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Didn’t need that much CONvincing @CON_fessionals is a hit!

It’s finally here!

The must anticipated Kickstarter project from writer/director Jon Christie ‘CONfessionals’ has released the first web episode online for fans. Now you must be wondering why I am so excited for this particularly web series, it is mainly because we are following the ‘lives’ of some of the best voices in the anime dub industry.

The ‘mockumentary’ follows the lives of well known anime dub voice actors making a name for themselves through conventions. The series follows Rileigh Star (Cherami Leigh) competing against the best voice actor in the game, the very pompous K Mickey Malcolm (J Michael Tatum.) The two voice actors have one goal in mind, to be the very best. We also follow the lives of Rileigh’s twin brother Reese Babbinflock (Bryce Papenbrook) and their very protective bodyguard Jimmy (Jon Christie).


Jon Christie and Cherami Leigh as Jimmy and Rileigh

This project started late last year where Christie posting the idea to the fans on Kickstarter and asking for pledges. The amazing response from fans of the voice actors saw the project get funded and even surpassing the original goal. The series as of this point has been slated for a six episode season.


Bryce Papenbrook as Reece Babbinflock

In the first episode we are introduced to the main characters and its a wonderful set up for all the main characters. The story itself is entertaining and it is fascinating to see the actors play the 360 versions of themselves. The main cast has shown that there is more than just a voice, rather that they are very funny and witty comedic actors. The only flaw I could find with this series was that it was so short and all I wanted was more, but to keep in regulation with web series I can justify and understand the short episode length.


J Michael Tatum as K Mickey Malcolm

Anime dub fans will love listening and picking up on the little homages that the show manages to put in and take the piss out of. It is genuinely funny and if you are a fan of shows such as ‘The Office’ or other mockumentary based shows than this one is definitely not one to be missed. Christie has created a hilarious universe and I look forward to seeing where the story (and the addition of other well known VA’s that are expected to show in in the series) will continue from here.


Brandon McInnis as  Bartholomew

I rate the episode an easy 4.5/5 purely because it was so lighthearted and just witty in their punchline of jokes. It is great to see voice actors take the crap out of their own profession and make it something ridiculously hilarious. Christie should be praised for bringing us this world and the characters and giving it a life.


Cassandra Lee Moris is also featured in the series

So without further ado here is the first episode! We love this show here at Japandaman and look forward to showing it some more love in the future! Make sure you go and show them some love at their YouTube page as well as through their twitter.

CONfessionals Episode One – iCONs 

 

Fans in Australia will have the chance next month to meet one of the stars of the series, Cherami Leigh at Madman Anime Festival in Brisbane on June 10/11. Make sure you go and check it out if you can!

 

 

Anime Rewind: Bokura Ga Ita

Late one evening I got extremely frustrated thinking ‘What articles could I possibly come up with for Japandaman?’ I was struggling to find my writing muse and I was somewhat getting tired of reading reviews of the latest anime that hasn’t even been out for three weeks. Already the ‘experts’ are chiming in claiming what we all should be and should not be watching. So I decided to turn on my television and not watch anime and just see what else was on. As I was searching through the smart TV apps I came across one called ‘Viewster’, naturally of course my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to look through the app to see if there was anything of interest on it. To my surprise this app was designed for gamers and anime fans alike. The anime catalogue was surprising, having a lot of classic/mid 00’s anime series in complete all for free. This is where I had that lightbulb moment, I thought ‘Hey Farrah, why don’t you do an anime review series on shows that we seem to have forgotten like the classics that people might not have seen?’ Thus, ‘Anime Rewind’ is born. A new review series from myself where I will look back at anime that might have slipped the cracks and give my opinion on whether or not to watch it.

I start my first review on ‘Bokura Ga Ita’ or as known in English ‘We were there’.

The story itself is a love story. We are introduced to Nanami Takahashi, a teenage girl who is starting her first year of high school who wants to make as many friends as she can. She comes across Motoharu Yano, the popular boy at school. Nanami absolutely detests him as he is completely superficial and so full of himself. As time goes on Nanami develops feelings for Motoharu and in return so does he for Nanami. The pair are in love but the circumstances surrounding their relationship is influential to whether or not their love could survive. Motoharu, still deeply affected from his ex-girlfriend death had become the base of all the issues that he is facing. The anime deals with first love, depression, relationship drama, death and much, much more.

