Welcome to the first edition of Otaku Oldies, a regular feature (God willing) where I’ll pull a photo from the sprawling 9-year-old Otaku Ohana photo archives and talk a bit about it. Sometimes it’ll be tied in with an upcoming event; sometimes it’ll just be something that I pick on a whim. This time around, it’s definitely an example of the former…
But last year’s event also marked the debut public concert by Hitbox Music Ensemble, a group of local musicians that performs pieces from popular video game, sci-fi and fantasy franchises. Music from their debut concert included “Rey’s Theme” from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, medleys from Pokemon and Final Fantasy and “Sacred Grove” from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
That last piece seems appropriate for our discussion, with the ensemble’s next performance set for a little over 24 hours from now: They’ll be performing in the lobby of the Blaisdell Concert Hall at 7 p.m. Friday before The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, featuring the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and Oahu Choral Society and game footage playing on a giant screen overhead, at 8 p.m.
Here’s a taste, with the ensemble performing “Gerudo Valley” from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
There are still tickets available via Ticketmaster; a quick glance as of 5:24 p.m. Thursday showed there are only four seats left at the cheapest rate of $35 (toward the rear balcony), with more available, mostly toward the left and right sides of the concert hall, from $49 to $90, depending on how close you want to sit. Twenty-one $100 VIP packages, which include a poster, a lanyard, a meet-and-greet with producers after the show, and seats closest to the stage, also remain. Use the discount code “HEYLISTEN,” and you can knock 15 percent off those prices; there’s an even deeper discount available for military members with IDs.
For more information, including a list of what you can expect to hear at the concert proper, visit zelda-symphony.com. And if you can’t make it to Friday’s concert (like me, *sob*), Hitbox Music Ensemble already has performances confirmed at Kawaii Kon (April 7-9) and Comic Con Honolulu (July 28-30) later this year. Keep watching your con schedules for exact dates and times.
Hi everyone, Jason here. Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I both attended “Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses” at the Blaisdell Concert Hall Friday night, and we each had our own takeaways from the show. Most of the music commentary will be handled by Wilma, while the extracurriculars will be handled by me (written in chunks of italic type).
Video game fans in Hawaii, particularly fans of the Legend of Zelda series, were treated Friday night to the Symphony of the Goddesses — the first large-scale, multimedia game concert held in the isles. Joining forces with Jason Michael Paul Productions, who has produced other video game concerts in the U.S. such as “Dear Friends: Music from Final Fantasy” and its subsequent “More Friends” concert, were the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and the Oahu Choral Society.
Cosplaying was encouraged at the concert, and quite a few people took advantage of that, although it was mostly different versions of the game series’s main characters, Link and Zelda. There was also a Groose from Skyward Sword running around, as well as a Ravio from A Link Between Worlds, among the few exceptions. Navi the fairy from the Ocarina of Time also made an appearance, holding a speech bubble with her well-known phrase, “Hey! Listen!”
Several people wore the title mask from the game Majora’s Mask. Many others simply wore Zelda-related shirts — dozens roamed around with tops emblazoned with the game’s logo, the all-important Triforce, the equally important heart meter, the iconic 8-bit sword from the original game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and much more. It was great to see such a wide array on display.
For me, that diversity came in stark contrast to the official merchandise table — one T-shirt design, an official concert poster, a book of Zelda series sheet music and copies of the Hyrule Historia art book and Link Between Worlds for the Nintendo 3DS were all that were being offered. All of those seemed to be selling well — heck, the books sold out — but still, c’mon, people, we want to throw MORE money at you. Give us some CDs or a nice glossy program or something. Please?
Before the concert began, a slideshow was projected on a large screen above the orchestra, showing trivia questions on the various Zelda games interspersed with various scenic shots. There weren’t many questions; the entire thing scrolled by in about five minutes or so before repeating. We took our seats about 10 minutes before the concert was scheduled to begin and saw the trivia go through maybe 1.5 cycles.
When the lights dimmed and conductor Amy Andersson took her place in front of the orchestra, someone — I don’t know if this was official or not, but my guess is not, considering the surprised reactions on some of the symphony members’ faces — started off the evening by yelling out the phrase that has become a hallmark and one of the running jokes of the series: “Hey! Listen!”
