A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 5]

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“Yuzurenai Negai” by Naomi Tamura (from the series Magic Knight Rayearth)

Don’t let the first few seconds minutes fool you, “Yuzurenai Negai” is a force to be reckon with it’s powerful vocals and rock setting. A revolutionary piece for it’s time as female rock vocalists like Tamura, Julia Mazda, Maki Ohguro, and Hiroko Moriguchi were bringing the “girl-power rock” genre into popularity.

The song solely starts off with Tamura taking her time with the pacing and using every ounce of her energy to make her vocals so innocent. But, after the intro, the guitars start to blare and Tamura’s sweet personality turn into a hard rocker by the chorus. It’s here that the singer adds a hard edge to the song by her vibrato. It’s so edgy yet beautiful.

I have yet to watch Magical Knight Rayearth (but I will since I now discovered that Hulu has the series) however, the theme songs by Naomi Tamura are exceptional as they are powerful and full of spirit. Especially “Yuzurenai Negai”.

 


 

“Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi (from the series Neon Genesis Evangelion)

Ahhh, this song. The one song that everyone sings at the karaoke box, including myself, and probably don’t know why they are singing it. Maybe because the anime is one of the most popular series out there? Maybe how the song is composed? Maybe people get inspired from the lyrics?

I just don’t know!

Whatever may the case be, this theme song from Neon Genesis Evangelion is addicting. For me, I love how the lyrics build up anticipation. Like you are part of the storyline. For example, when you sing the opening line of “Young boy, like a cruel angel’s thesis, live up to be a legend…” [1], it feels like you are the one who is calling out this “young boy” due to the narration, the slow pace, and the intensity of the caller’s emotions. Those emotions build up over time through the singer and the instrumentation. Even at the end, you feel like you have to emotionally “give it all” or the ending won’t be so dramatic.

I personally don’t like Evangelion, as I find it a tad boring for my tastebuds. But, I love to always sing “Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis” as the emotions and lyrics of the song appeal to me.

 

 


 

Previous Installments:

Part I / Part II / Part III / Part IV


References

[1] “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis.” Evangelion. Web. 24 Dec. 2015. (http://evangelion.wikia.com/wiki/A_Cruel_Angel’s_Thesis)

 

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A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 4]

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“Get along” by Megumi Okui and Megumi Hayashibara (from the series “Slayers”)

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I have recently started to watch Slayers thanks to one of my friends introducing it to me. It is also one of my sister’s favorite anime as she always watching one form of this 90s’ classic on her computer when I lived with her. I don’t know why I never watched this series. Maybe because it never really appeared on my list of “anime series to watch” . It could be also that I didn’t have access to it as downloading took eons on dial-up and I was too young to really buy VHS tapes or join an anime club when Slayers came out.

Nevertheless, the show is pretty brilliant with a good storyline and comedic characters. Of course, the show stopper would be the versatile Megumi Hayashibara, who plays the main character Lina Inverse. I have mentioned before how fabulous is Megumi in an earlier post with her song “Nostalgic Lover” from the anime “Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman Blade II”.

She didn’t stop being amazing in Slayers, she got even better.

“Get along”, the opening theme for the series, is a duet between Megumi Hayashibara and another anime singer Masami Okui, who has been one of my favorites since “Rinbu Revolution”. The song starts off with a twenty second instrumentation that builds up the song’s premise. It is also used as a filler as someone usually talks about the show during these first twenty seconds in the TV series. After the introduction, Megumi comes in all tough, singing her lines in a vigor style. Then Masami comes in with another punch during the pre-chorus. Both singers come together during the chorus, never slowing down.

What makes this song amazing is the combination Megumi and Masami. These girls are perfect together as they feed and bounce off each other energies. They also blend pretty well together as they have the same vocal types and skills. With these two dexterous singers, “Get along” is a great song as it’s powerful, upbeat, and never misses a beat,


“Just Communication” by TWO-MIX (from the series “New Mobile Report Gundam Wing”)

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Ahhh, Gundam Wing, how nostalgic! It feels like only yesterday that I watched the first episode of the English dub on Toonami. As an anime with one of the best English dubs out there, “Gundam Wing” caught my attention with the bad boy Heero Yuy and the peaceful blonde hair beau Quatre Winner (who has an amazing voice actor, Kirby Morrow). It is one of the best Gundam series out there with a sensible plot, a great English dub, and a diverse set of characters.

