Lindsay Powell amazes as Cake Bake Betty. Follow the link to better understand greatness.
I have one more release to discuss, from my associates at Records Of The Damned - the 4th album by Mummy The Peepshow, entitled [School Girl Pop]. Their first full release in the US, it's very Western sounding, with a pop-punk sensibility and mostly English vocals.
Maki (Vocals, Guitar), Naru (Bass) and Mayu (Drums) wear their influences on their sleeves (various great sounding indie bands from the early 90s, when they started), and so there's no wrong to be had in the 12 peppy tracks. They're like Shonen Knife before they became big in the West, or newer outfits like Barnabys or Noodles. You get the drift - all girl music explosion of the Benten variety, the kind I adore.
However, I'm of the mind that Japanese vocals are a wonderful thing, and so I didn't enjoy some songs as much as I could have, because of the English. Not that Mummy The Peepshow don't write simple yet catchy songs with decent instrumentals, it's just that their Japanese tracks, like [Cut] are miles ahead of their others. This is obviously my bias, and perhaps others will find the English to be an attractive strength - the songs remain energetic, and the vocals are understandable. It's just that some bands, The Brilliant Green and Love Psychedelico among them, offer bilingualism that really works musically, at least for me.
Yeah, that's pretty much my only criticism. Mummy The Peepshow are talented, representing Osaka the right way, and deserve your attention when they tour the world yet again, hopefully soon. By all means, let their new US label set you up this instant. Or, get their first three albums from Benten.
My new source for quirky Japanese imports, Records Of The Damned, has put their weight behind EeL, a musical collective fronted by the titular EeL, a woman of many satisfying vocal talents. Their second release from 12.20.2001, [people people], is just now seeing light in the US, and it's quite the carnival ride. 15 tracks of various wonderment, never remotely serious and well worth dancing to, in front of a pastel-colored screen like other members of the iPod generation.
EeL sound very synthtastic, with driving beats, pleasing (yet sometimes annoying) vocals, and a face-front presentation that definitely keeps your attention. Sandou provides the peppy programming, and the whole thing sounds like Tommy february6 sped up three times, along with some Neo New Wave flotation. It all feels hand-made and one-woman-band, yet still pleasingly professional.
Almost entirely sung in Japanese, I'm partial to songs like [Reality Bites], which reminds me a lot of the [Cool Cool Toon] soundtrack (the music from one of my most favorite Dreamcast games), with up-tempo keyboards, shuffle promoting percussion, and basically a sweet vibe that one can envision going on a candy shopping spree to. I also adore track 10, [Tamago] (title appears in kanji, translates as egg), which is sonically complex, not as high wound, with South Asian flavor that really hits the spot. What's even better is that every song is coming from a somewhat different place sonically, adding handfuls of extra interest.
This early record makes me want to track down her other 3 albums and sundry releases, waiting for me in Japan. I'm going to first try [Little Prince] (her 4th album from 2004), and I'll let you know what's what.
Did you ever play a Famicom video game system (known as the Nintendo Entertainment System in the US)? Well, YMCK sound exactly like those games did, only better and with smooth Japanese lyrical action. Lots of bleeps and blips, perhaps simulated, perhaps authentically 8 bit, but all arranged in pleasing jazz-pop structures that stimulate and satiate.
Midori Kurihara (Vocals), Takeshi Yokemura (Music, Lyrics, Arrangement) and Tomoyuki Nakamura (Music, Animation) are three swell Japanese folk that have been around for a few years, and just released their first album [Family Music] in the US, care of Records Of The Damned, a fine outfit from Cedar Falls, Iowa. It quickly grew on me with the aforementioned charming old school sounds (Mario fans shall be pleased), and they are similar to PINE*am, if they were trapped in a Game Boy Advance cartridge.
Yes, YMCK is short for Yellow, Magenta, Cyan and Black (aka CMYK), the offset printing color model. There's even a keen song, [Yellow, Magenta, Cyan and Black] with lyrics that follow this concept to the natural, psychedelic conclusion. That's commitment to a theme, and I for one appreciated the effort.