I don’t think it was, either. Which brings me to my “I guess I’m one of those crotchety old people now, because I’m about to go off on young people these days” rant: There were quite a few people who treated the show like one of the side events of an anime convention rather than something with the gravitas of a symphony orchestra concert.
Now, granted, I’ve seen this sort of thing happen before — Wilma and I attended the “Dear Friends” concert in Los Angeles in 2004 — so I was willing to concede that, yes, not everyone’s going to dress up in their nicest attire. A good chunk of the audience probably hasn’t seen the symphony perform since elementary school field trip days. But still, that comment, the random CHEE-HOOOOOOting here and there, the whispered snark by the people in balcony row L, around the high 20-low 30s seats — yes, I’m specifically calling you guys out, particularly the guy who was whispering something about Harvest Moon at the beginning of the “Great Fairy’s Fountain” intermezzo — ugh. Just because you paid $48 and up doesn’t give you the right to turn it into a personal Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque snarkfest and dampen the experience for those around you who came to listen to and appreciate the music.
And don’t even get me started on some of the people I noticed in front of me secretly recording parts of the concert on their phones …
(I must say that thankfully, the concertgoers in my area quietly enjoyed the show, clapping and hooting only when appropriate.)
The symphony began with an overture encompassing a medley of tunes from the Zelda series, choreographed to video shown on the screen that was made up of gameplay clips starting with the beloved original Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System and going all the way through to A Link Between Worlds for the Nintendo 3DS.
Afterward, Remy Zane, a DJ with KORL 97.1 (and who, incidentally, is also one of our friends!), came out onstage to welcome the audience and give a short explanation of what we would be hearing. There were audible laughs and groans at the mention of Tingle (another inside joke; if you play Ocarina of Time you’ll understand). Remy came out on stage at various points during the concert to briefly introduce the pieces.
The first interlude was a rendition of the Gerudo Valley theme from Ocarina of Time. That theme is one of my favorite songs in the entire series, and this version gave much more energy to the original Spanish-inspired, softly passionate tune, especially when the camera trained on first violinist and symphony concertmaster Ignace Jang, who played with such intensity that you couldn’t help but get fired up. (A roving camera occasionally broadcast stage happenings on the screen, including various orchestra members, the chorus, the conductor, and Remy’s short spiels.)
In contrast, the next interlude — a medley of various boss battle themes — was mediocre. Boss themes are usually heart-pounding pieces of music, and with good reason, but the arrangement of these tunes was uninspired and didn’t really match the excitement of the onscreen video.
Throughout the concert, stage lighting added another level of emotion to the music and videos, more subtle than not, except when the lighting turned a fiery red to match, for example, the lava-based stage of the giant dinosaur boss King Dodongo from Ocarina of Time. Another more-subtle-than-not addition was the Oahu Choral Society. I’ve watched two video game concerts now and I’ve always felt a little sorry for the choral performers. Their singing was complementary rather than in the forefront, and I’m sure it was always meant to be that way. The chorus was also pretty hidden all the way back in the stage (people in the back rows probably had a better view of the chorus; we were sitting much nearer to the stage and could just barely see the tops of their heads), and if the camera hadn’t shown them on screen from time to time, you probably would not have realized that they were adding their voices to the instruments. I would love to know what exactly they WERE singing, as none of the Zelda music has lyrics.
I was up in the balcony, and yes, I could see the chorus. There were some points when their involvement was a bit more subtle than others, and the only way I could tell they were singing then was when I could see them raising their songbooks and turning the pages. It was a nice addition, although I’ve often wondered what they think whenever they’re called upon to sing selections from various video game soundtracks: “‘Something something something something SEPHIROTH?’ What did I get myself INTO here?”
The next two interludes were pretty straightforward though still eminently enjoyable suites of music from Majora’s Mask and A Link Between Worlds. Then came a Prelude, telling the story of the creation of the land of Hyrule, which involves the three goddesses — Din, Nayru and Farore — alluded to in the concert’s title. The video for this segment was taken directly from the Ocarina of Time and I assume that the Prelude was simply an orchestration of the accompanying music in the game (it’s been a long time since I played the game and I can’t remember how the music went). Then came a couple of movements with tunes from Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker. Again, it was all very much straightforward, nothing outstanding, but solidly performed.
