Category Archives: Seiyuu, Idol, Pop

The Future Is 2.5D

Remembering Anime Boston, I thought about 2.5D. I think the context the term was used in was for Momoi’s Afilia Saga East–she’s a producer for them–a group of Akiba idols associated with the similarly named maid cafe chain. The term came up during a question at Momoi’s fan panel related to the subgenrification [btw, google result of this made-up word makes a good list of wank blogs] of otaku in Japan–I think they would have it way worse than oversea otaku, and they probably are. There are idol otaku and there are anime otaku, very different groups of people who like very different things even when from afar, they are not really that different. Among others.

Thinking about some of the fans I personally know, to put stress on the term fan (I think it best describes most of these people), it really is the case where people are fans of a lot of the same things, but for different reasons. I’m not sure if that is because of the media mix case or what, but this sludge of … things that are attractive do bridge both 2D and 3D fans, otaku, scholars, shopkeepers, other sub-genres, what have you.

I think what is more interesting about 2.5D is that there is a distinct expression for it. Seiyuu. Hatsune Miku. ClariS. AKB0048. All of these things are examples of 2.5D.

To take a big step back, the term 2.5D really comes about when we look at the otaku who likes their 2D–slang for anime/manga/game characters. Those moe figures and hugpillows, that’s a stable expression of 2D. You can shout “ore no yome” for both 2D and 3D characters, but the latter will get you more weird looks than the former, I think. As for 3D, it generally refers to real life persons, or specifically idols for idol otaku–people who like AKB48 or one of the many. They have their own code and things to do, depending on which agency they (idols and fan alike) are slaved to. Of course 3D fandom has been in development for a much longer period than 2D, so it’s a convoluted thing to sort through so I won’t really try to here. It’s when 2D collides with 3D that you get this strange 2.5D effect.

In other words, when 2D wants to do 3D, it’s 2.5D. When 3D tries to be 2D, it’s 2.5D.

Like every other otaku term that’s been around, it’s not exactly easy to define or even pin down. I think 2.5D is most akin to a feeling where there’s some kind of gap that is being broached. It’s probably vaguely related to concepts like “uncanny valley” and “AI” and “meme” and things like that, because undead Tupac is a very apt expression of 2.5D. On the other hand when you have physical manifestation of 2D (hug pillows, figures, etc) or when the 2D slots into a perfectly 3D role (eg., a virtual idol), that’s 2.5D. Actually anime is inherently 2.5D.

The bigger generalization I want to state is that 2D is limited to ideas, where as 3D is manifestation thereof. Most Japanese idols are pretty much just girls who are produced to project some kind of persona, an image. As mentioned before it is no less artificial than Hatsune Miku in a lot of ways, certainly in the ways fans interact with idols. On the other hand when your average Precure kigurumi stage show happens at an amusement park, well, that’s a real-life manifestation of cartoons.

Somehow we are infatuated when this crossover behavior happens. I don’t really know why, but I can make a few guesses. And by we I mean people like myself.

There are many other advantages too. 2.5D naturally lends itself to better marketing. It’s easy to photocopy some ads or post on facebook an idea, and image, a persona; to win fans with your 3D personality require the person being all over the place, or expensive TV broadcasting. Neither replaces the other but you need to leverage both the 2D or 3D along with the 2.5. It’s great to have a manga with a good story and great art and an eye for what makes for great manga material, but it probably will always be more popular if the anime adaptation turned out to be a blockbuster. The examples of 2.5D’s benefits are countless.

The best example, to go back to Tupac, is that ideas live forever, theoretically. Much longer than life + 70 years. Even if the 3D component is six feet under, 2D and 2.5D will live on as long as there’s enough interests in it. That alone almost guarantees that the future is 2.5D. Wait until hologram technology breaks the gates of Hades wide open–big enough for Biggie to join the chorus!

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Anime Boston 2012: Day 0, 1

Oysters? Check. Little-neck clams? Sure. Shrimp? Why not. Crab? Ok. No lobster though. Squid? Definitely.

Yes to hamburgers, Momoi-ist Hardcore-ist, cheap vacation suites made out of converted historic apartment buildings.

Say hello.

Say hello to sad songs, and happy songs.

And friends. (By the way if you know I took pictures of you and want the full size copy, leave me a comment using your email address or just uh, email/twitter me).

Pretty laid back otherwise. Meeting new friends and old alike.

Having PAX in town did drastically lower the population at the con, too, so life’s not as congested even compared to 2010.

