News: Hayao Miyazaki Blu-Ray Box Set – UK English Version UPDATE

“Make some room in your life…”

hayaomiyazakiboxset

Studio: Studio Ghibli

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Release Date: 8th December 2014

Following on from my previous post about this great box set bargain, which is basically all of Hayao Miyazaki films as a Blu-ray Box Set. The picture of what it’s supposed to look like has finally emerged from the producers, and I’m in love with the clean looking design.

hayaomiyazakiboxset2

Each disk is housed in a cardboard sleeve, with the official artwork for the film encasing it. If there was ever a reason to pick up all the movies from the legend Miyazaki, this is the time to do it.

hayaomiyazakiboxset3

The box set is produced by Studio Canal, who have handled the rest of the Ghibli releases in the UK, so I’m expecting both English and Japanese dubs on the disc.

The set contains twelve discs, of which eleven are movies, and there’s one mysteriously titled Bonus Disc. I just can’t think of what it could be, possibly short films or commercials?

Soundtrack? (*fingers crossed*)

hayaomiyazakiboxset4

I’m disappointed that more films weren’t included. Yes, I wanted a Ghibli box, instead of just Miyazaki, just to save me the hassle of collecting those stray films, but maybe the price point would be driven even higher, and it’s already making a hefty dent in anyone’s wallet at £180.00 down from previous RRP of £250!

Get the Hayao Miyazaki Blu-Ray Box Set here.

Advertisements

Music: Chihiro Onitsuka – This Silence Is Mine – Single Review

“This tattoo, this preview, this heartbeat”

cover

Artists: Chihiro Onitsuka

Genre: Folk, Pop

Released: 18th December 2013

Chihiro Onitsuka used to have this unreal voice back in the early days of her career. Her previous albums have some of the most beautiful and haunting music I’ve ever heard, and this is coming from someone who makes it their mission to find that kind of stuff. Sadly, due to some health issues, her voice slipped into a gravelly tone, rather than that angelic instrument that gave out those soaring notes.

To compensate for the change in her vocal abilities, for recent albums Chihiro Onitsuka has produced songs with a 70s/80s rock style that’s…. different. See Anata to Science, the other song on this single, to have a good idea of what the new sound is like. Well, I’m sure fans appreciate it, but it just isn’t the same, and no-one expected another epic ballad out of this singer.

Along comes The Silence is Mine, an eery, haunting track that seeps under the skin and settles deep, to fit Drakengard 3, a game that is equally disturbing. This song is ugly-pretty. Gorgeous instruments and a rasping voice. A thumping beat, accompanied by strings builds up to reach a breathtaking finale. It feels like this could be her final song, and the purity and energy surges through powerfully. Chihiro’s vocals are raw and edgy and almost crying through those long high notes in anguish, delivering each word with such conviction that this song will haunt you for a long time. Sweeping instrumentals carry the listener through the final parts of the songs.

Now Drakengard 3 actually got released a while ago, and sadly rather quietly as a PSN Download only. The Silence is Mine was used in the trailers to promote the game, and is also the in-game vocal theme. How many people will come across the game, bearing in mind that the Drakengard series only has a cult following to begin with? How many will hear this song? To bring out one of the best songs in recent years, Chihiro Onitsuka deserves recognition. It deserves silence.

See below for previews:

(more…)

Music: Androp – BooHoo/AM0:40/Waltz – Single Review

“It’s strange, “Everyone”, Who is that again? Aren’t you curious?”

cover

Artists: Androp

Genre: JRock, JPop

Released: 22nd August 2012

I cannot even explain the infatuation I began with Androp after coming across the video for BooHoo, one of the songs from this triple A-side single.

BooHoo is a guitar-riffed-filled pulse-racing track that incorporates breathless vocals with life questioning lyrics. The chorus strikes as high and screechy, and yet it is pretty catchy. Everything about this track is just momentum. The softer parts of the song are almost dreamlike. Cries of “BooHoo!” will get stuck in your head.

Being a triple A-side the quality of the next track is pretty good, and although AM0:40 is less memorable than BooHoo, the chorus is likable and positive. This shares some of lyrics from BooHoo, and while I feel that the first song is superior, AM0:40 is such a short affair that it doesn’t outlive its welcome.

If there was one song I wasn’t expecting from a rock band, it was probably something that sounds like it’s dropped straight out of a shoujo anime. The soft vocals, the rhythmic almost lullaby-ish melody, Waltz feels like a summery tune to put on a lazy afternoon. The intense energy of the band is still coiled in the background, but this song feels like a gracious break from sharp questions the band posed earlier.

