I don’t know shit about music but here’s a review.

It’s no real secret that I like Idol Music. Just search through my history and my music collection. And one of my favourite groups at the moment has to be μ’s of Love Live! School Idol Project. You got to love that pun- Muse, even if it’s a bitch to try and google it every time. So for the rest of this post, I’ll just be calling them Love Live. If you read Ann, you’ve probably heard that they will be getting an anime in 2013. The plot is in the time-honoured tradition of Japanese anime, damnably stupid.

1.Group of Friends make a Club- Nine Girls at some school at Akihabara

2. What’s at stake- The School will be closed down

  1. The Revival- The Girls become Idols to save their School.

 

Yes, this will probably be the plot of the anime when it’s released in 2013. But questionable story aside, I find their music upbeat and awesome. And I suppose that’s the reason I will watch the anime in 2013. I never got why anyone would make a Katy Perry movie until it was announced that Love Live is getting a full length anime in 2013. It’s at that point I knew how those Perry fans felt. I’ve been a dedicated fan of the group for 3 years now, a huge fan. And as long as it has the familiar Rabu Raibu logo attached, I’ll take the bait hook, line and sinker.

 

To give you the short version of the story, Love Live was officially started back in August 2010 as a colab between the magazine Dengeki Daioh, the music company Lantis and Sunrise, whom you may remember as the producers of every Gundam Anime. And in the past 3 years, Love Live has released a number of animated music videos and singles. The next release will be on October 17th. So what’s the difference between this and say another comparable 2d Group like say, 765 Productions? The main difference with Love Live and other Idol Groups is that fans get to vote on on group names, what costumes the girls will wear and who gets to be the next leader singer. A bit of AKB48 thrown in there.

 

In a group like this, there’s a certain pecking order in the group that’s decided by fan votes. Idols ranked first get to be lead singer in the next group single. The more popular idols just get the better perks.  The 3 most popular Idols; Honoka, Kotori and Umi got to record brand new songs and had their characters CDs sold in shiny coloured cover. And the rejects got the no-frills white cover. Sadly, in a franchise decided by popularity contests someone had to become rejects. It’s a shame because there are decent singers in this group who ought to be the lead singer for the next group single.

 

So here’s a post dedicated to the rejects. The one’s still waiting for the chance to be lead, and the one’s still waiting to get that elusive 3rd rank. In the past fortnight, I’ve listened to one character single per day from the remaining six, and gave my personal fifty cents on it. Sure, I know about as much about music, singing, recording, writing, production as a man who reads golf book knows how to play golf but who gives a shit? Onwards to the review.

 

Eri Ayase- Thank fuck this is the first single I listen to, because the seiyu is a familiar one. It’s notable that Eri is voiced by one of three Milky Holmes seiyu in this project; Yoshino Nanjo. The other two ex-Milky Holmes involved with Love Live are Suzuko Mimori (Sherlock Shellingford) and Sora Tokui (Nero Wolfe). Personally, I have to wonder about YoshiNanjo. She has to sing image songs for her anime roles, is the lead singer of fripSide AND she’s part of School Idol Project. She probably goes home with a hoarse voice every day and goes to bed wishing to get tonsillitis when she wakes up. Listening to the single, I think Yoshino Nanjo’s voice doesn’t match for any of the pop songs like Yuujou no Change or Bokura no Live. Her voice is just too low for these up-beat melodies. But for a ballad-inspired piece like Snow Halation, she blows me away. If she ever wins the next election, a piano and violin song sung by Eri would be like mint and yoghurt.

 

Don’t like her mix of Track 6: Love Novels. The forced older sister shit (horahora) and the crappy remix at 2:45 almost made me want to break my speaker in half. That shit belongs in lolicore not a pop song.

Rin- You ought to know one thing about Rin. She’s probably this series’ Makoto Kikuchi. From what I understand of the material, she’s a sporty girl. As for her singing? Well, her voice just doesn’t stand out. Sometimes, I even swear she singing with such a soft voice that she needs to stand up and speak up! I think she’s hitting the right notes with these songs but that’s all I can say. No real mistakes but nothing outstanding either. By Koi no Button, it sounds like she’s spoken up but again nothing outstanding. Her best piece seems to be Shiranai Love, Oshiete Love. It’s one of the Pop Songs that relies a lot of doof doof beat and her voice seems to complement those kinds of songs.

 

Her mix of A.NO.NE Ganbare is decent. The song is a mix of drums and brass that would probably be played in a gentlemen club where the wealthy men in suits are drunk, the dresses are short and there is more smoke then a Factory on work day. And her voice gels well with that probably because she’s so average. When you listen to a song like that, it’s the blasting sax that stand out first not the voice.  And her end song, Mermaid Festa 2 just  proves the point. She’s a singer for loud, energetic music not the upbeat ones.

