Japan is twelve hours ahead of me, so Snivy and I wanted to be the first in my time zone to wish “the Little Great One” Ms. Hanako Oku-san a HAPPY BIRTHDAY tomorrow (today) on March 20! She is lucky — her Birthday is always the Spring Equinox.
Ms. Oku has always been one of my favorites. Of course, Snivy is a huge fan. The adorable and talented Ms. Oku has written the opening theme song “Kimi No Hana” for the romance anime “Seiren” currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
The marketing geniuses at the Pony Canyon record company have blocked any and all Hanako Oku music videos in Unova, so it is difficult for us to share the song over YourTube, or Twatter, or Glueggle +, etc. One of these links might work however.
It is a pretty good anime theme. A good anime theme always gets you in the right frame of mind for the show. The song certainly does have its moments where Snivy and I are in our “Hanako Heaven”.
Something else is notable about the show. Hanako Oku also makes her voice acting debut in the series! She plays a pancake house server in the ninth episode. I freeze-framed her line in the photo below. The Little Great One’s only line was “Here’s your next plate” (in Japanese).
The next day, Snivy kept saying “Here’s your next plate … Here’s your next plate”. The cute little guy.
You only get to see the animated-Oku’s hand as she delivers another plate of pancakes to the main character at an all-you-can-eat pancake buffet. Perhaps this will mark the beginning of larger voice acting roles?
Starlight: HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANAKO OKU – BORN MARCH 20, 1978!
SKE48 member Rena Matsui about to go all “MEN!” on my head!
That is the shout that one might make when making a kendo strike to the head. Another older anime series that I have found and enjoyed recently is “Bamboo Blade” (2007). This is the opening theme song (English subbed). Later, you can also watch some segments form the show (mostly English dubbed) on YouTube. I watched it Japanese with English subtitles on Netflix DVD.
It is the story of a girl’s high school kendo team, and their “lovable loser” teacher. Actually there are boys enrolled too, but after several boys were expelled for bullying, only the girl’s team remained large enough for competition. It is pretty good story, the animation is typical anime, but it holds up very well. The series is “realistic” in that there are no vampires, ghosts or superpowers. I do not usually go for anime series about high school, but this one is unique, and you can learn something about the sport of kendo. One of the things I learned is that a strike to the head is called “Men”.
At first when I saw the girls practicing their over-head “men” strikes I thought that they were angry at boys or men, or males in general. I thought the shout was a motivational battle cry for the high school battle-of-the-sexes. The shout reminded me of all of those women’s self defense classes in the 1970s where the women learn to knee a male assailant in the groin and shout “NO!!!” The practice partner was always well padded in class, of course!
I SAID NO!!! This guy is very sorry he tried to take advantage of the nice lady by impersonating Ash Ketchum!
Bamboo Blade is funny at times, but it is also dramatic and poignant. There are inspirational themes about facing one’s own weaknesses and overcoming adversity. There is also a lot of animated humor, and each character has a caricature used for comic relief. (A good anime series knows how to balance seriousness with silliness — think “Rurouni Kenshin” which this reminds me of.) There is a running joke about the teacher’s run in with a mean old lady, and his bet over a lifetime supply of sushi.
The main character of Tamika (Tama-chan) is a kendo prodigy. She is troubled, but very likable. Tama-chan is a big Anime and collectibles fan! She follows a Samurai anime series that looks like the “Power Rangers” but with darker overtones. We also see Tama-chan’s relationship skills build over time; a satisfying part of the drama. Bamboo Blade is good at showing positive aspects of sports, and despite some “jiggly” locker-room scenes, the show should be motivational for young women. It definitely stimulated my interest in Kendo! I like that the series is only two season’s long, and so the story is not too dragged out. The series does have an ending, and it is satisfying, although they do leave the door open for a sequel. I would love to see a “live action” version some day!
Nice! A “Bamboo Blade” Tamaki Kawazoe figurine.
Check it out, you can rent it from Netflix. The following is their DVD description: “Tamaki’s a little girl with big skills when it comes to wielding a blade, and if down-on-his-luck Kendo instructor Toraji can get her to turn off the cartoons and step inside his dojo, he knows they’ll both be unstoppable. The trouble is, Toraji’s a second-rate teacher with a third-rate school, so attracting anyone, much less an apathetic anime addict with a short attention span, is a bigger challenge than he’s faced in a long time.” There is a lot more to it than that …
Interested in more kendo graphics? Please see my board on Pinterest.
It took seven years for the starlight from “Bamboo Blade” to reach my world.
