album art. That’s useful information because the thing people hate about the radio is hearing a good song but not knowing what it’s called or who it’s by. This way, once I come across a good song I’ll be able to find out what it’s called (and promptly obtain it via the Internet haha!)

 

The site also allows you to rate the songs that get played, and hence gives you a rough indication on how everyone has been reacting to that particular song. There’s also the option to add songs to your personal favourite list, but that’s only available after you donate money to them or rate a total of 500 songs, whichever comes first. Ah the joys of combining anime and radio together.

 

Check it out at: https://www.animenfo.com/

 

 

Angel Beats!

The last anime series I picked up just as semester ended was Angel Beats!. I hadn’t realized it at the time but it was actually the biggest thing hitting Japan at the moment. Anyway, the series is about a bunch of teenagers who have died and are taken to purgatory (the setting is a high school), where they are meant to live a satisfying life that they otherwise were unable to obtain while they were actually alive (hence dying as youth). The characters, on the other hand, recall how horrible their lives were and instead of trying to find satisfaction in purgatory, seek to rebel against god for the injustice that he has committed on them.

 

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The series provides a wonderful balance between action, comedy, and especially the deep down personal side of the story, as each character talks about the way they died. It’s that last aspect that sort of appealed to me. And this is the second time that an anime has made me legitimately cry; the first was “Voices of a Distant Star”. Anyway here’s the scene that made me cry:

 

 

Yui, the pink-haired girl, was my favourite character, mostly due to her cuteness, which was probably why I cried haha!

 

The anime is really popular and appealing also due to the fact that they’ve marketed it really well. Music has been a really strong point of this anime, the opening and ending theme hit no. 3 on the Oricon charts in its first week, as well as a number of other songs listed under the band name “Girls Dead Monster”. Wacko name for a band yeah; but three of their songs also hit the charts that same week, they ranked like below 10. But as you can see, a single anime managed to secure 4 slots of the Japanese music charts in a single week, now that’s popularity. The band technically exists within the anime itself, but they did make a real version of the band, using the same singer. Here is their first PV and also the song I’ve been obsessed over for a while now:

 

Looks like I’ve gotten back into Jap music now; probably push aside the K-Pop a bit. I realise now that the major appeal that J-Pop has to me is the strong vocals combined with an equally strong bass, makes for awesome music!

[Review] Naruto Shippuuden Movie 3: Inheritors of the Will of Fire

This is the 7th movie instalment of the Naruto series and the directors are still somewhat able to come up with new ways to endanger the ninja world. The movie ranks just as poor as the other ones and is pretty much near being the worst Naruto movie out of the 7.

Quick Synopsis

Our antagonist, Hiruko, is up to his final stage in creating the “perfect” ninja through his chimera technique; a body which contains 5 bloodline limits. The last one that needed to be obtained was the Sharingan from Hatake Kakashi. He activates a curse he placed on Kakashi long ago that “zombifies” him and makes him walk from the Leaf Village to his lair. Naruto and friends give chase, stop Kakashi and defeat Hiruko.

What? Did you expect more? Of course not.

Commentary/Spoilers

vlcsnap-2010-04-28-22h18m12s40Let’s take a look at Hiruko first. I’m still getting confused at whether our main antagonist is male or female, once again. He stays mummified for the entire film but you do get to see his ugly face at the very end before he dies. Essentially he’s the same character as Orochimaru, did forbidden experiments and eventually got booted out of the village. His motive for trying to become perfect stems from nothing more than mere envy; being laughed at for being weak by the Legendary Sannin. And on top of that, he  wants to start a 4th ninja war; not the most creative thing to do with power, but it sure beats taking over the world vlcsnap-2010-04-28-22h38m44s59(again) any day. Hiruko starts of having already stolen 4 bloodline limits. They’re all simply made up, so don’t think it has anything to do with the eyes: Byakugan, Rinengan. But it does beg the question why the Sharingan was involved. Hiruko’s 4 abilities that stem from the bloodline limits are:

  • Storm element: some large area of effect lightning burst
  • Darkness element: a “Kazaana” type ability that absorbs chakara through the palm of his hands; can nullify all ninja techniques and can be used as a weapon in return. Pretty much the most hacked ability out there
  • Steel element: pretty straight-forward. He can turn into steel to negate physical attacks
  • Swiftness element: Hiruko can flash step

Anything that deals with technical details of the anime will be placed in a quote box and in red.