Another thing that makes Gundam Wing so memorable is the music. “Just Communication”, the series’ first opening theme, had a considerable impact on anime songs in the 90s. Minami Takayama’s soothing vocals helps to set an ambient feel to the song  Her vocals are further supported by the instrumentation as Shiina Nagano keeps it simple with a guitar, a bright piano, a dance kit, and synthesizers. Although, there is a neat addition of an electric guitar during the pre-chorus to add to the song’s sincerity. And the guitar pops up once again during the bridge’s unforgettable melody.

“Just Communication” is one of those anime song classics that you can’t get out of your head. It’s such an addictive song. However, for me, I like this song because of the lyrics and the emotions displayed. You can’t even tell that this is song about a series about big robots fighting in a galactic war with such passionate lyrics like “anata no manazashi mamoritai”. (Eng.: “I want to protect your gaze”)  But, that is what makes the song enjoyable. Moreover, the emotions displayed throughout also further this passion by setting different moods. Minami brilliantly goes back and forth from really passionate and not-to-over-the-top fierce during the chorus to calm and collective in the verses.

I strongly urge anyone who hasn’t seen Gundam Wing to do so as it is a really good series. Also, check out the soundtracks with Yasuo Uragami composing an ardent score for the show.


Past Issues:

Part I // Part II // Part III

A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 3]

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I want to first say a BIG thanks to all who read my blog posts! I just hit 1,000 viewers this weekend and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks again! ❤

I also want to say I am very sorry for the delay of the “A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music”. I haven’t forgotten this series, just life got busy. I am so sorry! 😦

If you want to read, here is the links for Part 1 and Part 2.


“Tenchi Muyo!” by Sonia (from the series Tenchi Muyo!)

Along with Sailor Moon and Gundam Wing, Tenchi Muyo! is another 90s’ classic that I really enjoy. Maybe because I really like the storyline with the whole “Tenchi, you are now a prince of some other planet and you have to fight” scenario . Of course, I also love how it blends in comedy with the idea that a bunch of girls are livingwith this peculiar high school student and fighting each other for his affections.

My favorite chsonia-tenchimuyoaracter in the series is Sasami. She was the innocent one of the bunch who didn’t really have to argue or fight for Tenchi’s attention. She just did it naturally, becoming his friend through normal conversations. Even though she is tremendously cute, Sasami has a tragic past. I won’t spoil the details in this blog post. You can watch the OVA episode that explains it all at this Youtube link. Nevertheless, the character gained enough popularity to have her own spin-off show, Magical Girl Pretty Sammy/Magical Project S. Impressive, right?

What makes “Tenchi Muyo” memorable is the amount of passion the male vocalist displays throughout the song. This passion helps his vocals to be really clear, strong, and a perfect match to the synthesized dance-flavored instrumental. I never really get tired of this song because it always keeps on being invigorating and presents something new every time I listen to it.

The other reason why this song is so great is because there is a flawless English version, sung by SONIA themselves. Tenchi Muyo! was one the first anime series that had a really good English dub cast and staff that did a wonderful job in dubbing the original songs into English. Sharyn Scott’s “I’m a Pioneer” is a great example of this. Although, the English version of “Up-Walk the Galaxy” might be the direct opposite as it contains some cheesy lyrics.

If you haven’t heard “Tenchi Muyo” before, you should check out the video below. It’s an anison/anime song classic that is still lively and amazing with its vocal, how the lyrics correspond with the show’s theme, and its approach to dance music.

