Monday, February 13, 2012

Anime review- Lovely Complex

It's been some time since I have watched anime. But here is one that was really enjoyable.

 Love★Com is a love story between a boy and a girl in Sakai, Osaka. The girl, Risa Koizumi, is 172 centimetres (5 ft 8 in) tall—much taller than the average Japanese girl. The boy, Atsushi Ōtani, is 156 cm (5 ft 1 in)—way below the height of the average Japanese boy. Because of this, the pair are called the "All Hanshin Kyojin" after a popular comedy duo that has a similar height difference.

During summer school, a very tall student named Ryouji Suzuki (from another class) shows up and Risa immediately falls for him because he is tall. There is a girl that Atsushi likes as well, so Risa and Atsushi decide to put aside their differences and help each other get their love interests. But as they get to know each other better, Risa's feelings for Atsushi begin to blossom, and her love life gets complicated from there on. (from wikipedia)

This anime falls in the romantic comedy category. The sentimental moments are interspersed with laughs. Otani is not a typical shojo hero- tall, perfect and good at everything. In fact, he's just the opposite. He is short, ill-tempered (at least with Risa) and not good at academics. Risa herself is not soft spoken and meek but strong and assertive. She is the first one to reveal her feelings.

There are standard shojo plots here, like ex-girlfriend, class trip, summer festival with fireworks, school festival etc. But what makes it stand out is the obscenely long time it takes for Otani to realize Risa's feelings. It drags the story a little, but never seems unbelievable (at least until the end). She makes up her mind in the fifth episode and it almost the fifteenth episode when he comes to realise it. Her attemps at telling him her feelings (and how they backfire) and hilarious. This is an original and unique romantic comedy that I would recommend.



Unique character personalities
Lots of laughs
Good appearence

Music is not really good. They should have used some insert song that can captur the characters' feelings.

NOTE- images taken from various sites on google image search.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Koda Kumi JAPONESQUE review

JAPONESQUE is Koda Kumi's tenth studio album. It reached #1 on oricon in its first week and sold 92,000 copies. It has a japanese theme, though hardly any of the tracks sounds japanese. I am only reviewing the tracks not the interludes.

1. So Nice feat Mr. Blistah- Koda starts the album with this interesting and catchy track. It has arabian instruments and sounds like a mix of Amai Wana and Candy ft. Blistah. A strong track, it somehow draws you in. Kumi's voice is sultry on this one, which adds a nice touch. She looks gorgeous in the pv.


2. Boom Boom boys- A rock track. Not a particularly good one though. It seems to go in no particular direction and appears to have been cut-paste from various sources.


3. VIP ft. T-PAIN- There is hardly any difference between the orignal VIP and this one except it includes rapping by T-PAIN. A catchy dance track, thought she has done better ones in the past.


4. Slow ft. Omarion- A sleek r&b ballad, the chorus cathes on pretty fast. I found myself humming this song not before long. It is like PASS ON BY  from her Dejavu album. The promotional video features her in a black dress, singing in front of a fountain.


5. Brave- A pop ballad, though it sounds more like soft pop. I liked it more when she used to do piano ballads like Yume no uta, ai no uta and moon, crying. It is an above average track, I guess.


6. Everyday- A below average pop track.


7. IN THE AIR- This was on her 4 times single. A slow pop track that really doesn't deserve to be on this album and was a filler in the single, too. The quality of her pop tracks and ballads is really going downhill.


8. You are not alone ~acoustic version~- When is she going to stop torturing the listeners with sub-standard poppish ballads? Her powerful voice and amazing vocal delivery are the only things that saves this track from being a filler.


9. ESCALATE- Finally! A real dance track. A bit dark sounding and full of electric guitars, this is what Koda kumi does best.


10. Love me Back- I heard this first on Nazotoki. The chorus is fine, but when you join in the verse and the 'diamonds and sapphires and you oh my' part, it starts sounding like a disjointed mess. No wonder the single didn't sell. There is a lack of continuity and connection. Still, not really bad and a little funny.


11. No Man's Land- I'm not really a fan of the rap. Otherwise, a rockish track with strong vocals and a catchy enough melody.

Rating- 3/5

12. Ai wo tomenaide- Her voice is full of emotion, but the tune seems to be a mass manufactured acoustic ballad in the style of suki de, suki de, suki de.


13. KO-SO-KO-SO- A really outstanding track. I loved it as a single and love it even more on the album. It has a mysterious tune. It's a mix of rock, pop, r&b and dance. It's really easy to get hooked on to this track.


14. Lay Down- A eurodance track. More like something you would hear on an album by a western artist. A reasonable good track with catchy beats and electronic sounds.


15. Love technique- A pinku-diva type of song. The song sounds sugary and average, but Kumi's vocals sound too artificial. She's trying to be too cute here and it's not working. This is really quite a so-so track which I would skip.


16. Poppin Love cocktail ft. TEEDA- A high-energy track. It sounds full of optimism and the upbeat arrangement adds to its energy even more. Her voice is very powerful. A great pop track.


