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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Twelve Mecha Songs That Deserve More Love Part 2

Part 1 of this list of underappreciated songs from mech anime was pretty strong, but I think Part 2 can match up to it pretty well. I even found a trio of choices that weren't OPs, just to be fair to the other sides of the equation. So let's not dilly-dally... Here we go!

"DIVER #2100" by R.A.M. (Dennou Boukenki Webdiver OP1)
Boy, I am starting this half with an obscure-as-hell song from an even more obscure mech anime, aren't I? From what I can find out, Dennou Boukenki/Electric Brain Adventure Record Webdiver was a 2001-2002 series produced by Takara with animation by Radix & Nippon Animation. Supposedly it was created in a similar fashion to that of the Brave Series, i.e. it had a toy line to go with it, and just by looking at the OP you do get a slightly similar feel. Oddly enough, even though the show seems to have a water theme to it, it's actually about entering a futuristic computer network to battle a dangerous computer virus that has infected all of the "Web Knights" that protect the network; the water theme just seems to be how the robots are cockpit-ed. The only one to escape infection is Gladion, who teams with fourth grader "Web Diver" Kento Yuuki. So why do I include this song in the list?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Twelve Mecha Songs That Deserve More Love Part 1

On this Thanksgiving weekend, let us give thanks for everything that we have in life... And pray that no one gets (horrifically) trampled on Black Friday. As a fan of mech anime, and on a relatively silly matter, I am thankful that I was finally able to finally see all the way through Matchless Raijin-Oh. At the same time, I am thankful that I can wash away the stink of Gin-Iro no Olynssis with a multitude of better mech anime. Still, the thing that latter show did best was the music (Raijin-Oh's music was awesome, too). With that in mind, let us end this third (& fairly low-key) Mecha Month with a look at some awesome music from mech anime that you may not have known of, but (if nothing else) featured an OP, ED, IN, or BGM that shouldn't be forgotten with time. Plus, in true fashion for the blog, I'll toss in a couple of of bonus selections at the end of each part. Let's jam!

"Starlight Serenade" by Mami Yamase (Metal Armor Dragonar OP2)
Some anime have such an excellent first opening that what comes afterwards is generally forgotten & ignored. This is certainly the case for Dragonar, Sunrise's attempt at replacing Gundam that has never really gotten proper respect for simply being a great 80s mech anime; it didn't get that respect in Japan until barely a decade ago. Still, regardless of what anyone think of the show itself, one part of Dragonar that everyone essentially agrees is awesome is the first OP, "Yume Iro Chaser" by Mami Ayukawa. With an intensely addictive beat, instantly memorable melody, and animation handled by a young Masami Obari (all on his own!), Ayukawa's song is the de facto anthem of this series & deserves that spot, but it's not like its follow up was a poor effort by any means. In fact, it's just about as good in some ways.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gin-Iro no Olynssis: Our Frothing Demand for this Show Increases(?)

The other review for the third Mecha Month takes us not quite as far back as Matchless Raijin-Oh did; this time we're only going back to 2006. In this year Toei Animation was celebrating their 50th Anniversary, and one of their products during this celebratory year was a relative rarity from them nowadays, a mech anime. Yeah, they had a notable hit with Gaiking: Legend of Daiku-Maryu shortly before, and I guess you could include 2005's video game adaptation Xenosaga the Animation, but prior to those Toei's last mech anime was the generally ignored Getter Robo Go from 1991 (& before that you'd have to go back to the early-80s for titles like GoLion, DaiRugger XV, Albegas, & Lazerion). Not only that, but the topic of this review was the last mech anime Toei has ever done until literally just a few days ago with the theatrical debut of their sci-fi movie Expelled from Paradise. What am I trying to get at, though? Hisashi Hirai.

