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Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Land of Obscusion 3(rd Anniversary): The Quickening!

Some may say that "The Third Time's the Charm"...  Well, I don't know if that applies to me but today marks the third anniversary of The Land of Obscusion!  Did I ever expect for this blog to last three years?  Probably not when I started it up back on December 1, 2010, but I don't have a problem with it lasting this long.  Also, I'm probably just stubborn enough to want to keep doing this & not stop.  Post-wise this year has already resulted in more posts than last year & there was a good bit more reviews this year than last; Year 1 had 50 reviews, Year 2 ended with 32, & Year 3 (this past year) featured 41.  In fact, some months this past year I came out like an outright reviewing machine.  Also this year I had a larger con presence by doing panels at Anime Boston, AnimeNEXT, & Otakon 20, all of which I had fun doing in some way or another & I'll likely be doing the same this next year.

Number-wise I broke 2,000 pageviews/month last December & this entire year I never went below that number; in fact, this recently-ended November was just shy of hitting 4,000 in one month!  I'm almost positive that, when compared to other anime sites & blogs, my numbers are probably just a drop in the bucket but I'm just happy that the trend has been nothing but positive.  Considering the stuff I review & talk about here it's encouraging to see more & more people (potentially) interested in reading about such obscure & forgotten anime and manga.  In terms of the site itself I'm sure some of you readers may have noticed some changes.  In an attempt to make my posts look more professional & easier to read I started putting titles in italics, song names in quotations, & I've tried fixing as many little typographical errors in my old reviews as possible while keeping them to a minimum in new reviews.  Finally, I've started to add in screenshots for my reviews!  I've been doing it on a regular basis since October but look into my catalog of reviews & you'll find some of them have been updated with screenshots as well; eventually all of my reviews (old & new) will have screenshots, but adding them to past posts will be slow & happen when I have the time to do so.  Buy, hey, think of it like I'm giving you guys a new reason to re-read old reviews.

At the end of the month I'll do a "Favorite Posts of 2013" list, but like always this post will end with an extra "gift".  For Anniversary #1 I did random stats & thanks and Anniversary #2 had the most-read posts as of that post, so for this Anniversary here's another different thing: A mini-review for something extremely short!




Normally when I review something I try to get as much information about it as possible...  But this is, probably, the hardest thing to find any sort of info on!  The cover has no year on it, searching for info using the Japanese characters brings up nothing of use, & the only time I ever saw it online was via Rakuten, which is where I bought this VHS tape (for ~$2.00!).  Anyway, from what I could surmise from watching it, this was a special VHS tape released by Shueisha, under the Shonen Jump Original Video name, for fans of Hareluya II BØY, likely only available via mail order (like how they used to release their commissioned anime pilots on VHS).  Considering what it looks like I'm going to guess that this predates the 1997 anime TV series that Triangle Staff made, which would put this tape as being made some time from 1993-1996.  It's a short little production, totaling only nine minutes, so what is inside this mysterious little VHS tape, called the Super (Hi/Secret) Video?


After the title splash the footage is split into three portions.  Chapter 1 is the "Fire Guns Original Video Clip", which is an outright music video for an original song called "Just Break Out ~Yami wo Koete~", performed by a group going under the name Fire Guns, i.e. the band headed up by Makoto Ichijou, one of the main characters.  It's mostly animated, though there are some real-life images of music instruments like guitars, drums & the like, as well as some drawings by creator Haruto Umezawa (most of which are cover shots for some of the tankoubans).  The animation itself, which the tape doesn't credit a studio towards, is actually kind of nice; most of it is simple but it still looks nice, though the look does give off an early-90s feel (which is why I think this tape predates the TV series).  The song itself it really cool & catchy, easily fitting the rock band image that Fire Guns are meant to invoke; it's a different style from the SPYKE songs the TV series utilized, but still fits nonetheless.


Chapter 2 is "BØY Secret Information", which is nothing more than a "Super (Hi) Interview" with Haruto Umezawa himself.  As if to keep his identity mysterious, possibly to fit the whole "Secret" part of the title, Umezawa's face is mostly silhouetted (nothing a little contrast adjusting can fix, though).  Anyway, here are the questions asked & his answers (a general idea of them, at least):
Q: What kind of child were you?
A: I grew up in Saitama and liked kuwagata/stag beetles & kabuto beetles.  I also liked the Famicom.

Q: When did you get interested in manga?
A: In first grade a friend showed me Tezuka titles, & that got me interested.

Q: Who's your favorite character in BØY?
A: My favorite is Makoto Ichijou.  He shares a similar dream as mine.  Maybe in another life I would been a rock musician.  In terms of villains my absolute favorite is Kanzaki. [NOTE: Kanzaki appears in the TV series as Hareluya's final opponent]

Q: What can we learn from Hareluya?
A: Always stick to your dream. [NOTE: At least, that's what I think was the gist of what Umezawa said]

Q: Well then, can show us how you draw Hareluya?
A: Yes, all right.

Umezawa then shows us his "Super (Hi) Technique" by drawing a large picture of Hareluya using a marker, which is then used as the cover of the VHS tape.  During this entire chapter a non-vocal version of "Just Break Out ~Yami wo Koete~" plays in the background, which also sounds nice.  Finally, the chapter ends with a "Super (Hi) Message" from Umezawa, where he tells everyone to try their hardest at "World Domination" & to "Go!" for the 21st Century.


Chapter 3 is the "JUMP Original CM", which is nothing more than a short commercial for Weekly Shonen Jump using some of the animation from the Fire Guns music video, telling the viewer "Friendship is here! Guts are here! And... Victory is here! Our manga is here! Weekly Shonen Jump!" before showing the Shueisha logo one last time & ending the video.  After the previous two chapters this is nothing more than a minor extra to help advertise the magazine, but it works for what it is.

Amusingly enough, the TV series even uses the Hareruya typo at one point.

Overall, the Super (Hi) Video for Hareluya II BØY is nothing more than something that fans of the manga would have found really cool back when it was being offered by Shueisha.  I have no doubt that it predates the TV series, so the footage here is more likely than not the very first time people got to see BØY animated, so one could call it a "pilot", I guess.  Still, the lack of information about this tape from a release perspective makes this a favorite item in my collection, since I've never seen it offered for sale online since I bought it, even over at Yahoo! Japan Auctions (and that includes searching under the "Hareruya" typo on the cover).  While I'm not one to upload footage online when it's not mine, if I'm ever able to get the footage from this tape onto my computer as a digital file (hey, it would make a nice addition to my Anime Pilots & Precursors panel) I'll consider offering it on this post as a private video.  Until then, here's a video I made featuring "Just Break Out ~Yami wo Koete~".

video

Well, here's to another enjoyable year of talking about obscure and forgotten anime and manga (& even a game or two at times)!  I hope you guys enjoy reading these posts as much as I tend to enjoy writing them & I hope you'll keep on reading; the chart does trend upwards, after all.  Hmmm... The Highlander reference in the tagline does give me an idea for this month, though.

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