 

I can just imagine Rin being a singer for a Spanish club. She enters onto the stage while a band is behind. As she starts singing, many couples are dancing with their partners on the floor. Towards the end, her eyes turn to this one admirer in the crowd and their eyes meet. And after hitting that last note, she says good bye to the applause of the crowd. The admirer stands up and walks across the dance floor. She asks the dancer for her name, almost as if she were pleading. Rin smiles and gives her fan, her autograph and number. The admirer smiles and tells Rin that her name is Hanayo… Oh shit, did I get into shipping mode?

 

Nico: Kasumi, a friend I know (who happens to be a lolicon) will love this girl. Voiced by Sora Tokui, she’s the second of the Milky Holmes in this series. Nico has a whiny, immature kiddie voice. Hey, don’t unzip yet! But she’s 17. It’s little wonder that she’s one of the more popular Love Live Girls. And she has a habit of referring to herself in third person. Some will say that this makes Nico cute. I think it makes her annoying. I could have sworn that in her first track Bokura no Live that there were two Nicos singing weird. Even though she was the lead singer in the 3rd single- Natsuio egao de 1, 2 jump, I found that her best song was Koi no Button. Odd that her whiny voice works better for those kinds of songs then the more up-beat songs that the j-pop industry usually rolls out of their conveyor belts. Oh hell whatever. Koi no Button has a great melody and isn’t too demanding a song to sing. Not much need to hit know how to hit high notes when singing Koi no Button. So I’m saying it now, Koi no Button makes any of these idols look good.

 

Surprisingly, she doesn’t do a bad job either with Mermaid Festa 01. Her worse song has to be Nico’s track 6 which has too much fucking techno effects. High-pitch voice, low-pitch voice, whistling. All kinds of excessive shit poured down my ears. Looks like this was a official song on her sub-group single BiBis. Can’t do anything about it I guess.

 

Hanayo: Chan, my co-worker will rip into this girl. It must be the stuttering. The second half of the sameface duo. She has a soft voice and it feels like she could really hit all the right notes with these pop songs. Her version of Bokura no Live and Yuujou no Change is one of my personal favourites. Unfortunately, her seiyu has a bad habit of singing in an annoying, whiny voice at certain parts. You remember when you wanted to piss off a kid on a playground and you made a whiny, voice; like an overly sweet mother? Yeah that voice. And I could I have sworn she changed her voice pitch changed by Snow Halation.

 

There seems to be a Sweet Hanayo and a Whiny Hanayo. I’ll diagnose that vocal change as ‘it’s her first day on the job-itis’. And for the rest of the single, I swear she’s changing her voice as the track changes. My least favourite track is her cover of Koi no Button. She must have decided it would be cute to sing it in the whiny Hanayo. Other then that, her Solo cover of Love Marginal (which she previously recorded as Printemps) is decent.

Nozomi: For my second last review, I listened to Nozomi. I just had the feeling that she was awful and it turned out to be the right hitch. The obligatory big-busom member of the group and she happens to have the most fucking annoying voice. Listening to her Bokura no Live is like being surrounded by a swarm of bees while a vuvuzela is being blown at both your ears. Not even Koi no Button works for her torturous voice. Her cover of Oshiete Love, Shiranai Love lacks energy. Oh fuck it, her voice ruins every song in her single. Not a fan of Nozomi.

Maki: Uploading this all over net one day. This CD is great! The title of the single is ‘True Diva’. Now I don’t know what that means although my understanding of the word comes from a not so recent time when Aussie Idol was still popular and the word diva was thrown around A LOT. I used to think it meant a singer able to sing difficult, opera-esque songs. Looking the word up on the blessed Google, it seems to mean a ‘highly celebrated singer’. But enough linguistics bullshit. Maki has a more strongly accented voice so she seems tailor made for Pop Songs. And don’t let them tell you otherwise. We need more singers like the vocalists of nano.Ripe or Little by Little. Damn, her seiyu is an amateur but she sure can project her voice. Her cover of Bokura no Live and Natsuiro Egao de 1,2 Jump is great. I hate the Love Novels instrumental but man, she can even make that shit sound half-decent. I would have to say that she’s up there with Honoka (energetic leader) as my favourite singer. Oh hell. I’m saying it. Maki is one of the best voices in Love Live and this is the Best Solo Live.

Bloody Documentaries on Bloody SBS

Happy Belated Gute Tag der Deustchen Einheit.

And what better way to celebrate then to blog on this brilliant doco that aired on the Soccer Channel 4 days ago. I love documentaries. It’s like a 1 hour factdump that manages keep me awake unlike university lectures. And I’m fascinated by communism. Up until 20 years ago, millions of people were living their daily lives under a regime where they could only pretend that everything is fine and doozy.

