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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Feature: Deathstream 101 - Semester II

Okay class! How many of you are back for more? Let's skip the introductions and move on with our next lecture on deathstreams, since there are definitely lots of other problem areas that are much shorter than the first six we covered in the first class. In case you missed the class, you can view it here. Now, let's begin.
Before we begin, a review of some terms:

Dominant hand: The hand you use to write with, and most probably the hand you use to start hitting notes on Taiko with.
Non-dominant hand: Your other hand, important to start hitting with this hand if you need to handswitch.

1. Tank! (Ura)

The current ultimate challenge in the Anime genre, Tank Ura, the OP theme of Cowboy Bebop, is infamous for having some of the worst, most random streams ever seen in Taiko no Tatsujin. Some of the streams feature mixes between 1/4 and 1/6 spacing to the frustration of many a Taiko player.

The intense 1/6 stream at the end of the song causes initial surprise, but is actually pretty easy to read and hit after a few tries, and so will not be covered here. These two however, aren't as easy as they look. The first one is at the front of the song and is the most difficult of the aforementioned mixed streams because of the sudden change in spacing plus handswitching. Several small clusters of blue notes are right before this stream, so you may not even know which hand you begin it. So, the most important thing to tackle it is not to let the blue clusters distract you and say in your mind 'I'm definitely going to start this with my dominant hand!'. Three blue followed by one red is a common cluster, and after that break, handswitch twice, then spam blue notes until the stream ends. The second method shown below is to hit the first blue with your non-dominant, then the 1/6 part. Either way, keep in mind which hand you start the stream with.

The second one is mainly here because it's one red and five blue. Any error in counting the number of notes will cause your combo to break (similar counting errors happen in long streams of one color notes then suddenly switching over to the other, like Samurai Rocket Ura and Karma Tatsujin Mix), so be aware of how many notes you're hitting on this one. One, five, four. Take this down, it will help you greatly. Or you can break it like in the picture below because the first red will land on the same hand as the second red so there's no handswitching in the five blue notes.

2. X-DAY 2000

Two very similar streams in the middle of X-DAY 2000, and both are quite annoying combobreakers especially when aiming for a full combo. They're placed at quite an inconvenient spot in between many exhausting clusters, so stamina is an important factor when trying for these streams.

Both streams start with the same eight notes, then the handswitch in a different location. The first is arguably the harder stream to manage because the pacing switches quickly from two red/two blue into one red/one blue. The handswitch comes later than the second stream, and there are more of them. For the second one, it's two switches, then the final blue red blue red is done with your hands in a comfortable position.

Break the eight notes out of the rest of the stream and work from there. Group the red red blue parts together and set the rest aside into bits you can easily read. Again, easier said than done with X-DAY's high BPM and with these two long chains being sandwiched between exhausting clusters. It's all about endurance with this song.


Been revising your basic concepts? KAGEKIYO Ura's deathstream is quite short, and is the very picture of a classic repeating pattern deathstream, like what we saw in Etude Op.10-4 Ura and Taiko Time Ura previously. Remember what you had to do back then? It's no different here; break the stream down into equal pieces then go through them.

This short stream is made up of three parts of blue blue red red blue red, which most players should be accustomed to hitting, and is a lot easier than the almost identical part in Taiko Time Ura because KAGEKIYO is quite a slow song. However it may not be so apparent at first that this is a repeating pattern all because of the single red note in front. The mistake we may make is to include that first red note into our breakdown of the stream, making for three identical parts of red blue blue red red blue, which involves some crazy handswitching if you decide to handle it starting from your dominant hand.

Exclude the first red note; hit it with your non-dominant hand and proceed to breeze through the rest of the stream.

4. SORA-I Earth Rise

This relaxing tune, though slow, quickly gained status as a top-tier 8* Oni and one of the most troublesome ever to full combo because of all the irregular streams. Even more experienced players have it tough trying to perfect SORA-I, and the main culprit is shown above. The most infamous combobreaker in all of Taiko and then some. Tons of switches, preceded by equally confounding seven-note clusters, ending with a killing blow made of 1/6 notes. Then followed by a calm period with extremely sparse notes, hammering the point home that you have been owned by something lower than 9*.

Worse, this stream is right at the very end of the song, lessening practice opportunities and frustrating the heck out of people who have accumulated a perfect combo up to this point. The only way is to just keep at it...and if you have a reference to this, use it. You can break down the 1/4 part into fours and twos, so that's a start. Regardless of which hand you ended the previous seven-note cluster with, this is important; start this deathstream with your dominant hand, because after you finish the 1/4 component, you will start the 1/6 with your dominant, and you will want to, because the 3-by-3 pattern is rather awkward to start with your other hand if you're not used to it.

The most interesting aspect of this stream isn't because it was designed for sadists to clear, but if you look at the picture below, each part of 4 notes are exactly the reverse pattern of one another. And this applies not only for this division, but for any division of four you make. Take the first blue note out, then divide into fours from the 2nd note onwards until you reach the 1/6. Complete reversal. Take the first blue and red note out, and divide into fours. Again, complete reversal. First three notes out then divide. Same thing. You won't get this with any other arrangement of notes.

5. Stage 0.ac11

Stage 0.ac11 is another insane song, also the top of its tier in 9* Oni and full of short, sharp deathstreams, with this being the longest of the lot. It's very similar to the previous stream from SORA-I; in fact the first eight notes are identical, but the same confusion tactic applies here. This is also placed in between a lot of other long streams, all of them potential combobreakers, and this middle stream has the most potential of them all.

However, no worries, divide and conquer as usual, because apart from the first eight notes, the rest of the stream involves no handswitching if you divide into fours.Make it a point to see this stream coming before you get to it so you can be mentally prepared, because they all look the same after a while and this can break your concentration.

6.  Joubutsu 2000

In the previous lesson we talked about the two insane mixed deathstreams in Joubutsu 2000, and I guided you through the first one. Now let's look at the other, much tougher one.

Why tougher? Well, for one, the 1/6 clusters have one note more. Do not underestimate the extra one note, it can be a killer at this speed (like Ryougen's 1/6 stream, it's difficult enough just to keep up). Also because of the arrangement, there are now handswitch portions in between the 1/6 clusters, resembling what In The Zone did but at a much higher speed. It's this portion of the deathstream most people are worried about. The 1/3 is manageable, and the 1/4 is fine; but only if you get the 1/6 right.

Divide the stream in the usual way and try to work your way into it. The 1/6 parts will only come with time and skill however, you need to be able to hit notes at that speed and handswitch at the same time to clear it so just keep on trying.

And that ends our second lesson together. Got all your notes? The exam is coming near! And don't forget to ask to see more deathstreams if you can't manage them, cause there will be a remedial lesson for that. Thank you, class. Dismissed.


  1. Joubutsu'sdeathstream are just inpracticable,
    with the mix of 1/3, 1/4 and 1/6 notes, and I've some difficulties on Stage 0 ac11, so thank you, you may create a topic on the forum ^^

  2. The 1/6 part in Joubutsu's stream is the stupid one. The speed of this shit is ridiculously almost Japanese-only if you try it on the arcade :/

  3. @pikaby I can't stop imagining your osu avatar when I read the deathstream posts lololol