Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tutorial: Gogo no Junjou (Kuragehime)

I've been on a josei roll of late. Sakamichi no Apollon is one of my favorite shows ever so I already had a soft spot for the genre, but I recently watched Kuragehime, Honey & Clover and Nodame Cantabile all in a row, and they were all pretty great. Kuragehime in particular had a cool little piano insert song with a metronome, so I decided to put together some sheet music.

...Of course, I finished this tutorial before I ever watched Kuragehime, so most of that previous paragraph is irrelevant.


I was struck by this piece in particular because of its neat classical sound and ternary form, and because it sounded like so much fun to transcribe. It was, indeed, a lot of fun to transcribe; lots of arpeggiated passages and fairly predictable structure, and none of those annoying tricky chords that I always have trouble with. Then, like all music that I transcribe but am too lazy to actually learn, I put together a Synthesia tutorial! Check it:

午後の純情 (Kuragehime Insert Song)

Composer: Makoto Yoshimori
Date Completed: 2012-10-23
Software: Finale 2008, Fraps, Synthesia, Movie Maker
Instrumentation: Piano

Here is a link to the sheet music. It's a pretty fun technical piece; enjoy! And if you're looking for a funny, feel-good show, give Kuragehime a chance; I think it's definitely worth the watch.



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Piano Cover: Innocent (Galilei Donna)

I'm several months behind, so I'm going to keep this one really short.

Because everything is better with more moe girls.

Galilei Donna was a show this season. I watched it. It was mediocre and I didn't finish it. (I am disappoint, NoitaminA.) I did, however, make a cover of the ending song, which is actually pretty catchy. And features even more moe girls! Enjoy :)


Innocent (Galilei Donna ED): Piano Cover

Artist: Earthmind
Date Completed: 2013-10-13
Software: Audacity, Sony Vegas
Number of Takes: Honestly don't remember
Instrumentation: Piano

I'm going to keep these posts short from now on to facilitate me actually getting them done in time.

Happy winter,


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Piano Cover: Rage On (Free!)

Once upon a time, there was an innocent little YouTube video, put together by Kyoto Animation to demonstrate its awesome new water-animating skillz. Unfortunately for video-kun, who just wanted some peace and quiet, the Internet was taken by storm. Legions of fangirls and fanboys celebrated KyoAni's foray into the world of delicious manservice, and dubbed the content "Swimming Anime." When it was finally discovered that Swimming Anime wasn't, in fact, a real show but only a demo, the resulting cries of grief and frustration were deafening. Overwhelmed by the pure volume of fan reaction, KyoAni finally relented, and announced that their new show Free! would begin airing in July. Cue the Internets going wild.

Or something like that.

The butt-slap that started it all.

Along with seemingly everyone and their great-aunts, I began watching Free! when it began airing in July (which was marginally awkward since I was visiting family in China). I don't know what I expected from the show, but one thing's for certain: KyoAni certainly didn't shy away from the fanservice, and Free! has been chock-full of shirtless dudes and near-yaoi moments. I really admire shows that are unapologetic about the content they're showing, and Free! is about as unapologetic as they get. With all the ridiculous female fanservice in the anime market, Free! comes off as almost tongue-in-cheek in the way it reciprocates it on the men.

I guess I should mention the backlash-from-dumb-people that the show got, but I'll direct you to my friend's blog post for all matters concerning that bit of controversy.

Oh, what's that? I'm supposed to talk about the music at some point?

To be honest, I can't say the music in Free! is the best I've ever heard -- though the ending sequence might be the most absurd (-ly awesome) I've ever seen -- but I still wanted to give the OP a try. The rock style of the song isn't the type of music I'm used to arranging for piano, but whatevs. :P Here is my attempt at covering the opening for the Swimming Anime:

Rage On (Free! Iwatobi Swim Club OP): Piano Cover

Date Completed: 2013-07-27
Software: Audacity, Sony Vegas
Number of Takes: 18
Instrumentation: Piano

Although I doubt Free! will find its way onto my best-anime-of-all-time list, it's definitely been an enjoyable ride so far. If you're curious, give it a try; I'd be interested to hear what you think! Here, have some Matsuoka Gou for good measure. :P

See you next water time (wut),


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cosplay Interlude: Anime Central 2013

About three months ago (yayyy for being on time), I had the pleasure of attending Anime Central 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. With nearly two years (lol) of anime experience under my belt, I found this con experience even more exhilarating than Animazement 2012. The more shows I've watched, the more I enjoy and can identify with everyone at these conventions. Or at least, that's a pretty convenient excuse for me to watch even more anime. :P

As always, I went to this anime convention with a group of wonderful friends, and we decided again to attempt some group cosplays. After juggling numerous options for the full-group cosplay for the five of us, we finally settled on the fantastic 2010 show Katanagatari. In particular, we decided to cosplay characters from the Maniwa Ninja Corps, a group of hapless villains (of questionable degrees of actual malice) who inevitably get slaughtered over the course of the show's twelve episodes. For my character, I chose Maniwa Kamakiri, the mantis-themed ninja of the Insect Squad who meets his fate during episode 4.