The animation style is unique. Although it is not to the standard that majority of anime is like today, the style has its own way of telling the story. This might not be to the taste of many anime fans, however I really enjoyed the completely different style that this anime managed to take. The soundtrack is the winning factor for me. The music itself manages to tell the story and captivate the viewer. I found myself many times going onto YouTube just so I can go and listen to the soundtrack over and over again. The depth of the story and the characters is amazing. There is no other way I can describe it other than that. This was the first anime series in a very long time to take me on an emotional journey. I found myself drawn to the characters and felt their pain and sadness from the situations that they were facing. It is definitely the anime to make you feel. It will make you cry, it will make you emotional drained, but if that is your thing than this is definitely the anime for you. If I had to compare it to an anime series it is on par with ‘Your lie in April’ however this one actually makes you feel like you have been stabbed in the heart with a knife.

Definitely give this anime a go, if you are looking for something that will make you cry and something on the romantic side, then this is the one for you. The series is a long one with about 25 episodes. It anime does unfortunately end at the end of their high school journey, but the remaining story is continued in the form of the manga and also live action film (which was absolutely amazing). The anime can be found on the free mobile/smart TV app ‘Viewster’ and its free.

Bokura Ga Ita on Viewster will take you directly to the episodes

I rate it 4/5.

Finding your voice: ‘A Silent Voice’ film review


Today was an important day for an Australian anime fan, today was the day ‘A Silent Voice’ was finally released in cinemas all around Australia thanks to Madman Entertainment. The highly anticipated film from Kyoto Studios has been on the lips of many anime fans as this was the film we all wanted to see. The buzz the film received already from other parts of the world who got to see if first could not stop talking about how this film had impacted them in such a way.

The film is about a boy, Shoya Ishida who as a child started bullying the new girl in class, Shoko Nishimiya, just because she is deaf. As time went on Shoya behaviour towards Shoko became worse resulting in all his friends and classmates turning on him. Years pass and Shoko and Shoya do not speak to each other again, that is until they are older and through his past behaviour influences his current behaviour Shoko tries to develop something Shoya only wanted in the first place, friendship and acceptance.


The film itself deals with some hard hitting topics such as depression, isolation, suicide, relationships and most importantly acceptance. It was a lot to take in personally. The content was hard hitting and vital for everyone to see. There were moments where I personally felt dragged on but it was not to say that it didn’t have a place in the film. The animation itself was neat, unlike the beauty and awe that ‘Your Name’ had previously this film had it’s own unique charm. The soundtrack was a story teller in its own right, shocking myself with the opening credits theme.


The unique aspects that this film explores allows you to take in different points of view without realising it. We see it all, the view of the bully to the view of the victim, all of which you can understand their points of view and at times feel sorry for them. The hard hitting truths that this film explores is one I truly believe anyone who feels lost or isolated should go and see. Like many of my reviews I don’t want to spoil or ruin the experience for you, but make sure you go in with an open mind and have a lot of tissue on hand.


I rate this 3.5/5. I loved the plot and the characters, however in my personal opinion the art style was just not to my liking and after being spoiled with ‘Your Name’ it is extremely hard for an anime film this year to even compete in animation alone. Definitely go and see it as it is only around for a very limited time.

Review: Sword Art Online Extra Edition (Blu-Ray)

The latest Sword Art Online feature film is nearly upon us but until then, here’s a new release from Madman and Aniplex for anyone craving a walk through the early days of the SAO storyline. The events in this offering fall after season one but before season two and the GGO story arc and everything else that followed.

sao extra edition

It’s basically broken up into three different stories, two of which are being told at the same time. The first involves Kirito taking his sister, Suguha, to his school to meet up with Asuna, Rika (Lisbeth) and Keiko (Silica) to assist her with something that she’s yet to learn: swim. After arriving at the school, Kirito meets up with Seijiro Kikuoka from the Virtual Reality Section of the Department of General Affairs. Seijiro essentially wants to touch base with Kirito for a ore comprehensive wrap up after the events of SAO and ALO. This launches into the bulk of the story which involves a lot of flashback sequences with how Silica, Lisbeth, Asuna, Yui and Suguha (Leafa) all recounting how they met Kirito and the quests and adventures they had with him. From beating different end of floor bosses to the whole Beta/Cheater incident and more, it’s all covered. It also delves into the ALO storyline with the Asuna/Titania arc.

sao crew

While all this is going on, the others are still progressing with their efforts to teach Suguha how to swim. It has to be said that there’s quite a bit of fan service in these sequences, nothing over the top but expect lots of cleavage and bouncing bits.

