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Music

Who doesn’t love music?! With all these anime opening and ending themes, original sound tracks, and heck even J-Pop/K-Pop all around us. We should share our love for music with the rest of the world. And what better place then in your favourite university club.

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Music Monday – It’s the season to be jolly

December 23, 2013, by , posted in Music

It’s the Christmas season and the big day itself is less than two days away. It’s time to get into the spirit with some Christmas carols, in none other than Japanese!

So many of you have grown up with Sailor Moon, so why not revisit her and her friends in this time of family and loving and possibly even nostalgia. I’m personally choosing to embed Ami Mizuno(‘s actress)’s rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’ (though they sure talk a lot in the middle of the song!), but feel free to pursue the entirety of the album this Christmas Day. Or eve, as you wish.

If you’re looking for something perhaps a bit less traditional but entirely classy though, there’s no one better to go to than Lisa Ono from this ‘Japanese Christmas Mix’ a kind soul has decided to put together. The name gives it away though, honestly! It’s a soothing and relaxing song that enhances that holiday spirit in a gentle way.

And, well, where would we be without Vocaloid, I suppose? Have a medley of a few of the traditionals again. These are old favourites, but they’re favourites all the same. From Carols in the Domain to Vocaloid, we’ll enjoy them every Christmas time — don’t let anyone stop you from doing so! If you want to.

If none of those suit your tastes and you feel like something silly though, this interesting AMV here could be to your tastes — coincidentally the first video that I looked at when I began this search for Japanese Christmas music. By coincidentally I mean… Um. ANYWAY — happy listening and happy holidays from us here at Anime@UTS!

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Ho ho ho!

Music Monday: Sing us a song, you’re the character

November 4, 2013, by , posted in Music

Oh hey there. Thanks for joining us. Last week we looked at OSTs, and briefly mentioned other custom-made music that is made for anime, but something I don’t often look at is Character Songs. In fact I’ve only looked at them for a few series, so if there’s one you recommend, feel free to send us a line here at UTS. Don’t be shy, send us an email if you want/need to.

There are two that I came across again recently though, and given that both of the voice actors that sang these songs have a fair degree of experience with singing, it’s more understandable as to why they’ve turned out quite good. Sometimes despite how good the singing talent of the voice actor is, if the song that was written was just not good at all (not necessarily lyrics-wise, but musically), even the voice actor’s singing talent is no saving grace.

I didn’t realise this was a character song at first when I discovered it in some long forgotten folders with a mangled song name and album information. Eventually I managed to piece together this scrambled text and track down the song though, and here goes nothing:

Kyouki no Hana is a Character song for ‘Kikyo’ from Katekyo Hitman Reborn, sung by Kazuki Kato. I don’t know what it is about the song that drew me in this time — I don’t even like the character himself, but typically people would dislike those painted as ‘villains’ (this is from the album of songs sung by the ‘rival characters’). But one doesn’t need to like the character to like their song, and often character songs strive to tell us more about the character themself. Maybe I was drawn by the seemingly utter confidence, yet calm, of the singer in this song.

The next song I actually prefer as the off-vocal, ‘You will rule the world’ sung by Daisuke Ono as ‘Sebastian Michaelis’ from Kuroshitsuji. Normally I enjoy Daisuke Ono’s songs a lot, but for some reason this one is different — perhaps I feel there should be more variation in the tones in his singing, he keeps this fairly low and even. You can always listen to the original with the vocal and let me know.

The first time I heard this off-vocal, again as a song I accidentally discovered with a mangled file name, I thought it was just another track from my OSTs and think it would do well as the soundtrack to something. Well, Kuroshitsuji does have a fair bit of action, I guess?

Finally, one I picked for the occasion.. Remember when character songs were more specifically just character theme songs? Such as one like this from that anime I’ve mentioned before! Sango’s theme from Inuyasha says as much about her as a song with words, considering her past and what she has managed to do since her life was changed by the main villain, Naraku. Of course there are such songs now still, but now with added dimension! Have a listen anyway for old times sake:

Music Monday – Sound the track!

October 28, 2013, by , posted in Music

It’s hard to talk about music without focusing on the anime to some degree. For talking about opening and closing themes, often these tracks weren’t created for the series (sometimes they are), but were selected because they somehow meshed with what the anime wanted to evoke. In many cases they work well, sometimes they maybe don’t.

However, today we have full rein to talk about the anime, because we are talking about the OSTs, or in particular a couple of them (just so that you aren’t too overloaded at once), that are always tailor-made for the anime series. This post comes at the behest of Mr Allan Wu, our current treasurer here at Anime@UTS. I haven’t written a post like this in a while, but that is not to say I don’t like doing so!

No matter how I look at it, Shinrei Tantei Yakumo (the last time I wrote about an OST) will probably always be my favourite OST (bias bias), but to look at why and why I picked the following tracks below, we have to look at what makes a good OST. Of course, this would be different for everyone, but for me a good OST will conjure nostalgic feelings towards a series. At the same time though, the music will also constitute good listening by having variety and depth to it – I’m not likely to enjoy a series’ OST that is all just suspenseful noises pushed together into tracks. Not that I’m saying anyone does that (right?).