Records Of The Damned have also recently brought out releases by EeL and Mummy the Peepshow, both of which are grand in their own special ways, and will be covered here soon. By all means, adopt a reasonably price imported Japanese band today.
There's so much manga and anime about everything but manga and anime, you know? Which is why I've enjoyed Genshiken, a manga from [Afternoon] magazine, created by Shimoku Kio, turned into an anime series in late 2004. Just now reaching the US in both forms, it's the amazingly self-referential tale of a group of Japanese college students, who have a friendly otaku club, "The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture" aka Genshiken, dedicated to anime, manga, games, cosplay and related mono.
That's basically it. You follow them to their small meeting room, or to doujinshi hunt in Akihabara, and listen to their analysis of the latest popular culture. Of course, it wouldn't be a fully self-referential work without a made up anime series inside of it; [Kujibiki Unbalance] is their fictional addiction, and is strange enough to deserve it's own paragraph.
Imagine a preparatory school, like many anime have. The male/female ratio seems to be 1/10, at least for the main character, thus ensuring "harem" hijinks. He had a boyhood love with massively volumnous blond hair (Ritsuko Kübel Kettenkrad), who turns up later in his life at said academy, as class president.
Normal enough so far, until you're introduced to the girl who's a walking mushroom encyclopedia, which comes in handy at the requisite kitchen-based battle, which is focused on fungii like an [Iron Chef] match. So, you have mushroom fixated food battles, the seemingly uneventful reunion with his former love, and all sorts of falling down, flailing about and other anime staples, to a degree that it's either parody, or amazingly serious, sort of an ur-anime that has always wanted to exist, yet couldn't without additional meta-scaffolding.
I don't know if I could stand to watch a whole series of [Kujibiki Unbalance], but the [Genshiken] Vol 1: Dojinshi Or Bust DVD from Anime Works/Media Blasters, comes with a full mushroom filled story, as a supplement to the 4 [Genshiken] episodes. That way, you can try to understand why Kanji Sasahara and the other otaku see in the helmet-headed main character, the official image of the series.
I found [Genshiken] to be hilarious, sweet, and also particularly resonant with my own geekdom. Hey, I like [Guilty Gear X], or trips to Akihabara, or reading a thick manga weekly. I could see myself joining the club after class (and have joined similar clubs in my past), and thus could project myself into the characters a bit more than say with [Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex], since I'm not (yet) a cyborg.
Thus, I can highly recommend this series to boy and girl otaku, wherever they made reside. You might want to go for the Vol 1 disc bundled with the series box, which costs a few dollars more, but is bound to look good on the shelf. If you have more dollars still, then check out the goods on the official Japanese site - I'm partial to the 49,500 yen Ritsuko cosplay helmet - comes with hair!
Want to find a past junk.log post quickly? Use the brand new Complete Index, which sounds pompous but simply is some hand-made HTML designed for your pleasure
Check it out this instant, by following the links near the top right of any junk.log page, or after each entry. It's so amazingly cool (in a pedestrian sort of way), and it'll be updated each and every month. Yes, "Wow!" is one exclamation suitable for this occasion.
I've been getting into purchasing from eBay recently - mostly comics and associated items - and now I have a nice little gold star, signifying my newbieness. Due to my bidding, I've been browsing the various wares a bit more, and last night I came across the new phenomena of mystery auctions. The concept is simple enough, but the execution often turns into a lucrative scam.
Consider an empty box. It could contain a million dollars, a penny, or perhaps a half eaten orange. You can sell that cardboard box on eBay as a mystery auction, with the direct promise of just a box, but the indirect solicitation of potentially valuable contents, given as a "gift" to the winner. You can't say exactly what it is, according to supposed eBay regulations, so there are lots of cryptic hints, of the "bigger than a breadbasket" and fill in the blanks sort. You see lots of "$$$$$$$" signifying money, I suppose, but that could also be a typographical flourish, like asterisks, indicating nothing in particular.
Go to the mystery auctions section now, and look around for a few minutes before coming back. Hello again. Did you smell something funny, like I did? Note lots of empty containers that may including something, but are only obligated to have nothing. Still, some people do "win", but in every case the aggregate value is less than the bidded amount. It's kind of like those gashapon machines in Japan, that contain lots of cool, random stuff, all for just 200 yen. You never know what you're going to get, but it won't be that much.