Kamakiri's costume was definitely the most intricate I've ever attempted; completing it involved the help of several friends and multiple late nights, and it was definitely often a struggle. Nonetheless, I was able to pull off something passable in the end, and I've definitely learned a lot about cosplay (and particularly sewing) in the process.

(1) Maniwa Kamakiri of the Insect Squad: the green guy on the left.

(2) Some concept art of Maniwa Kamakiri. The final design was a little different.

(3) My Maniwa Kamakiri costume. Photo credit to Chou-Wa.

Unfortunately, Katanagatari wasn't quite as popular as I thought it might have been, what with the re-air and all, and there weren't a ton of people who recognized us. Nonetheless, we scheduled one photoshoot for the group with Chou-Wa Photography, whose photos can be seen here. However, the best part of the Katanagatari-cosplaying experience was undoubtedly the meetup. Although we'd arranged on the forums to meet up with another group of two Katanagatari cosplayers, it still didn't prepare me for the excitement of actually meeting other cosplayer-fans. (I think there was an even greater sense of camaraderie since our source material was relatively obscure.) We took a ton of fun photos, and were even lucky enough to receive a free impromptu photoshoot from the amazing M1photo, who was himself a Katanagatari fan. You can see the photos from our shoot with M1photo below.

(4) The whole Katanagatari group! Photo credit to M1photo.

(5) Compilation of individual character shots. Photo credit to M1photo.

Apart from the Katanagatari cosplay, I also put together a costume from the horror anime Shiki in a two-person group. (Photos for that costume are still pending, but I'll put them up as soon as they're sent to us.) Cosplay aside, however, the highlight of the convention was certainly the Kalafina concert (see my review). I've been fond of Kalafina ever since I heard the Madoka ending song Magia, and seeing them perform in person was nothing less than magical.


As always, I'll end this post with a bit of photo-vomit. I didn't actually take too many pictures this time around so there aren't many, but feel free to check out my Facebook album here if you're interested in seeing the complete set.

(7) Our cute lil' Maniwa Corps headpieces. :)

(8) Super Sentai Gokaiger!

(9) Our whole group! Cosplays represented: Shiki, Adventure Time, Shingeki.

(10) Ergo Proxy!

(11) The cuteness of HomuHomu knows no gender boundaries.

(12) Artist working live on chalk art. T'was ridiculously impressive.



(15) Some R&R with the Maniwa gang.

(16) A Mirai Nikki group! #represent

(17) Katanagatari photoshoot, in which Nanami MURDERS US ALL ._.

(18) Mufufufufu

(19) The completed product of the aforementioned chalk art. Beautiful.

(20) Mahou Meganekko Madoka Magica XD

That's all, folks! Don't forget to say hi if you're a fellow Anime Central 2013 attendee!

Until we meet again,


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Piano Cover: Aku no Hana (Saeki's Theme)

Man, I'm getting really bad at posting these updates when I should.


If the spring 2013 anime season had a drama queen, it would undoubtedly be Aku no Hana. There was a ton of controversy surrounding the show, not the least of which concerned the radical shift in art style between the manga source material and the anime. Plenty of people were turned off by the more realistic, rotoscoped style, and to be honest, it certainly took a bit of getting used to. Still, I found Aku no Hana a legitimately compelling show (if a bit over-artistic at times), and it was one of my favorites of the season.

The music in Aku no Hana is some of the best I've heard. The most memorable song in the series is certainly the exceptionally haunting ending theme, but the opening themes (also named "Aku no Hana") are quite creative as well. There are four openings in total, and each is a variation upon the same basic theme and sung from the perspective of one of the main characters. This sort of self-referential music really appeals to me, and I decided I'd cover one of the opening themes. My favorite was Saeki's version, so I chose that for my cover. Enjoy!

Aku no Hana (OP #3, Saeki's Theme): Piano Cover

Artist: Uchujin
Date Completed: 2013-06-05
Software: Audacity, Sony Vegas
Number of Takes: 10ish
Instrumentation: Piano

Anyway, if you're an anime fan willing to try something unique, or you're just tired of all that moemoe stuff floating around, you owe it to yourself to try out Aku no Hana. At the very least it's very unique, and who knows: maybe you'll end up really enjoying it too. :)

More piano covers soon! Hopefully on-schedule this time!

See ya,


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Piano Cover: Sora to Kimi no Message (Suisei no Gargantia)

Wayyyy overdue post. I'll keep this one short then.

Seems like a fair fight.

The spring 2013 anime season has been quite an exciting one, complete with heavyweights (Shingeki no Kyojin), controversial shows (Aku no Hana), beloved sequels (Nyaruko) and more. One of the shows that fascinated me from the beginning was Suisei no Gargantia, the newest project by Gen Urobuchi. I've always had an interest in his work, and Gargantia looked to be surprisingly lighthearted compared to his other work. Unfortunately I've lost a bit of interest since then and fallen behind, but I still really enjoyed the music. So here's my piano version of the ending song, "Sora to Kimi no Message" by Choucho:

Sora to Kimi no Message (Suisei no Gargantia): Piano Cover

Artist: ChouCho
Date Completed: 2013-04-11
Software: Audacity, Sony Vegas
Number of Takes: I don't even remember
Instrumentation: Piano

That's all for this post. Expect another post or two as this season comes to a close.

Bye now,


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Concert Review: Kalafina @ Anime Central 2013

This past weekend was Anime Central in Chicago, the third-largest anime convention in the United States. This year, Anime Central hosted a very special guest: Kalafina! While members of Kalafina have performed once before in the United States (Anime Expo in 2011), Anime Central 2013 marked the first time that the entire Kalafina band has performed in the U.S. I was fortunate enough to attend this wonderful performance.

Like perhaps many others, I was initially drawn to Kalafina via their lovely ED "Magia" from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. Shortly thereafter, I watched Kara no Kyoukai and was further drawn in by their ending songs for the seven films. Before the concert, I decided to familiarize myself with some more of Kalafina's work, including songs from Kuroshitsuji, Fate/Zero, and the new Madoka movie. I'm really glad I did, as my familiarity with Kalafina's works really enhanced my enjoyment of the concert (compared to, say, the KOTOKO concert last year).

There are some groups who sound amazing in recordings, but rather lackluster in live performances. Kalafina is not one of these groups. I was constantly blown away by how terrific Kalafina's singing was, especially with the ridiculously long (16 songs!) setlist they went through. Kalafina's pitches were flawless, and the live performances sounded nearly identical to the recorded material; rarely was even a single note out of place. Major props to the singers and to the five talented band members (seriously though, that keyboardist was sick).

Compared to KOTOKO's performance, Kalafina's exuded a different type of energy. While the KOTOKO performance was full of vibrancy and lots of jumping up-and-down, Kalafina's performance demonstrated a much more deliberate, orchestrated style of energy. In fact, "orchestrated" is an appropriate adjective for Kalafina's performance as a whole; the entire performance was a carefully crafted piece of artwork full of poses, gestures, and sound. That brings me to my only gripe (if it can even be considered as such): that the performance was a little too perfect. For me, one of the appeals for seeing artists perform live is to see how they deviate from the source material. Kalafina's performance was faithful nearly note-for-note to the original source material, and while that's certainly a good thing, I would have enjoyed seeing Kalafina interpret the music a little more loosely.

Below is the setlist for Kalafina's Anime Central performance. (I actually took notes this time, so it's accurate!) Click the little "x" to the left of each song to check it out on Last.FM.

[x] Oblivious
[x] Consolation
[x] Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa
[x] Red Moon
[x] Magia (the crowd went wild here)
[x] Hikari no Senritsu
[x] Door
[x] Mirai (Mami's theme from Madoka)
[x] Aria
[x] Signal
[x] Obbligato
[x] Ongaku
[x] The Whole Sky
[x] To the Beginning
[x] Hikarifuru
[x] Yume no Daichi

Every three songs or so, the three singers took a break to chat with the audience. I was pleasantly surprised by how interactive they were; while they did read from an English script (not always successfully, in Keiko's case), they interacted quite a bit with the audience, gauging our familiarity with the songs, pointing out cosplayers, and asking for restaurant suggestions. Also, Keiko's English was so cute gahhhh X_x

Oh, and random tidbits from the between-performance sessions:

-Keiko's speaking voice is surprisingly high, given her low singing voice.
-Hikaru is afraid of heights.
-Wakana likes dinosaurs.
-Keiko's favorite character is Rider (Fate/Zero).
-Hikaru's favorite character is Saber (Fate/Zero).
-Wakana's favorite character is Mami! (Madoka Magica)
-The audience suggested "hot dogs" as a food of interest for Chicago. Really?

For more Kalafina and pictures from Anime Central, check out their blog here. (I'm somewhere in that picture above! :D)

I had an absolutely wonderful time at Kalafina's performance at Anime Central, and I'd recommend any fan of their music to see them perform live if they get a chance. Sadly, I wasn't able to meet them at Anime Central this time, but perhaps I'll have the opportunity to hear them perform again in the future. I'd attend again without any hesitation. :)

'Til next time,


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Piano Cover: Osmotic Pressure Symphony (Sasami-san@Ganbaranai)

In all honesty, the Winter 2013 anime season was a pretty disappointing one for me; I didn't truly love any of the shows I watched (apart from the carryovers from the previous season), and ended up dropping a number of the new shows. One show I did stick with, however, was Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, a SHAFT show with very SHAFT characteristics. I won't try to describe the show here, because it rather defies description, but suffice it to say I found it fairly entertaining, and definitely better than the other Winter '13 shows I watched. And admittedly, I did appreciate their choice of voice actresses for the Yagami sisters. :P

Translation: Welcome to your doom. (not really)

Sasami-san had a pretty unique running gag with its closing credits: different characters took turns attempting to sing the ED (badly), but we didn't get to hear the full song in all its glory (and correctness) until the last episode of the show. It was worth the wait, though; I really enjoyed the catchy, upbeat piece full of neat modulations and applied chords. I decided to start this new season off with a cover of this song, "Osmotic Pressure Symphony." Enjoy!

Osmotic Pressure Symphony (Sasami-san): Piano Cover

Artist: Kana Asumi
Date Completed: 2013-04-07
Software: Audacity, Sony Vegas
Number of Takes: 20ish
Instrumentation: Piano

New anime season is underway, so look forward to some more covers coming soon!

'Til then,


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Piano Cover: Zutto Be With You (Nyaruko-san)

Okay, this post is nearly two months late, but better late than never, right? Right...?

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san, a comedy/parody show which aired roughly this time last year, is one of my favorite guilty-pleasure animes. Actually, I don't feel all that guilty about it; despite the silly premise (it stars a number of Lovecraftian monsters who happen to take the form of cute girls) and occasional fanservice, it still made me laugh harder than many other comedies I've watched. And that's with me not even understanding nearly all of the references. The sequel's slated to air very soon, so I'm definitely looking forward to that.

Warning: Lovecraftian monsters are not actually this cute in real life.

My "Zutto Be With You" cover came into being because I was looking for something "romantic" to cover for Valentine's Day, much like my "Vidro Moyou" cover. While Nyaruko-san's OP might have more personality, I really liked the sweet, catchy melody of the ED. Plus, the singer might have one of the cutest voices I've heard in anime music, for serious.

Anyway, here's the cover!

Zutto Be With You (Haiyore! Nyaruko-san): Piano Cover

Artist: RAMM
Date Completed: 2013-02-11
Software: Audacity, Sony Vegas
Number of Takes: Yeeeaaahhh...
Instrumentation: Piano

Not much more to say here, but hope you enjoy this cover, despite it not being particularly current. The new season of anime's coming out very soon, so expect to hear more from me very soon! And yes, one of the songs from Nyaruko v2 is bound to be high on my list. :)

Now to save up for a Nyaruko figure...



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Piano Cover: We Are One (Vividred Operation)

First post of 2013! :) I like to put together a new piano cover for each season of airing anime, but honestly, I had trouble finding a show that really speaks to me this fine Winter 2013. A few carryovers from last season (namely, Psycho-Pass and Shinsekai Yori) are still going strong, but I've been somewhat unimpressed with the shows I've seen this season. Nevertheless, there's still plenty of great music in the shows this time around, and I decided to pick a song from the new sci-fi/action show, Vividred Operation.

You wouldn't believe how long it took me to find a VO image that did not involve butts.

I actually haven't watched to much of Vividred Operation; I did check out the first episode or two, but the fanservice (mostly in the form of constant butt-shots) was a little off-putting for me. Still, I really liked the ED that played at the end of episode 2, "We Are One." The song has a somewhat typical feel to it, but spices things up with some neat harmonies and uses of applied chords here and there. And you know how I feel about applied chords. XD Here's my cover!

We Are One! (Vividred Operation): Piano Cover

Artist: Ayane Sakura & Rie Murakawa
Date Completed: 2013-02-03
Software: Audacity, Movie Maker, Sony Vegas
Number of Takes: ~20
Instrumentation: Piano

I don't really have much more to say here, so thanks for stopping by! And happy Year of the Snake! :)