I would, however, take issue with Remy’s comment about Wind Waker, in which he said that it is one of Nintendo’s biggest hits in the series. I may be in a minority here, but I did not enjoy Wind Waker very much, and I thought I remember reading that it didn’t do too well. The art style was completely different from anything in the series up till that point, and while that did give me pause, the main thing I disliked about the game was the near-endless sailing you had to do to travel to other places. The long, monotonous expanses of water broke up the action and bored me half to death. Even when you later unlocked warp portals, they often weren’t close enough to the area you really wanted to go to, forcing you to do yet more sailing. Exploring was also tedious, and the controls of the ship were sometimes difficult to handle. But, well, hey; if it was a commercial success for Nintendo (enough that they decided to do an HD remake for the Wii U, even), then power to them, but all I know is that it’s not a game I’d rate very highly among the series.
For my part, I thought Wind Waker was OK. Better than Twilight Princess, for sure, which lost me on that cursed mandatory fishing minigame(Wii version) and Link’s transformation into a wolf, which seemingly lasted foreeeeeeeever and bored me to a point where I didn’t feel like waiting for him to be transformed back into a human (Gamecube version). And for the record, the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction now likes Toon Link more than Standard Canon Link because “he looks cute.” So there’s that.
After a 15-minute intermission, we returned to an intermezzo of the soothing Great Fairy Fountain theme (minus the rather frightening, echoing cackles of the Great Fairy herself, thankfully) before moving on to a suite from Twilight Princess.
But as much as the video game world has gone forward in terms of graphics and sound, the theme of the night, really, was nostalgia. And the last movement — “Time of Falling Rain” from A Link to the Past — before the Finale showed this well. As Remy mentioned during one of his times onstage, “Falling Rain” is one of the most popular pieces from the series overall and the performance garnered a lot of applause. Heck, Link to the Past and its semi-sequel A Link Between Worlds are two of the series’ most beloved titles.
“Falling Rain,” like the rest of the performance, was accompanied by scenes from the game. But because this was a Super Nintendo game, that meant going back to the two-dimensional, sprite-based world of Hyrule. As Link to the Past is one of my favorite games in the series, I didn’t mind — and in fact I got a HUGE nostalgic kick out of it all, especially when the orchestra moved into the Dark World theme, a subtly menacing bit of music that gained some lightheartedness in this arrangement.
The orchestra, chorus, conductor and producer Jason Michael Paul — who came out on stage after the Finale — got standing ovations, naturally. And just as naturally, there was more to come after the Finale. First came new music and exclusive clips from Majora’s Mask 3D, a remake of the original Nintendo 64 game that’s due out in North America in mid-Februrary for the Nintendo 3DS. And lastly came a brief medley of Wind Waker music and scenes from its rerelease on the Wii U.
The concert overall was what I expected. My main big disappointment is that the original Zelda overworld theme didn’t get the singular performance that I felt it should have been given. It’s hands-down the most recognizable piece in the whole series, and while it was woven into other movements, I feel it should have gotten its own standalone orchestration.
Now, the main theme may very well have been covered in other seasons — apparently, the Symphony of the Goddesses has had different “seasons” with playlist changes; the one we heard at the Blaisdell was the “Master Quest season.” But if it has, then I wish it would be included as a staple bonus in all later seasons. I was waiting on pins and needles for that song, and it sadly never came.
Another disappointment is that more Zelda games from the handheld consoles weren’t represented. For example, Link’s Awakening, originally for the Game Boy, was an excellent addition to the series with a great storyline, interesting new gameplay elements and an exquisitely beautiful theme in “The Ballad of the Wind Fish,” and I would have loved to hear that song orchestrated. Granted, famed Zelda series composer Koji Kondo was not the composer for most of the handheld games and so I’m sure there were licensing or other rights issues, but there are still good pieces of music and if it were possible to incorporate more, I’d love to hear them.
Also a letdown was the fact that there were no printed programs. While I, like Jason mentioned above, would have immediately bought a commemorative glossy book, I was more disappointed that there was no regular concert program. Yes, most of the people attending were most likely fans of the series and already knew the games quite well, but many others weren’t, and a program giving a brief history of the series would’ve been nice. And Zelda-related stuff aside, EVERYONE would have benefited from having information on the producer, original composers, music arrangers, the conductor, the symphony orchestra, the chorus, the video editor, lighting director, stage staff, etc. The program is also often where production people often give thoughts or other behind-the-scenes looks at the music, etc. The lack of all that was an unfortunately lost opportunity.