So, some people are just having "fun", spending money with random returns. You hear stories of people who thought they were getting a real, red car, but instead got a red riding lawnmower. People who thought they were buying a $6000 check for just $2000 (scam alert!), but ended up getting far less. I'm sure that people are out there who were expecting riches, but got pocket change or trinkets. Still, all they were actually buying was a box, right?
Which brings us to the first real scam I noticed, the "mystery envelopes". This is so brilliantly evil, I bow down briefly to the person who though of it. Imagine that someone has X amount of white envelopes - 500 is a typical amount. These "envelopes" contain "mystery", which is equated with some monetary value. Some have single "mystery", some "double mystery", and so on. Use the "buy now" feature for $1, $5, $10, $15, etc, depending on the auction, and you are purchasing the following - the seller will "open" the "envelope", and deposit what's inside into your PayPal account.
The mystery is supposedly on both ends, neither party knows what will be sent until that magical moment of "opening". OK, so stay with me here - $15 times 500 is $7500. As far as I can tell, the scam is of the pyramid type, with the first few entries getting more money than they expected - maybe twice or three times their bid. Then, "randomly", other people get the PayPal minimum (I'm not sure if that's one cent or one dollar), so their losses are almost total. I could see a guarantee of about $10 per envelope, even after giving out some "winning" mystery. Thus, you're talking $5000 profit for a few days worth of mouse jockeying. You could rake in more, but you have to make sure that some people get something OK back, to keep up your eBay feedback (customer comments) machine - positive feedback leads to more sales.
Other auctions promise more "riches" the higher the bidding goes. They'll give clues with each $100 increment. I even found a solicitation on Google for someone to professionally write mystery auction scenarios, so that the seller can maximize their profits.
Of course, we all know that there are no envelopes. No mystery. Just a scam to get as much free money as possible from magically thinking individuals. These sort of "auctions" tout that they are not lotteries, drawings, a form of gambling, or anything except a fun activity, but I really wonder why eBay is tolerating such graft. Clearly, someone found a gaping hole in their policy, and I'm sure it will be filled soon, like with a provision that all auctions must be mystery-free, with clearly specified items for sale. However, since this is primarily a PayPal scam (which eBay owns), each and every transaction is a profit for the site, and a big boon for the clever sellers. The only losers are the thousands of bidders, unless they really want nothing for something.
Anyway, like Imaginary Girlfriends and other weird eBay moments, check this all out while you still can, but my all means resist the temptation for mystery envelopes and their ilk. Donate the money to a worthy cause instead.
I adore Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re (aka TsuShiMaMiRe), the amazing trio from Japan. So, when I heard from Yayoi (their beautiful bassist) a few days ago, I was excited to hear that they're cooking up a Fall tour of the US.
Not everything is confirmed yet, but you can get a general idea of their master plan below:
9.30.05 - San Diego
10.1.05 - Phoenix
10.3.05 - Denton (Confirmed), Hailey's
10.4.05 - Austin (Confirmed), Emo's
10.5.05 - Houston (Confirmed), Mary Jane's
10.6.05 - Atlanta
10.7.05 - North Carolina (no location yet)
10.8.05 - Baltimore
10.9.05 - Philadelphia
10.10.05 - Asbury Park
10.11.05 - NYC (Confirmed), Knitting Factory
10.12.05 - Boston (Confirmed), Middle East
10.13.05 - Providence (Confirmed), The Living Room
10.14.05 - Buffalo (Confirmed), The Icon
10.15.05 - Pittsburgh (Confirmed), Rex Theater
10.16.05 - Cleveland (Confirmed), Beachland
10.17.05 - Detroit (Confirmed), Majestic Theater
10.18.05 - Indianapolis (Confirmed), Vogue Theater
10.19.05 - Newport (Cinci) (Confirmed), Southgate House
10.21.05 - Chicago
10.22.05 - Minneapolis
10.24.05 - Kansas City
10.25.05 - Denver
10.26.05 - Salt Lake City
10.28.05 - Seattle
10.29.05 - Portland
10.30.05 - OFF
10.31.05 - Sacramento/Healdsburg
11.1.05 - San Francisco
11.2.05 - San Francisco
11.3.05 - Los Angeles?
11.4.05 - Los Angeles
11.5.05 - Los Angeles 11.10.05 to 11.12.05 - ROCKRGRL MUSIC CONFERENCE 2005
If you want to be entertained by a funky pop-noise-punk trio that know how to rock, then by all means hit as many of these dates as possible. I know I will.
Even though I don't have time for another contest or other promotion, PINE*am (celebrated by me, at least) are nevertheless going to tour the US quite soon.
Thanks to Eenie Meenie Records, they are visiting the following locations, to support their fine album, [Pull The Rabbit Ears]. I'll try to make one of the San Francisco shows, but even if I can't, you should gravitate towards the venue nearest to you and enjoy:
8.19.05 - Baltimore, MD, Otakon (Baltimore Convention Center)
8.21.05 - Washington, DC, DC9 (1940 9th St. NW), 9:30 PM
8.22.05 - Philadelphia, PA, Silk City Lounge (435 Spring Garden St.)
8.23.05 - New York, NY, Piano's (158 Ludlow St.), 9:30 PM
8.24.05 - Boston, MA, Paradise Lounge (967 Commonwealth Ave.), 9:30 PM
8.26.05 - Athens, GA, Tasty World (312 E. Broad St.), 9:30 PM
8.27.05 - Atlanta, GA, The Earl (488 Flat Shoals Rd.), 9:30 PM
8.31.05 - San Francisco, CA, Amoeba Music (1855 Haight St.), 5:30 PM
8.31.05 - San Francisco, CA, Rickshaw Stop (155 Fell St.), 8:30 PM
9.01.05 - San Francisco, CA, Isotope Comic Book store (326 Fell St.), 5:30 PM
9.03.05 - Long Beach, CA, Pacific Media Expo (Long Beach Convention Center), 4:30 PM
09.03.05 - Los Angeles, CA, Little Pedro's / Razzmatazz (901 E. 1st St.), 9:30 PM
09.04.05 - Long Beach, CA, Pacific Media Expo (Long Beach Convention Center), 10:30 AM
Simply put, this is basically my 200th post to junk.log since I started last September, and I for one am completely shocked that I lasted this long. But, since I have persevered, that means that I need to write twice as much the next time around, just to keep up the excitement.
Of course, I assume that you're thrilled (without clear reason to presume so), and just to keep everyone atwitter, I'll make sure to have some neato new contests come 9.1.2005. I already have one lined up, which may not be for everyone, but I have another one in mind, which literally is for everyone. So there! Stuff that underneath your pillows, and dream of what is to come.
Anyway, since August is my birthday month, I may be a bit more flakey than usual, taking part in "life events" rather than after-work keyboard jockeying. Still, I'll try to visit a few times a week, and if I'm not around when you come by, make sure to leave a message on my door by following the link directly below.
Nicc Balce is a fine up and coming artist, who is the master of somewhat anime-inspired illustration, mostly of cute women. He had some online comics for a while, and recently was given the opportunity by Viper Comics to translate his vision to print. He came up with [Random Encounter], a 4 issue miniseries featuring some situations and characters that existed in his previous work, only this time with a larger canvas.
Simply put, [Random Encounter] overlays a RPG structure to what appears to be a normal life, shared by Migo, Mona and Mica at the local Kwik Mart. One night, they encounter the "Goggle's Girl", who lands mysteriously on the roof, followed by a series of ink-black monsters. This new associate doesn't remember who she is, or where she came from, but in a pinch she turns out to be quite the monster slayer. The main thrust of the plot involves these and other characters fighting said monsters, and finding out just what going on in the first place.
These seemingly random battles, much like your typical RPG, are countered by the acquisition of special power ups, which have a fairly involved back story behind them, but still are placed firmly in the realm of fantasy. The occasional video game joke is balanced by typical brushes with romance and adventure, rendered in a very pleasing, loose black and white presentation.
