Saying Hi to Dumb Fun: Alice or Alice

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When boob physics is what begins the story, you know exactly what you’re getting.

Alice or Alice involves twin sisters Rise and Airi, their friends, and their brother with a sister complex. Each character could be described in one sentence, the character designs aim to evoke as much cuteness as possible, and the brother isn’t even that important. In fact, there are only a couple of scenes over the 12 3-minute episodes which imply any sort of sister complex.

In actuality, the focus is on the girls, who find themselves in typical slice-of-life situations such as playing at the beach or going to a festival. What distinguishes these situations is the snappy and raunchy humour: quirky sound effects and audible grunts accompanying a character suddenly dropping dead on the floor is followed by one of them obsessively taking pictures of another character in a maid outfit, and it’s definitely the kind of unapologetic humour I dig. It also complements the random or striking facial expressions which add energy and dynamism to the package.

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Concerning the brother, there’s generally more affection from the girls towards him rather than the reverse, and it comes off as adorable. Why the girls who aren’t his direct siblings adore him so much is never explained, and the series doesn’t care enough to do so; it doesn’t need to when the obvious intention is for the viewer to self-insert.

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The most interesting aspect of the series though is the voice actors. It features the talent of Yoshitsugu Matsuoka — who plays Kirito from Sword Art Online — and ones who feature in the Love Live! idol franchise such as Aina Suzuki and Sora Tokui. Listening to the voices of Mari Ohara and Nico Yazawa as they anticipate a prideful battle between themselves is a welcome crossover. What’s funnier is that the girls become idols in the last episode, and it’s an instance of meta-textual aspects representing a noticeable portion of my enjoyment.

At the end of the day, Alice or Alice isn’t a bombastic thrill ride akin to Nichijou, but it knows its target audience and I’m glad to have watched it to the end. It’s a reminder of the fun hidden behind seemingly generic offerings and inclines me to give more shorts an honest shot. I’ll keep saying “hi” to them just like how I raised my right hand in front of my computer screen almost every time the word was uttered in the OP.

Hype Soundtracks: Relaxing Lunch Break (Love Live!)

What better way to kick things off than by writing about something from one of many pieces of media that inspired me to make this blog in the first place: Love Live!

Hype can involve riveting guitar solos, powerful orchestra, ominous chanting, the continuous addition of instruments, etc. Relaxing Lunch Break (Yuttari Ohiruyasumi/ゆったりお昼休み) from the first season of Love Live! School Idol Project is not an overly bombastic piece, but it nonetheless stirs excitement within me.

The first 7 seconds are simple enough: a ringing that establishes the upbeat tone and gives the same impression as a school bell which starts the next period of the day. In fact, I set this part as my wake-up alarm more than 3 months ago.

What follows is the hardest dubstep drop I’ve ever heard. If I come back to this after a while, my mind from here on out goes mental until the end, just as Love Live sometimes does to me.

This isn’t the kind of break where you’re staring out the window, but one where you’re outside and taking in everything around you as the sun shines. You whistle with the birds and search for the best vantage point to see the sights. You then anticipate the meal you’re going to munch on.

35 seconds in, the instrumentation (forgive my very basic music knowledge) evokes a dance through nature and the eclectic chatter between schoolmates. The brass that follows echoes the gradual end of the freedom but carries the happiness that lingers on even when you’re going back to class.

Most importantly, it relates to the series itself. It reminds me of the buzzing energy the main character Honoka possesses as she comes up with the next idea, the girls practising on the rooftop, and the general youthfulness that pervades many school stories. Perhaps when my alarm rings I can jump out of bed with my two feet in unison every day, and not just the first time it chimed from my phone. I could get the courage to overcome any obstacle no matter how trivial, like when Hanayo formally announces that she wants to join the group in episode 4. Perhaps then I can strive to achieve something great.

Or I can just listen to those beautiful 7 seconds repeat themselves and sleep for another hour.

Composed by Yoshiaki Fujisawa (A Place Further Than the Universe, Land of the Lustrous, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE)