[ Anime A to Z ] ~C~ Chigasaki Mayuko

official series art by Yoshitoshi ABe

I’ve done this list twice before, and somehow I’ve managed to overlook Mayuko both times! Why is this a shock? Because Mayuko from NieA_7 is my favorite anime character of all. At last on this third list, I correct this glaring omission.

Mayuko is not the type of character one would usually expect to be at the top of a favorite characters list. She’s a poor high school graduate working multiple jobs just trying to put food on her table while living in the bathhouse her family used to own, where she also works for the current owners. The bathhouse is struggling to stay in business as well, so each day they remain open is a small victory. Mayuko is also going to cram school to prepare for college entrance exams, and somehow maintains some of the highest grades in the school despite her situation.

And by the way, Mayuko’s roommate is a lazy, freeloading alien who keeps trying to mooch off her meager food supply and builds junk UFOs in her room.

With everything that Mayuko has to go through and put up with day after day, she became the kind of character who, if she was a real person, I would want to help out any way I could. She deserves a secure, happy life without worry, and that’s why Mayuko is my favorite anime character.

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[ Song of the Week ] Kylie Minogue – “Closer”

from the album Aphrodite (2010)

Ever since I first heard this song, I thought that if Dracula had a club in Castlevania, this is the music that would be playing in it. (It’s the harpsichord and minor key.) Also I wish this song were at least twice as long; it just starts getting good and then it ends. Maybe there’s a good extended dance remix of it out there that I haven’t discovered yet.

[ Anime A to Z ] ~B~ The Borrower Arrietty

When some people say they are Studio Ghibli fans, they often mean they are Hayao Miyazaki fans, forgetting that Miyazaki is only a part of the studio’s grand legacy. Not to be overlooked are the works of the other directors in the Ghibli house, including the “new generation” that aren’t founders Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata.

One of my favorite Ghibli films is from one of these new directors. Hiromasa Yonebayashi made his Ghibli directorial debut with The Borrower Arrietty in 2010. (He would later go on to direct Ghibli’s most recent film When Marnie Was There, and then become a founder of Studio Ponoc with Mary and the Witch’s Flower.) Based on the book The Borrowers, The Borrower Arrietty is a delightful fantasy with one of my favorite Ghibli leads, the adventurous and determined Arrietty.

With the film’s story overseen and initial screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki, and a wonderful score by harpist Cécile Corbel, The Borrower Arrietty is near the top of my Ghibli favorites list.

“A Far Away Lightning”

Now that I’m past halfway in my Texhnolyze rewatch and working my way towards the end, I thought this week I would share two of my favorite pieces of BGM from the series. While the series has its share of dark and gritty music to match the visual tone of the series, it also has some beautiful quiet pieces, such as this one: “A Far Away Lightning” by Hajime Mizoguchi.

Stay tuned for Friday to hear my top selection from the Texhnolyze score.

[ Song of the Week ] The Sugarcubes – “Planet”

from the album Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week! (1989)

One of my favorite songs from the Icelandic band. The production and clean electric guitar sound give the song a distinct New Wave feel (and to my ears, an ahead of its time early ’90s feel). And if that woman’s voice and face seem a bit familiar, they should be. This is the band Björk was in before breaking out into her highly experimental solo career.