I like Nicc's hand, especially his expressive faces and kinetic battle scenes, but it's a bit uneven at times, especially when compared to his stellar color work for the covers, and also found on his website. It's there that he really shines, and I look forward to when he can bring those skills to a book-length project.
I know you want to check out this series, the (seemingly) last issue of which came out recently. If so, then head out to your local comic book store, or order from the comfort of your home using the Viper Online Store. They have other fine wares you should also check out, so act early and often.
After 2 months of delay, [BAMBi And Her Pink Gun] by Kaneko Atsushi is finally out in the US. Released today, I saw a few copies at my local comic book store, and picked up one to browse. Sure, I already "read" the series in Japanese, but I only understood 70%, and have anxiously been awaiting a translation.
It looked good, and the presentation was very authentic, down to the regulation manga dust jacket and crimson ink. It's not as grand as the original release, but close enough. Thanks go out to Digital Manga Publishing for the fine job.
I highly recommend that you check out this series, particularly after a few more volumes are released, when the story really picks up. You can't find it in stock at Amazon.com yet (where I've preordered it ages ago), but a trip to your local book store might prove rewarding. It's 18+, so bring an ID, fake mustache, and the like.
It seems that my message board hasn't been working for the past few months. No one told me that they couldn't add new posts, so I just assumed that no one had anything to say.
Now? You can say all that you like, adding comments after you read each and every junk.log entry. Feel free to try out this amazing ability right now, by selecting the link directly below this paragraph. It's time tested and mother approved.
It has been previously established that I fell in love with [Bakuretsu Tenshi] (known internationally as [Burst Angel], before I even saw an episode. I was taken by the character design and overal Gonzo feel, and was not dissapointed when I finally viewed the first DVD volume a few months ago. Now, the second volume is out, and I'm still quite into the characters, but the plot line leaves something to be desired.
Specifically, two episodes are taken up by the menace of a giant, mechanical crow which is haunting future Tokyo. Sure, it was a big crow, and yes, it did kidnap cute young women for feeding, but I found the whole thing to be a bit weird. There is a running mystery about "metal brains", some sort of cybernetic technology found in the crow and other baddies, and I guess we'll eventually find out about that. No matter, I'm mostly in it for the attractive and compelling mercenary girls, not to mention the well-executed mecha, and so [Burst Angel] still gets a ribbon.
[Elfen Lied], as mentioned previously in junk.log, is both ultra violent and super "sexy", at least in the first few episodes. Volume 2 is more toned down, with only isolated beheadings, and flashbacks to dismemberment. There's the occasional nude scene, and a particularly graphic incest remembrance, but it's not as in your face as the beginning of the series, and does serve narrative purpose.
I'm actually digging [Elfen Lied] a bit more than [Baku-Ten], because it's one long story broken into episodes, rather than episodic adventure that eventually ties together into a larger plot. All of the leads are young, from the horned girls Lucy/Nyu and Nana, to the students living in a former Japanese restaurant. There's a love story (albeit between cousins), and enough mystery to keep your attention. Those who don't mind the occasional blood or breast storm should check it out - it's really not all that much, and the plot itself is quite compelling, filled with more than enough cuteness and tears to wipe away the crimson.
On 7.13.05, Tokyo Jihen blessed the world with a DVD containing one half of their recent Dynamite! tour of Japan. Bargain priced at 1980 yen, [Dynamite In!] includes 50 minutes of concert footage (5 full songs, plus fragments) and behind-the-scenes episodes. If you like Sheena Ringo and her band mates, then you will love this little disc, that happens to be All Region NTSC (that means you can import it and play it on your US DVD player). Brilliantly explosive, in 99% Japanese with no subtitles.
What's more, on 8.17.05, the second part of this affair shall be released, entitled [Dynamite Out!]. It's the larger of the two, priced more normally at 4800 yen, and will bestow you with 120 minutes of pure concert footage. As can be expected, that's something I'm anticipating with bated PO Box key.
This means that Tokyo Jihen have released 3 DVDs in 8 months, which is basically unheard of for anyone but perhaps Ayumi Hamasaki. Enjoy this avalanche of sonic goodness while you still can, or at least unit the put out more singles, hopefully in the next few months.
contests: [enter here]
po box 11501