Blog Archive

Friday, December 14, 2018

Deltora Quest Music:

Though it's technically true that I've added 1,005 new songs to my music hall of fame since January 1st, I've subtracted so many older songs that my collection isn't actually 1,000 songs larger than when I started.

On January 1st I had 4364 songs.  On December 13th I had 5357 songs.  That's 7 songs fewer than an 'additional 1,000,' even though it does include a 'new 1,000.'  So that there can be no confusion, I thought it prudent to have a music hall of fame that was straight out 1,000 songs larger than my starting total.  This way no one could accuse me of exaggerating the 'haul' I've made in music over the course of the year.

With seven new songs as my goal, I decided to check out the soundtracks of my ever reliable composers Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata.  The geniuses behind Final Fantasy Tactics wouldn't let me down, right?  All I needed was seven more hall of fame worthy songs from soundtracks I hadn't investigated yet in their long and bountiful careers.

It turned out to be harder than one would think.  First off, a lot of the video games weren't in the right genre to have particularly good music, even with the right composers.  Others were too old to have a good enough sound card to play the melodies.  But perhaps the biggest problem is that Sakimoto composes so many songs for so many games that he never really tries for any particular composition.  It's hard to reach the hall of fame when you're just phoning things in.

But with enough trial and error, I managed to scrape together 7 songs from three different games -- 5 from Deltora Quest, 1 from Kuusen and 1 from Coded Soul.  The songs are quite nice, I just wish it hadn't taken this much effort to find them.  It's not the return on investment that would normally inspire me, but my current circumstances were a special case.  At least now it's finally done.

Now by any definition of the word, I've expanded my music hall of fame by 1,000 songs in the course of a single year.

I just have to be careful not to discover a single bad song or remix for the next 17 days and I'll be home free.

Meanwhile, Lucky Star got a few more translated chapters of volume 9, meaning fansubbers haven't wholly abandoned this masterpiece after all.  That's a relief.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Another Remix Squashed:

It only took listening to the song 44 times to realize that 'A Gathering of Stars in the Night Sky' was a remix of 'Flight', both from Xenogears.  You would think I could discover these things sooner.  However, Flight's opening is different for the first thirty seconds or so, so I never noticed until now.

Despite being a remix, 'A Gathering of Stars' is still one of the best songs ever, so it's a major blow to my music hall of fame that I had to excise it.  But the rules are clear, every song has to be a unique individual melody -- even Xenogears' soundtrack isn't above the law.

If I were allowed to keep 'A Gathering of Stars,' next I'd have to include 'Crossing Those Hills' from Final Fantasy 9, and then 'Crowded Street Corner' from Lunar 2, and then 'Figlio Perduto' by Sarah Brightman, and then there would be no end to it.

It's clear that until I listen to every song 100 times, the threat of remixes will continue to lurk.  Due to that, I have to keep adding to my collection just to tread water.

It was also clear that I needed to make a more thorough inspection of all my Xenogears music to make sure this problem didn't keep popping up.

'Aveh, the Ancient Dance' shares most of its theme with 'Bonds of Sea and Flame,' and the rest overlaps with 'Star of Tears,' so sadly it had to go.

'After the Soldiers' Dreams' has unique parts as well as portions mimicking 'Bonds of Sea and Flame', so it survives.  'Bonds of Sea and Flame' itself has some unique portions (the opening string plucks) but more importantly is the best rendition of the melody so it too is safe.

My recently added song, 'A Prayer for the Joy Man Desires,' turned out to be a remix of 'Our Wounded Bodies Shall Advance Towards the Light', so it also had to go.  I finally understood why it had been previously deleted.  However, the cure to remixes isn't deletion but proper identification, otherwise the tragedy will just keep repeating itself like it did here.  Now that I've rooted it out as a remix and properly labeled it as such, I'll never make the mistake of including it in my hall of fame again.

Many other songs share portions of their themes, like 'Premonition,' 'Awakening,' 'Dark Daybreak,' etc, but they all diverted down their own pathways, so I found no fault with them.

It's possible that even now there are still remixes lurking within Xenogears' soundtrack, but as best as I can tell it now has a clean bill of health.