How does the Sharingan make a ninja perfect? It’s not like Hiruko could use the Sharingan as well as Madara anyhow. And on that note it’s funny to see that Hiruko miserably aims for the weakest Sharigan user around, and there aren’t many to choose from anymore. This was probably a sad excuse to make Kakashi a central character in this movie.

Apart from Hiruko, there are three more bad guys, making a total of 4 bad guys in this movie. What’s worse is that the other three don’t even get named; one of them uses snakes, another is a beast specialist (like Kiba) and the last one uses a weird bird that can drop a lot of explosive feathers (like explosive tags).

vlcsnap-2010-04-28-23h07m01s144The fight scenes are really disappointing, the first proper one doesn’t even come in until halfway through the anime. Meanwhile all we see is a zombified Kakashi advancing very slowly towards Hiruko. Prior to being controlled, he requests to Tsunade not to be followed and that he be made a ticking time bomb to blow up Hiruko when he tries to absorb the Sharingan. The rest of the anime just drags on with Naruto and Sakura trying to follow Kakashi while everyone else is trying to stop them on account of Tsunade’s orders; one sacrifice is enough.

Naruto remains the naive obnoxious character that he’s always been, insisting that they stop Kakashi because they can’t just sacrifice someone to save everyone else. He relates back to the first couple of episodes in the anime with the bell training (the same bells appear as a recurring motif in this movie) where Kakashi tells them its better to break rules than to let your friends down. But of course Naruto doesn’t think with his head about the matter and that’s how we actually get a movie going on.

Shikamaru takes on a larger role than the other characters; apart from being told exactly what Kakashi and Tsunade want to happen, it’s up to him to reason with Naruto and try to stop him. In the pursuit of Naruto, he is the last one to finally let him have his own way, reflecting back on Asuma and what he says about protecting the village and all.

It’s strange how it takes the entire village to stop Naruto and Sakura. All the regular characters make a fair appearance in the movie (by that I mean they get a fair amount of air time and action). Funny how you don’t see any other random ninjas, just the main characters. Anyway they all chase Naruto and Sakura up to Hiruko’s lair where they get confronted with the three nameless bad guys. It was a 9 on 3 fight (10 if you count Akamaru) which makes things just as unfair as the Bleach movies, where the protagonist to antagonist ratio is just unreasonable. Again like I said none of the fights were spectacular, which is fair since all the characters need some air time, so each character only gets enough time to do a simple technique and then leave the scene.

Interesting side notes: We get three flash backs that are worth considering. The first is of Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke’s bell training in the opening episodes of the anime; it was probably good of them to highlight a previous notion they raised there when Sakura and Sasuke tried to feed Naruto despite Kakashi’s orders. Second is of Shikamaru reminiscing on Asuma and the last words he left. Third is of Kakashi back in the third ninja war, where Obito dies and gives Kakashi the Sharingan; you don’t see that particular scene, which sucks, but it sort of adds to context I suppose. The second note is that the summoning technique does what we would’ve thought it does: it teleports the summoned object from one place to where the caster is. The three bad guys can summon each other, and Hiruko can summon all three of them as well. It was funny to see them get smashed individually and then have them teleported from their individual torture (reminds me of Syllabear, and teleporting the bear to save it, like that).

vlcsnap-2010-04-28-23h38m56s100 Perhaps the most pathetic thing in the movie was the final scene; skip all the intermediate fighting because it just isn’t worth mentioning. Who defeats Hiruko? Of course it’s Naruto. Nope, not even Kakashi is important enough to get the honours of doing so; he does spend half the movie possessed. How does Naruto beat Hiruko? With shame, that’s how. Remember my theory from many Naruto movies back that the rasengans in each final attack get bigger and bivlcsnap-2010-04-28-23h40m18s144gger as each movie  goes by? Well, the theory still stands after 7 movies. The final attack sort of followed a Dragon Ball Z: Goku’s Final Spirit Bomb against Frieza. Naruto’s clones and Kakashi cause a distraction, and Naruto comes from above and launches that humungous rasen shuriken. Minus the 5 episode delay, it was a pretty lame climax.