The final part shows the whole crew relaxing in the virtual world of ALO before embarking on a quest underwater to try and show Yui her first real whale, something which she’s never seen before. But as these things go, they’re never as they appear and before too long things begin to go awry. This last part doesn’t run for too long but for fans of the SAO Universe, it’s a welcome extra little quest. Overall, if you’re a diehard fan of SAO then it goes without saying that you probably already have this in your collection. If you just have a passing interest in this series, it’s still worthwhile pick up just for the nice flashback sequence which may resolve any unanswered questions you may have. And the latest quest, while short, is still pretty cool.

Final Score: 6/10

Review: Soul Calibur V OST

Before I start this, I just want to preface it by saying that I’ve never reviewed music of this kind before so bear with me if I start to ramble on 🙂

Soul Calibur is game series with deep roots and a rich heritage, starting from Soul Edge in the arcades before being ported to the Playstation, right up to the latest incarnation in the series, Soul Calibur V. One thing that has remained a constant throughout the series has been the in-game music, or the soundtrack. But it’s in SC V that the music has really come into its own, thanks to the involvement and contributions of some of the heavyweights of the music world.

soul-calibur-v-logo

This soundtrack is literally a who’s who of the music scene with Junichi Nakatsuru (Soul series), Hiroki Kikuta (Secret of Mana), Tomoki Miyoshi, Andrew Aversa, Cris Velasco (God of War series), Inon Zur (Prince of Persia), Jillian Aversa, Eminence Symphony Orchestra, Hiroaki Yura plus loads more taking part in the production, composition and/or performing of the pieces. The soundtrack is spread out on three discs with the first two discs containing themes for each character in the game totalling 28 in all with some amazing highlights coming to mind. In particular Samsara: The Wheel of Eternity (Kilik’s Theme), The Invincible Blade (Mitsurugi’s Theme) and Venice Rooftops (SCV mix) (Ezio Auditore’s Theme). This is not to take anything away from the other tracks as all the themes are absolutely exquisite conveying drama and the emotion behind the character. The instrument sections themselves from the strings to brass and percussions are at their best and show the experience and professionalism of the musicians.

The third disc is made up of the music that is played out during the battles and in-game cinematics which are breathtaking and a joy to listen to. Some highlights for me were Home is Faraway with its sweeping sounds that take you away, Holy Requisition with beautiful choral arrangement and, the last three tracks of disc three deserve a special mention. These being The Last Wish, The Siblings’ Destiny and the amazingly sublime, The Breeze at Dawn. Jillian Aversa’s stunning ethereal vocals are laid out over an amazing composition that brings together string, brass, percussion with an amazing vocal arrangement. This track really gets me every time. Jillian is a standout on this track.

The soundtrack comes spread out across three discs in a gorgeous box with an impressive booklet containing previously unseen artwork and a credits list while the three cd’s come bundled in two attractive cases. This soundtrack is nothing short of amazing for the fan and for someone just getting into the world of gaming music, this is a package that will whet the appetite and leave you wanting more.

Don’t wait any longer, hunt this soundtrack down and get it into your player. This recording is a testament to CIA, the Eminence Symphony Orchestra, Project Soul and everyone else who was involved. A world-class piece of music.

[starreview tpl=16] Absolutely amazing soundtrack that will transport you to new levels.

Review: G-Dragon “One Of A Kind”

G-Dragon, the eponymous leader of K-Pop super group, Bigbang, launches his second foray into solo territory with the release of, “One of a kind”, the first track released from his upcoming second album of the same name.