17. All for you- This is a song for her fans. She looks simple but stunning in the video. With a simple guitar accompaniment and heartfelt vocals, it is the perfect ending for this album.


There were a lot of different genres on this album. It pales in comparison with her earlier works, though. Her quality has been on a downward trend recently, especially the quality of her ballads. There were a few good tracks on this album (mostly single tracks), but overall it is not a great album. The music videos and worth watching.

The tracks sound so manufactured, written without any feeling, just to produce a hit record. The first week sales were pretty low by her standards, so let's see what this album does.

Amazing cover
Catchy dance tracks'

Quality of songwriting of album tracks is not very high

Overall rating-4/5

NOTE- All images were screenshoted by me from youtube except the covers.

Ayaka The Beginning review

Finally after a three and a half year hiatus, ayaka is back to the j-pop scene. Her third original album, The beginning was released through her independent record label Astation. This album brings out a different side of ayaka. All of the tracks except Hello are written (both music and lyrics) by ayaka alone. We get to see a more personal side of her on this album. The lyrical themes revolve around love. One thing about this album anyone would notice right away is that unlike Sing to the Sky or First Message, there are very few guitar pop tracks. Instead, most of the album consists of slow ballads, with piano accompaniment. I don't know, but I am a ballad lover, so I have no hesitation saying that even though this album has no single tracks, it is her best work to date.

Just listening to the album is so magical it makes you feel at ease. The first week sales are much lower than her previous albums at roughly 100,000. Probably because this is an independent release, ayaka didn't have too many resources to promote it because this album deserves higher sales.

1. Hajimari no toki- A beautiful ballad with a sad undertone. The chorus is a bit weak but overall, the sorrowful mood of the song is carried well by the piano and strings. Ayaka's voice seems a bit airy at first, but it is probably for a soft effect. A track you will want to keep listening to.


2. Hello- This is probably one of the few upbeat pop tracks on the album. Right from the start, ayaka belts out the notes with the power and confidence she is known for. A rock-pop track. She perfomed this live on some music show to promote the album.


3. Akai sora- This one's a lot like Mahotsukai no shiwaza from her previous album. It starts of slowly with jazzy piano. Ayaka sound cute and playful. It's an easy listening track that somehow gives you a feeling of satisfaction.


4. The beginning- Another ballad. Stars off with light piano and ayaka singing softly. She conveys emotions wonderfully in this song. There is a sequence of aahs in the song which are extremely catchy and make it sound gospel-ish. The chorus has ayaka doing what she does best- belting out with power. A good power ballad.


5. HIKARI-A rock ballad with guitars and all. Nothing extraordinary. Probably one of the weaker tracks on the album.


6. Sora yo onegai- A very soft and emotional ballad. It reminds me of konya hoshi mo dakarete... from her Sing to the Sky album. They sound quite similar. This song can really calm anyone's soul.


7. Tsunagaru kokoro- A cheerful track which stars with a lot of clapping. There are no amazing notes here, but it is sugary and bittersweet. A nice change.


8. THIS IS THE TIME- A mysterious sounding track, much darker than its predecessors on the album. Ayaka's voice is powerful at every note. It sounds a bit rockish. Ayaka's voice is a perfect fit for this kind of song.


9. Soko Made Aruite Yuku yo- It is a piano ballad, like many of the tracks on this album. It sounds like the kind of stuff that would play in the background of a drama when the protagonists are reminescing about their past. It has a feeling of longing. I love how ayaka doesn't try to show off her vocal potential but creates a mood with the softness and gentleness of her voice.


10. Egao no canvas- The thing about the album is that each track is carrying foward the theme of the album which is easy listening (I am guessing). They are all very nice and relaxing but there is hardly any difference in their arrangement or lyrical content, so I can't really write much about them. This is yet another pleasent track, though bland in comparison to others on this album.


11. Magic Mind- A standard ayaka pop track.

12. Kimi e- Sounds more like something Kobukuro would do, rather than ayaka. It has a country-ish feel.

13. Yasashii Ao- Ayaka ends th album with a ballad. The chrorus is powerful and magnificent. It gradually builds up from a breathy and weak verse to an epic chorus. A great way to end this amazing album.


I think each and every track would make a great addition to any drama. They seem to be written for being played behind a touching drama scene.

This album doesn't have the versatility of First Message or Sing to the Sky, but it is good at what it does. I have always been wanting ayaka to make a ballad-heavy album and looks like she did just that.

Definitely worth listening to on days you're down.

Ballads are beautiful
Ayaka's vocals seem to have improved
There is thematic consistency in the album
No filler tracks. They are all worth listening to.

Horrible cover (umbrella? What was she thinking?)
All tracks have identical arrangements

Overall rating-4.5/5

NOTE- images taken from various sources. do not belong to me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Best Romance Novels (I read in the past months)

Okay, so I'm still feeling lazy to start making a lot of different posts, so I am going to condense it all into one post and write an article on the best romances.  The books are not in order of preference.