Got content for my obligations. Good stuff.

Good times.


Random Thoughts: Cold-Call Stalker

I wasted a perfectly good Saturday wormed in front a couple Nico streams for ACE. It’s something I probably have never really done before, although I may have had in different variations over the years. I think one of the strongest thing NND has over Youtube is precisely this sort of live content programming, the sort of stuff that resembles more like sports programming than, say, some pre-produced thing someone uploaded to some video service. NND’s coverage of ACE is actually pretty good once you ignore the fact that half of the content happen in the wee hours of the day for EDT and some of the better stuff is either not streamed or geoblocked.

As much as I casually (or maybe beyond “casually,” I’m not objective enough to tell) follow these new-comer seiyuu scenes, these ACE streams mark the first time I’ve seen some of them live with any prolong period of time. I guess it’s kind of interesting seeing Kayano do her little Menma corner in that interesting getup. Interesting, because I don’t really have another word for it.

It was enjoyable to see Mizuhashi and Shintani pimp the new Hidamari Sketch TV show. Man, I remember Shintani when she was like, 18 years old. Time flies. Mizuhashi was interesting and pro. The Madoka stage was rather uneventful other than seeing your favorite seiyuu on stage. In my case it’s mostly just Nonaka. I really need to dig out more videos of her, she’s like tailor made for my weak points. And I guess that’s the thing: I just don’t spend the time to watch seiyuu videos and the like, so there’s a sense of wonder left when I subject myself to this sort of manufactured marketing drivel.

On the other hand, you kind of have to be all keyed in to that stuff to enjoy, say, the iM@S x YuruYuri x Milky Holmes variety show. I was pretty happy about NND broadcasting that one in their US portal. Also, you can tell iM@S team is just more together, having better chemistry and more experience. Not too surprising given that they’ve been around the longest and have done so much together, even including newcomer Asakura/Yukiho.

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Remember that seiyuu phone call app? Originally it started out with a list of A and B rank seiyuu and you have to pay to get the full “calls.” Now it’s flush with a bunch of C rank (I’m not sure why I’m using these letter grades but I hope it gives you the idea) seiyuu that are free. It’s kind of cool because it’s one way to find out about some interesting voices, like Chiyo Ousaki. Definitely a budding eroge queen!

Is this creepy? At first yeah, even for me. But as I go through the various selections it’s actually kind of fun. Fun in the sense that it’s like you get to hear someone new and check out what they sound like, how they act out a scenario–something I think that is fundamental about being a seiyuu person. This along with that card game where you can pick up seiyuu by voice provide an interesting way for new voice actors to get themselves out there and for seiyuu fans to pick up “relevant entertainment” cheaply. Win-win for marketing and consumers IMO.

Then again, you get people like this. Which is kind of neat but, well, LOL. Anyway, you can read about the list of newbies at Seiyuu+plus’s site.

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Anime Boston, PAX East, and Easter are all happening at the same time! As mentioned earlier I’ll be enjoying (hopefully) the first Momoi concert of my life and it is with slight trepidation that I look forward to how the Momoists handle it. On one hand I hope it’s a lot of fun when fans put so much effort and energy into it, but on the other hand I just want to see the crowd being the way they are–lackadaisical and KY–without getting too worked up by wotagei. As much as the calls are part of the whole thing, it feels kind of too stiff sometimes. But then again, con crowds are typically easy and it’s not like I go to the con for the crowd anyway!

And that brings us to the true topic: obviously, I go to Boston for some fresh and tasty oysters. I think if there’s a staple thing to have in Boston, that is it. All the other seafood-y things are a little bit overrated. I mean I can get a perfectly good lobster roll or a cup of chowder in Manhattan today, why even bother doing it when I’m just 4 hours up north?

I wonder if there’s any good oyster omelette place in Boston.

Itou Kanako, I’m looking forward to that show without any reservations. Thank God.

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Back to ACE, and this time, 4/1. I’m as impacted as anyone else about April Fools. I’m fine with people complaining about it, but I think OreImo season 2 announcement on 4/1 is well-played. When the marketing is this self-aware, I have problems with people faulting that. It’s like they just don’t get it. Well, nobody’s perfect I guess.


Anison’s Slow Road

Congrats to Shimokawa and Koyama, tying the knot at their respective ages!

