I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Maaya Sakamoto -- Million Clouds/Tekopikari -- Futari Shojo (ふたり少女)

My anime buddy and I have been doing our biweekly anime-and-meal sessions for over 4 years, and there has been a certain progression in the routine. What usually happens is that the wacky comedy (such as this anime this season) or action-packed stuff gets shown earlier in the afternoon while the final anime of the night is the calming show so that our stomachs can digest in relative peace. And especially after last night's tasty and very spicy Lahm ou'Ajeen (a Middle Eastern pizza) at a nearby restaurant, we needed some mellow fare. Something like "Corpse Party" would have had me producing some of my own "gore", if you know what I mean.

The seaside mall that has been featured in "Amanchu!"

Last anime season, that was fulfilled by the heartwarming "Flying Witch". But for this season, it is "Amanchu!"(あまんちゅ!)Both shows take place in an appealing sylvan environment way outside of Tokyo but unlike the northern city of Hirosaki from the former anime, "Amanchu!" takes place in the oceanside city of Ito(伊東)in Shizuoka Prefecture, a place that I actually visited in the fall of 2014 with my friend. It stars Eri Suzuki and Ai Kayano(鈴木絵理・茅野愛衣)as the wacky Hikari "Pikari" Kohinata and self-effacing Futaba "Teko" Ohki respectively as high school students who develop an unlikely friendship while being members at the school scuba diving club.

Man, as soon as I heard the opening notes of singer and lyricist Maaya Sakamoto's(坂本真綾)"Million Clouds", I knew my stomach would be cooing "calm blue ocean" along with the rest of me. It's about as sweet a ballad as I have ever heard for an anison. It begins with Sakamoto's feather-light vocals crooning along with a melody by Swedish singer Frida Sundemo that has a beginning which is the equivalent of a young girl with an innocent dream while Pikari and Teko look off into the sky in the opening credits. "Million Clouds" then quickly speeds up as the girls dive into the ocean as the dream seems to get closer to achievement before it all comes back to the song's original dreaminess. Wouldn't it be nice if this could be an inspirational song for some of those future Olympians out there?

I was hoping for the full recorded version of "Million Clouds" but happily I was able to find this unplugged version of the song by Sakamoto in concert. I don't know how well it did on Oricon but the song is indeed a perfect fit with the tone of "Amanchu!"

Ito Station

Keeping in line with the purpose of this blog, I also enjoyed the score used for "Amanchu!" since it was by the guitar-playing duo of Gontiti(ゴンチチ). It's not just the opening and closing themes but the ever-present music that keeps things nice and mellow for the 20-or-so minutes of high school/scuba diving life in Ito.

(cover version)

Speaking of the closing theme, the two main seiyuu tackle it as Tekopikari(てこぴかり)for "Futari Shojo" (Two Girls). I had thought it was Gontiti who created the light Latin-flavoured song but it was actually singer-lyricist Hitomi Mieno(三重野瞳)and singer-songwriter Akino Arai(新居昭乃)behind the just-as-soothing ender. Unfortunately, I could only find the video of the ending credits to provide an example of the song but even that one-minute-and-change excerpt is fine enough.

Not surprisingly, my buddy is already planning to purchase both "Million Clouds" and "Futari Shojo". I'll be sorry to see this show go.

For you "Amanchu!" fans who may be tantalized by the thought of actually staying overnight in Ito, you can try out Daitokan(大東館)which has an interesting variety in onsen inside. You'll need to know Japanese to navigate the hotel's website but there is always the TripAdvisor page.

An Ito sunset

Interesting....a lot of anime fans head over to the actual place where their favourite shows were set such as the town of Oarai in Ibaraki Prefecture for "Girls und Panzer" or even the Tokyo district of Azabu-Juban for "Sailor Moon" after they've been viewed and enjoyed. However, this might be the one instance in which my friend and I got on the Ito bandwagon even before "Amanchu!" was televised.

A nice coffee shop on a shopping street

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