Note 1: Out of some misfortune, Hiruko could not absorb the spirit bomb rasengan, which is stupid and a lame excuse to die. It would’ve been more reasonable if it was the Nine-Tail’s chakara; a blood-red rasengan would’ve been kind of cool. But then again that’s impossible since nobody was in danger to trigger Naruto’s rage.

Note 2: Naruto probably summons more shadow clones in the movie alone than in the all anime episodes put together. On top of that, he makes them all conjure up rasengans, twice! It’s difficult to believe that Naruto would still have had enough chakara to summon the spirit bomb at the end; you know it doesn’t make sense.

Oh, and Gaara makes an appearance, and fights Naruto at some point before the final battle. Didn’t really make sense why they gave him such a role, even the other characters are like: “Why are you here?” He just didn’t belong in this movie. The movie closes with Naruto returning the bells (that he fixed) to Kakashi, who replies with: “You remind me of him (Obito).” Kakashi gives a weird smile, not that you could even see it under his mask, and all the other characters call him gay. Naruto runs away thinking Kakashi is gay, and Kakashi chases after him. Cut to credits.

No, I’m serious, that is how the movie ends. Stupid right? I think so too.

vlcsnap-2010-04-28-23h54m18s113

SMASH! Committee

At long last I am finally part of an anime convention’s team; but at a very untimely moment.

 

After 2 applications to SMASH! they rejected my application to be karaoke coordinator (in light of what happened at Animania two years ago) and have appointed me as Online Media Coordinator; pretty nifty title yeah?

 

Anyway it will be my job to monitor all the Internet sites that SMASH! uses; I have them all favourited now:

 

Hmm, now that I look at them I suppose it shouldn’t be too rough looking after 5 different things. My job is just to monitor them and add new posts and entries when new info becomes available. Part of social side of my job is to stalk down people who post or comment on any of these sites, just to be friendly and show that we want to interact with the community. I suppose I can do that.

 

But part of the untimely thing I was talking about is that I’ve seemingly picked up too many commitments for this semester, particularly at church. So this could prove to be a rough semester yet again with all these things I have to do. But on the flip side it will be a good test of my ability to juggle many things at the same time. Also, just being part of any project team will simply teach me how events are actually run; the only other event I’ll be a part of is RICE.

 

But having said all that I’m probably not much of an anime person these days; not a die hard fan but I’ll still keep up to date with a couple of interesting series (not always mainstream and not always liked by many others). I can say for sure, though, that I will be never on the same line as any other normal anime fan here in Sydney. The sheer slowness they exhibit(ed) makes me *thumbs down* at whatever judgement and passion they have for anime – being like 2-3 years slow is seriously nothing to get excited about. If you are a true fan of anything, you should like it in the context from whence it came; which would be the country Japan and the time period “2 – 3 years ago”

 

I’ll end it on this: it just never surprises me at how lame Naruto fans are here in Sydney. Just the other night on Bored Aussie I came across some guy who was like: “Omg Itachi dies?!?!” Yep, tough crowd…

October 2009 Anime

Hmm…it really is a bad time to be getting back into anime now, especially with semester exams just round the corner, sort of. Oh but it’s so hard to resist just watching them in my spare time, to procrastinate or to relax. There are so many good series to catch up with recently, for once, and I’ve suddenly found myself finding a way to actually use my 25GB of bandwidth a month now; combined with whatever I use at university tee hee.