I think it’s a good opportunity and it feels right to bring up Mikuni Shimokawa’s CXCO’s past. They debuted around the same time as Morning Musume (1998) and this Akimoto-P project obviously didn’t fare as well, and disbanded only after a year. Shimokawa was 18-19 years old at the time, and she was one of the top girls in that lot.

Well, it feels right because I’ve been playing iM@S all this time, surely. It’s also nice to see how Shimokawa’s career twisted and turned in the past 10+ years, making her solo debut right around that time. If you remember your early 00s anison themes you  might remember that occasionally some idol will do an OP or ED here and there.

I know I’m not the only person who really enjoyed Mikuni Shimokawa’s variety of light pop music over the years. And she’s been associated with a few projects of note over time. Well, you know her songs, like her FMP tie-ins. But have you seen the idol vids she was in? Here are some more, OH MAN SO OLD.

I’ve been listening to Shimokawa ever since 2002. She’s been with me all over the place, on trips abroad and at home, while at work or writing at my desk during some grim and happy times. It’s got some wetness to it, all these memories that I can associate with her music. So it’s a lot of fun to reminiscence to her music, with this latest announcement. Plus there’s this “remember the fallen” aspect to this, LOL, with forgotten idol groups. I wonder if AKB48 people even care?

Idols and idol groups may come and go, but Shimokawa’s contribution to anison is just as valuable; if you’ve been reading those 2ch repost blogs you might have noticed some study about how up to a third of teenagers have purchased an anison CD today. That means in another 40 years something like a sixth of Japan’s population would have done something like this. That’s pretty amazing. Of course nobody can pin that to the efforts of one person or even one group, but I’d like to believe that everyone chipped in, and laid down a brick to build that house of anison.


The Idol Master: The Franchise Is All One

When I took “The iDolM@ster 2″ for the PS3 for a spin over the weekend, much of the game’s aesthetics deviated little from the same arcade feel. The iconic “Project iM@S” logo looks like a page taken out of some failed bemani game pitch. Much of the gameplay is also full of rhythm and beats, leaving no room to complain about that mismatch. But in my mind the game has nothing on what really is, to me, the essence of the franchise.

Of course, that isn’t how the story begin. My first run-in with iM@S (for the sake of sanity it will remain in its insanely abbreviated form in this post) probably has more to do with being born a male East Asian during the time in this world that I did. Although it is a stretch to call that an encounter with iM@S, I think it was fundamental in the makeup of what makes up the average “Producer-san,” the anonymous term in which the various in-game characters refer to as the player.

I think the only other game to date that walked (or perhaps trailblazed) the same path as Project iM@S is Sakura Taisen, and that is one blueprint in which a video games achieve mix-media franchising immortality. It’s one thing to create a game that goes on being immortal (and we can name a dozen of these easily), it’s another to create a game like a caterpillar creates a cocoon. The game may fade over time and yield to newer, glitzier ideas, but the franchise lives on with a dim, but ever-burning core fan base that participates in its extra-curricular activities. It’s just in the case of Sakura Taisen, the cocoon hatches a zombie butterfly of some sort; undying, but not immune to decay.

And like butterflies they were in those kayou shows, those brave actors and actresses, some even came to the stage as experienced stage actors. But yes, some others were, well, the seiyuu idol variety. They had to sing and dance, and act. It was interesting in that they were not only acting out the characters from the show, but also as actors of their own stage personalities.

Back to iM@S–it is entering its 8th year since the very first game. The recent PS3 port and the anime adaptation are sure to bring in new fans for the franchise, or at least get people curious enough to check out the game, like myself. I’m slightly more interested initially at the iM@S live shows, as the cumulation of sentimental energies and collective moments of orgasm from a bunch of male otaku types. And also, seiyuu fandom. I think someone reported like >90% male-to-female ratio at those lives? Not surprised.

The point I wanted to make about stage personalities is important because invariably this girl walks on the stage, and I was like, “heh, I don’t even have to remind myself of this video being Azusa.” I mean, some people commented on how her character in the anime is acted by the same person as in that video, but there is nothing holding you back from seeing it when it is the actual person on stage.

Oh, right, the stage shows: It was “The World Is All One” two-day live July 3rd to 4th, 2010, at Makahari Messe. Day 2 is what I linked above to Danie’s write-up, a solid read if you want to know what actually happened. Day two is also the day to go if you are a Kugimiya fan. In fact both days are good for that. There are a lot of people who really dig this gal, so I’m not going to talk about it too much, besides that I watched that two-BD boxset and now am ready to talk about it.