A great anime has a great opening and ending theme! The opening song fires you up about watching the episode, and a good end-theme makes you want to watch more. (Just one more episode tonight … please!!!) I am going to present a list of SOME of my favorite anime series opening themes and ending theses. This is not a list of my favorite all-time, and they are not ranked in order. Some are the entire song. They make great MP3s! Also, for some of these I have included only the anime openings/endings as they are seen in the anime (some with credits, some without). I have also included “full versions” of some songs, especially when they are worthwhile. Thanks go to the original YouTubers for posting. Also, thanks to all their lawyers, the lawyers of the original artists, the YouTube lawyers, and any other lawyers who may become involved.
KINOS JOURNEY: One of my all-time favorites. I never wanted it to end. The continuing story of a girl, her talking motorcycle, and not making any judgments. The opening is “All The Way” by Mikuni Shimokawa. The ending is “The Beautiful World” by Ai Maeda. I’ve included the full songs; both are hauntingly beautiful, just like the series.
CHOBITS: One of my favorite all-time series! “Let Me Be With You” was a great opening theme, and is on the great album “In April” by Round Table featuring Nino. There are actually two end themes. The first is the “Reason For Being”. What the hey, I am also including the Rie Tanaka music video “Ningyo Hime” for the second ending. Both end songs are great.
RUROUNI KENSHIN: Really takes me back. Is this the best anime series ever? The opening theme “Freckles” always fires me up. You can also find the English version on the YouTube links. The later seasons also had different openings and endings. The second ending was always my favorite. Enjoy the full song “Namida wa Shiite Iru” by Mayo Suzukaze.
STRAWBERRY PANIC: What can one say about this landmark series? Here is the full opening song “Shoujo Meiro De Tsukamaete” by Aki Misato. There were different end themes. It was a tough decision , so I went with the more colorful one. “Ichigo Tsumi Monogatan” by actresses Mai Nakahara and Ai Shimizu.
BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL: I’ve included this one for variety. The anime was a great idea, but not fully pulled off. It is very interesting to see that they were not afraid to use that ancient Buddhist symbol for this anime series. … and what was that cat drinking? I like the opening much better than the ending, but it is here for completeness sake.
BAMBOO BLADE: A very cute anime about a girl’s high school Kendo team. Often overlooked, it had great Jpop/disco opening and ending themes. (And I HATED disco!). I have included the “full versions” of “Bamboo Beat” and “Star Rise” here.
SAMURAI 7: I’ve saved the best for last. This is my answer when I am asked “What was your favorite anime?”. The opening and ending are both great. The opening is “Unlimited” by Aikawa Nanese. WOW! WOW!! WOW!!! It always energies me. The haunting end theme “Fuhen” is by Rin. So sad, but so beautiful.
NOW I WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN!
It took varying lengths of time (four to sixteen years) for the starlight from this star cluster to reach my world.
The song “Garnet” by Hanako Oku. End theme song from the anime movie “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”
Is my heart breaking or is it filled with happiness?
Some background: Almost two years ago, I had stayed up late at night watching the anime film “Girl Who Leapt Through Time”. During the end credits of the film, I heard Hanako Oku for the first time …
I felt like a building had fallen on me. To be fair, I had just been on the emotional roller-coaster that is “TGWLTT”. I became very interested in Oku’s music, even though I speak/understand almost no Japanese. I started researching her on the Internet, although I did not have much luck with lyrical translations. Most of the information about Hanako Oku on the internet was (understandably) in Japanese. I watched a number of videos posted on YouTube, and I sent for most of her CDs from Japan. I enjoy her emotional piano ballads.
When I listen to Oku-san, I cannot understand the words. I can mainly listen to it as “instrumental” I guess. Even though I do not understand her singing in Japanese, when I listen to Hanako Oku it feels like my heart is breaking – and also filled with joy – at the same time. Weird. An outside observer may think this strange. My friends were befuddled – they would ask: “How can you understand her?” I know it sounds strange, but when I listen to this wonderful little Japanese singer it changes my attitude. A butterfly will fly past me while I’m mowing the lawn, and I will have a Zen moment. I began to like and appreciate Japanese art and culture.
Oku-san has become one of my favorite artists. If I could write a biographical book someday, I would call it “The Little Great One”. I plan to blog about her again!
Update: 09-20-2014. Record Industry W … I mean “bean counters” took the original theme from the credits down. However, PonyCanyon has posted “Garnet” on YouTube, so that you can at least have the song. This video is on the “extra features” of the DVD TGWLTT.
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