Friday, April 30, 2010

The New Trials of Card Captor Sakura Season 4 ED Theme

One of the most common comments I receive in email is "I wish New Trials was made into an anime," which I feel very flattered about and yet rueful. It is fun imagining what New Trials would look like as an anime, because unlike when I write original stories, when I write this fanfiction, I am often envisioning scenes in animation and transcribing them into words. Hence, it has been fun coming up with songs to associate with New Trials "soundtrack," if it were indeed an anime. Since we have moved into the middle of Arc 4 of New Trials, it was fun making an ending theme for the "last season" of New Trials and culminating everything that New Trials is into a couple minutes.

紅茶 - Koucha/ Kōcha "Black Tea"
坂本真綾 Maaya Sakamoto
Album: Lucy (2001), Everywhere (2010)
Composer: Yoko Kanno
Lyrics: Maaya Sakamoto

The clock-tower that tolls the end of love is waiting for the next hour
Can't stop this moment

The cherry-blossoms at the subway entrance will bloom again this year
So I guess we’ll grow older by another year
Spring has drawn near

As a sign of eternity,
The two of us at that time waited for a night when the meteors would come and made a wish

Embracing each other, saying things will never change
I was thinking I had obtained everything
What remains in these hands is but one thing
You were my first boyfriend

It felt like we could go anywhere we wanted by bicycle
I even remember the taste of the black tea I drank by the street-side on a cold day

It’s not that I’m lonely
This is supposed to be a choice I made myself
Yet there are times I want to do nothing but cry

What is there in the future beyond here?
How many more heartbreaking goodbyes will there be?
The clock-tower that tolls the end of love is waiting for the next hour
Can't stop this moment

Embracing each other, saying don't go anywhere,
I was thinking I had obtained everything
What remains in these hands is but one thing

You were my first boyfriend.

Lyrics referenced from Miyuki Mouse and Korean translations.

Maaya Sakamoto's 2001 album "Lucy" is probably here strongest collaboration album as a whole with Yoko Kanno (though she has had many other stronger individual songs). She wrote most of the lyrics on the album, including the lyrics for "Koucha," and if you pay attention to the lyrics, the album sort of unfolds like a love story. "Strobe no Sora" is the third song on the album and can be described as vibrant, upbeat and hopeful, which is why I chose it as the ending theme for Arc 2 of New Trials. In contrast, "Koucha" has a twinge of bittersweet nostalgia. (Ironically, the last song on the album is titled "I Throw a Vase from Atop the Hill." Koucha is one of my favorite of Maaya's non-anime songs because it has such a haunting yet lovely tone. I was glad to see the song included in Maaya's new 15th anniversary compilation album "Everywhere" because I think it deserves more recognition.

Because I envisioned this as the ending theme to arc 4 of New Trials, I felt obligated to include symbolism and whatnot in the video. I actually had two main themes going on. Because of the refrain in the chorus, "Everything is fading with the bell, ringing to me it's time to go," I had to use Cinderella theme. This is not the first Cinderella reference linked to Maaya and CCS; the B-side to Card Captor Sakura opening 3 single, "Purachina" (Platinum) is "24" (both Yoko Kanno songs), which is a homage to Cinderella. It's an adorable song, with lyrics in English. And of course, you can't forget the hilarious CCS episode where Touya and Yukito participate in their class production of Cinderella for the cultural fair. Cinderella is a good old happily-ever fairytale but really is an allegory of the persistence of time, as the spell breaks after 12'o'clock. What happens when the clock-tower strikes midnight?

The other theme was the rain scene, which I don't know if you recognize from the end of Chapter 59: Thundercloud. I mentioned that I get inspiration from many different things when writing New Trials, and I think this is a situation where I drew the scene before writing the scene. The idea probably started with me wanting to draw Sakura and Syaoran sharing a green umbrella in the summer rain. Most of the key S+S artwork in this AMV is from over a year ago, because
I conceptualized this video before my first ending theme for New Trials to Maaya Sakamoto's "Strobe no Sora" and then didn't have time to work on it. My first New Trials AMV was the Arc 3 season finale trailer. I never studied film or animation or anything of the sorts, so it's been a fun process figuring out how to do things. The first New Trials trailer was painstakingly made frame by frame in Windows Movie Maker on my old laptop which really didn't have enough RAM capacity to render videos, so working with Sony Vegas makes editing so much easier. I still dream of having a large screen monitor and all the proper equipment for digital art and video editing, which is sort of out there for me because I am far from the art field and in the meantime have to work with the small screen of a widescreen laptop which seems to stretch out everything I draw.

I probably had the most fun making the 10 second preview for the "Next Episode of New Trials," Episode 62: Sakura and Syaoran and the Fashion Show (aka Chapter 62: Designs in Crime), same as how I had most fun making the preview for Episode 1: Sakura and Syaoran and the New Beginning (named after the fashion all CCS anime episodes are named--it's all Sakura + something something). I love how Irino Miyu's voice has matured, and it's a pity I can't bring Makino Yui and Irino Miyu and make them act out S+S scenes.
My next goal is making an opening theme to New Trials with Utada Hikaru's "Sakura Drops," which I think I have wanted to make since 2001, but back then, I didn't have any video editing skills whatsoever. Most of the main characters of New Trials make an appearance in the ending theme. Can you identify them all?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Fanart: The Girls of New Trials

CCS: The Girls of New Trials by ~wishluv on deviantART
The Female Descendants of the Great Five: Kara Reed, Tanaka Miho, Kinomoto Sakura, Li Meilin, Daidouji Tomoyo and Chang Eron. (Representing Landon Reed, Mizuki Mayura, Amamiya Hayashi (both Sakura and Tomoyo), Li Shulin and Chang Ruichi and Risa.