With three songs lost, my hall of fame now stands at 5357.  Whether through remixes or just plain bad songs, I suspect my collection will continue to shrink.  But if Ares no Tenbin or Granblue Re:Link are any good, maybe I can overcome those negatory trends.  It's a constant struggle.  But each time I add or subtract, the hall of fame gets that little bit better overall.  It's not just a constant struggle, it's also a constant refinement towards perfection.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Kingdom Hearts Music:

I needed to breach the 1,000 new songs barrier before the end of the year, so I decided to check out the music from Kingdom Hearts.

I'm a huge fan of Yoko Shimomura, but I'm not a fan of Kingdom Hearts, so I've always avoided these soundtracks up until now.  But necessity called so eventually I had to give this franchise a try.  As I thought, Kingdom Hearts is not my cup of tea -- way too jolly and upbeat -- but Yoko Shimomura pulled through for me in a pinch.  After scouring the soundtracks of both 1 and 2, I came away with 12 songs worthy of entering my music hall of fame.  Now I can safely delete new remixes or bad songs that pop up and still stay over the 1,000 song barrier for the rest of the year.

Of the 12 songs, 'Passion - opening version -' really takes the cake.  It's head and shoulders better than the rest.  It was only after hearing this song that I decided to take the plunge and download all the Kingdom Hearts music and test it all.  I figured if Passion was part of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, undoubtedly other good songs would be as well.  I bet on the quality of Passion and was rewarded with the other 11 as a result.

I might check out the music of Kingdom Hearts 3 when it comes out too, but that's not a priority.  The priority was reaching 1,000 new songs in a single year like I'd already bragged as having done.  I don't actually want to turn my music hall of fame into an unwieldy beast bursting at the seams with additional songs.  Just the very good ones I'm nostalgically fond of should be enough.

While testing out the new Kingdom Hearts music (at minimum listening to all the new entries six times) I needed something to read, so I dug in to Uchi no Musume.  I was able to finish books three and four.  Things sure happen suddenly in this series, but I guess that's fine.  Just 5-7 left to go.

Btooom's volume 23 has been delayed to January so Uchi no Musume is all I've got.

12 Kingdoms' newest volume nine is coming out in 2019, but we still lack a full translation of volume 8, so it hardly matters.  *sigh*  I would love to see the ending to this story, too.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Winter 2019 Anime Preview:

It's almost time for the winter anime season, what do we have to look forward to?

Continuing Shows:

One Piece
Bolt
Huggto! Precure
Index S3
Fairy Tail S3
SAO S3
Tensei Shitara Slime

Sequels to known good shows:

BanG Dream! 2nd Season
Kemono Friends 2

Likely Good Shows:

Tate no Yuusha

Possibly Good Shows:

5-Toubun no Hanayome
Domestic na Kanojo
Revisions
Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka
Endro
Watshi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita
Girly Air Force
Kemurikusa
Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai
Grimms Notes the Animation
Pastel Memories
Egao no Daika
Circlet Princess
Bermuda Triangle: Colorful Pastrale

So right off the bat we'll have 10 shows, which is already as good as the fall season.  If any of the possibly good shows pan out we'll already be in bonus territory.  There's always one or two dark horses to be found in that category, so I'm pretty hopeful.

In truth, so long as they keep airing SAO, Index and Fairy Tail I could care less what else is airing.  The season is already a success.

Eiyuu no Musume:

The manga for this series has only just started, but it's fine so far.  Yet more fuel for the fire.

Meanwhile, I found two more remixes, Nostalgic Song and Fiery Castle, from Legend of Mana.  This gets me back down to 996 new songs on the year, after all that excitement about reaching 1,000.  Hopefully I can find four replacements before December's end.

Also, the number of incomplete anime is actually 101, complete is 99, due to Sore ga Seiyuu being misclassified as complete while actually being incomplete.  None of my numbers stay right for long.

Though there's still plenty of new manga series left to check out, I think I'll focus on Uchi no Musume's light novels for now.  At least this series is complete and completely translated, I can't say that about many others.