I don’t listen to JRock much because I don’t particularly the style, but Androp have their own style. The band members just look like cool guys hanging out, and the whole feeling of the band is so relaxed, yet they give out their own intense energy. Perhaps vocalists get too much attention, but in this case Uchisawa Takahito, who is lead vocalist and also lead guitarist, his unique vocals in BooHoo has wormed their music into my brain.

High pitched vocals from a guy isn’t really a thing I would recommend to anyone, and yet it works. Let’s not call it JRock. Call it Androck.

See below for previews:

(more…)

Book: Aesop’s Fables (Wordsworth’s Classics)

“Lions regularly team up with asses. There’s a fox somewhere too…”

aesopsfables

Author: Aesop

Genre: Fantasy, Classic, Animals, Age: All

Do you ever think that some stories are familiar, but you can’t pinpoint where you’ve read them before? Reading Aesop’s Fables is like stumbling into that experience over and over again.

the_crow_and_the_pitcher

(The Crow and the Pitcher)

Of course, as the book’s introduction is quick to point out, Aesop didn’t really *write* these stories, he merely collected them. This version from Wordsworth contains around 250 short tales, which feature anthropomorphic characters and situations that make them cross paths. Each story is a quick read, taking roughly three minutes to read at most, and I found myself finishing the book in a couple of days, since I was using it for light reading before bedtime.

There’s nothing amazingly complex about the experience,  since each story starts and finishes with few plot-points. For someone used to reading long, epic fantasy books, this was such a refreshing experience and almost a mental cleanse; I could stay with the characters for a few minutes, and then abandon them, and only take the central  message forward.

(more…)

News: Hayao Miyazaki Blu-Ray Box Set – UK English Version PRICE DROP

“Being a total steal.”

miyazaki box set

Studio: Studio Ghibli

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Release Date: 3rd November 2014

There is a fantastic deal I’ve spotted on Amazon UK for the Hayao Miyazaki Blu-Ray Box Set. This is basically the collection that got released in Japan, and is the 13 discs that features all of Miyazaki’s movies. The price has actually dropped drastically from £250 to £160.40! That is insane, it brings down the cost of each Blu-Ray disc to around £13.33!!

It couldn’t have come at a better time really, with the fans fretting what will happen to Studio Ghibli. Retail therapy may be required…

Admittedly, details are not yet confirmed about WHAT will actually be on there (the picture shown above is the Japanese version), but a good guess is all of the fan favourites (Spirited Away, Howl’s, etc) will be on there. Since this being released by Studiocanal, it will likely contain the English dubs as well, even if the only language mentioned is Japanese with English Subtitles. The English dub feels forgotten in the description.

The big difference between this and the Japanese version is that, this is twelve discs, the Japanese version had thirteen, but, still worth investing in.

Get the Hayao Miyazaki Blu-Ray Box Set here.

Purchased: Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD – UK PS3 Limited Edition

“Obsessed”

SAM_4663

Studio: Square Enix

Released: March 2014  (UK version)

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD was released over a month ago, and even though I have gushed about it for ages, it wasn’t even until recently that I could open the packaging. The Limited Edition packaging that I have handling ever so carefully, that it even gets a place of honour in my drawer.

The cover of the packaging shows the new models of Yuna and Tidus, in what could be called a “new” image. I’m sure fans love it, and won’t get sick of this solitary image that is constantly being repeated on pretty much every surface. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of the new model for Tidus, he looks a bit more feminine than Yuna, which is strange, since his character is a jock, I would have expected him to be “machoed-up” or something.

 

SAM_4666

The cardboard box that you get is just the beginning is the lusciousness.

More information and pictures below:

(more…)

TV: “Children of the Universe” Molly Smitten-Downes Official Video

“As I am awakened with fire in my bones”

eurovision_complete

Molly_Uk_officialvideo

(“Yes, I am fabulous!”)

Rather excitingly, the official video for Molly Smitten-Downes entry into Eurovision 2014 has been uploaded in the past few days. The video, available on her official youtube channel, shows Molly amongst her band lounging around on plush furniture and standing in front of flowers.

The official video has clearer audio than the studio version that was uploaded earlier in the year. The song is actually pretty good, and even incredible considering this is a UK entry. Personally, I didn’t need any more reasons to love Molly’s creation, but the luxurious official video does help.

However, as good as the song is, it all depends on the actual night. Eurovision semi-finals will take place on the 6th and 8th of May, and the UK has automatic entry into the finals, taking place on 10th of May 2014.

