Lemon Angel Project

February 16, 2007

When I first watched Lemon Angel Project, somehow it reminded me of that Australian pop group Bardot. Well, this anime isn’t really exactly based on them. You see, the pop group Bardot was formed in year 2000 through a television reality programme called Popstars. As in the case of this anime, it’s nearly the same thing. With a bunch of young female hopefuls trying their best to break into the music industry. At least that’s what I felt. So they’ll undergo some training and such in order to get pick as one of the few permenant members of the pop group.
 
Although there are only 13 episodes in this early 2006 anime production, unfortunately, the subbers decided to stop at episode 7. Yup, since my Japanese vocab isn’t that good, I had to rely on them to understand what they’re saying. Well, I mean, there hasn’t been any release of an English subbed episode for donno how many months already. So I’m assuming that they must have dropped this project. And because of that, I decided to drop and stop watching this anime since I’m tired of waiting and my interest in the show has already wanned.
 
Basically in this half hour series, you’ll come to expect that there’s gonna be some singing here and there. Well, I felt that there weren’t many songs featured (at least for the episodes that I’ve watched) even though one would easily classify this anime loosely as a musical genre. Instead, there’re some drama with a little comedy here and there between the characters, or should I say, would-be group members. Maybe it’s the main focus of the first half of the series.
 
The storyline begins with something like this. In the near future, there’s this 6 member girl band in Japan, Lemon Angel, who’s supposed to be the greatest group currently, if not of all time. But suddenly, one day 5 of the group members went missing and vanished, and the only member of the group, Miki Suwa, who is also the group’s leader, went into reserve mode, keeping and leading a low profile lifestyle after that. Thus, the band has been abruptly disbanded when they’re at their peak.
 
To cut things short, the other group members of the Lemon Angel aren’t real. What do I mean? They’re actually just hologram projections of the members (see what computer technology can do) and when they vanished, they just vanished on-screen. At this point, I thought that nobody, not even hardcore fans of the group has ever got up close and personal with them. It seems that some virus corrupted the Lemon Angel data files and programmes rendering them unable to do their usual ‘performance’. Uh-huh. Something like the programme crashed. In addition, the general public doesn’t know about this. Think of the consequences if they found out that their favourite all time girl band is actually made up of pixels. Imagine the uproar. Heads will roll! Thus, after a year since the Lemon Angel has vanished, a project has been launched to revive the group, dubbed The Lemon Angel Project. But this time, the project will hold real auditions and recruit real members to the group in addition to keeping Miki as the group’s leader.
 
Shift focus to this first year high shool student, Tomo Minaguchi, whom her classmate and friend, Yuki, to join a musical club in her school because she finds her quite a good singer. But Tomo is much more content of just being a karaoke singer. Throughout the series, I find her voice has this some sort of ‘fluctuation’. Yeah, sometimes she sound horrible at first, then with some encouragement and self believe, Tomo will actually sound quite good later on.
 
As Yuki suggests to check out Miki, who’s at some archery club, a flashback of how Tomo and her older friend, the late Yui Kono, showed Tomo that she has been working on a new song called ‘Evolution’ which is sung by Miki. This song was also gonna be Miki’s debut as a single. Yui also then told Tomo how Miki would be coming to Tomo’s high school and encourages her to try for the audition.
 
So after school, Tomo heard a beautiful piano recital and found out that Miki was playing it. Of course, Tomo clumsily stumbled into the room, interrupting Miki. But after that nervous introduction of herself, it seems that Miki isn’t too fond of Tomo and asked her not to ever speak to her again as Miki left the room. What a way to start things off. While Tomo is conveying the things that happened earlier on to Yuki as they walked home, Yuki noticed a man watching and following them. Thinking that it may be stalker or something, they decided to split up and run. Good news is that guy can only chase after 1 of them. And the bad news is, he went after Tomo, much to her dismay.
 
