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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Song of the Week! 23 June 2012

You are going to love this week's feature, I guarantee. It has been put off and requested ever since our site launched, and here it is now, two years later.

Yawaraka Sensha (やわらか戦車)
Taiko 9, 10, 12,
13, PS2 7
x3 (148)x4 (193) x6 (344)x6 (488)
Taiko 11, 14, 0, Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko PS Vitax3 (148)x5 (193) x6 (344)x6 (488)
Taiko 9 to 14, 0, Taiko PS2 7, Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko PS Vita

Natsu Matsuri is the flagship song for J-Pop. Anpanman for Anime. Mori no Kumasan for Children/Folk. And this song for Variety; Yawaraka Sensha is the online flash cartoon phenomenon that spread far and wide and its theme song landed in Taiko on the final PS2 game, and has been in every single arcade since the 9th, and became the top voted Variety song in the Taiko Memories poll in 2011 as the players' most favorite song in the genre.

Literally, Yawaraka Sensha is translated as 'squishy tanks'. The song comes from the aforementioned flash anime series of the same name started in 2006 by an animator known only as Rareko (ラレコ). Yawaraka Sensha's five-minute short cartoons tell about a war fought by living and very soft, weak tanks, portraying the irony that tanks are supposed to be tough and strong. With simple animations, lots of characters and some pop culture references, the unnecessary violence and brutal reality of war is shown in a satirical manner through this cartoon series. The series was originally for the website of Japanese Internet service provider Livedoor, before the company was brought down by fraud scandals later the same year.

Despite starting off from nowhere in cyberspace, the original videos soon found their way to video sharing sites and became an instant hit. The success of the series was so high, it achieved some of the most honorable prizes in the Japanese animation, such as the AMD Awards and the 11th animation Kobe Network Media Award in 2006. To date, over 10 billion pieces of merchandise related to the series has been sold in Japan! It remains an enigma outside of Japan, but cute-lovers and fans of Japanese pop culture caught on pretty quick. For everyone else, Natsume localized the Yawaraka Sensha puzzle game for Nintendo DS in English, called 'Squishy Tanks', however, relatively little information is divulged about the history of the cartoon to non-Japanese.

Taiko no Tatsujin cashed in on the trend by merging the first two songs of the web anime into a single song, created by an alias named Matsumoto (マツモト). Together with Dvorak's From the New Moon, Yawaraka Sensha's Oni mode was long considered an underrated 6* song as it was full of 5-note clusters and the like, and is quite a dense chart compared to other 6* Oni songs of the time. Since the Taiko 0 difficulty cuts, Namco recognized this song as the standard difficulty for 6* Oni.

From Taiko 11 onwards, the song features main characters from the show as special dancers, such as generic Squishy Tanks, Squishy Baby, Squishy Ann, Kitten, Sgt. Jimmy and an enemy tank. These were taken out in Taiko 0.

Yawaraka Sensha (やわらか戦車)
Taiko 11 to 14

x10 (889)
Taiko 0 onwards

x9 (889)
Taiko 11 to 14, 0, Taiko PS2 7 (as Taiko Tower 9), Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko PS Vita

The show's popularity may have gotten the Taiko chart some attention, but very few songs get the spotlight unless they have a more difficult chart! Yawaraka Sensha's main appeal in Taiko no Tatsujin is this Ura chart, and it is the very first Ura ever, released even before the usage of Ura Oni in Taiko 11. Yawaraka Sensha was used as the background music for Taiko Tower 9 in PS2 Nanadaime's adventure mode, and this chart shows up on the Hard difficulty setting of the adventure. The aim of the Taiko Towers was to get to the top of the tower without missing more than the stipulated number of notes.

And so, this chart. It needs no discussion; it is basically one long, long 1/4 stream from beginning to the end, with a break in between. Just like the theme song of the Squishy Tanks, your goal as a player is only one. To survive the massive deluge of notes! The speed is unremarkable and the note patterns are simple, however this is one chart where neither of them are quite as important as stamina; the long chain is enough to tire most players out. Yawaraka Sensha's Ura Oni still stands as the ultimate stamina challenge for every arcade trainee, proving that even 1/4 notecharts can become really tiring. It remained at 10* Oni for a very long time, but the merciless Taiko 0 difficulty cut did not spare this chart either.

Taiko 14's Mobile Dojo has this song as one of its challenges, requiring players to full combo the chart on Doron (Invisible) modifier. This Ura was also picked for the first round of the finals during the Taiko no Tatsujin 2011 tournament.