 

Inuyasha Kanketsu-Hen

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That’s right boys and girls Inuyasha is back! “Kanketsu-hen”, translated as “The Final Act” will bring to us a rumoured 26 episodes that will continue to fill us from where the 2003 anime left us, all the way to the end of the manga series, which ended one year ago. I for one was an extreme Inuyasha fan who was disappointed when the original anime series stopped abruptly and left the story to hang while the manga continued to run. But finally we get to see the rest of the story animated, although it will appear to be very condensed if the season is going to run for a mere 26 episodes.

 

The pilot episode was really condensed. *Spoilers warning* Condensed to the point where we actually have Hakudoshi dying already, now that is really condensed. Episode 1 wasted no time in re-introducing us to all our main characters, the Inuyasha group, the Sesshoumaru group, the Kouga group, the Kikyou group and the Hakudoshi group; all the characters were present at some point in the episode and a lot of fighting ensured their paths crossed. The violence is still top notch that rivals the gore in the very first episode of Inuyasha; take a look at this screenie:

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Very slick. Not accustomed to seeing a giant dog’s head get decapitated and then continue flying around and attacking people, but okay.

 

I’m glad they’re still using the same voice actors as before, although now they’re 6 years older, wonder if they can handle it. Likewise, the animation seems to have improved to 2009 standards which is good; the Kongousouha technique is animated much better this time, compared to 6 years ago. We I have some high expectations of this anime now, since they decided to start it again; keep watching to see how hey condense the next 150 or so manga chapters into 25 episodes.

 

 

Bleach

Yes Bleach I reckon is still running pretty well; although I am getting weary of these filler arcs, they just don’t seem to lead anywhere. But I suppose for once this filler arc is very interesting; finally something the fans would want to watch. In short, it’s become a fight between the Death Gods and their own swords, well the spirits inside their swords really, and finally there is a mismatch in power against the protagonists, for once.

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This has brought about a whole new range of characters, each with their own personalities, and will obviously create enough material for a long filler series. So many new characters and so many new conflicts; this is a definite watch for those who have long given up Bleach in the past, it is worth picking up now. Plus the story starts to get really good when we come to the twist:

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Which comes from episode 240 which aired this week. Byakuya alongside the bad guys? Oh yeah, keep them coming!

 

Other anime to keep an eye out for are “Fairy Tale” and “Darker Than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini”. I have not heard of either before, so that just means more catching up to do; and that’s already on top of the other older anime that I’m trying to catch up to T.T”

UNSW ID Cards

Charlie gave me a late call on Sunday night and before I knew it, Monday morning we were heading down to UNSW to pick up our student ID cards. Don’t really know why Charlie wanted to call us out at 10am so early but whatever. My dad dropped me off at Hornsby while driving my bro to school. Funny because I saw Marcus from church as I walked back to the train station to meet Jacky from primary school. We loitered around for a bit up in Westfield because I needed to buy new headphones.

 

We caught an express train to Central and met up with Matthew, who luckily also caught the same train at Epping. And as usual Charlie was there, somehow always early despite the fact this time we were slightly early too, before 10am. Later on, Julian showed up, and then Jacky Murong. The 6 of us headed down to the buses, where Julian told us of how he’d actually just slip onto the bus without paying. Like for the ticket machine, you have to walk past the bus driver and then insert your card into that thing. But if someone paying cash stands in front then you can slip past without the driver noticing, although come to think of it, how do you avoid the stares of the other passengers?

 

Anyway we got to UNSW and then spent time walking all the way to the Matthews Building;it was actually quite confusing with Jacky M. leading us there with his map haha. The day was beginning to grow hot and already we were getting tired from walking around to nowhere. Eventually we got there, lined up and got our ID cards.

 

Now if you are careful at reading this (and not just skimming through), here is some details regarding this that you should probably know:

 

1. Head over to the Matthews Building and look for FM Assist or whatever; it’s on level two up a flight of stairs.
2. Line up in the queue until it’s your turn.
3. Ask for your student ID card and give them some sort of identification like your driver’s license.
4. They’ll ask you to sit down on a chair to take a picture for your ID card, just like at the RTA.
5. You’ll get your card then; it also serves as a concession travel pass for transport, only for one year though. You’ll have to renew your concession pass through some form over at the desks on the side,next year.
6. The ID card acts like ID cards from schools, accesses the library and photocopiers/printers, etc.