It is at these sort of fantasy-meets-reality events where we truly get to see the meta. If I were to rank the 13 girls again like how I did for the anime, it would come out very differently. Even more so is the “cumulative” score that true fans of the franchise put on their ranks, combining what they like and dislike about each character, from who stands behind the mic stand in real life and who stands behind the protective layer of their LCD screens, and everything in between.

Well, at least now I can achieve an 80% success rate at identifying the faces of the girls behind iM@S. Which is to say before the anime started, I was probably not even 80% successful at identifying the characters in iM@S. In the few hours I’ve spent with the game, I guess it actually tried to train me to be able to listen to their voices and pick them out. That’s pretty hardcore. All told, there’s a considerable learning curve, lack of a better term, to entry to iM@S fandom. The thing has been around for a while and the games are, while a little easier to get into than Sakura Taisen, are not exactly self-documenting. Sorry Kotori, the voiceovers are not quite enough. There’s just too much crud, as part and beyond the franchise, to wade through at this point.

Instead of writing up what I thought of the two days in a song-by-song blow-by-blow way, I’ll just keep it short(er):

  1. Hibiki – Sharp-looking girl doing her dance moves. Got good presence. Can sing. A winner.
  2. Ritsuko – Slightly less sharp-looking girl making all those fetish points work but not fetishy! As much as one can harp on her singing voice, I think she is the best embodiment of this weird iM@S concert concept.
  3. Miki – Not the bombshell blonde, this Miki carries it on with the full deal. It felt like she’s got what it takes, but yet not what it takes, to do Miki justice. It’s realizations like this that makes this feel like an elaborate seiyuu event rather than an idol live.
  4. Azusa – CHUPA RIKO wwww. No, really, Chiaking is an accomplished entertainer even if her achievements are relatively minor. She can dance and sing and struct, which is more than what most people sharing a stage with her could do. Mucho respect.
  5. Chihaya – I think she sings much better on CD. Also what is up with her hair? They can surely do a better job. BTW I really like LPCM 5.1 and this is something the game was able to deliver too.
  6. Makoto – She’s definitely the most seiyuu-ish looking person on the list, if that made sense. But that’s fine, I think Hirorin is also one of the best performers with good stage presence. Kind of like Hasegawa in that sense.
  7. Iori – I owe her fans an apology for not ranking her last time, but I was limited to 12 and it had to include Ami separately from Mami. I think Kugyuu live was definitely well-received and she appears so…langly. It’s rare to see a girl in this industry like this unless they’re built like a model (which she is not). It was wise for them to not work her as much as they did for some others, and we never really ask so much from Iori anyway. She just needed to be cute and upstanding, and Kugimiya was just that.
  8. Haruka – Eririn is actually just as unremarkable as her character. However, she is still pretty good at getting the crowd going and had good stage presence.
  9. Mami/Ami – If I wasn’t already positively predisposed to Asapon, I would probably rank her lower than Maya-chan. She didn’t quite pass the cute as cute would do, but her vocals were solid.
  10. Takane – It feels like her character is just an overly-embellished version of her on-stage performance. Pretty looking person I suppose.
  11. Yayoi – Guh. Actually out of all the girls I think I respect her the most. You can also tell how none of this is lipsynched given how terrible it was. It was sheer and paper-thin presence that managed to carry the performance. It’s like magic made of unrelenting willpower to carry out an act that just didn’t make sense visually. Again, endless respect–Maya-chan impressed, even if the performance was one of the worst.
  12. Kotori – I was glad she was there, but I guess so was she!
  13. Yukiho – I put her last but I think that is more because she was the least notable. The NEW Yukiho is a bit more of a looker though. Well, I won’t go into details, but someone has to hold the bag, be #12, and it was just the easiest thing to put her there.

I guess in the end I still didn’t really describe the magnitude of that 2-day live. It’s a big deal if you were into it, and I don’t mean into iM@S alone–it is more like if you subscribed to iM@S you probably subscribed to all the things that independently iM@S’s live had as separate parts. It became greater than the sum of its parts, but the sum itself was a big deal already. It’s like you had to be born a certain way and grew up a certain way and got exposed to certain interests, and it comes together like some crazy thing.

But then again, I guess even I too missed the train there.

What is left is trying to know all the songs, and that is a task too tall even for me, lest I get serious. But I just want a short fling with iM@S! I don’t want to turn into this guy (I jest). Even if some of those songs have the cutest/catchiest/funniest calls.


