Monday, September 30, 2013

Twelve(?) Anime BGM That Deserve More Love Part 2

Here we are... The End. I've brought up 56 songs from nearly as many anime (a few repeat showings here & there), so why not list eight more? Unfortunately, only one of these clips were available for me to link from YouTube via Blogspot, let alone even be on YouTube, but I've improvised. Let's finish this!

"Shakunetsu no Ikari" by Osamu Totsuka & Takeshi Ike (from Dancougar: Super Bestial Machine God)
Sometimes an anime is defined, sound-wise, by something like an OP... And then there's stuff like this, where an anime is defined by a piece of BGM. That little intro is like a tease, making you almost want to skip ahead but you worry you'll miss the real into to the song. Afterwards this song just simply rocks. Sure, it's little more than a simple riff that's repeated ad-nauseum, but like I mentioned with "Destiny girl" from the OPs list, sometimes that one riff is enough to keep your attention. In terms of show use, this song is sometimes used during the combination sequence of the Dancouga[r] itself, other times you'll hear "Kemono wo Koe, Hito wo Koe", & other times it's used during battle. Regardless of timing, though, this song just screams absolute awesomeness. You want to know how badass this song is? Games in the SRW franchise that feature Dancougar originally used the first OP, "Ai yo Faraway", or the first ED, "Burning Love", but once "Shakunetsu no Ikari" was used in SRW Alpha 3, it became the absolute only song that represented the series. Screw any sort of song you can sing to, even Banpresto knew that you shouldn't mess with this song!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Twelve(?) Anime BGM That Deserve More Love Part 1

First off, let me tell you how annoying it is to keep the same style of title with a phrase like "background music", which has no plural form... Anyway, it's the beginning of the end here in this month of obscure anime music appreciation, and what better way to end it off than to appreciate the stuff everyone hears but only rarely is remembered: The Background Music, or BGM for short. Granted, there are some people in the anime industry that have become iconic solely through their OSTs. People like Shiro Sagisu, Kenji Kawai, Susumu Hirasawa, Yoko Kanno, Yuki Kajiura, & Kohei Tanaka might vary in terms of name recognition, but just about every single anime fan knows at least one song from their gigantic catalogs, much like how Nobuo Uematsu is an icon of video game music. That said, there are plenty of great BGM from other people that aren't as well known. Like what? Well, I'm glad you asked... (Yes, I know you probably didn't ask... Shhhh, you'll interrupt the great music!)

"This world III" by Hideki Taniuchi (from Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor)
You know you have excellent music chops when you go from doing the guitar to two excellent OPs of a boxing anime classic & start doing your own anime music. That's what Hideki Taniuchi did, originally doing the guitar work for Shocking Lemon's contributions to the original Hajime no Ippo anime series, before going solo & doing music for Madhouse anime, starting with 2004's Otogi Zoshi. Taniuchi's guitar work is downright masterful, creating not only upbeat anthems but also downright creepy & downtrodden works like this very one. While there are also "This world" & "This world II", those two don't quite deliver the intense, life or death mood that Kaiji is all about with its games. Really, Taniuchi's OST for the entire first season is simply one of his absolute best, & "This world III" is only a portion of what this man can do. The continual addition of instruments between each repeat of the beat just makes the song sound all the more evil. Unfortunately, in May of last year, Taniuchi was arrested on marijuana charges, and while that wouldn't do much a musician's career here in North America, in Japan a charge like that can be an absolute career killer. The previous year had Tsuyoshi Kosuga of the band cro-magnon, who did the OP to Hyouge Mono, hit with the same charge; cro-magnon called it quits shortly after, & Hyouge Mono's OP was changed after only six episodes. Considering that Taniuchi's last anime work was Kaiji: Against All Odds from 2011, I worry that the man's anime career is essentially dead now, and if that's the case then the anime industry has lost one of it's best up & comers. Oh, where did that subtitle for Season 2 come from? Why, it's the subtitle CrunchyRoll is using for its official stream for that half of the show! That's right, Kaiji has an easily available, official English streaming option! Watch it now!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Twelve(?) Anime Insert Songs That Deserve More Love Part 2

We're in the middle of a list about insert songs... What a perfect time play some insert songs! Luckily, all but two of the songs I'll be listing in this half are linkable via Blogger's YouTube feature, so I got lucky this time around (who knows if I'll be that lucky for the BGM list). So let's start up Part 2 with a bit of a swerve...