So that guy managed to catch up to Tomo. Don’t worry, he isn’t a bad guy. He is Ryota Kogure, who’s an executive of a record company. He’s also one the guys who’ll be in charge of the Lemon Angel Project. So after asking Tomo about if she knows about the Lemon Angel, their break up (of which Tomo is obliviously blur to) and his intentions about reviving the Lemon Angel group, he also asked if Tomo’s interested in trying out for the auditions because he heard from Yui that she really wanted her to sing ‘Evolution’ and took her to the recording studio.
 
But I guess Tomo’s not interested in all that blabbing about Lemon Angel Project and it’s sorry state (so do I) like how Ryota blames ‘that person’ for Lemon Angel’s failure but a teary Yui says not to blame ‘him’. As she sneaked out of the room only to overhear some guys angrily complaining about how the core programme got corrupted by ‘that person’. We see them trying to play the hologram Lemon Angel but the programme just crashed. Still blur on what’s going on, Tomo again stumbled and this time her presence has been discovered one of the guys.
 
And that was episode 1. So episode 2 continues where the previous episode left off. As those guys were gonna confront Tomo, Ryota luckily comes in and asked Tomo to wait for him at the lobby below while he talk things out with them. Then we see Ryota talking to a guy Shinya Himuro (looks a bit like Tezuka from Prince Of Tennis), asking him why he’s getting involve in this, but the latter didn’t reply. From first looks, this Himuro guy looks like your typical bad evil mean heartless guy. With those kind of eyes, ruffled like hairstyle and ‘unsmiling’ face, who wouldn’t think so. So much so, I think this Himuro guy’s ‘that person’ in the earlier conversation.
 
Here we also hear and find out more from Ryota about the Lemon Angel, how Yui created that top secret computer programme as a test to see whether if the public would like them for real. I see. A big time hoax if you look at it in a way. Also how Miki was the co-creater for the project and Yui chose her as a model for it. And after hearing Ryota said how he wanted to have real people singing instead of machines, Tomo agrees to try for the audition.
 
So the rest of the few episodes will be something like this. Besides the usual training and stints, Tomo meets other auditioners during her trial. Some get to click with her, some don’t like her, some cattiness and b*tchiness here and there (but it isn’t that serious). Among those that Tomo will meet in this episode are the friendly and casual Erika Campbell, and the tough girl and ‘I’m-not-too-fond-of-you-because-you-have-connections-with-the-manager’ Saya Yuuki. Yup, for the remainder of this episode we see how Saya despises Tomo mainly because of that and she thinks the reason why the flat chest and under developed body (that’s what Saya calls her) Tomo got into the audition in the first place even though Saya claims that Tomo even has no talent. See, connections gets you to places.
 
However, Tomo doesn’t seem to get easily depressed or put down by Saya’s attitude. Instead she still tries to be friendly with her and even praises her singing. That’s the kind of positive attitude that everybody should display. But still Saya isn’t too fond of all that. We learn that Saya previously worked in some adult magazine as a… well you know… those sort of models in adult magazines and goes by the name of Yayoi. So she wanted to get away from such a life and start things anew.
 
So while the rest of the audition hopefuls are displaying their singing skills, it’s eventually Tomo’s turn. As I’ve said she sounded horrible at first making everybody there laugh. Then some flashback about Yui and her words of encouragement which allow her to do exceptionally well again, shocking everybody in the process. At the end of the audition, Ryota mentions that those selected for the next round will be notified by mail in several weeks time. Though it’s been several weeks already, Tomo felt anxious and worried that she might have failed. As expected, she soon receives a letter that says that she has passed and qualifies for the second round, much to her joy. Also we see other girls including Erika and Saya with their letter of qualification to the second round.
 
Episode 3 is more on Saya. Yup, that girl is getting into some serious trouble. Not that she finds trouble. It’s just that her old boss isn’t too happy and is furious when he learns that Saya has been accepted for the second round of the auditions. He still thinks that Saya belongs to him because of some contract thingy. So he barges in while the auditioners are doing their swimsuit pose, and creates a stir by telling Ryota that Saya’s still under his contract and that he wants her to ‘show off her body’ instead of singing. Well, if you got it, flaunt it.
 