 

Afterwards we went sight-seeing. First we went to the library which was humungous!. The computers section was weirdly arranged; I don’t think we can game there haha. The computers are sort of like the ones at net cafe, they have a one-hour limit  for each session, which you simply just login with your the details you used to enrol.

 

We then went on to explore the rest of the library, which has 9 levels, even though the lift has buttons up to a “14th” level, which doesn’t exist so the button does nothing. Each level was filled with books, duh. It was an entire non-fiction library, each floor with like books for 0-11, then 100-200, something like that, then on-fiction code thingy. It was huge. Some floors were under construction so we had to walk up past them, or catch the lift.

 

When we got to the 8th and 9th floors, they were empty and under construction; so some of the guys decided to try and keep going stairs to get to the “14th” floor. Me and Charlie stayed back because they were heading up the fire exit stairs; and as I learned last time, the only door that opens is the one at the very bottom. The fire exit on the 9th floor was barred open so that’s why they considered that option. 3 minutes later the boys came back realizing they couldn’t reach the “14th” floor and then we took the lift back down.

 

Afterwards we went exploring at the book shops and other places that were open; weird shops all of them. And later we visited the sports centre and the fitness centre; wow so much stuff I want to do now. I guess after much consultation and thought I’m probably going to join the Soccer club and either the Basketball club or Tae Kwon Do club. Not so sure about the last two because Basketball is at night and I don’t really want to do Tae Kwon Do as much, though it’s at a very convenient time. But yeah a good time for me to pick up some sports I guess.

 

We also had a look at a list of “societies” or just regular clubs. There’s an anime club haha! I am so part of that =) Although my illegal J-Pop activity might negatively sway my position in that club.There’s a bridge club also, I’m there too. Kelvin join bridge club! Bridge partners! xD There were also weird clubs like for each subject that can be studied, like an Actuaries society, and a medicine society, etc. No point joining those random Christian groups listed, like the Catholic society, because we already have CBS haha! Wow so much stuff to be a part of this year at university alone T.T”

 

Well after that we left and had lunch at Chinatown food court. After that we went home. Yes I have a concession card now…no more stupid adult fares form, not that I buy adult tickets anyway =.=”

SMAC – February 1st

Well haven’t blogged on church for a while, and the last two weeks have been rather pleasant as opposed to some of the other randoms Sundays which were oddly sad for me. But anyway might as well since I won’t be at church for the next few weeks. Had a few church things on during the week, check last Wednesday’s post. Another hot day today and we had a few fans running throughout the hall. Luckily it wasn’t too hot, could’ve been worse.

 

Athena was set up for her first public Bible reading. The poor girl was quite anxious and slightly nervous, even if she isn’t going to admit that. Joked around with her a bit to lighten the mood up. I gestured her to move the microphone closer to her; but she didn’t quite manage to read that sign at first. Fair enough she hasn’t had enough time at the microphone to understand the mechanics of controlling it. But she did the reading rather well; of course that’s because she practised it a fair bit. I heard she rehearsed in front of Ling and other friends a few times. Well it’s good she pout in all that effort for a Bible reading, good commitment. And that’s why Kenny chose her to be the elite representative of year 10.

