It appears that the team behind Strike Witches, a franchise which features ladies flying about in their panties, have a soft spot for much more than just knickers. They also like Yoko Ishida, the singer from the first series’ opening song. They like her so much that despite the hoo-ha of switching animation studios, moving from Gonzo to AIC for the second series, they decided bring her back to record the new opening; ‘STRIKE WITCHES 2 ~Egao no Mahou~’ (‘Magic Smile’).
Yoko Ishida spirited her way into anime at the age of 19. She entered 1992’s Anime Song Singer Contest and won, landing herself a record deal with Columbia records. Her debut song ‘Otome no Policy’ was released a year later and used as the theme to Sailor Moon R. It soon became a karaoke classic for magical-girl fans across Japan, with the single selling over 300,000 copies.
The song, her only tie-in with anime at up until this point, left an impression with entertainment giant Geneon. Seven years after the track’s release, Yoko’s contract with Columbia had expired and Geneon was there waiting to snap her up. They had a plan, a plan to establish her as one of the hottest names in anime – and they succeeded.
Straight off the bat Geneon had Yoko Ishida singing the opening them to the cutesy Little Snow Fairy Sugar, followed by Ai Yori Aoshi, Petite Princess Yucie, Gunparade March and This Ugly Yet Beautiful World – the latter two anime receiving a UK release.
She didn’t stop there! Having built a steady amount of followers with a penchant for animation, Geneon’s next move was to release an anime cover album featuring the vocalist – and not just any cover album, a para para style one! Featuring distinctive takes on classic Gundam, Chobits and many other anime theme tunes, the album proved so popular that it spawned a further two volumes, bumping up Yoko’s cover catalogue to includes the likes of Cowboy Bebop, Gurren Lagann and Evangelion.
Yoko’s popularity began to spill overseas too, and once a chunk of her prior releases were made available in America, it wasn’t long until she was jetting off from Japan and touring the States, as well as Europe, South America and east Asia.
What awaited upon her return to Japan? Why, a whole new season of anime to record the themes for! Ah! My Goddess, Shakugan no Shana and of course, Strike Witches series one and two (If you really want to impress your friends with Strike Witch knowledge, series’ director Kazuhiro Takamura also wrote all the lyrics to the show’s opening themes). More recently (as in, the last few months!), Yoko finished recorded the new opening for the Strike Witches movie, which she’s currently promoting in Japan through a number of themed live performances in its honour. UK based anime fans can only sit and ponder how long it will be until she ventures to these parts with such promotions.
After discovering that the Neuroi are capable of communication with humans and making peace with the nest above Gallia, the Witches squads are on a mission to reestablish communication, when a sudden attack causes the Neuroi to vanish. The Witches discover a new and massive nest that just appeared, covering almost all Europe. Ruthlessly and without mercy it annihilates allied forces along with Witches. Word of the attack reaches Fuso and a support battalion is deployed to rescue the survivors. Among the rescue team is the former Striker captain Mio Sakamoto and the now civilian Yoshika Miyafuji, who want to save their dear friends.
Monkey Majik first shot to fame in Japan in 2006 when their second major-label single Around The World became the opening theme to TV drama Saiyuuki, an updated version of the famous Chinese tale Journey to the West. A fitting introduction for the band, considering the story is widely known as Monkey in English. Magic.
This is the perfect summer blockbuster movie, as well as a textbook example of how to do a spin-off feature just right. Modern-day Hollywood could learn a lot from Phoenix Priestess, even as it sticks to lessons from an older version of the American Dream Factory.
An important change to the Psycho-Pass DVD/Blu-ray release
For all of you looking forward to the release of Psycho-Pass we have some news for you. Today we can confirm that due to high demand we will be combining the upcoming Part 1 and Part 2 releases of Psycho-Pass into one Complete Series Collection!
Andrew Osmond on Miyazaki’s love for a French classic
The King and the Mockingbird was one of the films which taught Miyazaki and Takahata that you could make an animated feature without following studio formulae – something they strove for themselves as early as Takahata’s 1968 Marxist epic The Little Norse Prince.
Andrew Osmond on the history of man-machine interfaces
RoboCop is thrown into interesting perspective by looking at his anime cousins. In Japan, RoboCop is one of a crowd. Two of anime’s greatest poster icons – Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell and Tetsuo in Akira – are or become cyborgs. Moreover, a man-turned-robot was an anime hero back in 1963. We’re talking about 8th Man, shown in America as Tobor the Eighth Man. It’s a policeman who, yes, gets murdered by a crime gang, then resurrected in a robot body.
Andrew Osmond on Japan's chances at this year's Academy Awards
There are two anime among this year’s Oscar nominees: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, competing for Best Animated Feature, and Shuhei Morita’s Possessions, vying for Best Animated Short. To date, there has been only one Japanese winner in each category. Miyazaki’s Spirited Away was the winning feature in 2002; Kunio Kato’s La Maison en Petits Cubes won Best Animated Short Film in 2008. What are the new films’ chances?
Robotics;Notes could be called You Can Build Your Own Giant Robot! It’s about geeks engaged in a preposterous project; building the mecha they’ve seen in anime for real. The show’s aimed at viewers who might think they really could. After all, they’d probably heard of otaku who have built oversized robots for real.