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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Yuki Matsuoka, etc:

It's time to add a new voice to my favorite seiyuu list -- Yuki Matsuoka.

She's an old pro who has had an enormously large and famous list of heroines under her belt.  Her most important roles are Aiko Senoo from Ojamajo Doremi, Osaka from Azumanga Daioh, (both kansai-ben performances, which is fitting since she was born in Osaka), Inoue Orihime from Bleach and Evangeline A.K. McDowell (lish lac li lac!) from Negima.

I'm not sure why I never noticed her until now.  I just happened to be rewatching the original Nanoha tv series in blu-ray for the first time when I noticed a minor character at a console in the starship with a really distinctive good voice.  That character is Amy, completely minor and forgettable, and yet I just had to look up the voice actress behind this totally minor and meaningless role.  Lo and behold, she voiced all of these main characters as well and they'd all gone completely over my head.  This girl's talent is off the charts and I never noticed until she was playing Amy the desk girl.  Go figure.

As for the Nanoha series, I think Yukari Tamura's performance as Nanoha is one of the best voice acted performances of all time.  Yukari Tamura always sounds magnificent, but she's just on another plane during this specific anime.  Every syllable is so emotional and evocative, like she's reading from scripture instead of normal lines spoken by mortal mouths, that it leaves everyone else in the field looking like beached whales.  She's performing alongside a wonderful Rie Kugimiya playing as her blonde friend Alisa Bannings, and a wonderful Nana Mizuki playing as her blonde rival Fate Testorossa, and yet both of them are left in the dust by the overwhelming power and haunting beauty of Yukari Tamura's Takamachi Nanoha.

Yuki Matsuoka is no Yukari Tamura, but the fact that her role as a desk girl was still enough to pique my interest in an anime with that much voice talent batting right alongside her is telling.  If you can stand out in a crowd like that you're one of the greatest seiyuu to ever live, hands down.

Nanoha doesn't only have seiyuu talent powering it into #15th place in my rankings.  Every aspect of Nanoha is handled brilliantly.  The loving attention and detail which went into the animation of a conversation at a dinner table or a girl breaking into a sprint is something you never see these days.  The soundtrack conveys the urgency and determination of the warriors perfectly.  The creative artistry behind the high angle, fish lens shots, rotating and rolling cameras even though this is all hand drawn (an insane workload for the animators to do something like that), gives Nanoha a distinct and mesmerizing look no other anime mimics.  The grimdark shading and atmosphere which makes everything feel more gripping and serious than the plot alone can.  The beautiful character designs and outfit designs (as expected from people who started as visual novel creators).  The genuinely thoughtful and clever combat mechanics and scenes.  There is nothing lacking in Nanoha except size and closure.

Nanoha falls short of series with greater length because it feels like a series of short stories instead of a genuine epic like the completely well connected Bakemonogatari, Fate, Dragon Ball, Fairy Tail, One Piece, Naruto, etc franchises have.  It also lacks the completeness and closure that shows like Higurashi, Code Geass, Clannad and Pretty Cure have.  You're never really sure what happens in Nanoha's and Fate's life, as everything is left so damnably ambiguous.  Even in StrikerS, they're both so young there's just no telling where their life trajectory will head from here, and Vivid of course isn't even close to finished even in its manga version (which isn't translated so there's no way for us in the USA to know what happens in it anyway.)  Strikeforce is on indefinite hiatus, so there's no chance of gathering clues from that manga either.  The only series that ranks higher than Nanoha while sharing the same problem of being too short and incomplete is Sword Art Online.  So in terms of execution, Nanoha is trailing only to Sword Art Online, everyone else it lost to only due to technical deficiencies due to the anime and the manga not yet being long enough or having reached its true conclusion.

If Nanoha were to ever get its act together, finish its sequel mangas, give a final answer to whether Fate and Nanoha are lesbian lovers or not (If not, give a final answer to whether they will stay single for life or if they will find romance with a boy before they're old maids), and then animate all of said vital answers to our curiosity, it would be ranked way higher than 15th.  As it is, it's only 15th because presumably the new movie and Vivid tv anime series will be adding more light and aiding our quest to understanding sometime down the road.  Neither of which sequels have been given a specific time frame for when exactly they will be airing.  If, for instance, these shows end up being cancelled, there's no way Nanoha's better than Crest of the Stars, which has exactly the same problem of being too short and lacking closure as Nanoha.  Nanoha's future content is supposed to address that, but if it doesn't actually come out then psshhh to that.

Kizumonogatari has a countdown website, which will presumably be showing its new airing date after all the delays.  This is good news.  After all the delays one had to wonder if the whole thing was just going to be cancelled, but it looks like it's going to come out in the end after all.  Kizumonogatari is essential to the understanding of the entire series and really should have been the first thing seen before anything else in the franchise.  People in the future, instead of watching the out of order mess that we current-day viewers have had to deal with, will be watching Kizumonogatari first off in their chronological reading of the story with a proper cause and effect flow.  Kizu is also a great work of art in its own right.  The story is tight and exceptional, the characters are really likable and their problems are easy to empathize with.  Having read the book already, I'm even more hyped to see the anime, not less, because I know this is going to blow everyone away.

It feels like Hayate no Gotoku is actually rounding a corner and trying to reach its ending.  I suppose there have been some plot-heavy segments in the past which ended up just wandering off into comic nonsense again, but this time feels different.  It's like the author himself is telling us it can't always keep going on like this.  Hayate's a fantastic manga, and if the anime had just followed the manga, it would've been ranked a lot higher than #26th.  As always, the anime never lives up to the source material though, so all anime ends up looking stupid.  There's a lot left to resolve though.  Who will Hayate end up with in the end?  I'm cheering for Izumi.  Nishizawa would also be fine.  I'd be distraught if it were anyone else though.  ^_^;

I feel like the previous butler, Himegami, needs to be talked about more.  Also, whatever secrets A-tan is still keeping, like the significance of that coffin.  Even if the author wants to end the manga, it feels like a lot more still has to be said.  Just like how Bleach still has a lot of bankais left to reveal before the story can ever reach a satisfying conclusion.

I finished the 5th Index New Testament light novel and am onwards into the 6th.  These are slightly better than the awful 4th novel but still nothing to write home about.  Heavy Object's anime starts tomorrow.

The 7th volume of Oreshura was hilarious and heartwarming, way way better than Index, and just leaves you craving to know what happens next.  A shame the translators just can't keep up with the author's release schedule.  Also a shame that the anime stopped at the end of volume 4. . .

College football Saturday has a ton of great matchups this weekend.  Georgia vs. Alabama is the obvious biggie, but practically every match this week is going to be amazing.  Everything's on the line every week in college football, which is why it's the #1 non-anime viewing experience on tv.

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