 

We started a new series on the book of Matthew this week. Shame I won’t be there for the next three talks on them; but nonetheless we felt it was best to start taking notes. And by we I mean me, Jess, Nat and Eva, who after “next generation” felt compelled to take notes for talks and sermons. What we learned at camp was that the talks did provide information that would help us write a Bible Study; or at the least provide information we could re-produce, and so we finally saw the benefits of taking notes. But before today, I didn’t really have anything against taking notes; I kind of didn’t feel there was a need to, but I guess it does help with our roles as leaders now. Had to buy a large book considering the amount of notes I manage to take for a 30 minute talk. Good practice for university lectures I can tell you that =)

 

After church while we were setting up for our monthly lunch, Donna brought back the topic of the two cans of “potion” she got for me while she was in Japan. They were basically like cans of soft drink; I don’t really know what’s in them but it’s probably some fizzy drink of some sort. Both cans are different and apparently if you mix both of them together, the drink turns clear; kind of cool albeit I didn’t want to open either can. Both of them were Final Fantasy-themed cans, one white with Sepphiroth and Cloud on one, and the other is black with Tidus, and some other character I’m not familiar with. But anyway the art and decoration on both cans is so nice I just couldn’t bring myself to open either can. They both look good as collectables so I’m just going to keep them as they are, just to look at haha. I don’t know; I really want to collect them the way they are, undamaged, but I guess yeah they’re just cans of drink so fair enough next time we have like a barbeque or whatever at church, I’ll bring them and show everyone since it’s only fair I guess.

 

And then for lunch we randomly went into discussion about the Child Protection course us leaders were meant to do. I won’t be there for it because I’m in Hong Kong; but it is compulsory for me T.T” So that means I’m going to have to do the course elsewhere, the next one Kenny told me was in the City in March, whatever. But anyway Donna saw Ally (Kenny’s daughter) crying and she was like: “Aww, so cute!” To which  Quentin replied: “Donna, looks like you need to take the Child Protection course…” Wow, never knew he had a dirty mind. And of course the topic shifted to that of paedophilia. So it would now appear that any chick that calls a baby cute or looks at them in an adoring way, then it makes them paedophiles haha! The logic isn’t exact although it is funny. Hmm, I mean would we ever think of Donna as a paedophile. She did mention something about all the babies in Japan looking cute, who knows haha!

 

Erica finally came back from Hong Kong herself this week; and strangely she’s gotten heaps taller; very strange indeed. It’s actually like she grew 10cm or something, I really don’t recall her bring so tall since last year. And now she’s clearly like 12+ cm taller than Donna. Last year Erica was only taller by a small bit, noticeable but not openly obvious. Oh and on that note about changes after heading overseas, Hanako, Donna’s homestay sister was claimed to have gained 8 Kgs while in Australia. Wow, is Australia really such a fat country? Donna said she didn’t notice it but then after comparing with the before photo she was shocked haha. And then there’s another claim that another Jap chick that came with Hanako at the same time then, picked up more than 10 Kgs in weight, wow. Scary stuff huh?

 

And now this week for church, there’s still that leader’s meeting on Wednesday I think, and then a forced youth group social on Friday for my group and Nat and Eva’s group, the so-called “Super Llamas”, what type of name is that?! Busy week ahead still just at church only before I head back to HK.

[J-Pop] Aqua Timez – Velonica

 

..::Includes Lyrics, Translations and Downloads::..

 

“Velonica” is the 9th single from the ever-popular J-Rock band Aqua Timez and they are very fortunate to have this song being used as the 9th opening for the popular anime Bleach. “Velonica” is slightly unlike Aqua Timez’s more recent singles such as “Niji” and “Natsu no  Kakera”. The lyrics are of a slightly more darker theme and has bass and melody to match. We finally see more of the rapping style from Aqua Timez in this song; the verses are rapped out, followed by a slow pre-chorus and then a strong techno and up-beat chorus.

 

The song does well to maintain a nice long chorus, which gives listeners more to remember subconsciously and hum. Of course due to the rap element in the song, there is less of the rock element but a guitar bass still keeps the rock mood there. A definite must-have for Aqua Timez fans; and for newcomers, do not be fooled into thinking that all Aqua Timez songs are like this, they all vary.

 

Here is the anime opening sequence for the song:

 

 

 

 

Here are the lyrics and translations. Please remember these are my fifth translations only.

