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official series art

I’m just over halfway through watching the Clear Card arc of Cardcaptor Sakura, and it’s just as good as the original series, despite the sudden time shift of “present day” being the late 1990s originally, and now it’s suddenly the late 2010s with all of the technology advances that go along with it, even though only one year of series time has passed. Clearly, one of Sakura’s cards must have created a wormhole for them to suddenly advance more than fifteen years. But I digress.

It’s been a while since I watched a CLAMP series, and doing so has reminded me that if I am looking for inspiration for cute, frilly outfits for my own artistic experiments, I need look no further than the works of CLAMP. Often, their stories seem more like vehicles for their clothing designs. And I am totally okay with that.

Another Jewel in CLAMP's Crown

The original Cardcaptor Sakura is deserving of its legendary status, and two decades later, with most of the original creative staff from the 1990s reunited, the Clear Card arc (which I’m only now watching for the first time) picks things right back up without missing a beat.

One of the high points of the series has been its selection of opening and ending themes and their accompanying animation. Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card is no different. Here is “Jewelry”, the first ending theme of the series, written and performed by Saori Hayami. The animation is very bold and fluid (and cute), and seems to be – at least in part – rotoscoped. I’ve never been a fan of rotoscoped animation, but then the film The Case of Hana & Alice showed me that it can be done artistically to good effect, and this ending theme animation follows in that tradition.

“Jewelry” by Saori Hayami

2019 Playlist Year in Review

It’s time once again to check out my yearly totals from last.fm. A large part of my listening is shuffle play as I sit at my computer, but starting in 2016, offline albums are included. About the only things not included in these tallies are streaming internet radio and whatever I listen to in the car. Enough explanation; on to the numbers!

Top 10 played artists, based on individual song play counts

  1. Genesis (321)
  2. Pet Shop Boys (317)
  3. Steven Wilson (306)
  4. Porcupine Tree (280)
  5. Anthony Phillips (258)
  6. Joe Hisaishi (216)
  7. Steve Hackett (178)
  8. Peter Gabriel (126)
  9. Tony Banks (116)
  10. Dream Theater (111)
  11. TORIENA (111)

Top 10 played-from albums*, based on individual song play counts

  1. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase. (102)
  2. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things Original Soundtrack (72)
  3. Akira Takemoto – Serial Experiments Lain Bootleg (55)
  4. Kou Otani – Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Operation 1 Soundtrack (39)
  5. Shiro Hamaguchi – Girls und Panzer Original Soundtrack (39)
  6. DJ Shadow – Endtroducing….. (38)
  7. Joe Hisaishi – Princess Mononoke Original Soundtrack (35)
  8. Tony Banks – A Curious Feeling (34)
  9. Porcupine Tree – In Absentia (31)
  10. Steven Wilson – Grace for Drowning (30)
  11. Steven Wilson – The Raven that Refused to Sing (and other stories) (30)
  12. The Beatles – The Beatles (30)
  13. Tony Banks – Bankstatement (30)
  14. Takatsugu Muramatsu – Mary and the Witch’s Flower Original Soundtrack (30)

*this is not the same as most-played albums! For this list, every time a song plays is a “vote” for the album it is from, whether in shuffle mode of my entire playlist or listening to the album all the way through, with each play of a song counting once. Or to put it another way, it’s easier for an album with fifteen short tracks to climb this chart than one with five long ones, for example.

There is no top songs list because there is too large of a sample size of individual songs for such a list to have any real meaning. My shuffle playlist is designed to avoid overplaying any particular song, so I have many songs with the same number of play counts over any particular time span. If you’re really interested in these numbers though, see my last.fm library.

Also, you can compare this list to 2018. Prior years’ summaries are on my now-closed tumblr, though I have them archived locally for posterity.

New Albums in my collection: December 2019

>> Camila Cabello: Camila
>> Camila Cabello: Romance

Yes, there is actually some current pop music that I like. Don’t judge me.

>> Candy Dulfer: Sax-a-Go-Go
More 1990s contemporary jazz from the musician famous for “Lily Was Here”, the 1991 collaboration with David A. Stewart of Eurythmics.

>> Ingrid Michaelson: Songs of the Season
I almost went a year without getting a new holiday album. Almost. Right before Christmas Eve I got this collection. While the album was recorded in 2018, it sounds like it could have come from the late 1950s, with arrangements harkening back to the golden age of pop vocal music.

>> Snail Mail: Habit
Reissue of Lindsey Jordan’s 2016 debut EP, recorded when she was about 17 years old. Throwback 1990s Lo-Fi sound with perhaps a few hints of shoegaze or dream pop.

>> Various Artists: Celtic Tides
A collection of Celtic music spanning both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, from Ireland to Canada.

[ Song of the Week ] John Williams – "Rey's Theme"

from Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

For the last weekend of 2019, I went and saw Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, so I thought it might be nice to end the year with the theme for the main character of the final trilogy, and one of my favorite Star Wars characters overall.

Here is Rey’s theme from The Force Awakens, performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in 2017, conducted by none other than John Williams himself.