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

“This tattoo, this preview, this heartbeat”

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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:

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

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

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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:

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News: Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX Official Game Guide Trio Box Set Pre-Order

“Everyone can just fangirl now”

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Release Date: 4th November 2014

While I’ve been doing my regular rounds through my favourite shopping spots, I spotted a mysterious new entry for a Final Fantasy Box Set.

It’s billed as a deluxe hardcover set of three books, which are the official re-rendered and updated guide books for Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, and Final Fantasy IX.

Yes, I think everyone can take a moment to just fangirl at this statement.

Each of the three books comes with a ribbon marker, similar to the treatment the latest Final Fantasy Limited Edition Guide’s have been receiving, see Final Fantasy XIII-2’s Guide Book as an example.

I think it’s fairly easy to get excited about this! Who doesn’t want to get their mitts on more Final Fantasy merchandise, especially books? These things don’t really see much of a release in the UK, and even so, they’re a bit of an abridged version compared to their Japanese (and sometimes even US) counterparts.

This Box Set version published by Prima Games however, claims to have 752 pages of goodness, which works out at roughly 250 pages per book. That’s a full-sized book if I ever saw one!

The cost of the box set really pushes the boundaries of what I want to pay for three books, with an RRP of £80 or $129.99. Happily, however, the books have been heavily discounted, and I’m just going to pre-order my copy before I explode.

These are available from Amazon.com and Amazon UK. Preview image from Barnes and Noble.

 

News: Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Final Mix Limited Edition Preorder

“Time to save some pennies for December”


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Release Date: 2nd December 2014

I must have been living under a rock to miss this! For some reason, I started out 2014 eagerly checking for the pre-orders of Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Final Mix Limited Edition (*phew* mouthful…), and when the pre-orders do open, it’s almost like I’d forgotten the game existed.

This is of course the HD update for the original Kingdom Heart 2, and also contains the Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. I can’t seem to figure out if Re:coded is actually the game or just the cutscenes? Regardless of whatever it is, I know I’ll still end up purchasing this.

Sadly, there’s no mention of an artbook like in the release of Kingdom Hearts 1.5, but for your hard-earned cash you get an *Exclusive Pin*. Yes, the artwork for Kingdom Hearts 1.5 wasn’t brilliant, but at least it made me look forward to getting the package, now it’s a…a… PIN.

Hard to get excited about that.

You can see the Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix Limited Edition (PS3) here.

See below for synopsis and trailer:

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TV: BBC Horrible Histories Series 1-5 DVD Box Set (UK Edition)

“The best thing since cave-men!”

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Studio: BBC

Genre: Comedy, Historical, Age: 5+

Released: October 2013  (UK version)

Horrible Histories, for those that don’t know, are an insanely popular series of factual-comedic books made for children. They are pretty old, considering I read them in school, and are filled with facts that seem ridiculous, but are actually true. There have been many productions based off the books, from broadway shows, to animated series, but the 2009 series is easily the best one, being made for all age groups, not just children.

The whole box set is around 30 hours long, and includes all episodes from the five series. The first 12 episodes of each series has sketches, fake historical ads, historical parodies of modern-day reality and chat shows, songs, and quizes. Episode 13, the last of every series, has a compilation of the best songs from the series, and a few extended sketches.

The series groups ancient and modern history into categories titled like Rotten Romans, Awful Egyptians, and Terrible Tudors. Although the show starts off with mainly British related history, it does branch out into significant American and some European history.

Each member of the main cast plays a plethora of characters. As time grows on, you can immediately recognise them and their acting style, and the familiarity makes the comedy even more hilarious.

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(Featuring Ancient Beauty Tips from our experts)

I personally find it impossible to pick a favourite person from the cast, because even when they are not in the starring role, they bring a lot of charm and charisma to the sketch, and are great in their supporting roles.

Each cast member has plays many characters, but my favourite roles are Jim’s Shouty Man, Matt’s King Charles II of England, Simon’s Robert Dudley, Martha’s Queen Elizabeth I of England, Larry’s Bob Hale, and Ben’s King Henry VIII of England.

More information and videos below:

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TV: Star-Crossed – Episode 1 Summary + Review

“Roman, Roman, where for art thou..”

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(“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!

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Book: Nicholas Sayre & The Creature in the Case Cover Image

“Of scratching and inkings”

Author: Garth Nix

Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Age: YA+

Released: 1st October 2007 (UK version)

Going on a Garth Nix kick, I had a look through this book, which a follow-on story from The Old Kingdom Trilogy (The Abhorsen Trilogy). There are a few nice pictures which relate to the short stories that I haven’t seen online. Garth Nix’s short stories have been published in various fantasy anthologies, but I haven’t come across any of these illustrations, possibly because this is an old children’s edition.

I will try and upload the illustrations as I review the stories. This is the Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case image, which I have already reviewed.
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Credit goes to David Wyatt, who has illustrated the headings of the stories for the Harper Collins Children’s Book’s in Great Britain 2006. Photographs taken by me.

Manga: My Little Monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun) Volume 1 Summary + Review

“I’m not getting involved with this”

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Publisher: Kodansha Europe

Genre: Romantic, Comedy, Shojou, Drama  Age: 13+

Released: 20th March 2014 (UK Version)

Hardworking schoolgirl Shizuku Mizutani is a student with a life mission to get perfect grades. Her life is turned upside down when she is asked to deliver a homework assignment to the school delinquent, who then manages to convince himself he is love with her. Haru appears to have very little social skills, but the pair clearly have a chemistry, even if Haru is getting in the way of Shizuku’s goal of being number one at her school.

This is the manga that formed the basis for the anime series, and the first volume covers up to the first two and a half episodes.

Warning! May contain spoilers!

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News: Final Fantasy X HD Limited Edition Preorder on Amazon UK

“So close, so close to my hands….”

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Release Date: 21st March 2014

I’m sure a lot of people got this email from Amazon, but for those that didn’t; the Limited Edition of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD is still available for preorder. This is actually around the £30 mark, which was the same as the LE pre-orders taken before.

See the Pre-Order page here.

The game is, of course, going to sell bucket-loads, and be the saviour of Square Enix’s review ratings, after the travesty of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. I can’t wait to get my hands on my own copy, when the game comes out on 21st March, which at this point is less than a week away.

You get limited edition packaging, an artbook disc-case, and new models of Tidus and Yuna to drool over, but the big satisfaction is in replaying an old favourite. They don’t make games like this anymore.

Update: Pre-orders are now closed.

News: J K Rowling denounces Hermione-Ron Romance

“Overshadowed by best friend…?”

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This revelation has been ricocheting it’s way through the news outlets, J.K. Rowling, the creator of the famous Harry Potter series, has commented that Hermione should have been with Harry, and not Ron.

This is a shocking announcement after the conclusion of the series, which sees Hermione and Ron in a harmonious relationship, and having two children together.

There have been lots of critical analysis of the author’s comment, and one of the most interesting and detailed is Tor’s ‘Erased by Time and Blockbusters—The Cautionary Tale of Ron Weasley‘, which was initially published two weeks ago ahead of the comment, but it coincidences greatly with this new development. The article analyses why Ron Weasley is the weakest of the trio, and how his portrayal in the movies is a major contribution to this.

While it is doubtful that J.K. Rowling feels the movie version of Ron is significant enough to overwrite her internal version of Ron, she states that her changed feelings towards Ron and his relationship with Hermione, have come from a new-found perspective from time.

See more information at this source.

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