Anyway, Tomo and Erika overheard and jokingly suggests to Saya that they steal and tear the contract. Saya agrees and drags them both along too. I wonder what’s with that ninja outfit Erika wore during the steal? Yeah, most probably she thinks that sneaking in like this requires a skill of a ninja and one has to be properly dressed for the occassion too. Is she joking or what? Who knows.
 
There, Saya met an old manager of hers, Keiko Orina, who seems to feel pity on her and decides to help her steal the contract locked away in the boss’s office. It seems that Keiko once tried hard to get singing parts for Saya but to no avail as the company wants to make money off Saya’s body. Even so, Saya has no intentions of working again for this company and thanked Keiko for all her past efforts. Unfortunately, the mean boss caught them in the act. Then some arrogant words from him and some contrary and ‘she-has-worked-so-hard’ lines from Tomo. Saya must be thinking why is such a girl whom she doesn’t like much standing up for her.
 
Saya pretends to go back to his side when suddenly she gives him a knee jab on his crotch when he let his guard down, thus managed to grab the contract from him. Then Keiko threatens to tell all his wrongdoings he has done to the company to his wife if he doesn’t release Saya. But he got so furious anyway that he fired both of them and in a way, frees Saya. Yay! And in the end, Saya and Tomo became friends, though they both seem to still argue with each other, mocking each other’s bodies. Fatty. Flat chest. At least they do get along in a way, right?
 
It’s Erika’s turn in episode 4. To cut things real short, Erika too has her fair share of that cold treatment from the other girls, especially the one named Haruka Sendou. Yup, at first looks too, you might’ve guessed that the way she acts and says things, she’s very much an arrogant and obnoxious b*tch herself. Even though the dance instructor praised Erika for her good performance, Erika still took to heart over those words said by Haruka. Hmm… by the way, does Tomo really have the material and what it takes to be a Lemon Angel? Tomo’s having a hard time catching up with the training. But it’s her energetic and positive spirits which kept her going.
 
Anyway, one reason why Haruka’s tormenting Erika is because she’s a foreigner. Well, not exactly a 100% foreigner. More like half Japanese (that’s why she could speak Japanese fluently) and was it half Egyptian or half Brazilian or some other country (that’s why she looked so different), couldn’t really remember. Plus, Erika’s older brother is supposed to be part of some famous pop group, Third Sense. Because of that too, Haruka changes her mood and attititude to be that nice lovely good-too-shoes girl when she finds out about it and demands Erika to let her and her other buddies to get together at Erika’s place so that they could meet him. What’s this too? Miki having a pic of Erika’s brother in her cellphone. From the looks of it, looks like Miki has some sort of crush on him. Uh-huh.
 
When the weekend arrives, the girls gather at Erika’s apartment to find that Erika’s brother isn’t gonna show up because he’s working late, much to Haruka’s disappointment and anger. There she proceeds to take out on Erika by throwing the food Erika had made on to the ground and insulting her that Erika’s a nobody and that she’s only riding on her brother’s popularity. I guess everyone has their limits. A very upset Erika then runs out from her apartment with Tomo and Saya chasing after her. They manage to find her at some overhead bridge and the usual talk some sense and words of realization into her kinda conversation. Yeah, something like I’m your competitor and I’m not gonna lose to you. Some friendly competitive words there. Sounds more like encouragement rather than a challenge. Before you know it, Erika discards her gloomy feeling and became back to her lively self again.
 
Haruka’s true devil self is further revealed in episode 5. Yup, she’s planning on sabotaging Tomo and her other pals so that they will fail the auditions. But this episode also focuses on Fuyumi Sakakibara. Who? Well, that bespectacled girl actually made her appearance in earlier episodes along with Haruka. Fuyumi from my point of view seems like Haruka’s obedient dog (the female version of it doesn’t seem appropriate or fitting). Because of her overly gentle (read: weak and can’t stand up for herself) nature, she tends to follow and do what Haruka tells her to even if she herself doesn’t wants to.
 