See the video below:

(more…)

Musings: Avoiding Britain’s Got Talent

“Change channels”

britainsgotalent2014

(Dancing for a YES)

I don’t usually publicly announce that I’m boycotting, or avoiding things, because usually I change my mind and have to explain why I reverted. However, in this case, I will explain why I have been avoiding Britain’s Got Talent for the past couple of years, and why after seeing a snatch of it now, I’m glad I don’t keep up with it anymore.

Britain’s Got Talent is a big feature of Saturday evenings, and is watched by millions of people all over the country. Yet, it’s the judges, not the acts, that are putting on the biggest show.

I thought it was about finding an entertaining act for the Queen? Or even, something worth £250,000?! Wasn’t that the point? Surely the judges can get past the their huge egos, of which no-one’s is bigger than Simon Cowell‘s.

When dance group Cartel auditioned in tonight’s show, one of the members was being judges far more harshly based on his looks and age. Jamie, pictured above on the far left, is in his late 20’s, and his teammates are in their teens. Simon see a terrible error in letting an older dancer perform with younger ones.

Does Jamie‘s age affect his performance? Not at all. He is as slick and proficient at dancing as any of those other performers, but was singled out because he is older. Apart from being incredibly rude, this is being ageist. Do I have to watch Simon’s opinions rule over television? Absolutely not, I will change the channel.

Hopefully in the future, there will be an end to over-produced audition-based shows, with egoistic judges, and auditions with sob-stories. My fingers are crossed for a fresh wave of entertainment, on new platforms.

See Cartel’s audition below:

(more…)

TV: Star-Crossed – Episode 1 Summary + Review

“Roman, Roman, where for art thou..”

starcrossed1_1

(“You know, those aliens are pretty good looking….”)

Airing on: Sky

Genre: Romance, Drama, Sci-Fi, Aliens, Age: 13+

Released: 4th April 2014 – onwards

Aliens called Atrians have landed on earth in September 2014, and immediately face hostilities. Emery Whitehall finds a young Atrian boy hiding in her shed, close to where the alien ship has landed. She takes care of the frightened young boy, however the military finds him and shoots him in front of Emery.

Ten years later, and Emery is beginning her first day of high school after spending the last few years in hospital. She and her friend Julia watch as young Atrians are beginning the same school; a program to integrate them into the same society as humans. If this program is successful, it could mean the start of cohabitation by humans and Atrians, but high school is never easy.

Warning! May contain spoilers!

(more…)

Music: Janet Devlin – Hide & Seek – Album Review

“The Creatures of The Night. Me, Myself and I.”

Janet-Devlin-Hide-Seek-2013

Artists: Janet Devlin

Age: 12th November 1994 (age 19)

Genre: Pop, Folk

Released: 3rd July 2014

I’m going through a big change in the music I listen to. Gone are the loud sounds, harsh vocals and lewd lyrics, I’m attracted more and more to soul-searching songs that feel like they explore the depths of the universe itself. There are very, very few artists that I can place within that category, and as such, they are getting a bit overplayed.

Janet Devlin is one of those singers that deserves recognition for having a beautiful voice. There is a rare quality in her young, bit-rough vocals, with it’s Irish lilt, and her album showcases her astonishingly understated vocals perfectly.

I first saw Janet Devlin on X Factor UK 2011, and in her auditions, she brought a charm and innocence to all her performances, and she’s good, very good.

Janet Devlin not only sings, but has co-written all the songs on this album. It adds that extra spark and personality to every line. Hide & Seek (obviously a reference to Imogen Heap, one of Devlin‘s influences) was first released in limited quantities last July (2013), but is set to re-released this summer.

The album explores Pop and Folk genres, and there are some upbeat songs, Wonderful, Working for the Man, that are mainstream pop. They are catchy enough, but sound hideously generic compared to quirky-piano-pop Creatures of the Night.

Walk Away, Who am I to You, Pick Me Up and the titular Hide & Seek, are pleasant songs that are perfect for putting on as background music. They don’t stand out in particular, but the feel is of good, solid, pop music. When was the last time I heard that? Probably not in a decade.

The standout tracks for me are Devlin‘s slower songs. If there is a reason to buy this album, it is for Crown of Thorns, Things We Lost In The Fire, Nothing Left to Hide, and the brilliantly haunting When We Were Young. I have never heard such a young voice sing so expressively, and against quiet accompaniment, and still move me.

There is an untrained quality to Devlin’s voice. A raw power that hasn’t grown into its own, and is so unusual in a world filled with auto-tune or power singers (and shriekers).

Not everyone will “get” her. There is a reason why she managed 5th on the X Factor, and had her album funded by PledgeMusic. However, if you love this type of sound, she is a great artist at the beginning of her career, filled with talent and great potential.

I know I am a fan.

See below for album previews:

(more…)

%d bloggers like this: