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News Times Twos! - Somewhere It's Showa

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Previous Entry News Times Twos! Sep. 27th, 2008 @ 01:39 am Next Entry
Big news: Bandai plans to do a Soul of Chogokin Daitarn 3! (Heh, I lucked into the two-box "Daitarn 3" DVD set cheap a couple months back and have been having a hoot ever since. Your trivia fact for the day: After "Daitarn 3" ended in the spring of '79, the marvel that is our man Haran Banjou went on to have his own song LP [King's 1980 "The Longest Road in Haran Banjou"--complete with fold-out poster, woo-hoo!] and starred in at least four novels penned by Yoshiyuki Tomino in the later '80s and early '90s. Wonder if the Soul of Chogokin release will have some further little bit of Banjoumania...?)

Bigger news: Last Sunday, Canadian Catherine St. Onge won the grand championship in Animax's second annual All-Japan Anime Song Grand Prix!

That six-hour event, held at JCB Hall in the shadow of the Tokyo Dome, was contested by 10 finalists (11 folks; one entry was a duo)--the top two finishers from this summer's regional eliminations in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Sapporo.

A few weeks before the big final, I was tickled to learn that the winner in Tokyo (of more than 2,000 regional applicants!) had been Yuusuke Shimizu; we're both students in the VLOMIQ vocal program. Second in Tokyo had been Catherine St. Onge, perennial karaoke champion at several North American anime cons, who's lived in Japan for the past six months. With two rooting interests, and the added attraction of an all-star slate of special-guest pros (ranging from classic performers Akira Kushida and Ichirou Mizuki, to teen faves AKB48 and Nana Kitade, and of course last year's winner, Shuuhei Kita), you bet I hopped on the chance to get one of the free admission postcards distributed at Kushida-san's Utau-zo 16!

In the Grand Prix finals, there were three rounds--each judged by a panel of 10 industry pros, and filmed to be broadcast November 16 on Animax. The first round would whittle the field from 10 to seven. The second would eliminate five more. The audience would then vote one of the eliminated five back in, and the top two from the second round would be joined by the audience's choice for the final round to compete for the Grand Prix's grand prize: a pro debut, performing the theme song of a to-be-announced new anime series.

I love close contests, and until near the end of the first round, that's what this was...until the 10th finalist, Catherine St. Onge, took the stage to sing ".hack/Roots" theme "Silly-Go-Round." The other finalists had all been quite good--but she was in a different league entirely; what a jewel of a voice! The judges rewarded her with a score of 90; the rest had been in the 80s and 70s. Come round two, she scored a 91 or 92 (or was it 93?Shoulda taken notes...) on "Adesso E Fortuna" from "Record of Lodoss War," with an even greater gap back to the runner-up. She and Hikari Inoue--who at 14 was almost half her age--advanced to the final, joined by audience choice Airi Furukawa (I voted for Shimizu-san, who'd ended round two tied for third).

Furukawa-san has a fantastic voice, and did superbly for someone who found out about 20 minutes before the final that she'd get to be in it (she'd been fifth or sixth in round two). Then Hikari-chan came out to sing "Naruto Shippuuden" third opening theme "Blue Bird," cosplaying as Sasuke...and it was one of the most gutsy performances I've ever seen. She poured every ounce she had into it! Partway through, her voice seemed like it might go--but she didn't back off; she sang even harder! We were all going crazy, cheering her on, and she looked every instant like she was having the time of her life. That kind of effort, and that kind of joy--that's what singing anime songs is about!

And then came Catherine St. Onge. It's weird, but now I can't remember what she sang--just the shock when she suddenly blanked on a line! She caught back quick...but soon after that, she briefly blanked again. Had that opened the door for Hikari-chan? Only the judges knew, and they weren't tellin' until after AKB48 had finished tracking up the stage.

In the end, tearful Catherine St. Onge was triumphant, and cheerful Hikari Inoue earned a special award from the judges. Mondo congratulations to 'em both--especially to Catherine, who's going where no foreign anison fan has gone before!
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From:pockyman
Date:September 26th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
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Ahhh, Daitarn-3. I'm so sad that Suzuoki-san passed away. ;_; It's going to be strange playing Super Robot Wars without him to voice Shingo, Bright, and Banjo.

