Anyway, we watched Tiger & Bunny: The Rising last night. It was good; we liked it. Got a little actiony in the second half, but that tends to be the way of anime movies, and especially anime movies based on action anime TV series. Afterward, we watched the DVD that came with the Polar Bear's Cafe Music Best CD--non-credit videos of all the opening and ending sequences. It was super awesome.
We'll start with our favorite, Bamboo Scramble! This was the first ending sequence, and we probably wouldn't have kept watching the series if not for it. I mean, the first opening sequence (Boku ni Invitation) is pretty amazing, but the whole polar bear/penguin/panda car thing was just kind of like, "Wha...?" until we fell in love with the characters (after which point it was the bestest thing), so we needed something that required no previous attachment to get us hooked. It's kind of funny that Bamboo Scramble worked, because we have an irrational fear of stop-motion animation. Either it was okay because it was still two-dimensional, or that irrational fear gave us a morbid attachment to the Bamboo Scramble sequence. At any rate, using go stones to create a panda animation was so amazingly brilliant.
Then there's Grizzly Rock. At first, we didn't like this song, because it replaced Bamboo Scramble. We saw it in the anime, and we were like, "What!? Where's Bamboo Scramble? Why did you change the ending? I don't understaaaaand!" It was only the fifth episode (or sixth? don't quite remember)! So we thought it was one of those one-time special ending sequence things, because they'd just introduced Grizzly. But then they kept using it, and we were bummed out. The video sequence that goes with it isn't nearly as fun, either. Still, Grizzly got to be one of our favorite characters, so we can't automatically hate it whenever it comes on. Besides, Yuichi Nakamura singing as Grizzly singing as Elvis is pretty awesome.
Sasako's song, "Mizuiro," is one that we tend to forget because, while Sasako is a great character, she kind of blends into the background when surrounded by everyone else. When we do remember it (read: when it comes up on our CD), we realize it's a really nice song. The video that goes with it is fun too, in that, "Handa, are you stalking her?" kind of way.
Full-Time Panda's song, "ZOOtto Ne," is one that I have kind of mixed feelings about, because it has a country feel to it. But it's more of an old-fashioned country feel, like you get on the Muppet Show, so I think it's okay. The pun in the name is fantastic. The panda paws they use for the video sequence are creepy in a stop-motion animation kind of way, but when we relax and watch the sequence for the heck of it, it's pretty hilarious.
Handa's song...is...it's too much, I think. I mean, it's interesting in so many ways. The enka thing is pretty great...the stop-motion animation is definitely creepier than in Bamboo Scramble, especially because it's a disembodied zookeeper jumpsuit, but it's really funny, so the emotions cancel out and it's hard to say what I think about it. As for the lyrics, we can relate.
Penguin's song is the best. It's great that it has kind of a march feel to it, because he's a penguin, and apparently, according to Morgan Freeman, penguins march (we never did see that movie; penguin movies are boring). Anyway, Hiroshi Kamiya singing in his Penguin voice is awesome enough, but it's even better because he harmonizes with himself!
Panda Mama's song always had us go, "...Whaaa?" not because of the song, but because of the sequence. I mean, it's a really cool idea to have a mosaic of videos of things switching from dark colors to light colors, but do you really have to have two different videos in that mosaic of a girl lifting her skirt? Oy. But the video mosaic matches the feel of the song, which, since I don't really know anything about music, I can only describe as "like old musicals, like in the days of The Muppets Take Manhattan." It's hilarious to hear Toshiyuki Morikawa sing it, not only because he sings it in his Panda Mama voice, but because of all the songs we've heard him sing, it's the one where his voice most closely matches the character's speaking voice.
Llama Mambo! It's just the best, that's all. The video for it isn't quite as awesome as Bamboo Scramble, but the shadow puppet of Llama saying "Llamambo!" is so perfect that it's okay.
Largo is Sloth's song, and oh my goodness, it's so slow! On a CD of songs that are between three and a half and four and a half minutes, this song is longer than six minutes. And it doesn't even have as many lyrics as all the other songs! It's funny, because while most of the lyrics seem to tell a story, there's a little bridge-type part where he randomly says, "I eat 8 grams of leaves a day." It's like the lyricist was like, "Uh...I'm not sure what to write here. Have some animal trivia!" Of course, they do that in other songs, too, especially characters that don't have a major story arc, like Llama (he sings about how he doesn't have a hump like a camel, but he can carry coffee; a lot of people mistake him for an alpaca, but they're actually a different species). It's just more pronounced with Sloth, because his song isn't really a trivia list for the most part. It's about how the world moves so quickly around him. The video that goes with it is ridiculously adorable. We have to wonder if the kids in it were hired actors, or just kids of the animation team.
Oh my goodness, Bamboo Rendezvous might have a slight chance of beating Bamboo Scramble. It's Panda's little sister singing about how she's in love with the zookeeper, and it's such a fangirl song that we can totally relate. The animation for it is also stop-motion, but once again, it's two-dimensional, so it reminds us more of when we used to watch Sesame Street (which we did more when we were in middle school than when we were the age you'd expect most people to watch Sesame Street). Also Kana Hanazawa is amazing. I love that all the voice actors in this series aren't afraid to do completely ridiculous voice roles, especially because all of them have also done some very serious dramatic roles. I mean, Sephiroth and Panda Mama? Wow. We could probably do a whole When Seiyuu Go Bad page featuring the Polar Bear Cafe cast. ("When Seiyuu Go Bad" was the name of a page we set up with our college posse. It had pictures of a bunch of anime characters, and when you moused over the picture, it would change to a dramatically different character that was played by the same voice actor. The scariest one I remember is actually an American voice actor--Master Splinter from the TMNT movies also played Elmo.)
Then there's Pandaholic. That song tricked us! It starts with Bamboo Scramble! Oh, Bamboo Scramble, how we've missed you! ...Wait, you're not Bamboo Scramble! But it was so incredibly appropriate that we had to forgive them. Rin-Rin's love of Panda is more than a little obsessive, after all. The music video that goes with it is...oh man, I don't know if I should spoil it, in case anyone hasn't seen it. Just take our word for it, it's hilarious.
And finally is Polar Bear's song, My Dear. It's just a really nice closing song, with Polar Bear thanking everyone. In the full-length version of the song, there's even a verse of him doing his puns! And then he sings about how it's nice to have people yell at him about it. And of course, it's Takahiro Sakurai, who is always nice to listen to.
Tadah! Today I'm thankful for having a handy compilation DVD of all the Polar Bear's Cafe opening and ending sequences, fond memories of When Seiyuu Go Bad, finishing the first draft of that Harlequin manga (we decided to work on it before finishing My Little Monster, partly because it's due sooner, and partly to let off some steam after all the "must make the dialogue perfect!" pressure), remembering that dialogue that comes naturally does often sound the most natural (important disclaimer: not always the case in translating), and getting to listen to Polar Bear's Cafe songs while we worked today.