KOTOKO’s Hiraku the Space Pocket

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while now. Since I got the album a couple months back, it’s been spinning inside my car’s CD deck ever since.

On one hand, I hate to agree with j1m0ne’s point but it is true that saying it’s her best album ever doesn’t mean a whole lot. On the other hand, well, it is KOTOKO’s best album to date.

KOTOKO – ヒラく宇宙ポケット [LE on CDJapan! RE on CDJapan!]
Artists: KOTOKO
Composers: KOTOKO, Takase Kazuya, Kz, DECO*27, Nakazawa Tomoyuki, Ozaki Takeshi, ODA Hiroyuki Pres. HSP, Iuchi Maiko
Lyricists: KOTOKO
Arrangment: Takase Kazuya, Kz, DECO*27, Minoshima Masayoshi, Nakazawa Tomoyuki, Ozaki Takeshi, ODA Hiroyuki Pres. HSP, Natsume Shin, C.G mix, Iuchi Maiko
Release Date: Oct 5, 2011
Published by: WARNER BROS.

I say it’s her best album ever with only the qualification that we pay attention to it from a genre-neutral kind of way. There are some people out there who likes her stuff from her Short Circuit rounds, and there are people out there who dislike her stuff from her Short Circuit rounds. That’s just for example; it could happen with her first two Geneon albums as well. Let’s recognize that and put that aside, because it’s not how I look at it.

Because I think one right thing out of the gate that Hiraku Uchuu Pocket does right is how it has a little bit of everything from her decade-plus-long career. To that end, if you enjoy most or all of KOTOKO’s stuff, you should be positioned to like the entire album. I’m inclined to look to this review as a template. But, again, that’s looking at it from someone who likes the Epsilon no Fune album, which was a miss for me. I actually listen to Epsilon several times over the past 2 years and find it pretty fun; it just doesn’t come close to Hiraku Uchuu Pocket on the whole. Epsilon is missing that quality which distinguishes good albums from simply gimmicky ones. It’s missing some kind of backbone besides a flashy start. And Hiraku Uchuu Pocket has both of that and more.

One of KOTOKO’s developing strength, I think, is her versatility. There are not too many denpa-powered singers out there who can go the range and provide solid delivery on all these different types of songs, from rock to trance to dance to denpa to whatever. KOTOKO is one of those people who could, and I think it’s one big reason why that she stood out among the I’ve Sound’s utahime corps. When the album has a diverse theme and with a large array of producers, it really shows off that aspect of her singing. Granted, she’s not the best at all those types of deliveries, but all the songs contribute something to the overall listening experience. By the way, that link to Wikipedia has a full track list along with who wrote what.

So, “Command+S.” It’s awesome, and to me that is kind of the pillar of the album, its identity. It’s kind of like how I’ve Sounds is ultimately a trance unit, even if they publish all these eroge pop theme songs they still sound trance-ish. And that kind of approach to music arrangement bleeds through basically majority of Takase’s productions. I think by flat out putting a straightforward trance track in the middle it provides a nice way to smooth out the flow of the album and give it something remarkable and memorable. Which, when it comes to trance, is hard to do!

I want to also highlight the track before it, “mirror garden.” It’s probably my least favorite on there (which isn’t saying much), in a way that I think it’s inspired, but KOTOKO just doesn’t have enough guns for it. She just can’t deliver it with enough shill without sounding like a strained string on a cheap guitar. I think someone like Eiko-neesan would kick the song’s butt though. (Hey there’s another cross-cover opportunity.) But the real reason why I want to highlight it is that it provides a great lead-in to “Command+S.” It may not be a song I like a lot but it works very well on this album.

I’m really into flow and mood and stuff like that; it’s one of the fundamental principle to trance, after all. So that kind of arrangement speaks to me.

That is another reason why I think I like Glass no Kaze more. Despite being not as good, it’s a more emotional and sentimental set of songs to me. It’s also drawing from the pool of songs KOTOKO ironed out on her earlier road to minor fame, so that helped. To that end, the handful of tracks from Takase, Iuchi and Nakazawa on Hiraku Uchuu Pocket sound just like how they did back in 2001–“good” would be the word I’d use, but that’s because I like I’ve Sounds. And this is why I think some listeners on the sidelines may say “the old guards will like it.”