But after all that, the positives still outweigh the negatives, and if another season of “Symphony of the Goddesses” came along with a different selection of music to perform, I’d still go see it.
I would, too. Hopefully the success of this show will encourage other touring symphonic suites to stop by here as well — Final Fantasy concert, anyone? Or perhaps “Video Games Live“? One can dream.
It really is an experience, especially if the concert is always being tweaked and improved. I appreciate any event that elevates and enhances what is often seen as a “juvenile” activity, and lots of kudos go out to everyone from the producers to the orchestra to the fans for making this happen. Here’s hoping this won’t be the last such concert that we see here.
Ten years ago in September, the story of a certain ramen-loving ninja descended from a nine-tailed fox hit American airwaves on Cartoon Network for the first time.
We’ve seen about a bazillion thingy-no-jutsus, battles, double-crosses, triple-crosses and sordid slash fanfics written since then. Heck, the entire cast has aged as Plain Old Naruto evolved into Naruto Shippuden. And now, as Masashi Kishimoto’s manga ends and the anime likely to follow suit eventually, we have the last Naruto movie ever. I mean, it even says so in the title: The Last: Naruto the Movie.
… wait, what? There’s another one scheduled for release this year? Well now.
Semantics aside, The Last is notable for being the first big-screen anime feature with screenings scheduled for Honolulu this year. There are two screenings, in fact, both at Consolidated’s Ward Stadium 16 complex: noon Saturday, Feb. 21 and 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23. Both will be in Japanese with English subtitles. You’ll also be able to nab a free commemorative poster while supplies last.
So why is this movie called The Last if it isn’t exactly the last movie of the franchise? It’s a reference to the last days of Earth, as the moon is somehow approaching the Earth, meteorites threaten to rain down on the planet and, presumably, Sailor Moon and her friends are stuck in another franchise and have no interest in resolving the matter. To make matters worse, Hinata’s younger sister, Hanabi, has been kidnapped by a mysterious man in Konoha. It’s up to Naruto and the gang to save her, save the world, and … ummm … set up the next movie, I suppose.
Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, young adult librarian Diane Masaki is screening two episodes of Polar Bear Cafe followed by two episodes of “something action-y,” as she puts it. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place. Have I ever mentioned that there’s plenty of parking now? Because there is. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. 3 p.m. Saturday.
Random Ingress Portal of the Post: Speaking of The Face of Hawaii Ingress ™… it’s apparently been so long since I’ve done one of these Ota-cool Incoming roundups (and by extension these random portal profiles) that Niantic, the game studio behind this game, finally got around to sticking a portal on the new Aiea Library. So here it is, a portal that you’ll have to get out of your car to visit, since it’s tucked away a bit from the road. Shown here is the proper alignment — Enlightened-held — for a portal that the aforementioned Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm) seems to want to switch to Resistance control during regular library hours. To each his/her own, I guess. I think it looks prettier in green … but maybe I’m just biased on that matter. Just a teensy bit.
Kawaii Kon Karaoke Competition preliminary rounds: So you think you can sing, and you’re planning to go to Kawaii Kon this year? Give the annual Karaoke Competition a try, then. This year, two out of the three preliminary rounds will be held at a new location: Nocturna Lounge, the video game/karaoke bar just downstairs from our editorial/advertising offices here at Waterfront Plaza/Restaurant Row. (The other round will be held at its traditional location, Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus.) For the Nocturna rounds, sign-in starts at 3:30 p.m. Sunday and March 15, with the actual singing starting at 4 p.m. on both days. The Orvis round will be held on Feb. 15; exact times have yet to be announced. Full details on what you need to do to prepare are available at bit.ly/Karaoke_Prelims.
Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; locations within the mall may vary. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii(Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists usually meets every second and fourth Sunday of the month at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.). This month, the front door of the art school may be closed, so enter through the sides or via the basement. Check with the guard for room number. Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 25.
Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses: Ever since the last time we looked at the seating chartfor this orchestral tribute to the long-running Nintendo video game series, the Blaisdell Concert Hall has filled up quite nicely. Here’s a look at where things stood as of 9 p.m. Thursday.