This is literally the only image I could find of Hirai

It's honestly pretty astonishing that a man like Hisashi Hirai has become such a highly notable name in anime without ever having directed anything; the highest he's done is animation direction for OPs, EDs, & the occasional episode. Instead, Hirai is known primarily as a character designer, with his first notable work being 1995's Wild Knights Gulkeeva. He would then go on to do designs for Infinite Ryvius & s-CRY-ed, but he didn't became a big name until he was brought on for 2002's Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. His style was very sleek & for SEED he featured a bit more of a bishonen look, which helped attract female fans. What happened, though, was that his next two works, 2004's Fafner & Gundam SEED Destiny, looked a little too similar. How similar, exactly? Well, SEED Destiny's lead, Shinn Asuka, looked almost 100% exactly like Fafner's Kazuki Makabe; the only notable difference was eye color! Not only that, Hirai didn't seem to feature much variety in general when it came to making larger casts of characters, leading to anime fans (especially in North America) nicknaming him "Same-Face" Hirai. Naturally, when Toei debuted their 50th Anniversary mech anime, which featured Hirai character designs, fans immediately began mocking it. Then once the show debuted it was deemed one of the worst mech anime of recent memory & promptly buried under the sands of time. How bad, you ask? Well, joke anime news site AnimeMaru deemed it special enough to warrant a bogus license announcement from Sentai Filmworks this past May, complete with not just a DVD & Blu-Ray release but also VHS. So let's take a look at the most obscure Hisaishi Hirai mech anime out there, Gin-Iro no Olynssis (Olynssis, The Silver Color).

You can ignore the "Tokito" at the end... Everyone else does.

It is the year 3567 & the Earth is a post-apocalyptic mess. A being known only as the Consul operates from the Moon & sends down organic robots called Gardeners in an attempt to eradicate humanity. At the same time, the Earth itself is surrounded by the Olynssis Phenomenon, a space-time distortion that has sent people both to the past & the future. Tokito Aizawa is a young man who works with some others as Hunters, who take out Gardeners for a living using their Crawlers, which are created from salvaged Gardener parts. While stopping in Meteotown, Tokito comes across a mysterious girl named Téa, who can't remember anything past 6 months ago & insists that he's a man named Koichi. She shows him a secret part of the town that leads to the lake right before the town is attacked. Téa lead Tokito there specifically to release a giant robot named Silber from its slumber & have him pilot it. Tokito agrees to pilot it alongside Téa, while she travels with Tokito's firends in an effort to find out her hidden past, and if she's from the present, past, or even the future.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Matchless Raijin-Oh "Season 2": Truly an "Honorable Brave"

Previously in the Matchless Raijin-Oh Review:
"Matchless Raijin-Oh is simply a joy of a mech anime to watch, and it's nothing short of astonishing that Anime Midstream has been able to keep releasing DVDs of it... Here's hoping that the change to sub-only will only result in an accelerated release rate for "Season 2" once Volume 6 comes out, and hopefully this company won't simply disappear into the aether afterwards."
Well, this was faster than expected. Last November I held the second ever Mecha Month on the blog, and I started with a review of the first half of Anime Midstream's release of Raijin-Oh, partially because the do-it-yourself English dub was ending with Volume 5 & partially because I had no idea when the entire thing would finally get released. Now, just barely over a year later, I am holding the third Mecha Month here & I'm starting once again with the Earth Defense Class. Yeah, that's right, this past September Anime Midstream finished their release of this anime by putting the second half, all 26 episodes, into a 5-disc complete collection.

I hope no one put actual money down against this show ever being fully released over here.

The title splash doesn't change, so here's an eyecatch featuring the EDC.

It's definitely been a long wait for this moment to finally happen. Hell, I remember reading the initial announcement of Matchless Raijin-Oh's licensing back in December of 2008, six years ago(!), on my relative's computer when I was visiting family in Budapest; yeah, only when I'm in another continent can stuff like this be announced. Anyway, I was familiar with Raijin-Oh only slightly when this news came out, by way of the series being used in Super Robot Wars GC, but due to it's relative obscurity I had never seen any of it before. Naturally, I was excited about this show getting released here in North America, and I pre-ordered every single release as soon as it was scheduled. So, all these years later, there's only one question left to (finally) answer: Did this show meet my expectations & curiosity?

Does "Season 2" start with a giant vacuum monster sucking up all of the animals in the African Sahara? (... The answer is "Yes")

The battle between the Eldoran-powered Earth Defense Class & the Jaku Empire has reached the point where one mech vs. one Jaku Beast isn't enough anymore. Class 5-3 now have access to Bakuryu-Oh, a dragon robot that Maria & the command center control, and when combined with Ken-Oh, Juu-Oh, & Hou-Oh can create the almighty God Raijin-Oh. Belzeb, Felzeb, & Taida, however, now have access to Jaku Satan, a crystal mech that can not only fight alongside the Jaku Beasts that form from the strewn about Akudama but also combine with them to create Super Jaku Beasts. Unfortunately for the Jaku Empire's generals, however, their constant failure to defeat the EDC & conquer Earth is slowly angering Jaku Emperor Warusa. With the threat of being considered expendable imminent, Belzeb, Felzeb, & Taida decide to make finally identifying their opposition & locating their base a priority.