The amazing new track plays host to a thumping hip hop bass line with a gritty rap tone giving the listener a new insight to G-Dragon’s creative mind. This release is vastly different from, “Heartbreaker”, his first solo album which tended to stay within the safe confines of pop music. His collaboration album with fellow Bigbang member, TOP, also straddled this same line but with this release, we’re able to see how he has grown as an artist, experimenting with a new style which he manges to bring all together in an impressive package.

The track does bear some resemblance to early 90’s G-Funk sound pioneered by American stars, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Warren G, but that’s where the similarities end as the track takes its own path and never imitates those artists. The track is basically G-Dragon announcing to everyone his merits and how he’s a force to be reckoned with, here to stay. Ripping out lyrics such as, “Because I’m different, that’s just me”, “Because people go crazy over anything I do”, he knows the effect he has on fans. From his beliefs to his music and industry recognised fashion sense, G-Dragon acknowledges all this without sounding pompous, merely thankful for his status.

This track may take some people a couple of listens to get into but make no mistake, you’d be doing yourself a massive disservice by not giving this a go, this is G-Dragon in fine form creating new sounds with lyrics as only he can. If you watch the MV, another Bigbang member, Taeyang, makes a cameo appearance right at the end which is great to see.

“Because I’m different, that’s just me”, yes G-Dragon, he definitely is.

[starreview tpl=16]
Highly impressive first release from the eagerly awaited second album, get onto it! 

Review: Bigbang ‘Still Alive’

It was only a few months back that Korean boyband, Bigbang, released their comeback EP, ‘Alive’. Well, now the boys have released the Special Edition of that same EP called ‘Still Alive’.

So what are the differences? Is it better than Alive? Should you buy it? All these more and will be answered below.

First of all, this new EP shares the same massive hits as Alive, those being Blue, Bad Boy, Love Dust and the massive hit, Fantastic Baby. So for the purpose of this review, I’ll leave them out seeing as how they’re identical versions with no difference.

Still Alive

Still Alive started off as an intro track to the previous EP and only ran for just under one minute. I did at the time say that this had the potential to be a great track only if it were longer. Well, lo and behold, they’ve done just and released onto the album as a proper full length track and it sounds awesome. A great thumping beat over club drums give make this track standout along with an awesome rap from TOP, real stand out track. Nicely paced with a simple piano loop and unobtrusive synthesizer sounds round this off as a tight production.

Monster

The first track to be released, and at last count the MV has had over 2 million hits in 24 hours. And for good reason, this track is an absolute hit and demonstrates what the boys are capable of and indeed what an extremely talented lyricist and story teller that G Dragon is developing into. Easily the most mature track they’ve done to date, this track of a lost love and acceptance of a person is very well played out with a beautiful subtle orchestra in the background and a piano section over the entire length that is to die for. Beautiful, touching and very rare in today’s market to have such a heartfelt track with a traditional medium tempo beat laid over it. This is the track that will define Bigbang as more than a flash in the pan, this track proves they are here to stay and will only help to further define them. AAA+++

Feeling

Another catchy dance track with a pulsating bass and a great vocal turnout from Daesung. Cool chorus with lots of finger tapping moments, simple without having to resort to over production and having loads of sound samples and effects in the background, Nicely done.

Bingle Bingle

Great track with a guitar driven riff, very easy to get into. More of a rock beat as opposed to a dance track but Bigbang cover their tracks as only they can and pull it off making it sound accessible to a mainstream audience. Try not to sing along to the chorus as well, it’s simple and very catchy.

Ego

An easy listening track with gentle vocals that plays on the dance track/pop song genre. Never fully committing to either but still comes across very well. Some might say that it maybe the weakest track on the album if they really had to choose but after having spent some time with it, it’s really begun to grow on me. Really smooth vocals from G Dragon and Co. help to keep this song on that tricky line but they pull it off in a seamless manner.

[starreview tpl=16]
Another stellar effort from Bigbang, this comes highly recommended and your ears will thank you!

Review: Bigbang ‘Alive’

EDIT: The new Bigbang EP ‘Still Alive’ has been reviewed and can be seen here!