I sometimes imagine what it must have been like to live in the European Eastern Bloc. Hell, I could probably live there. Living in Australia, I pretty much take freedom for granted. Except I’m not really phase by the privilege. Freedom of speech? Not really pissed off about the major issues enough to do something about it. Voting? Seems more like a chore and the politicians right now are more suitable for a clowns’ act at the circus. Religion? Not religious. So where does that leave me? Apathetic and wanting to get on with life. I could probably fit in in the Communist Countries with their ‘shut up, here’s your pie’ policy. But not the Norks with their famines and definitely not rolling cigars and enjoying the sun with Castro in Cuba. But the kind you’d see in the Iron Curtain. Eat some food if it’s available at the store, find some ‘approved’ books to read and drive a Trabant home (unless I’m still waiting for the factory to get on with it)

There’s also the idea of Communism. An ideology that envisioned the ultimate utopia with no inequalities. Except 20 years ago, the countries that built towards that goal hat came crumbling down. And finally the military. Moreso, the Soviet Military. They spent 50 years preparing for ‘The Day’ when jets would cover the air, Tanks drove straight to Fulda while Submarines patrolled the Atlantic and the Pacific. But the Day never came, Gorby and Reagan ‘brought the Cold War to a peaceful ending’ and the Soviet Union is now just a chapter in history. I’d imagine that the Generals must have felt very stupid (or likely pissed off) that they had invested so much in their Army but never got to use it. Or perhaps it’s more likely that it was such recent history? I was born in 1991 and the final heartbeat of the Soviet Union was only two months before my birthday.

The first half of the doco took us back to 1980 and summarised what we probably all know by now, interspersed with interviews with a variety of East Germans; comedians, ex-Stasi, political dissidents, the yong and the old.

The first half tells us the usual story. East Germany was a hellhole and then it came crashing down like the Wall between the Western and Eastern suburbs of Berlin. The second half then takes us to modern day and looks at how rosy things have been since the Wall went down, like a ‘Where Are they Now?’ segment. Main point argued by this doco is that there’s still significant differences between East and West Germany.

Before watching this I had already known the basic facts. I knew about the History of Berlin and the post-wall difficulties Eastern Germany was having. And yes, I was aware of the Stasi and their methods. They say that Germans are fucking efficient at everything they do. So you could expect the to be highly efficient at the Soviet Art of being nosy on your neighbour. And as you can expect, some of the Stasi are far from willing to spit on the GDR flag and memory. When the Stasi Guy was asked about his thoughts on the Stasi HQ, he called it without irony- a paradise where there were dentists and doctors.

I was also well-aware of the Revolution that came in 1989. What I learned from this documentary was uh— Germans went to a Church, made jokes about how much they hated the Government and then they decided they were collectively sick of the Government when they attempted to close the Church. I’m not sure about Germany but it’s been recorded that there was a well-established underground dissident movement in Land of the Iron Curtain. They had been running in the Eastern Bloc Countries printing and spreading ideas the governments in power did not agree with.

And of course I’m aware that when Wall came down, the Pacman that was West Germany gobbled up the Ghost of East Germany. The doco showed that someone losed in this agreement. And they were the ordinary citizens who suddenly found themselves out of a job and out of luck. Churchill talked of the ‘price paid in blood for the liberation of France’. The East Germans paid the price with their livelihoods. What I didn’t know was that the ex-Stasi got the long end of the stick. While the ordinary East Germans are shown being miserable and busking to make a buck while wearing second hand clothes, the ex-Stasi are shown in pressed shirts, sipping latte and are living on a decent pension. For a long time, I thought that the Easterners had formed little legal lynch mobs that forced ex-commies out of their jobs and out of power. Well, not exactly as I found out. And this has been a source of bitterness for the former victims.

But that’s not the only source of bitterness. Through a montage of major corporate brands, we learn that all the good jobs are in the West. This has had two effects. Young East German Kids move to the West after they graduate in search of jobs. And it has led to growing disconnection between the people born in the West Side and on the East Side. West hangs out with West, East hangs out with East and there’s all sorts of stereotypes being spread and tossed around. One German teen even referred to East Germany as ‘Dark Germany’ on the camera.

Although it isn’t all bad news. Communist countries didn’t have a speckless report card on environmental issues. Probably because of the heavy industry. Stalin made steel and coal his dogma for development. As far as I know, many of the new puppets were pulled by the strings to do the same. Build industry, throw in coal, make lots of steel. I’m reminded of autumn season down here. I get cold, miserable from the rain and a nasty cough thanks to smoke from the steel mill. In Summer, when I look out across the beach, I see a disgusting pillow of smoke belching in the background. The Mill may have given people jobs but they ruin the scenery and ruin other people’s health.

With the end of communism, some towns can now enjoy living in a smog free environment. The other positive issue that the documentary raises is that there’s been a revival of Jewish culture in East Germany. I’m not aware of how the regime dealt with the remaining Jews in Germany and I’m mostly indifferent to religion. Although I know that in the 1970s, Brezhnev’s Soviet Union became increasingly anti-semitic in solidarity with the Arabs in their fight against Zionism. Could there have been a similar case in East Germany?

The documentary itself was educational. But it tried to include too much issues into 1 hour. If there’s another thing it did well was that it included humour. I like humour. In between all the gloom, there’s short segments where German Comedians tell communist jokes.

When the credit rolls, the interviewees are asked whether they want the DDR back? Most of them answer no even a angry bald German.

And not surprisingly, the one man who wants it back is the Ex-Stasi Guy.