The Pale Glimmer of a Firefly

official series art

The reason Sailor Moon S is my favorite season of the series can be summed up in two words: Hotaru Tomoe. This frail and sickly girl first appears in the second half of the season and becomes the focus of the story. She has more than a few secrets, some of which she’s not even aware of herself, and eventually awakens as Sailor Saturn, the most powerful and fearsome Sailor Soldier, perhaps only surpassed by Sailor Moon’s most advanced transformation. With her ultimate attack, she can destroy an entire planet. Hotaru’s story arc is a major factor in why Sailor Moon S is the darkest season of the series.

But as Hotaru, she is a quiet and gentle girl who only wishes to live a normal life.

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[ Song of the Week ] Priscilla Ahn – “Fine on the Outside”

from the album Just Know That I Love You. (2014)

I just finished up a great film challenge that I gave myself: to watch every Ghibli film within a year. I started in January, and now twenty-two films later, the first full weekend of September is when I finally watched the final (for now) Ghibli film, When Marnie Was There, for the first time. I don’t know why I waited so long! It is now easily one of my overall favorites from the studio. But more on that another time…

This is the ending theme to the film, written and performed by Priscilla Ahn. It’s actually quite a melancholy song, and is sort of an image song for Anna, the main character of the story.

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

I waited far too long to see this film. It had nothing to do with lack of motivation or disinterest; it’s one of the Ghibli films I hadn’t seen yet that I’d been looking forward to the most! I could just never find the time. Now more than five years after its release in 2013, I finally have watched The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, and I can only kick myself for letting this much time go by! I’ve long been a Studio Ghibli fan, and this film just found its way nearly to the top of my Ghibli favorites list, though for very different reasons than other top favorites such as Kiki, Spirited Away, or Arrietty.

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya is an artistic tour de force from Isao Takahata, and sadly also his swan song. Visually, it’s an animated Japanese woodblock print. The story is based on the Japanese folk tale of the bamboo cutter who finds a tiny child in a bamboo stalk, and taking it as a sign from the gods, decides to take her home and raise her. Kaguya herself fits right in with the cast of Ghibli leads, despite being a character already well-woven into Japanese culture. The unique animation style gives the story a distinct feel, rooting it in the historical era when the story takes place. Though primarily a drama, there are some great lighthearted moments in the film as well, and Takahata’s expertise with human drama is on full display.

Princess Kaguya is also the longest Ghibli film at two hours and eighteen minutes, and it is also the only Takahata film with a score by Joe Hisaishi, who usually scores Hayao Miyazaki’s films.

To give yourself a taste of this artistic masterpiece, have a look at the six minute Japanese trailer for the film:

KanColle+Mosaic

I recently started watching the series Kantai Collection, and it’s a fun little show. There is a huge cast of characters, so I’ve already got a few favorites. One of them is Kongou… born in England and raised in Japan. She’s got an over-the-top, yet easygoing personality and speaks in a very loud, deliberately paced, and somewhat broken combination of Japanese and English. And her voice sounded awfully familiar, since I’d heard it before.

Nao Touyama provides the voice for Kongou, and I have previously heard her as the half-English, half-Japanese Karen in Kin-iro+Mosaic. In fact, Touyama’s performance as Kongou is virtually identical to that of Karen’s, down to her speech patterns, including her signature long, drawn out -desu.

Pink Sugar Heart Attack!

Back in the day, Sailor Chibi Moon was always one of the most despised Sailor Moon characters… I don’t know if that’s still the case these days with Sailor Moon Crystal and the next generation Moonies, but I never had a problem with her.

So to celebrate the appearance of Sailor Chibi Moon in my Sailor Moon complete series rewatch – currently nearly halfway through Sailor Moon S – here is her first attack: Pink Sugar Heart Attack! Not recommended for those with an aversion to the color pink, hearts, or cutesy sound effects.

Arrietty the Borrower

As you may recall from my latest installment of Anime A to Z, The Borrower Arrietty is one of my favorite Ghibli films. For me, it’s a “classic” from the studio, much like My Neighbor Totoro or Kiki’s Delivery Service. Hayao Miyazaki selected Hiromasa Yonebayashi to make his directorial debut with this adaptation of The Borrowers, and it resulted in a wonderful film.

The sense of scale was captured perfectly. You can tell that you’re watching tiny little people in a human-sized world, rather than normal sized people in a giant-sized world. This is especially apparent when water moves at Arrietty’s scale. The film is also very pretty artistically, and the score by harpist Cécile Corbel fits perfectly with the setting.

And then there’s Arrietty herself. She is one of my overall favorite Ghibli leads. Like many of her predecessors, Arrietty is a determined and adventurous girl trying to forge her own way in the world. But unlike her predecessors, she is only a few centimeters tall!

Below are a few fifteen screenshots of Arrietty from the film. It’s more than I would usually put in a post like this, but she is worth it.