Like how Haruka forces Fuyumi to give a spiked bottle of water to her ‘friends’ so that when they drink it, they’ll have stomach ache, or splashing their leotards with bleach and even went as far as putting a thumbtack in Tomo’s shoes so much so Tomo’s feet has to be bandaged. Yeah, don’t you just feel like you wanna strangle Haruka. Saya managed to eavesdrop on one of Haruka’s attempt to use Fuyumi in sabotaging them. But before Saya could expose her, Fuyumi confessed everything and decides not to go through with it. Looks like she can’t take it anymore. So we hear some flashback of how Haruka always stood up for her when she was young, that’s why Fuyumi’s quite grateful to her and never opposes her and such. Of course Tomo has that let bygones be bygones attitude and doesn’t resent her for it.
 
Then there’s this audition day where some famous dance instructor guy is gonna be the judge of who’s gonna make it to the next round. And if he puts his hands on your shoulders, it means you’re out. While the girls are doing their best, Fuyumi trips and knocks Saya. Tomo immediately helped them out and I guess it’s her positive words and outlook which impressed that judge rather than anything else. Haruka, seeing everything not going according to her plan, tries to make a few moves to impress the judge but the judge gave her the shoulder.
 
To Haruka’s dismay, she even demanded and went on ranting why did he remove her since she says her dancing and skills are more superior than those girls. He said that it isn’t the dancing skills that he wasn’t looking for but the potential in them, which Tomo and her buddies has. In your face, Haruka. Deserves you right! By the end of the day, though Haruka’s still that b*tch, she decides to quit the whole programme but encourages Fuyumi to go on and says that she’ll support her. Yay! No more Haruka. Bye bye girl.
 
If you noticed, this series seems to be focusing one by one on the potential and soon to be Lemon Angel group members. So in episode 6, Tomo learns a little more about the quiet Miru Nagisa, who sounds ominous the way her voice sounds. Reminds me a little of Jigoku Shoujo. Hmm… that goth-loli dressing does make her look a little cute… and a little scary. Oh, must be those eyes. Anyway, Tomo learns that Miru’s parents have died in a car accident while she was young and thus she has grown up to be quite a lonely person even though she’s living quite well off with one of her relatives. Plus, it’s Miru’s dream to become a Lemon Angel because she wants to sound and be like one of the singer of the group.
 
Because Miru’s flashback isn’t much, with a lot of spacing out and uncertainty. But you know, Tomo’s optimism could change things, the remaining 12 finalists are gonna have their final audition in front of a very excited and anticipating crowd. So we see them introducing themselves and talking to the crowd like how the crowd loved Erika’s liveliness and how Saya got a little upset when somebody from the crowd calls her Yayoi. While Fuyumi gets inspiration from Haruka’s words to do her best, Tomo got surprised when the crowd repeats what she said so much so that she has to be dragged off for trying to talk back. And when it’s Miru’s turn, she didn’t say anything at all! She just stood there staring into the crowd.
 
After the finalists have had their say, it’s time to select which 5 will make it to the final Lemon Angel group. And if you noticed and have watched the opening credits, you’d probably even guessed it way back at episode 1 which of the girls would become part of Lemon Angel. Surprisingly (or not) I wonder why Miru got chosen even though she didn’t say anything. Must be her goth-loli dressing. Probably makes her look like a pretty doll. Tomo, Erika, Saya and Fuyumi must be in ecstasy as they too got chosen. So I figure out why those 4 also got chosen. Erika because she’s the funny foreigner, Tomo because she’s got that positive and energetic outlook and probably easy to make fun of, Saya because she’s an ex-adult magazine model so if she slips up at least you can gawk at ther body, and Fuyumi… ah, which group would be complete without that megane character. Finally, Miki goes up on stage to finally complete the Lemon Angel group.
 
All hail the new age and revived Lemon Angel! Hooray! The crowd goes wild. They just loved them. Well, if you look at it in a way, they’re like an assemble of a bunch of oddballs and misfits. No offence, but sometimes I felt that way. Yeah, variety is the spice of life. But this episode ends with a little bleak note. A guy named Masami Kudou rings up Tomo and asked to meet up with him. I’m getting a bad feeling about this.
 
