Karma – it’s a funny old thing. One dastardly deed and somewhere down the line the repercussions will bite you on the backside. Likewise, karma can also bring great rewards. The concept is one with which Japanese songstress KOKIA is all too familiar – not least because it’s the title of her single from the opening of Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom.
It also defines her career as a musician. She had been involved in music from the tender age of two-and-a-bit, when her instruments of choice were the violin and piano. Later in life she had stints at music school in America and Japan before being snapped up by a major label while still at university. She provided the theme to a PlayStation game, and her first few singles had been penned by the same team behind one of the biggest hits from the previous year. If that wasn’t enough, the singles had also found their way into dramas and anime. Yet, even with such a large amount of backing, exposure and her own extensive musical background, her releases barely made the top 100 of the Oricon chart.
Yet, karma wasn’t going to let all the hard work go unwarranted. As if by divine intervention her fourth single ‘Arigatou...’ made her a star. Though, not immediately. And not in Japan. In fact, KOKIA’s debut album failed to chart in her home country at all. Fortunately for her, its release in the rest of Asia was an entirely different story and can be credited to Hong Kong’s super star diva Sammi Cheng. She released a cover of ‘Arigatou...’ the same week that KOKIA made her Asian debut, catapulting the Japanese singer to the stardom she was unable to achieve back home. KOKIA’s original version was eventually awarded third best song in Hong Kong’s Best International Song Awards. Suddenly, her career was back on track.
And thank goodness. Without Sammi Cheng’s success, a second major KOKIA album would have been highly unlikely. And without a second album, her continued career in the world of the anime-song would have probably died as well. The opening to Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino would not exist as we know it, the ethereal and haunting vocals that set off the beginning of Origin: Spirits of the Pastwould simply not be, and a whole line of yet-to-be- anime would have very different theme songs.
Her relative success outside of Japan, particularly Europe, has come from the exposure anime has given her voice. In 2010 she conducted her first world tour (and by ‘world’, she clearly meant Europe and Japan) which included dates in London and Ireland, the country which inspired the creation of her seventh studio album Fairy Dance – it also includes three covers of traditional Celtic songs. The album, along with seven others are available digitally from the iTunes UK store courtesy of Wasabi Records, yet both singles taken from Phantom (‘Karma’, as well as closing theme ‘Transparent’) remain unreleased in this region.
KOKIA’s ‘Karma’ and ‘Transparent’ feature in Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom. Part 2 of the series is out on 12th March on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.
Based on the smash hit survival horror videogame from CAPCOM, Dead Rising: Watchtower takes place during a large-scale zombie outbreak. When a mandatory government vaccine fails to stop the infection from spreading, the four leads must evade infection while also pursuing the root of the epidemic, with all signs pointing to a government conspiracy. Politics, public paranoia, and media coverage play an important role in the story’s narrative.
“Blessed by the Church, licensed by the State, Damned for all Eternity... All that stands between England and the Undead!” The modern-day tale of Britain’s holy warrior order (the Hellsing of the title) fighting vampires with their own supernatural WMD (Dracula himself, here named Alucard), Kouta Hirano’s original manga debuted back in 1997. Its stylised bloody action predates the global success of Blade by a year, while the idea of Dracula surviving into the modern era was being explored then by British author Kim Newman, in the first two volumes of the Anno Dracula series.
Matt Kamen follows the white rabbit in this brutal prison saga
After an environmental disaster ravages Tokyo, three quarters of the city is wiped from the Earth. What’s left of the once-bustling metropolis is re-developed into Japan’s largest prison, a privately owned concern known as Deadman Wonderland, that forces inmates into sadistic carnival shows for bloodthirsty spectators. To force participation, prisoners are collared with a device that slowly poisons them, a lethal dose building up over three days unless they eat a foul-tasting piece of candy to purge their system and reset the timer. The prison’s chief warden Makina is a no-nonsense ball-buster who never hesitates to punish insubordination or misbehaviour, often with a slash of her lethal sword.
Bleach series 13 continues the clash between Soul Society’s Shinigami and Sousuke Aizen’s Arrancar army. It also brings with it a new talent in Japanese pop-rock: miwa. This fresh-faced female, armed with a guitar and an arsenal of upbeat pop-rock songs, provides the series’ twelfth opening theme, ‘chAngE’.
Like the film, this novelisation is intricate and intimate in its details, and universal in its storytelling. The writing is simple enough for readers of around seven or eight to enjoy, without any loss to the emotional impact of the girls’ adventures, while fans of the film will also find new details that were previously unelaborated in the movie.
Opening with a running fight down a freeway where anti-tank missiles and heavy vehicles are tossed around like party favours, the first episode never lets up, setting a standard that the show maintains throughout.
Need more cowbell? Have five! Japanese pop quintet Bon Bon Blanco (or B3 for short) is made up of 80% percussionists – and whilst its vocalist Anna Santos is the only member without an instrument to bash, I’m pretty sure she could work her way around a cowbell if pushed.
Andrew Osmond says, if you like that, you might like this…
Summer Wars and Sword Art Online are made for a generation who’ve grown up with and within virtuality: social networks, video streaming, games without borders or ends. Both anime are adventures about things going wrong in cyberspace, but neither are technophobic; on the contrary, they’re all about hugging the avatar.
Fans who are fully up-to-date and casual viewers and newcomers alike can both enjoy the One Piece movies! Each is entirely self-contained, with entirely new plots not found in Eiichiro Oda’s original manga, but are every bit as enjoyable.
I got quite excited when I found the clip online. "James Bond, aka Bondo (agent 007), the suave superspy who…" Alas, my delight was premature. It was a fan animation starring a green-eyed, spiky-haired pretty boy who looked as likely to bed the villain as shoot him - a quantum of solace, undoubtedly, but no help on my mission: find anime's answer to Bond.