The b-side of the “Tenchi Muyo!” single features the song “Modern Girl”, a great cover of the Sheena Easton hit. This 90s’ update features a mix of Japanese and English lyrics, the female half of the duo (which is a rarity because the guy usually sings lead on their songs), and a mixture of cuteness and zeal, which is what SONIA is best known for. It’s a great listen!


“Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” by Akemi Sato (from the series Fushigi Yuugi)

Living on the hype of magical girls series of the ’90s, Fushigi Yuugi was one of many that redefined the genre. Most of the magical girl series at that time featured either a team of super-powered heroines and/or magical items. Fushigi Yuugi featured none of that. Instead, it has a girl who became a priestess in story who could make wishes with the help from the god Suzuku. It seems at a glance that the main heroine isn’t powerful due to her ability. But
because of the nature of this ability, she is deemed important because others, including her best friend, want to use this ability for Earth-threatening causes.

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“Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” plays on the show’s mystical and ancient sentiments pretty well. The songs doesn’t show its true colors as a love song until the chorus. By that time, the song picks up speed as it goes from a slow, mysterious chant to a rock-driven, emotion-filled melody. The dramatic point comes at the end when this intensity is mixed with the arcane line “Mugen e to hirake Fushigi Yuugi”. This helps the song to go out with a bang. which might make listeners a bit surprised and confused, rather than silently fading away.

“Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” will be one of those anime songs that will always turn up on at a retro anime party or an Anime radio station as it’s a lovable classic. It isn’t one of my favorite Fushigi Yuugi songs, that goes to “STAR” and “Chijou no Seiza“. However, “Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” is a type of song that I can amicably listen on my iTunes playlist from time to time.

Bonus Round: “Tokimeki no Doukasen” by Yukari Kanno

Because this the type of song where you just wanted to go “meow” when thinking of love.

Music Rewind: The Mid-Year Review

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I have reached my 50th post with the last post, “Music Reactions: Celebrating the 4th of July by Listening to Oldies“.. By July 5th, 2015, ☆ai love music☆ has had 1,277 views and 721 visitors. I want to say a special and big thank you to each and every one of you guys who have visited this blog. Without you, I would have stopped writing by the second post.

Thanks again! A special thank you for those who commented on an entry! Those comments helped me a lot. Please, if you have a chance to do so, please comment on any entries as I want to know what you guys like and to see if I am any good at writing.

I usually don’t do Music Rewind on WordPress because I usually revisit older blog entries mainly on other social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). However, since this a special post, I want to write one here too.

Today’s Music Rewind is a look back at the five most popular posts on ☆ai love music☆. This idea was inspired by the Japanese music chart Oricon. These charts do a mid-year review of the top 100 singles and albums in Japan.

Without further ado, here they are!

5. A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 2] {June 28)

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The 90s were all about this woman! You literally could not watch an anime series that did not have Hayashibara Megumi as some sort of character. Being immensely popular in the voice acting world, Hayashibara also enjoyed a successful music career, singing various theme songs to memorable anime series…

Ahhh, “”Rashiku” Ikimasho”. Actually, any Sailor Moon song is always on the top of anison/anime song lists because I loooooooooooooove Sailor Moon. I also loooooooooooooove the song featured today. The ending to the fourth season of the super popular girls’ series “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon”, “”Rashiku” Ikimasho” is a fun, poppy song that fits the character of Sailor Chibi Moon perfectly… [Read More]

4. 11 Years of Thanks (March 6)

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A couple of days ago, one of the longest running idol groups in Japan held their farewell concert at the Nippon Budoukan with thousands of fans attending. Personally, I been a fan since they released their debut single in 2004; watching these once elementary school girls grow into beautiful ladies. During the years, their music even spread across the globe in various places like the USA, France, Thailand, and beyond. [Read More]

3. Remembering a Hidden Talent (January 25)

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There has been a great deal of news, either good or bad, in our lives and around the world in the last week. None more shocking than the death of Russian singer Origa on January 17. A talent that has been heard by less than ten percent of the world’s population but snuffed away too soon. Let’s take a moment to reflect on and remember Origa’s beloved career. [Read More]

2. Live Music Report: LinQ Promotional Event at Aeon Mall Nagoya Dome Mae (May 1, 2015) (May 10)

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LinQ is a Japanese girl “idol” group that has about thirty or more members that are from the Kyushu (or southern Japan) region. They been around for about four years, releasing their first single “Hajimemashite” in the fall of 2011. The group been under three different labels; their own label (2011), Tower Records’ own indies idol label T-Palette (2011-2013), and on the major label Warner Records (2013-now). Even though they been through the whole changing label dance, the group still has kept their original sound; the sugary, popish idol music you usually find in AKB48 and other modern day pop idol groups in Japan. [Read More]

1. Milk & Honey – “Prove Your Love” (January 7)

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We are going to cross the ocean from Mexico to Europe to listen to the distinct sounds of Milk & Honey. Formed in 2006, Milk & Honey is a two-member group from Germany. However, they are quite diverse as they have released material in French, German, Arabic, and English. The members, Anne Ross and Manel Filali, had some entertainment-related experiences before creating Milk & Honey. Anne Ross was a former member of the German girl band Preluders, which was created from contestants on the German edition of Popstars. [Read More]

A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 2]

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Here is Part Two of my monthly series of anime theme songs from 1995. In case you are new to this blog or missed it, don’t forget to check out the first part here!

Please enjoy!


Hayashibara Megumi – “Nostalgic Lover” (from “Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman Blade II”)

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The 90s were all about this woman! You literally could not watch an anime series that did not have Hayashibara Megumi as some sort of character. Being immensely popular in the voice acting world, Hayashibara also enjoyed a successful music career, singing various theme songs to memorable anime series. I think anyone who grew up watching 90’s anime would say that the first Japanese voice actor.actress they ever learned about was Hayashibara Megumi and was first introduced to either “Lively Motion” or “Successful Mission”. That’s how I knew about this fabulous woman.

“Nostalgic Lover” is an example of one the finest works in Megumi’s enormous discography. The song was actually a character song for the anime series “Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman Blade II”, playing the character Aki. It is a breath-taking song as it is full of emotions. Hayashibara approaches the song is at first, she starts off slowly and then builds up her emotions as if she was anger during the pre-chorus. Then finally at the chorus, she almost goes back to the same level of softness from the stanzas. However, it is now filled with even more romantic feelings. I really love to sing this at karaoke because of the song’s emotional setting.

Another thing what makes this song lovely is the instrumentation. Set up as a light pop-rock song, “Nostalgic Lover” relies more on the electric guitars with the electronic keyboards, bass, and chorus playing secondary. The alluring part of “Nostalgic Lover” is the musical break between the second and last choruses. During this time, the keyboards comes in first, playing a soothing chordal progression. The chorus comes in afterwards, repeating the same pattern, while the electric guitar follows. It is when the three musical elements come together that the musical break is simply breathtaking..

If you haven’t heard of Hayashibara Megumi,  “Nostalgic Lover” is a good place to start. The video below also links to her other songs so you could literally have a listening party!


Meu – “Rashiku Ikimasho” (from “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon SuperS”)

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Ahhh, “”Rashiku” Ikimasho”. Actually, any Sailor Moon song is always on the top of anison/anime song lists because I loooooooooooooove Sailor Moon. I also loooooooooooooove the song featured today. The ending to the fourth season of the super popular girls’ series “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon”, “”Rashiku” Ikimasho” is a fun, poppy song that fits the character of Sailor Chibi Moon perfectly. Just look at the lyrics[1], the song captures her feelings perfectly as she tries to find friendship and her first love with an important character to the series’ storyline, Helios/Pegasus.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, imagine an elementary school-aged girl who is experiencing their first love. This is that kind of the song.

The song opens up with a brief musical introduction that features a staccato-ed chordal melody on distorted electric piano higher pitched, airy synthesizer. After the bass guitar slides for a fleeting moment, Meu comes in with full power to sing the chorus. Actually, Meu has perfect vocals for this song as they are soft, orotund, and high-pitched but not shrilly. The song continues in the same fashion to the end.