In episode 7, we learn more about the demise and conspiracy against the original Lemon Angel. But before that, while the girls are still excited about their newly formed group, they need one of the group members to be the lead singer. Of course, Saya not only wants to be the lead singer but the group leader as well as she’s telling other group members what to do. Sounds like a nagging mother. However, they all agree that an audition will be held to see who would become the group’s lead singer, which will be chosen by the producer.
 
Unfortunately, the audtion is being held on the same day that Tomo decides to go to Yui’s grave because it is the anniversary of her death. Before she can do so, Masami arrives and insists on taking her somewhere else first. Masami also wants Tomo to quit the Lemon Angel so that he and Himuro could revive the original virtual Lemon Angel. Tomo’s feeling uncertain.
 
Masami even surprised her by taking her to some rock band practice, which impresses Tomo. However, when one of the rock members (the leader I presume) started scolding his drummer and firing him on the spot, Tomo became scared. Masami then proceeds to tell her that Yui considered her work to be a collaboration with Himuro, who was her producer. Tomo then left for Yui’s grave.
 
While praying at her grave, when Miki shows up. Miki asked about the audition but Tomo told her that Masami took her to places or else she could’ve been there earlier. Miki then proceeds to tell Tomo about Yui. It seems that when Yui signed a contract and got Himuro as her producer, Himuro changed Yui’s music so much so it doesn’t sound like Yui’s, thus in a way it wasn’t her music anymore. The reason why Yui never criticize or protest was because she was madly and deeply in love with Himuro! Uh-huh, blinded by love. But that Himuro jerk even though told her that she’s a genious, never really intended to return her love and their relationship wasn’t anything romantic. Yup, he’s just doing it for the money and wasn’t interested in her. Yui then became devastated that she wandered off and got hit by a truck! What a way to die. I wonder why women always fall for the wrong kind of guy (look who’s talking). Therefore, Miki blames Himuro (‘that guy’) for Yui’s demise.
 
Miki then asked Tomo not to quit the group and after some words of encouragement and such, Tomo heads back to the audition. Tomo manages to reach back in time and completes her audtion. In the end, everyone was impressed by Tomo’s singing and without a doubt everyone (including Saya) agrees to let Tomo to be the group’s lead singer. Later Tomo gets yet another phone call from Masami. But this time, Tomo rejects Masami’s call to quit the group saying that she wants to go on singing and will not back out before hanging up. Masami then says to himself "You’ll definitely regret it". Oh oh.
 
So it ends here for me. Halfway. I’m gonna guess the rest of the episodes are something like this. The girls will have some drama and tension here and there, some relationship and friendship bonding which brings them closer. If it’s gonna end on a good note then the gang will be the new all time famous girl band group releasing their hit singles and albums which’re being sold like hot cakes. If not, then maybe they’ll all break up and go solo or come to worse, quit the music industry. I think I’ll stick with the former one. Feels much better don’t you think.
 
Actually, I’ve done a little reading on the summary of the remaining episodes. Yeah, I read spoilers. Can’t wait to know watch what’s gonna happen so I decided to read a few lines just to get a general idea. It seems that the next episode will see the Lemon Angel group doing some training at some chalet. More bonding and character drama it seems. Then some little threat by some irritating bad reporter. But the ultimate turning point came when the girls saw an ad of the revival of the original Lemon Angel. Gasp! Yup, I’ve guessed it that those 2 guys, Himuro and Masami are up to no good. They manage to restore the corrrupted Lemon Angel file and is gonna take their revenge by reviving the original Lemon Angel.
 
Because of that the girls are in shock and devastated, some low points and moments in their life, some undecisive and uncertainty here and there. Well, if the original group comes back, of course the public who once loved them would definitely go back to them, leaving all the hard efforts of the new Lemon Angel wasted. Because of that Tomo in a way left the group because she can’t face Yui’s original Lemon Angel. But after some persuasion from the rest of the girls, she managed to rejoin them. Also some confrontation between Miki and Himuro.
 