Romaji Lyrics

 

Zasetsu mamire ryuukou no magire
Shiawase na furi wo shite utau
Motto hashire to iikikashite
Mubou ni mo sotto kazakami he
Kita michi wo ichibetsu yutori wa gomen
Shimensoka sansen ni tsugu ONE GAME
“Yama ari tami ari gake ari”
Chiri wa tsumotte iku

 

Hateshinai tabi no tochuu de
Machi no hazure ni tachiyoru
Tsukareta ryouashi wo
Sotto nagedashite nekorobu to
Kurikaesareru asai nemuri
Nando mo onaji ano yokogao
Nando mo onaji ano kotoba wo
“Ikiteru dake de kanashii to omou no wa watashi dake nano?” to

 

Tabako no kemuri ga chuu wo uneri
Utsuro ni kieru kitto mada chikara naki osanai hibi ni

 

Minakute ii kanashimi wo mitekita kimi wa ima
Koraenakute ii namida wo koraete sugoshiteru
Honto no koto dake de ikite yukeru hodo
Bokura wa tsuyokunaisa tsuyokunakute ii ii?

 

Mochiageta mabuta sekai wa haru da
Sakura iro no kaze wo kakiwakete
Haruka kanata he mukau tochuu
Kono na no hana hatake ni kimi wa ita no kana
Kono sora ni tori no shiroi habataki wo
Boku ga sagasu ma kitto
Kimi wa daichi ni mimi wo sumashi
Ari no kuroi ashioto wo sagashitan darou na

 

Piero no you na kamen wo hai de
Taiyou ni wasurerareta oka ni tachi

 

Tsuki no hikari wo abite fukaku iki wo suu
Sara no wareru oto mo donari goe mo nai sekai
Nukumori ga nakutatte ikite wa yukeru sa
Dakedo bokura ikiteru dake jya tarinakute

 

Mebuku daichi ya buatsui miki ya
Kiesaru niji ya sugisaru hibi ya
Yozora no SPEAKER shiki no fushigi ga
Oshiete kureta shinjitsu wo sagashi tsuzukeru bokura ni

 

Doko made tabi wo shite mo inochi no hajimari wa
Ikite aisaretai to nai ta hitori no akago
Koko de wa nai doko ka wo mezasu riyuu to wa
Kokoro de wa nai doko ka ni kotae wa nai to shiru tame

 

 

 

English Translations

 

 

Stained by frustration and confused by fashion,
I pretend to be happy and sing.
I run recklessly and gracefully
further on towards the wind.
I glance back at the path I came from
while everyone betrays me, and the ONE GAME that follows conflict.
“There are mountains, valleys and cliffs”
and the dust keeps piling up.

 

Along the way of my never-ending journey,
I stop by at the edge of town.
Both of my tired feet silently gave way
and I lie down
to keep falling into a shallow sleep.
It’s that same face every time.
It’s those sane words every time.
“Am I the only one who thinks living is sad?”

 

The tobacco smoke that lingers in the air
disappears into emptiness in the days when I’m still young and weak

 

You witness the sadness that you shouldn’t be seeing
And hold back tears that you should be crying.
We’re living by truth alone
but we’re not strong so is it okay to be weak? Is it?

 

I open my eyes and the world is Spring.
The cherryblossom-coloured wind pushes through
along the way as I head far far away.
I wonder if you were in this field of vegetables.
I search for the white fluttering
of birds in this sky.
You opened your ears to the ground
and searched for the blank trail of ants, didn’t you?

 

I tear off my clown-like mask
as I stand on a hill which the sun forgot.

 

The moonlight washes over me and I take a deep breath.
In a world where’s no smashing plates or angry voices
I’ll keep on living even if there’s no warmth.
However, simply living isn’t enough for us.

 

The budding ground, the massive trunk,
the vanishing rainbow, the passing days,
the night sky speaker, the wonders of the four seasons.
They all teach me to continue searching for the truth.

 

No matter how far I journey it’s like the start of life,
I’m a lonely baby wanting to live and be loved.
The reason we keep leaving here for somewhere else
is to realize there’s no answer other than in the heart.

 

 

 

Download

 

You may download the full single from my website here:

 

http://www.divineiniquity.net/music/aquatimez_velonica.html