Are the new stuff any good? “Not as good, but definitely listenable” is what I’d say. I think kz’s contribution is very welcomed and it’s a good way to show how KOTOKO can just turn a dial and flip the song into some kind of late ’90s dance machine. “Mirai Ressha” is both throwback and futuristic, I guess? DECO*27’s “Metal Link”  is less charming but it brings that rock element that I think KOTOKO should explore more, if she can find the right type of producers for it. Much like “Command+S’s” straight-out trance, all three of these songs approach KOTOKO as a singing instrument more so than a vocalist? It’s like the popular way to plug in to mainstream music production, if you made it big doing vocaloids? I jest, but only a little. Maybe Shinya’s “Hirake! Sora no Oto” is the one track that deviated from it, but it was also kind of the generic anison track that is surprisingly missing from this album otherwise. I mean, it’s KOTOKO. You’d think “anison anison” naturally. By the time the album rolled on to that track, “Hirake” was more welcomed than tiresome, so whatever that means.

As far as contributors go, I find that they’re all better than KOTOKO herself as composers. In fact I think none of her songs are really all that good. They aren’t bad, and I think they still contribute to the overall album (besides mirror garden). “Kikoeru” especially fills a gap missing on the album, and it’s pretty charming even in its unremarkable ways. It’s like finding KOTOKO’s sound sung by KOTOKO. Which approaches a meme-level of KOTOKO-ness, as you’d expect by a track composed by KOTOKO on KOTOKO’s album.

So yeah, for the tl;dr: Hiraku Uchuu Pocket is great; it’s a long way from perfect, but as far as these things go it’s praiseworthy. I can listen to the whole thing over and over again, and I did. It’s diverse while still being familiar. It explores new talents while retaining the I’ve Sound essence. It may not be as cohesive as some of her earlier offerings but it’s miles better than Uzu-Maki, I think we can agree on that.


Loving Touch of Hardcore

This post is a nostalgia trip about 90s trance music.

It’s kind of sad, but when I read this the other day I was like, dayum, I know what that feels like exactly bro.

Truth is, the feeling is familiar because I’ve Sound is notable for not just Re-Subliminity; I first fell victim to their brand of trance way back when Verge was all the rage. What year was it? 2000? In Tribal Link-R, a similar replication of that familiar feeling happened via Velocity of Sound. I first listened to that all-too-familiar track on that same morning as the tweet. I guess I like right first then left? Looking back, it was included on Out Flow, which was a few years after that track was first released.

Actually, I probably started to listen to I’ve sound produced crap even before Verge. I mean before there was a Type-Moon, Key’s crap was all over the place. That’s when Megatokyo actually had real relevance with the scene. (I mean imagine some OEL thing back in ’05 that was about magic circles, reality marble countertops with genre blenders that fucked not just fruit, but actual people? It would be more like, say, Scott Pilgrim, I suppose.) That was when I actually thought Key’s character designs were okay! (Well, they still are. Just like how Takeuchi’s are. Heh.) And there was the other eroge out there, some more memorable than others, which fronted I’ve Girls on their covers, in a way.

With this little piece of acknowledgment I think it really doesn’t surprise anyone that KOTOKO would now parted what used to be, so they say, “HYPE.” When KOTOKO launched her solo stuff with Geneon back in 2004 it was something of a “well about time” kind of thing. Seeing her actually perform Suppuration -core- and Re-sublimity at AX was like WOAH HOT DAMN. But it wasn’t even my first exposure, having already seen it on DVD a few times; I knew the trick she did on stage, but it was still awesome seeing it done right in my face (gogo front row seats). Luck would have it that I got to see it again in Toronto the next year (just sans the live band). But man, that is the defining moment for me for KOTOKO.

But not much has happened apart from it. She graces your usual OP/ED and what not, but I never really followed the scenes behind it. Fuctory Record’s half-assed attempts at oversea marketing didn’t go very far either. MELL and others who somewhat followed the same track didn’t get any further than KOTOKO. Eiko-neesan went on break to deal with her illness. Lia is doing her indie stuff. I guess people still care about Kawada, but anyone cared about Utatsuki? Less than LSP I guess. It’s not an easy time over at the I’ve brand. It’s gotten to the point that I sort of fell off the bandwagon at some point after Out Flow. The Short Circuit releases were neat, but it’s not really trance! I guess that didn’t matter for most, but it does somewhat for me. Their 2005 concert marks a certain turning point I think.

Stuff picked up a little more when I got a sniff of the Front Line Covers. That kept me going until now. Maybe it’s finally time to go back to Extract. Or in KOTOKO’s case, do something even more wonderful.