Then on the day of their first debut performance, Himuro and Masami then release the original Lemon Angel, thinking that their return will destroy the current Lemon Angel. At first the crowd wows at their return and was dissatisfied when only 4 of the new Lemon Angel turned up for the performance. Luckily Tomo and Miki manage to arrive in time and the new Lemon Angel continued with their dazzling performance. The crowd seems to also love them in their own special way. What the heck, a Lemon Angel will always be a Lemon Angel, whether old or new. Although Masami isn’t happy with the way things turned out and wanted to stop it, but I guess Himuro learned a little from his earlier encounter with Tomo that there’re some things that computers can’t do, and steps in to stop Masami. Looks like they just have to watch and admit their magnificent performance.
 
So the ending is your typical feel good kinda of ending where everything ends well. With the group now determined to move forward, armed with their neverending loyal friendship and all that. Well, I suppose this anime is generally quite okay even though I didn’t get to finish it. The message and lesson from this anime is that whatever problems or obstacles we face in our lives, with some positive outlook, dedication and teamwork, anything is possible to overcome. And the most important… always be happy and enjoy the things you do.
 
Well, I’m not gonna watch anymore musically themed anime since I’ve mentioned that my interest in this anime has declined what more animes of this type of genre. Even that Lovedol – Lovely Idol anime released in late 2006, I decided to scrap it after watching just the first episode. But one of the main reasons why I watch this series was because of the opening theme song, Angel Addict. It’s quite a catchy and lively tune which makes you feel like you want to get up and dance. Although there are several versions of Angel Addict, most of the episodes sung by each of the different voice actresses, the one which I like best is the original one sung by Ryo Shihono, Ami Koshimizu and Miki Maruyama.
 
Speaking of which, now come to think of it, I was surprised to find out that Ami Koshimizu had also done some voice acting in this series as Saya. Ever since I’ve got to know her, I’ve always compared her voice with Tenma of School Rumble but in the end left me with stitches because somehow her voice her and in School Rumble’s are totally different. Also to my surprise, Erika’s voice actress, Chihara Minori has done parts in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu as Yuki (but both characters sound so different. My ears must be clogged or she could really do a different another voice), Tenjou Tenge as Aya (same case here) and even in Lovedol – Lovely Idol! Coincidence? Perhaps not.
 
So far the drawing, animation and art to me are quite okay. I also read that the final episode, the animation and art is quite wonderfully done. Must be all those camera and lighting angles which makes the Lemon Angel dazzle. Of course if a genre is a musically themed one, then there must be some good voice acting too. It didn’t disappoint me here. So if you want to take a peek or have a little idea of what young singer wannabes and hopefuls have to go through, then this is the anime for you. Though, it shouldn’t be anything definitive.

Angel Addict

May 5, 2006

  Watashi dake mitsumete yo,
  Hokano dare ka ja iya,
  Todokanai kyori wo ichi MIRI,
  Motto chidjimete…
 
The opening beat of this song may make you think that this is a samba genre type. Yeah… The way the trumpet is played will give you such impression. But this is quickly followed by some cool electric guitar plucking.
 
  Mayonaka ni shinobikomu,
  Anata no kokoro suki wa aru kana,
  PASUWAADO te ni irete,
  ROGUIN suru wa kakushin ni furetai…
 
Yup, this lively song Angel Addict, which is the opening song for the anime Lemon Angel Project, has got quite a catchy tune and it makes you wanna get up a dance or do little jiggy. At least, that’s what it made me do.
 
  Koi wo shiteru VIRUS (out of my control),
  Tomerarenai no Angel Addict
 
Plus, this is one of the few songs that I could sing with confidence and ease, though not neccesarily perfect. At least it made me want to go and have another round. En core, en core.
 
  Watashi dake tsukamete,
  Kimi ja nakereba muri,
  Kizukanai namida hitotsubu,
  Itsumo koboreru…
 
Since it’s truly a karaoke version, and not just some instrumental version, so there’re background vocals too and it made me feel like as though I’m the lead singer. Alright! Now, if you would excuse me, once more again from the top…
 
  Hontou no watashi wo,
  Hontou no watashi wo,
  Hontou no watashi wo,
  Dakishimete