How much is that figure going to be?
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From:ii_jidai
Date:September 28th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
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You and me both; Hirotaka Suzuoki was my all-time favorite seiyuu. Exactly one week after he passed away, Masayuki Yamamoto paid tribute at the AJF Super Anison Spirits 2006 concert with a brand-new third verse for "Gyakuten Ippatsuman" he'd written in memory of both Suzuoki-san, who'd been the show's narrator, and Kei Tomiyama, who had voiced its hero (and who, like Suzuoki-san, had succumbed to cancer in his 50s; he died in '95). There were mighty few dry eyes...

Super Robot Wars Z came out a few days ago; haven't been able to do anything about it yet, but hope to soon. Suzuoki-san's Japanese Wiki page lists this game among his credits; hope it's right! (With Baldios making its debut, will be interesting too to see what was done with Marine, with seiyuu Kaneto Shiozawa gone since 2000.)

The Soul of Chogokin Daitarn 3 was just announced; haven't seen a price or release date yet.
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From:avalonjones
Date:September 29th, 2008 04:46 am (UTC)
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Catherine St. Onge's final song was something from Fate: Stay Night; don't recall the title...
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From:ii_jidai
Date:September 30th, 2008 12:36 pm (UTC)
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Ohhh yeah! (That was the first time I'd heard that song--am still fuzzy on its title. Maybe it was "Fate/Stay Night" opening theme "Kirameku Namida wa Hoshi ni"...?)
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From:ii_jidai
Date:October 16th, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
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Hey, thanks for commenting! Haran Banjou, the last great pre-"Gundam" anime hero...*sigh* That's great that classic robot tunes have snatched your fancy! (Am curious how that happens nowadays--through the "Super Robot Wars" games? Anime series opening and ending titles on YouTube?) Have any particular favorite songs or performers?
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From:sadsiren
Date:November 19th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
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I was finally able to see the show, courtesy of some videos posted to Nico Nico Douga. Just wanted to say a few things for the record.

1) Catherine did not miss any words in her final stage song (which was Kirameku Namida wa Hoshi ni). The song was a shortened version, with the second verse and the chorus after it removed.

2) I think it a shame your classmate didn't make it to the finals, as I think he honestly did better than Hikari (they were tied at the end of the second stage). If I'd been there, I would have voted for Yuri Nanami though, as she was the second best vocally of everyone there, imo. Instead, the young, attractive Airi (who was 18 and sang about the same level as Hikari) gets to go up. Really disappointing.

3) I think the judges were being way too nice to Hikari in the first 2 stages. Granted, she did a lot better for her last song than the prior two, but if they'd been honest, she probably wouldn't have even made the second stage.
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From:sadsiren
Date:November 19th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
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And if you're wondering, I came across your lj back in September after it was announced she won. I linked your entry to one I wrote for her, since you were able to see it live.
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From:ii_jidai
Date:November 21st, 2008 04:33 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for your comments, and for linking.

Unfortunately, Catherine St. Onge did indeed forget the lyrics twice in her final song. For its TV broadcast, which aired last Sunday and was what you saw on Nico Nico Douga, Animax did her the courtesy of editing out the several painful seconds that the music went by without her as she stood pressing a fist to her forehead, trying to remember the words.

The Animax broadcast condensed the six-hour event down to less than two. Most of what got cut was 90 percent of the emcees' discussions with the competitors, some portions of the competitors' songs, many of the judges' comments, and half of the performances by the special guests (most sang two songs, with just the second one in the broadcast).

On your "if they're been honest" comment: Industry executives, producers, and pro performers were the judges in this contest to award a pro debut. They had to try to forecast both the future and how the production of that future is apt to go, and they've got a world more experience at it than you or I.

It's possible the crowd response was also taken into account. The audience is a representative sample of who will be buying the CD and going to live performances, and there were definitely different levels of response to the various performers--something the Animax broadcast didn't capture. Hikari Inoue and Airi Furukawa were huge audience favorites. The audience energy kicked up by Hikari-chan's fearless final performance helped mark her as someone truly special.
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From:ii_jidai
Date:November 21st, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
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Oops, typo above, sorry--should be "if they'd been honest", not "if they're been honest".
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