"Rise Above the Storm" by Daniel LeBlanc & Creighton Doane (from Beyblade G-Revolution)
You got to give credit where is due... Those Canadians over at Nelvana knew how to make a battle between two modified tops sound awesome. Yeah, Beyblade is a Japanese creation, but outside of the last two DVDs FUNimation released for G-Revolution, we've only officially received the Nelvana-edited dub of the original three series; the "Metal" era stuff is co-produced by Nelvana, so they don't change quite as much stuff. Admittedly, Nelvana did keep the actual story of all three shows intact, with only some of the names being changed (Takao changing to Tyson) or slightly altered ("Rei" changing to "Ray"), some new video clips being added in to replace other shots, and the music being completely re-hauled. To be honest, though, Nelvana could have made the new music score more kid-oriented, but instead they got a bunch of people & bands to create some really cool insert songs, all of which were outright rock songs! Sure, some were more upbeat songs ("Never Gonna Take Me Down" by Anthony Vanderburgh), but as they went from one show to the next the songs became much more "hard" ("Switchblade" by Lenz & "Underdog" by Mudd being good examples), & when they got the final show in the original series we got "Rise Above the Storm", which is probably the absolute best of them all. Sure, these songs were used during battles between tops, but you can't deny it really helped made the shows pretty cool to watch. Hell, this song itself isn't even ten years old yet! Considering how we've now gotten Saban's Digimon on DVD, & Monster Rancher is coming out next year, could we maybe see these three shows get complete releases? I'll admit it: I'd buy them.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Twelve(?) Anime Insert Songs That Deserve More Love Part 1

So let's recap quickly: OPs can be iconic, & EDs can be forgotten, so where does that leave the INs? You know, the insert songs. For those who don't know what an "insert song" is, it's a piece of music that plays while the anime itself is still running, usually during specific scenes & the like. Unlike traditional background music, though, insert songs are usually NOT done by the same person/people behind the BGM, but instead are performed by other musicians and are usually vocal songs. Nowadays, it's usually a popular music band or the like, but INs are usually saved for really special moments where traditional BGM just wouldn't do it justice. Or, quite simply, it's a scene which is meant to be treated as "special", and therefore the use of an IN gives it a more identifiable quality. While not quite as easy to name as that of iconic OPs, there are some INs that "everyone" knows of, like "Komm, süsser Tod" from End of Evangelion, the multitude of non-OP DBZ songs Hironobu Kageyama has done, & some might count "Forces" from Berserk TV (it was performed by Susumu Hirasawa himself, but is voiced & used in "special" scenes), among some others. So what insert songs have been in anime before that you may have missed?

[NOTE: Even more so than the ED list, this IN list will try to use simpler videos so as to not potentially spoil the scenes they are used in, so people unfamiliar with the songs or scenes don't have to worry.]