Although the song features a limited number of instruments (a horns section, synthesizer, bass, and a distorted keyboard), keeps the same vocal style, and has a melody that doesn’t change a lot, the song is never boring. It’s actually the exact opposite and a step up from the previous ending. (Sorry to the fans of “Watashi-tachi ni Naritakute”, it isn’t one of my favorite Sailor Moon ballads as the vocals and melody aren’t alluring). It’s really upbeat!  That is because by the time this song was produced, club music was really prominent all over Japan thanks to a music producer named Komuro Tetsuya.  And, Mizuno Masao and Hayashi Yuzo wanted to captured a piece of that dance music craze when composing “”Rashiku” Ikimasho”. I bet their motto for this song was something on the lines of “short and simple”, just like everyday dance music was back then.

“”Rashiku” Ikimasho” is a likable song that features Meu’s light vocals, lyrics that reminds you of the adventures with a first love, and short and simple instrumentation that you can dance to. It is one of my favorite songs in the Sailor Moon musical world, hopefully it can be yours too.


References

[1] “Miss Dream.” Miss Dream. 2015. Web. 28 June 2015. <https://missdream.org/sailor-moon-lyrics/rashiku-ikimasho&gt;.

Remembering a Hidden Talent

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“Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

There has been a great deal of news, either good or bad, in our lives and around the world in the last week. None more shocking than the death of Russian singer Origa on January 17. A talent that has been heard by less than ten percent of the world’s population but snuffed away too soon. Let’s take a moment to reflect on and remember Origa’s beloved career.

Maybe you have heard this voice on your television, if you have cable TV, or on the internet. Maybe not. I do believe she was only well-known in the Japanese, Russian, and anime communities. But, how she rose to fame during the 2000s in these communities is as normal as any other artists. After graduating from music school in Russia around 1990, Origa (original name is Olga/Ольга) decided to pursue a music career in Japan. It didn’t take long when she got a contract with a music agency in 1991 and released her self-titled debut album four years later. Japanese rock musician Hamada Shogo described Origa’s voice to be beautiful and angel-like when they worked together for the 1995 charity single “Waga Kokoro no Maria”. She went on to team up with legendary anime music composer Yoko Kanno to sing the theme songs of the popular video game turned anime series “Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex” in 2002. She later released other video game or anime-related songs that were composed by Yoko Kanno, who became a dear friend to Origa.

First Opening: “Inner Universe”

To tell you the truth, I don’t know much of Origa’s music except what she released for “Ghost in the Shell”. I used to watch a lot of anime back when I was in middle and high school. And one anime-themed TV block that I frequently watched was Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim”. I remember when “Ghost in the Shell” first premiered on Adult Swim. I will never forget when I first listened to Origa’s “Inner Universe” and instantly became mesmerized.  The song fits the show’s dark, futuristic, and war-like premise as the melody is full of electronic instruments that has an eerie presence. What adds to the mystery is the vocals; with the pureness of boy soprano Ben Del Maestro and Origa’s seraphic/angel-like sound. Every time I listen to “inner Universe”. I always think that. maybe. one of the song’s underlying themes is that you can always get something beautiful and good from darkness.

Second Opening: “Rise”

I can also admit that I never really watched “Ghost the Shell” past the opening part. Unlike “Inner Universe”, the show (or the original Playstation game, in fact) didn’t really catch my attention. I don’t really enjoy war or shooter-type things. I am not THAT type of girl. However, the show’s second opening, “Rise”, turns the tables as the song has a “hard electronic meets rock”, down-to-earth sound that is so different compared to “Inner Universe”. Origa’s versatility is shown here as her voice goes back and forth from an earthly, alto one in the verses to a pure, high one in the chorus. I love the melodic turns in the chorus takes, it’s quite breathtaking.

Like the Jane Austin quote from above, let’s remember this hidden jewel with an angelic voice by not mourning on what the world lost. Instead, thinking of the pleasures that came from Origa’s music.

How about you? What is your favorite Origa song?