Fairy Tail Final is expected to run for 51 episodes, so that means 41 more episodes to come.  2019 is going to feature SAO and Fairy Tail almost the whole year round.  But when both of them end, I'm just going to be clamoring for more on my wishlist, because that still leaves out SAO books 19+ and Fairy Tail 100 Years Quest.  As great as these series are, the #1 and #2 anime in my rankings, they still aren't complete adaptions of the source material.  That's just how rare these things are.  Even Clannad's anime doesn't cover Tomoyo After Story.  It's such a frustrating industry.


December Updates:

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar's 12th volume is receiving a commercial translation on December 16th.  These translators have been churning volumes out at a splendid pace all year, but it's still not enough.  In Japan, the 14th volume is being released on Christmas Day.  If they maintain their current pace and translate volumes 13 and 14, by then surely volume 15 will be out in Japan.  The race just continues.

And that's when you have a really fast translation team.  Suka Moka, for instance, is up to volume 6 in Japan, but the first volume still hasn't been fully translated into English.  At this rate we'll never catch up.

Hataraku Maou-Sama's 20th volume is being released in Japan this December, but we're still stuck on volume 17.

It's rather sad that Japanese authors can produce all new content faster than English translators can simply copy and paste it into English.  We're falling further and further behind on so many fronts.  Da Capo is the most extreme example, but it's starting to feel like we'll never get to read the ending to any story anymore.

This is why it's so important to receive a completed anime.  Anime is reliably translated, unlike manga, light novels and visual novels.  Unfortunately, out of my top 200 anime, only 100 are either completed or slated to be completed some time in the future.

The other 100 drop off at some point in the storyline and leave you as helpless as ever.  When the anime adaption is incomplete and the manga/novel/visual novel translation isn't keeping up. . .

If Japanese franchises would just reach their endings at some point, then it would be possible for translators to catch back up slowly but surely, but Japan is determined to never reach the ending to anything.  Just look at Kimi ni Todoke and its insistence on another chapter coming out in 2019.  Just how long is this series going to take?  It started in 2005 so we're talking 15 years so far.  Why is every Japanese franchise a monster from a horror movie that simply refuses to die?

Gate had reached its ending, and then the author went and made a sequel series.  The original story was translated -- but of course the sequel wasn't, so we were robbed of a completed, translated story and given more squiggly gobbledygook in its place.  It's just agonizing.

SAO was meant to end with Alicization, but of course it didn't after achieving its level of popularity.  Fairy Tail had a perfectly good ending, but then 100 Years Quest came out.  Bakemonogatari was supposed to end with Owarimonogatari, but then Nisio Isin came up with some fun new ideas for the series and off we went again.

Nanoha could have ended with StrikerS, but they insisted on making Force, and then putting it on hiatus, meaning we're now stuck at an eternal cliffhanger instead of a nice and tidy ending.  Thanks a lot!

Between the halfhearted efforts of translators and the endless production of sequels there's just no chance of closure anywhere.  Even Dragon Ball is still ongoing.  Not to mention Boruto. . . Please God just let it end!

Overeager Japanese who will never let a story die combined with apathetic Englishmen refusing to translate anything further makes Jack a sad boy.

Meanwhile, Isekai Kirihirake's manga is readable, though hardly world shattering, adding another arrow to my quiver.  Next up for trial: Eiyuu no Musume.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Good Music 15.0:

Some more improvements were made to my Good Music post.  For one, I found out that Hammerhead was just a remix of Hammerhead ~Last Bastion~, and took it out.  I also found out that Feather Cradle just wasn't a good song, and took it out.

I also got rid of all kanji/hiragana/katakana based song names and upgraded them into English or at least Romanji so the English speaking west can actually identify what the heck songs I'm talking about.

In addition, I grouped the songs by artist instead of album because that's the most relevant factor in the end.

If anyone's interested in discovering the best music the world has to offer, the new and improved music hall of fame is now waiting for them~

Liz to Aoi Tori was okay but nothing special.  It's sad when emotional dependency isn't reciprocal, but that's life for you.  It's virtually impossible for any two humans, or God forbid a group larger than two humans, to get along about anything for any length of time.  I'm not sure what's the use in focusing on just one of the endless many of dysfunctional relationships people can get into.  It's a dog bites man story.

Stories are only newsworthy when 'man bites dog.'  IE, when two people actually get along.  If I wanted to know about people who didn't get along I could just look outside.