"Number One" by Hazel Fernandes (from Bleach)
The anime adaptation may be over, & the manga is still running and very popular, but I do wonder how many people honestly still remember this cool IN from the early days of the anime? Performed by British singer Hazel Fernandes, "Number One" was the perfect match for Bleach's starting point, where lead character Ichigo Kurosaki was still new to his new-found shinigami/soul reaper powers, so whenever Ichigo found a way to fight his way back after nearing defeat this song would play, and to this day it's still one of the coolest "second wind" themes. Fernandes' voice is just engrossing right from the start, simply due to the awesome screams she belts out, before any words are even spoken, & the lyrics themselves fit the characters nicely, making each of them come off as badasses whenever the song is played for them. Unfortunately, the song's more upbeat mood seemed to contrast the story as it went on, & by the time the group headed off to Hueco Mundo (the third story arc), this IN would be completely gone from the show. An instrumental version was played on very rare occasion from that point on, but it never really matched the grandiose feel the original song has, and it was usually used more as a "showstopper", anyway (i.e. it would suddenly stop when the enemy would get a surprise upper hand). Still, for those early days of the anime, this IN was hard to beat.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Twelve(?) Anime Ending Themes That Deserve More Love Part 2

Welcome back for more ending themes that have been left to the wayside or simply skipped over for the next episode! Wonder what else you missed by always pushing "fast forward" or "next chapter"? Then keep reading & watching...

"100 Miles ~ Niji o Oikakete" by Santara (Oh! Edo Rocket ED1)
All right, let me make sure I understand this correctly: This is an anime written by Shou Aikawa & directed by Seiji Mizushima (the duo who helmed the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime), based on a play written by the man who did the story for Gurren Lagann, Re: Cutie Honey, & the upcoming Kill la Kill... So why isn't this show more well known, again? It can't surely be the OP done by PUFFY (Ami Yumi), which is so absolutely infectious & catchy that even I absolutely love it. Regardless, I've only seen a few episodes of 2007's Oh! Edo Rocket, which finally came over by way of FUNimation in 2010, but I really did like what little I saw of it & the ED that each episode ended with was simply amazing. It sounds like some sort of gender bent, Japanese version of Beck (the singer, not the manga & anime) mixed with The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)", and Santara's voice is absolutely unforgettable in her performance. The ED footage certainly doesn't disappoint either by coming off like some sort of weird "trip" that only an alien like the "Blue Girl" can seemingly think of as "normal". I'm definitely going to get my hands on the complete collection one day & get to this show in full, because I'm interested once again in checking it out, especially with the pedigree it has behind it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Twelve(?) Anime Ending Themes That Deserve More Love Part 1

It's easy to name an iconic opening theme, but ending themes aren't exactly as easy to name. OPs are things that viewers gladly watch, as they set the tone for the show & get people excited for what they are about to see. EDs, on the other hand, signify the end of an episode; crazed anime fans don't want to see an anime, even if it's just an episode, end. Even I'll admit that, if I'm watching multiple episodes of a TV series, I'll simply skip the ED so that I can get to the next episode faster. Still, I do save the ED for the end of the last episode I'm watching at the moment, and throughout my time as an anime fan I have heard a good number of EDs that I think deserve some recognition. So let's take a look at them...

(NOTE: Unlike the OPs list, I will not show the ED footage for every entry. Some EDs, by nature, may feature spoilers as to what happened in a show, and I wish to respect those who haven't seen some of these shows.)

"nothing" by SEE SEE/Hitomi Yaida (Cybuster ED)
As a quick note, the OP credits this ED as being performed by SEE SEE, which was the name Hitomi Yaida initially used when she entered the music industry; she's since switched over to her real name. Anyway, the 1999 anime version of Cybuster is definitely the "black sheep" of the entire Super Robot Wars franchise. In fact, regardless of the actual quality of the show itself, many SRW fans refuse to even acknowledge, let alone watch, this show that has nothing to do with the lineage of the main Masou Kishin storyline. Yeah, this show is a completely different universe from the original one, and that alone makes me want to eventually watch this show & review it. Anyway, the OP, "Senshi yo, Tachiagare" by Masaaki Endoh, is a really cool song, but the ED to the show also succeeds as a memorable tune. Starting off as a simple acoustic ballad, the song eventually becomes a really cool & powerful song about taking whatever hardships come by & making it a part of yourself. Even if the show ends up being disappointing, at the very least one can't deny that each episode ends on a strong song.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Twelve(?) Anime Opening Themes That Deserve More Love Part 2