I had a lot of fun drawing everybody's outfits and it is Kara Reed's color debut. I remember I posted up a pencil sketch of her up in the Yahoo Group years ago and everybody speculated who she actually was. Some people guessed correctly that she was associated with Mizuki Kai based on her punk outfit. I'm glad I got to finally introduce her. This is my first time posting up a colored picture of Miho as well, though I have quite a few Miho art that I just haven't posted up yet. She used to be a rather annoying little girl in the New York Saga in Arc One, but now, she's quite popular. She's the youngest in the group and is like everyone's little sister. She's actually wearing the Mizuki locket, but it's hard to tell. Sakura has gone through a lot over the past arc of New Trials, most notably a hairstyle change. But it's fun drawing her with both long hair and short hair. Meillin is probably the character who has evolved the most since CCS days. Truthfully, she is my favorite character to draw because she has sharp features; I used to not like her in the CCS anime when she was first introduced because she was such a pretty character and I felt concerned about her as Sakura's rival. I also like drawing Tomoyo a lot; I guess I'm partial to drawing long dark hair. Tomoyo's the character I ironically worry about the most (considering she probably has the least amount of drama in her life). And Erika has surprisingly grown on me over the past 65 chapters. Considering how spoiled and selfish she can be, she is quite self-aware of herself. She's actually one of the characters I look forward to writing about in the upcoming chapters.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Music Spotlight: Yiruma, Chibi Syaoran and Sakura Fanart

Chibi Sakura x Syaoran Bunnies by ~wishluv on deviantART

This fanart is in reference to the newest chapter of New Trials, Chapter 65: Cohabitation, Part Deux. The outfit is totally courtesy of Tomoyo (they come in all pastel colors with matching mitts and a cat version as well). I want a bunny hoodie too. There is something about Syao-chan here that I just want to pinch him and bother him. I actually wanted to draw Touya even more though. It is sort of Easter themed. Happy Birthday to our beloved Card Captor Sakura! CLAMP really likes April's Fool Day, I think.

Today, I wanted to feature Yiruma, a word-wide renowned South Korean pianist and composer. He
spent six years in Osaka and studied in King's College London. His pianos pieces can be heard in numerous Korean show programs, dramas and on the radio. His most famous piece is probably River Flows in You, which became popularly mistaken as Bella's Lullaby before the Twilight movie was made. It is a simple yet resonant melody which I think can touch your soul, hence why it has such universal appeal.

I recently discovered that there was a vocal version to this every-so-popular song. In the past several years, Yiruma decided to write lyrics to River Flows in You and sometimes performed it live in his concerts. He mentioned ever so humbly that his original dream was to become a singer-songwriter, but early on, he realized that his vocal skills were lacking, hence concentrated on just composing. His voice is really good though, and he was just being modest. I really like the different vocal versions of River Flows in You, and the lyrics are simple yet poignant and match the piano so well, and I love the added strings. Much of the poetic syntax is lost in translation, unfortunately. The following version is from Yiruma's newest mini-album Movement on a Theme and is sung by Ruvin.

Yiruma - River Flows in You -
너의 마음속엔 강이 흐른다
(vocal ver.)

If there is one road that is just for you
Then it is in you right now
If you can endure through it
Then put your trust in that place.

Holding you, holding you, it's in you, river flows in you
Slowly, more slowly, there is a river flowing in my heart
Holding you, holding you, It's in you, river flows in you
Waiting, at the end of the waiting, will I be there?

I want to throw my heart towards you
So that I can always feel you
If you can just endure it through
Then try putting all your trust in this place.

Holding you, holding you, it's in you, river flows in you
Slowly, more slowly, there is a river flowing in my heart
Holding you, holding you, It's in you, river flows in you
Waiting, at the end of the waiting, will I be there?

Holding you, holding you, it's in you, river flows in you
Slowly, more slowly, there is a river flowing in my heart
Holding you, holding you, It's in you, river flows in you
Waiting, at the end of the waiting, will I be there?

Happy Easter!

Edit: Kirei Blossom reminded me that lunyareli made a New Trials AMV for my birthday 2008 using Yiruma's River Flows Through. Yiruma was looped on my playlist while writing Chapter 65, and I was constantly wondering why River Flows Through matches my mood when writing New Trials so much. Kudos to Kirei for solving that mystery as well and thank you again to lunayreli for making such a lovely AMV which you can view below. Ah, I am sad that my memory is getting so bad while am amazed at the subconscious mind's consciousness.

Happy Birthday Sakura! New Trials Update: Chapter 65 Up!

Chapter 65: Cohabitation, Part Deux is up at

Happy Birthday to Kinomoto Sakura! (And Watanuki and TRC! Syaoran).

Happy April's Fool Day!