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Pink iPod of Doom: Azumanga Daioh, Tenjho Tenge, Anime Karaoke
By Lauren Goodnight
September 22, 2005
While I write reviews, my kitty cats come invariably come into my room to check out what I've been up to and why I haven't been paying full attention to them and their feline drama. Spock, my polydactyl orange tabby, has taken a real shine to the Pink iPod of DOOM and makes sure he gets into perfect position to both cover the iPod proper with his belly and play with the attached cel phone strap trinkets. He likes my shopping bags and my Vivienne Westwood chocker too. Boston Blackie, Spock's brother and also an orange tabby, is much more interested in my shoes, handbags, and luggage. I get the feeling they both might be gay. As if my life weren't interesting enough! Too bad they are both neutered.... Onto the reviews! We have a winner, a loser, and a middling to fair, so dive in with me and the 'Pod!! Summer may be over, but the heat is on!
Azumanga Daioh Original Soundtrack Vol. 1
Well, spank my butt and call me Sam. I enjoyed this soundtrack more than I enjoyed the anime, and the anime was a real treat for me. This music is bouncy without being obnoxious or repetitive. I particularly enjoyed the jazzier moments that began several tracks, and the slight Celtic influences that ran throughout because of the liberal use of pipe-style instruments. Every piece is short and distinct, but they ordered in such a way as to complement each other nicely. Track this down, boys and girls, because there will always come a rainy day in awful traffic when this cheerful album will come in handy!
Where I took it: Retail is boring, AzuDai is not!
Where it took me: This disc made me happier. There's not much else to say, because "happy" is such a nice place to be!
Standout track: Oranges and Lemons -- Soramimi Cake - I will never tire of this great song! It is distinctive without being annoying and understated without being boring.
Skip-it track: Is It A Break? 2 - This one just seemed too high-pitched and manic, but it made complete sense in the context of the anime.Rating
: 4.5 out of 5
Tenjho Tenge Great Disc 1
I've never been a big fan of drama tracks, and this "great" disc did nothing to change my mind. The two longest tracks on this disc are Japanese drama tracks, and while they are well executed, they are a waste to real music aficionados. Almost 10 minutes at the beginning and almost 16 minutes at the end are yipping in Japanese! Now, I don't mind it, but I wouldn't entertain guests with this CD, which is a shame. The rest of this disc is inspired stuff, masterfully applied musical theory and scenic logic combining to heighten action sequences and moments of suspense. Electronic basics and what sounds to me like a full orchestra come together to make music that could pass as video game fodder but has a great deal more depth. The vocal tracks are a real treat, don't miss them! My suggestion: Rip the whole thing and ditch the drama tracks.
Where I took it: Leaving on a jet plane....
Where it took me: It was like being in a great fighting game with moments under the sun in bikinis!
Standout Track: Minori Chihara -- I won't give up! - When Japanese women have a slightly lower range and growl into their rock'n'roll, it makes me feel all giddy inside!
Skip-it track: Aya - I was bored by this and shouldn't have been. It was too much like "smooth jazz", the stuff you hear in the afternoons in the dentist's office, for my taste.Rating
: 3.5 out of 5
Anime Karaoke Collection 1
Now, this album is VERY strange indeed. The first 11 tracks are nonvocal versions of various anime themes, some from A-titles (Evangelion, Chobits), some from B-titles (Ai Yori Aoshi, Utena), and some from C-titles (Texnolyze, Mahoromatic). The tracks all have incomplete backing vocals, this being most apparent in Coppelia's Casket, the theme from NOIR. These are fun oddities to own, I do admit. The rest of the album cranks up the strange factor for me: Four tracks are sung by AX-Anime Idol winner Stephanie (who I had to do some research on, as I thought, at first, she was the same Stephanie who did English vocals for Urusei Yatsura two decades ago...see "Born to Be Free", "Remember My Love" and "Rock the Planet"). One track is the AX theme song, sung my KOTOKO, a talented vocalist who has done projects ranging from H-game themes to mainstream OPs. Now, why, you might ask, would you buy an album with tracks in Japanese sung by an American (and no, let's not bring up Utada right now...)? Especially when that is a BIG selling point of the album? After listening to this, I would have skipped this release completely but for the KOTOKO track and the semi-instrumentals. Stephanie's vocals are earnest and technically fine, but it sounds like she's just a professional karaoke singer. That could be the fault of the producers; Britney Spears has an awful voice, but her "In the Zone" album was very slick. Here, we have a passable voice. . . I feel so much more could have been done here. Even the English song she sings feels forced.
Where I took this: Out on the road, no one can hear you sing along.
Where it took me: This was a mixed bag. I wanted to get my copy of ProTools and do so much better....
Standout track: KOTOKO -- Wing My Way - Lovely! This is a great track to introduce such a unique voice to America. One track is not enough to save an album.
Skip-it track: Stephanie -- SHIFT Cross Over Generations (English) - Save me. I just know this could have been better. Rating
: 2 out of 5