I don’t know who has watched UN-GO, but I personally really enjoyed that series and the tracks in it were quite compelling. The above song is ‘Light‘ by Narasaki, and plays each time Shinjurou solves a case. It also has the most plays of this OST in my iTunes. It reminds me of Spanish guitar music, which is an instrument I don’t see used that often and hence the first element of interest. Overall the song gives me a sense of both intrigue, triumph and elation of discovery (yet at the same time also a crushing sense given how Shinjurou’s cases work out – watch the series!), and has the kind of depth to make the song an interesting listen to even by itself.

Considering the number of uploads of tracks from the OST on YouTube, people seem to agree with me on this track since I wasn’t able to find the second track I wanted to put up. A shame, but means there’s space to cover more! For those interested though, great band cover of the OP.

On a completely different level, we head over to Fate/Zero which has often been hailed to have great music, and I don’t disagree. This kind of music is amazingly energising and inspiring, as well as having a degree of complexity that has me want to pick up piano again and try to play it. By Yuki Kajiura, ‘Let the stars fall down‘ is hailed as part of the best battle OSTs. Do you agree?

I can totally see Saber out amongst the throng of her enemies, just wiping them out cleanly and elegantly right about now!

Music Monday – Across the seas

October 21, 2013, by , posted in Music

If you’re sensing a common thread to these posts, you’re not wrong, since I can’t sew well so it unravels all over the place. But all bad jokes aside, we get back into the similar vein of foreign artists today, yet we’re not looking at yet more Asian artists today at all. Who? British Bands? Not quite. I guess you could call them the foreigners who are just so good at being Asian!

Okay, that’s not nice, so let’s just cut to the music before I embarrass myself further.

Asu e no Kizuna used as the opening theme for Valkyria Chronicles was probably the first time I’d heard of HIMEKA, and I had no idea at the time she was a French Canadian from Canada (where else was I going to say?), and didn’t have a single drop of Japanese blood in her at all (if it worked that way), nor had she grown up in Japan. In fact, she had only moved there recently to pursue a singing career. To me, she sounded like basically any other Japanese artist, though her versatile voice was certainly noticable. Many have written off her successes as her being a ‘halfu’, such as BENI I mentioned two weeks ago, but that’s not the case at all.

HIMEKA definitely has a good voice, but I think she also has a bias for certain kinds of songs though in my opinion she is singing the kind of songs that best suit her voice also. Or her image? In any case, perhaps it was the recording, or the night, but one live cover of God Knows on-stage… let’s say I’m not a fan of it at all — but what do I know? I’m not a professional singer.

Hatenaki Michi used as the ED for Tegami Bachi is perhaps the better known one of her songs. And for a good reason, I looped it for ages after – it has a depth of emotion that really captures you. It’s a delight to listen to.

I can say that I like HIMEKA’s original works, but HIMEKA has also released covers of others’ music over the years. She does a splendid job of them, sometimes she is even praised at doing a better job than the original artist of evoking feeling. Yet it seems such moves on her part have also stemmed some backlash for her in Japan. Likely just for her ethnicity.

Hang in there, HIMEKA!

Oh yeah, and I also wrote about another foreigner who struck big in Japan called YOHIO on my blog if you were interested. Quite a pretty gir–I mean, guy.

Music Monday – I speak obscure

October 14, 2013, by , posted in Music

For some time, I’ve been searching long and hard for opening themes and closing themes in languages other than Japanese or English (I don’t mean redubs by the way). Although our dear new Events Director mentioned here that it’s a rare birdy, I find that English songs used as opening or closing themes is now probably more prevalent than it ever was, so much so that it’s no longer that ‘special’ to me (though it was back when Eden of the East was about, but probably only because I was more ignorant).

If you’re interested, you can check out this dubiously sourced TVTropes article, though if you look them up you can tell they’re accurate, just incomplete since there are glaring omissions – one which I will be covering later in this post! Anyway, despite that, it’s still interesting to see what choices are made and whether it is an English or a Japanese band performing the song (sometimes you really can’t tell, but sometimes you can).

Some different languages that have been used in opening/closing themes are such as Russian (Ghost in the Shell), Latin (Dantalian, Elfen Lied), French (Tsukuyomi, Blood-C), German (Guilty Crown) and Thai (Animal Detectives Kiruminzoo). In comparison to these languages, English is overwhelmingly the majority in terms of foreign language themes.

But I’m not so interested in these. I’ve been searching for other Korean songs used as opening or closing sequences, since the only one I’ve found so far has been ‘Shinkirou’ by LOVEHOLIC, which was used as the closing theme to Black Blood Brothers. Take a listen:

There have been plenty of songs sung in Japanese by Korean artists or groups, such as BoA, KARA, 2PM, MBLAQ and of course, DBSK/Tohoshinki just to name a few. But of actual Korean tracks used, there are few. Can you name one or is this the only one you know of too?

Although the song struck me odd when I first heard it, naturally because I hadn’t realised it was Korean, I really loved it and the feelings it portrayed as well as just the style and the pacing in general. I guess it’s just the romanticist side coming out, but all the same it’s a beautifully crafted song.

Finishing up, have a song done in French, which seems oft criticised, yet three of the members of the group attended a French-Japanese school — you would think they knew what they were doing! Not my style, but an interesting track. (Spiral by Dustz)