1. Gypsy Lord by Kat Martin- After reading formulaic romances about dukes, this one's like a breath of fresh hair. The hero is dark and brooding (like romance heroes usually are) and also a gypsy. There are plenty of tension and interesting scenes in the book and it will keep you reading. The heroine is quite strong too, but the book tends to stretch at the end, even though there is no real dispute left to be resolved.

Good if you are looking for something unique or different within the genre.

Rating- 4/5

2. Until You by judith McNaught- Another book by one of my favorite romance writers. However, that will not stop me for saying honestly that this was one of her most disappointing works. Everything was as expected; there were no unexpected twists or plot devices. The romance was standard, it became harder and harder to believe as the pages went by, that there was anything genuine about the love. There seemed to be so special bond between the characters and the predictable protagonists took the fun out of this work, which could have been great, since the idea was good.


3. Paradise by Judith McNaught- This one's a brilliant work. The beginning seemed to be a bit boring, but by the sixtieth page or so, the story was starting to shape up pretty well. The relationship is one of the best and most believable ones. There were misunderstandings, since it is one of Judith McNaught's most favorite plot devices, but everything seemed to hold together. Their romance as youngsters was a particularly nice way of starting the story, without being too sugary.

A classic work by one of the best writers in the genre.


4. Remember When- It's story was much like paradise, about a high-born,rich girl falling in love with a boy who is not-so rich, but twenty years later becomes a CEO of a huge multinational know the rest. But this kind of plot works like a charm. It never gets boring. This novel seemed like an attempt to recreate the magic of Paradise, but fell short. Probably because the characters weren't so three-dimensional, and the book didn't have enough tension to keep it going. No misunderstandings, either. But it's a decent read, especially if you don't compare it with Paradise.


5. Manhunting by Jennifer Laurens- This is the first book that I've read by Jennifer Laurens. She has a different style than other writers. Her stories are light-hearted and funny, not intense. It falls a little short of my expectations, but neverthless, you could enjoy it if you like romantic comedies. The premise is catchy enough: A woman in her thirties wants to settle down and find the perfect guy who is driven, ambitious and will build a business empire with her. She vacations in a place where rich people seem to gather but ends up falling in love with a guy who's just the opposite of her Mr. Perfect. The guy was really a different sort of romantic interest- he's not insanely rich, powerful or a larger than life alpha male.

Different, but good. Better than Bet Me by the same author. I don't know, it never really sucked me in.


6. Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas- First contemporary novel by Lisa that I've read and she doesn't disappoint (at least not completely). The premise is a mish-mash of cliched and original- a woman stuck with the newborn child of her sister-has no idea who the father is-based on questionable evidence decides it is multi-millionaire Jack Travis- a hare-brained scheme to make him accept responsibility lands her in the arms of the male lead. If you like these kind of novels, you will enjoy smooth talking stranger, but the heroine is a little insipid and the book lacks the depth and intensity of her historicals.


7. The Handmaiden's Necklace by Kat Martin-  Five years ago Rafael, Duke of the Sheffield, believed he was betrayed by the woman he loved and the pain haunts him still. When Rafe discovers that he was cruelly tricked, and that Danielle Duval was never unfaithful, he's desperate to win her back. But Dani is already on a steamer bound for America to marry another man. Impulsively, Rafe follows her and, trapping her in a compromising situation, quickly makes her his wife. (Taken from author website)

I think it's easy to get used to Kat Martin's writing style. I find her historicals to be pretty good. This one is part of a trilogy about a necklace that can bring extreme happiness or extreme sorrow. The secondary romance between Danielle's maid (well, she wasn't exactly a maid, but I forgot the correct term) and a guy they meet in America is as well developed as the main storyline. In fact it snatches away the spotlight from the main story, because the characters take too long to decide what they want.


8. It Had to be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips- The Windy City definitely isn't ready for Phoebe Somerville, the outrageous York knockout who’s taking over their home town team. And Phoebe is definitely not prepared for the Stars' head coach Dan Calebow, a sexist jock taskmaster with a one-track mind. The Chicago Stars are about to take the field...and they’re not the only ones playing for keeps. (Taken from author website)

Good book, better than many of its contemporaries out there. I liked Nobody's baby but mine better because it had unique characters and a good secondary romance, too. It was also quite touching. This one's good too, just more of the expected variety.

9. A Season of Eden by JM Warwick- I don't know whether it is alright to be featuring a YA novel on this list, but Season of Eden is an interesting book, even though it didn't develop quite the way I imaxgined it to.
The author could have done wonderful things with a plot like this, but it seemed to fall short. I am just a little bit disappointed.


10. Practice makes Perfect bu Julie James- A lighthearted battle of the sexes kind of novel. The setting is a legal firm, which adds a lot of tension. Both the protagonists are trying to make partner but only one can. Their rivalry is funny to read. Well-written. Enjoyed this book.


So there you have it. Ten books reviewed in one post.
Hi guys, it's been a long time since anything's been posted on Review Carnival. But rest assured, I have been doing a lot of reading, watching and playing all these months. Thinsg have been kind of hectic. I'll slowly start posting all the stuff I've read in the recent months. I also have a great interview with a mega-famous romance author planned so stay tuned!