If you sometimes wonder why I rarely use embedded videos on anything I post onto this blog, my previous post is a perfect example of why. You see, as big as YouTube's catalog of videos is it still doesn't have everything. Therefore, the OPs for Zaizen Jotaro, Monkey Turn, & Clockwork Fighters: Hiwou's War I used were all captured by me & uploaded onto YouTube by me... And after only a couple of days of being online, and even when the clips were "unlinked" from YouTube (i.e. you can only view them via this blog), ShoPro still blocked Monkey Turn's OP from being viewable to you guys. So for those who read Part 1 of this look at anime OPs that deserve more recognition & love, consider yourselves lucky that you got to see it the way I put it together. For everyone else, from this day on you have to deal with the music video for "Kokoro ga Tomaranai". Hopefully this won't be something that will happen again in the future posts from this month... Anyway, back to your (not) regularly scheduled "Twelve Anime" list.

"Mononoke Dance" by Denki Groove (Hakaba Kitaro OP)
Shigeru Mizuki's GeGeGe no Kitaro is an institution in Japan, being the inspiration for a lot of the methods & ideas about yokai culture that anime & manga uses to this day. Toei has made it downright tradition to make a new Kitaro anime series every decade, ever since the original B&W series from the 60s, but for the most recent adaptation Toei did something different. In 2007, they debuted the fifth TV series based on the kids manga, but in 2008, while GeGeGe was still running, Toei also debuted an 11-episode anime based on Mizuki's original version of the manga, Hakaba Kitaro. The animation style was similar in execution to Mononoke, which simply has to be seen to be believed, but for the OP Toei went absolutely zany. Denki Groove's song can only really be described as "Halloween Dance-Techno", and the footage being based on the actual pages of the manga just makes it a fun watch. The song itself, though, is downright infectious ad once you hear it once it will never leave your head.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twelve(?) Anime Opening Themes That Deserve More Love Part 1

In 1994, President Bill Clinton proclaimed September to be Classical Music Month... Too bad I already reviewed some portion of the Legend of the Galactic Heroes series last year, because it's heavy use of classical music would be a perfect fit. Also, I do hope to one day get to the Violinist of Hameln anime & review it, but it won't be this month. Luckily, I do have something planned for this month, though it isn't "classical". As a fan of anime I have also become a big fan of Japanese music, especially those found in anime. Sometimes I won't even watch an episode of an anime, but I'll have heard the opening before & I'll become a fan of the song. With this in mind, I decided to bring back the "Twelve Anime" motif, but this time focus it on a specific aspect of anime: The music. To go with a music-themed commemorative month, I'll be doing four sets of "Twelve Anime" lists, one for each variation of music one would hear in anime: Opening Themes ("OPs"), Ending Themes ("EDs"), Insert Songs ("INs"), & Background Music ("BGMs").

What, you didn't seriously expect me to use K-On!, did you?

"Tank!"... "Ready Steady Go!"... "We Are!"... "Sorairo Days"... "A Cruel Angel's Thesis"... Let's face it, truly memorable anime tend to have equally memorable opening themes. The idea of an opening theme sequence is to get one interested in the series if it's the first watch, or to hype the viewer up when it's successive episodes, and as time has gone by some of these OPs have become downright iconic, needing only the first few seconds (if even that) for someone to identify it & be reminded of a favorite series. Sometimes, though, a really good OP gets shafted. Maybe it's the follow-up to an excellent first OP, licensing issues kept it from reaching a larger audience, time has made the series (& therefore the OP) forgotten, or maybe people just didn't really know of it in the first place. Well, since this is a "Land" where forgotten & obscure stuff is given the spotlight, allow me to remind and inform you guys of some opening themes that definitely deserve more love. Technically, this is chosen based on the songs themselves, but having a really good OP sequence certainly helps. And, in true "Twelve Anime" tradition, I have ended up with way more than twelve entries.