After a one year hiatus, the boys from the Korean super boyband, Bigbang, return with a brand new EP that picks you up and makes you remember why this group is a force to be reckoned with.

Intro: Alive    
Thumping beats introduce the listener to the first track; a short track which instantly gets you in the mood wanting more and does so nicely with inviting vocals over a tight dance beat. This intro is good enough to be developed into its own song IMO

Blue
What can be said about this track that hasn’t already been said? I’ll give it a try. All the members present gentle vocals over an interesting blend of music fusing electronic beats, guitar and modern instruments. The song has a nice theme to it as well with an insanely catchy hook and a chorus that sucks you in overtime and has you tapping your finger or foot in time with the music every single time. As a launch single, absolutely awesome showing that the Korean super boyband is still capable of delivering the goods and does so with a sweet, unique style.

Love Dust
This is a great dance track with a fantastic electronic beat and a synthesised effect over some parts of the song. An amazing blend of drums with more great vocals by all the members pitching in, especially T.O.P. with his always catchy and undeniable raps in just the right places. The chorus…one of the best ever heard, this a track for those drives by the coastline with a setting sun in the background. Yes, it’s “soundtrack for your life” kind of song. This song needs a music video immediately.

Bad Boy
A song that will bring out the rebellious teenager in any girl, who can resist G Dragon’s smooth vocals over an infectiously catchy riff that borders on reggae style in some parts. The band continues their fusion of different styles that shouldn’t work but somehow they make it all come together. Part R n B, part reggae and all class. Will have you humming this song on the bus, at work or in class, it has that creep on you factor in a great way. T.O.P.’s chorus parts work extremely well with his gravelly voice while Daesung and Taeyang compliment the middle hook of the song beyond well before rolling back into the chorus as smoothly as you like.

Ain’t No Fun
An electronic intro with deep drum beats greets the listener here. One of the lesser publicised songs but still an amazing listen with no desire to skip the song at any point. The trance like quality of the vocals over the chorus is extremely well put together and helps to keep the song flowing nicely. This song will also benefit from a music video and some airplay by radio station and video shows. Has an almost 80’s feel to it but like 80’s brought into the today. Sounds great, plays nicely with more great vocals from the boys.

Fantastic Baby
Ok…this song borders on the absolute ridiculous with how good it is. It is literally an album seller and is a dance floor filler. Electronic techno beats over sublime beats with one of the catchiest choruses heard in the last 10 years, yes it’s that good. G Dragon sounds at his best on this track with his ability to sing while making it sound completely effortless. Both Taeyang and Daesung provide the amazing vocals leading up to the chorus which are amazing, and the ‘Wow, Fantastic Baby’ vocal before each launch into the chorus is an absolute stroke of genius. Works beyond well and is a perfect example of a great dance track done right, a lot of artists and producers can learn from this example. So many sounds going on, you literally have to listen to it more than a handful of times to completely hear everything going on, all the samples, all the instruments, all the vocals. An aural delight.

Wings
The Daesung solo is great example of production done right with the vocal hitting all the highs in the right area and never going overboard. An extremely 80’s sounding chorus done right which I’m absolutely in love with being a huge fan of the 80’s. Daesung demonstrates a fantastic range with his vocals and carries this solo effort very well. Great hooks, clever sound samples with great use of classical instruments make this another dance floor pleaser.


Conclusion
In summing up, this is the kind of album that comes anywhere from once to three times in a band’s career. This album is also a fan converter meaning anyone open enough to listen to Asian pop music will become a fan, this much is undeniable. If anyone is sitting on the fence about picking this up, don’t understand why, but you must pick this up. Either go to the iTunes store and buy it now or buy a physical copy from your favourite importer.

It’s early in the year and there are tail other K-Pop artists to release their latest but I’m going on record right now and saying that will be extremely hard to beat and, I’m calling it, this will be the Asian Pop release of 2012. At the end of the year when they look back at the Asian releases, this will top lists everywhere. Yes, I love it beyond words, not a single track worth skipping or included as filler, the kind of album you’ll play through to the end and then start it again, believe. And really, the title tracks says it all, yes Bigbang, you’re still alive.

[starreview tpl=16]

5 out of 5 stars, you will buy a cd player just to play this, believe me!