For those of you who were procrastinating on buying something in the cheap seats, you waited too long; those $45 tickets are now sold out. The cheapest seats available now are $69.30 each ($59 + $10.30 fees); those hard-core fan VIP seats ($138.55, includes a limited-edition poster and a meet-and-greet with the producers following the show) are also still available. There are also other options available for those of you who prefer something in between those two prices. If you did procrastinate, though, you’ll have one advantage that those of us who rushed to buy tickets didn’t have: a discount code. Enter “HEYLISTEN” at checkout to receive 15 percent off (and curse the powers that be for getting this stuck in your mind once again). Click that seating chart above for tickets; for concert information, visit zelda-symphony.com. 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30.
Anime Swap Meet: Hosted by Kawaii Kon, this opportunity for local otaku to buy and sell assorted preowned collectibles from one another will be part of the 25th Annual Hawaii Collectors Expo from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22. Interested in selling? Check out kawaiikon.com/anime-swap-meetfor all the details; registration deadline is midnight Feb. 18. This year, the rules are a bit more liberal: $20 will get you a 5-square-foot space for both Saturday and Sunday, and you can share your space with one other person. Interested in buying? Stay tuned for those details; I’m still waiting to see them myself.
Moyoco Anno at the Honolulu Museum of Art: Hopefully your short-term memory is good enough to remember the details from my post on Wednesday; if not, here’s your refresher. Starting 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 22.
This hasn’t exactly been the most productive of months here at Otaku Ohana Central. You probably could have figured that out from the fact that this is the first post I’ve made here this month … and the month, not to mention all of 2014, is almost over. Apologies for the long delay between posts.
There are more posts in the works — my look back on the year that was in the otaku community will be coming up shortly, followed by my long overdue profile of/interview with josei manga artist Erica Sakurazawa, and then my even longer overdue chat with voice actor Kyle Hebert will be coming after that. But first, we have some housekeeping to tend to here, so let’s dig in (and get my writing chops back up to speed!) with a pair of recent music-themed news tidbits.
The freshest news comes from the Kawaii Kon camp, with the Christmas Day announcement that singer Eir Aoi — that’s her at right — will be the headlining musical guest at the anime convention in 2015. The 26-year-old is the voice behind a number of popular anime theme songs, including Fate/Zero, Kill la Kill, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE and Sword Art Online and its sequel. All of her music — including her two albums to date, Blau and Aube — are available digitally via iTunes or Amazon’s digital music department. This will be Aoi’s first appearance in Hawaii.
Aoi joins cosplayer Leah Rose and voice actors Rob Paulsen (Yakko Warner, Animaniacs), Jess Harnell (Wakko Warner, Animaniacs), Bryce Papenbrook (Eren, Attack on Titan), Todd Haberkorn (Haruka, Free! Eternal Summer) and — announced during my unanticipated hiatus from this blog — Cassandra Morris (Kyubey, Madoka Magica) as guests for next year’s show, scheduled for March 27-29 at the Hawai’i Convention Center. Visit www.kawaii-kon.org for more information or to register.
Meanwhile, those of you who are more into symphonic music and video games — specifically, of the Legend of Zelda variety — will be pleased to know that Nintendo’s officially licensed concert tour, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, will be stopping by at 8 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. From the official concert website (zelda-symphony.com):
Designed to be a journey as epic and thrilling as the Legend itself, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses presents the music of this celebrated franchise with all-new arrangements directly approved by franchise producer Eiji Aonuma and Nintendo composer and sound director Koji Kondo (Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda).
Featuring a first in video game concert history, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses has been arranged and programmed with classical sensibilities in mind, organizing the music of this beloved franchise into a complete, 4 movement symphony, worthy of the Hero of Hyrule himself.
You can expect selections from Majora’s Mask, Link Between Worlds, Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, along with chicken skin and/or loud cheering when the opening strains of the “Legend of Zelda Overture” begin to play. I understand there’s going to be a rather large contingent of cosplayers coming to see the show, so bring your cameras (but please stow them away during the performance itself).
Want tickets. Sure, you do. Because there are plenty. (The dark spots show available seats as of Christmas Day.)
Everything from the back-of-the-house seats ($48.05 including fees) to the hard-core fan VIP seats ($138.55, includes a limited-edition poster and a meet-and-greet with the producers following the show) remain available. Just click on that ticket map above to order via Ticketmaster (and get an up-to-date view of tickets sold, to boot).